3 quick tips to deliver on guest expectations

March 12, 2020

You know your guests. When they check in, they are already eager with expectations. Typically, they’re in pursuit of the perfect balance – the creature comforts of home mixed with the added perks and pleasures of a property like yours.

So, yes. From the maintenance of each guest room to the selection of bath soaps and towels, those small details make a big difference. Consider these three tips a friendly reminder about the everyday essence of a great guest experience.

1. Offer welcoming amenities

One of the first things your guests will do is explore the amenities of their room. This might include cold water bottles, a fully stocked snack bar, enticing bath soaps, and cozy bed linens. Maybe add a local touch as well. It’s all about showing guests how much you care about their comfort.

2. Keep rooms clean and tidy

Ensuring that each setting stays neat and tidy also shows guests they chose the right destination. This means the housekeeping staff should work quickly and efficiently making the beds, cleaning the bathroom, and refreshing towels and toiletries.

3. Provide soft, sturdy towels

Whether your guests want to shower off after a long day or relax with a soak in the tub, they’ll appreciate the embrace of high-quality bath linens. Sweet South™ Towels from 1888 Mills are just the type of collection that earns a sweet spot with guests. 

Its bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and bathmats are woven and sewn in the U.S. using the strongest, softest Southern cotton. Each item of the collection also features Eduraweave™ technology, which was designed for the hospitality industry and offers superior performance and durability.

From tidiness to towels, the small details help you give guests the perfect balance of home and away.

At American Hotel, we deliver all you need, when you need it … so you can focus on what matters most. Explore our vast product assortment at americanhotel.com.

A peek inside the Wicker Park Inn

March 12, 2020

In this new series, we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property. 

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupancy: Nine guest rooms, two apartments
Open: Year round
Website: wickerparkinn.com

In the heart of the hip and trendy Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago you’ll find the Wicker Park Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast offering both traditional guest rooms and apartment vacation rentals. Guests can go from the comfort of their well-appointed rooms to any number of great restaurants, shops, art galleries, or clubs in just minutes.

We spoke with owner Laura Yepez to learn more about what makes the Wicker Park Inn special and how she’s turned the challenge of running an independent hotel into a success story.   

Q. Tell us a little bit about your property – its history and what makes it unique.

LY: Situated in a historic home, the Wicker Park Inn offers nine luxurious guest rooms. Each room is beautifully designed with elegant decor, modern amenities, and unique details such as exposed brick walls, wallpaper accents, a decorative fireplace, skylights, and wooden floors. Rooms also feature private bathrooms, high-quality linens, satellite TV, and high-speed wireless internet. Our apartments are equally luxurious and include fully equipped kitchens.

Q. How do you promote your property?

LY: Our rooms are available to book on multiple channels such as Expedia, Booking.com, VRBO, and Airbnb. We encourage guests to book directly, but understand that people have many ways to make travel arrangements. We also advertise with Google and Bing, send monthly newsletters, and are active on social media.

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to buying products?

LY: Because I am a smaller property, buying in bulk is not always the best choice. However, we’ve been able to partner successfully with American Hotel Register to find the right products for our property and in the right quantity. I can buy just one hair dryer if needed – that’s pretty amazing!

Q. What are some other roadblocks you face as an independent hotel? How do you overcome these challenges?

LY: Business travelers are not always the final decision-makers on where to stay, and loyalty points play a large role in booking accommodations. As an independent hotel, I have to price competitively and offer free amenities to appeal to this market. Because we are a boutique property, many guests choose to stay with us over a big chain hotel. We also offer corporate rates and repeat guest discounts to attract and retain guests.

Also, because we are a boutique property with fewer than 10 rooms, I started to market the Wicker Park Inn as an all-inclusive property for group accommodations, including corporate retreats, weddings, family reunions, and school trips. Our property appeals to groups who want full-service, elevated accommodations in a private setting. Group reservations have been very successful for us.

Q: What advice would you give to those new to owning or managing an independent hotel?

LY: Offer a unique experience that appeals to your ideal guest. Market yourself on what sets you apart, and follow up with your guests to ensure they stay with you again and again.

