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HOSP1001: Orientation to the Hospitality Industry (Buckley): Hotels

Types of Hotels

Bed & Breakfasts

  • You will often pay less than a hotel. Instead of just a continental breakfast, you can oftentimes get a homemade breakfast. Most amenities are free at B&Bs--you can oftentimes get free wi-fi, complimentary parking and concierge service. Additionally, many B&B owners are seasoned locals with a wealth of knowledge about the locale. The main difference between a bed and breakfast and a hotel is that the owners of a B&B see their patrons as guests, while hotels may see their patrons as customers. 

Boutique Hotels

  • According to Jason Moskal, global vice president of the Hotel Indigo and EVEN Hotels brands for InterContinental Hotels Group, the term "boutique" was first coined in the 1980s when a stay at the now-closed Morgans Hotel in New York City was compared to visiting a boutique retail shop. "True to its name, hotels with a bit of style, design and personality began gaining popularity," he says. Today's brand of boutique hotel is largely characterized by its smaller size, personalized service and local personality, which can vary dramatically depending on where the property is located. "Boutique hotels always cater to the individual, providing very personalized, intimate service," says Moskal, explaining that these properties are designed to blend into the community and reflect the neighborhoods and cultures around them.

Budget Hotels

  • Budget hotels are meant to provide basic accommodations at a very affordable price. Budget hotels should still be clean and safe, but budget travelers won’t expect much more than a bed, a bathroom, and a few other accommodations to meet their basic needs. Extra services and amenities aren’t really expected.

Family Hotels

  • At a minimum, any kid friendly hotel you choose for your family vacation should offer some basics amenities for children, like in-room refrigerators, cribs upon request, and (if applicable) restaurants with kids’ menus and high chairs/booster seats. If you have a baby or active toddler, make sure you get a room that’s safe for your child – that means no open balconies or bunk beds. You may also want to make sure that your hotel room offers a bathtub if your children aren’t ready to take showers. Family hotels and resorts sometimes have themes that appeal to children.

High-End Hotels 

  • These hotels are the best of the best. An upscale hotel is expected to have luxury accommodations and amenities along with the best in customer service. Of course, the rates of the rooms will match these expectations. These hotels typically appeal to a wealthier target market.


  • Perhaps each room is decorated in a unique style with furnishings that match the Inn’s location. They are most often located out of a city center and run by the owner rather than a large corporation.They might offer a home cooked breakfast, a wine and cheese happy hour, or simply a warm smile and helpful suggestion on exploring the local area.

Mid-Range Hotels 

  • These are probably the most common types of hotels available. Mid-range is where most people who travel will choose to stay. These can be classified as 3 or 4 star hotels. The accommodations aren’t typically considered luxurious, but they are nice and comfortable. A certain amount of amenities are expected along with great customer service.

Independent Hotel 

  • Independent hotels are owned by someone who isn’t affiliated with any corporation. These hotels are designed and run according to the owner’s specifications. Since they have no affiliations, owners don’t have to follow any specific guidelines and can make exactly the hotel they want.


  • A franchised hotel is part of a corporation and will have stipulations and guidelines in place for the owner to follow. A benefit of buying a franchised property is that the name and brand recognition will already be built in, and you won’t have to figure out policy and guidelines on your own.    



Developing and Planning New Hotels

Site Selection

  • Location, location, location – Site selection demands the highest level of scrutiny. Ask yourself: what challenges, if any, exist to acquire the land? Are there potential zoning issues or prohibitive architectural review standards? Is the site close to basic utilities, and can infrastructure enhancements to streets and utilities be conducted with ease? How close is it to major gateways and attractions, and what other revenue streams exist to entice visitors to the area? Why is the site available – is it lack of hotel supply or lack of consumer demand?

Which Brand Makes the Most Sense?

  • Once you have a location, choose the right brand for your hotel before any next steps. Examine the competitive set to determine the best brand to launch in your market – one that is distinctive, will have the most revenue-earning potential, and is part of a solid loyalty program and excellent distribution reach.
  • Know a brand franchisor’s strengths – the franchise company and the brand segment must seamlessly fit into the destination’s framework of existing properties. Multiple options under a brand umbrella helps developers focus on the exact segment that makes the most sense for the market, while knowing thet still can tap a franchisor's resources whether they go upscale, midscale or economy. For example, Wyndham Hotel Group’s 19 global brands span nearly every segment of the industry giving you the choice of iconic brands like Wyndham Grand, Wingate by Wyndham, Ramada Worldwide, and Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham. And, the company’s varied prototype offerings afford financial savings and positively impact construction time.
  • Confidence in knowing a brand will remain a long-term partner through the life fo the property abd provide support to help drive profitability is vital for developers in determining affiliation with a franchisor. 


