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NHMA Newsletter

1335 H St., Suite 100 Lincoln, NE 68508-3784

Phone: (402) 476-1528 Fax: (402) 476-1259

www.nebraskahma.com Message from your President By Rick Lecy, General Manager, Marina Inn Conference Center, South Sioux City, Nebraska Happy Holidays! After enjoying the Thanksgiving weekend, I’m looking forward to the Christmas Season with the festivities and the general mood of people being more outward with “Good Will Toward Men.” The Special Session of the Legislature is over and I’d really like to compliment the tourism industry for working to keep our cash funds in the Tourism Division. I know our Association worked hard and talked to Appropriation Committee Members about the original attempt of taking $86,127 in 2010 and $173,219 in 2011 out of the Tourism Lodging Tax Funds. The Committee restored those funds in the final bill which passed on Friday, November 20. I realize all areas of government need to buckle down, just as we all have had to do, but taking ear-marked tourism “check-off” dollars is not the right way to balance the budget in my estimation. So hats off to the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee for taking our concerns to heart. The Cornhusker Marriott hosted our Fall Harvest Meeting Planners Event on November 9. Thanks to their

Winter 2009 Issue great staff, the event was certainly first class. The food was displayed well, and I think every one really enjoyed the evening. The Tail-Gate Theme played well and the decorating crew out-did themselves again. Thank you Alan Perlinger, Quality Inn & Suites and Marcene Franzen, Holiday Inn Express of North Platte for your hard work. Your Board of Directors will be meeting on December 4 and we’ve got a plateful of issues to talk about. Senator Colby Coash has been working with us on legislation to perhaps increase tourism funding. We’re still working on the final touches on the bill, but it’s a creative approach to tourism funding. There are numerous other issues facing us at the state and national level next year. Cash for Clunkers is over and Cash for Caulkers is on the radar screen, meaning winterizing your home or making it more energy efficient. I’m waiting for something to “jump start” Congress to look at how costly many of the new proposed programs are costing taxpayers. I’m just a little afraid with the Health Care Program, the Climate Change Cap & Trade Program and other stimulus ideas we will see some tremendous tax increases down the road. I’m proud to say that Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation has been pretty darn sensitive to citizen needs and I hope they continue down that path and can bring some others with them in the process. Please put Tuesday, March 23, on your calendar for the Association’s Legislative Day in Lincoln. We’ll try to keep it economical and an event you’ll really enjoy. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Don’t hesitate calling me any time with your ideas.

Fall Harvest Reception Recap, Photos & More . . .

See Pages 4-5 Inside Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association Newsletter


District 2 Jeff Boeka Holiday Inn Express PO Box 788 North Platte, NE 69101-0788 Ph: (308) 532-9500 District 3 Paula Harris Hampton Inn 504 N Diers Grand Island, NE 68803 Ph: (308) 384-9777 District 4 Mel Wichman Holiday Inn I-80 7838 S US Highway 281 Grand Island, NE 68803-9127 Ph: (308) 384-7770 District 5 Lisa Tupper Hampton Inn 1301 W Bond Cir. Lincoln, NE 68521-3636 Ph: (402) 474-2080 District 6 Susan Madsen Embassy Suites Hotel & Conv Ctr 555 S 10th St. Omaha, NE 68102-2803 Ph: (402) 346-9000

At Large John Palmtag Best Western Inn PO Box 460 Nebraska City, NE 68410-0460 Ph: (402) 873-7000 At Large Kent Peterson The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel 333 S 13th St. Lincoln, NE 68508-2538 Ph: (402) 474-7474 At Large Robert Watson Hilton Omaha 1001 Cass St. Omaha, NE 68102-1152 Ph: (402) 998-3400 At Large Dave Yates Doubletree Hotel 1616 Dodge St. Omaha, NE 68102-1502 Ph: (402) 346-7600

Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association 1335 H St., Suite 100 t Lincoln, NE 68508 Ph: (402) 476-1528 t Fax: (402) 476-1259 Email: info@nebraskahma.com Web: www.nebraskahma.com

en

At Large Tony Moody Embassy Suites Hotel & Conf. Ctr. 12520 Westport Parkway LaVista, NE 68128 Ph: (402) 331-7400

District 1 Position Currently Vacant

nt

DIRECTORS

At Large Steve Hilton Embassy Suites 1040 P St. Lincoln, NE 68508-3617 Ph: (402) 474-1111

Co

At Large Troy Benavides Holiday Inn Convention Center 3321 S 72nd St. Omaha, NE 68124-3567 Ph: (402) 393-3950

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President Rick Lecy Marina Inn Conference Center PO Box 218 South Sioux City, NE 68776-0218 Ph: (402) 494-4000 Treasurer Ronn Sorensen Country Inn & Suites 5353 N 27th St. Lincoln, NE 68521-1039 Ph: (402) 476-5353

bl e

DIRECTORS CONTINUED

Ta

OFFICERS

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Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association Board of Directors

Message from your President. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Front Cover University of Nebraska Tourism Hospitality Training Now Online and FREE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 OpenWays Introduces the Fastest and Greenest Way to Check In and Open a Hotel Room Door. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Fall Harvest Reception Recap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-5 2009 Nebraska Travel Industry Award Winners Announced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 FY2010 Federal Per Diems Announced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Today’s H1N1 Flu Risks for Hotels and Travelers . . . . . . . . 7 America’s Hotels: Strengthening the Economy in Every State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Smith Travel Research, September 2009. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Health Care Legislation; Which Hotels Might Get Sick?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 & 11 AH&LA Lodging Industry Profile Charts Hotel Profits, Sales, And International Arrivals . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Advertisers American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. . . . . . . . . 3 Accident Insurance Company of America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute. . . . . . . . 10 Heartland Payment Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 The INN Sider Be Sure to Hire a Certified & Licensed Pest Control Operator. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Hotels’ Tax Valuations Rise as Occupancy Falls. . . . . . . . . . 1 In Memory of Richard “Rick” Milton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Relief at the Pump . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Hilton Receives Award . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Sarpy Board Authorizes up to $26 Million in Ballpark Bonds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Sheraton Announced Lobby Lounge Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Fine Lines, Fair Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-4 What’s in Store?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 5 Tips for Winter Landscaping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Editor: Robert L. Anderson Lobbyist: Alice Licht Legislative Day Coordinator: Dana Adamy Managing/Advertising Editor: Rebecca Barker Accounting & Fall Harvest Reception: Dorothy Elsey Research & Special Projects: Andy Licht


