Category Archives: Home Suite Home Philosophy

7 Reasons to hire a freelance hotels contractors agency

We assume you are a tour operator or a specialized travel consultant. You know Hotels for accommodating your guests are a big cost in your Operations, and not only from an economic point of view (see our recent post http://homesuitehomeblog.org/hotels-choice-negotiation-cost/ : )
You have a person who takes care of buying goods and services for your company, one of those tasks is hotels accommodations.

BUYING GOODS OR SERVICES, IT’S NOT THE SAME!

As Senior buyers we know that it’s not the same thing to buy goods or services. As well as is not the same thing to buy a service as an IT maintenance or to choose and book a hotel for a group.

If you have chosen to have a specific hotel buyer you might have taped different key words on Google Search.

  • You can tap “hotel consultant for tour operators” and will probably find lists of hotels business consultants. Not what you are looking for.
  • You can tap “hotel contract manager” and you can find lists of people working mostly for the same tour operator. As employees they change their job looking for better conditions coming to work for you. Can you afford this expense and obtain the best professionals? and will they change one day or another finding better conditions?  we covered this role as well for some tour operators in our past and know how it works
  • You can tap “destination management specialist” and you can find high- expert companies that purpose you the whole tour package, that you would however like to develop by yourself.

But why not to hire a freelance hotels contractor agency? It seems a little difference while it’s a huge one.

7 REASONS TO CHOOSE A HOTELS CONTRACTORS AGENCY

Let us explain you why:

  1. a hotels contractors agency has a huge portfolio of hotels, built with every Client not only the ones they fixed in their itineraries, but also all the disregarded options proposed and found for the purpose
  2. Speed, because the freelance agency (unlike the in-house management) isn’t distracted by other tasks
  3. a hotels contractors agency has learnt to listen more than others, because we switch around companies often we’re used to the fast learning curve
  4. a hotels contractors agency can use the same supplier for other groups which means that we can leverage better rates
  5. on boarding a hotels contractors agency is easy and speedy, no geographical border nor local job legislation is an obstacle.
  6. specialized professionals, we are first of all senior buyers, that means we have specific skills in contracting ad negotiating best rates and conditions
  7. Knowledge of ‘best practice’ and effective solutions from within tourism sector.

WE LEARN FROM EACH CLIENT

More generally since freelance work with many different companies and may have worked through this problem in the past with someone else, they can really provide a perspective based on what they’ve seen work (or not) before. And given this experience, they can often bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges to the table that clients probably wouldn’t have been able to see on their own.

Furthermore nowadays remote teams are very common (and many studies try to understand the best way to manage them https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/05/30/12-important-ways-besides-communication-to-manage-remote-teams/#5fee140a63e6)  and certainly are spreading in the tourism sector with its global vision and mission.

 

What I really love when I inspect hotels

I am back from a 2 days hotels inspection tour in Tuscany, I have visited a good number of hotels and met staff and directors.

We will talk in a specific technical post about the procedure and the to do list of a hotel inspection. Now I will tell you what I really love when I inspect hotels.

IF YOU LOVE YOUR JOB YOU ARE HAPPIER

This time I want to focus on what I love and I find funny in doing hotels inspections, through a couple of really genuine and positive moments of one my visits ( you can find tons of articles about the positivity that comes out when you love your job and when you work with pleasant people, I suggest this: https://hbr.org/2014/11/being-happy-at-work-matters).

BEHIND THE SCENES: A FEMININE TALK WHILE VISITING ROOMS

It has been for me a pleasure to meet the director of the hotel. I always dealt with Luana, the receptionist and group agent but rarely with her.
She is a shy woman, very passionate about her hotel.

This hotel is a hystoric palace in Cortona, one of Tuscany’s oldest and characteristic little towns, a sort of hidden gem.

Luana took some keys and opened the doors of 4 or 5 rooms, different for category and views.

We visit one room per time, she points out the glass chandeliers from Burano and she confesses me that in every room there’s one. Those chandeliers are crafted and so the spare parts will never be the same than the originals. Unfortunately last week during daily rooms cleaning an employee broke one part, which is normal because their are so fragile.

We arrive in one of the Suites and I admire the wrought iron bed, with a central handpainted oval part. I love it very much! She tells me that a local artist painted the oval and that it was quite expensive. I totally believe.

However she says that they are thinking that for a Suite it would be better to have a bed with a fabric headboard so next winter closing they will replace it.
I don’t want to insist but the wrought iron bed is perfect where it is, isn’t it?

 

Every year during the winter closing they renew curtains and bedspreads. What a marvellous attention to details, as if it was their own house (even more, I’d say).

