Failing to plan is planning to fail. Why is this adage so incredibly irritating? Because it is true. In general, truth tends to make people uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable, we either ignore the source, or adapt to it.
We fail to plan for numerous reasons; we’re tired, in a rut, fear of failure, perhaps we’ve planned before and it didn’t work out, so we give up, or we just don’t know how.
I will never dispute the fact that events or circumstances can derail the best plan. Elevator down and a team is checking in? You’re assessing how many are athletic enough to hike those stairs. A kid smuggled in his pet snake and feeder mice, and happened to let both escape in your hotel? Your housekeepers are screaming and running for their lives. Guests decided to fight each other in a hallway with pepper spray? Your city’s police department is now milling about in full hazmat gear.
The number of random events that occur in hospitality that are out of our control are endless, sometimes humorous, but can leave us exhausted.
Planning for the things in our control, help us circumnavigate the events that can’t be predicted.
As leisure travel and SMERF ramp up on the weekends in some of our markets, we need to have a plan for inventory control.
Here are my tips for controllable planning that may make hotel-life easier:
I cannot stress this enough; balance your inventory at least three times per day. Teach your staff the importance of this task.
What creates an imbalance between CRS and PMS systems?
Reservations being entered incorrectly. Some of our systems are temperamental. A mistake in a character field can lead to a syncing issue. Not every agent is going to get it right all the time. If you balance your inventory multiple times a day, you’ll probably catch it before this becomes a catastrophe.
Group Blocks being left as tentative versus definite. In most systems, a tentative group doesn’t deduct inventory from CRS. You think you’ve booked 50 rooms. You didn’t. CRS is overselling you by 50 rooms.
Extended stays not being monitored properly. In Opera, we have a 99-day rule. Anything being extended past the 99-day mark, will not be recognized by CRS and becomes available inventory. I’d be willing to bet that Choice Advantage, OnQ, and Fosse have extended stay parameters as well.
Out of order room extensions. If you have a room in OOO status, that is about to expire, but isn’t guest ready, remake the out of order. Do not extend these. They fall back in authorized status with CRS and create issues.
Dirty rooms versus clean rooms. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF A ROOM IS LEFT DIRTY IN THE SYSTEM. CRS CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE. Please, read that statement one hundred times and relay to staff. A room marked dirty is still an available room.
Look ahead thirty, sixty, and ninety days to see what dates are booking. Let your revenue managers know what the events are. We can see pace, we can modify rate, and we can help put controls in place. Real time inventory issues are much harder to resolve than thirty days down the road issue.
Make sure that your sales teams are keeping you abreast of events that will impact your inventory. And vice versa. If you know there is and event coming in at the last minute, because you are reading the local news sites at 3 a.m., after locating a rogue snake, share that knowledge.
As an industry, we are collectively tired. Little issues are magnified tenfold. Planning for the future seems daunting right now, but as we get busier, 30 minutes of pre-planning for an influx of guests, is going to save hours of time sorting out a mess. Those hours spill over into your personal time. I am a huge advocate of the importance of personal time. We desperately need that time to reset ourselves. Little adjustments such as pre-planned inventory control can make the difference between a smooth weekend with few to no frantic calls from a property, or a cascading chain of events that ensure you see the inside of your hotel for 56 days straight.
Time is such a valuable commodity, and we should use it wisely.
Written by Elizabeth Brooks
Corporate Revenue Manager at Palette Hotels Developments and a passionate photographer