2015 - 10 October


Guest Service Gold

Western Canada Turns GOLD as Canalta Hotels Certifies 38 Properties

Canalta Group The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) presented Certified Guest Service Property plaques to 38 Canalta Hotels ' properties during the company's annual management summit on October 6 in Alberta, Canada. The properties earned the designation after training their front-line staff with AHLEI's Guest Service Gold® program and certifying them as Certified Guest Service Professionals (CGSP®).  

Canalta is the first management company to achieve company-wide Guest Service Gold® certification for all of its properties. Headquartered in Drumheller, Alberta, Canalta Hotels employs more than 750 people at properties across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, Canada. The properties include the company's own Canalta brand, as well as Ramada, Super 8, and Hampton branded operations. With a focus on personal and professional development for all staff members, Canalta properties have repeatedly earned the Employer of Choice designation from the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association.  

"We are definitely committed to developing our people," said Canalta vice president Brooke Christianson. He noted that Tracy Petreman, CHT, and Sophia Frey, CHT, from the company's department of culture and team member development, spearheaded the implementation of Guest Service Gold® throughout the organization.  

"We had been searching for a partner to provide us with guest service training, and AHLEI's training was the best fit," he said. "Guest Service Gold® aligned with our customer service vision to 'serve and impress.' It's our goal to make great guest service a competitive advantage for our properties."  

Christianson noted that Guest Service Gold® will be a training standard for all Canalta properties, including three new hotels scheduled to open by the end of this year. The company has issued a mandate to get all of its hotels certified.  

To keep Guest Service Gold® front and center, the organization has started a monthly contest in which property manager submit "Canalta Goes for the Gold" stories about team members who go above and beyond the call of duty.  The stories are featured in the company newsletter and one is chosen each month as the winner.  Eventually, the winning stories will be compiled into a coffee table book that will be displayed in every Canalta hotel lobby, so guests can see Canalta's commitment to guest service. 

Here are just two examples of Canalta's Gold service: 

Northern Saskatchewan has been dealing with devastating wild fires for the last month. Many of our Northern communities have had to be evacuated for the resident's safety. Canalta Melfort has had the pleasure of having some of the LaRonge evacuees stay with us. Although they are uncertain if their home was affected, very large parts of LaRonge were. One of the areas affected has been the fairgrounds, and what do all kids of all ages enjoy the most in the summer, but the annual fair. Well this year, and maybe more to come, LaRonge will not be having a fair. Ray Mendes , who is our maintenance technician here in Melfort, took it upon himself to suggest that Canalta Melfort team members use some of their bottle fund mone, to buy day passes for a family with four children to our annual fair, as well as admission for the whole family through the gates! But his generosity did not stop there. Ray also talked to one of the food venders that will be there and they have agreed to provide meal vouchers for this family also. Wow. 

When Ray took the bottles in, instead of a cheque, he asked for cash. Our local SARCAN in town asked what he needed the cash for, so Ray told them. They liked the idea so much, that they also donated $50.00 cash towards the tickets and gate admission. I must say, Melfort is a very generous town. Because of Ray, at least one family will be able to have a day of enjoyment at our fair, and maybe, just maybe, be able to forget about what they are going through back in LaRonge.  

On June 3, a guest by the name of Ron Casserly showed up at the hotel for a 10 night stay from Australia. Upon his arrival he suffered a nerve condition as a result of being on the plane for 14 hours. He ended up going to the hospital and with the insurance coverage he received in Australia he still had to pay out of pocket over a $1000.00 in doctors and medical fees, putting a real damper on his spending money on his first trip to Canada. Breakfast attendant John Nikulak upon meeting Mr. Casserly learned of his stay so far and decided to go above and beyond for this guest. John works full-time in Calgary cleaning oil trucks for a company, and part-time for us. John is 66 years old and is a loyal team member of the Ramada High River . He volunteers for a lot of organizations in High River and even though he is part-time always attends team meetings and functions. On June 8, John, of his own accord, called his full-time employer and asked if he could take the day off. He had a plan. He approached Ron Casserly and asked if he would be interested in taking a road trip to Banff and Lake Louise. John took Mr. Casserly to Banff and Lake Louise free of charge and showed him our beautiful country.

Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and Travel Oregon Adopt AHLEI’s Guest Service Gold® to Train Hospitality Employees Statewide

CGSP-ORLAEF-AHLEI-A-sm The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Education Foundation (ORLAEF) has signed an agreement with Travel Oregon to be the customer service training provider for Oregon's travel and tourism industry using the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute'sGuest Service Gold® program and Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) designation. The statewide training initiative was announced Sunday, October 4, at ORLA's annual convention. 

