Saturday, April 29, 2017

What is the difference between a hotel and a motel?

Years ago -- decades, in fact -- some state tourism office down in Florida offered a prize, somewhere in the mid five figures, to anyone who could come up with an answer to that question that would be authoritative enough to generate agreement by all as to a proper definition, and thus written into law whenever a legal distinction had to be made or acknowledged.

The prize remains unclaimed to this day*.

Image result for motel

The closest anyone has ever come to a definition that has met with some agreement, is based upon the means of access to the rooms: Hotels - with some exceptions - have interior corridors, and you leave your car in a parking lot, enter through a main lobby, maybe take an elevator, and walk down an interior hallway to your room. Motels (the term 'motel' originated as a portmanteau word for 'motor hotel') have exterior corridors: you can park directly in front of your room (quite often, if you're on the ground floor, you can park directly in front of your door).


Why do high-end hotels insist on charging for Wi-Fi service or "resort fees"?

It's sleazy, black-hat marketing. They count on you to pay it rather than kick up a fuss. Often, they will remove the charge if you persist in objecting after they make one attempt to 'explain' it to you (they try that much because some people will, however willingly or grudgingly, come around with an attempt at explanation). It's like that catch on and similar sites that you don't notice in the fine print, that signs you up in some sort of 'savings club' having a very unclear, if any, purpose, at a $3.00 monthly charge on your credit card bill: a lot of people let it slide, at least for a few months, rather than call them up, wait on hold for twenty minutes, and demand to cancel the 'enrollment'.

Image result for resort fees

One of my own pet peeves in that area is that dollar per night extra charge that gets tacked on to your bill for 'insurance' on the contents of your in-room safe, whether you use the safe or not. Most people don't notice it. Even the contract with the safe supplier provides that the hotel is supposed to take it off if someone complains about it. There may even be a case where an in-room safe was broken into, someone made a claim on that insurance, and the insurance paid off the claim, but I'm not aware of any.

Do hotel cleaning people sometimes steal items from the rooms of their guests?

Rarely. You might be surprised, if you've never worked in a hotel, just how so.

Even the dumbest room attendant knows that whatever the temptation, if it happens, the guest will say something right away as soon as he or she notices the item missing, and there's always a record of who cleaned which room. In most hotels - and in any well-run hotel - there's just no way to do it and not get found out. And busted. Very quickly.

Image result for hotel room thief

And any hotel owner or manager (who aren't always necessarily smarter than the housekeepers) knows that if a problem develops, unless it's addressed and dealt with immediately and conclusively, he or she is going to lose control of how to contain it. (For example, once a police car rolls up, which will happen if it's an item of any serious value, there's going to be an investigation, which means housekeepers being interviewed - on company time - by the cops.) So there is no incentive for a hotel owner or manager to cover up for (or even put up with) one or more sticky-fingered housekeepers, and at least some disincentive for even the grungiest manager of even the rattiest motel to tolerate it. Usually when there's a problem, it's the fault of weak or incompetent management, not complicit management.

I'll give you a pair of travel tips.

Hotel Management: What is a healthy ratio of food & beverage revenue to room revenue?

Zero to irrelevant. (I'm not being a wise guy. I'm serious.)
  • If you have a limited service or select service operation with a breakfast, manager's reception, or snacks and sodas provided to attendees of your events in whatever meeting or small conference space you have; then you have no f&b revenue or, if you do (say, the eight to ten bucks you can be asked to pay for a cooked-to-order breakfast at a Hilton Garden Inn), food is only incidental to your main business of renting the rooms, or renting the conference facility. The $8-10 you charge for breakfast at a Hyatt Place (another one of those new, 'upscale select service' brands that, along with Hilton Garden Inn, are a growing segment of the business . . .) will take the edge off the cost of providing it, but will not amount to a significant revenue source by comparison to your room charges - if it even completely covers the cost of providing the food.
Image result for hotel restaurant

How often are items purchased from hotel minibars?

We don't mess with them. All of the things that Stacy Jean noted in her answer to the question (Stacy Jean's answer ), we noticed years and years ago.

Image result for hotel minibar systems

Don't assume that everything that shows up in a hotel is a 'profit center' simply because it comes at a price. Sometimes, it's simply there for guest convenience. (Indeed, many people miss many of the things that, over the years, have been eliminated because it neither can be provided at a good enough profit for the hotel to be much of a 'profit center', nor can the hotel give it out as a free amenity; and in either case, can be provided at the cost of more bother than it's worth. See Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What features of restaurants and hotels have almost completely vanished? .)

Long-distance telephone is one modern-day example: the 'profit' from it is negligible, unless you price it so high that the guest feels like she's been gouged when the call shows up on her bill. Indeed, even Red Roof Inns offer it as a free amenity. (And Red Roof is an economy chain: one of the things that go with successfully running an economy property is aggressively watching the bottom line - and watching it with the free amenities, especially those that you can't limit a guest's use of.)

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.

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

Is there a demand for a well-designed hotel website service?