University of Nebraska Tourism Hospitality Training Now Online and FREE

OpenWays Introduces the Fastest and Greenest Way to Check In and Open a Hotel Room Door

Red Carpet Service, the popular University of Nebraska tourism hospitality training program, is now available online and, through December 31, 2009, it is available at no charge. This new approach to hospitality training in Nebraska makes the Red Carpet Service training available 24/7 so it can be accessed by more individuals. The online training is a self-paced interactive training set up in eight modular steps, each of which can be completed in 15 to 30 minutes. Modules include video clips, interactive situations, Web searches and more. The purpose is to help participants become more aware of the impact of tourism in Nebraska and the importance of the opportunities to influence a positive visitor experience. If you’d like to try out Red Carpet Service on-line, log-on by simply following these steps: 1. Go to http://redcarpetonline.unl.edu/ 2. Click on “First time users Click Here” - the yellow bar on the right hand side. You will get a screen that says, “Red Carpet Service New Registration.” 3. On the line “Red Carpet Site Name” there is a drop-down menu. Select Lincoln NE. 4. The SiteAccess Code is LIN123. 5. Type in your name as you want it to appear on the certificate which can be printed out at the end of the class. 6. Click on “Post”. 7. Anew screen comes up that says: “Congratulations. Your account has been created.” Please write down your Access ID: (It is very important to write down your Access ID because we will not have a record of it.) 8. Type yourAccess ID into the box at the lower left. 9. On the drop-down menu select Lincoln NE. 10. Click “continue” - and you are onto the Learning Trail. A section at the beginning offers some navigation help. Just click on the “Introduction” sign post to begin the training. Do as much or as little as you like in one sitting. When you come back to the site, just type in your Access ID, select Lincoln NE on the drop-down menu and log-in. Then click on the sign post where you left off. You can also go back and review modules that you've completed. Just a reminder that this on-line program is available free through December 31, after that it will be available for an annual subscription fee of $250. That annual fee is meant to allow access for an entire community. So pass the word along and have others try it out now. We hope you will want to continue having access to Red Carpet Service on-line and to use it for on-going training of business owners and managers and front-line employees in your communities. For more information about the Red Carpet Service program, check our web site at http://redcarpetservice.nebraska.edu . For questions or comments, contact Connie Francis, University of Nebraska Extension Educator, at cfrancis1@unl.edu .

Guests can check-in/-out with their mobile phone and open their room door with any type cell phone; OpenWays is 100% compatible with ALL 4 billion cell phones and ALL cell phone networks worldwide! OpenWays unveiled its application at the International Hotel/Motel and Restaurant Show in November. A revolutionary solution that securely delivers a key over the air to the right cell phone in order to open the right door lock. This revolutionary application, developed by a team of wellknown security and hospitality industry veterans, is offering users fast track check in with no plastic key-card to access their guest-room door. Developed by OpenWays, based in Chicago and with offices in Las Vegas, Seoul and in Europe, this patentpending solution has the exclusive advantage to work on all 4 billion cell phones today without any hardware or software add on. It’s simple, highly secured and works anywhere in the world. In addition, OpenWays eliminates the need for hotels to purchase, issue and dispose of plastic key cards for cell phone users. This not only saves time and labor costs, but it significantly helps the environment, making it the “greenest” way to check-in and open any electronic door lock on the market today.

3


Fall Harvest Reception for Event & Meeting Planners

4

4

Holiday Inn & Suites Beatrice has a festive fall booth

Columbus/Platte County Convention & Visitors Bureau

All decked out in Husker tailgate fare at the Embassy Suites booth!

Getting great information from the Kearney Visitors Bureau

Good crowd!

Fun and tasty tailgate food!

Play the wheel at the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau booth

Networking, exchanging information and more

Juli Burney helps with emceeing and handing out prizes

November 9, 2009 was the night. The night for the fourth annual Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association’s Fall Harvest Reception. It was festive with Go Big Red tailgating decorations and food all over the Cornhusker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. The aisles were bustling with meeting planners visiting with 30 different vendors from across Nebraska.

Not only were there more vendors to visit this year, there were more meeting planners clogging the aisles. Everyone enjoyed the fantastic decorations provided by the decorating committee: Alan Perlinger of the Sandhills Convention Center and Marcene Franzen from the Holiday Inn Express in Lexington & North Platte. Many of the vendors were also decked out in Husker fare making it a very festive atmosphere. Juli Burney was on hand again this year to help association President Rick Lecy and Executive Director Bob Anderson with the emceeing and prize drawing duties. This year’s grand prize

was $500 in cash and Bea Seybert from the American Council of Engineering Companies/Nebraska was the lucky winner. Each vendor was asked to provide a prize for the drawings. A list of the winners is provided on the next page. A big thank you goes to all of our vendors who make this event bigger and better each year! Thank you also to the event sponsors who provided much needed cash support for the grand prize, appetizers, beverages and event planner sponsorships: Heartland Payment Systems, Hilton Omaha, Holiday Inn Omaha Convention Center, and Qwest Center Omaha.


Fall Harvest Meeting Planners Event

2009 Fall Harvest Reception Vendors, Prizes and Prize Winners

Columbus/Platte County Convention & Visitors Bureau Columbus and Nebraska Products basket won by Sara Hayek, Nebraska Power Review Board The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel Lincoln Overnight stay and breakfast for two won by Helen Tompsett, BNSF Veterans Association Country Inn & Suites Lincoln One night’s lodging and $40 gift certificate to Beacon Hills won by Tim Wilson, Community Action of Nebraska Embassy Suites Overnight stay in a spacious two-room suite, full cooked-to-order breakfast and complimentary two-hour Manager’s reception won by Melissa Leypoldt, Office of Women’s & Men’s Health Eugene T Mahoney State Park Ashland Two night’s stay with breakfast for two won by Caroline Seymour, Lux Middle School The Hilton Omaha One night’s accommodations won by Wayne Masek, Nebraska Department of Roads Holiday Inn Downtown Lincoln Overnight stay with breakfast for two won by Deb Nechkash, Nebraska Rural Letter Carriers Association Holiday Inn Express Lexington Big Red gift basket won by Sara Kinney, Nebraska Department of Banking/Finance Holiday Inn Express North Platte Goodie basket won by Sherri Recker, Staybridge Suites Holiday Inn Express & Suites Beatrice Overnight stay won by George Hanssen, Nebraska Department of Agriculture – Food Code Training Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center Kearney Hotel gift package won by Jon Borton, Nebraska Hospital Association Holiday Inn Omaha Convention Center and CoCo Key Water Resort Overnight stay with water resort passes won by Carl Mayhew, Harmony Room Holiday Inn Lincoln SW Prize won by Vicky Johnsen, Nebraska Coaches Association Horizon Inn & Suites West Point Overnight stay won by Karen Story, Nebraska Book Co. and Wimmer’s meat package won by Jacqueline Steward, Pure & Secure Kearney Visitors Bureau Kearney gift basket won by Karen Dress, Lincoln East High School

