21 May 2015

The Benefits of Weird Wellness in Hotels

Food & Beverage, Marketing Comments Off on The Benefits of Weird Wellness in Hotels
The 20th century was filled with prominent science fiction writers constantly throwing wild and prophetic ideas out to the world. The 21st century is where (some of) those ideas become reality.
We’ve already seen the rise of smartphones, smart watches and tablets—all predicted in some way or shape long before their mass market acceptance—and many more useful devices will reach our consumerist in due time. Now it is time for hotels and smart hoteliers to be the true benefactors and incubators for all these emergent technologies. Those who survive and thrive tend to be those who enrich our livelihoods in one way or another, whether it’s through enhanced communication, entertainment value or increased productivity.
One area where we are just beginning to make a dent with all our fancy new electronics is in personal health care. Yes, we already have powerful MRI machines at the hospital while our handheld devices have pedometers and calorie counters. But hoteliers are rapidly discovering an underserved niche in wellness that aims to not only enlighten guests with better bodily self-awareness, exercise routines and dietary regimens but also to enrich one’s health based upon one’s own DNA.
I remember several years ago when I signed up to have my DNA sequenced. Expecting only a rudimentary analysis, the results shocked me. They not only identified numerous and specific diseases for which I was genetically predisposed to acquire in my geriatric years, but they also pinpointed where in the world my ancestors were from for each of my four grandparents.
Now that the concept of DNA sequencing is relatively accepted, hotels are ideally placed to build upon this recognition by guiding and coaching guests on ways to maximize their genetic potential. It’s like taking the spa to another level.
Incremental upgrades
Before we dive into this Gattaca-esque development, it’s important to highlight some of the other advancements hoteliers are making on the wellness front, especially with regard to guestroom design. I address these because, as incredible as on-site DNA sequencing and counseling may be, it’s just not feasible for most hotels. For the average hotelier, smaller, incremental upgrades will have to suffice.
A much-vaunted guinea pig of recent has been the Stay Well rooms at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. And there’s no better place to test out sleep-enhancing features than a 24-hour gambling hall where weekend-long benders and erratic slumber cycles are the norm. The rooms start by reducing potential irritants via the use of hypoallergenic cleaning products and air purification systems. Next, blackout shades and special lighting systems have been installed to better imitate natural sleep conditions so that guests can maintain some semblance of a proper circadian rhythm amid all the craziness of The Strip. Last but not least, there are the highly publicized Vitamin C showers that ostensibly act to neutralize chlorine for softer skin and hair.
Taken individually, each of these features isn’t anything to write home about, but as a package they represent an excellent unique selling position for the property and a model to emulate for hoteliers wishing to build their own wellness guestroom programs. Most upgrades along these lines seem to involve some form of sensory modification:
  • lighting that stabilizes daily melatonin cycles (that is, preserving this hormone while it’s peaking during sleep) via warmer, natural hue projection or fancy LED nightlights;
  • aromatherapy via massive air purifiers or the subtle release of mood-altering scents;
  • healthy minibar options and nutritional food-and-beverage menus that are not only enjoyable for the taste buds but also beneficial for the waistline and energy levels;
  • hygienic or organic materials in furnishings that not only reduce skin irritation but are also more pleasant on the touch;
  • water filtration systems for smoother skin or cleaner drinking water;
  • sound-dampening materials or noise reduction via smart room and furniture layout; and
  • the use of magnets, negative ions, photo-catalytic patinas or other electromagnetic manipulations for a variety of functions (although based on my past experience as an engineer, this to me is bridging on pseudoscience).
In-room fitness
One of InterContinental Hotels Group’s latest unveilings, Even Hotels, takes in-room wellness upgrades a step further. Aiming for “repose-conscious spaces” in its guestroom configurations means the use of natural materials and mood-enhancing colors (think 50 shades of green). This Zen approach extends to the lobby, lounges and gym facilities with indoor plants and plenty of sunlight on top of the previously mentioned improvements.
The visual meat of this concept, however, comes via the chain’s dedication to in-room exercise through multipurpose accessories such as a coat rack that’s also a chin-up bar and a luggage bench (an overlooked guestroom feature in its own right!) that can be converted into a workout bench. These two examples are at the upper end of costs for potential fitness upgrades, but there are easier routes for the average hotelier to excel in this area. For instance, how difficult is it to stock yoga mats, foam rollers, medicine balls or resistance bands in each closet?
In-room fitness is more than just exercise, though. It’s a more holistic word.
Another compelling feature of the wellness rooms at Even Hotels is the pebble walk path on each balcony for reflexology—that is, the purported calming effects generated by stimulating certain nerve endings on the hands and feet. Although the science behind reflexology is still questionable, there’s no denying that such a pebble walk makes for a striking first impression upon arrival. Yes, water and air purifiers are fantastic upgrades, but they are invisible; they aren’t exciting from a visual standpoint, and this is a major issue when considering upgrades along these lines. If guests can’t see or feel the presence of such improvements, how are they supposed to develop a positive emotional connection to the room and to the hotel?
Building on the ideas of holistic fitness and visually palpable upgrades, any accessory that augments sleep and alertness also can be lumped in this category. Proper sleep is after all paramount for weight loss, muscle growth and hormonal balance. The Stay Well rooms have subtle red lights so guests can navigate to the washroom without having to turn on any bright, melatonin-disruptive lamps. Even Hotels have specially shaped posturepedic beds. Then there are dawn-simulating alarm clocks, vibrating sleep trackers and a host of other smart devices soon to be revealed.
The pinnacle of personalization
With this survey of incremental upgrades out of the way, let’s refocus on those pieces of code in every cell of your body: your DNA. Imagine for a moment you have in your wallet or purse a credit card or thumb drive that contains your entire genome for quick access. Bring it to any doctor, dietitian or physiotherapist and they can give you recommendations specific to your unique DNA, making for more effective results from their treatments or proscriptions. Looking at where we’ve come in the past two decades in terms of the technological advancements and social interconnectivity via the Internet, it isn’t farfetched to say that these sorts of DNA dealings could soon be commonplace.
I was first put on to this topic by Hotel News Now’s own Alicia Hoisington after she wrote about The BodyHoliday at LeSport, St. Lucia. Not only is the Caribbean location hard to beat but through their BodyScience program, guests are subjected to DNA sequencing followed by a battery of tests and regimes to de-stress, detoxify, bolster digestion, optimize exercises, promote weight loss and reverse aging, all individualized to each consumer’s genes. Plus, there’s far more perceived value than what’s provided by a one-off wellness retreat. Yes, guests at The BodyHoliday are pampered to the nines, but because of this highly personalized approach, guests come away learning valuable insights about their own bodies, thus making the experience near impossible to forget.
Although this might appear to be a novelty, as personal genomic mapping becomes more socially acceptable and less expensive, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more resorts adopt similar wellness programs, followed soon after by abridged versions at urban and business hotels. What’s most important to remember from all this is that these futuristic and esoteric wellness programs are emerging to meet a demand that’s already there.
As we delve deeper in the 21st century, this consumer desire for more health-conscious hotels will only increase. Espousing wellness will require experimentation—some features will heighten guest satisfaction while others won’t have any effect—but it is a worthy direction to nevertheless consider for your property. Incorporating DNA-centric amenities may represent the pinnacle of this trend, but my hope for you from reading this article is that you are aware of the multitude of other options also available in the wellness camp.