Nothing would please me more. If the cost were modest, I'd probably use it even for hotels that don't really 'need' it. (Franchised properties, and Best Western member properties, each have their own webpages on the big brand site. They might have a static website of their own, but click the 'reservation' link, and you go to the franchise organization's reservation page for that property.)

But that's just me.

The problem you're going to encounter in marketing such a thing is that owners of franchised properties expect the franchise to hand them everything - and if they don't, it's presumably because they don't have it to give. If the owner has a 72-room property, he expects the central reservations system to send him fifty new reservations a night. In real life, it doesn't work that way. So, he concludes, it's not possible: after all, Choice and Wyndham are professionals. Or, if it's a corporate-owned property, they might hire an in-house sales director, who'll try to pull it off by soliciting personal connections and face-to-face contacts in the area - 'sales' without any good marketing. There seems to be no convincing people that better can be expected or demanded of a hotel website.

The problem you're going to encounter with franchise organizations is, they're collecting fees and royalties on what they have at minimal investment to themselves, so why should they invest in anything more? (Likewise, why should a grungy biker bar with tattoo-covered topless dancers spend the money to renovate into an upscale gentlemen's club? They're already making all the money they can imagine with exactly what they have, and the overhead is as low as it can get . . . You get the idea.)

Image result for hotel website

Here's my wish list: Stand by for lots of edits - and additions - over coming months: I'm just getting started. And I intend to never finish - this business is constantly evolving. (Anyone who tells you otherwise probably runs an older property with a badly dated '70's appearance that smells musty and is probably in need of serious renovations.)

Rate configurability:

I want more than 'Best Available Rate', AAA-AARP, and whatever whiz-bang promotion the franchise organization has going that, as often as not, has your hotel renting a room for next to nothing so the franchise as a 'whole' can benefit. One feature of a very suite-intensive (if not all-suites in all locations) new brand that we're working on ( , if you want an advance sneak peek) is going to be a rack rate that drops automatically if you request a stay of three days or more, and again if you request a stay of a week or more.

What tool can businesses use to negotiate rates for their company at hotels?

Both Priceline and Hotwire have opaque booking capability, if all you're looking to do is book a cheap room from time to time. In order to get the cheap-cheap rates they occasionally have available, you have to take the room they give you, at the hotel they give you. Opaque is what Hotwire is all about, and Priceline still has its 'name your price' feature that's a standby for bad inventory planning on the part of the hotel, or for new hotels trying to assemble a critical mass of customers in a hurry.

Image result for hotel rate negotiation

When negotiating a corporate or group account with one or more hotels for your company, you need to be thinking 'high-touch', not 'high-tech'. I'm not aware of any software that will do it for you. It's a service, not a product. There's skill and even a little human instinct involved: it can't be reduced to an algorithm that can be processed by a computer.

Hotel Management: What's a good multiple to use for ADR when trying to figure out the average daily rate for a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom suite?

For an entire hotel, average daily rate - ADR - is ADR (your total room revenue for the night divided by the number of rooms you rented that night, period, regardless of room type or room inventory). You can't really pro-rate it for two or three-room suites, because you can't rent just one room in a suite and leave the other unoccupied, or rent it to someone else. ("ADKey" is a term so not in use to describe a hotel statistic, that you can't even get any relevant hits if you Google it, which I attempted before I answered your question; but I guess you could refer to it as ADKey if you want, since that's about the size of it.)

Image result for hotel suite

ADR works better as a statistic if it is applied to similar room types; the more similar, the better. I could see applying ADR to an entire hotel with a mix of rooms and suites then, in addition, calculating ADR for standard rooms (and within that, ADR for doubles, ADR for kings, etc.), as well as ADR for suites (then within that, ADR for 'shotgun' suites like you'd find in a Comfort Suites or the older Embassy Suites, ADR for studio suites, ADR for one-bedroom suites, ADR for two-bedroom suites, etc.); as useful information.

Do hotels/maids prefer that I leave the room cleaned?

It's thoughtful -- and we really should be more grateful -- but believe it or not, it actually makes very little difference.

Of course, we'd rather have you as a guest than a rock band or someone throwing a wild party (or even just two or three nasty people, if they're really nasty people) that leaves the room completely trashed. But we allocate a half hour to clean a standard hotel room after a guest checks out, so we must figure the cost of that half hour into it; and that'll never change.

Image result for hotel maid

Part of it is that 99.9999% of people will just not tidy up behind themselves enough so that we can ever, ever count upon a reduction in that. But ultimately, it's because we still have to strip the sheets and change the beds, vacuum, and go over all the surfaces - especially in the bath - with disinfectant cleaner, and those three tasks alone take up most of the time involved, no matter how you tidy up behind yourself.

What happens to the half-used toilet paper roll left in a hotel room bathroom?

I've been the general manager of four different hotels of varying price and quality prior to forming my own company, and have never once had a housekeeper or room attendant come to me with an almost-used-up roll of toilet paper and a story that goes like, "this is all the toilet paper that was left on the roll in 207, it's not going to last the next guest even one trip to the toilet, much less an entire stay, so I put a new roll on: what do you want me to do with what's left of this one?"

