When a Guest Must Cancel

Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan/Central Park

Photo: Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan Central Park

Balancing the business needs of hotel operators on the one hand and guests on the other can be tricky on a variety of fronts, none more so than when a guest must cancel a reservation at the last moment.

In most high-demand markets, 24-hour cancellation policy has been the standard. This provides leeway when guests’ plans change due to illness, family emergency, inclement weather or a host of other reasons. Traditionally, hoteliers have been eager in such circumstances to release guests from their reservations.

Lately, however, a growing number of hotel brands have switched to a 48-hour cancellation policy. Typically, they cite the rise of booking technology that allows for dynamic pricing as the reason. In today’s Internet world, for example, when desirable Hotel A sees it has a block of unsold rooms coming up, it can drop its rates dramatically in the hope of generating a spike in demand that will help fill that excess inventory on the upcoming nights.

Meanwhile, across town, a guest was reservations at less-desirable Hotel B might see Hotel A’s decision to discount its more desirable rooms. That guest easily could cancel the Hotel B reservations within the 24-hour window advance window, then book Hotel A across town.

The management of Hotel B finds this very frustrating. The good will they extended by offering a 24-hour cancellation policy has been abused, in their minds, by a guest who neither is ill nor facing a family crisis. It’s a scenario they can encounter numerous times on a given night. Managers of such hotels may try to sell their suddenly vacant rooms by giving the inventory to a third-party online agent at a steep discount.

As hosts and business leaders, it’s easy to be torn between what’s best for guests and what’s best for the bottom line. While we wait to see if the 48-hour policy makes an appreciable difference, industry watchers continue to ponder “what is fair and equitable?”

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Manhattan’s Newest Hilton Garden Inn Opens Near Times Square

HGI Exterior c 9-12-2017M&R Hotel Management today announced the opening of the 250-room, 23-story Hilton Garden Inn New York Times Square South at 326 West 37th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues.

The hotel, which joins M&R’s management portfolio of 12 other open hotels and three under development in New York, is near the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Times Square, Broadway theater district, emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood and New York Penn Station and Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The hotel features six Sky View rooms with soaring 22-foot ceilings and city skyline views from the 23rd floor, two City View rooms on the 17th floor with panoramic views and two Balcony rooms on the 18th floor that provide outdoor access.

Doyler’s, a full-service, three-meal-a-day restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating on the lobby level, specializes in Irish pub-style food and beverages. A media room on the second floor offers game stations and large flat-screen televisions for viewing movies.

Other hotel amenities include a meeting room, room service, 24-hour fitness center and The Shop Market, offering toiletries, snacks and beverages. Complimentary wireless internet service is available throughout the building.

The hotel’s executive team includes General Manager Felix Maldonado and Mirian Ortega, director of sales and marketing.

“The addition of the Hilton Garden Inn New York Times Square South − our first Hilton Worldwide brand − marks an important milestone for M&R Hotel Management,” said Brian McSherry, M&R Hotel Management chief operating officer. “We now are a franchisee of one of the world’s most respected hospitality companies.”

McSherry said guests will experience Hilton Garden Inn’s high level of customer service while earning points in the Hilton Honors guest loyalty program.

M&R Hotel Management, based in Great Neck, New York, operates five other hotels in Manhattan: the Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan Central Park at 538 West 58th St., the Holiday Inn New York City –Times Square at 585 Eighth Ave., the Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Midtown West at 538 West 48th St., the Comfort Inn Midtown West at 548 West 48th St. and the Holiday Inn NYC – Lower East Side at 150 Delancey St.

The company also manages six hotels in Queens, including four near John F. Kennedy International Airport, one near LaGuardia Airport and one in Long Island City. M&R also manages a hotel in Nassau County, New York.

M&R’s portfolio also includes the brands of Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Choice Hotels International, Wyndham Hotel Group and Best Western Hotels & Resorts.

M&R’s business plan calls for expansion of its portfolio nationwide through third-party management contracts.

In addition to management, M&R provides consulting services in hotel site and contractor selection, feasibility analysis, permitting, financing, human resources support, sales and marketing, revenue management, food & beverage management, account and risk management audits, e-commerce, design, procurement, accounting and engineering.