ORLAEF will market Guest Service Gold®, CSGP®, and the TripAdvisor® Reputation Management for Front-Line Staff training program to hospitality employees throughout Oregon, in partnership with Travel Oregon, the state's tourism agency. ORLA staff members have been trained to facilitate in-person Guest Service Gold® sessions and the association has earned the designation of Certified Guest Service Partner. (pictured: AH&LA senior vice president of member relations Matthew MacLaren, right, presents plaque to ORLA CEO and president Jason Brandt; and ORLA Education Foundation executive director  Wendy Popkin). The Travel Oregon staff has also gone through the training and certification process and become a Certified Guest Service Partner-the first state tourism agency to do so.  

"Ensuring Oregon's visitors have the best possible experience is incredibly important," said Todd Davidson, Travel Oregon CEO. "We know customer service can make all the difference in a guest's impression of a destination. So, we will work to create an environment where a traveler's recollections of Oregon's unmatched culinary scene and stunning outdoor vistas are woven together with the memories of how welcome they felt and how well they were treated."  

Guest service training was identified as an important initiative by both organizations, so working together made perfect sense.    

"ORLA and Travel Oregon often heard from our industry partners that they needed a training tool to help them teach and reinforce good guest service principles; an important element many businesses felt they needed to improve upon to help cultivate loyal guests and earn favorable reviews," explained Wendy Popkin, executive director, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Education Foundation. "Travel Oregon's collaboration, and their resource support, extends our reach and capacity to help the foundation meet its mission of providing and supporting high-quality educational opportunities for the travel and tourism industry".  

With the support of Shelly Weir, AHLEI's vice president of domestic sales, Popkin approached Travel Oregon about the opportunity to create a partnership that would launch this pilot program. Travel Oregon has embraced the joint proposal and has been instrumental in the program's launch.  

Overleaf Hotel & Spa in Yachats, Oregon, was one of the first properties to adopt the Guest Service Gold® training, with positive results. Front of the house manager Heather Tincher-Overholser, who helped to implement the Guest Service Gold® training with key front-line staff at the Overleaf Hotel & Spa, noted that the training made employees more aware of how they treat guests.  

"Prior to the training, we were not always really listening to our guests and therefore were not always attentive to their needs. We have seen great improvement, especially over time and as our staff has developed more confidence in providing Gold service without having to get permission to do something special," said Tincher-Overholser. "Attitudes have changed. Our staff works better with guests.  Staff is thinking about the guests' needs, going above and beyond.  For example, now we'll ask, "Which way are you headed on your travels?" And then we give them suggestions about what to see on the journey." 

Popkin noted that she has already been receiving inquiries from properties interested in adopting the training and certification and is optimistic about the success of the new initiative.

New Products and Services

New Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities Program Expands AHLEI’s Guest Service Training Options

New Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities Program Expands AHLEI's Guest Service Training Options smGuest Service Gold® is one of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's most popular training and certification programs, with more than 22,000 individuals holding the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) designation. Now, AHLEI has expanded that training with a new program that offers seven more guest service elements to inspire and motivate hospitality professionals. Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities , which is available in print and online formats, prepares individuals for the CGSP® certification exam. Organizations can also use the original Guest Service Gold® (now renamed Guest Service Gold®: Making Connections ) to prepare employees for professional certification.

Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities focuses on the following elements:

  • Recovery: Turn it Around!
  • Personalization: Provide an Individualized Experience!
  • Knowledge: Be in the Know!
  • Passion: Inspire Others!
  • Commitment: Be All In!
  • Inclusion: Include Everyone!
  • Personality: Be Yourself!

These segments can be viewed individually to emphasize or strengthen particular service issues or presented together as one comprehensive program. A trainer's guide covering additional topics, procedures, discussions and exercises enhances the program and allows for customization by property or organization.

Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities can be delivered in two hours in a group setting or as individual training. Program components include:

• DVD (22 minutes total running time)

• One Trainer's Guide (plus access to an online Instructor Portal)

• One Participant Workbook (additional workbooks may be purchased separately).

The online versions of Guest Service Gold®: Golden Opportunities and Making Connections also include complimentary access to the TripAdvisor® Reputation Management for Front-Line Staff online course for additional training.

Online Training Presents Safety and Security Tips

Online Training Presents Safety and Security Tips sm The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has launched a new eLearning program, Safety Matters . The self-paced, online training takes learners through various areas of a property and presents information about common safety and security concerns in each area, including the lobby, front desk, guest rooms, maintenance areas, food & beverage operations, and the property's perimeter. 