Perhaps much of the reason why is . . . well, have you noticed the wall-mounted toilet paper dispenser in even the cheapest hotels?

Notice there's an unopened 'backup roll' in the recess behind the roll that's mounted on the roller. Guests in a room can use up the last of a roll, and there's another roll back there that they can move along to if they need more.

What are the oddest objects hotel staff have found left behind by guests?

This is a tricky question. In addition to the usual-usual - wallets (not a frequent occurrence because the guest needs his credit cards to check out, but it still sometimes happens, sometimes with a few hundred in cash inside), small jewelry items (usually, for some strange reason, a single earring, rarely both of a pair . . .), cell phones, cell phone chargers especially (I've said before, some guests are mutant aliens who eat TV remotes, but just as many try to make up for it just a little by leaving a cell phone charger behind), loose articles of clothing, small electronic items like an MP3 player, occasional loose food items (maybe a bottle of water or soda), toys (usually a stuffed animal, baby doll or teddy bear) - we're always finding weird things guests left behind . . .

Image result for hotel lost and found

  • A guest's entire baggage - not quite, but almost, a complete wardrobe. Where it gets really odd is when they never call to reclaim it. It's like the guy walked out with the clothes on his back, and never looked back. You'd think we should consider filing a missing persons report, but we lack either standing or sufficient reason to believe something bad actually happened to him.
  • A refrigerator full of food. Or beer. Or bottles of liquor, sometimes unopened.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Military town markets: Why a catastrophic natural disaster, that would wipe out most of Fayetteville, North Carolina, would be for “Fayettenam’s” own good.

A 2015 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell -- and several other publications -- suggested that the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 culminated in an ultimate, net benefit to many of those affected, and evacuated from the city following the storm.

Why? Because life in New Orleans was already so dysfunctional for so many of those people, and opportunities were so scare, to begin with – even before the storm – that they were better off nearly anywhere they could have been sent. The only reason they hadn’t left already was because even if they could afford to move to another city, they could never have imagined that things might be better somewhere else.

Many of course decided to stay wherever they happened to be evacuated as a result of the storm (Houston, Texas, in a lot of cases, which is above-average in terms of where your chances would be best, if you wanted to go to a strange big city, start your life over from scratch, and seek your fortune), and New Orleans permanently lost a lot of its population.

The only place they could have been sent, where they would have been worse off, the article noted prominently, would have been . . . Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Congratulations, Fayetteville. 

Image result for hurricane katrina new orleans

Not too many cities in the country – not even Detroit – can claim that the best thing that could happen to so many of the people of who live in them would be to be displaced by a catastrophic natural disaster. Fayetteville, like New Orleans prior to Katrina, is overpopulated. 

It could be said that they literally need to run off some people.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hotels for sale: Red Roof Inn, Parkersburg, West Virginia

Okay, who wants to go to Parkersburg?  There are two hotels on the market here . . .

Image result for parkersburg wv

Property offering

PARKERSBURG, WV 26104-3879

Image result for red roof inn parkersburg wv

Listing broker: HREC Investment Advisors

TripAdvisor reviews: Bubble score 3.5

This bubble score is dismal for a Red Roof Inn, although we've seen worse.

Property website:

Red Roof Inn Parkersburg -- Red Roof Inn child site

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is it OK to reserve hotel rooms and resell them as a business?

We won’t let you do it with ours, because we have no control over who you re-sell them to, and it becomes a security issue.

We have a company policy on “warehousing”: a room may only be rented to the actual guest, who will actually occupy it. It’s my only assurance that you’re not hiding Tad Cummins and his 15-year-old companion in there.

Related image

There are several online travel agencies to whom we make available a certain quantity of rooms, but they don’t actually reserve the rooms until they have a buyer — who, immediately upon their referral of that reservation to us, is subject to the same scrutiny as any other customer seeking to register as a guest. We have their full information. We’re not running a movie theatre or a football stadium, no one reserves rooms and, on the arrival date, shows up with a ticket entitling them to that room.

How do I plan my career path to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 hotel chain?

Wrong question.
If you insist, you'd have to ask Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt -- those are the only hotel chains on the Fortune 500. (Actually there are four, but Starwood has been bought out by Marriott.) Accor didn't make it. Somehow, IHG, the owner of Holiday Inns, didn't, either. (Of course, I could learn more about Fortune’s methodology, but I don’t bother because I don’t pay that much attention to the Fortune 500.) Companies like Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts made it, but they're in the casino business, not the hotel business.
Image result for hilton hotels
A better question would be, what would you do as CEO of one of those companies if you had the job? It’s a question that every applicant for any accountability in my company, especially that of a hotel manager, gets asked and I’d better like their answer — what would you do with this job if I gave it to you? What would you do with this hotel if I put you in as g.m.?
Because once you've settled on a good answer to the question, what would you do as CEO of one of those companies if you had the job? (and of course, will they like your answer? — don’t forget that part), two things happen.

