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 Booking.com are well-known to not play and get along well together: Booking.com and Choice's proprietary front desk and reservations system don't interface or communicate one another: the hotel gets its Booking.com 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 Booking.com 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 Booking.com (in which case, we wouldn't have any rooms available when you called us, but you could book one on Booking.com -- 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 Booking.com 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: http://www.totalvac.com/WT760051...  ), 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.

When an employee threatens to resign and uses it as a negotiating tool, what is the ideal response from HR managers or company management?

"There's the freakin' door . . . It's even got a backlighted sign mounted over it telling you in simple, one-step instructions exactly what you can do with it."

If someone has a legitimate (or at least respectable) grievance, or reasonable provocation, I can see them getting a little wound up. In that event, they really shouldn't have to make the threat: it could be, they're just getting emotional . . .

Image result for exit sign

But as a negotiating tool?  Don't let the door hit you where Mother Nature split you. 

If they even make the attempt (in the form of a threat, rather than just describing an option if they do happen to have prospects elsewhere), it's highly questionable whether they need to be working there to begin with. I once had an employment lawyer share with me that, in every single case of employment-related litigation that crossed his desk it invariably developed, once all the potential witnesses are interviewed and discovery is completed, that the employment situation with that particular employee had broken down long ago and had not been working out for either the employer or the employee for quite some time. Whatever actually precipitated the termination, or the angry resignation, and the ensuing lawsuit was merely the catalyst, the 'final straw'. 


Why do hotel housekeepers put the tub stopper down after they clean?

This isn't something that we tell them to do, and doesn't seem like it would be a good idea. We'd have no good reason for wanting to tell them to do it.

Image result for bathtub stopper

My best guess  is, some of them clean the tub, rinse it out, then wipe over the water spots that occurred as part of the rinse, often hitting the lever for the drain as they do and leaving it down, not caring to see that it's put back in the 'up' position. 

(I might ask around and come back to this one, get an insight from some room attendants who'd have a little more up-close-and-personal experience with the phenomenon . . .)

Originally appeared on Quora

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On the day you check into your hotel the hot water fails. You have no choice but to stay at the hotel. What compensation would you expect?

It would depend entirely on the hotel.
A Hampton Inn would probably comp the room, but Hampton Inn's “100% satisfaction guarantee” policy is their choice, and it's not binding on other hotels. Every hotel has its own policies on the matter.
Absent some state or local law on the matter, requiring compensation in a situation like that (and stipulating precisely how much would have to be done to put things right with the guests), it would have to be negotiated with the hotel's management.
Image result for guest complaints
Because in a situation like that, each guest would be affected differently, we would plan on negotiating it individually guest by guest. On the one hand we can't be responsible for consequential damages, because we never can never foresee or control what those might be for any one person. On the other hand, while we may have to plan on making a few adjustments and even comping some rooms, and we'll want to do the right thing as much as possible, by as many people as we can; some guests might not have even noticed it was a problem, and not look into making any claim at all.
Doing it that way involves applying a little more triage than it's polite to notice, or than we would like to admit that we apply; but that's about the size of it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Which is better, to book the cheapest room in a 5-star hotel, or the best suite in a 3-star hotel?

It depends. Would you like to stay in a 5-star a 3-star hotel?
Most of my experience is in mid-market hotels. Even in those we get the occasional bargain hunter you see lots more of at an economy tier property. Hotel room rates can be negotiable, although not nearly as much as some people seem to have the impression. But a lot of people do walk around with that impression, so we end up dealing with quite a few people who want the best room in the house at a 10% discount off what the guy in the cheapest room is paying.
(I let it drive me a little more nuts than I should, but it's a personal pet peeve of mine. When I’m having a bad day, I get onto YouTube and bring up that video of Priceline Negotiator heading off a cliff in that bus, and it makes me feel better. Nonetheless, it does happen.)