At American Hotel, we deliver all you need, when you need it … so you can focus on what matters most. Explore our vast product assortment at americanhotel.com.

Tips for powerfully sanitizing your property

March 2, 2020
microban

It doesn’t need to be cold and flu season to know the importance of keeping your property clean and free of harmful viruses. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re dealing with high occupancy and high turnover.

The first step is to train your staff on how best to clean rooms and common areas to ensure they’re germ free. This includes everything from making sure they clean often-missed items, like remote controls and shower curtains, to reminding them about the importance of washing their hands properly and using a mask if they have any cold symptoms.

Yet your staff can only do so much if they aren’t armed with products that work effectively. Traditional sanitization and disinfection products may clean and/or disinfect, but they don’t necessarily keep working after initial contact. This leaves surfaces vulnerable to re-contamination in a matter of seconds after the application is applied.

Powerful products that protect

Hotels that want to fight germs – and win – should choose products from P&G Professional. P&G Professional has partnered with Microban®– the global leader in antimicrobial, odor control, and surface modification technologies – to deliver new sanitization/disinfection products that address the re-contamination of surfaces.

The Microban® ready-to-use lineup consists of three items to clean, disinfect/sanitize, and deodorize:

Microban® technology works long beyond the initial contact – it protects the surface from organism growth for up to 24 hours. In fact, it is the ONLY professional-use product that can make this claim. After the product is initially sprayed, has needed contact time, and is wiped away, a residual semi-permanent polymer is left behind to protect the surface from 99.9% of organisms.

All three products have a light citrus scent and sanitize in as little as 10 seconds. With Microban® Professional products, you and your staff will feel confident you’re making your property safe for guests.

A peek inside Carmel Inn and Suites

February 13, 2020

In this new series, we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property.  

Location: Thibodaux, Louisiana 
Occupancy: 94 rooms
Open: Year-round
Website: thecarmelinn.com

Surrounded by large oak trees and southern mansions along Bayou Lafourche, the Carmel Inn and Suites is a Louisiana landmark known for its family-run hospitality, which includes complimentary morning breakfast. We chatted with operations manager Rhonda R. Gaubert to learn more about running a successful independent property in the heart of Cajun country.

Tell us a little bit about your property – its history and what makes it unique.

Rhonda: Well, this area and this property is filled with history. In fact, we’re a historic landmark hotel. In 1855 it was a convent and then a catholic high school. My husband’s family – the Gaubert family – bought the building and in 1973 transformed it into a Holiday Inn. It operated under other flags as well but, in 2009, the hotel was restored to reflect its history and was renamed the Carmel Inn & Suites. My husband, Greg Gaubert, is managing partner and owner and our family has been running it since then. Today, it’s ranked the #1 hotel in Thibodaux by TripAdvisor.

How do you advertise/promote your property – through Trip Advisor? Word of mouth?

Rhonda: We definitely depend on online reviews and bookings through TripAdvisor and Expedia. We also have a great relationship with Nichols State University, which is located in Thibodaux, so word of mouth is very important to us. We treat our guests like family, whether they are parents visiting their college student or visitors who are part of the medical tourism and eco-tourism in the area. 

A view of the pool area at Carmel Inn & Suites.

Do you cater to a certain type of demographic? (family friendly vs more catered toward adults/honeymooners, etc.)

Rhonda: You might be surprised but we have hosted people from all over the world. We even have a translator available at the desk who can translate in 10 different languages. It’s not just the university drawing them. There are others who visit our part of the bayou system, and all the historic plantations nearby. We also have had many movies filmed in and around Thibodaux, like the Ray Charles story, “The Haunting,” and “The Butler.” We’ve had more than a few Hollywood actors stay here at the hotel.

What are some of the pain points you have when it comes to buying products/supplying your hotel with products?

Rhonda: We are a mom and pop operation, so our budget is tight, and we don’t have the storage to buy supplies in bulk. That can be challenging when there are purchase minimums on certain items. So we have to be very strategic about ordering what we need for the property. But we also try to offer a local feel. Our bath soap is from a local organic distributor, and our coffee is from a Louisiana brewer. People notice when you use eco-friendly products that are unique to your community.

