When the Super Bowl comes to town hotel business booms and it can be difficult for hoteliers to stay on top of the madness. As New Orleans hotels ramp up to handle the crowds, Janis Milham, senior vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott, has some tips for keeping operations running smoothly.
Milham understands the extra stress put on a property and its staff first hand. During the 2008 Super Bowl, when the New York Giants battled the New England Patriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Milham was a general manager at the Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It was probably the hardest I worked in my 15-year career as a general manager,” she says, recalling that Super Bowl weekend. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on my feet for so many hours—from the minute the guests checked in on Thursday to the time they went to the game on Sunday.”
New Orleans hotels, comprising 35,000 rooms, are expected to sell out. According to data from TravelClick, occupancy is up 51 percent and average daily rate (ADR) is up 126.9 percent. And with more guests, comes more responsibility for general managers and staff.
Milham suggests that in order to handle an event of this magnitude, hotels should have an “all hands on deck” mentality. “You really do need all associates and all managers working and having a real presence in the hotel,” she says.
Managers should meet regularly with hotel team members to keep the entire staff up-to-date on events or changes to reservations or programming at the hotel. Milham says she met with her staff as many as three times a day during the Super Bowl weekend in 2008 as a way of keeping everyone informed and on the same page. “Make sure that you over communicate,” Milham says. “Create a lot of touch points with your team.”
If you run a full-service or select-service hotel with a food and beverage component, consider extending or altering your food-service hours to accommodate a wide range of guest schedules. “When you have a Super Bowl in town, some people might be eating breakfast as early as 7 a.m. or as late as 11 a.m.,” Milham says. “The hotel restaurant or bar may also need to be open later at night because you have people coming back from parties who might want to have a nightcap.”
For hotels that are in the center of the action, Milham also recommends beefing up security, especially if the property is hosting one of the football teams or other celebrity guests. At Courtyard by Marriott’s Charles Street location, the general manager will hand out special wristbands to guests to help keep track of those individuals who are staying at the hotel. The property also takes this precaution during Mardi Gras celebrations.
Milham’s last piece of advice for hotel managers preparing for Super Bowl weekend is to maintain a strong visual presence in the hotel during the festivities in order to keep guests satisfied, but also to show solidarity with hotel team members. “As a leader, I think you need to have a lot of visibility,” she says. “Your hotel is really working hard and cranking, and it’s important that staff members see how much you appreciate what they’re doing.”
This year, Milham is looking forward to joining the Courtyard hotels in New Orleans for four days of festivities and events. The brand, which is an official sponsor of the NFL, is planning tailgate parties at the Charles Street and Iberville locations. The events will be open to Courtyard guests and will feature NFL talent, entertainment, and food and beverage offerings.
“It’s a chance to see all kinds of VIPs, stars, and players,” she says. “You just feel like you’re in the center of something really special.”
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 by digital camera guide
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