If any hoteliers are reading this, listen up because this one’s for you. We all know that turnover is a huge problem for the hospitality industry. And it becomes a huge problem for meeting planners when their CSM leaves just before their event, or the sales person disappears and no one seems to be able to remember just what was promised (I know, get it in the contract, but things happen sometimes). From talking with hoteliers, it seems like people just sort of accept that high turnover is the cost of doing business. But do we really know just how high a cost it can be?

I just ran across this report (pdf) from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research professors Timothy Hinkin and Bruce Tracey, and it’s an eye-opener. They developed a Web-based tool to measure the actual costs of front desk personnel turnover, and found that it comes to a whopping 30 percent of salary, which averages close to $5,900. In addition, said Hinkin, “Our participants said that co-workers lost 20 percent of their productivity for up to 16 days when a colleague left the front desk.” And it gets more costly as you move up the hotel food chain.

The researchers are looking to add more numbers to their database, and so have made their turnover cost calculator available for any hotelier to use for free. I’d urge you to participate, both to learn just how much turnover is draining from your budget for various positions, and to help build a knowledge base for the industry. You can access the tool here.

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I get tons of hotels promising me everything from an iPod to their first-born child if only I’d bring a meeting to their property, but this one really stands out from the crowd: Skamania Lodge in Oregon is sending live ponderosa pine trees to planners as part of its “Book a Meeting, Plant a Forest” campaign (good for meetings booked this summer). You not only get extras and good rates, they say; “100 trees will be planted in the company’s name to reforest areas in the West…It just started last month, but the campaign already has attracted two dozen meeting events,” according to this story in the Oregonian. I don’t have any business for them, but I do like the idea. I wish we saw more of the public-minded incentives, rather than those icky offers of personal points, vacations, and other things that smell more like bribery than incentives.

No, I’m not talking about Homeland Security and spying—we frequent hotel guests are a pretty demanding bunch when it comes to being free from unwanted visitors to our rooms, noise from the ice machine next door, and all that. Larry Mundy is always funny, but he outdoes himself in this editorial on the very topic of guest privacy in hotels. This is an especially hot button for me right now, seeing as I just got back from staying at an otherwise fabulous hotel whose housekeeping staff kept bursting in on me (or trying to—I learned pretty quick to throw the deadbolt even if I was just in the room for a few minutes). I especially liked this bit:

    And hanging inside the lock is the Ultimate Weapon: the little plastic hang-tag that on one side says “Privacy, Please, We Are Newlyweds” and on the other side says “Please Make Up This Room, We Had Our First Fight And Threw Things.” The “Privacy, Please” tag will repel even the most determined housekeeper for days, until the adjoining guest who swears she heard gunshots begins to complain about odd smells. Newlyweds can be so volatile.

We all have refund policies for our meetings. We all like to stick by them, for obvious reasons. But after reading this post on Jupiter Research, where Diane Clarkson talks about how a rigid airline rebooking policy caused her to take her business elsewhere, and compares it with an experience with Expedia working with a hotel to get her get a cancellation fee waived, I have to admit that sometimes it makes more sense (and cents!) to bend the rules every now and then.