The Leadership Center Aurora Gift certificate for 10% off goods/services for a business retreat won by Cindy Paulson, Lincoln Education Association Lied Lodge & Conference Center Nebraska City Overnight stay and breakfast for two won by Bill Sorensen, UNL Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau Gift basket of Lincoln products won by Angela Dibbert, Coordinator for Post Secondary Education Marina Inn Conference Center South Sioux City Overnight stay in an Ambassador suite and $75 in Kahill’s purchases won by Kathy Schamp, Nebraska Department of Education Services Marriott Hotel Omaha Complimentary one day meeting for up to 20 people won by Marlene Biermann, Nebraska Department of Education Midtown Holiday Inn Grand Island One morning or afternoon break with a qualified booking won by Patty Haddow, Lincoln Rose Society Midwest Speakers Bureau Des Moines, IA Tailgate surprise package won by Lisa Abler, Pioneer Hi-Bred Nebraska Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau Nebraska products gift basket won by Reina Bassil, Pure & Secure Norfolk Lodge & Suites at Divots Conference Center Plush bath robe won by Reina Bassil, Pure & Secure North Central Group Hotels Omaha One overnight stay with breakfast from the Hilton Garden Inn won by Steve Pearson, HelmsBriscoe One overnight stay with breakfast from the Hampton Inn & Suites won by Cathy Robertson, UNL Athletics One overnight stay with breakfast from the Homewood Suites won by Erin Kampbell, Community Action of Nebraska North Platte/Lincoln County Convention & Visitors Bureau Gift basket won by Sheryl Weander, Associated General Contractors – Nebraska Chapter Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau Two tickets to the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium (winning name unavailable) Residence Inn Lincoln South Two night weekend stay at the Residence Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites won by Constance Lacy, Lincoln Education Association Sandhills Convention Center North Platte Husker tailgate basket won by David Bryan, UNL Cooperative Extension Scottsbluff County Tourism Assortment of Scottsbluff-Gering products won by Brenda Petsch, Pioneer Hi-Bred 5


NEB ASKA possibilities...endlessJ

2009 Nebraska Travel Industry Award Winners Announced Lieutenant Gov. Rick Sheehy announced the winners of the 2009 Nebraska Travel Industry awards at the Nebraska Travel Conference banquet on October 22. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Travel and Tourism Division hosts the annual conference and banquet. “Each nominee honored truly loves Nebraska and wants to see the state’s tourism industry succeed and flourish,” Lt. Gov. Sheehy said. “They have shown that they enjoy being from Nebraska and working hard to make this state a tourist destination.” The 2009 award winners are: ! The Friend of Tourism award went to KHAS-TV News 5, www.khastv.com ! The Outstanding Event for a Community up to 9,999 award went to the Wilber Czech Festival, www.ci.wilber.ne.us/festival_events.asp ! The Outstanding Event for a Community of more than 10,000 award went to Dancers of the Plains, www.archway.org

! The Outstanding Regional Association award went to the

! !

!

!

!

!

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, www.sandhillsjourney.com The Outstanding Tourism Campaign award went to Grow Garden County, www.co.garden.ne.us The Outstanding Tourism Publication award went to Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.lincoln.org The Outstanding Web site award was a tie. Winning sites were Kool-Aid Days, www.kool-aiddays.com, and the Nebraska Flyway Partnership, www.nebraskaflyway.com The Outstanding Tourist Attraction award went to Wessels Living History Farm, www.livinghistoryfarm.org The Outstanding Nature Tourism Entity award went to the Rowe Sanctuary & Iain Nicolson Audubon Center, www.rowesanctuary.org The Henry Fonda Award went to The Kesselring Family, www.highplainshomestead.com

FY2010 Federal Per Diems Announced Changes reflect weak economy The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today announced the new Fiscal Year 2010 (FY2010) federal per diem rates, which took effect on October 1, 2009, and run through September 30, 2010. Some examples of lodging changes for this year include: ! Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., for the Maricopa Co. area mid-season: down $120 from FY09’s $122 ! Miami, Fla., for the Miami-Dade area mid-season: up $128 from FY09’s $121 ! Chicago, Ill., for the Cook and Lake Cos. area high season: down $205 from FY09’s $218 ! New York City (Manhattan) high season: down $340 from FY09’s $360 ! Kansas City, Mo., for the Jackson, Clay, Cass and Platte Co. areas: unchanged at $107 ! Las Vegas, Nev., for the Clark Co. area low season: up $109 from FY09’s $105 6

! Cincinnati, Ohio, for the Hamilton

Co. area: up $115 from FY09’s $112 ! Seattle, Wash., for the King Co. area: up $159 from FY09’s $158 Nebraska’s rate is $70.00 for lodging and $46.00 for meals and incidental expense, the same as the standard Continental U.S. (CONUS) per diem for lodging, meals and incidental expenses. Omaha and Douglas county are higher with a maximum for lodging of $101.00 and $61.00 for meals and incidental expenses. The nation’s economic downturn has affected per diem lodging rates in many localities, but overall the majority of locations did see an increase or no change in per diem lodging rates. According to GSA, there will be a slight increase of 0.6% of the estimated lodging costs compared to FY2009. In contrast, the previous three years (FY2007-09) had an estimated average

increase in lodging costs of 6.8%. In FY2010, there are about 400 areas that have per diem rates higher than the standard CONUS rate. GSA reviews the CONUS rate every three years and continues to use market data provided by Smith Travel Research to establish per diem rates. The last adjustment was for fiscal year 2008, which increased the lodging rate that had been in effect since 2005. The complete FY2010 rates can be viewed on the Internet at the GSA’s per diem Website, www.gsa.gov/perdiem. Although federal per diem rates cannot formally be appealed by business representatives, the federal government’s General Services Administration (GSA) does have the ability to review and modify the rates. Accordingly, AH&LA is advising members who believe their localities may be undervalued in the FY2010 per diem rate schedule with a number of helpful suggestions which can be found within the past AH&LA Advisory.


