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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

Useless Advises for Hotels to change because of Corona – Thanks a lot – for nothing!

A recent article described the changes that are recommended by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and will be followed – according to the article - by Marriott, Hilton, and Wyndham in the US. (Business Insider, 23.May 2020, Katie Warren)

Reading this article I wonder what were the hotel standards and AHLA standards before Covid 19?

You can’t fight the impression that AHLA just wants to sell changes for financial benefits using Covid19 as an excuse. Five points that seasoned hoteliers will either don’t understand or don’t agree with because our goals and expectation seem to be higher then the ones of government officials or industry – so called – experts or institutions listed in their report.

1) You’ll check in with your smartphone.

“The AHLA encourages contactless check in and payment processes whenever possible as hotels welcome back guests.

(Business Insider, 23.May 2020, Katie Warren)

This is already pushed and encouraged for years now to save on labor cost and collect data and – fair enough – to satisfy new generations and guest expectations. But cost savings and attracting young guest - besides Covid 19 might remain the same main reasons for the hotels?

“Many hotels, such as Hilton, already have their own smartphone app that allows you to check in and access your room – as well fitness centers, side doors, and any other areas you’d normally access with a key card – without interacting with another person.”

Key words: Without interacting with another person - that person hotels now can get rid off. That would mean staff – humans – the soul of a hotel. Humans for humans – personalized service is what the hotels are preaching for years now to save money. Without interacting with a person? Great – some staff members reduced from the payroll. You sell us 2019 making profit measures as Covid 19 protection measures?

2) Don’t expect housekeeping to come clean your room every day.

Now that is even a cheaper sale! Didn’t hotel industry and especially the big chains advertised heavily on “housekeeping on demand” long before Corona? A great issue and dispute because how do you take care of your rooms? Cleanliness checked after 5 days? Pest control? The burnt out light bulb – the broken faucet and toilets seats not noticed because your staff doesn’t go in? The housekeeper who has the same 15 minutes to clean a room that was used for 5 days instead of one day? Introduced to gain profits for the chains it becomes now an Anti Corona measure suggested by AHLA? Supported by the same chains that came up with this profit making – service reducing - scheme? Thanks! Nice try!

3. Room service will now come via a bag dropped outside your door — or a server in full PPE.

“The AHLA recommends that traditional room service be replaced with a no-contact delivery method.

This could come “in the form of a market bag left at the door,” as the general manager at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently told Business Insider.

Or it could mean delivery by an employee outfitted in PPE, as at luxury hotel brand Aman Resorts.”

Just super. Instead of giving high class room service – which always included proper delivery with guaranteed hygiene and safety we now drop a market bag in front of your door. Safes a lot of money but all this hotels should return their 5 Stars back (best in a market bag). Can the delivery boy ( not a waiter – he got replaced for a delivery boy – its cheaper) still knock on the door or is it already to much common surface touching? Otherwise you have the choice of a waiter in full PPE? How romantic can room service get? Maybe fun for your kids when you tell them Dar Wader is serving dinner tonight.

4. Say goodbye to the traditional hotel breakfast buffet.

Here my head blows up! First of all there is no traditional breakfast buffet! If there was a breakfast buffet in the past it was tailor made to an event that fits a buffet for breakfast. Otherwise traditionally we had a la carte service for breakfast. The so called “traditional breakfast buffet” was a copy of American hotels trying to serve masses and making it as cheap as possible. It got copied by our European managers who where educated by Hilton, Marriott, Ibis, Novotel etc. to save money – wherever!

The next AHLA advise tops it:

“Prepackaged foods and “grab and go” items should be the preferred method of food delivery, per the AHLA.”

A five star hotel or even a four star or three star as a take out counter? Grab and go instead of stay and enjoy and come back? Grab and go should be an option for guest – an additional service not replacing the normal service.

They just didn’t know better. They still don’t know and now are scared what to do. Let me repeat one more time for all this young managers out there as I did in many previous articles.

A la carte breakfast is:

More cost efficient then a buffet – more profits

Takes less labor ( now your eyes opened? It’ true! I would love to show you)

Produces less garbage

Is more elegant

Always a chance to deliver real personalized service

A great marketing tool

Attracts non hotel guests

Generates revenues from un - used sources

And every young manager to Vice President will tell me now that this is impossible. I tell you now – its because you never learned how to do it right! It’s easy but not your fault – they never taught you! No grab and go please – serve well and the guest stays!

5). Instead of valet service, self-parking will be encouraged.

And if you can’t come up with less service you let the guest do really everything by themselves. Park your car yourself! What a nonsense. 20 years ago we parked the guest cars for them - great service – we cleaned it - des - infected it even 20 years ago. You just drove in front of the door – handed over the keys – go right out with your lady together through the main entrance. A great guest experience. Now you drop her of - just leave her alone– you have to find a parking spot – have to find the bloody exist out of the garage – and then try to find your wife. Great service – great advise from AHLA - and great cost save for the hotels that follow. One down from the head count and payroll.

We should re think now! It was time before but nobody had time because of useless e mails on the phone and reports to write and read.

Lets come back to traditional European Hotel values. They were and are more guest oriented, personalized, staff friendly, more hygienic more clean and more honest. We gave this all away for fast profit, fast ROI’s and owners – shareholders satisfaction – not guest satisfaction. We forgot the guest – and – if you complain about decreasing revenues – well - the guest forgot about you already!

Seems it took a virus to remind us what real hospitality is!

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality and the Swiss International University earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.,  

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