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The Greatest Hits at this Year's Hotel, Motel, & Restaurant Supply Show
 of the Southeast in Myrtle Beach Might Be the Gadgets or
 Inventions that Save Money
By Lisa Fleisher, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

January 25, 2009 - The greatest hits at this year's Hotel, Motel, & Restaurant Supply Show of the Southeast in Myrtle Beach might be the gadgets or inventions that save money.

The 33rd annual show, which runs Tuesday to Thursday, fills the Myrtle Beach Convention Center every year with vendors that sell every piece imaginable needed for running a hotel or restaurant, said Myra Starnes, who organizes the show.

Starnes said one company that caught her eye created a product that provides a quick fix for cracked or broken bathroom sinks: simply place a new sink facade, with its own basin and drain line, over the cracked one, and the room is ready to go again.

That would save hotels hundreds of dollars in potentially lost room revenue if they had to take that room off the market for a few days to get the sink fixed.

"People are looking for value," Starnes said. "People are looking for the new stuff, the stuff that will save them some money."

There's also the usual bedding, linens, dishes and food suppliers, and the niche companies that provide things such as payphones, ATMs and cash registers, freezers or refrigerator displays, locks for hotel doors and keyless card entries for those doors.

One company claims to offer "simply the best toilet available"; another sells insoles for the sore feet of hard-working employees; and another even sells entire hotels.

The show is only open to industry members with business cards.

Starnes said she turns away winter vacationers and Realtors every year who try to get into the show.

The show draws 6,500 people a day, said Paul Edwards, the general manager of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

This year, the training sessions offered before each day of the three-day event target issues facing hoteliers in the tough economy.

One seminar explores the things hotels and catering companies should pay attention to when they are signing contracts, in the event that groups or companies try to break or modify the contract.

In the past, hotels might have chosen to eat the fees lost in a broken contract or to rebook those nights, Starnes said.

"But in this economy people say, 'Uh-uh,'" she said. "People aren't used to playing that hardball."

These days, it's harder for hotels to fill up rooms that are abandoned when people break plans, so it's essential hotels collect fees for broken contracts, she said.

Changes to labor laws, including the state's new immigration law, will be explained in another session, and a third session is about sales.

Contact LISA FLEISHER at 626-0317 or


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