I would never call myself a reality-TV junkie—although I do enjoy a handful of programs in the genre. “Survivor,” 20-plus seasons in, is still a personal favorite, and I occasionally find myself flipping to Food Network or Travel Channel for some mouth-watering culinary delights. But that’s about it.
I have, however, added another reality show to my roster in recent weeks: Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.” The program, which we’ve written about once or twice, features hotelier and host Anthony Melchiorri as he attempts to turn around struggling properties.
It’s a tall task for anyone … in any timeframe … with any budget. But what makes Melchiorri’s quest all the more captivating is he attempts to do so in the span of three or four days with a budget of roughly $10,000.
While his success rate is somewhat questionable—the show gives an “update” at the end of each episode with ambiguous claims about improving revenues and outlooks from the property proprietor—Melchiorri himself is a force to behold. He’s everything you’d want in a property GM. He’s direct, assertive and decisive, but he never comes across as aggressive or tactless. What’s more, the dude knows his stuff. Whether discussing the proper order in which to stock a buffet (breads first because they take up more plate space and are typically less expensive) or highlighting a property’s strongest selling points, he’s a Jack of all trades who can quickly assess what needs to be fixed and the steps needed to fix it.
More often than not, what needs to be fixed is the property’s owner. It’s amazing, really, how ignorant or stubborn some of these folks can be. During one episode, for example, the owner of a beachfront hotel in Florida dismissed his next-to-last rating on TripAdvisor because he claimed consumers never write to express their positive experiences at a hotel.
Melchiorri nearly flipped his lid.
Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible"
The common thread, it seems, is a successful hotel always comes down to the basics: clean rooms, comfortable beds and a competent staff who make guests feel welcome. Melchiorri reiterates this point time and time and time again until he gets it through the typically thick skulls of his struggling hoteliers.
The repetition must have made its way through this journalist’s thick skull as well because I’ve found myself thinking of Melchiorri quite often during the first leg of my trip across Europe with my wife. We’ve been to France hotspots Nice and Paris thus far, and in both cities we’ve stayed in independent properties.
I don’t get to go the independent route often when traveling for work. Typically the conferences I attend are held at major convention properties with brand affiliations. So it’s been an interesting change of pace to say the least.
I was shocked to learn, for instance, the guests have the run of the Hotel le Petit Trianon in Nice after dark, when the proprieter packs it up like any nine-to-fiver to head home. After 8 p.m., you access the property via an electronic code. Have an emergency? Dial the number propped up on the front desk.
It was a somewhat alarming arrangement at first, but never once did my wife and I feel abandoned. On the contrary, we felt perhaps more of a personal connection seeing the same face at the front desk each day as we made our way in and out the front door. The proprietor got to know our names and checked in on us throughout our stay, offering helpful tips on navigating the train to Monaco and which restaurants to visit in Old Town.
Our hotel in Paris, the Hotel Home Moderne, was slightly more traditional. (Or should I say “is” slightly more traditional. I’m sitting in our room as I write this.) The property, much larger than the Trainon, was staffed 24/7 and had all the amenities you would expect to find at a branded competitor.
And while each hotel was dramatically different, both the Trianon and the Home Moderne upheld those same basic principles that Melchiorri hammers home on “Hotel Impossible” each week. Our rooms were clean, the beds were comfortable and the hoteliers working the front desk made us feel welcomed every time we walked through the front door—which is no small feat when navigating a foreign country.
So perhaps the name of Melchiorri’s reality show is a misnomer. As long as you get the basics right, running a successful hotel is not impossible at all.
Now on to the usual goodies …
Stat of the week
2015: The year through which U.S. hotels will continue to see revenue gains on average, according PFK Consulting USA’s “2012 Trends in the Hotel Industry Report.” During 2011, 80.5% of properties surveyed said total revenue increased and 72.4% said profits grew. On average, revenues were up 6.2% and net operating income grew by 12.7%.
Quote of the week
“It is naturally becoming more urgent because of the increasing appeal of such an investment given the growing demand for mid-market and budget products throughout the economic cycle.”
—Elie Younes, area VP of business development, MENA, for The Rezidor Hotel Group, discussing the need for more budget hotels in the Middle East, as reported in “Time to talk economy again in the GCC.”
Comment of the week
“Yes, there has indeed been real growth. The growth rates cited in this article for GDP are already inflation adjusted. The conclusion that there has not been real growth is not correct. Also, it bears mentioning that recent strong growth in hotel performance has defied many of the external indicators referenced in the article. “
—Commenter “Adam” questioning Dr. Doom’s bleak assessment of what lies ahead for the hotel industry in “Hoteliers disconnected from shaky reality.”
Email Patrick Mayock or find him on Twitter.