What advice would you give to those new to owning/managing an indy hotel?

Rhonda: Well, you have to understand that it’s a life commitment. You have to be fully involved to make it work. We treat our 24 employees like family, so they are also invested in our success. It does take time and effort. We are not New Orleans, Baton Rouge or Lafayette, so it has taken some time for more people to know about us and know about the different activities and attractions in our area. Every year, we welcome more guests. 

At American Hotel, we deliver all you need, when you need it … so you can focus on what matters most. Explore our vast product assortment at americanhotel.com.

A peek inside The Cabot Lodge

December 12, 2019
Cabot Lodge Exterior

In this new series, we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property. 

Location: Beverly, Massachusetts
Occupancy: 13 rooms
Open: Year round

The Cabot Lodge truly embodies the saying, “good things come in small packages.” Its petite, cozy guest rooms are inspired by the West Indies as well as the sleeping quarters of historic New England Clipper Ships, offering guests both historical charm and modern amenities.

Having just opened its doors in late October 2019, The Cabot Lodge may be new to Beverly, but it’s already creating a lot of buzz. We chatted with Head of House Annie Brown Coe to learn more about opening, and running, a successful independent property.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your property – its history and what makes it unique.

Annie: The concept is built around the local history of Beverly. The founding families of the city were in the shipping and trading industry in the 18th century. They did a lot of trading in the West Indies. So, our property is influenced by the West Indies as well as colonial New England. The furniture design is bright and fun, and it’s something that draws the eye, especially for people coming off the street or viewing our property on the website. It’s a fun, different experience.

Q. How do you promote your property?

Annie: Before we opened, we didn’t have a product, or guests, so we were relying on word of mouth. Since we’re near Salem, Halloween is a huge draw, so opening in October was our target. Guests had to book early and take a risk booking a hotel that wasn’t even open yet.

Now that we’ve had guests, we have glowing reviews that help drive awareness and visits. My true belief is the guests should tell the experience – their words will set the expectation for the next guests. If they evangelize, then that’s the best marketing we can ask for.

Q. Do you cater to a certain type of demographic?

Annie: We are learning as we go. So far, we’ve had a mix of business travelers, couples, and families. Around Halloween, especially, we had a lot of tourists who traveled here from all over the world. It’s still a little too early to tell what our sweet spot is, but we’re tracking with data so we can learn and evolve.

Q. What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to buying products?

Annie: In a boutique space, you want it to be customizable and genuinely unique. Buying in small quantities and sampling products can be a challenge. Compared to a 100-room hotel, a 13-room hotel is hard to purchase for, because we don’t need the large case quantities.

That’s why I really appreciate the level of service I receive from my rep at American Hotel. It’s clear that American Hotel cares about boutique hotels because of how accommodating they are even for a small purchase.

It’s also important to be scrappy and do your research to find the best products at the best prices. All in all, it’s about finding the right partner to help you navigate purchasing issues and find solutions.

Q. Are there certain amenities that are unique to your hotel?

Annie: A lot of what we feature is local, and our guests notice and appreciate that. We source everything from soaps and shampoos to coffee and chocolate locally.

Anything that the guests are touching or consuming needs to be of the highest quality – whether it’s sheets, mattresses, or consumables. So those are the things we spend the most time vetting. We also continuously survey guests and provide that constructive feedback to the vendor.

A view inside The Cabot Lodge lobby

Q. What are some other roadblocks you face as an independent hotel? How do you overcome these challenges?

Annie: One of the biggest challenges is having brand power over bigger brands or legacy names. Some of the local hotels have been here a long time, and customers may have loyalty points with a certain chain, so they’ll go with them. I’m working hard with my team to get positive reviews so we can overcompensate for some of those challenges with really happy guests. If people spread the word, they become our ambassadors.

Q. What are some general trends you’re seeing for independent hotels?

Annie: Overall, guests are more involved in their hotel selection. It’s so easily accessible these days to learn about a property – there is amazing transparency.