Today’s H1N1 flu risks for hotels and travelers There have been no reported cases of H1N1 influenza found in U.S. hotels. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports it has never identified, seen, or classified any significant disease outbreak in hotel or motel rooms as a result of a hotel’s bedspreads and blankets. However, it is important not to trivialize the more significant routes that infectious influenza diseases are spread (unwashed hands, direct coughing, touching one’s face, etc.)

Hotel Response Plan This information is based on what is currently known about this new 2009 strain of H1N1 influenza A. A booklet with more details is available at www.ahla.com/flu. Above all, you need to have a plan. What should you discuss and plan for if an H1N1 pandemic wave appears in your area? How will this affect your business, employees, guests, suppliers, and public health first responders? Here are some suggested topic areas to get you started: ! Make the assumption that absenteeism will increase by approximately 25 percent above normal. It could be as high as 40 percent, according to government health authorities. Lower levels of absenteeism will occur for a few weeks on either side of the flu’s peak. ! Develop a method for determining when to send employees home, as well as procedures for handling the tasks normally done by workers who have become ill. ! In some communities, schools may dismiss students and childcare programs may close, particularly if the severity increases. Plan now to determine how you will operate if absenteeism spikes from those who stay home to care for ill family members, and from those who must stay home to watch their children if dismissed from school. ! Assume a wave of H1N1 cases will appear during September and October and there may be other waves throughout the next several months lasting about eight weeks. ! Designate a pandemic coordinator for the property. A committee should be established and include the department heads from housekeeping, maintenance and engineering, security, food services, administration, front desk and bell services, and other appropriate individuals. ! Identify essential employees and supplies critical to maintaining business operations. ! Any plan must include accurate lists of key agencies that should be contacted if a guest or employee is suspected of having H1N1 flu, as well as contacts that can provide your business accurate and timely local information. A complete list of state public health contacts can be found at www.pandemicflu.gov. ! Train and educate employees to recognize symptoms among each other and guests, and provide definitive procedures for reporting suspected illness to management. ! Your vendors and their employees will also be suffering from the same flu as your employees. Their absentee rates may be the same as your employees. Because of this labor shortage, they may be unable to deliver food, clean linens, cleaning supplies, or undertake trash removal on a normal schedule.

America’s Hotels: Strengthening the Economy in Every State Nebraska’s hotels are an important segment of the state’s economy. 8.6 percent of all jobs in the state are directly or indirectly related to the lodging industry, with hotels, motels, resorts, or lodges generating $347 million in tax revenue for state and local governments. Many of our properties are small businesses, a sector that created almost all the new jobs in the state. Our industry reaches far beyond just providing our guests with comfortable rooms or convenient meeting spaces—we are interlinked with many other industries, such as transportation, restaurants, agriculture, manufacturing, and recreation, supporting $7.8 billion in total sales throughout the state. Economic Facts for Nebraska: > 11,858 lodging jobs in 2008 > $310.3 million in employee wages > In 2008, the lodging industry had $500 million in direct sales in Nebraska > In 2008, there were 396 lodging properties in Nebraska comprising 27,863 hotel rooms America’s Lodging and Travel Industry by the Numbers: > 4.4 million people – the average number of guests each night in all combined U.S. hotels > 2.0 million jobs directly employed by the American lodging industry > 48,062 lodging properties in the U.S. > $139.4 billion total sales revenue in 2007 > 15.1 million jobs created or supported in all U.S. industries through lodging’s presence > $1.6 trillion in U.S. economic revenue generated throughout the national economic chain by the lodging and hospitality industry, which equates to 11% of national GDP > $240 billion spent by business travelers in 2007 > $34 billion in tax revenue generated each year by business travel for federal, state, and local governments > 97% of hotel properties donate to local community charities > $815 million in total yearly value of rooms, food, services, or cash charitable donations by U.S. lodging industry 7


Smith Travel Research – September 2009 Current Month - September 2009 vs September 2008 Occ % 2009

