Innkeepers Newsletter - Volume 2 Number 3 - March/April 2006

From The President

Spring has arrived and with it the promise of summer. This usually translates into higher occupancy and higher ADR. Will this year be the same as, better than or worse than last year.  Will our businesses prosper and yield the return on time and capital invested that we anticipate ?

Last spring, we were quietly going about our businesses thinking everything was right with the world . Then we began to hear rumblings about Canada Select and proposed changes. This caught the attention of operators. Then we learned that TIANS no longer recognized IGNS because it had lasped into inactivity and purportedly was of little or no relevance. Then we were treated to the province telling us that tourism numbers were down marginally from the previous year. This didn't jibe well with many operators who were experiencing their worstseason on record. What was wrong with this picture?

A few operators began to talk  about their concerns. There was a lot of common ground. The biggest issue was a feeling that the independent Fixed Roof Accomodation  Operator , especially those who were not part of some other organization such as the Hotel Assoc of  N S or the B&B Assoc were being ignored and had no forum to present their position. This led to a meeting last October in Truro and a decision to re-activate IGNS with a view to it being the body to represent the interests of independent operators.

The Innkeepers Guild of Nova Scotia ,your trade association, is discussing  important issues that affect our industry and we would like to know your feelings. To that end we are developing a survey for distribution to all members. Topics of interest include the following;

How do you feel about the way that our Provincial Government markets Nova Scotia to the World ? Does it work for you?

How do you feel about the licensing, inspection, and rating systems as they relate to our industry?

How do you feel about the licensing, inspection, and rating systems as they relate to our industry?

How are the unlicensed accommodations affecting your bottom line? Please provide us with the names and contact information of illegal properties so that we can pass them along to our Government officials. To send a confidential TIPS (Tourism Illegal Property Snitch)

How are the transportation issues hurting and/or helping you? This includes highway conditions, signage, ferry links, services, etc.

Are the VICs working for you? How about the Checkin program?

Are there any hinderances in your local enviroment that are making it difficult for you to run your business?

Your position on marketing levies and DMO's

These are some of the issues that that we are developing action plans on. We would appreciate your input on these and othe important issues that our industry is facing

It is only through regular communication with and the support of its members that IGNS can be an effective voice.

Our Managing Director, David MacDonald, has been arranging preferential deals with many suppliers for the benefit of IGNS members. Support of these programs will undoubtedly lead to many more beneficial offers.

We have also been discussing ways to increase and grow our businesses. These include discounts and loyalty programs.

We think we are going in the right direction. We hope you agree.

Regards,

Terry Grandy

Managing Director's Report

Dear all,

We have had tremendous response to our many initiatives and it looks as though we are well on our way to meeting our membership goals for 2006. If you have not yet renewed or joined IGNS, please or send your renewal documents (and payment) back to us.

If you have any issues that you would like to discuss or need advice or help with any aspect of your operation that you believe that your trade association should be aware of or participate in, please do not hesitate to at your earliest convenience.

We are here to help support your ability to make a profitt. Afterall, that's what being in business is all about. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,

David MacDonald

The 2006-2007 IGNS Member Registry and Travel Guide

For the 2006 Summer Season, the Innkeepers Guild will be producing a spectacular electronic database, listing all of it's members, by accommodation type and location. Prominent display advertising is available starting at $80 per.

This will be regarded as an internet based registry and travel guide, with the ability to link to member sites and other sites of interest in the region, including our out of province referral partners.

Kudos To You

Shediac Tourism Info Centre

Our Compliments To The Shediac Tourism Information Center For A Job Well Done. Their Management and Reception Staff have shown real commitment in hospitality and warmth . Last season, they not only referred many guests to local accommodation properties, but they took the extra time to follow up with most reservations to make sure that both the guests and the innkeepers were happy with each referral.

Remember

Under Provincial Legislation, it is an offence to display the Emblem of the Innkeepers Guild of Nova Scotia, unless you are a member in good standing. The fine is substantial, at $500.

Laugh INN The Phone... By Mike, The Churchtown Inn Being relatively new to the innkeeping trade, it surprised me that I was able to find not one, but many, secrets to making our phone ring off the hook within my first few months of owning a bed and breakfast. These secrets are surprisingly simple, cost nothing, and have about a 90% success rate. Ready?

Go to the bathroom. Or, if you don't feel the pressing need, consider sitting down to a meal. Not hungry? How about making a few romantic advances toward your spouse? Not in the mood, maybe feeling a little tired? Then a nap will work just as well.

Any one of these first four methods -- visiting the powder room, sitting down to a meal, smootching in the kitchen between guest requests, or grabbing a few minutes of sleep before the next round of check-ins &endash; seems to be a guaranteed ticket to a ringing phone.

