Conversation with ? the star of ?Hotel Impossible?
Here’s part one of our chat:
Andrew Labetti: What’s the biggest sin a hotel can commit?
Anthony Melchiorri: Not respecting and treating its employees the way they would like to be treated. Taking customers for granted.
AL: Bed bugs — you’ve talked about them on the show and in the media. It’s a sensitive topic for hotels; why the focus?
AM: The focus is because I am asked the question all the time. I want to give fair and measured responses. I have been in NYC hotels for 20 years and was here for the start of the bed bug problem. Also, I want customers to understand that they have a part in bringing bed bugs to the hotels. Hotels are doing a good job with programs to prevent bed bugs; they are doing everything possible to ensure this problem is controlled. Guests have an even greater obligation not to bring bed bugs to the hotel. Hotels don’t have bed bugs — guests have bed bugs and bring them to the hotel.
AM: I’ll never be the GM who forgets that the guests pay my bills and the employees cover my back. And I’ll never be the GM that takes my position for granted; I am a bus boy in a GM suit.
AL: On “Hotel Impossible” you put a lot of the responsibility on the hotel owners. Of the owners you’ve met so far when filming, what’s the biggest mistake they make?
AM: Three things come to mind: 1) They think they know how to run the hotel when most have never been in the business. 2) They think it’s easy. 3) They think it’s like a restaurant, where you sit in the middle and can see everything; you can’t see 99% of what happens in a hotel.
AL: Many of the hotels on the show attribute part of the trouble they face to the economic downturn and cuts in budgets. What’s the biggest mistake made when cutting budgets?
AM: Owners cut maintenance departments. If you cut a maintenance department today, when your hotel is doing better it will take a lot more money to get the property back up to speed.
AL: At the start of the shows, you go over TripAdvisor comments with the hotel. Tell us how closely you recommend hotels pay attention to reviews and what your recommendations are in terms of responses?
AM: I personally don’t respond to all comments. I respond to the bad ones, and I know maybe not everyone will agree with me. The GM should respond to all negative comments. The guest services manager should comment on all reviews and thank people for the positive ones.
AL: Social media is playing a larger and larger role in the hospitality industry. Is it here to stay?
AM: Social media is here forever. It’s a great — and very important — way to get the conversation started for your brand. It’s even more important for non-branded, independent hotels; they can start a “loyalty program,” of sorts, for those who “like” the Facebook page. I thought it would be booking more rooms than it is.
Stay tuned for part two of our conversation, where Anthony will answer if he thinks hoteliers are fans of the show or wish it would go away. Do you have any questions for Anthony? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll pick a few to feature in the next post.