ADR

2008

2009

RevPAR 2008

2009

2008

Percent Change from September 2008 Occ

ADR

RevPAR

Room Rev

Room Avail

Room S old

United States

56.7

60.5

96.67 107.63

54.78

65.11

-6.3

-10.2

-15.9

-13.2

3.2

-3.3

West North Central

58.9

62.4

77.29

82.95

45.56

51.73

-5.5

-6.8

-11.9

-10.1

2.1

-3.5

Nebraska

61.2

62.8

74.03

74.92

45.29

47.07

-2.6

-1.2

-3.8

-0.3

3.6

0.9

Omaha, NE

57.6

62.3

81.85

85.43

47.11

53.24

-7.6

-4.2

-11.5

-6.2

6.0

-2.1

Lincoln MSA

63.0

63.0

78.53

84.55

49.51

53.27

0.1

-7.1

-7.1

-1.2

6.3

6.3

Buffalo County, NE Hall County, NE

62.1 66.4

62.7 68.6

69.12 68.14

70.47 66.60

42.94 45.22

44.18 45.71

-0.9 -3.3

-1.9 2.3

-2.8 -1.1

2.5 -1.1

5.5 0.0

4.5 -3.3

Lincoln County, NE Madison County, NE Scotts Bluff County, NE

72.8 67.1 64.7

66.3 62.9 60.6

66.59 62.96 69.07

66.83 62.45 67.65

48.45 42.23 44.70

44.33 39.29 41.02

9.7 6.6 6.7

-0.3 0.8 2.1

9.3 7.5 9.0

9.3 13.2 9.0

0.0 5.3 0.0

9.7 12.3 6.7

Year to Date - September 2009 vs September 2008 Occ % 2009

ADR

2008

200 9

2008

Participation

Percent Change from YTD 2008

RevPAR Occ

ADR

RevPAR

Room Rev

Room Avail

Properties Room Sold

Census

Rooms

2009

2008

United States

56.6

62.8

98.01

107.83

55.48

67.72

-9.9

-9.1

-18.1

-15.5

3.2

-7.0

51814

S ample

27984 4793723 3323316

Cens us

Sample

West North Central

55.2

59.9

77.31

79.93

42.64

47.90

-8.0

-3.3

-11.0

-8.9

2.3

-5.8

4341

2282 332257 228394

Nebraska

55.9

60.3

74.60

75.61

41.70

45.58

-7.3

-1.3

-8.5

-5.9

2.8

-4.6

397

224

27954

20546

Omaha, NE

56.9

65.1

85.73

89.92

48.79

58.53

-12.6

-4.7

-16.6

-11.1

6.7

-6.7

118

94

12576

11048

Lincoln MSA

57.5

61.3

71.58

76.59

41.12

46.95

-6.3

-6.5

-12.4

-9.8

3.0

-3.5

52

37

4334

3464

Buffalo County, NE Hall County, NE

56.6 58.3

61.5 66.6

69.63 65.59

70.35 62.17

39.38 38.26

43.30 41.40

-8.1 -12.4

-1.0 5.5

-9.0 -7.6

-4.6 -7.6

4.9 0.0

-3.6 -12.4

22 19

17 12

1550 1484

1375 1078

Lincoln County, NE Madison County, NE Scotts Bluff County, NE

59.0 55.4 55.6

59.3 48.9 55.8

68.04 63.99 69.38

66.41 66.39 66.76

40.13 35.42 38.57

39.36 32.44 37.22

-0.5 13.3 -0.3

2.5 -3.6 3.9

2.0 9.2 3.6

-1.1 13.1 3.6

-3.0 3.6 0.0

-3.5 17.3 -0.3

23 9 13

11 5 5

1526 650 766

1025 393 393

Health Care Legislation; Which Hotels Might Get Sick? By Robert Mandelbaum And Taylor Beauchamp Health care reform is an important In 2009, the U.S. lodging industry topic for the hotel industry because it is is projected to experience the greatest directly related to labor costs. Labor annual decline in revenue since 1932. costs are usually the largest operating In August 2009, PKF Hospitality expense for a hotel. In 2008, total hotel Research (PKF-HR) released its labor costs equaled 32.9 percent of quarterly econometric hotel forecast, revenue and 45.8 percent of all Hotel Horizons®, and is forecasting operating expenses. Labor costs also that the average property will suffer an tend to be one of the most controllable 18.5 percent decline in rooms revenue costs for a hotel. An analysis of per available room (RevPAR) during historical annual changes in total the year, which will contribute to an revenue and labors costs finds an estimated 16.8 percent fall off in total extremely close correlation. hotel revenues. In health care reform, the hotel In this challenging market, hoteindustry has much to gain or lose liers are concentrating on salvaging depending on the specifics composhort term profits by driving revenues nents of any final legislation. Propoand trimming expenses. While the nents of health care reform focus on industry is very focused on the short achieving two primary goals: term, the debate in Washington has 1. Decreasing the rate of health care focused on a topic that may have far inflation reaching impacts on the industry’s long 2. Reducing the ranks of those who do term profitability – health care reform. not have health insurance 8

The Good: Curbing Health Care Inflation – Hotel labor costs (as defined in the 10th edition of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI)) are made up of salaries, wages and bonuses; and payroll-related expenses. Payrollrelated expenses consists of both government mandated costs (i.e. FICA, FUTA, SUTA, SDI), as well as employer optional benefits (i.e. vacation pay, employee meals, pension plan, health insurance). Prior editions of the USALI referred to most of these payroll-related expenses as “employee benefits.” During the past few years, PKF-HR has noticed that payroll-related expenses have grown at a greater pace than salaries, wages, and bonuses. As an example from 2007 to 2008, hotel managers were able to reduce salaries, Continued on page 11


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AH&LA Lodging Industry Profile Charts Hotel Profits, Sales, And International Arrivals Reveals $140.6 Billion in Sales for 2008; Qualifies Consumer Characteristics and Expenditures For 2008, the U.S. lodging industry posted pre-tax profits of $25.8 billion – down from $28 billion in 2007 – and $140.6 billion in sales – a rise from $139.4 billion in 2007, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Lodging Industry Profile (LIP), an annual statistical analysis of the industry. This $140.6 billion contributed to an overall $770 billion in tourism sales*, with resident and international travelers’ expenditures in the U.S. estimated at $2.1 billion/day; $88 million/hour; $1.5 million/minute; and $24,500/second. The percentage of international travelers to the U.S. was a record 58 million, up from 56 million in 2007; arrivals from overseas travelers in particular jumped 6 percent to total 25.3 million. The top 10 countries in terms of U.S. arrivals for 2008 were Canada (18.9 million), the United Kingdom (4.6 million), Japan (3.2 million), Germany (1.8 million), France (1.2 million), Italy (779,000), Brazil (769,000), South Korea (759,000), and Australia (690,000). These 10 countries accounted for 80 percent of U.S. international visitors. The steady rise in hospitality profits over the past several years is attributed to a variety of sources, including the industry’s ability to raise room rates – an average of $106.84 in 2008, up from $103.87 in 2007 – in response to increased demand from both leisure and business travelers and the availability of new hotel product. Other facts found in the LIP: ! A detailed breakdown of the 49,505 U.S. hotels by room number, size, location, and nightly rate; ! The travel and tourism industry pays $194 billion in travel-related wages and salaries and employs 1.4 million hotel property workers; ! Statistics on promotional spending for tourism for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, including state totals contributing to the $868.8 million spent nationally – California increased tourism budgets by 137 percent and Texas increased theirs by 110 percent; ! Profiles of the typical lodging consumer’s leisure stay (57 percent of all travelers’ stays; categorized by two adults ages 35-54, who spend an average of one night paying a rate of $112) vs. a typical business traveler’s stay (43 percent of all travelers’ stays; most likely to be spent by a sole male age 35-54, for three or more nights at a rate of $125). The positive numbers illustrate that interest from both U.S. and international travelers translated into real dollars supporting a strong tourism product in 2008,” said AH&LA president/CEO Joseph A. McInerney, CHA. “However, with the softening of the economy in Q4 of 2008 and into 2009, our industry will see an end to our six-year streak of increased profitability.” AH&LA’s LIP provides a comprehensive, easy-to-read list of these and other significant facts about the lodging, travel, and tourism industries, including employment impact; international travel statistics; and property and room breakdowns by location, rate, and size. In addition, AH&LA 10

has created fact sheets about the industry’s economic footprint in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The one-page fact sheet gives a quick overview of the lodging industry in each state. Based on industry and governmental statistics, the documents describe total lodging jobs, employee wages, direct sales, tax revenue, and number of lodging properties. A national overview of the industry using similar statistics is also provided on each sheet. The complete 2009 AH&LA Lodging Industry Profile, as well as the state fact sheets are available on AH&LA’s Information Center Webpage. Information contained in the LIP is based on 2008 data provided by D.K. Shifflet & Associates, Ltd.; Smith Travel Research; Travel Industry Association of America; Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, and Bureau of Economic Analysis. Figures for year-end 2009 will be available in fall 2010. *excludes spending on U.S. airlines by international travelers

2010 Membership Dues Membership courtesy invoices are out to all properties in Nebraska. Paying your membership dues makes our industry stronger in Nebraska and nationwide. Paying your dues makes you a member in both the Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (only properties with 50 rooms or less have the option to waive national membership). If you have not received your courtesy invoice, contact DanaAdamy at (402) 476-1528.