Why do some hotels have two brands, chain and independent? (Some hotels have names like these : Four Seasons George V, Fairmont The Plaza, Fairmont The Savoy, Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, etc. Are these type of agreements common? Would these be considered managed properties instead of franchise or other form of agreement?)

These are merely location descriptors, not part of the brand itself (except for the individual property described); and have nothing to do with whether the property is managed directly by the chain that owns the brand or is franchised . . .

They’re necessary in places where there is more than one property operating under that brand in a single city, town or place. The most ‘obvious’ example of the need that I’ve ever seen was the Marriott Crystal City and the Marriott Crystal Gateway, two entirely separate, self-contained, big-box Marriott hotels, but both located in the Crystal City complex in Arlington, Virginia, about 1500 feet and across the U. S. 1 traffic artery from each other. But in order to have the Hampton Inns in your town designated as the Hampton Inn-North and the Hampton Inn-Airport, your town only has to be large enough to have two Hampton Inns, one in each of those parts of it.

Image result for marriott crystal gateway

They may be desirable where an individual property has a history of its own as an iconic property prior to its affiliation with its current brand. Some examples would be the Radisson Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa., back when the Historic Hotel Bethlehem was a Radisson; and the The Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N. C. (The Grove Park Inn was there for the better part of a century before it signed with the Omni brand). With some iconic, high-profile hotels, it’s almost like allowing them to use the chain affiliation as a soft brand.

Originally appeared on Quora

Can I work in hospitality without a hotel degree?

I do, and I don’t have a hotel degree. (Mine’s in architectural technology, from a two-year comm-tech program. I’m a drafter by trade. When I completed the program, none of the area architects were hiring, so I ended up with a job as a night auditor in a hotel at the then-not-much-more-than-minimum-wage of $4.00 per hour, but it all worked out . . . )

Image result for cornell school of hotel administration

If you want to run a really upscale, specialized, or complex property — a big box Hilton or Marriott with food, beverage and meeting space; a luxury property or resort — a degree in hotel administration or a specialized hospitality field is very helpful.

But much of it is going to be wasted on a select service or economy property, and that is where most people who are employed in hotels work.

It’s also the only kind of hotel we manage. We have, in one location, a Hotel RL in development. (We like the concept, so if it performs well, and running it and having it bring in enough revenue to keep the bills paid doesn’t drive us nuts, we may do more, because it looks like something that would be a particularly fun hotel to run). That one hotel will have about the most complexity — the food and beverage operation, ‘The Living Stage’, the meeting space — that we have any plans to deal with in the foreseeable future in any of our hotels.

Michael Forrest Jones' answer to How do you get into hotel management?

Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What is a smart answer to "Why should I choose you over the other candidates"?

Originally appeared on Quora

Does your cat meow back to you when you talk to it?

My two cats don’t, but some do.

I’ve had cats that did. And I could introduce you to one that does.

This is Sally. She’s the official mascot at the Brookstown Inn in Winston-Salem, N.C., one of my favorite hotels in the area. I was doing some work for them a year and a half ago, and we’ve ‘spoken’ quite a few times.

The Historic Brookstown Inn - Timeline

Sally is a hotel cat, and the almost perfect hotel cat at that.

(One of the things The Algonquin in New York is famous for — besides the Round Table and the $10,000 martini — is an even more famous hotel cat, Matilda. She gets lots of fan mail — the hotel g.m.’s administrative assistant and ‘chief cat officer’ helps her out with answering it, since she ‘doesn’t have thumbs and can’t hit the space bar’ — she has her own Facebook page, and they have a big birthday party for her every year in the ballroom.)

The terminology

Thanks, Anthony (Timeline Photos - Anthony Melchiorri | Facebook ). This could be the start of something big once we keep adding to it and linking back to it.

Some terms are industry jargon, others are specific to a particular brand or chain.

Contributions are welcome.

'Bucket': A vertical file, with a tabbed divider for each room in the hotel, into which the registration sheet that you signed is stored until you check out. In the days before computers, when this was a much more useful piece of equipment, it was also the repository for your bill (see folio).

What are some good questions to ask a customer service candidate in an interview?

Define 'service'.

(This assumes you use your interview process to not only acquaint your applicant with your company culture, and what the expectations are like, etc., but to actually get to know him or her in a meaningful way, as well . . .)

You do encounter a lot of people in this business who like to see that Wind-up Barbie Doll 'Service Personality' With The Beaming Pan-Am Smile - and accordingly, you do have applicants show up with the notion that that's what'll be expected of them and that's what they should try to project. (It only shows that applicants and experienced managers alike have a pretty screwed up idea of what 'service' is all about.)

Image result for customer service

Let's start by defining what service is not. Service is not self-demeaning. It's not self-deprecating. It's not sycophancy. It's not inauthentic. It's not dressing up your staff in an organ grinder's monkey vest or a fake, cheap tux. It's not using scripted customer greeting: you don't 'make the guest feel welcome' by manipulating the guest.

Where did all those clowns come from?

I keep Bozo around when I want to bust on a hotel chain or franchise organization . . . Figure, if I'm going to use one as a punching dummy, they may as well look the part.

