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This week’s episode of Hotel Impossible was one of the more interesting to date. The hotel that needed help is in La Jolla, CA. It is a beautifully situated hotel on the ocean that although very clean had neglected its maintenance for many years.

Episode Recap and Hotel Maintenance Problem

The hotel which has limited capital funding available is in dire need of renovation and general hotel maintenance and a marketing director.The show highlighted some of the outstanding examples which many hotels face including:

Hotel Asset Problems Found

  1. Front pillar tiling falling off
  2. Dirty outside of building
  3. Patio furniture starting to rust due to proximity to ocean and corrosive ocean spray
  4. Algae buildup on steps and walls so thick it looked like the structures were painted green
  5. Paint needed in many areas
  6. Laundry chutes not secured
  7. Mattresses ripped
  8. Small maintenance items everywhere

Other hotel assets issues were primarily about the need to renovate furnishing and rooms. The challenge for renovations and maintenance of course was limited resources and a plan to do the most for the least amount until room revenues went up.

How a Maintenance System Could Have Helped Them

From a hotel maintenance software provider perspective my eyes lit up when the host Anthony Melchiorri discovered that maintenance was using scraps of paper to keep track of work requests and had no organization whatsoever. They were also very understaffed for the work that needed to be done.

The short term solution was for the two man maintenance department to create a picture board with several areas of focus. Jobs and projects would be posted on this board and given some degree of priority. Not much else was said about this so I am thinking that they simply traded a hopelessly lost method for a more organized but still manual system for identifying work to be done.

There was no indication that work history was recorded or that work would be taking place beyond the issues that Anthony had already identified. One would hope that Anthony had spent a little bit more time with the maintenance staff to instill the importance of inspections and preventive maintenance for hotel assets.

Different types/degrees of organized maintenance

Each hotel is different, some have just a few rooms, some have dozens id not hundreds of rooms. Staff size, budgets, the age of the hotel, skill sets and prior maintenance care all play a part in the needs of hotel management for better maintenance. As a result there is not one solution that will fit all hotels.

However, each hotel can use whatever resources are available to them and develop an action maintenance plan. It does not have to be complicated but it does need to be set and acted upon. The steps are simple:

Sky High Steps of Hotel Maintenance Planning
  • Know the resources available to you
  • Identify ALL issues, problems and opportunities
  • Organize the work that needs to be done into small manageable groups/tasks
  • A CMMS is ideal, but use a spreadsheet if necessary to set up a method to keep track of work requests coming in, when work is to be done (schedule) and have a column or place to record the results including parts used, time spent, costs, tools needed etc.
  • Review plans and results daily, try to make sure that 80% of the effort is concentrated on the 20% of hotel assets that are most frequently accessed. This is the hotel 80/20 rule.

Just organizing your maintenance will give your hotel maintenance staff greater flexibility and enable them to be more proactive. However, spreadsheets can only have a limited effect as they are inherently labor inefficient.

A move to computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) should be done as soon as possible. This is because a CMMS moves your hotel away from manual maintenance by storing all asset detail on a set of programs and providing the tools necessary for accepting work requests, scheduling work orders and tracking the work history.

The increase efficiency that a CMMS brings also allows hotel maintenance planners to schedule inspections on targeted assets. The ability to proactively identify problems and schedule work will lower hotel operating costs and help to minimize capital budget type replacements.

Next week’s Hotel Impossible episode will travel to the Southern Oaks in Missouri. Check back next week for the latest show recap.

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