Lessons learned from ‘Hotel Transylvania’

In honor of it being the scariest week of the year, I deemed it apt to save my review of the monster-filled and hospitality-centric “Hotel Transylvania” until this point. This Adam Sandler vehicle is already a bona fide box office success, which means it’ll bankroll more kids-friendly animations and propel an unavoidable case of “sequel-itis.” A breezy hour-and-a-half of bright, colorful fun, the movie is great for the young ones, albeit with a rudimentary plot and tame humor — don’t go in expecting “Lawrence of Arabia” and you’ll be fine.

What I find germane about viewing films — particularly comedic ones — through a hospitality lens is that at the core of every scene or nuanced quip is a bare truth about our jobs, whether obvious or overlooked. For the above-the-line talent of Hollywood (actors, directors, writers, producers), globetrotting and transient hotel visits are as routine to them as daily reports are to us. These are astute individuals working in a cutthroat industry, and their candid allegories about our operations should never be ignored.

I digress; here’s what I gleaned:

Lively lobby: One of the principal sets, this towering Gothic hall is never anything but bustling — effervescent guests socializing, staff forever in hurried motion and live music. A vibrant lobby is a healthy lobby is a healthy hotel. You need only watch the extended scene where each of the key supporting cast members enters in style to see this in action. The ambiance is invigorating and intoxicating, bringing a smile to all new arrivals and, by extension, us.

Gregarious general manager: More than just a plot device, Adam Sandler’s Dracula — who also happens to be the hotel’s owner, operator and chief architect — is a constant presence for his maniacal guests, offering sincere greetings and noting specific tweaks to accommodate each monster’s idiosyncrasies. Whether it’s in the lobby, in the halls or by the pools, Dracula knows every guest by heart, can anticipate their needs and is rarely out of sight. Can this urbane attitude increase guests’ affinity for a hotel and better their experiences? You decide.

Rapid-response staffers: No matter the mess, the cleanup crew is there in a jiffy. Mind you, we’re dealing with supernatural movie logic (witches on flying brooms and a horde of far-below-minimum-wage zombies), but the comparison holds. Don’t make your guests wait; if someone makes a request, treat your response time the same way firefighters and police officers react to their emergency calls.

Wisely chosen activities: In a sequence geared to illustrate Dracula’s mothering and antiquated obstinacy, he treats his guests to a soporific bingo night only to have them jump at the chance to experience a live band or hang poolside. My thoughts exactly: some activities enhance the social atmosphere — others not so much. Develop programs that will play to what your guests want as well as what’s most engaging and energizing.

Exclusivity: Dracula’s property has a monopoly on the monster demographic and undoubtedly runs an occupancy rate at or over the triple-digit threshold. This feat isn’t achieved solely through prudent channel distribution or shrewd marketing, but is intrinsic to the property’s core purpose. So, what’s your hotel’s core purpose for existing? What makes your property undeniably unique for all who have come and gone? How will you carve your own niche?