Another trend I’m seeing is that guests are traveling more efficiently, because they are traveling more often and don’t necessarily stay in one place for a long time. For example, hotels are doing away with dressers as a space-saving method. It’s a very Millennial, business travel-driven trend.

We’re also trying to stay on the cutting edge when it comes to technology. The challenge is finding balance between using technology to make things like checking in and out more convenient for guests, while also providing that personal touch.

Q. Since you just opened your property, you are in the thick of it, but what advice would you give to those new to owning or managing an independent hotel?

Annie: What stands out the most is listening to your guests. While you need to have a good gut instinct to make decisions, it’s also important to take guests’ needs into consideration. You also need to budget appropriately and think ahead about what you’re going to need in the future.

Lastly, you must stay on top of hotel trends and make sure your property doesn’t get outdated or shabby. Things are changing, and if you don’t face the facts, you’ll fall behind. 

 On our blog: A peek inside Cedar Motor Inn

A peek inside Cedar Motor Inn

December 5, 2019
Independent spotlight

In this new series, we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property. 

Location: Marquette, Michigan
Occupancy: 43
Open: Year ‘round

Family-owned Cedar Motor Inn offers guests a mix of rustic charm and modern accommodations. Located near the shores of Lake Superior, it’s a place where visitors come to both relax and seek adventure.

We chatted with innkeeper Lyn J. Durant to learn more about what makes her property special and what it takes in today’s world to operate an independent hotel.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your property, including its history, and what makes it unique.

LD: This hotel has been in our family for four generations – 53 years of being family-owned. My husband’s uncle and his sister bought the hotel with their mother in 1967, and by 1980 they had added 13 more rooms, enclosed the hallways and added a pool, spa, and steam sauna. We are now considered a mid-scale hotel by AAA.

Currently my husband, daughter and I are partners, and our daughter serves as General Manager.

Q. How do you promote your property?

LD: Our local university has been here for decades. As a result, and because the hotel has been here for so long, many of the parents stay with us when they bring their children to and from school. We also do some advertising in sports publications for hunting and fishing, as well as in two local visitor guides.

We are also fortunate to have a lot of returning guests. We’ve had many generations of families stay with us, as well as business travelers who have come here for decades until their retirement.

Q. What are some of your pain points when it comes to buying products for your hotel?

LD: Our biggest challenge is the lack of storage at our property. Since we can’t order more than a few cases of anything, sometimes we have to pay more, depending on the supplier. And certain types of products take longer than others – sometimes we get products quickly, while with larger buys, like furniture, there’s a longer wait time.

Q. What are some other types of challenges you face as an independent hotel?

LD: Since we’re family-owned, we have to do whatever’s necessary when short-staffed, and that includes taking on tasks outside of our usual responsibilities. Because of our particular niche, we’re lucky in that we don’t really compete with the chains. Marquette is a very unique locale because we are a destination. Events drive our community, and even if the event is chain-specific, we get the overflow, which is OK with us.

It’s not a matter of overcoming the challenges, it’s dealing with them. Each day is different, so we do what we do best and see what tomorrow brings.

Q. What advice would you give to those new to owning or managing an independent hotel?

LD: You have to have a good working knowledge of everything about running the business: human resources, marketing, accounting, plumbing, maintenance, internet, and sales. My husband, daughter and I complement each other with our knowledge, so I believe that’s why we’ve been successful … that and divine intervention on occasion!

A peek inside High Noon Beach Resort

November 21, 2019
Indy spotlight

In this new series we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property. 

  • Location: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida
  • Number of units: 40
  • Open: Year round

Family-owned for almost 60 years, High Noon Beach Resort offers guests sun, sand, and unforgettable experiences. We checked in with Bruce Novak, owner of High Noon Beach Resort, to get the High Noon story and pick up some of his “independent” insights.

Q. Tell us a little bit more about your property and what makes it special.

BN: My family purchased the High Noon building in 1961 and moved from Connecticut to run the hotel – with no hotel experience. Today, the hotel has expanded to include three additional buildings and a variety of room types.

