Four things hotels must change to shave expenditures

Hoteliers are in a bind: Accelerating guest expectations are putting pressure on hotel operators in ways never before imagined. And it’s a scary proposition.

We used to talk about amenity creep, but these days it’s more like a runaway train. The pressure to surprise, delight and essentially read the minds of guests, is transforming hotel operations. In one generation, being a hotelier has completely transformed into an entirely new and uncontrollable beast.

Believe it or not, it was in my lifetime the most exciting and modern amenities were proudly posted on hotel signage. Air Conditioning! Color TV! Free HBO!

Those days weren’t that long ago. Except to those 20-something kids who think I am old, and do not appreciate my amazing jokes referencing Flock of Seagulls or "Diff’rent Strokes." I get blank faced looks of confusion when I pull one out. I could do 20 minutes on “What'chu talkin' ‘bout, Willis?” alone.

Back to the main point. I sympathize with the plight of major hoteliers engaged in an arms race to pack a more powerful punch than their competitors.

However, financial pressure is muzzling profitability. Hotels are charging more than ever, but they also cost a pretty penny to run. Turns out, it’s everyone’s and no one’s fault, simultaneously. Sadly, it makes me want to run—run so far away. But I can’t get away. (See what I did there?)

We’re at the peak of the cycle now, and though I see the ability for hoteliers to still push ADR somewhat, we are getting to the end of this round of Good Times. And that is anything but “Dyn-o-mite.”

When profits falter but expenses continue to rise, that will spell "Double Trouble." Look that one up kids.

As an industry we must break the cycle of throwing more ‘things’ at guests. Instead, we need to place higher emphasis on utilizing ever more costly people power to make real connections with customers.

We need to return to the simpler times when the innkeeper got to know his guests on a more personal level. But to do that we need to rethink areas we may be wasting money.

Here are some places I think we can work to lower expenses:

  • Stop reinventing complimentary breakfast bars by continually making them more expensive to operate. In general, breakfast is a total let down in hotels—a forgettable experience at best. Other than a banana or yogurt, most of the food just isn’t that good. I am pretty sure no one in the history of free breakfast remarked about how amazing their meal just was. Either figure out how to have most items feel less institutional, or just let me make my own waffle and give me a good cup of coffee.
  • Figure out if the industry really needs to offer daily maid service. Many of my road warrior friends and colleagues arrive to their rooms and put on the ‘do not disturb’ sign for their entire trip. Do guests really want this service, or has the industry convinced itself customers care? 
  • Eliminate business centers at focused-service hotels. They are neither centers, nor designed to help people get real work done. Seems like we all have computers in our pocket, and people carry on average three devices when traveling. Let them come to the front desk to print out the occasional thing, and use this opportunity make a more personal connection with guests.
  • Get rid of all the useless in-room marketing clutter. We know you are pushing loyalty programs, and other things you wished guests cared about at that moment. But guests don’t. Truthfully, they only glance at collateral incidentally as they toss it aside to make room for a laptop.

Do you agree with the list? What would you eliminate or cut back on that won’t actually hurt guest experience? Drop me a line here at [email protected]. Or find me on Twitter @TravelingGlenn.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.