Image result for five star hotel
So, it is kind of awkward for to have too many 'levels' of quality, amenities, service level, or price within a single hotel, or that much of a spread between them. I might set aside a specific room or suite, that's a little extra nice or that has a nicer view, for someone special if I know ahead of time that they're coming, and put a few extra amenities, maybe a freebie or two, in there. But generally, what you call the “best suite in (the) hotel” isn't that much better than the average suites of the same type. It may be a suite instead of a room, and it may rent for a little more, but neither the price nor the quality will vary by much.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

To what extent are "wanting to do the job", and "caring about the job and the boss/coworkers" important as "qualifications"?

“Qualifications” don’t exist in real life. Qualifications are whatever, whoever is doing the qualifying, says the qualifications are. They're all made up; and much of the time, they even make them up as they go along.
For many, many years when I was younger, I had a problem with that one, too (and still do, sometimes); but that’s just about the size of it. In this world, no one's ever been able to come up with a better way to do it that actually works.
Image result for jumping through hoops
Even when there’s a job description (which we don’t believe in, and don’t do), and written parameters established by company policy to go by, the person making the choice is the person making the choice. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t reduce it to something that would leave an individual with only one option, unless our requirements were so rigid that they would be self-defeating (Qualification problem - Wikipedia).

If a hotel closes, gets sold, but is overtaken by squatters before the new owner has started business, what is the protocol for getting them out?

If I make an offer on a hotel, and it has been closed, I'm going to require that it be delivered at closing completely vacant; and if they cannot or will not deliver that, or the building is occupied by anyone other than people who are there for a reason that I am okay with, the deal's off. I’m also going to demand as part of the deal that it be — other than that which I might agree to in advance — unencumbered by franchise, unencumbered by management, unencumbered by any tenancy or leasehold interest, unencumbered period — free of any liens, free of any claims, nothing to get in the way of my absolute say in who’s allowed to be there, who’s allowed to set foot on the property and who isn’t; or how it is to be managed or what I can or can’t do with it, or who has the right to claim any of my return, revenue or rent from the use of it.
Image result for heart of durham hotel
If squatters have so overrun the building that they've, legally, established "residency”, then running them out of there -- if they can be driven away -- is the seller's problem. Or should be. If he's not fully in possession of it, then he can't really claim that he owns it, and therefore has no right to try and sell it to anyone. And your wisdom, intelligence, and business sense is somewhat open to question if you buy it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hotel for sale: Wingate by Wyndham Louisville East

Image result for wingate by wyndham louisville east


Property offering

Listing broker: MBA Hotel Brokers.  (This is a "pig in a poke" listing that does not identify the specific property, and I don't like those. It's more annoyance than harm: merely downloading a property photo, then running it through Google Image Search, identifies the particular property for you about half the time. But I still appreciate transparency, and straight answers. If I buy, it'll be because I made the choice to buy; it won't be because you sold it to me.)

TripAdvisor reviews: Bubble score 4.0.



Property website:

Wingate by Wyndham Louisville East (Wingate by Wyndham child site)



Asking price$6,800,000Given
Number of rooms74Given
Annual gross$1,700,000.00Given
Occupancy83%Estimated*
ADR$75.65Estimated*
REVPAR$62.94Calculated
Room revenue multiplier4Calculated
Year built2006Given

* - TripAdvisor shows lowest publicly available rates for this property between $84.00 (current) and $94.00 (June, 2017); which we averaged out to an average rack rate of $89.00. ADR is based on 85% of rack, which you usually see in a property listed for sale unless some unique marketing or pricing scheme is in place that you don't know about.

In a property that has no restaurant or lounge or some other source of significant revenue, nearly all revenue is from rooms, so REVPAR (in this case, calculated by simply dividing the annual revenue given by the number of rooms, divided again by 365) becomes pretty meaningless, However, it does come in handy for one thing: in a limited service property when an occupancy figure is withheld, you can calculate it by simply dividing REVPAR by ADR.

The facility:

This is a newer, Wingate prototype facility, constructed in 2006.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How do good hotels always feel so clean and fresh?

Housekeeping. You may think your own home is nice and clean, but even if you're an obsessive-compulsive neat freak, hotels play it at an entirely different level. We have to. 
Image result for hotel maid
For example, do you change and launder your sheets every day? No? But you put fresh sheets on the bed if you're expecting house guests for a few days, on any bed intended for their use, right?  And you supply them with fresh towels, not one you used yourself once already. And even then - well, when was the last time you steamed the carpet in your guestroom, or turned the mattress over?
All hotels deal with are house guests.