The training uses video clips and written information to provide guidelines for maintaining the safety and health of employees and guests, as well as practical tips for addressing safety and security risks. The training, which can be completed in about an hour, is ideal as an onboarding tool for new employees or as a safety refresher for current staff. 

Topics include: key control, guest privacy, suspicious activities, chemical safety, bloodborne pathogens, safe lifting, fire prevention, sanitation, cuts and burns, slips, trips, and falls, and more. 

The program includes a 15-question assessment to gauge employee learning. Those who pass the quiz can print out a certificate of completion.

Guest Service Gold

The Art of Leadership: 6 Pillars of Sustainable Success

Renee Cavallari AHLEI Article #3 of 4

By: Renie Cavallari

September 2015

Over thousands of hours of research and experience working with businesses to improve performance, Aspire identified 6 Pillars of Leadership, which are the foundation of creating organizational alignment and key to long-term profitability. All leaders have the opportunity to create and sustain the alignment that creates top-performing organizations, and this AHLEI exclusive series will show you how. Today we're covering Pillar 4: Higher Purpose. (If you missed it, be sure to check out thefirstandsecondarticles, which introduced Pillars 1, 2 & 3: Connection, Clean Communication, and Compassion.)  

People Plus Purpose Equals Profits  

In 2014, CVS Health removed all tobacco products from their shelves-a $2 billion revenue stream-and just this year the company withdrew from the US Chamber of Commerce over its stance on tobacco regulation. Why would a company sacrifice so much? Because in the end, selling tobacco does not align with the CVS vision "to help people on their path to better health."  

Turns out that despite the lost revenue from direct tobacco sales and related purchases, CVS shares went up 22% in the first seven months after their big announcement. And when CVS sped up its implementation to get cigarettes off the shelf sooner, stock bumped almost a full percentage point. While other pharmacies wait to see which way the tides turn around smoking regulation, CVS dove in feet first to regulate itself and now stands in a big blue ocean full of consumers who agree with them that healthy living is worth it.  

The Power of a Higher Purpose  

The power of Pillar 4, Higher Purpose, is that it aligns an organization's vision, mission, values and brand architecture to help individuals make smart decisions about the future. Higher Purpose makes sure you and the people on your team have the information you need to choose the path that is right for you. There is never one direction to go. Having Higher Purpose helps make decisions easier, whether it's to solve a problem, determine resource allocation, or choose where you want to go next.   

You may have a goal to increase profits by 5% this year, and yet human beings need more than economic goals to be inspired. Higher Purpose is the deeper reason your organization exists.  

The Message that Matters  

As you probably know, Apple is not like everyone else. Instead, they focus on one thing in their marketing messages: innovation. The reason for Apple's sales success starts with what they focus on. Beginning with their now infamous "Think Different" campaign, Apple doesn't define itself by what it makes-because computers aren't that special. Instead, Apple talks about why they make them-to challenge the status quo. Because, as leadership expert Simon Sinek says, "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."  

In fact, the 3rd annual Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture survey revealed that the single greatest driver of organizational confidence is a strong sense of purpose. These organizations saw 50 percent more employee confidence and engagement than those without a strong purpose, and nearly 25 percent more stakeholder confidence.  

Starting with why you do what you do attracts people who believe what you believe, so they connect emotionally with the work and the products and services you deliver. This requires an organization to think differently about what matters most in messaging. If you want to create loyal, raving customers, and if you want to attract employees who believe what you believe so they work with a fanatical commitment to support your higher purpose, then you have to talk from the heart. Your higher purpose captures the essence of your WHY and provides additional context for your team members.   

Intention versus Impact  

In the course of their study, Deloitte also found that 20 percent of all respondents believed their leadership failed to set an example for the rest of the organization by acting in alignment with its Higher Purpose-even when that purpose was clearly defined. This means you must create a culture that helps people act in alignment with your Higher Purpose. Only then will you inspire the people in your organization to live it, too. Having a Higher Purpose will do nothing if it's not reflected in what you do and how you do it.  

I often say that as a leader, it's not your intention that matters. It's your impact. Despite all the advantages of having a Higher Purpose, there is one more step leaders must take so that employees engage with it.  

Bringing your Higher Purpose to Life  

Your Higher Purpose is reflected by your culture, which is built and reinforced through 4 primary components of communication and delivery: Vision , Mission , Values and Brand Position . Together, these components help bring your Higher Purpose to life.  