Obtaining Financing

  • “Show me the money” is a developer’s dream, but securing financing for new property construction can be challenging, especially when many lenders may be nearing their capacity for providing hospitality loans in the current development cycle.
  • How can you improve your chance to obtain financing? “We want to see a third-party feasibility study and market analysis, precise business plan with solid projections, examination of construction and labor costs, a developer’s track record with past hotel successes, and that the market has demand for a healthy room rate,” explained Mike McGinley, General Manager, Live Oak Bank. 
  • Keep in mind: leaders feel a level of comfort in providing financing when a project is aligned with a trusted brand known for consistent business success and guest service. Aligning with an esteemed hospitality company allows you to leverage its established connections with lending institutions that can handle the risks associated with hotel construction projects.

Finding candidates

  • While automation has made hiring somewhat easier, it’s still tough since the labor force is shrinking.It’s [job fair] “still the best method that we’ve found to this date to try and get bulk candidates in the door, get them processed (and) get them hired,” Steve Martin, VP of human resources at Marcus Hotels & Resorts, said. He added that it would be nice if everyone applied online, but he doesn’t want that to impede someone who can’t. “We’ve gone back to paper applications and we use them on an ad hoc basis,” he said.
  • Acting quickly is key to getting candidates hired, Martin said, and it’s all hands on deck to make as many spot decisions as possible. He said he’s found that if an employer lets a candidate walk away, chances are that candidate will “go down the street and get a job somewhere else. … We can’t afford to really let that happen.”
  • Partnering with local agencies and universities is another strategy to take advantage of, sources said.Wanda Smith-Gispert, regional VP of talent and workforce development for MGM Resorts International, said when hiring for the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, much of the success was due to workforce development within the local community. She said the 308-room MGM National Harbor, which opened in 2016, received more than 100,000 applications. There are currently 4,000 employees working at the hotel. A unique challenge for the property was its commitment to hiring 40% of the staff from the local county and 5% from armed forces veterans. She said the recruitment plan needed to be altered to include strategies for meeting those goals, which the property was able to exceed. “Partnering with local nonprofits, government agencies, veteran and job training programs allowed us to build a pipeline of trained candidates well in advance of posting the positions,” she said.
  • Carly Mason, marketing manager at Omni Louisville Hotel, which opened earlier this year, said the property hosted a luncheon and job fair at a multi-purpose sports arena in Louisville to engage potential candidates. The 612-room hotel currently has 440 employees in place, though the team is evaluating if more staffing is needed. She said the luncheon brought in more than 1,000 applicants over three days. Each candidate was screened and more than 300 left with job offers that were “contingent on passing a background check.” “We started the new hires three weeks before we opened our doors,” she said.
  • Martin said using social media as a way to find candidates has become critical. “If it’s not on social media, it almost doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “We rely heavily on social media; not only are our HR departments using it to post opportunities, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn—especially for management positions—but we rely on the power of our networks to then take that information and share it.” On average, it’s ideal to start promoting job openings on social media about three months out from the hotel’s soft opening date, Martin said.
  • Smith-Gispert however, said MGM's recruitment strategy—which is specifically designed for the local labor market—doesn’t rely on social media as an effective way to recruit in every market. Instead MGM’s workforce development department conducts a market analysis to determine the best unique approaches.

What do to if the opening date is delayed

  • In some cases, Martin said, a new hotel’s grand opening often can be delayed due to construction or other variables, which can affect hiring. “You have the struggle of people obviously needing to work, and they may have accepted a job in May thinking they were going to start working in June, and then we lose them because they can’t wait for the job,” he said. Martin added there needs to be a fine line between being ready enough and not being over prepared, given the tendency for the opening dates to fluctuate. He said he’s dealt with this first-hand with opening the 333-room Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District in Omaha, Nebraska, last summer. Should this happen, the No.1 thing to remember is transparency, he said. “You have to make sure that (potential associates) know the story of what’s happening,” he said, since being open with this communication could allow associates the opportunity to delay giving a resignation notice to their current employer. For example, with the Omaha property, Martin said as soon as Marcus was able to give tours of the property, potential associates were invited to come in to help keep them engaged, though the jobs hadn’t started yet. Then the training and onboarding process can begin and will get associates familiar with their departments, he said, slowly ramping up to opening day. Smith-Gispert said in today’s industry, it’s rare that a property will ever be “fully staffed.”