Michael Forrest Jones' answer to Business Travel: How far should hotels go to please and appease dissatisfied or unhappy guests?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Are hotel reviews more relevant in the buying process than the categorization by hotel stars?

Think of it as the difference between the Emmys and the People's Choice Awards.

The 'stars' are ratings based upon the hotel's service and amenity level - you have to have a free continental breakfast to get this many stars, you have to have a restaurant and lounge to get that many stars, you have to have room service to get one more. Michelin, AAA, and anyone else who awards 'stars' each has their own criteria re how many 'stars' to award for which set of amenities: they're their stars to give, and they make the rules and give them out as they please (Hotel rating ). If I want to develop a new 'four-star hotel', I'm going to make sure I plan ahead for my new hotel to have everything on those lists of requirements for a four-star rating.

Image result for red roof inn

The reviews by guests on TripAdvisor are submitted by guests (hopefully real guests, not sales staff - Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What's the best site for getting hotel reviews? ), and based on their experience staying at the hotel.

How do online travel agencies offer such low hotel prices?

They don't. We do. It comes out of our hide. Online travel agencies charge high commissions to the hotels. charges 20%., Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and others charge between 22 and 25%. And that's if you have a franchise affiliation and let your franchise organization negotiate it for you.

Image result for online travel agencies

And those are the ones where you -- the consumer -- don't get that much of a bargain. A contract between a hotel and an online travel agency provides for 'rate parity': each OTA wants a promise from the hotel that the rate provided to it is the lowest publicly available rate, and provides stiff penalties to the hotel if a lower rate is found elsewhere. Likewise, every franchise organization offers some version of a 'Best Internet Rate Guarantee', and holds their franchisees to it. (I should have listened to my dad and made it my goal to go to Duke Law when I was a kid: I smell a lucrative opportunity here for a mass tort lawyer to file a class action suit on antitrust and price fixing claims . . .). Since the 'lowest publicly available rate'/'Best Internet Rate' can only be one number, and that number can't be any lower and still be either the 'lowest publicly available rate'/'Best Internet Rate' ; what you pay on any of those websites is going to be very close to the hotel's 'Best Available Rate', the rack rate (see Michael Forrest Jones' answer to What is and why do hotels have a rack rate? )

Why are hotels expensive even in developing countries? (Relative to rent and cost of living.)

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 luanda 

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.

What's the best site for getting hotel reviews? (I have been on a few review sites, but to be honest sometimes it seems like half the reviews are written by hotel employees. I wonder if some sites like Trip Advisor or similar sites have a way of making sure that the reviews are real...)

TripAdvisor. They have their faults and failings, but love them or hate them, they have a natural monopoly.

Likewise, Google Plus may very well be a better personal social media platform, but they're never going to get everyone to migrate off Facebook because everyone else that everyone knows is on Facebook. So are all of their accumulated posts, status updates and cat pictures for the past ten years, which won't all be easily moved over to Google Plus.

So even if it were possible to build and launch a better travel review site, we'd still be stuck with TripAdvisor. The accumulated reviews for every hotel in the world, based on TripAdvisor's status for quite a few years now as the hotel review website, where one automatically goes to check a hotel, or read a review, is worth something and is indeed a valuable database. 

Image result for fake tripadvisor reviews

Every time I want to check out a hotel that I see listed for sale by a hotel broker, for example, TripAdvisor is the very next place I look. The broker will tell me things to make the hotel look good and worth a higher offer. The management will tell me things to make themselves appear to be worth keeping and left to do things they've always done them. A client-investor contemplating signing us to a management contract will tell us the things that support his own dream and vision, whether or not either is realistic in the future or grounded in past or present reality. But reading several pages of TripAdvisor reviews and taking them together will give me a pretty good idea what I'm really going to find when I get there, even if I've never visited that city before . . .

If I check into a hotel room, and something about the room is unacceptable, how do I proceed? (Say for example something about the cleanliness of the room: Dirty linens on the bed or dirty cups in the sink. Who do I contact? What is a polite way to let them know the room is not to standards and I need help getting it cleaned or changing rooms?)

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.

Image result for dirty hotel room meme

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

How far should hotels go to please and appease dissatisfied or unhappy guests?

I've seen very well-run hotels - ranging from economy to full service - draw a high number of guest complaints. I've seen some very sloppily run hotels - properties with obvious housekeeping, maintenance, or service problems - that drew almost none at all. Some of my colleagues have also noticed the phenomenon, so we sat down one time, asked why, and actually drew a graph. (X axis=frequency and occurrence of guest complaints on a scale of 1 to 10, Y axis=condition of property and quality of staff, service, etc. - 'is this a good hotel?' - on a scale of 1 to 10) and included every property in which any of us had ever worked.