Your Vision should be timeless, inspirational and aspirational. It defines your Higher Purpose: what you stand for and why you exist. Leaders use vision to align people with the organization's strategies. It provides guidance about what core to preserve and how to stimulate progress toward the right future as things change. It answers the question "Why do we exist?" Visions give your people something to strive for and align with. Make it inspiring.  

Your Mission defines a team's primary purpose. It clarifies what business you are in and what key focus areas and objectives you are committed to. It communicates the essence of your business objectives and philosophies to customers, employees, and the marketplace. It answers the question, "What do we do here?" A mission guides your organization into the future by defining what products and services you aim to deliver, and why they matter.  Make it compelling.  

Clear Values dictate the way things get done. They reflect what your culture finds is of utmost importance. They tell everyone in the organization how to behave and what to respect. They are the principles that guide your team's actions. They answer the question, "How do we act around here?" When hiring, it is essential to identify the kind of people who will be congruent with the values and behaviors by which you want your organization to operate. Hire people who support your vision.  

Your Brand Architecture captures the essence of your brand, your brand promise and your unique value proposition(s), and establishes your primary messaging. Effective positioning creates a synergy within an organization and clearly defines who you are, the experience you deliver and what your customer can count on.    

Together Vision, Mission, Values and Brand Architecture form your Higher Purpose and give your people the tools they need to deliver on your promise and walk the talk . It's easy to get caught up in the minutia required to complete a task. As a leader, you must connect the work your team does with the impact you have. Today, answer the question: what do we actually do for people? Then, help your team understand how their contributions benefit others and bring that Higher Purpose to life. Help your people connect with your purpose, and you will unleash the full potential of your organization.  

The next article in this series will cover how to harness the energy inspired by Higher Purpose and empower your people to fulfill more than you ever imagined possible. Be sure to catch our final installment all about Pillars 5 & 6: Participation & Responsibility/Accountability coming up next quarter!  

Want to learn how to integrate the 6 Pillars in your workplace? Register for "The Art of Leadership," AHLEI's new series of leadership development programming made in partnership with Aspire and designed to strengthen hospitality leadership and deliver the tools industry leaders need to enhance their leadership effectiveness through alignment, focus, and understanding of Aspire's proven processes for learning and development.  

International Spotlight

Certified Hospitality Educator Workshop in China Has International Flavor

Online Training Presents Safety and Security Tips small Les Roches Jinjiang International Hotel Management College in Shanghai, one of AHLEI's Global Academic Partner (GAP) schools in China, recently hosted a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE®) workshop at the Shanghai Metro Polo Hotel.  The 17 participants, mostly from Les Roches JinJiang, represented nine countries: China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, and Slovakia.  The class also included instructors from the Beijing Hospitality Institute and YueXiu Institute of Hospitality Administration. All of the participants passed the CHE® exam on their first attempt.

The Certified Hospitality Educator is the only professional certification targeted to hospitality educators at the college and university level.  The preparatory workshop for the certification exam focuses on learning theories, teaching skills, and motivational techniques for enhance student engagement.

Asia World Hospitality Promotes Hospitality Training in Philippines

Seda Hotels SmSeda Hotels in the Philippines has wholeheartedly embraced employee training and professional certification, working closely with Asia World Hospitality , one of AHLEI's global partners. Through a grant provided by the Asian Development Bank, the Department of Tourism, and the Canadian government, the hotel brand has been able to offer a number of programs from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, including the START for Guestroom Attendant , START for Restaurant Server , and Guest Service Gold® with Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®). 

Alma Ponce de Leon, CHHE, executive housekeeper at the Seda BCG, Manila, conducted the Guestroom Attendant training in mid-September for 15 Seda employees from four Seda properties, including Seda Abreeza, Davao; Seda Nuvali, Laguna; Seda Centrio, Cagayan de Oro; and Seda BCG.  CGSP® training followed at the end of September, with Restaurant Server training in early October. 

In addition, Seda and Asia World Hospitality have conducted five training sessions for the Certified Lodging Security Officer (CLSO) designation, putting more than 80 individuals through the program, which was conducted by Ace Esmeralda, CPP, CLSO. Seda is the first brand in the Philippines to offer this security certification, beginning in February 2015.  It was also the first brand in Asia to offer Guest Service Gold® and earn the Certified Guest Service Property designation in February 2014.

Uniform System of Accounts

USALI Treatment of Preopening Expenses

uniform-system-of-accounts-sm The 11 th revised edition of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) was published in the spring of 2014, with an implementation date of January 1, 2015.  The responsibility for revising the USALI lies with the Financial Management Committee (FMC) of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). 

