Let me tell you a few good stories that changed my career and my life ...
Of course, none of this "small successes" would be possible without the support of my colleagues; as we all know, in Hospitality there is NO space for "movie stars" - no "solo" flying through the rainbow here - accomplishments are always the fine tuned result of team effort that requires humble hoteliers willing to Serve and make a Profit out of it!
Maybe my only merit in this stories, was the raw idea or
in some cases, just taking the lead and executing someone else creation!
The Pan American highway and the fog in the desert!
The Hotel de Turistas Chala, in the little fisherman village of Chala, in Peru is located between Nazca lines and Arequipa; every day, around 6 pm, regardless of the season, a dense fog comes down covering both ends - north and south highway accesses to town.
In the north side the Atiquipa hills and in the south the long cliffs, made the travelling very unconfortable at night in either direction!
Situation: Not enough rooms in the hotel; travelers sleeping in their cars; no Food & Beverage facilities after 9pm.
Action: We set up extrabeds in meeting rooms and hotel car garages; changed F&B operation to 24/7; also, trained Front Desk and watchman staff to help in Food prep and service.
Results: In 3 months, Room revenue increased by 40% and F&B by 150%; this idea lead, years later, to build more rooms in the hotel.
Guayaquil flambe parties and Galapagos island tours!
This time, at the elegant Gran Hotel International Atahualpa, in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador - few blocks from Malecon; I was Maitre d' for the Restaurant and Ballroom, at the top of the building - both with a wonderful 360 degrees view of city buildings and magnificent Guayas river. My menthor & friend, exceptional Executive Chef Georg Eisenreich was running all kitchens in the hotel.
1. Situation: Exquisite Continental menu restaurant, the best in town, unfortunately, with a very low Average Check.
2. Action: Actually, we did two actions:
2.a. Dinner Menu - full 4 course “table side cooking” with wines included - available for affluent local clients and for the international tourist groups staying in our hotel; for group members, dinner was served during last night in the city, before next morning departure for their Galapagos island cruise.
2.b. For the local ballroom parties, we created a selection of 8 desserts options - "table side cooking" also - for parties up to 300 guest!
3. Result: in 60 days our F&B Average Check increased by 120% sales. Impact was 27% more to the net profit bottom line!
The Panama Canal and the Jewish community !
The Panama Marriott in Panama, Republic of Panama, was the first Marriott in Central America. A very enthusiastic group of hoteliers were hired for the opening; I was Director of Catering for the property. Our Regional F&B Director Bert Hugel identified the Jewish community as very affluent and visible in the country.
Situation: Market research confirmed no authentic kosher meals, nor facilities, existed in the city;
Action: We decided to reorient our marketing efforts towards the Jewish community; additional investment was decided and kitchen equipment, china, glass, silver was purchased for that purpose. The first hotel kosher kitchen in the country was in our hotel; the local Rabbi approved and managed the equipment storage and facilities!
Result: Catering Sales exceeded budget by 160%; we served the largest bar-mitzvah in the country for 2,000 guests. Also, the largest and most expensive wedding of the community.
Junior Suite ADR in San Pedro Sula, Honduras!
I came to work as GM for the Gran Hotel Sula - the emblematic business hotel in San Pedro Sula - at the time when the Contra era was finishing and the banana war was getting started! As exiting GM and hotel owner, Mark Jacobson, put it ..."with three neighboring countries under turmoil, you have a clear challenge Emilio..."
Situation: The occupancy was difficult and the ADR worst! we needed to create a new "product" that would allow us to increase our room rates.
a. New room type - we took 20% of our room inventory andremodeled this rooms to junior suite Quality level - steam bath showers, deluxe bathroom amenities, orthopedic king size bed, pillow menu, full minibar, air purifiers, new TV sets,
b. Aggresive sales promotions and in-house incentive for our reservation and front desk staff selling the new rooms.
Result: within 60 days of launching the program, the daily occupancy of the new Junior Suites was 90%; the notorious Value added to the rooms, allowed for rate increase of 30% compared to standard rooms. Our accumulated ADR went up 20% throught the first year!
The carp fish were depleted in Cali, Colombia!
In Germany aquaculture, the Trout farming is most popular; Carp fish comes second place; I was F&B Director for Petecuy hotel in Cali and found two interesting components: strong German comunity and a several Carp aquaculture farms in the Cauca valley; took me some time to convince hotel owner Mr. Ovidio Pelaez and GM Mr. Hernando Maya to trust the idea!
1. Situation: Our Restaurant lacked “wow” factor to attract affluent local clientele from Cali; we needed something different, really unique!
2.a. We contracted with all aquaculture farms in the valley full year supply!
2.b. A Marketing and Sales campaign was in place, focused in the German Swiss and Austrian residents "choose your live Carp, we cook it your style!"
2.c. A large fish aquarium was buit at the hotel restaurant "El Quijote";
2.d. Daily transported live Carps from the pond to our aquarium.
3. Result: F&B Lunch turnover went up 1.75 and Dinner 2.25 - Food Average Check grew 80%.All Carps depleted in 5 months!
Fantasy Island Resort, new markets in the Caribbean!
This paradise Resort is built in a natural keys, off the Rotan island in the western caribbean. It has been for many years a famous worldwide destination for divers; mostly from USA!
My GM mission was to improve Resort standards and profitability!
1. Situation: The Resort averaged 65% yearly room occupancy, from USA and Canada divers market, only.
2.a. We decided to expand our suppliers by, aggresively, taping on to new feeders. To accopmlish this, we extensively traveled to South America and the UK. We were compiting against Australia and Red Sea dive houses. We contracted with many Travel Agents, Wholesalers in those countries!
2.b. At same time, and considering the property unique features, beautiful, romantic and secluded little caribbean key, ideal for leisure travelers, we developed a new segment.... Worldwide Couples enjoying their first or second honeymoon!
3. Result: We were able to generate in the first year of my tenure, an additional 22% room occupancy from Divers and a new 9% from honeymooners!