Copyright Larry Mogelonsky. Contact Larry at larry.mogelonsky@g7hospitality.com

20 Mar 2015

The Future of Social Media is Advertising!

Marketing, Opinion, Social Media Comments Off on The Future of Social Media is Advertising!

Whoever said that advertising is dead is either horribly misinformed or merely drumming up controversy as part of a self-promotions agenda. This article is a rebuttal for all those naysayers and managers who are slashing their advertising budgets in favor of newer and supposedly cheaper methods of building their businesses. The fact is that advertising is thriving – and will continue to thrive – through online platforms, social media included. Yes, traditional mediums have slid from the limelight, but digital channels are more than ready to pick up the slack.

Once we have long passed the initial fervor surrounding these new digital channels, we will come to see that social media is simply another form of ‘media’ and paid advertising is but one tactic for using said media alongside public relations and customer relationship management. The adjective ‘paid’ in that last sentence is an important modifier because the conversational nature of these peer-regulated websites essentially transforms all forms of communication into advertising. Paid advertising – what we now define as traditional insofar as contractual agreements with money changing hands in exchange for services rendered – is what’s directly quantifiable and active in the pursuit of consumer awareness while all other actions are forms of passive marketing.

In the future, all online activities undertaken by a brand will function as advertising, whether direct, passive or somewhere in between.