Then of course there is the powerful innkeeper phone-ringing incantation. To invoke this charm, simply say, at a moment when you are completely relaxed and forgetting all about that toilet seat that needs tightening &endash; "I bet you the phone's gonna ring." And, bam, it works like the powerful magic it is.

Another way to boost phone traffic is to employ the First Bed and Breakfast Law of Physics: absent-mindedly leave your cordless in its base and walk to the furthest possible location in your Inn away from the phone. "Riiiiinnng" Of course, this method also has the added benefits of a light aerobic workout, as you sprint from third floor to first, dodging valuable antiques and the even more valuable vacuum cleaner to reach the phone in time … to hear it stop ringing.

There does also seem to be an uncanny relationship between the VCR and the telephone. Something must be encoded on VCR tapes, right around the end of the previews, which triggers the phone to ring. The oven timer, of course, also has a similar effect. As does the doorbell. As soon as that familiar "ding-dong" sounds, the phone is bound to join in, like an unloved child clamoring for its parent's affection.

And speaking of childlike behavior, the phone is perhaps at its most bratty when guests are around. Turn your back on it for a minute to show a guest to a room? No way. "Riiinnnng," it sounds out, "come play with me!" Pick up a tray of refreshments to bring out to the den? "Helloooo, I'm ringing here!" Try to answer a guest's question about tourist attractions? "I'm your Phone and you WILL pay attention to me!"

Now, you'd think with all of these phone-ringing methods at our disposal, our inns would be full every night, welcoming guests that had called the previous week or month making reservations, and handing us their credit cards, checks and cash in plentiful abundance. But why is it that every time you give that phone the attention it so desperately craves, all you get is 20 minutes of questions from a very "potential" guest, a telemarketer mispronouncing your name, or someone who got you confused with the Inn down the road? Just more childish behavior I suppose.

Of course, I'll take a misbehaving phone over a silent one any day!

They combined their design and graphics skills to complement their hands-on fabrication capabilities. In those early days, the company focused on the design and production of custom sandblasted, carved and dimensional signage.

Eyecandy now offers digital and screen-printed graphics, and they have greatly expanded their range of fabrication methods and materials in order to meet their clients needs.

Eye Candy Signs offers special rates for it's various sign products to members of the Innkeepers Guild of Nova Scotia, imcluding the very popular reflective sign (see below) that you see displayed outside many mmbers' properties, which visitors rely on to ensure themselves of a great overnight experience.

We have also made a special arrangement for a single-sided 2" cedar sandblasted sign of the IGNS Logo (24"x30" regularily $500) for $400.

Do What It Takes To WOW:

Orchestrating 'Branded Moments of Truth'

By Rick Hendrie, President, Remarkable Branding

"People are aspirational. Living well is everybody's goal at the moment." Malcolm Knapp, restaurant industry trend tracker as quoted in the Wall Street Journal article 'Investors Crave Upscale Steak Chains', by Richard Gibson - 3/6/06

In recent articles, I've considered the prime importance of 'Branded Moments of Truth'. These points of interaction between your guest and your experience are the essential determiners of success, more so than price or physical appearances. If, as Malcolm Knapp suggests, 'living well' is everyone's goal, then creation of that feeling and achievement of that 'aspiration' happens only through successful & powerful management of your 'Branded Moments of Truth'.

When I ask audiences to define moments of truth in their industries, most often, they suggest various points of human to human contact that makes up whatever they define as 'service' in their business. In fact, service is a misnomer for a far more complex exchange. The crux of being a successful brand in the Experience Economy revolves around orchestrating 'Branded Moments of Truth'. Not only into an exceptional exercise in service, but also a seamless brand story built by the geometric progression of staged, authentic moments. It is here, through this ever deepening, ideal relationship, that brand loyalty is forged. As neuro science has proved, a brand's power is embedded in the amygdala and other primitive, feelings driven and desire powered parts of the brain. Our feelings determine buying behavior and they are best stimulated by human to human interaction, hence the basis for theatrical metaphor. The counterintuitive truth is that great brand theater may be contrived, but it is always genuine.

To 'put across' extraordinary kinds of truthful, branded theatrics, we depend on our hourly associates and least experienced managers to handle most of the 'ShowTime'. In the words of New York Times reporter, Sandra Blakeslee, brand loyalty is created by "strong bonds with the guest…built one transaction at a time, involving face-to-face contacts"

In a not so surprising coincidence, we see the preponderance of turnover in both those ranks. Blakeslee continues, "We rely on the lowest paid, least acknowledged, most vulnerable and most often abused associates…to create, or fail to create, the emotional connections that lead to Brand Loyalty" NY Times 12/7/204, Say the Right Name and They Light Up

If we must count on these front line actors, who are most likely to leave or, at the very least, not give a hoot about you and your brand, then strategy must be focused on the select few moments that are most crucial to the brand. Pick your spots and make them count.