What is the actual average length of time (in minutes) for hotel check-in and check-out?

It depends on the hotel and the amount of paperwork involved. 

Image result for hotel registration
 
Assuming minimal interaction with the guest, no problems with room availability or the reservation at check-in, and no problems with a bill or guest complaint at check-out; I'd say that 2-3 minutes for a check-in, about half that much for a check-out, is doable.
 
This is what I could shoot for at a well-run Choice or Best Western property.

Originally appeared on Quora

How do hotels dispose of 'slightly dirty' towels?

'Slightly dirty' towels go into the hotel laundry: we don't give up on them that easily. Towels are only retired if they show a stain that won't come out  or they start to get discolored or frayed. (If it's not too noticeable, we dye it blue and use it as a pool towel: otherwise, it gets dyed red and the housekeepers use it as a cleaning rag.)

Image result for dirty hotel laundry

Originally appeared on Quora

First jobs, and inauspicious (however fortunately inconspicuous) beginnings . . .

Inspired by an article by Larry Mogelonsky at HOTELSMag.com
(Screenshot appears at bottom...)
------------------------------------
My own first job in a hotel was working for a group of drug traffickers, who were using a pair of Durham, N. C. hotels as a money laundering operation.
I am not making this up.
After I left that job, I was actually questioned by North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (NCDPS - Alcohol Law Enforcement ) about their activities, told the ALE guys everything I knew (which amounted to . . . nothing at all other than that my former employers were people of highly questionable character, reputation, and wisdom - although by then, I wouldn't have put it past them at all to be involved in something like that, which was a big part of why I'd moved on to another job . . .). I then shared what I found out from the ALE guys with my former g.m. (we were still friends, and I was confident she wouldn't be involved in anything illegal); and while at first she didn't believe a word of it (she knew I didn't think too much of the company's 'owners'), I later learned from her, right after she resigned abruptly from that company, that I 'was right about them all along'.

Image result for imperial 400 motor inn durham
The 400 in its younger days, as Durham's original Holiday Inn.
And I had been fixed up with that job by a Durham city councilman.


How do you get into hotel management?

Start as a night auditor; preferably in the largest full-service hotel, with the most food-and-beverage, meeting and banquet, lounge and gift shop operations on premises, that you can get to hire you.

It's actually a pretty easy job to get as far as hotel front-office jobs go - the hours are crap. It runs in most properties at 11 at night to 7 in the morning, (and no, it can't be done in the daytime), which is why the demand exceeds supply when the economy is good and jobs are plentiful, and why supply doesn't exceed demand by much when jobs are scarce and you see more people competing for any job they can get (including hotel night audit jobs with crappy hours). You don't want to be there forever, but as you yourself pointed out, you're there to learn.



That's where you learn how the numbers go together and what affects them, essential know-how for the management of any business.

Pay attention to what you're doing in that job. Back in the day, experience was a plus, but if you brought along sufficient accounting skills to balance your checkbook the old fashioned way (using the form printed on the back of your bank statement, making the entries and doing the math; rather than just checking your balance online), you could be trained - balancing accounts, after all, is most of what the job of night audit is about. (Most business get audited by their accountants every quarter. Hotels are unique in that they get audited every night.)  Nowadays, nearly all hotels have computerized front desk management systems; so to too many hire-for-personality-and-train-for-ability hotel 'administrators' and the people they insist on hiring, the job consists mostly of going down a list of reports to be printed, and printing out, and collating and routing, several stacks of reports. If it wasn't for the fact that it's necessary to do a bucket check and confirm the rates of all your guests, and make sure your cash and credit card totals balance (as well as your restaurant and banquet checks if it's a full-service hotel), a trained monkey or service animal could do it. 

How many staff is needed for a 60 room hotel?

You need as many as you need. It's not a Navy ship: you don't have a "compliment" (I'm not a believer in organizational charts), but you've got a lot of work to do, and you need a number of people there who can get it all done.