Continued from page 8 – Health Care Legislation wages, and bonuses 0.2 percent. While those direct payments received by employees were decreasing, the payroll-related employee benefits actually increased 2.4 percent. While we cannot isolate the specific impact, it is likely that increases in health insurance costs were a major factor in the increased employee benefit costs. Unless there is action to reign in health care spending, the hotel industry will almost certainly see continued increases in the cost of health insurance premiums well above the changes in salaries and wages. In addition, without action to control costs, the Medicare program faces funding challenges that may require increases in the Medicare payroll taxes paid by both employers and employees. Hard Medicine: Mandated Coverage – On the other side, the industry faces the potential for cost increases stemming from efforts to reduce the number of uninsured in the country. Most of the proposals under review call for additional taxes or penalties on employers who do not offer subsidized health insurance to their employees. Employers in the hospitality industry are much less likely to offer their employees health insurance than other industries. According to the March 2008 National Compensation Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Exhibit 1), 40 percent of employees working in the accommodation and food service industries have access to an employer based health insurance plan. This compares to a national average of 71 percent for all workers in all industries. Any legislation that penalizes companies that do not offer medical insurance will have a disproportionate impact on the hotel industry. Which Hotels May Get Sick? To assess the potential impact of the versions of health care legislation, PKF-HR and Hotel Effectiveness, LLC have analyzed labor cost data contained in PKF-HR's Trends® in the Hotel Industry database of 6,000 hotel financial statements. The determination of which hotels might be impacted by any health care

legislation will likely depend on three factors: 1. Is the hotel’s annual gross wages above or below the threshold required to offer insurance? 2. Does the hotel currently offer health insurance to all of its employees? 3. If it does offer health insurance, does it pay at a minimum the portion of the cost that the government mandates? When analyzing the Trends® data to measure the potential “threshold impact” of the proposed health care legislation, we observed a strong relationship between payroll size and

cost of benefits. As the payroll increases, the cost of a hotel’s payrollrelated benefit costs grows with it. For example, hotels with less than $500,000 of payroll per year spend only 25.5 percent of their salaries, wages, and bonuses on other payrollrelated employee benefits. Compare this to a hotel with an annual payroll of $20 million or more that spends over 49 percent of its salaries, wages, and bonuses on other payroll-related expenses. The payroll-related ratios in the data support anecdotal reports that larger employers typically offer more generous benefits (i.e. health insur-

ance) than smaller employers. Therefore, using the payroll threshold portion of the litmus test, it can be assumed that properties with a total salaries, wages, and bonuses expense in the mid-range are most susceptible to a cost impact from new health care legislation. Profiling the hotels that have total gross wages between $500,000 and $2 million, we find that 90 percent of the properties operate in the midscale and upscale chain-scale segments. These segments include many of the limited- and select-service brands that are so popular today with hotel developers and consumers. In addition to meeting a total payroll threshold, companies that do not to pay a minimum portion of the cost of the insurance (e.g. 60% to 70%) will be required to do so. This too will contribute to a rise in payroll-related expenses, even for those properties that are currently offering some degree of subsidized employer-based health insurance. Additional data summarizes the various criteria that might dictate whether or not a hotel will be impacted by any proposed health care legislation. Properties that meet the criteria are mostly likely to be effected. Even hotels that do not see a direct cost increase could be impacted from this legislation. Today, some operators position health care as a recruiting differentiator to attract talent.As health care becomes more common, its value in the market may diminish. It transforms health care coverage from a competitive recruiting advantage to a cost of doing business. Any changes to an area as large and important as health care are certain to cause big impacts on the hotel industry. The good news for hoteliers is that most of the proposals are expected to be phased in over a number of years. Even so, the wise operator should be considering these changes in planning labor costs at both current and planned properties. Robert Mandelbaum is Director of Research Information Services for PKF Hospitality Research (www.pkfc.com). Taylor Beauchamp is Chief Operating Officer of Hotel Effectiveness, LLC ( www.hoteleffectiveness.com). 11


Your Membership in the Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association is “at your service.” Now is the time to renew your membership to keep your property active in both organizations without any lapse.

American Hotel & Lodging Association

Courtesy membership invoices along with a request to update your contact information and details for the directory listing were sent out just before Thanksgiving. This newsletter is but one of many benefits available to you through these two organizations. Don’t miss your opportunity to stay active in your industry’s associations. Contact the Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association at (402) 476-1528 or info@nebraskahma.com for more information. Websites: www.nebraskahma.com www.ahla.com

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The INN Sider Be Sure to Hire a Certified and Licensed Pest Control Operator There have been reports of uncertified applicators treating bed bugs in the Omaha area. All applicators must be certified and licensed in Nebraska with the Department ofAgriculture. If an applicator cannot produce a license, please contact the Department of Agriculture toll free at (877) 8004080 to verify licensing or to report an uncertified applicator.

been a better time to raise the valuations. But the office has to follow market trends, Couch said, and sales records show that prices for hotels and motels have gone up in recent years. Even with the higher valuations, the Assessor’s Office said, some properties are still valued below their recent selling prices. Officials said valuation increases on other hotels reflect substantial renovations in recent years.