Now that these social networks have expanded their reach to global and billion-user proportions, we need to take a big collective step back and look at how we interpret our usage of these digital channels. At the present, it’s fashionable to classify or pigeonhole channels by specific purposes; for instance, defining one social platform as a relationship management channel or another as a personalized sales channel. Instead, it is wiser to deem all social media and electronic areas of consumer interaction as capable of handling a spectrum of distinct objectives.

The future of social media is not one of segregation of goals and objectives by individual platform, but rather a holistic integration of all networks where, as we are progressively realizing, content will be king. The back-end programming for blogs and social networks will soon be completely seamless so that posting on one platform automatically forwards and adroitly adapts content to fit all channels. Gone will be the days of social media experts and gurus; all that will matter is what value you give back to your fans and how you sway potential consumers through focused advertising.

Explanations Through Examples
Some examples will help illustrate what is meant by this paradigm shift. And there’s no better place to start than with Facebook.

Many hoteliers mistake this platform as a one-to-many sales channel, against the advice of social marketers who advocate that it is a relationship management channel. They’re both right and they’re both wrong. Facebook can serve as a one-to-many broadcast system if your objective is to rapidly increase the base level of brand awareness. But it can also serve as a passive marketing tool and a concierge adjunctive by having specialized staff members regularly post content and respond to fans.

In this sense, posting content gives continual value to those who have already liked your property, thereby sustaining healthy relationships with fans, reinforcing your brand’s benefits and increasing your depth of sale. On top of any ancillary SEO gains, this tactic also serves as a marketing tool for those who are in the midst of online travel research and want to check for any recent happenings or upcoming events – all part of the modern day vetting process. An active social network with the right type of content demonstrates to consumers that your property is actually all it’s cracked up to be; that there’s congruency between the onsite experience, the impression your website makes and the promises conveyed in your advertisements. Hence, a prompt and courteous reply to an online fan’s comment is more than just a reply; it’s advertising for all other eyeballs reached to indicate that you are a diligent and attentive brand.

While Facebook is the most versatile and multi-functional of all social media, it’s best to look at some of the more singular-purpose websites to flesh out this explanation. Namely, let’s look at YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Instavideo and Snapchat.

Using the former as an example, the content intended for a paid advertising campaign on YouTube should have a completely different tone and appearance than videos destined as supplemental information. Promotional content needs a strong hook and must tell an emotional story that talks in terms of emotional benefits and not necessarily features. The expectation is quality video production with seamless graphics and a clearly structured story. This is in sharp contrast to any videos produced to ‘give the lay of the land’, often recorded by a camcorder or a smartphone in one uncut chunk. These should be candid, matter-of-fact and largely untouched by the editing bay, diving into the desired information without any fluff and held together by the sparkling personality of a hotel spokesperson.

One medium, two completely different approaches. And yet both are ultimately designed to ‘advertise’ your brand. The first is active – either by reminding viewers of a brand’s positive attributes or through a specific and immediate incentive – while the second’s promotional value is indirect, giving value to current or future guests without a direct sales line or call to action.

Online travel agencies and review websites are not exempt from this ‘omnipresent advertising’ model either. With internet travel research as popular as ever, all hoteliers worth their weight know that positive user endorsements on these sites are a significant factor towards the final purchase. While these reviews are excellent resources to help a property affirm its exceptional qualities and refine its service shortcomings, they can also be thought of as a form of passive marketing. Every time a manager replies to a user’s critique, it demonstrates to all others who read the page in the future that the hotel cares about this user’s opinions.

The key here is to be polite and helpful – two characteristics that a guest would expect from staff while talking face to face. In fact, how a hotel approaches and curates its presence on the OTAs is indicative of how it should handle social media in general. Timely, gracious responses to user inquiries – including their comments on your posts, tweets or pictures – are a reflection of how you’ll interact with visitors once onsite.

Fundamentally, your online behavior is a permeable advertisement for what a guest should expect when he or she arrives. In fact, every interaction you have with consumers in the online realm should be thought of as part of the sales process. My suggestion to you: set the tone for an excellent experience by having a great online presence.

Advertising Will Always Be Vital
In this digital age, social media and advertising are two sides of the same coin. The problem with narrowing your gaze to only a social media strategy is that it becomes much harder to breach new social circles.

You need advertising to get your foot in the door and generate that initial excitement for your brand. Yes, social media is integral for managing relationships with your customers as well as for healthy SEO. And I am certainly not recommending you abandon these channels; far from it, these days you need social media to build fans up to the point where they are ready to pounce on your latest promotion or to book a return visit.