As a differentiating tactic, I've talked about the value of an experience that is book ended by: "Hello." "Welcome." "Thank You." and, "Goodbye.". I can think of no buying experience I've ever had that included all four, let alone acted with appropriate 'brand flavor'. Concentrate your actors on offering Four Brand Moments of Truth (as in hello, welcome, thank you and goodbye). Make it their daily mantra with every guest, then measure, reward and reiterate that behavior at every chance. You do this and you will be amongst the elite.

The fifth Branded Moment of Truth, defined as 'Doing What It Takes To WOW' offers Olympian riches to those strong enough to risk the climb . This 'moment' incorporates every other moment of import between actor and guest, where you can move from merely pure bred to greatness.

I am reminded of shopping at Whole Foods, the supermarket chain which has seen the greatest sales growth in the category. An article in USA Today* stated, "…Call it a better for you food bazaar on organic steroids, Or the grocery equivalent of Disney World for food Junkies…could help to transform grocery shopping into interactive theater… For Whole Foods, WOW is " shopping as Showtime…"

While Whole Foods is hit and miss with my first Four Brand Moments of Truth, their associates have never failed to give me the sense that they will do whatever it takes to take care of me, to allow me to "Live well".

I know some people who are line employees and have been told of the extent to which Whole Foods indoctrinates its associates to have such passion. The spirit goes way beyond service to a kind of mountain top level commitment to me and my well being, whether to lead me to the product I seek, offer learned discourse about their section or beam a smile. These extensions of basic human generosity are performed within a highly theatrical environment, replete with elements to "make shopping fun, with pleasure woven into every crevice:

The Guy who hawks fresh hot doughnuts

A walk in beer cooler with 800 beers

Lighting for produce used in art galleries

Music is classical

Hot nuts aroma fanned from the roaster"*

Where are your moments encapsulated within this Fifth Brand Moment? Is it at the front desk after the guest has checked in? What if you actually had a senior manager take the guest to the room? What if your server actually knew something about both the menu and your best brand attributes and shared it spontaneously with the guest? What about morning wake up calls? Are you offering a pre-recorded buzz on the phone or does a friendly human being do the work? How about the valet or concierge? I often talk about a Ritz Carlton in the Caribbean that not only went out to get a guest cold Guinness he craved during his stay, but ensured that his mini-bar was stocked with it upon his return the next month. WOW.

Doing what it takes to WOW is more than just dancing the steps in a time honored routine, it's envisioning what it would take to make your guest "Live well." The most inexperienced actor, when operating with the spirit of 'Doing What It Takes to WOW', has the ability to create wonderful, memorable guest experiences, regardless the mistakes. We forgive the sins of those whose attitude is squared away. Where to begin? Start with , "Hello." and build your show to WOW.

* Money Section of USA Today March 9th, 2005, by Bruce Horowitz

Rick Hendrie is President & Chief Experience Officer of Remarkable Branding, Inc. a Cambridge MA based consultancy which helps clients create and market memorable brand experiences. To sign up for his complimentary newsletter go to www.remarkablebranding.com

We have some very exciting committees that are looking for volunteers. If you are interested in participating in the committees of IGNS, we'd love to hear from you. Examples of our present ad-hoc committees are; Constitutional, Government Affairs, Canada Select, Tourism Marketing Committee, and Membership (others are also being developed). Please contact us, if you are interested in being involved in any committee work

The INNLaw Suite

This has a very interesting twist at the end....

What should you know about this stuff....?

COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH OF MANITOBA

 

B E T W E E N: 

COLLEEN FRANCES FRAME, plaintiff 

- and - 

THE FORT GARRY HOTEL and 3031632 MANITOBA INC., defendants

 

JUDGMENT DELIVERED: MARCH 7, 2002

HAMILTON, J.

 

[1] On August 26, 1998 the plaintiff checked into the Hotel Fort Garry. She was in Winnipeg on business. When getting ready for work the next morning, the plaintiff fell in the bathroom of her hotel room. This is an occupier's liability case. There is no issue that the defendant 3031632 Manitoba Inc., the owner of the hotel, is an occupier under The Occupiers' Liability Act, R.S.M. 1987, c. O8. There is no issue that the plaintiff's fall caused her injuries (a fractured wrist being the most serious) and that she suffered damage as a result. The only issue before me is whether the defendant breached the duty of care it owed to the plaintiff.