Hotels’ Tax Valuations Rise as Occupancy Falls With empty rooms and no end to the recession in sight this July, Douglas County hotel operators thought things couldn’t get much worse. Then came word from the County Assessor’s Office: Property valuations on hotels and motels are shooting up this year. The Assessor’s Office changed valuations on 62 hotels and motels, mostly increasing their valuations. Twenty-nine properties filed protest with the county. The typical valuation increase was 25 percent. The Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau reported this spring that occupancy rates at hotels in Douglas County were down 10 percent from last year. The recession has prompted leisure and business travelers to cut down on trips. Barry Couch, chief deputy county assessor, said he understands that the increases come at a bad time for the industry. Last year, he said, would have

HOTEL & MOTEL ASSOCIATION

In Memory of Richard “Rick” Milton Richard “Rick” Milton, 63 of Grand Island died Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney. Services were held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Apfel Funeral Home in Grand Island with Rev. Daren Mitchell officiating. Burial was at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery

in Friend. Memorials are suggested to the family who will designate the funds in Rick’s name. Apfel Funeral Home of Grand Island was in charge of arrangements. Mr. Milton was born on January 3, 1946 in Omaha, the son of Robert and Vicki (Dekker) Milton. He grew up in Friend and graduated from Friend High School in 1964. He attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for two years. Rick moved to Denver and worked with his uncle and got his start in the hotel business. He lived in several states where he managed various hotels. In 1973, he moved back to Grand Island and managed the Interstate Holiday Inn. He was united in marriage to Sandy Klimek on August 10, 1989 in Des Moines, Iowa. He then worked at other hotels in other states before returning to Grand Island in 1992. He managed hotels in Grand Island and Hastings before starting Milton Hospitality and Milton Motels. He purchased the Roadway Inn three years ago. He was a member of the Grand Island Kiwanis Club, he was the Chair of the Grand Island Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was very active in the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the PTA and volunteered at Dodge, Barr and Grand Island Senior High Schools. He enjoyed buying and selling used hotel furniture; he also enjoyed entertaining, organizing, and hosting events and people throughout his life, and was known as “Mr. Hospitality.” His true love was for his family and especially his daughters. He is survived by his wife Sandy Milton of Grand Island, four daughters, four grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

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Relief at the Pump BP MasterCard can help AH&LA members save on gas The AH&LA has launched a strategic partnership with BP Business Solutions offering a comprehensive fuel savings and management plan. The BP Business Solutions Universal Fuel MasterCard offers savings of up to 6.5 cents on every gallon of gasoline and diesel purchased at approximately 11,400 BP and ARCO locations nationwide, or anywhere MasterCard is accepted. The program also allows AH&LA member companies to more effectively manage employee fuel purchasing by offering cardholders control over how, when and where the card is used. They can also customize and block unauthorized charges on the card. The card’s customizable monitoring settings are flexible and can be utilized to provide a cost savings at any gas pump in the United States. To enroll in this AH&LA program, call 800-348-7959 and reference program 840. For more information about this and other member programs and benefits, visit the AH&LA web site, www.ahla.com, or e-mail membership@ahla.com. All Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association members are AH&LA members, unless the number of rooms at your facility are 50 or less and you have waived membership in the national organization.

Hilton Receives Award The Hilton Omaha has earned AAA’s Four Diamond Award. This is the fifth consecutive year the hotel has earned the award. It is the only hotel in Nebraska with the AAA Four Diamond designation.

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Sarpy Board Authorizes up to $26 Million in Ballpark Bonds If skeptics questioned whether Sarpy County would build a $26 million minor league baseball stadium for Omaha Royals baseball, an August 12 groundbreaking ceremony attended by Warren Buffett sent a convincing message. The Sarpy County Board sent an even stronger message September 15, one that has financial implications for decades to come for elected officials and taxpayers alike. The board voted 50 to authorize up to $26 million in bonds to pay for the Class AAA baseball team’s stadium, expected to be ready for the 2011 season. The stadium is to be built on a farm parcel west of Papillion along Nebraska Highway 370 near 126th Street, known as the Schewe Farm property. At the meeting, the board approved issuing the bulk of the bonds, $19.8 million. This fall, the county expects to issue roughly $4.2 million more in bonds for public infrastructure and road improvements near the stadium. That leaves about a $2 million cushion of additional bonds that could be issued if necessary, but the county intends to avoid doing that. Instead, the county is depending on mostly private dollars, including payments from the Royals, for the remaining $2 million in costs, county finance director Brian Hanson said. The county split up the bond issuance partly because the county won’t know the actual construction cost for several weeks, Hanson said. The county plans to issue taxable and tax-exempt bonds, and the repayment dates would range from 15 to 25 years. The board also agreed to pay an estimated $450,000 to the companies working with the county to issue the bonds, including underwriters, bond counsel and the bond-rating agency.

County officials have said the county is looking to direct revenue from two sources, lodging taxes and keno gambling, to help finance the new ballpark, but several other revenue streams remain under consideration.

Sheraton Announced Lobby Lounge Concept Sheraton Hotels announced its global launch in October of a new lobby-based technology lounge – “Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft.” The lobby lounge concept allows travelers to stay connected with instant access to technology and information via such platforms as computers, wi-fi, and TV. To mark the launch, Sheraton constructed a real Link@Sheraton lounge in the New York City’s Central Park and hosted “Global Out of the Office Day.” New Yorkers were invited to swap their ties for T-shirts and work from the Park at The Link. The event sought to demonstrate how normally office-bound workers can maintain productivity while working remotely. Link in Central Park provided free wifi, fully functioning computer workstations, plasma TVs and comfortable lounge-like work zones. Adding symbolic flair, the hotel company officially opened the Central Park launch of Link@Sheraton with a dual ringing of the New York Stock Exchange opening bell, both at the Exchange and at Central Park.

Inspiring Thoughts “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” – Harry Golden


Fine Lines, Fair Game As the recent high profile Supreme Court ruling on “reverse discrimination” shows, employer EEO compliance sometimes requires walking a fine line. by James J. O’Brien & Michael F. Smith

The supreme court’s recent decision in Ricci v. DeStefano has been receiving a lot of media attention. This is both because it has been a highly anticipated ruling on a claim of “reverse discrimination,” and, coincidentally, because it overturns the ruling of a federal appeals court panel which included among its members President Obama’s pick to join the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor - herself a history-making minority addition to the high court. National politics aside, the decision serves as a very important reminder to hoteliers about two crucial equal employment opportunity (EEO) law points: First, employment discrimination laws protect all applicants for employment and employees, including those in the “majority.” Second, employment discrimination laws do not just prohibit an employer from deliberately discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of race or other protected characteristics. (This is known as practicing “disparate treatment”.) They also prohibit any policies or decisions by an employer

