Each week there are hundreds of headlines about hotels. What did we do before the Internet? Following are five interesting headlines from this past week that might interest you—just remember to not shoot the messenger!
Former Delray Beach inn manager charged with grand theft; allegedly helped guest dodge US$49K bill
According to the Palm Beach Post, a 39-year-old Residence Inn hotel manager was charged with grand theft and organized scheme to defraud after she allegedly started conducting fraudulent transactions to help a guest not have to pay his balance throughout 2009.
When the guest had an outstanding balance of US$49,354.55, Britt Stefanowicz created four accounts to make it look like she had received money from the guest when really she was just moving money around.
Stefanowicz resigned in November 2009. It wasn't until the new manager started working at the hotel that same month when he saw the guest's high balance and questioned what was going on. He then contacted police.
Lesson for hoteliers: Employee theft is one of the biggest contributors to lost profits. Stay vigilant!
Marin hotel fee program lurches ahead
This is one of many stories about local governments wanting more revenue and using the backs of hoteliers to get it. According to the Marin (California) Independent Journal, county supervisors want to double hotel room fees in some Marin communities, but they're back-tracking a bit to make sure the new charge meets terms of Proposition 26, a measure approved by voters last month that limits the ability of legislators to impose fees.
Supervisors approved the first reading of a revised measure that raises to 2% the tax or fee on gross room rental bills. The extra money will finance tourism management and marketing efforts, perhaps including a cable television campaign.
Lesson for hoteliers: Elected officials don’t care about your guests. Stay on top of these issues. And to the hotel owners in the Marin area, make sure the revenue raised from this tax always goes to marketing efforts—not to building sewers or the Christmas light fund.
Whoops! Detectives investigate hotel murder only to find out it was a movie set
The good folks at Hotel Chatter tell us that when firefighters responded to a call at the George Washington Hotel in suburban Pittsburgh two weeks ago for a fire, they found a guestroom that looked like a grisly murder scene complete with "blood-spattered hotel room littered with bottles of alcohol and even a piece of a scalp."
Detectives then spent eight hours analyzing the crime scene with the police chief calling it one of the worst crime scenes he's seen in his 35 years of experience. But, it turns out, the room was a leftover movie set for the horror movie, "New Terminal Hotel,” starring the late actor Corey Haim. The hotel's owner decided to leave the room untouched after filming wrapped in case they needed to come back for reshoots.
The fire, however, was very real, having started in the laundry room. Five people were treated with oxygen for smoke inhalation. The historic hotel, built in 1923, also suffered a fire four years ago that did worse damage, gutting three floors of the building.
Lessons for hoteliers: The movie business can be lucrative, but it’s a good idea to leave a clue when something irregular exists. More important is that proper fire prevention is of the utmost importance. Two fires in four years at one hotel—regardless of its age—is a warning sign. Remember, it was 30 years ago on 21 November 1980 that the MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas shocked the hotel world when 84 people died and 300 had to be rescued from the roof of the hotel. No one wants a repeat performance.
Holed up in The Alibi, no alibi would hold up
MSNBC.com reports police in Lewiston, Idaho, say it didn't take them long to locate an Idaho man suspected in the robbery of a Cedars Inn—he was next door at The Alibi bar.
Lewiston police say 40-year-old Donald Mosley Jr. was arrested less than 15 minutes after he walked into the hotel and demanded cash from the desk clerk late Wednesday.
Police found Mosley at The Alibi, a bar located next to the hotel, allegedly with evidence of the robbery on him. Mosley was booked into the Nez Perce County Jail early Thursday and faces possible felony robbery charges.
Lesson to hoteliers: It’s not always going to be this easy catching a robber—some crooks actually have a brain and leave the area after the deed is done. Install proper surveillance equipment to aid police in capturing any thieves. It’s 2010 people—use technology to make your lives easier!
Topless barmaids return to Fiveways
The Chronicle newspaper in Australia says a great Aussie working-man’s tradition is making a comeback in Toowoomba: After a long time between drinks, topless barmaids will be serving at the Fiveways Hotel.
Assistant manager Juanita Belz told the newspaper it had been more than six years since the topless barmaids last made an appearance at the hotel. Belz said they were returning by popular demand.
Lesson for hoteliers: There are plenty of tongue-in-cheek comments that could be said here. But there’s no lesson here. Nothing to see. Keep moving …