Despite the Slump The Best Keep Getting Better.

The U.S. Hotel Industry is having some hard times. “The U.S. lodging industry finds itself in uncharted waters due to a global economic and financial crisis that has taken a severe toll on the net operating income (NOI) of hotel owners, setting the stage for a wave of loan defaults and foreclosures. Why such a dire prediction? PKF Hospitality Research forecasts a 39.1% decline in NOI for the typical U.S. hotel this year, the biggest drop on record since it began tracking hotel data in the 1930s.”  See http://nreionline.com/property/hotel/0901-hotel-slump-coming/

And it’s not just U.S. Hotels that are suffering. Hotels from Berlin to Bangkok are expecting a rough couple of years.

Despite this slump, the very best hotels can be an example of surviving the economic downturn.

You see, the very best Hotels are holding on to coveted 5 Star and 5 Diamond ratings. According to USA Today: “A year of sagging hotel staffing and rates has translated — surprisingly — into more top-ranked lodgings. Fifty-four lodgings in the USA, Canada and China just attained coveted five-star status from the former Mobil Travel Guide (renamed Forbes Travel Guide under a new licensing agreement). The number of five-stars, announced Monday night, is up five from last year. More top-ranked properties also sparkled in AAA’s diamond awards, which were unveiled Friday. Its 113 five-diamond hotels and resorts in the USA, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico number 10 more than last year.” 

How can this be? It seems like these top end properties are doing more with less. But why? Everybody understands that times are hard and it’s ok for client service to slip a bit right? Wrong. When your brand is quality, you understand that you have to protect your brand no matter what. It’s all about client service and frankly, good client service is free. In the same USA Today article, Steve Winn, the billionaire hotelier famous for one of the very best Las Vegas Hotels says:  “It’s hard to do, and it shows that in hard times you have to protect your assets — which is your staff and service levels, . . . . So when things do get better, you haven’t damaged your brand.” 

Interesting what Mr. Winn referred to as “assets”, isn’t it? Not the buildings, not the name, but the staff and service levels. True, you may need to have less staff when times are hard, but if so, you need to make sure that the staff you do have is well trained and fully understands the stakes. And frankly, client service is free. A smile, a cordial greeting, treating people who use your services or buy your goods like they are the most important people in the world is always important. And when times are tough that attitude is essential for survival. So how do you as a supervisor make sure that your staff understands this? Well, who are your clients? That very same staff that’s who. And success is in the details. Treat your staff like VIPs and they will treat your clients like VIPs. Train them, work with them, set an example for them. Now is not the time to be downhearted or let your guard down. Now is the time to be the very best you can be. And your staff will follow your example.