Training Is an Ongoing Pursuit in Hospitality

Gen 4 Lobby Couple

Like any successful business, the hotel industry can’t afford to rest on its laurels. Considering that guest service is at the heart of the hotel experience and that rank-and-file associates have the most direct contact with guests, it, shouldn’t come as a surprise that hotel companies invest a lot of time and energy in developing training programs to ensure that associates understand the fine points of guest service.

Hotel companies have learned that the most effective training is not a one-time occurrence. To the contrary, while new employees need guest-service training as part of their initial orientation, experienced associates benefit from periodic “refresher” courses, as well.

A recent example is InterContinental Hotels Group’s True Hospitality online training, which was launched last summer. Working by themselves, associates view a video and then complete learning modules covering a range of topics. While face-to-face training is valuable, a computer-based approach allows for greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and consistency.

Given the diverse nature of today’s hospitality workforce, the best training programs take cultural differences into account as well as proficiency in English. Critics might argue that refresher courses are unnecessarily repetitive. But repetition may be helpful in making sure participants fully grasp the core concepts being discussed.

Long Island City Holiday Inn Introduces Juquila Kitchen and Bar

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LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. (Oct. 9, 2017) –The Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View has announced the debut of Juquila Kitchen and Bar, its new three-meal-a-day restaurant featuring traditional Mexican cuisine at 39-05 29th St. in the heart of a rapidly expanding Queens borough neighborhood. 
The moderately priced restaurant serves breakfast daily from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., followed by lunch and dinner from noon to 11 p.m. Brunch is served on weekends. A wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails, including the bar’s specialty drink, an Oaxacan Margarita, are offered. Several American and Italian dishes supplement the Mexican menu. 

“Chef and owner Chris Bonilla has been pleasing diners for three years with his inventive take on Mexican specialties at Juquila Restaurant in nearby Elmhurst,” said Cathy Pascale, hotel general manager. “Hotel guests and the local community now have the opportunity to sample his enchiladas, quesadillas and other flavorful items right here, in Long Island City.” 

The restaurant’s layout includes tables for two as well as long, elevated wooden tables with stools. Mexican artwork decorates the walls. The full-service bar is in an adjacent room. 

The 136-room Holiday Inn L.I. City – Manhattan View, managed by M&R Hotel Management, offers king and queen rooms. Top-floor suites and other guest rooms offer panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and East River. Fitness and business centers are available 24 hours a day on a complimentary basis. Two function rooms can each accommodate up to 60 people theater style. 

Complimentary amenities include wired and wireless high-speed Internet service, local calls, daily newspaper and bottled water. All rooms are equipped with a Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator and premium cable TV channels, among other amenities. On-site parking is available for a fee. 
The hotel offers access to Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports via subway and taxi. The hotel is also near the offices of JetBlue Airways, MetLife, Citigroup, Barclays Bank and the Museum of the Moving Image, Museum of Modern Art’s P.S. 1, Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park. 

Based in Great Neck, New York, M&R Hotel Management operates 11 other hotels in the Greater New York market, including five in Queens, one in Nassau and five in Manhattan. Its newest hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn New York Times Square South, is scheduled to open later this year. 

For more information on Juquila Kitchen and Bar, call 718-482-0033 or go tohttp://juquilakitchenandbar.eat24hour.com.

The Importance of Making the Guest’s Last Impression a Positive One

Gen 4 Lobby Woman Yellow

Industry observers often comment on the importance of a hotel’s curb appeal, meaning that guests’ first impression when approaching the property can help determine their overall satisfaction. In other words, it sets the tone for what is to come.

Less commented upon but equally important is the guests’ last impression, at check out and departure. This impression easily can become the basis of the memory travelers take with them, not only of the hotel’s physical plant, but of the service they experienced.

I was reminded of this recently when reviewing TripAdvisor guest comments about one of M&R Hotel Management’s hotels, the Holiday Inn New York City – Times Square.

“The hotel kindly kept our luggage in a locked room for us on our last day as our flight wasn’t until 10 p.m. The service was free of charge, where other hotels charge,” the guest said, adding that the front desk staff “offered to arrange airport transfers for us.”

The hotel staff’s courtesies enabled these guests to enjoy another day of sightseeing or shopping in New York, knowing their luggage was secure. The experience was memorable enough for them to mention in the TripAdvisor review.

We like to think that when those travelers next plan a trip to New York, their positive impression upon leaving the hotel will be part of their decision to book our hotel again. Not only will we see those guests again, but they likely will recommend us to their friends and family members.