[2] Tronrud v. French, [1989] M.J. No. 639, a decision of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, explains the duty of an occupier: it is not a duty to ensure the safety of persons, but rather it is a duty to exercise reasonable care to see that persons entering on the premises are reasonably safe. The Court of Appeal noted an exception to this duty: "… if the steps required to be taken to avoid any possibility of accident are so disproportionate to the degree of danger that it would not be reasonable to take those steps, then failure to do so would not result in a breach of the duty owed". In the 1990 decision, Hoeberg v. Memrad Holdings Ltd., [1990] M.J. No. 578, Morse J. defined the duty of an occupier as one of "reasonable, not extraordinary care"; he noted "the occupier is not an insurer".

[3] The plaintiff argues that she fell because the ceramic tile floor in the bathroom was slippery from one or all of the following causes:

the ventilation in the bathroom was inadequate causing moisture to condense on the tile floor;

the ceramic tiles are not slip-resistant and, therefore, are not appropriate for use on hotel bathroom floors;

the defendant used a cleaner on the tile floor that left a slippery residue when mixed with water.

[4] The plaintiff called two expert witnesses to give evidence on these points: Mr. John Brighty and Mr. John Burgoyne. Their expertise was acknowledged by the defendant. Mr. Brighty is a senior mechanical engineer with Wardrop Engineering Ltd. He was qualified as an expert in the area of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and was called to give evidence about the ventilation system in the bathroom in which the plaintiff fell. Mr. Burgoyne has worked in the ceramic tile industry since 1969 and currently is the Winnipeg branch manager for Olympia Tile International Inc. Over the years, he has made recommendations to architects who were preparing specifications for construction projects about what product to use to address safety issues. For example, he would consider what ceramic tiles are non-slip in nature and match the product to the intended use.

[5] Before I comment further on this expert evidence, I will now describe the hotel ventilation system, the bathroom in question, and the plaintiff's activities that morning. The hotel ventilation system and the bathroom are the same today as on August 27, 1998.

[6] The ventilation system in the hotel is a 24 hour continuous system, whereby the air in the hallways flow into the hotel rooms under the room doors, through bathroom door ventilation grills into the bathroom, and then to the ceiling grill in the bathroom.

[7] The bathroom walls and floor are white ceramic tile. In 1988, a previous owner installed the tiles. This is the case for 242 other bathrooms in the hotel as well. The shower is located in the bathtub. A mirror is over the sink and vanity. There is a shower curtain and two bathmats in the bathroom; one mat by the bathtub and one placed at the sink and vanity. On the windowsill of the small bathroom window is a typed notice that asks guests not to leave the window open to prevent unwanted insects. There is a wall heater but no bathroom ventilation fan. The bathroom door has a wood louvered ventilation grill and the bathroom ceiling has a ventilation grill.

[8] On the morning of August 27, 1998, the plaintiff arose at about 6:00 a.m. and followed her usual morning routine. She showered, stepped out of the tub onto the bathmat and dried herself, stepped onto the mat at the sink and vanity, and then washed her face, dried her hair, brushed her teeth and did her makeup. When she turned to leave the bathroom and stepped from the mat onto the ceramic tile she fell on what the plaintiff described as a damp and slippery floor. She was barefoot.

[9] In her evidence the plaintiff provided this further detail:

- the bathroom door was never closed when she was showering. She guessed it was open 11/2 to 2 feet; at her examination for discovery she described the door as half-open;
- the bathroom was a cool temperature and she did not turn on the heater;
- before she showered, she placed the shower curtain inside the bathtub and placed the bathmat on the floor by the tub;
- she let the water run just to get to a warm temperature and then showered for three to five minutes;
- she did not open the window because of the written notice on the windowsill;
- she did not notice if the mirror had fogged while she was at the bathroom sink.
- The plaintiff guessed that she was in the bathroom about 10-15 minutes based on her usual routine. She denied that she spilled any water on the floor or that there could have been a spray from the shower because she had placed the shower curtain inside the tub.
- Mr. Brighty visited the hotel room on August 17, 2001 at approximately 8:00 a.m. While there he observed the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in the room and performed a simple test to observe how effective the airflow through the ventilation grills was at keeping the water vapour from the shower from condensing on the floor. I quote from his three page report dated August 24, 2001:
- The shower was turned on for ten minutes. The shower water temperature was adjusted to warm to the touch.
- The bathroom window was closed.
- The bathroom door was closed.
- The guest room window was closed.
- The bedroom heating and air conditioning unit was left operating as it was when the guest room was entered
- She did not notice if the mirror had fogged while she was at the bathroom sink.After the 10 minute duration, the bathroom door was

opened and the bathroom was entered. The bathroom was found to be very foggy, ... Water vapour was observed from the ceiling to the floor. The floor felt damp to the touch. The bathroom door was left open and the water vapour dissipated into the bedroom in about two to three minutes. The mirror was still fogged up ten minutes after the shower was turned off.