The resort is unique because we are a small, privately-owned oceanfront property on the Atlantic Ocean in South Florida. Not many properties like ours exist down here these days. What’s also really special is that we operate with a staff that has been a part of High Noon for many decades. 

Q. How do you get the word out about your resort?

BN: We promote our property in a variety of ways, including Trip Advisor and the Lauderdale-By-The-Sea visitors guide. We are also a member of Small Elegant Hotels, which is a network of independent hotels with a maximum of 150 rooms. And of course, we rely on word of mouth from our guests.

A view of the pool

Q. What are some challenges independent properties face, and what are ways to overcome those challenges?

BN: Some of the challenges we personally face at High Noon is keeping the product fresh and getting positive reviews from guests on Trip Advisor.

One way I think independent hotels are evolving to meet challenges like these is by transforming themselves into boutique-style hotels. Guests like this style because it is more personal.

Q. What is some advice you’d give to those new to owning or operating an independent hotel? 

BN: One way to achieve success is to make it easy for guests to book rooms at your property, including having the ability to reserve online. It’s also important to create a good vibe and cater to your guests’ needs as best you can. While budgeting is important, it’s just as important to find ways to add value to their stay. Some examples include offering services such as complimentary bikes, beach chairs, umbrellas, and parking. Finally, encourage them to review your property on Trip Advisor.

A peek inside Mount Shasta Resort

November 13, 2019
Indy Spotlight

In this new series we spotlight independent hotels to learn more about the everyday challenges, rewards, and opportunities of running an independent property.  

  • Location: Mount Shasta, California
  • Occupancy: 65 units
  • Open: Year round

Nestled at the base of beautiful Mount Shasta and overlooking pristine Lake Siskiyou, Mount Shasta Resort offers its guests romance, recreation, and relaxation.

We chatted with hotel manager Carol Nunes about what makes the resort and its guests so special, and some of the creative strategies her team employs to maintain a successful independent property.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your property.

CN: Our hotel has been here for about 23 years, and it’s truly a magical, spiritual place. In fact, we have many spiritual groups who visit us. We also get a lot of wildlife in the area – it’s just very peaceful.   

In terms of lodging, we offer chalets along the lake as well as standard hotel rooms, some of which include a jacuzzi. We often hear from guests that they feel at home, and they enjoy how quiet, relaxing, and soothing of an experience it is.

Q. What would you say draws visitors, both new and repeat, to visit?

CN: We do have a lot of regulars who come every year. Fourth of July is a popular time, as well as Christmas. Often, as guests leave they make reservations for the next year.

What draws people here, and makes them want to come back, is the unique experience. It’s a place where people like to come and spend quality time with their families. You can relax or you can do activities, such as skiing and hiking. It truly feels like home.

We also attract a lot of people for weddings and events, given the picturesque backdrop. We have a beautiful wedding site. People also like to celebrate their anniversary here – we’ve had some who have been coming for 20 or 30 years. This is their getaway place – a place where they can release some stress.

Q. How do you spread the word about your property?

CN: We are constantly promoting ourselves in order to gain exposure. We advertise in local Bay area magazines and run TV promotions as well. We also send out email blasts to our email subscribers offering specials. And of course, there’s word of mouth from our guests who have stayed at our property and share their positive feedback with their friends and family.

Q. What are some of the amenities that are noticed by your guests?

CN: It’s an exciting time, because we are in the process of installing large dispensers in the shower to replace the individual-sized bottles. This is due to the new California law banning their use in hotels. But I think this will be a positive change. Not only will it save on costs and labor and create less waste, I believe it will also be well-received by our guests.

One Bedroom Premium Lakeview Chalet

Q. What are some pain points when it comes to buying products for your hotel, and how do suppliers, like American Hotel, help you navigate those issues?

CN: I would say our main pain point as an independent hotel is pricing – finding quality items, but at a good price. We’re also always keeping tabs on shipping costs and working with suppliers to ensure we get the products we need on time.

I have a great relationship with our rep at American Hotel. She’ll go out of her way to find a product I’m looking for or help solve a problem. We have a fun but professional relationship – and we work well together to solve any problems that may arise.

