Managing Through a Blizzard

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With 14 hotels in New York City, M&R Hotel Management was heavily impacted by the blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast last month. According to the U.S. Weather Service, 26.8 inches of snow fell in Central Park during the storm, a near record.

Fortunately, our managers and line employees rose to the occasion, staying true to the company’s core philosophy of providing hands-on hospitality. In case after case, they went the extra mile on guests’ behalf, despite trying circumstances.

With four hotels near John F. Kennedy International Airport and a one hotel near LaGuardia Airport, we certainly are accustomed to dealing with inclement weather and the urgent, unplanned demand for rooms that can result.

Some current guests may need to stay extra nights, while others never arrive due to cancelled flights. During the blizzard, our front desk associates worked diligently to track arrivals and departures and make rooms available to everyone who requested them.

Complicating the situation, the city shut down mass transit and ordered all cars off the highways as the storm barreled down, leaving some associates with no way to get home and others no way to get to work.

Associates at a number of our hotels ended up working extra hours and staying overnight on property. When housekeepers couldn’t make it in, other line employees – already overburdened – helped restock fresh linen, towels and toiletries.

None of the guests, grateful for refuge from the storm, complained about having to change their sheets.

Many M&R hotels provide complimentary hot breakfast as a brand standard. Those guests stranded in our hotels were sure to show up for breakfast early Saturday morning and again on Sunday for what could turn out to be their only meal of the day.

Associates from other functional area helped breakfast attendants keep the hot coffee and cold orange juice flowing in a great example of teamwork.

Resourceful general managers, meanwhile, canvassed local neighborhoods to identify open restaurants willing to deliver meals to their hotels and local pharmacies that could sell pharmaceuticals if needed.

As the snow and wind abated, our heroic associates rose to the occasion once more by helping guests dig out cars from under mounds of snow, expediting their check-outs and ensuring their ability to continue their trips. Only then did our associates dig out their own cars.

It’s at times like this that people outside our industry can truly appreciate the real meaning of hospitality – direct and authentic.

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