[12] In his explanation about how and why water vapour condenses, Mr. Brighty noted that water vapour typically accumulates at the ceiling first "… and works it way down to the floor". He also noted that condensation depends on many uncontrollable variables, including the room temperature and relative humidity. In cross-examination he agreed that a shorter shower (5 minutes instead of 10 minutes) and greater airflow would result in less condensation. He concluded in his report by stating that "… water vapour could have condensed on the bathroom floor". Although he did not relate a specific date to this concluding opinion in the report or in his evidence, I have assumed the opinion relates to the date of the plaintiff's fall, August 27, 1998.

[13] Mr. Burgoyne also visited the hotel room on August 17, 2001 and prepared his one page report the same day. He reported that the ceramic tile in the bathroom is "White 200 x 200 mm Glazed Monocottura tile, having a slight matte finish face". By "slight matte finish" he meant "not glass-like". He noted that "this product was more predominant in the 80's and was considered more suitable for residential installation" and that "there is very little of this size and type in the market today". With respect to the slip-resistant factor I quote his conclusions:

... This tile is not considered slip-resistant and is not a recommended product for wet areas.

... A more suitable product for wet or potentially wet areas would be one with a slip-resistant Finish or one with a textured face, and preferably unglazed.

Mr. Burgoyne equated a wet area to be anywhere water is expected, such as a pool area, a landing from outside, and a bathroom. To be slip-resistant, a finish is unglazed or, if glazed, processed through a silicone sanding process. Mr. Burgoyne testified that he would not put this type of ceramic tile in a hotel washroom because it is not an anti-slip product.

[14] Mr. Burgoyne also conducted a test. He applied water to the floor and wiped it across the face of the tile. He wrote in his report:

... The tile definitely had slippery feel to the touch. Also noticeable was the beading of water on the surface, as water would bead on a freshly waxed vehicle. This would indicate that a solution of some sort had dried on the surface and once emulsified, became slippery. One might surmise that the solution could be a floor finish, sealer, or cleaning solution, used in the daily maintenance of the floor.

Non-absorbent tiles such as this, require only warm to hot water for cleaning, and if heavy grime exists a neutral or non-alkaline detergent may be used. A soap type detergent is not recommended as this type becomes extremely slippery once emulsified.

Mr. Burgoyne explained in his evidence that a neutral or non-alkaline solution would have a pH level of 71/2. The greater the pH level the more alkaline the solution and the more slippery. In his opinion, a solution with a pH greater than 11 is quite likely the incorrect solution. In cross-examination Mr. Burgoyne acknowledged that his expertise did not include sanitation issues but he was aware that cleaning with water alone would not kill bacteria.

[15] James Watson has been the controller for the hotel since February 1995. In addition to being responsible for the accounting office, he is the Director of Human Resources. From his evidence we know that the bathrooms in occupied hotel rooms were cleaned daily in August 1998 (as they are now) with a disinfectant/detergent solution with the trade name "Omega". This solution is mixed from a concentrate and as noted on the label, it is intended for institutional use such as in hospitals, nursing homes, and educational and recreational facilities. Mr. Watson described that the first goal when cleaning the hotel room bathrooms is to disinfect them, and the second goal is to clean them. He explained the cleaning policy as follows: if a guestroom is occupied the bathroom is cleaned daily with the Omega solution. It is applied with a bristled sponge to clean the grout and a larger brush is used to scrub the floor. Towels are used to dry the floor. Mr. Watson did not have personal knowledge about the properties of the Omega solution. He was not aware that it has a pH of 11.2 nor was he aware of any recommended cleaning procedure for ceramic tiles.

[16] On August 27, 1998 he met with the plaintiff in her hotel room after she returned from the hospital. At that time, he inspected the bathroom and completed a "Hotel Incident Report". I accept Mr. Watson's evidence that there had been no complaints from other guests about leaks or guests slipping in that bathroom. A month or so after the plaintiff's fall, Mr. Watson and the chief engineer inspected the bathroom and did not find any plumbing problems. And Mr. Watson is not aware of any other slip and falls or complaints concerning any other bathrooms in the hotel.

[17] Just before the trial, Mr. Watson did his own test in the bathroom. He closed the shower curtain, left the bathroom door half open, and let the shower run for five minutes. When the shower was turned off he observed condensation only around the bathtub.