Q. What are other challenges you face as an independent hotel?

CN: Weather is a big factor. For example, if there’s no snow, then that can negatively impact us. And the recent fires and smoke have caused issues.

Awareness is also a challenge, since we aren’t as visible as other hotels. There is a chain hotel in the area that is right off of the freeway, so they have more visibility. We also do compete somewhat with Airbnbs for weddings. A new trend is for houses in the area to rent out their backyard – which has the mountain behind it – as a location for weddings.

We combat all of this by getting out there and advertising, as well as creating unique specials and packages that differentiate us and draw people in. For instance, we have a lovely spa, so we’ll create specials that include a spa discount with your stay.

Q. What advice would you give to someone new to managing or operating an independent hotel?

CN: It takes a lot of effort to get your hotel’s name out there, so it’s important to find unique ways to promote yourself. You also need to have a budget and be mindful of how you spend your money – especially when it comes to purchasing.

The tricks for running an efficient hotel

November 7, 2019
Tips for efficient hotel

With so much going on at a hotel at one time, being efficient is the name of the game. Staff members often need to be doing multiple things at once, and the better equipped they are to multitask, the smoother operations will be.

Here are some ways to help your staff be more efficient:

Consider investing in technology

While hospitality is an industry where in-person communication is essential, there are still ways to use technology effectively to help with productivity. Consider investing in technology such as property management systems to free up manpower that could be better spent doing other, more personal tasks for guests.

Encourage breaks

While this may seem counterintuitive, giving your staff breaks – and encouraging them to take those breaks – can actually help with efficiency. If staff members are overworked and burnt out, they won’t be as efficient and productive as they would be if they took a few minutes to relax and regroup every once and awhile.

Give them the best tools

When it comes to efficiency, the supplies being used are just as important as the staff members themselves. Buying multipurpose trucks and carts can help boost productivity.

Royal Basket® has a variety of products that ensure smooth function and efficiency, including Royal Basket® Permanent Liner Vinyl Trucks with either a wood or metal base. These vinyl permanent liner trucks can be used to transport everything from linens to recycles to refuse. The durable vinyl liners are antimicrobial, flame retardant, and resistant to mold, and are permanently attached to the frames to ensure the security and organization of cart contents. Plus, additional parts, accessories, and upgrades available, making it easy to customize the trucks for maximum efficiency. 

Learn more about wood-based and metal-based Permanent Liner Vinyl Trucks from Royal Basket®

The best products to keep floors clean

October 21, 2019
Rubbermaid products

You always want your property looking its best – from ceiling to floor. A dirty floor can make even the most stylish, beautiful properties appear unkempt. What’s more, you want to avoid having anything sticky or slippery on the ground that could cause guest injury.

That’s why you should turn to the highest-quality cleaning products from brands you can trust, like Rubbermaid. Here are three products from their line of cleaning supplies that are sure to make your floors – and hotel – shine.

New! Spill Mop Kit

The new Rubbermaid Commercial Products Spill Mop Kit cleans spills faster than a cotton string mop for a safer, drier floor. The super-absorbent material retains liquid so it won’t leak or drip. Once fully absorbed, the easy-release handle allows for hands-free disposal, something your staff will appreciate. Plus, the pads are designed for one-time use, making spill cleanup quick and easy.

Spill Mop Pad

For quick and convenient cleaning, turn to Rubbermaid Commercial Products Spill Mop Pad, used with the Spill Mop Handle. Each pad is made with highly absorbent material designed for quickly removing liquid, water-based spills. The absorbed liquid turns into gel, trapping it inside to prevent leaks and drips. Up to two packs can fit conveniently in the Spill Mop Storage Cabinet, while the dispensing carton is compact enough to easily slide into most spaces.

Maximizer Mop Head Pad

The Rubbermaid Commercial Products Maximizer Mop Pad is similar to the Spill Mop Pad but is ideal for quickly removing biohazard liquid. Each pad holds up to 32 ounces of water and 13.5 ounces of NaCl 0.9%.

By relying on cleaning supplies from Rubbermaid Commercial Products, you’ll be fully prepared next time there’s a spill of any kind.