Thursday, February 16, 2017

Do most hotels use a specific POS system at the front desk or a larger computer system?

Eighty to eighty-five percent of the hotel POS systems out there are either 

  • so exorbitantly priced that the only reason anyone will buy it and put up with the astronomical monthly support costs is because it's a franchise organization's required purchase (Micros-Opera), or
  • such an absolute piece of crap that the only reason anyone will put up with it, period, is because it's some franchise organization's required purchase (ChoiceAdvantage, HSS in its day)
The only reason the percentage isn't higher is because

  • I have no experience with Marriott's FOSSE and don't expect to (Beechmont isn't a Marriott developer and does not aspire to become one, and FOSSE is Marriott's proprietary system: only Marriott-branded hotels have it.) For all I know, it may be a good system (Marriott owns, or at least itself manages, a lot of their hotels so, like me, they'd have limited patience with such a disease such as Choice Hotels' ChoiceAdvantage, and Marriott would have the size and the clout to insist on the best, and be sure they're getting it); and
  • Most Best Western member hotels - whose owners actually have a choice as to which one to go with - use a good one (Visual Matrix) that I actually like.
Someone got me started on hotel property management systems a few months back (What are the best property management systems for small hotels? ), so I evaluated several systems and called out what I like to see in them.

Image result for open hotel

Get the franchise organizations out of it, and hotel POS systems will get better overnight: the free market and competition would do its power and magic. (I'm going to repost this under 'law' and 'anti-trust law' categories, hoping some ambitious young lawyer who's into anti-trust and mass tort law will get ideas . . . :-) ) Until that day comes, however, hotel POS systems remain in the Ma Bell era. 

What are some of the best ways to control attrition in restaurants and hospitality industry?

Authenticity. Real caring. Real respect. Real commitment. Real training. Starting with you. Treat your people like people, not objects to be manipulated, machines to perform mechanical functions, or puppets to perform on a string. Be real yourself, know the difference between real and phony, and don't reward or promote the phony.

If this doesn't sound much like a 'professional' 'service program' or 'employee engagement program', it's the best you're going to get out of me. I don't like such commercially produced programs. I can't make one and give it to you. A 'store-bought' solution won't work (although many are out there - I wish I had a quarter for every off-the-shelf whiz-bang program developed by some starry-eyed dreamer, and a dollar for every hundred-dollar-an-hour consultant offering one.). It has to come from you and your company. 

Otherwise, it's counterproductive. Would such a program or scheme motivate you? If hearing the magic words in its message goes right over your head, puts you to sleep, or (worst of all) sets off your own crap detector, you can bet it will do the same with your hourly help. And if you haven't spent an evening shift with your desk clerk, an eleven-to-seven shift with your night auditor, or a day with one of your room attendants at the location at which you plan to use it, you have no business even shopping for one. 

Nearly all of them are dreamed up by people who have no idea what it's like to  work in your workplace and deal with the day-to-day reality of it. Your  staff will know this as soon as they begin hearing or reading the material presented to them. 

What reasons are there for a hotel to say that they don't have any rooms available, but a third party on behalf of the hotel does?

Not all property management systems work with online travel agencies, so what you'll frequently see is a certain number of rooms allocated to the OTA - that way, the hotel doesn't end up getting overbooked.

Image result for no vacancy sign

If it was a Choice-franchised hotel, Choice and are well-known to not play and get along well together: and Choice's proprietary front desk and reservations system don't interface or communicate one another: the hotel gets its reservations via fax, and when you've sold the last room to a walk-in guest or in-house reservation, you'd better get on to and tell them in a hurry, or else something very bad could happen.

In either event, what I'd do if I were cutting it close with available rooms is block as many as I had allocated to (in which case, we wouldn't have any rooms available when you called us, but you could book one on -- see Michael Forrest Jones' answer to In general, how can you get a reservation at a hotel if their website says they're fully booked? ). Or, if I was getting good rates on walk-in business that night, close us to arrivals on and not take any more reservations from them.

Originally appeared on Quora

What do hotels do to keep their marble or any other stone floor spotless?

With stone? A strong soap and a weekly going over with a fiber scrub brush (in an area where food is not usually present, you might let it go a little longer, but don't abuse the privilege). At a Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager, Wednesday night was 'scrub night' - we took about an hour and a half after closing and routine cleaning, and the entire terra cotta floor got done. Rinse well (you don't want to be leaving any soap residue in 'natural' cracks and crevices) and dry-mop as well as you can.

Image result for marble flooring maintenance

With polished marble? I'd go a little easier on the soap, maybe use something made to purpose (here's one commonly found brand:  ), and apply an extra layer of polish as necessary. 