Positions first filled

  • Mass hiring requires a two-year plan ahead of time, Smith-Gispert said, and having a clear understanding of the roles and labor inventory that exists in the market is essential. 
  • But when looking at whom to hire first, Martin said from a management standpoint it’s the GM followed by the director of sales, both at least eight months out and sometimes even a year out. He said the director of sales is needed right away to start selling future bookings and bring business in the door. Then from an hourly standpoint, Martin said he will hire engineers at least two to three months before opening day. Lastly, front-desk associates and culinary positions—which Martin calls “the heart of the hotel”—are hired.
  • But both Mason and Martin agreed that some of the toughest positions to fill right now are culinary roles. Mason said Louisville has an abundant independent restaurant scene and she was warned that hiring servers and other food-and-beverage roles would be hard. She said for the Omni Louisville the property needed to review wage scale and benefits in order to stay competitive.
  • Martin stressed that while this isn’t a new notion, everyone at a property needs to become a recruiter, especially when opening a new hotel. He said every manager at Marcus’ properties carry business cards and are encouraged to find people who fit the bill, whether it’s at a local Starbucks or a grocery store. “We’ve all now become effective at being recruiters to try and engage those individuals at any level and any way possible,” he said.


Industry Trends

Marketing Trends: Voice search and augmented and/or virtual reality

  • A travel study done in 2018 revealed that 50% of all surveyed travelers use voice search for some part of their trip. Hoteliers may start bidding on conversational long-tail keywords, such as “Where can I find a hotel near me?”. Keeping all the hotel information listed online up to date will be important in 2019 for this reason as well.
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality have huge potential in the hospitality industry. For marketing, AR and VR can give travelers a three-dimensional feel for a hotel room, the property, its venue spaces and surrounding environment — differentiating the hotel and helping the guest make a well-informed and inspired booking decision. 

Distribution Trends: Focus on mobile and a stronger push for direct bookings

  • Even though mobile devices dominate hotel online traffic (and have done for a couple years now,) desktop still brings in the bigger revenue share for hotels. 2019 will be the year for hotels to focus on optimizing their websites and booking engines to effectively convert the growing number of mobile bookers. 
  • As hoteliers become more confident with leveraging technology to compete online, we could be seeing many more of them running CPC campaigns that deliver lower-cost direct bookings through their websites. And smart tools, such as trivago’s Rate Connect with its budget recommendations and auto-optimized daily bids, will also help make direct distribution more time- and cost-effective in 2019.

Design Trends: Local and green, with the comforts of home

  • Expect hotel design in 2019 to cater to the rising traveler expectation for a sense of the local culture. This could be by integrating traditional artisanal crafts or works by local artists into hotel rooms and communal spaces.
  • We mean green in two senses of the word: Literally, as in, more plant life incorporated into the hotel’s aesthetic. But also, eco-friendliness, with reusable bottles and glasses, LED lighting, and other measures to reduce the hotel’s and guest’s carbon footprint.
  • As peer-to-peer accommodations continue to attract travelers, hoteliers can take a page from their book and offer their guestssimple accouterments such as a book library, coffee machine and locally sourced brew and tea, or batch of fresh-baked cookies.

Guest Experience Trends: Privacy and experiential travel

  • Given changes to Europe’s data privacy regulation, the GDPR, many EU-based hotels will need to reexamine how they collect and handle guest (and staff) data in 2019. However, personalization is still possible. Adapting to the new GDPR will in large part be a matter of taking simple steps such as making sure the hotel website has the appropriate privacy settings, using software that complies, and communicating privacy notices to guests.
  • 2019 will put the “experience” in “guest experience” in exciting new ways, whether it’s through wild food safaris or can’t-miss, once-in-a-lifetime activities. As travelers increasingly seek out memories and Instagram-worthy moments over traditional souvenirs, expect more partnerships between hotels and local restaurants and excursion providers.