BEHIND THE SCENES 2: A CHEF FOR BREAKFASTS

Despite its 4 stars the hotel doesn’t have a proper restaurant, and this would appearently be a downside. But this is not the case: they decided to focus their attention on Breakfast. They have a Chef specialised in breakfasts, I met her with pleasure.
I have never seen a breakfast as complete and genuine as their, there’s an elegant Breakfast Menu on each table.

The buffet has many desserts (I love desserts, I admit): homemade cakes, 5 or 6 different homemade jams. A lovely basket contains different breads ( useless to say: homemade!) on which you can spread your favourite jam.

On the salty choice there is ham, sausages, eggs, bean creams…but what really surprised me was the choice of fried vegetables as eggplant in batter, prepared each morning at 6,30. Wonderful!

 

“EXCUSE ME: WHAT WERE THE GREEN CHIPS IN THE COOKIES LAST NIGHT?”

At a certain point during my “inspective breakfast” (it’s a hard work….I know !!) an american Client came on me, the chef and the director, talking near the salty buffet table, and asked for a recipe.
The previous evening she was relaxing in the reading room near the hall and tasted some biscuits that were available nearby the sofas.
“What were the green chips in the cookies? Pistachio? Green Tea Leafs?”
We started talking as four friends about crumbling tea leaves in the dough of cookies.

THE HOTEL STORYTELLING FOR OUR CLIENTS

I would really like that people staying at this hotel, as in others, knew about all those details, that they could appreciate deeply those chandeliers and those renewed curtains, that could realize the passion of a young chef for jams and vegetables.
It’s impossible to tell all of this to every Client, but knowing those aspects allows us to tell some detail in addition to the standard description when we propose a hotel instead of another.

We believe in the importance of hotels storytelling to our Clients.

FINAL NOTE:

since we don’t want to reduce our job to a classical review of hotels, we have decided not to publish the names of the hotels we partner with.
Of course the hotel I refer to in this article is one of our favourite choices in Toscana.

Why Hotels choice is crucial in tour operating

Whether you are a specialist tour operator or a generic one, you know very well that your hotels choice will strongly impact your product.
Hotels have a double role in your tour: economic and emotional.

Hotels as a main cost in tour operating

Operational costs of a tour include many voices but certainly Hotels are one of the heaviest.

Our Clients say that the cost of hotels is between 30 and 44% of their expenses. This including both the Bill itself and the preliminary phase of hotels scouting.

The rates accorded are the result of an efficient negotiation – we will talk about this in another dedicated post. Negotiation starts with an online search and comparison of rates, preferrably on its website. Online portals cannot allow an apple-to-apple evaluation, but can be a reference during contracting.

As we know well, in a successful negotiation both parts want to be satisfied.

  The negotiation process involves economical and psychological aspects. We think that having always impeccable kindness and good manners is an essential attitude of our contractors. This of course regardless of firmness.

Hotels Scoutings

The scouting of a hotel is often part of a more general scouting of the itinerary, for obvious costs reasons.

But often people that scout hotels are guides or even employees of the tour operator. They have a long list of aspects of the overall tour to check. To minimize the expenses of flights, room & board and other logistical costs for their stay in the Country, they are often surcharged and not totally focused on the hotel.
We have an experience of hotels inspections of many years and we can rely on a hotels database that covers Italy and a large part of Europe too. We have a spin-off activity that we developed thanks to some tour operators that offer various European itineraries over Italy. Our filter can allow tour organizer to by-pass this part of the scouting with confidence.

Hotels impact on your Guests emotions

The hotel is the place where your Guests rest after a day of exploring and experiencing. They close the door, find a little bit of privacy and look back on their day.
The wrong hotel can ruin their experience: they will never forgive you for a bad hotel choice. Nowadays individuals have a lot of tools to evaluate you and your products. Basically, they will never recommend you and this is critical because returning guests are even the 70% of our Clients travelers, according to our Surveys.
Probably your Guests will take a lot of photos of their hotels rooms and will post them immediately on social media with many comments. Emotions are king!
This happens both if you are offering luxury tours or budget ones. Budget tours are even more difficult for a tour programmer. It’s harder to guarantee maximum order, cleaning and quality that in a 5 star resort (http://homesuitehomeblog.org/the-role-of-housekeeping-in-hotels-reputation/)

Some bad habits in tour operating

Finally, we can say that it’s strategical to choose the right hotel in each destination and to rely on specialists to optimize the choice and the negotiation. Furthermore, being the same person doing this strengthens the hotels specialist position towards hotel management.
Finally, some unprofessional behaviors can be adopted thinking of saving time and, apparently, money:

  • Choosing hotels using online reputation engines as Booking or Tripadvisor, also because they are not targeted for groups (even small ones). You need to build a relationship with the hotel’s management to both concur to a success for your mutual Clients’ stay. Only a personal approach can allow you to obtain this.
  • Very few, luckily, take the risk of choosing the hotel remotely and trying it via their Clients first stay – using them as Guinea Pigs.

