This week’s episode of Hotel Impossible featured the New Yorker Boutique Motel in Miami, FL. No that’s not a typo, the signage on the building said Motel. If you are guessing that the show centered around marketing and hotel management opportunities you are correct.
Episode Recap and Hotel Issues
The motel, located on the outskirts of Miami’s art district is a 50 room family-owned establishment that had recently been renovated. The owners were struggling under a mountain of debt and on the brink of going under.
The show began with host, Anthony Melchiorri, doing a quick inspection of his room as well as the premises. He quickly noted that the hotel had an underutilized patio (where the breakfast was at), was very clean, had good bedding and that maintenance was up to speed. Only an unusual bathroom inspection item indicated any sort of maintenance issue.
After inspection of the business office and meeting with the owners it was very clear that the motel had an identity crisis and the management was totally and I mean totally overwhelmed. In addition, the motel owners were not performing any hotel marketing resulting in empty rooms.
The Hotel Identity Crisis
“Guest will pay 3 times as much for a hotel room over a motel room”
Source: Anthony Melchiorri
One of first problems Anthony discovered at the hotel was signage that said New Yorker Boutique Motel. He noted that the difference between a motel and hotel was the amount of amenities and services offered.
With free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, room amenities and am airport shuttle service, the New Yorker Boutique was more of a hotel than a motel. Anthony also noted that the number one complaint by corporate travelers was free Wi-Fi. This was definitely a marketing opportunity that was being missed.
When Hotel Management is Overwhelmed
One of the things that was evident from the beginning of the show were that the owners were very disorganized and lacked the basis knowledge and skills to market the hotel. This could be seen with:
Signs that a Hotel is in Trouble
- The business office was a wreck that looked as if a tornado went through it. Lots of unorganized stacks of paper mixed with her children’s artwork.
- The owner had not responded to a corporate request for a contract because she did not know how to handle it, negotiate rates and execute. There was a contract worth $16,000 going unanswered.
- There was no business to business referral marketing happening.
- The hotel shuttle had no signage on it and was not distinguishable from any other vehicle. The New Yorker was one of only two hotels in the area that offered a shuttle service.
- The owner had no idea what her revenues or expenses were. There was no system for A/R or A/P.
- The only ongoing hotel maintenance issue was that rooms were not being inspected after casual visits.
In short, no one knew the hotel existed and those that did were being ignored. The fix, in my opinion, was one of the easiest that Anthony faced.
The New Yorker Boutique Motel Fix
The most important fix was changing the name of the business from The New Yorker Boutique Motel to The New Yorker Boutique Hotel. This was more than just a cosmetic change as discussed above but not the only change.
One of the things I like about the Hotel Impossible host Anthony Melchiorri is that he recognizes that most people want to do a good job and that energy and attitude goes a long way to resolving problems. Hotel marketing skills can be taught if someone is willing to learn.
In the case of The New Yorker Boutique, the first marketing issue to overcome was the lack of confidence of the owners. A series of staged introductions to possible business referrals showed how quickly one can develop confidence and skills. In addition, he gave the owner a first-hand demonstration of how to negotiate and close a corporate customer. This immediately brought in critical cash infusion.
Other fixes included:
- Had one of the owners (Walter), clean out and organize the main office. A/P and A/R could now be done.
- Had the hotel shuttle painted with hotel logo and brighter colors to stand out in traffic.
- Renovated the hotel patio to look more modern and artistic. This made the patio a natural fit for the surrounding art community where much of their business would come from.
- Instituted a hotel room inspection checklist.
- Professionalizing the look of housekeeping staff
What were the results? One of the owners was able to stop working 16 hour days to spend time with her children and according to the end of the show credits, the hotel was 100% booked.
Tell us about the best hotels you have stayed at. Was maintenance noticeable? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.