[18] I do accept the plaintiff's evidence that when she touched the floor after her fall, the floor felt damp to her touch. From that I conclude there was moisture or water on the floor. The plaintiff was a credible witness who gave her evidence in a straightforward manner, without exaggeration. She was not challenged in any meaningful way on cross-examination. She did deny that she spilled any water on the floor and that there could have been some spray from the shower because she placed the shower curtain inside the tub. But common sense tells me there could still be spray from the shower depending on the placement of the shower curtain. And common sense tells me that water can spill or be splashed onto a bathroom floor from any number of bathroom activities. Water or moisture on the floor in a bathroom is foreseeable.

[19] I agree with the plaintiff that her bathroom activities that morning were not unusual or out of the ordinary for a hotel guest. However, I disagree with the plaintiff that the fact that the floor felt damp, coupled with the results of Mr. Brighty's test, is evidence that condensation from her shower reached the tile floor and caused it to be moist to the touch. It is common knowledge that condensation can occur in bathrooms during showers and that many factors contribute to this. Mr. Brighty's evidence confirms this. And both his test and Mr. Burgoyne's test show this. But neither of these tests replicates what the plaintiff did that morning: a shower of some 3-5 minutes with the bathroom door half-open. The closest test to this scenario is Mr. Watson's test in which he observed condensation only around the bathtub after the shower was turned off. In addition, I have concluded that the mirror in the bathroom was not fogged because the plaintiff was able to do her hair and makeup. Relying on Mr. Watson's evidence that condensation starts at the ceiling, and because of my finding that the mirror was not fogged, I conclude the condensation had not reached the mirror and, therefore, it had not reached the floor. There is no evidence that the ventilation in the bathroom was inadequate nor is there any evidence that condensation occurred in the bathroom to the extent that the floor was moist from condensation.

[20] The focus of the analysis is now on the ceramic tiles and the Omega solution. The evidence of Mr. Burgoyne is critical to this. Mr. Burgoyne was a knowledgeable and credible witness. I accept his evidence that he would not recommend the ceramic tiles in question for hotel bathroom installations because they are not slip-resistant. And I accept his opinion that the Omega solution is likely an incorrect solution to use with these ceramic tiles because its alkaline level can result in a slippery surface when mixed with water.

[21] Did the defendant breach its duty to take such care, as in all circumstances of the case, was reasonable to see that the plaintiff was reasonably safe while in the bathroom [see s. 3(1) of The Occupiers' Liability Act]? Certainly the risk of injury from a fall is reasonably foreseeable. Is the risk of a hotel guest falling in the hotel bathroom reasonably foreseeable in these circumstances? In other words, am I satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the plaintiff fell because the ceramic tile was slippery as a result of the defendant's breach of its duty to the plaintiff?

[22] To assist me in answering these questions, counsel referred me to numerous slip and fall cases. I will not comment on them individually. My review of them confirmed that each case, while helpful in illustrating how the principles concerning occupier's liability have been applied, are of minimal value because each case turns on its unique factual circumstances. Having said that, I will comment briefly on one of the cases.

[23] In Nikkel v. Westfair Foods Ltd. (c.o.b. Extra Foods), [2001] M.J. No. 30, a case involving a slip and fall on a tile floor in a store, Schulman J. commented that "... there is no evidence that the tile fell below building standards or regarding the tile in use at the time in other stores". This absence of evidence did not appear to be an important factor for him in concluding that the defendant had not breached its duty. I, too, have no evidence that the ceramic tiles did not comply with building codes nor do I have any evidence as to the use of this tile in other hotel bathrooms. And for me, as well, this absence of evidence was not determinative. Even though I respect Mr. Burgoyne's statement that he would not recommend this tile for use in a hotel bathroom, I also have his evidence that the use of this tile was more predominant in the 1980's (these tiles were installed in 1988) and more suitable for residential installation. On this latter point, it seems to me that a bathroom in a hotel guestroom is very much like a residential bathroom in its intended use. The defendant's placement of two bathmats in the bathroom is a reasonable safety precaution to address the risk of harm of slipping on these ceramic tile. The plaintiff has not satisfied me on the required balance of probabilities that such risk was reasonably foreseeable and, therefore, the use of these ceramic tiles is not a breach of the defendant's duty of care to the plaintiff.

[24] The use of the Omega solution is more problematic. The defendant argued that the health risk issues addressed by the use of the Omega solution outweighs any risk the use of the Omega solution may result in slippery tiles. That may be so, but I have no evidence that the defendant had considered, let alone was aware of, the risk of leaving a slippery residue by using the Omega solution on ceramic tiles. It was reasonable for the defendant to have known of this risk. If the defendant had directed its mind to this it could have easily foreseen the risk of slippery tiles. And if the defendant had directed its mind to this risk it could have determined if there was an alternate cleaning and disinfecting method that avoids, or at least reduces, this risk. This is not a case where I have evidence that the steps to be taken to avoid any possibility of accident are so "disproportionate to the degree of danger that it would not be reasonable to take those steps" (Tronrud v. French, supra).