 

Home Suite Home as a guarantee in hotels choice and negotiation

As consultants for different niche tour operators we know various product targets and we learnt to match hotels with Clients Personas.
It’s all about defining together your ideal Guest and to identify hotels that he can expect and the ones that can surprise him.

The role of Housekeeping in hotels reputation

Hospitality is giving maximum attention to details, to express the best of what an hotel can give to its Clients. We know from our experience in Hotels Inspections the importance of Housekeeping in hotels reputation. That is because this essential aspect of hotel management  impacts directly on the overall “Guest Experience”. It really can make the difference between a reputed hotel and one that guests are unlikely to visit again.

Housekeeping: the duties

The primary housekeeping duty is to ensure the cleanliness and orderliness of hotel room.

Standards are established by each brand or owner, and it is the responsibility of the general manager and the housekeeping team to ensure these standards. But there’s much more.

We have recently investigated about the state of the art of this crucial sector of hotel Operations.

The housekeeper is a manager

What emerges at first is that in certain areas of the World housekeeping is considered as much important as the reception or marketing strategies, for example in Germany, Middle East and Great Britain the housekeeper is really a managerial figure.

Elaine Walker  has been for years an experienced Executive Housekeeper in most luxurious London’s hotels. She explaines that her job is very hard, starting in early morning with the control of the lists that appropriate software provides. She uses IT tools also to control early check ins, guests’ arrival times and specific requirements. Heading a huge staff, she has strong managerial skills to coordinate everything. And great part of her work is to be responsible of an immense amount of stock: the linen, table linen, towels, hotel toiletries and janitorial equipment, beverage and food as well as coffee and tea supplies for the in-room break.

It’s a tricky job – she says -getting it all right and ensuring everything is done on time!

It’s however rare to find interviews or bios of Housekeeping Managers: I read however some interesting articles surfing the web.

I learned that the bedroom is what is done first and that what is harder is not, as I thought, realizing the “proper corner” of sheets but.. the pillows! The trick to getting them efficiently into the pillowcases is to “chop” each in half lengthwise with your forearm, fold in half along that crease, stuff while still folded into the middle of the pillow case, then slip your hand inside to spread out both sides and adjust. It’s a sort of military precision treatment. Curious also to learn that the housekeeper’s secret weapon are microfiber cloths, that not just move dust about – but really pick it up. (good to know for our houses too J)

Housekeeping in Italian hotels

In Italy the situation is a little bit old fashioned. Paola Pesoli http://www.bellavarsavia.com/ is the founder of “Professional Housekeeping” http://www.professionalhousekeeping.it a consulting company that provides professional training.

She says that in recent years many hotel managers in Italy are understanding that having professional people and long-term employees working at the housekeeping is a competitive advantage and not a cost. For that reason many hotels are investing a lot in professional training. However this awareness concerns mostly 4 and 5 star hotels and in lower star categories this attention is merely absent.

housekeeping-homesuitehomeblog_1

During our Hotel’s Inspections we always look for the behind-the-scenes staff and approach and we really aim that in Italy soon Hotels Managers will consider the Housekeeper as a crucial employee.

A hotel business with an open minded strategy

As hotels specialists and passionate, we are constantly looking for hotel business with an open minded strategy.

Hotels are places where people and cultures meet, that’s why I personally find them such interesting.

Every hotel has its mission: big chains to delivery luxurious service, family-run hotels with great care on genuineness, design hotels with a linear style and so on.

A kaleidoscopic world of proposals.

ACE hotels and their hotel business project

Recently I have learn about ACE hotels and their projects http://www.acehotel.com/.

This hotel group opens new hotels restoring existing buildings (as for example an old furniture store) in emerging areas of some American cities. They have also opened their first European hotel in London.

This is an unorthodox approach to hotel business that focus on the building itself and also on the surrounding streets. In that way the hotels involve local retail brands, artists and district communities through a list of cross events that goal to the aim of “making connections”.

ace-hotels-lobby-640

This is an example of entrepreneurs going much further than simply creating a business. Clients of ACE hotels feel that, becoming part of a local community, even if for a while.

Luxury hotels consider you as a unique person

It’s often difficult to define what luxury is and in our sector to define what luxury hotels really are.

homesuitehome_luxury hotels rooms

What is luxury today?

“Luxury” is a word we use a lot, sometimes with a shade of uniqueness, sometimes with a snobby perspective, defining a line of separation.

Home is where you feel at home and are treated well once said Dalai Lama

I think that today luxury is receiving care and attention with authenticity and courtesy. In our world of high-speed daily routines, with defined roles and schedules, it happens than when we are abroad in the world we just need to be ourselves, free to explore and experience.

Kudos to Conrad Hotels, who delightfully explained this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPOcu72cISY