which, while perhaps not meant to discriminate, have the effect of causing discrimination on a group sharing a protected characteristic. (This is known as “disparate impact”.) The Ricci case came to the Supreme Court because in 2003, the City of New Haven, Connecticut gave a test to firefighters in order to determine which personnel it would promote to officer positions in the City's fire department. The City, mindful of its legal obligations as an employer not to discriminate (either intentionally, or in the impact of the testing) had gone to great expense and effort to have a consulting company develop and administer fair examinations. Nevertheless, when the results came in, the testing of firefighters determined that of the applicants eligible for promotion, 17 were white, 2 were Hispanic, and none were black. Competing views arose among City officials about whether the exams should be used to award promotions, or tossed aside. Fearing a lawsuit from the minority candidates who were not eligible for promotion on the basis of the test results, and who therefore might claim disparate impact race discrimination, the City threw out the results of the promotions test. However, the City’s decision to avoid the disparate impact lawsuit led instead to a disparate treatment lawsuit brought by firefighters who had passed the examinations, but were denied promotion because the City set the test aside. The firefighters claimed that the City’s action violated the EEO prohibition on racially-based disparate treatment. According to the firefighters who sued, not using the test results out of fear of a racial impact lawsuit was an unlawful basis for the City's employment decision. In that lawsuit, the federal trial court ruled in favor of the City,

agreeing that the City lawfully acted to protect itself from charges of disparate impact discrimination. In a one paragraph opinion joined by Justice Sotomayor, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit adopted the trial court’s reasoning and affirmed its decision. In the case just decided and now causing all the political stir in Washington, the Supreme Court reversed these lower court decisions, ruling instead for the firefighters who had sued. The Supreme Court explained that the City could have only discriminated against the white and Hispanic firefighters who passed the test, if the City had a strong basis to believe that if it had not thrown the test out, that it would then have been sued by minority firefighters, and those minority firefighters would have won against the City. The Supreme Court decided that there was no such strong basis, and that therefore the City could not legitimately maintain that it was forced to discriminate against the white and Hispanic firefighters in order to avoid liability for disparate impact discrimination against the black firefighters. Compliance with employment discrimination laws requires hoteliers to ensure that all of its applicants and employees are treated equally on the basis of clearly understood business related reasons. In addition, hotel employers are well advised to examine their recruitment, hiring, training, review and discipline, scheduling and assignment, benefits, compensation, and promotion policies, among others, to ensure that these policies do not have an uneven impact upon any group which shares a protected characteristic, such as race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age and gender. As the City of New Haven learned in the Ricci decision, employer EEO compliance sometimes requires Continued on page 4 of Inn Sider

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Continued from page 3 of Inn Sider walking a fine line. It’s therefore always a good idea to periodically take a hard look in the mirror, holding up your employment policies and practices to the scrutiny of an employment law examination. Every applicant for employment, every employee, and, these days especially, every former employee represents a potential employment discrimination lawsuit. James J. O’Brien and Michael F. Smith are attorneys with O'Brien & van Stiphout LLC, a law firm and Allied Member of AH&LA. The firm represents employers and management in the areas of employment law and business immigration. For further information regarding any matters discussed in this article, contact either Jim or Mike at jim@-obvslaw.com or mike@obvslaw.com.

What’s in Store? Lobby Convenience Shops are freshening their offerings The hotel gift shop generally has a bad reputation. For years, many properties sold overpriced items, didn’t have much of a selection and, perhaps most important, couldn’t stay open late enough. “When you look at a gift shop in a traditional hotel, when you need it most invariably it’s closed,” says Mark Nogal, vicepresident of hotel performance and support for Hilton Garden Inn. Since the 1990s, that’s changed in brands such as Hilton Garden Inn, as well as Holiday Inn Express, Starwood’s aloft, and Marriott’s TownePlace Suites. Those chains turned the lobby store into a convenience store, focusing more on food items, and using front desk staff as cashiers so they could stay open late (24/7 in many cases). “Because we’re so businessoriented during the week we were cognizant of the business traveler who ends up on a delayed flight and doesn’t arrive until 10 or 11 at night,” Nogal

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says. “The restaurant’s closed, and they don’t necessarily want to head out to a freestanding restaurant.” These stores have been successful for properties because they serve a guest need that wasn’t previously met. They don’t compete with other food and beverage outlets; they supplement them. Getting Fresh As with any hotel concept, lobby stores have had to change with the times to stay in sync with guests’eating habits and travel patterns. Snack foods remain the biggest sellers (popcorn, ice cream, and bottled water top the list), but healthier and fresher options have also found their way onto the shelves. The other big change the stores have made since their inception has been adding toiletries. With the advent of the TSA and security requirements there is a bigger demand for these types of items, because if you travel a long time without checking luggage, you’ll need to restock different personal grooming items. StayAwhile TownePlace Suites added the In-APinch Market when Marriott redesigned the brand two years ago. Because the hotels are designed for longer stays, however, different items work well in the stores. In the beginning they had more amenities in there, like toothpaste and shaving items, and they ended up taking those out since a lot of it is what they give complimentary. Because the suites have kitchens, the original concept was to stock the stores with grocery items for guests to cook. But that didn’t quite work either. People came in for the first night or two just to get started but then they would go to the grocery store, even with competitively priced items. So merchandising was shifted to snacks, since that’s really what people want. Along those lines, TownePlace Suites also tried larger-sized items, but found that guests wanted smaller ones

for a quick snack, not to stock up. Bringing Back the Gifts While these stores are not traditional gift shops, they have tried to incorporate non-food items, with varying degrees of success. Hotels have success in this area if it’s in a destination market like Orlando, but hasn’t worked as well in areas like Memphis or Chicago. The degree of profitability varies widely depending on the area and the type of clientele you have. Many properties can make a lot of money on it and some can make a fair amount. Tweaking the contents of your store to your clientele is the trick.

5 Tips for Winter Landscaping Kevin Hutchinson, Valley Crest Landscape Companies, and Christine Fletcher, Parker Interior Plantscape

1. Implement a customized fall fertilization/winterization program. This will promote healthy landscaping and provide a deeper green color throughout the winter season. 2. Don’t prune or fertilize just before winter. Pruning stimulates growth that may die over winter. This could inadvertently remove next year’s blooms. 3. Treat evergreens, such as boxwood, holly, and related plants with an anti-desiccant, which are compounds that reduce dehydration and prevent drying. 4. Select seasonal color: Annual flower rotations with bright bursts of color can last throughout the winter season when cared for properly. A few hardy choices include: Pansy, Panola, Viola, and Snapdragon. 5. Combine plans creatively. It’s okay to mix evergreen shrubs, colorful woody shrubs, and cold foliage perennials with pockets of seasonal color.


Nebraska Hotel & Motel Association Newsletter