[25] The plaintiff has satisfied me on the required balance of probabilities:

- that it was reasonably foreseeable that the use of the Omega solution to clean the ceramic tiles would leave a residue that, when combined with water or moisture, would cause the ceramic tiles to be slippery;
- that it was reasonably foreseeable that as a result of such a slippery floor, a person could slip and fall and be injured.

And I am satisfied that, on a balance of probabilities, the plaintiff slipped and fell because the tiles were slippery as a result of the combination of the residue of the Omega solution and water or moisture on the bathroom floor. There is no evidence that the plaintiff contributed in any way to the fall. I find the defendant liable for the plaintiff's injuries.

[26] As noted previously, liability was the only issue before me. Unfortunately, it is not clear from the record or from counsel whether the quantum of damages is an issue. I assume the parties have agreed on damages or will be able to agree on damages in the near future. If I am wrong about that, I would ask that counsel please advise me, so that dates can be arranged for damages to be determined. Judgment cannot be entered unless damages are agreed or determined by me. Costs may be spoken to.

J.

Retailing for Fun and Profit By Pamela Lanier

Published by Arrington's Bed and Breakfast Journal on November 15, 2005

Introduction

When you own an inn or bed and breakfast, you are already paying for floor space, so what can you do to utilize this existing asset to enhance your bottom line? Let's take an in-depth look at retailing for fun and profit.

 

Gift Shops

Consider starting small with a gift shop or gift nook. What are the top sellers in inn shops? According to our research, they are T-shirts, sweat shirts, books including guides and novels about your destination area, your inn's cookbook or recipe cards, cups with your logo, note cards, toiletries and soaps, decorative pillows and throws, robes with your logo, saying or a local motif, homemade goodies for guests to take home, i.e. jams and jellies, cookies, coffee cakes, coffee and tea blends, BBQ and other sauces, etc.*

For many inns, this small selection may be quite enough and fairly easy to maintain. In a profit context, if each guest buys a few small items for themselves or as gifts, for lets say a total of $30, this could add a nifty profit to your bottom line, while further promoting your inn's brand with your logo on everything.

 

Antiques & Decorative Goods

Going a little further, selling antiques and/or decorative goods can really add up. Are you an antique hunter? Then, nothing is more fulfilling than tracking down something illusive from the past and making it your own for a while. There is a growing trend among innkeepers to acquire antiques or other collectibles they like at good prices and resell them right from their inn. There are several benefits:

1. Enjoy your hobby beyond what you could utilize yourself.

2. Enjoy making a find, cleaning it up some, or restoring it if that's your fancy.

3. Make a guest happy, while you make a profit on the treasure. Everyone wins!

 

Helpful Tips:

In order to incorporate temporary treasures for re-sale within your inn:

1. Stay with your décor theme in some way.

2. Purchase smaller items. They need to fit in your guest's car.

3. Think refurbished or enhanced to add more value.

4. Always follow your passion. If you love teacups, go for them. Ditto for teapots, old baking tins, clocks, prints and wall art, thimbles, the list goes on and on. If you love it, it is a good bet that some of your guests will too.

Display these items in the public rooms or hallways of your inn. Make sure they are well lit with a discrete price tag attached, perhaps by ribbon in your inn's logo colors. Then watch them fly off the shelves and out the door. Result: a very satisfying, new profit center based on your favorite hobbies!

Three Basics of Hospitality

What to do? This is not a "keep up with the Joneses" solution. Rather, this is a time to be absolutely sure you and yours focus on the basics of genuine hospitality in the following areas:

Answering the phone and replying to email:

You've allocated lots of money to get the phone to ring…and then what? Is your staff well versed in good clear communication while handling telephone inquiries? Are they good listeners, looking for clues on what the prospective guest is really looking for, or are they treating the call as if it is just one of the hundreds that come in every day. And let's remember, when people call or send an e-mail message, they are fully aware that your inn is not one of 1,000 rooms and so their expectation &endash; for the phone and the e-mail reply &endash; is certainly within 24 hours, preferably the same business day. This first impression sets the stage for persuading the guest to actually make the reservation, and also sets up expectations for the actual visit.

 

In-house contact:

If your guest wanted six swimming lagoons and a 50-yard-long breakfast buffet, there are plenty of alternatives for them to consider &endash; yet they choose your inn. Why? Part of the reason and rationale is to enjoy the comfort that comes from staying in a friendly, homey atmosphere of a genuine B&B or inn.

* How is your staff 'extending' themselves during the visit?

