Increasing Staff Efficiency through Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment

By Kyle Rogg President & COO, Value Place | May 25, 2014

When it comes to increasing your hotel staff's operational efficiency, detailed furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) decision making might not be atop your list of priorities. But it probably should be.

At Value Place, when our executive team dedicated itself to smart design, we made a conscious effort to honor our core values – being clean, safe, simple, and affordable. Today, before the first shovel of dirt is scooped at one of our construction sites, the impact of every decision made in the design, construction, and ongoing operation of our properties is evaluated to ensure it has a positive effect on staff efficiency and return on investment for the franchisee.

Smart FF&E design starts on paper, when mistakes cost far less than they do on the job site or after a property is in operation. We've made continual improvements to our prototype hotel design at every step of construction and operation, resulting in staffing efficiencies that surpass industry averages. Staffing costs at the average economy extended-stay hotel are 22 percent of revenue (Ref: Highland Group). Yet our business model, driven in part by well-planned FF&E design, results in staffing costs that are nearly half the industry average. For us, that efficiency started in the design stage where staff productivity and positive operating income are our primary goals. With the right staff and FF&E decisions, the benefits of our pursuit can be seen every day that a property is open.

What's On the Floor Can Drive Staff Efficiency

The initial Value Place design featured carpets in guest rooms. A traditional hotel element, it seemed the obvious choice. In addition to the anticipated problems associated with carpet, including stains, odors, damage, and wear, we have a unique issue. As an extended-stay hotel, we experience a higher level of wear and tear on our flooring since guests spend more time in their rooms than the average hotel guest. That fact, coupled with our promise to deep clean the carpet between each guest, meant spending a lot of time turning rooms around and costly carpet repairs impacting our bottom line. Industry surveys show that carpet replacement averages are approximately $1,000 per room, including labor and materials (Ref: JN+A/HVS Design Cost Estimating Guide).

To remedy this issue, we looked at numerous options and solutions. Today, all new Value Place construction projects feature wood-plank vinyl flooring throughout all guest spaces. Installing this flooring, which is popular throughout Europe and Japan, has helped eliminate carpet throughout the building, a decision we made with the guest in mind. The new flooring is soft to walk on, dampens sound, and looks very modern.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.