What set the 'high-guest-complaint' hotels apart from where the guests were more content? Managers and staff buy into the complaints when they occur. Yes, you want to keep the guests happy; yes, you don't argue with an unhappy guest and yes, of course, you want to be sensitive to their needs and fix the problem. But the flipside of that is, you don't swing the other way. You don't get emotionally invested in the guest or the complaint, you don't over-respond... effectively, you don't "reward" the guest for having a complaint. You apologize, fix the complaint - and stop when the problem's been solved and the guest is happy and willing to come back, and leave it at that. Added 'delight' on the part of the guest following a problem or complaint gives you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but over time it works against you.

Image result for guest complaint

(Yes, I want the guest to be 'delighted' too, to experience a higher level of satisfaction than he or she expected. But I want it to happen in response to what we do well, 99.5% of the time, not as a result of a one-out-of-two-hundred complaint. Doing good is the norm for what we do. Problems are the exception.)

Stop! Enough already with the 'adobe colors', and the earthtones, and the stucco and EFIS in hotel renovations! . . .

Image result for tammy faye bakker makeup
The patron saint of bad hotel exterior renovation, rest her soul. (I never hated Tammy Faye or really held her past association with Jim Bakker and The PTL Club scandal back in the 1980's against her, I just think her 'extremism is no vice in the war against aging' approach to the application of cheap cosmetics was a bit extreme, and has since been a bad influence on hotel renovation architecture . . .)

My current exterior design scheme of choice is to paint it white. White symbolizes purity.

And more to the point, nobody can argue with white.

(Well, obviously, someone could and did, given a recent design trend in hotel exteriors. I could see it as a fad, but it's gone on for ten years now and gotten to be too much. I'm sharing this piece on Twitter, where I'm followed by a few more people in the design field, so that in a year or two, hopefully, I can be credited with putting an end to it . . .)

Perhaps it's unimaginative, but someone out there must be getting pretty sick of that disgusting earth-tone yellow (especially combined with a blah brown) that it's become fashionable to paint stucco/EFIS hotels these days . . .

Hotel for sale: Days Inn, Lexington N. C. (No longer available)

Property offering

Listing broker: For sale by owner, via Loopnet

TripAdvisor reviews: Bubble score 4.0

Property website:

The facility:

This is an attractive, mixed corridor (exterior corridor lower floor, interior corridor upstairs) facility built in 1991.

It shouldn't be a Days Inn: Days Inn was a great company its day, but its day was back in the 1980's and today, the Days Inn brand is a disease.

(The Days Inn brand is a minor cold that you can medicate and still make it to work with if you have to, to give Days Inn some credit -- unlike Ramada, Howard Johnsons, Travelodge, Clarion, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Red Carpet Inn and Scottish Inn; which are repulsive, disabling viruses by comparison -- but still a disease.)

This facility was originally developed as a Comfort Suites -- back when Comfort Suites was a new brand that permitted mixed-corridor properties -- and the suites are 12-by-33 feet, about six to nine feet longer than a conventional hotel room, with a partial dividing wall. You've got nice, big rooms.

Image result for days inn lexington nc

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hotels for sale: Gold Rock Inn and Suites, Rocky Mount, N. C.

Image result for gold rock inn and suites rocky mount nc

Property offering

This property appears to be a late 1960’s era Ramada Inn prototype. We've seen copies.

The current owner is being chased out, perhaps by evil forces who wield some level of corrupting influence with the Nash County Commissioners and are out to steal his land from him, bulldoze his hotel, and build yet another I-95 truck stop . . . but much more likely by Nash County authorities who have had it up to here already with his management of the property and his clientele, the drugs, the prostitution, and the frequency of 911 calls, and are now commencing a public nuisance abatement proceeding against the property in the North Carolina courts.

Nonetheless, with a top to bottom renovation, we think it just might still have a future in front of it as a hotel. (Yes, a respectable and even quite desirable one, where you can check in with your wife and kids.)


Listing broker: David Combs, Century 21-The Combs Company, Rocky Mount, N. C.

TripAdvisor reviews: This property is such a run-down voodoo hellhole that it doesn't even show up on TripAdvisor, and that takes some doing.

Read more.

Hotels for sale: Comfort Inn, Parkersburg, West Virginia

Image result for comfort inn parkersburg wv

Okay, who wants to go to Parkersburg? There are two hotels on the market here . . .

Property offering

Listing broker: Laurel Hotel Brokers, via LoopNet

TripAdvisor reviews: Bubble score 4.0

Property website:

Comfort Inn, Parkersburg (Choice Hotels child site)

Asking price$3,650,000.00Given
Number of rooms76Given
Annual gross$1,149,910.00Given, but confirm
ADR$82.70Not given
Room revenue multiplier3.15Not given
Year built1995Given

The facility:

This is a 21-year old property. The original design was a bit '80's dated, even when it was built, but didn't look all that bad, and more recent exterior renovations have not been an improvement.

(Perhaps it's a personal taste matter, but I hate Tammy Faye EFIS exteriors. Who are you trying to kid with the apparent age of that property? After you apply that much EFIS, or stucco, or makeup . . . did the hotel, or even Tammy Faye, look that bad before?)

Related image
Original exterior

Image result for comfort inn parkersburg
Present appearance, after a coat of Tammy Faye stucco . . .