Technology Trends: More important and more pervasive than ever

  • In 2019 technology is everywhere. And as more hoteliers understand that embracing tech isn’t just unavoidable, but hugely beneficial for their businesses, it will be an integral part of hotel operations, marketing, and distribution everywhere as well.
  • Considering the above trends, tech to improve the traveler’s experience and booking process on mobile would be a wise investment. It might also make sense for cloud-based property management systems to be another priority tech addition for many hoteliers in 2019, who find that running a hotel with a pen-and-paper method just isn’t doable in today’s modern, digital world.

Metasearch Trends: Properties using metasearch to increase visibility and drive direct bookings

  • Back in January the travel industry’s leading research authority, Phocuswright, published a study on the state of independent properties in the online marketplace. The research found that such properties consider metasearch to be one of the most effective marketing channels available to them, and a solution to the rising costs of OTA commissions.
  • According to the study, nearly two-thirds of independent properties now receive direct bookings from metasearch, and almost 90% intened to maintain or increase their use of metasearch for visibility and bookings in the future.


Hotel Ratings

Official vs. Unofficial Star Ratings

The first thing to understand about star ratings is that there are official and unofficial star ratings. Any hotel can say that it is a five-star hotel or a three-star hotel. But unless you are sure that the star rating is official, take it with a grain of salt.

The original star-rating system was started by Forbes Travel Guide in the 1950s. Since then, several different evaluating bodies have assigned stars, so it's important to check who the evaluator is and what its system entails. For instance, in the U.S., Forbes is still one of the leading star-assigning bodies, as is AAA. In the U.K., tourist authorities such as VisitBritain and VisitScotland are in charge.

Various travel guides and booking sites have their own star ratings, which would be considered unofficial but still be more or less reliable as long as the criteria for evaluating the hotels is consistent. If you don't know who is giving the stars, then don't base your decision solely off that rating.

Additionally, it's important to note that even in terms of official star ratings, what's considered five stars in one country might be considered three stars in another. There is no universal system when it comes to star ratings, which also weakens the system's credibility. For instance, a hotel that has a long history in Thailand but is not outwardly luxurious might get the same star rating as a brand-new fancy hotel in Australia. Some countries, like the United Arab Emirates, use a completely different scale, with some hotels receiving six or seven stars.


Criteria Used for a Star Rating

Even though the star-rating system is somewhat diluted, in general, each system uses a set of criteria to evaluate hotels. In most systems, the stars are used to evaluate the key features, amenities and quality of the services provided by a hotel. This is why you'll see different systems in different countries, since something as simple as a bathroom with a hot shower might be considered an extreme luxury in some places. However, many companies and ratings programs worldwide, such as the popular hotel-booking site Expedia, use similar criteria, described here.


One-Star Hotel

A one-star hotel offers basic rooms that might have just a bed and a side table. Bathrooms are likely shared with others on your floor, and any refreshments are usually found in a vending machine. A one-star hotel typically won't have any on-site facilities, and the hotel's reception desk probably won't be open 24 hours. Don't expect a TV, a telephone or even daily housekeeping services.

Two-Star Hotel

A two-star hotel is certainly an upgrade from a one-star hotel, but not by much. At a two-star hotel, the reception desk is likely open 24 hours. Rooms probably have clothing racks or closets, telephones and TVs, though the TV could be quite old. You'll have a private bathroom, but with only a shower, not a tub. The hotel won't provide many services, but you might get a continental breakfast.

Three-Star Hotel

A three-star hotel isn't too cheap or too fancy; it's just right. The owners want guests to feel relaxed and comfortable in their rooms without needing to spend too much money. There are typically restaurants and bars on-site, as well as assistance bringing your baggage to your room. The rooms are generally larger, more comfortable and with more furniture.

Four-Star Hotel

Four-star hotels are extremely nice, and you'll notice the difference as soon as you walk into the lobby and see the decor. The rooms are often bigger and fancier, with a large bed, a minibar, a safe, a workstation, bathrobes and a modern TV. The hotel usually offers valet parking, a spa, a gym, a pool and similar services.

Five-Star Hotel

A five-star hotel has all the amenities you'd hope to find in a hotel and more. Five-star hotels usually have luxurious spas and gigantic lobbies and provide welcome gifts and butler service. A typical room has an oversized bathroom lined with marble counters and a large vanity laden with high-end toiletries. Most five-star resorts have golf courses, tennis courts, health clubs with personal trainers and even child-care services.