How can a clean, pet friendly, well maintained hotel that has 90% occupancy during the main season be in trouble? The answer makes this week’s recap of Hotel Impossible featuring the Beachfront Inn located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan one of my simplest reviews.
In this episode, there was no long list of hotel maintenance items to be fixed nor was there any crazy and drama oriented family dynamics. The main issues seemed to be centered around a huge debt burden caused by poor financial decisions and a lack of communication between the owners, Terry and Tammy Bock.
Episode Recap: Oops, I Bet the Farm
The show began in the usual manner with Anthony’s arrival to the pretty little hotel. With no obvious signs of disrepair, he took a walk around and noticed some very expensive pool furniture. He also spoke to a couple of guests who indicated that the hotel was not as pet friendly as it was advertised.
Anthony then met with the owner, Tammy, who was stuffed behind a small desk in the lobby. When Anthony confronted her with the guest responses it became clear she was extremely stressed. The show continued on in the usual fashion with room and premises inspections.
Beachfront Inn Inspection Results
- Reservation system
- Old linens. Can you guess what the fix will be?
- Old non-working TV’s (they did not work because the cable provider did a poor job during installation). This was causing Tammy to spend a lot of time fixing them for guests.
- A back deck that needed renovating. The designer later found that it needed complete replacement due to excessive rotting that was not in view.
- The pet litter area was next to the deck.
- The fire alarm system was not turned on and one of the alarms was inoperable due to rust.
- They were not prepared for storms (no generator, flashlights and so on).
The real issues surfaced when while meeting with the owners, when it was discovered that:
- They were in severe debt trouble and had placed the family farm as collateral for financing.
- The P & L statement showed very low and flat revenue.
- Tammy had no idea how adjust room rates or why she should.
- The husband Terry did not want to be there, leaving Tammy to manage the property by herself.
The Fixes for the Beachfront Inn and What Hoteliers Should Learn
The true fixes for the Beachfront Inn are simple to explain but difficult to implement. The difficulty in implementation is because the first true fix is a lesson in life skills and the second is … well complicated. Because of this I have significant doubt that the hotel will recover.
The first true fix was how to make better financial decisions. Between the thousands of dollars in new pool furniture and racking up debt, I do not believe this is an overnight fix. On the other hand Anthony was able to teach Tammy the basics of hotel revenue management.
Anthony explained to Tammy how and why to adjust room rates in order to mirror seasonal supply and demand. If done properly, the hotel could see a substantial increase in revenue and in fact the final trailer screen said revenue was up 20%.
The second true fix was to improve the communication between Terry and Tammy and to increase Terry’s involvement. Terry’s primary job was as a long-haul truck driver and he had indicated earlier in the show he preferred to be on the road away from his wife.
After talking with Terry, Anthony was able to get him to commit to being at the hotel full-time within a year. My perception was that Terry really didn’t like this idea. The final trailer screen proved me correct as it indicated that Terry and Tammy were seeing a marriage counselor.
I wish them luck and hope that they find a way to improve communication and save the hotel together. The lessons for hoteliers are that open communication and basic industry knowledge go a long way toward determining success.
Other Fixes for the Beachfront Inn
- New reservations system
- New linens. (what a surprise! – lol). Have to get those corporate sponsors in.
- New back deck.
- Relocated pet litter area.
- Renovated lobby.
- New flat screen TV’s in every room with Direct TV service. TV’s and service donated by Direct TV, a good PR catch for them because the non-working TV’s were causing considerable guest frustration.
Of all the shows I have seen so far, I think that the Beachfront Inn has the most difficult obstacles to overcome. This will be an interesting hotel to revisit next season.
Tell us about the hotels you have stayed at. What were their opportunities to improve? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.