However, your reach on social media can only go so far and most of the time – that is, for everything that doesn’t ‘go viral’ – it organically spreads at a snail’s pace. This happens for several reasons. First is white noise; there is such a multitude of data flowing through a social network at any given time that a single update stands a reasonable chance of being lost in cyberspace. Many networks now offer a method to counter this issue – by having you pay! In this sense, social media again resembles two-way advertising channels in that you broadcast to many consumers outside of your immediate social circle, and then allow your fans to speak directly with you.

The second pertains to one’s emotional proximity and shared history with his or her online connections. Suppose a fan interacts with a picture your hotel posted online, thus allowing all of that fan’s friends to likewise see his or her activity. This fan may have hundreds or thousands of personal connections through this social site, but most of those users aren’t primed to listen to what brands this fan finds appealing. Yes, we will listen to what brands our immediate family members and close friends endorse, but not the college dorm friend who we haven’t spoken to in earnest for years, the estranged cousin who lives on another continent or the acquaintance you met at a party without any follow-up communications to progress the relationship. Just as not all of your friends have the same importance in your life, the same goes for the digital world. The activities we see from these pseudo-friends often amount to data points on a list; they barely have any influence on our purchasing behavior.

Advertising in its traditional sense allows you to talk to consumers about your product’s features and benefits, but it also allows you to imbue a strong sense of emotion so that people will at least be ‘emotionally aware’ of your brand’s raison d’être. Whereas the impact of social endorsements are dependent on how close two people are, traditional advertising is relationship agnostic – it relays the same emotionally charged message to everyone. Whether they are receptive to it or not is entirely their choice, not yours.

Conclusion
In the old days, whenever a client would scrutinize me over the efficacy of a particular ad campaign, it would serve me well to sometimes counter with the question: How do you quantity a billboard? If this vector doesn’t work, then why are there are so many of them and why do firms pay exorbitant fees to display their products on them? It can’t all be accounted for by company ego.

Nowadays, we must think about this question in terms of how we quantity the real impact our online social presences are having with consumers. But if you fundamentally change your point of view to think of all social interactions as advertising for your hotel, then it will make you all the more effective at both aspects. You won’t be burdened by a need to inculcate your fans with a direct sales message and you’ll understand the significance of building quality relationships.

Advertising and social media should be equal parts in any comprehensive marketing strategy plan. In reality, the best way to think about it is in terms of experiences – online and offsite, or promotional and tactile respectively. As we become accustomed with social media pervading every part of our daily operations, it will soon be time for use to lose the ‘social’ adjective and instead bring these channels into the more comprehensive ‘media’ fold where advertising is once again a lucrative tactic.

Copyright Larry Mogelonsky. Contact Larry at larry.mogelonsky@g7hospitality.com

18 Feb 2015

Programming excellence in your F&B

Food & Beverage, Leaders Comments Off on Programming excellence in your F&B

Food and beverage is an area of hospitality that I consider integral and yet it comes with a lot of unpredictability. That’s why it’s always good to hear from current and former F&B directors to decipher how they managed and succeeded in this volatile field.

I’ve recruited Sean Handerhan, a former director of food and beverage marketing at Marriott for 17 years, for a discussion on the topic. During his tenure, Sean helped implement the first branded pizza program for this chain as well as initiating the development of The Gourmet Bean, a multifaceted coffee concept that has been installed in over 100 locations. Sean also has led multi-discipline teams to improve hotel restaurant operations by applying customer research, developing facility layout changes and redeploying staff to heighten guest satisfaction scores.

Why is F&B often labeled as the least profitable segment of the business?

Each of the components has more variable cost components than other areas of a lodging facility. Food costs can vary greatly over a relatively short period of time. Demand for the services (in restaurants and bars) are usually more unpredictable than rooms operations and therefore results in higher than ideal labor costs.

With rare exceptions, F&B is viewed as something of a costly amenity – something that is necessary in a hospitality operation, rather than a free-standing, locally focused enterprise. Frequently this area lacks a defined plan of what the F&B operations should be – who are the customers and what is the competition? A well-conceived plan will help identify ways to be more efficient with both labor and food cost without sacrificing quality or brand position.

How do accountability and responsibility come into play?

We look for instances where labor is being deployed inefficiently, including the level of support and supervision that is provided by management. Generally, it is not realistic to assume an F&B operation in our client’s properties can operate with a hierarchal management structure. The key is to define a flatter team structure, and then use the tools in place to push responsibility, authority and accountability to the frontline staffers while also giving them a vested interest in the performance of the business.