* What sort of priority do you set and establish for guest name retention and utilization?

* What sort of standards have you set for on-going contact, checking and interaction with your guests?

* Don't presume that everyone on your staff sees the practice of service exactly as you do.

* Don't presume that everyone on your staff delivers their version of hospitality as you would.

* Inspect what you expect and see what sort of rating you would assign to your staff in this important area of In-house contact.

 

Follow-up:

Everyone agrees that the cost of attracting new customers is much greater than the cost retaining satisfied ones and making them repeat guests, right? So why does the essential task of timely, appropriate and creative follow-up tend to get lost amidst all the other duties that need to be completed? Inconsistent follow-up costs you money by reducing repeat and referral business. Use some of the following to express appreciation for your guests' business:

* Take a guest history, then act on some celebration dates to invite guests back. Offer returning guests free flowers and chocolates if they celebrate their anniversaries or birthdays at your inn.

* Use thank-you notes to convey the personality of your inn and remind guests to return.

* Create a regularly scheduled calendar of communication and send it to targeted parts of your past guest list at appropriate times of the year.

Will these suggestions &endash; offering to help make arrangements for activities outside of the inn, responding to the phone and e-mail promptly, interacting more with guests while they're at your inn, and doing some creatively consistent follow up &endash; help increase your occupancy? Yes, they will. In general, innkeepers agree that 60% of their guests are prospective buyers when they call. Just emphasizing the importance of working the phone and e-mail more effectively and initiating conversation about potential experiential options &endash; these two steps alone could increase your conversion tracking by about 10%....(Oh, you don't track conversions? We will need to save that topic for another edition of this newsletter!)

 

Remember:

No one really needs to stay with you; experiential tourism in all of its various shapes and sounds and sizes is going to provide plenty of tempting options for prospective guests to consider as they plan their next trip or getaway. Nevertheless, if you actively employ the "Three Basics of Hospitality," you will most likely do much better than experience stagnation and hopefully capture more, much more than your 14% of tourism spending.

Introduction

As savvy entrepreneurs, innkeepers have quickly realized the need for an online presence, in the form of their own web sites as well as listings with 3rd party online directories. Is the B&B industry ready for online, real-time reservations above and beyond their own web site? It is apparent from the statistics and numerous reports that not only are innkeepers ready, they need real-time bookings from a mainstream channel to help fill their rooms. The key word here is "mainstream." With over $40 billion in travel booked this year online (PhocusWright report 2004), and 65% of innkeepers wanting or needing to increase their occupancy (BBIGI 3-year Occupancy Survey), innkeepers cannot afford to wait, and they don't want to.

Many innkeepers are asking for suggestions on how to increase business, and how to increase their exposure while competing with larger hotels that have sizeable marketing budgets. Innkeepers have a limited marketing budget and serious time constraints due to so many responsibilities. It became increasingly apparent to us that innkeepers needed a mainstream distribution outlet that would do the work for them and cost little to nothing up front, as "up front" is exactly what most innkeepers do not have.

We are looking for a solution, worth millions in advertising, for innkeepers that need or want to have full occupancy. We'll soon be providing some major information regarding various opportunities that we are becoming more aware of.

Required In Yarmouth Area Assistant Innkeeping Couple

Full time positions available for honest and energetic couple with experience in food service and hotel operations.

During the May to October period ,under the direction of our kitchen and dining room managers , this couple will be primarily responsible for preparation and serving of food.

During the Nov to Apr period, this couple will also perform duties related to administration and operation of our Inn including but not limited to checking in of guests, handling telephone inquiries and cashier duties.

Wonder If You Can Help Out...

Just as Innkeepers are the "engine that drives economic activity in many parts of our Province", the volunteers of the St. John Ambulance are always available to serve at community events that help promote our accommodations businesses.

St. John Ambulance provides first aid traning to Boy Scout and Girl Guide participants and to students at school at no charge as part of their community service. Often times, the delivery of this program involves bringing instructors in from other communities and having them stay overnight. During recent discussions, I suggested that it may be possible that some of our friends may be quite willing to provide a few free nights (or reduced rates) to help promote this special training of our young people to ensure a continuous supply of first-aid personnel in our communities to help ensure the long-term viability of our many festivities, exhibitions and sports events that count on the volunteer services of the St. John Ambulance. We are also looking for a prize that they may use for a promotion to their instructors (weekend get-a-way) that will be promoted to over 1,000 people in a contest in Nova Scotia and PEI.

Personally, I believe that this is an excellent opportunity for the Innkeepers Guild to use as a promotion for the independent operators of our region..... Please let me know if you are willing to help - - once I receive a list of those who are interested, we'll go about working out the details....