Image result for hotel staff meeting
Some people try to run a hotel without a 24-hour front desk, but with over 30 rooms (and anything smaller is a bed-and-breakfast, or a Mom and Pop), I wouldn't try anything like that. So the front desk has to be attended 24–7 -- 168 hours per week. Four full-time equivalent employees could get it done, with one odd shift left over for the general manager to take a turn at driving the desk each week (which is a practice I'd encourage anyway, especially in a property that small).
You're probably going to need more than four people. Between the inevitable scheduling issues, people calling off, occasional turnover, and some people who just don't want to work more than four days a week; if you try to get by with just four bodies, you're going to be vulnerable to incurring overtime pay. But on the front desk, you're still going to have the equivalent of four people working 40 hours a week, plus the extra eight hour shift.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What would you do with an historic hotel built in the 1920s that was condemned and is now being given a new life as a boutique hotel?

Bring a large budget and a crowbar. And leave both of them locked up securely in the trunk of the car until you've checked out the neighborhood very thoroughly. 

(Of course, if in checking out the neighborhood, you think you might need to get to that crowbar in a hurry, I'd pass on that hotel. We'll get to that part.)

I love old hotels and old theatres (So much history yet to make... | You don't see this anymore... | Old theatres (Rockin' the Paradise . . .) and I've barely started on those Pinterest boards . . .  ), particularly those having some, at least local, historic significance. (The brand new Microtel on the next exit will be old in about 70 years, but not necessarily historic - 'cheap old' doesn't get it. The life expectancy of any building - like that of a person, and not entirely coincidentally - is seventy-something years. Yes, there are a lot of 80- or 100- or 200-year-old buildings out there, but in order to make that average work the way it does, there have to be an equal number that didn't make it past 40, or 50, or 60 . . .). 



But while a project like this can be rewarding in terms of more than just financial return, you want to be careful with your emotions on something this delicate and potentially tricky . . .

Here are some things you should know before you even begin.


When does the prices on hotels go down on the holidays?

Business travel is the bread and butter for most reputable hotels. (An older, cheaper, more run-down property with little business travel survives on the crumbs from the table of reputable hotels in its area.) And during any holiday - especially family holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter - business travel falls off. Everyone has family to think about, everyone has time off coming, no one feels like doing any business. 

Image result for hotel christmas

Resort locations play by a slightly different set of rules, but - while these holidays come with extra free time and increased travel - family events prevail.

Some locations; Bethlehem, Pa., Gatlinburg, Tenn. (near Dollywood) and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with major holiday-oriented events, benefit somewhat from the lag - but often not enough to make up the loss in its entirety unless it's a year-round resort location.

But fixed expenses for the hotel continue, the bills still have to be paid, the staff has to be kept doing some work, and the hotel has to be kept open. 

So the law of supply and demand kicks in and does its power and magic - we drop the rates a bit, keep that much money coming in; and if you are traveling during one of those holiday times, you get a bit of a bargain.

Originally appeared on Quora

Why are hotels expensive even in developing countries?

Because most hotels  - at least, those built by American or European countries - are built to American or European standards (or, to be fair, the standards that prevail in the world's most advanced nations).

You're not going to go to a developing country and skimp or cut corners or take shortcuts on building codes, building materials, furnishings, or fire codes or fire safety in building a hotel there. If something went wrong, it could go very badly for you, at the very least in terms of public relations. Or, if you furnished it on the cheap or used cheap materials, your property would within a few years stick out as less than your other properties and give your entire group a bad name.  

Image result for marriott lusaka

You'll want to offer the same furnishings and amenities, because that's what your customer base (and without a pretty good idea who the customer base is going to be, I won't even buy or build in the next town, never mind a developing country) counts upon you for and expects to see when they arrive, so you don't want it unraveling.

Also, you're dealing with increased costs: many of the things with which you'll be furnishing your hotel will have to be imported. Luanda, Angola, for one extreme example, has been on several lists of the world's most expensive cities for a few years now. Its economy never quite recovered from a civil war that occurred a few decades ago, so literally everything of value in that country has to be imported: plan on adding shipping and import duties. And now, they've found oil reserves there, creating a supply-and-demand problem on top of that. Meanwhile, the biggest need in that country for a few years to come?  Housing. Plan on exorbitant land and construction costs.