Image result for tammy faye bakker makeup
The patron saint of bad hotel exterior renovation, rest her soul. (I never hated Tammy Faye or really held her past association with Jim Bakker and The PTL Club scandal back in the 1980's against her, I just think her 'extremism is no vice in the war against aging' approach to the application of cheap cosmetics was a bit extreme, and has since been a bad influence on hotel renovation architecture . . .)

The location:

Parkersburg has two easily identifiable submarkets, not an unusual layout for a small city of its size. You have the hotels out on the I-77 corridor as one submarket, you have the hotels in the city itself as the other. This property is in the city.

Those properties out on the interstate are going to be much more I-77 dependent and may drag your rates down a bit, but the Parkersburg area is not that isolated, and Wood County has more outlying demand generators.

Any property located in the town itself is going to be more dependent on pro-active sales and marketing. This can offer great success -- the Hampton Inn and the historic Blennerhasset Hotel are both located in this submarket -- but it's going to take a little more work.

This is particularly true for this property, because visibility from a traffic artery is going to be a problem.

The market:

Parkersburg is the third largest city in West Virginia.

The area economy is driven by education and finance. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service, United States Department of the Treasury, is located here; and Highmark Blue Cross has significant operations. Ohio Valley University's campus is on the city's northern border, and the campus of West Virginia University is located on the other side of I-77.

Camden Clark Medical Center is a regional hospital located downtown, three miles from the property. It has recently completed an expansion.

Market information links:

City of Parkersburg -- Official website
Parkersburg, W. Va. -- Wikipedia entry

The physical location (area, surrounding neighborhood):

This property is located in Parkersburg's uptown retail area, within walking distance (a half mile, if you don't mind walking) of a respectably-sized regional mall with the grandiose name of Grand Central Mall. It's within walking distance to several restaurants, something that is lacking by comparison for its main competitor, the Wingate by Wyndham in Vienna.

It is one of two Class A properties proximate to Ohio Valley University. A smart operator would take care to cultivate a close relationship with OVU and its secondary demand generators, and use the hotel's convenient location to its advantage.

One disadvantage that it has is that it's located a bit back off Route 14/Murdoch Avenue, the traffic artery that runs in front of it, and visibility is a challenge that must be managed.

Facility changes recommended:

The property appears to be in pretty good shape. Most of the renovations we'd do here would related to conversion of the property to the Red Lion brand and bringing it into line with their standards, should we convert the property to a Red Lion Inn and Suites.

Added care should be given to ventilation, and the PTAC units in the rooms need to be checked: several people note this to be a problem. Some minor mold remediation may be in order. Any non-working or noisy exhaust fan in a bathroom needs to be replaced.

If the mattresses are more than a year old, you need new mattresses -- that's how long now TripAdvisor hits on the mattresses have been showing up.

Security needs attention: loitering in the parking lot, even by comparatively harmless but noisy drunks, doesn't work.

Several TripAdvisor reviews alluded to slow wi-fi speeds, but that could be an Ethostream problem (Ethostream is Choice Hotels' required -- but often poor quality -- internet provider in its franchised hotels; and if we reflag the hotel, we'd be replacing it with something that actually works, anyway.)

Image result for comfort inn near grand central mall parkersburg wv

Image result for comfort inn near grand central mall parkersburg wv

Image result for comfort inn near grand central mall parkersburg wv

Operational changes recommended:

Both facility design and management, as Beechmont would approach it in this location, will reflect the need to maintain this property as a Class A mid-market property.

Some TripAdvisor reviews of this property indicate a need to tighten up housekeeping and room inventory control. Housekeeping should be tightened up anywhere, but possible excuses for a guest to be checked into a dirty room are rare, if the housekeeping and front office staff are working together as they should be.

Marketing recommendations:

I generally don't recommend a full time director of sales and marketing for a property this small, but in this location it might be listenable. You're not going to shag a lot of traffic off I-77 with it without some severely discounted Exit Information Guide coupons, and visibility is a problem if you are in that part of town. Nonetheless, it has the best raw location of any hotel in the Parkersburg area -- but if you want the business, you're going to have to go out and get it.

For now, marketing at this property needs a fresh look, and it shows in its current performance. The average daily rate claimed by the broker is $82.70, the rack rate according to the Choice Hotels website is $139.00.  I know they're coming off a bad year, with two new hotels opening in the area within each of the last two years, and they seem to be recovering a bit, but we've been seeing too many $67 rates on TripAdvisor and its online travel agency affiliates recently. 

Franchise options:


Nonetheless, we're pretty clear that the Comfort Inn brand is not working at this property. Choice Hotels' franchises are oversold here, as they are in so many places: they now have more hotels in Parkersburg than they are able to support -- but hey, whatever keeps the fees and royalties rolling in for them. That new Sleep Inn out in the I-77 corridor that opened two years ago did not help, and a Comfort Suites in Mineral Wells draws a lot of Choice-generated traffic. The cumulative effect is that all three of these properties are not well-served by Choice, and their rates lag competitively, and they underperform.

