With the 2nd season of Hotel Impossible now wrapped up it is time to look back and see if there is a common theme that hoteliers and potential hoteliers can learn from and avoid. Like last season, all of the situations the hotels were faced with were controllable and resulted in missed opportunities to improve hotel maintenance, housekeeping and marketing.

What Hoteliers Can Learn: Hotel Experience and Leadership are a Must

Hotel Impossible first season taught hoteliers that responsibility for problems and change starts at the top with owners and key managers. The episodes this season echoed last year’s theme but also really hammered home the importance of leadership and hotel experience.

The shows this year ranged from hotel owners with no prior hotel or management experience to more experienced owners that lacked leadership skills. Regardless of the combination, it is important to understand the effect that each of these components to having a successful hotel.

Perhaps the best way to do that is to identify the common problems associated hotel experience and the lack of leadership skills. It should be noted that the problems associated with each of these are NOT mutually exclusive.

Problems Often Caused by a Lack of Hotel Experience

One common thread in many of the episodes this season was that the owners of the hotel/lodge purchased the property without any hotel experience. The lack of experience led to not understand how successful hotels are run and caused problems such as:

“Hotels are built on systems: maintenance, housekeeping and service.”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

  • Hotel and lodge properties that were not maintained with the guest experience in mind resulting in:
    • Lobby and adjoining rooms that were poorly furnished and outdated.
    • A lack of front desk services and appeal
    • Guest rooms that were poorly furnished, lacked amenities and outdated.
    • Buildings that were uninviting.
    • Dismal customer service.
  • A lack of hotel maintenance for the premises, rooms and common areas.

“No hotel can operate without a maintenance person”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

  • Guest safety issues ranging from bears feeding on fish parts on the doorstep to non-functional emergency lighting.
  • Housekeeping not being done or being done poorly.
  • Zero or almost no marketing (Internet and local package planning) being performed
  • No understanding of competitive statistics such as room rates and occupancy.
  • No understanding of the importance of the Internet for online reservations, marketing and use of online reviews.
  • No real hotel system being used to handle maintenance, provide checklists for housekeeping or organize staff tasks.
  • Missed opportunities to recognize the marketability of the hotel/lodge to the public as owners often did not recognize their best assets.

Problems caused by a Lack of Leadership

The ability to lead people determines how effective managers and staff will be in their jobs. Leadership affects staff attitudes in that poor leadership can sap the positive energy and attitude of even the most vibrant staff. In contrast, positive leadership will encourage staff to step up and do there best.

“Hotels don’t go out of business because of their employees, they go out of business if employees do not have the tools to do their work with.”

Source: Anthony Melchiorri

Leadership also determines how effective change can be. Even a hotel owner with no experience can implement positive change with good people skills and by demonstrating the right commitment. Hotel problems that surfaced during the shows that could have been avoided with good leadership include:

  • Staff that unaware of their roles. This includes general managers, marketing staff, heads of departments and so on.
  • Staff not feeling empowered to perform their jobs correctly.
  • Lack of change. Change could be new hotel systems, renovations, online marketing or just a different way of doing things.
  • Not providing the staff with the tools they need to do their job such as maintenance, housekeeping or front desk system.
  • Missed opportunities to appeal to potential guests.
  • Lack of training.
  • No innovation.

There are many components to effective leadership as well as varying degrees of hotel management experience. The challenge for each of the hotel owners featured this year was to accept that change was necessary for survival. As I have stated on many occasions, change starts at the top.

Did all This Really Work

Every hotel featured this year was unique in its own way. They are unique because the individuals are unique. However, this is the reason that host Anthony Melchiorri fixes the problems through the use of hotel systems, training and the adjustment of owner attitudes.

Once the owners have their attitude’s adjusted, change can occur through the use of proven hotel systems and training. The question that remains is that once Anthony and his cast leave the hotel/lodge will the owners follow his change suggestions to a successful conclusion?

Looking back at the shows, I think that most of the hotel and lodges featured have a good chance of turning around their fortunes if they can stay afloat long enough to make the changes that were demonstrated. I think that in only one (to remain unnamed hotel) of the episodes was the experienced owner far to resistant to change and will ultimately fail.

What is your opinion? Which hotels will make it and which ones will not? I look forward to the third season when cast of Hotel Impossible revisits the hotels like they did this year to see the results.

Tell us what your favorite episode was and what you thought of his approach.