The lobby at the 532-room Hilton Columbus Downtown.
In the year and a half I’ve been a hotel journalist, I covered almost every topic in the industry: marketing, revenue management, financing, construction and companies’ earnings, just to name a few. I thought I had covered something in every aspect of the industry—that is, until December, when I shadowed some of the staff of the Hilton Columbus Downtown.
I realized then that while interviewing sources had helped me acquire extensive knowledge about what hotel staffs do, I had little knowledge about the specific attributes required to properly run a large full-service hotel. I was given the opportunity during my two-day stay at the recently-opened Hilton Columbus to sit in during the team’s weekly operations meeting, as well as a revenue management meeting, which turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.
Within the first five minutes of the team’s operations meeting, I was taken aback by the meticulous attention to detail from everyone in the room. No stone was left unturned by GM Chris Coffin and his group.
After pushing to open in October 2012 to fulfill contracts with groups that had booked, the team still is working on putting some finishing touches on a number of guestrooms and public spaces.
“(We’re) making sure every detail in the rooms are perfect,” Coffin said. Down to floors and specific room numbers, Coffin and his team went over everything.
But it went beyond that. The staff touched upon every single factor that affects the guest experience—from the lobby bar to parking to greeting guests upon arrival.
In a world where consumers have the ability to share their thoughts (whether positive or negative) on social media sites, there’s no other option but to produce perfection to remain competitive. I’m sure this is apparent to most in the industry by now, but seeing a team going over guest reviews and satisfaction scores firsthand to help strategize only helped enforce that notion.
During the revenue-management meeting, the Hilton Columbus Downtown team went over a handful of data reports to help them compare how they are performing against the rest of the market.
Coffin pointed out that because the hotel recently opened, it takes the group several hours to analyze six months worth of forward-looking data. “The main problem is we don’t have a history; we don’t have a pattern,” he said.
This makes it difficult to determine the revenue-management strategy, Coffin said.
Trial and error is a major strategy. Each week the team analyzes what worked and what didn’t work and uses their best judgment moving forward.
There’s a lot of discussion, Coffin said, adding: “It’s a lot more discussion than a mature hotel that has it down.”
The main takeaway I took away from this visit is how much time hotel staffs put into their work.
Learning that running a full-service hotel requires 10- to 14-hour workdays on a regular basis gave me a newfound appreciation for those who work in the industry. It’s not something just anyone can do with a smile on their face, and it hit me—that’s the meaning of hospitality.
Editor’s note: Hilton provided hotel accommodations for a one-night stay. Complete editorial control was at the discretion of the HotelNewsNow.com editorial team; Hilton had no influence of the coverage provided.
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