We recommend conversion of this property to a Red Lion Inn and Suites. As a Class A mid-market brand, Red Lion is gaining in competitive strength, while Comfort Inn has been in decline for more than ten years now. Red Lion also has a historic willingness (and in the eastern United States, a present, pressing need) to accept an older property as a franchisee and -- assuming you renovate and keep it up in accordance with their standards -- make it possible for that property to compete against any Class A property with a first-tier franchise.

Red Lion isn't going to hand success to you on a plate, but Choice Hotels clearly isn't; and unlike Red Lion, Choice has proven it already. If you want success that comes in a 'kit' you can buy, sign up as an Amway distributor. It's only going to happen for you at this location in Parkersburg only if you have strong local marketing -- but we anticipate and assume that with any hotel franchise, even first-tier franchises like Marriott, Hilton and IHG.

We have no affiliation with Red Lion. (Over the last year, some people have started to wonder if Beechmont is getting to be the Red Lion guys, because recently we've come to recommend them frequently). What we like about Red Lion is that you can build a brand new one and stand it up against any Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express -- or take an older property such as this one, renovate it to pristine condition, and re-flag it as a Red Lion, and it would fit right in without having it make your new property look bad. The "older" look fits right in with the quirkiness.

Image result for red lion hotel interior

If you want to build a brand new hotel, Red Lion will justify your investment; if you can't spend more than five million, pick up a property like this, convert it to their standards, and you're still in the

Image result for red lion hotel

Our recommendation:

I see little about this property that makes it worth more than three times its gross room revenue: its location is compensated by its lack of visibility, its next to worthless Choice Hotels affiliation, and its aging appearance (which its visit a couple of years ago by the ghost of Tammy Faye amplified, rather than rectified). Its location -- once offset by its flaws and failings -- is good for a premium of, at most, 3.1xGRR if you pay it a visit and find no further problems, and it's been sitting on the market for several months.

Offer $3mil and see what they do. Be prepared to go as high as $3.2mil, but only if they agree to deliver unencumbered by franchise and unencumbered by management.

Food and beverage should be limited to the required continental breakfast, and a catering kitchen capable of supporting the events.


Value of property based on data given:High$3,200,000
(Our estimate)Low$3,000,000
Renovation requiredFlag change
Recommended budget$250,000.00$750,000.00

Who should buy this hotel?

Someone who had some skill and experience doing corporate and group marketing, but not a large, policy-bound corporate owner. 

You'll want a sharp, aggressive, think-outside-the-box salesperson, even if it's someone that only works part time. The only thing trying to manage it by committee is going to do for this property is add to the overhead, and have the various members of your "management team" getting in each other's way.

If you currently own or operate a hotel in Nashville, Montgomery, Ala.; Searcy, Ark., Abilene or Lubbock, Texas; Camp Hill, or Harrisburg, Pa.; Covington, Ky.; Wilkes-Barre-Scranton, Pa.; or the Minneapolis or Phoenix area;  you should consider a Parkersburg property, especially if one of more of your current properties is getting corporate or group business from one of the companies previously mentioned.

Who should not buy this hotel?

Without the marketing skill and the ability to reach out to corporate and group customers, this property is going to continue to perform below its potential.

The location is excellent, visibility is dicey -- and even so, it racks at $139. But you'll never get the full potential out of this property -- and in a bad year, be lucky to get half that much as a room rate -- if you don't know how to do marketing, or get someone in there who can. You can stubbornly hang on to that $139 rack rate, but your marketing is going to continue to be way too discount-dependent

Beechmont links

About us

Beechmont Hotels Corporation is a hotel management company based in Winston-Salem, N. C. We frequently have occasion to perform asset identification services for potential clients who are seeking to acquire hotels, and inform them as to how a particular hotel listed for sale can best serve their investment needs -- or not.

After a time, we will republish the information here as a short feasibility study (unless an agreement with the potential client for whom we originally examined the property prohibits it).

Our evaluation is based on our own subjective opinion, using data collected from freely available sources online, unless otherwise noted in the Disclosures above. Our advice as shown here is as we would advise a client. You are free to accept or reject it, and should check behind us and make your own evaluation.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own decisions, including whether to rely upon our opinion or to confirm our assessment for yourself, and we assume nor accept any liability.

When we choose -- ourselves -- a hotel offering to evaluate here, we choose only hotels that we have something nice to say about, a positive recommendation to make; hotels that we wouldn't mind signing to manage ourselves for twenty years.

When someone submits one to us, we're totally candid and spare no one's interests or feelings. If it's a bum deal, we'll simply tell you, don't touch it with a ten foot pole, and we don't care who gets mad.

If you are contemplating purchase of a hotel, or if you are a hotel broker, and would like for us to complete an evaluation similar to this for you for the hotel that you are considering, send a PayPal for $100 at .

(It has to be a hotel that is currently listed for sale, that you can look up on Loopnet or a broker website. I will pass the information to you privately, and wait a few weeks before I republish it here, unless we make other arrangements in advance -- at a slight extra charge -- to keep it just between us.)

Click here for a listing of other hotels for sale and available that we've reviewed.