I attempted to answer your question as I understood it (Why don't hotels get any cheaper as the rent and cost of living declines in less developed parts of the world?) I apologize if I did not understand the question correctly and did not give an appropriate answer accordingly. (Why is a hotel expensive by contrast to rent and cost of living, even in developing countries?  It's like that everywhere.)

Originally appeared on Quora

How do hotel owners shop for management companies?

Generally, the client-owner has a problem (or a want, or a dream, or a desire, in the case of a developer who wants to build a new hotel; but even that's a 'problem': at least that's a problem worth having); and goes to whoever he thinks can offer a solution. He's often not aware that there are even as many choices as there are to pick from.
Sometimes, it's a banker or an attorney or a franchise brand rep who refers him to a management company (usually a much larger, more established one). Sometimes, they actually do go online in search of one.
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I know they don't all consult Forbes magazine, but I've gotten several calls as a result of articles I've written that were published on Forbes - every one of which was picked up by Forbes right here on Quora, and none of which contained my phone number. They just read the piece in Forbes, googled Beechmont, and found my badly SEO'd website that I only launched back in the spring (I need to find a way to fix that robots.txt), and a bunch of my answers on Quora (I love it that Google spiders Quora answers individually).
If one goes through my accumulated material on Quora, one can learn a lot about me and how I like to work . . . and then I get a call. As a way to get my foot in the door, I'll take that any day of the week over being one of those guys dressed up in a tailored suit and tie (which I avoid wearing to work: I'm too much of a hands-on guy) and phony smile, posing on a grand staircase in an upscale hotel lobby; like I've seen on a few management company websites. (No one's going to hire me for my looks, anyway. And frankly, that's just the way I like it.)
But that's just how people pick me.

If I check into a hotel room, and something about the room is unacceptable, how do I proceed?

Don't be shy about saying something. Housekeeping issues, dirty linens on the bed or dirty cups in the sink, are particularly unacceptable, and no decent hotel will expect you to endure that. If nothing else, they'll switch you to another room if you tell someone at the desk right away.

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Old linens should be replaced as needed, and if an older, cheaper hotel tries to get too many more uses out of them, they're going to look dirty even if freshly washed. One problem I've frequently encountered in such properties back in the day is that a guest will complain that the sheets on the bed are dirty. That's a no-win situation for both the guest and the clerk. Back in my day, I could get you new sheets - but they're going to come out of the same laundry room from which the housekeepers got the 'dirty' ones that are now on your bed . . . 

So, if you suspect that's the case, I'd find another hotel the next time you're in that town.

Originally appeared on Quora

Is it stealing if you take certain items in your already paid-for hotel room like soap, shampoo, stationery, etc?

We expect guests to either use or to take consumable items - soap, shampoo, stationery, etc. You're welcome.

Things like towels, hair dryers, lamps, TVs, TV remotes (I think some guests are mutant aliens who eat TV remotes. Like, gee, the remote can't be counted upon to work with any TV anywhere except the one in the room, but they do travel . . . ), alarm clock radios, comforters, coffeemakers, bedspreads, blankets, etc., are obviously intended for the next guests, are part of the furnishings, and we don't want you taking them. They are also a bit more costly - in a cheap motel, almost as much as you paid for the room in some cases, and definitely more than our profit margin in many more cases - so yes, we go a little nuts when people help themselves to them.



Bathrobes occupy a grey area in the middle. Some hotels provide them as part of the bedding, and want to launder them and hang them for another guest when you check out. On the other hand, in a more upscale property, some people actually assume that they're gifts - with the hotel's blessing. Something like that is a good promotional item, if a little on the pricy side for a midscale hotel: if you did it at all, you'd only do it for your most important customers. I wouldn't provide them in every room to every guest, but a VIP might find a bathrobe monogrammed with the hotel logo left in the room, as a gift. (Not all of them get opened or taken in places where I've seen it done that way.)