How do you develop a program that quantifies service excellence?

The simplest answer is in covers and customers. We’d suggest that excellence is best defined as customer satisfaction and perceived value for the money – rather than elaborate fussy service procedures. In order to model service excellence over time, training processes and educational support must evolve, plus be regular and ongoing. Better-trained staff should be able to sell the products better and in doing so, create a win-win for the client and the customer.

What about staffing, menu design and job responsibilities?

It starts with a realistic assessment of the optimum potential from the existing physical plant. That helps dictate what limits are placed on the menu. Next, what is the ability of the staff to learn multiple functions? This breaks down barriers that may currently exist. It is important that there is shared responsibility and accountability between the front- and back-of-house teams.

Give us a case study of where you have seen marked improvements in F&B profitability through a comprehensive focus on these fundamentals.

Often we see menu creep, denoting when the scope of a menu keeps growing and yet nobody steps back to look at the whole to ensure that it reflects the intent, potential and viability of an outlet. There was one instance where my client had two outlets side-by-side, both serving virtually the same menu yet one had a food orientation and the other beverage. I closed one and combined the parts into a more dynamic space -which we could then afford to redo. The empty space is now on the market to lease out and the costs to open the door in the second outlet have been eliminated.

I can also share a case in which we focused on the breakfast meal period as it was the most important meal for the transient guests in the hotel. We spent a week sitting in the restaurant at various times throughout the morning to observe the roles staff and management played. We found the outlet had become buffet driven to lower labor costs but the waste and quality of the food had gotten out of line. There were hosts who seated customers but didn’t facilitate taking their orders. We found service staff spending too much time in the kitchen doing cold food prep and therefore unavailable to guests. We also found coffee poured into thermoses and placed on the tables at the beginning of the shift because coffee couldn’t be made in small batches.

Our solution? We eliminated the host positions and encouraged wait staff, with manager guidance, to seat the customers to facilitate an earlier ordering process. We instituted a pager system that called the service staff to the back when their food was ready. We worked with our coffee supplier to provide new brewing equipment and station it in the restaurant. http://g7hospitality.com/programming-excellence-fb/ http://g7hospitality.com/programming-excellence-fb/The result was lower food cost, better food quality, quicker service, and food staff cooking the food instead of service staff.

Larry Mogelonsky interview with G7 member Sean Handerhan. Copyright Larry Mogelonsky LMA Communications

20 Nov 2014

Goodbye F & B! Hello F & F!!

Food & Beverage, Marketing, Operations, Opinion Comments Off on Goodbye F & B! Hello F & F!!

LMA-011In the good old days of hospitality, food and beverage was part of the core. Management treated the department with the lofty respect it deserved, not only in differentiating the property, but also because of the profits it delivered. The iconic hotel dining room was an important meeting place in the community it served, often considered the best table in town.

Times have changed. Food is clearly important, as witnessed by a myriad of great chefs and restaurant brands associated with and located within hotels. But the drink side of the equation has taken a heavy blow. Alcoholic beverages aren’t being consumed in the same portions as they were 20 or 30 years ago, especially when it comes to dining receptions for dining. And so, to pick up the slack, let me propose a departure from F&B to F&F, that being: food and fitness.

Just take one look at any episode of the TV series “Mad Men.” The sixties, it appears, were fuelled by Canadian Club. Fine dining meant traveling to a hotel restaurant, where multiple vodka martinis or three fingers of scotch were de rigueur. Interestingly, wine was not a major player in the beverage mix.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that today’s era of responsibility has taken a toll on alcoholic consumption. You just cannot compare the beverage revenue from a two-martini lunch to a bottle of San Pellegrino. Rare too are dinners with multiple rounds of cocktails or aperitifs before dinner, a bottle of wine (or two) during dinner, followed by liqueurs.

Call it the perfect storm: increased penalties for drinking and driving (serious charges and heightened monitoring), legal consequences for the hotel provider (leading to potential lawsuits) and a movement towards healthier lifestyle choices, one less inclined towards alcoholic consumption given the calorie count there entailed.

In business terms, the change wasn’t overnight. F&B managers watched their cover yields drop as alcoholic beverage consumption dried up, but because this was such a gradual trend, no alarm bells rang. While many hotels have bolstered their wine lists, added new martini and other creative concoctions, alcoholic revenues still aren’t anywhere near the dollars per customer levels attained a generation ago.