Many polishes nowadays can take quite a beating and last quite a long time: it's shouldn't be like the old days where you should have to strip and re-wax three or four times a year. If you have the care instructions provided you by the supplier of the marble, you might want to take a look at those - I file away any paperwork I get on any furnishings and equipment I buy, but any commercial flooring or janitorial supply dealer should be able to hep you with what you need.

You can outsource it if you want, but remember . . . you pay your maintenance guy eight to fourteen bucks an hour and you can buy all the materials you need at Home Depot and even rent a floor buffer: contractors have a much higher per-hour rate for labor. Do the math . . .

Originally appeared on Quora

What does it take to start a hotel?

Money. Of course.
Unfortunately, way too many hotels are 'started' by people who are completely unmindful of the fact that they could need anything more than that. Even more unfortunately, the ending is frequently a disappointing, if not unhappy, one in such cases.
Image result for hotel construction
You posted this question - whoever you are - anonymously, so I'm going to make certain (hopefully accurate) assumptions about you, in an attempt (hopefully appropriate) to make it a little easier for me to answer your question intelligently.
  • You are looking to 'start' your hotel in the USA.
  • You have capital, or access to adequate (although not unlimited) capital, and financing won't be a problem.
  • You have limited, if any, hotel experience.
  • You're sensible when it comes to business, you're not expecting to get rich quickly, you're in it for the long haul, and your expectations about life are generally realistic.
  • You're a respectable, decent person who desires to be part of a respectable venture in which you can take pride; not someone who's in it for the fast buck, who just wants to launch it next year, hoping to sell it off the following year for a quickie profit, and/or who'd just be trying to milk the last five dollars out of a $3.98 investment for however long it took to find some sucker to buy it.
  • Since you're asking, how does one 'start' . . . you're probably contemplating new construction, not acquiring an existing hotel. (I have a suggestion. Please consider it carefully. If it's your first time, and you have no construction or real estate development experience, consider the acquisition route, at least starting out. New construction requires somewhat more of an investment, it'll take awhile before you get a payout [where, with an existing property, you're getting at least some cash flow the first night after you take possession], and there is more risk involved [e.g., unforeseen cost overruns]. You can always do new hotels later as you gain experience and confidence - as well as revenue streams from your existing properties.)
  • Accordingly, I'm going to assume that you're someone I should advise conservatively.
If my answer doesn't come even close to what you need, it'll be because a dialogue would be more appropriate and we need to have a talk. Please feel welcome to contact me.

Why can't many hotel suites, including presidential suites, be booked online?

How many nights do you plan to stay? It can make a difference - and usually does..

A 'suite', with some exceptions (mostly semantic)*, is by definition not one but two rooms or more. We are rarely able to charge double the price of a standard room, and get any takers; despite the fact that the investment by the hotel and its owners in having it there is higher. (It costs more to furnish that living room than it does to furnish a bedroom, and the kitchen fixtures are where it starts to get really pricy.)

Image result for presidential suite
Presidential Suite at Radisson Royal Hotel in Moscow, Russia

We have to rent them at someone for some price, true. So, inside our pricing structure, you're already getting a 'discount' (what we call the 'drop'), and your travel agent didn't 'get' it for you. But we're getting a lower return on them for regular rooms, and we know it's going to take the housekeepers two to three times longer to make them for the next guest (depending upon the number of rooms in the suite).  So we're going to have to make that discount worth doing. 

Do hotels give out the most undesirable rooms at check-in by default? If so, why?

It happens but I wouldn't say it's something that happens altogether 'by default'.  See Michael Forrest Jones's answer to How do hotels assign rooms.

First of all, undesirable rooms are tricky to sell, at least to other than undesirable guests. We want the room to be fresh, clean, comfortable, everything in it in good condition and working; because we want you to like us, and like our hotel, and we want you come back (and if for no better reason than we don't like to hear you complain).  I take it that you mean undesirable as 'less to be desired than other rooms of generally equal size, furnishings and amenities' (say, because of not much of a view, or at the end of a long hallway, or it's because it's too close to an elevator or a vending area and you have to put up with the noise from that), a few of which will be present in any hotel.  

Image result for bad motel rooms

Also, keep in mind that in a well-maintained property, there won't be too much variation in the quality of the rooms - if any at all is noticeable. Some will have more space or amenities and will sell at a higher price. Some will be due for remodeling, if the hotel is large enough that remodeling is done in stages (e.g., they do one floor every couple of years, so that over a ten-year period, the rooms on all five floors get done and it's time to repeat the cycle) and where such a state of affairs is present, what I might do is price those rooms a little lower. But even then, the variation in quality isn't going to be that much: you shouldn't even notice it. As a practical matter, it can't be. Too many guests that come in are not shy at all about wanting the best room in the house at a discount off what the guy in the cheapest room is paying.