How to Improve Hotel Operations ‘Hotel Impossible’ Style

By Brian Harris

A tough-talking New Yorker can give a good kick in the pants. That’s exactly what Anthony Melchiorri provides as host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”

Melchiorri, a 20-year veteran of the hotel industry, is an expert at identifying problems and finding solutions that generate profits. The hotels featured on the show are independent or family-run businesses. However, these lessons can be applied to any hotel in the industry, no matter the size.

Melchiorri’s audit can be broken down into three components: property, management/operations and marketing. Here are just some of the things he hones in on during a typical visit:

1. Property

Upon arriving at a hotel, Melchiorri always conducts a property inspection to get a sense of the ambiance and to note any surface or maintenance issues that might be turning off guests.

Outside, he takes note of curb appeal, the tidiness of the exterior, and the upkeep of recreational grounds, including walkways, pools and spas.

Inside, he takes note of common areas. For instance, he wasn’t happy when he walked into a hotel lobby and a cat was sitting on the front desk.  He also notes if the interior design feels worn or outdated. Clad in a full suit and tie, he lies down on beds and even sits on toilets to see if the bathroom feels too small.

Reality check: Are you maintaining a property that’s appealing from the curb to the room?

2. Management & Hotel Operations

On one assignment, Melchiorri found the assistant general manager (GM) of the hotel waiting tables in the restaurant. Meanwhile, the bookkeeper was working a 100-hour week to maintain back office operations. The GM clearly had a passion for the restaurant industry, but Melchiorri pointed out that the restaurant should be operated as a hotel amenity, since more money per visit is typically made on hotel stays.

See Also: So, You Want to Open a Hotel Restaurant

When Melchiorri stepped into this office he was overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and clutter. At one point he asks the managers, “Did you ever think about going paperless?”

As the heir to the family business, the assistant GM has to step up and take ownership of his role. However, he wasn’t good with numbers and hadn’t otherwise received training on how to manage a hotel. Melchiorri is frustrated when managers don’t know their numbers offhand.

See Also: How Hotel Night Auditors Should Spend Their Time

Reality check: What aspects of your operation are cumbersome? How would your business benefit from responsibility tracking and enhanced employee training?

3. Marketing

This particular hotel had an active Facebook page, but it was virtually invisible through online search engines. Even more frustratingly, the booking engine on the website was not functional at peak season.

“Social media is very important but it doesn’t’ book the majority of your rooms,” Melchiorri said to a hotel’s web/marketing manager. “The best way to bring in new business is to have a good website and high ratings on third-party travel sites.”

Reality check: When you visit your hotel’s website, is the “call to action” to book a hotel room apparent? Are you listed on the industry’s leading travel booking sites, including Expedia and TripAdvisor?

The Takeaway

A hotel runs responsibly and efficiently when employees communicate well about individual and shared responsibilities. You’re in the business of putting a roof over people’s heads, even if it’s just for one night. Always look for ways to improve operations in order to deliver on the promise of an enjoyable stay.

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