While alcoholic beverage consumption has been in decline, the fitness movement has taken hold. It started with a few exercise bikes in the basement and sporadic TV coverage of beach-bound meatheads, but grew quickly to full-featured gyms with enough equipment to fill a small ballroom, personal trainers, yoga, pilates, group classes, marathons, triathlons, daily regimens outlined on a slew of websites, exercise videos, organic grocers and nutritional displays everywhere.

During this same period, the concept of a spa has also been gelling. An increased focus on health and wellness brought the spa into mainstream hotels. It was not just luxury resorts that had a lock on the wellbeing of guests. Any hotel that has sought luxury status is more or less compelled to build a spa somewhere on property.

With the concept of spas now commonplace, it would appear that the expectation for many hotels is undergoing a paradigm shift. http://g7hospitality.com/goodbye-b-f/ http://g7hospitality.com/goodbye-b-f/People want their hotels to provide physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation. To this end, should we look at merging these two departments – F&B and Spa – and call it Food and Fitness (F&F)?

Copyright Larry Mogelonsky, LMA Communications

20 Nov 2014

Crisis Communication – Real-life solutions

Operations, Public Relations Comments Off on Crisis Communication – Real-life solutions

2012-05-31 16.22.49Canadian hotels are not immune to crisis. The Fairmont Chateau Laurier was locked down during the recent shootings on Parliament Hill. The Saint John, NB, Hilton was also locked down when an ill guest who had travelled from Africa was thought to have Ebola. child development domains Things can happen here and it’s essential that hotels have crisis management programs in place.

Roger Conner of Conner Hospitality and G7 Hospitality is the retired head of communications for Marriott. He was in that position during 9/11, when Marriott lost the 825-room hotel nestled between the twin towers, in 2005 when the New Orleans Marriott was affected by Hurricane Katrina, and in 2008 when 54 people were killed at the Islamabad Park Marriott in India.

At G7, Conner works on crisis management plans for small, independent hotels that don’t have the budget of worldwide chains like Marriott or Hilton. An emergency management plan for a smaller property can be as short as two pages, he says.

The first step is to identify all the right people to be involved, and make a list of all the things that should be done. High on the list is the appointment of a spokesperson for the press and development of prewritten messages that can be edited to fit the situation.

Conner created Marriott’s first-hour crisis communication document in 2006/07. Now, with the increasing role of social media, communication has to be faster than the first hour, he notes. “Social media has ratcheted up the need to be ready to communicate during a crisis.

“You may have to say, ‘it would be inappropriate to comment until more information is available,’” Conner says. “But never say, ‘no comment.’
“Once social media is activated, it’s more about participation than control. You can’t control it—you must participate, particularly during a crisis.

“You can agree to a process, but you can’t control how other people communicate.”

While smaller hotels are unlikely to experience carnage on the scale of 9/11 or the Islamabad Marriott, there are other issues that harm a hotel’s reputation and customers.

Examples include foodborne illness at a hotel conference; a hazmat situation where cleaning chemicals in a hotel were improperly mixed; bedbugs; storms; tornadoes; floods (e.g., Toronto and Calgary in 2013); and power outages. Other things that can happen are guestroom deaths, accidentally or due to criminal activity, drug deals and more.

“Hotels are like little cities within the city.  Anything that goes on in the city may also go on in a hotel,” Conner notes.

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans Marriott, a 1,000-room property on Canal Street was hit and hurt, but was still able to minimally operate. They had a crisis plan and access to a corporate PR person, allowing them to immediately get appropriate messages out to the media and to guests regarding its status.

Because they had limited operations, they were able to host key people on hand to handle the crisis—they housed media and did media standups in front of the hotel. “It was a very positive experience,” Conner notes.
During crisis situations, Marriott has helped police, environmental workers, firefighters and other key players, offering them accommodation, coffee and a light buffet. http://g7hospitality.com/crisis-communication-real-life-solutions/ http://g7hospitality.com/crisis-communication-real-life-solutions/“During airplane crashes and disasters, we always said the nearest Marriott would provide rooms and meeting room accommodation.

“It’s important to shore up relations with those key people. For smaller hotels, community relations is particularly important.”

Among independents, Conner estimates that 40 to 50 per cent do not have a plan, or have one that needs to be updated.

“Crisis communication doesn’t generate revenue, but it sure as heck protects revenue,” he says.

Copyright Canadian Lodging News, Colleen Isherwood