Throughout the implementation process, the FMC has received several questions from the worldwide lodging industry.  To answer these questions, the FMC has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the USALI resource portal page of the AH&LA Education Institute's (AHLEI) website ( www.ahlei.org/usali ). 

In an effort to assist hotel owners and operators with their implementation, the FMC is presenting a series of monthly articles that address some of the most frequently asked questions.  Some of the topics to be discussed include the expanded labor cost reporting, gross versus net revenue reporting, service charges, the change from cover to customer counts, mixed-ownership facilities, and operating metrics. 

For this month we discuss pre-opening expenses.  The article was prepared by FMC committee member Gordon Potter, Ph.D. 

* * * * * * * * * * * 

USALI Treatment of Preopening Expenses  

By Gordon Potter Ph.D.  

There have been numerous inquiries regarding the USALI treatment of preopening expenses. These costs are generally associated with the opening of new business unit, and they should be expensed as incurred. 

Preopening costs have been a source of confusion since 1996 when the 9 th edition of USALI was published. The 9 th edition stated " this edition has deleted all references to preopening expenses. This action was taken because it has become common practice to write off preopening expenses as incurred or to amortize them over a period of no more than one year." [1]   Beginning in 1999, AICPA issued Statement of Position 98-5 [2] that required nongovernmental entities to expense the costs of start-up activities as they are incurred. In the United States, the accounting for start-up costs is now codified in FASB ASC 720-15. 

Preopening activities are considered a type of start-up activity. Examples of start-up activities include opening a new facility, introducing a new product or service, conducting business in a new territory, and conducting business with a new class of customer. They also include activities related to organizing a new entity (often described as organization costs). In the lodging industry preopening activities are primarily associated with the opening of a new property. As displayed in Exhibit One, preopening expenses include salary-related expenses for new employees, as well as the training costs and meals for these new employees. Other preopening expenses include salaries and all-travel costs for the property opening team, and all property carrying costs, such as property taxes, utilities, and insurance, once the facility is complete.  Costs related to advertising, furniture, fixtures and equipment, coupons, and licenses are not considered preopening expenses and are addressed elsewhere in the USALI. 

Exhibit One

Types of Preopening Expenses

Considered Preopening ExpensesNot Considered Preopening Expenses
  • Salary-related expenses for new employees
  • Salary-related expenses for the management property opening team
  • Training costs and meals for newly hired employees
  • Staff recruiting costs
  • Hotel charges, meals, and transportation for the opening team
  • Security, property taxes, insurance, and utilities costs incurred after construction is completed
  • Depreciation of assets placed into service, such as computers and other communication devices
  • Consulting costs related to feasibility studies, accounting, legal, tax, and governmental affairs
  • Nonrecurring operating losses
  • Property advertising costs
  • Coupon giveaways
  • Costs of furniture, fixtures and equipment
  • Costs to obtain licenses
  • Security, property taxes, insurance, and utilities costs related to construction activities
Source: AICPA SOP 98-5 and FASB ASC 720-15-55


Following generally accepted accounting principles, preopening costs are recognized as an expense when incurred. For purposes of the USALI, these amounts are recorded in the department that incurred the expense. For example, the training cost and compensation of personnel in the rooms department would be included in room's department expense. Start-up consulting costs, unless directly related to a specific department operation, would be recognized when incurred in administrative and general under professional fees. 

Even though the accounting treatment seems clear, it is understandable that we continue to receive questions on preopening expenses. One reason for this is that, because preopening costs are not specifically mentioned in the USALI, it is difficult to find explicit guidance. Perhaps future editions should provide more clarity by specifically mentioning the accounting procedures for these expenses. Another source of confusion is that during the preopening period these expenses may be incurred by both the owner and the future operator. As a result, questions may surface regarding which party is tracking the cost and who is ultimately responsible for these costs. Finally, uncertainty over the accounting for these expenses may result because these costs often have a different treatment for tax reporting. In the United States the tax treatment for start-up costs, which includes preopening expenses such as salaries and wages for employees who are being trained and their instructors and fees for other professionals, is covered in Section 195 of the Internal Revenue Code. In many instances, for the purposes of tax accounting, the majority of these costs must be capitalized and amortized to expense over a 180 month period. [3]   Therefore, it is very possible to have a temporary difference in preopening expense recognition between USALI and tax. 

* * * * * * * * * * * 

Gordon Potter is an Associate Professor of Accounting at the School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University. He has a doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is a certified public accountant and a member of the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs.  He received the Notable Contribution to Management Accounting Research Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association. He is a member of the Financial Management Committee of the AHLA. He appreciates the help of his sub-committee colleagues Cindy Braak, Henry Freire, Chris Garland, Brad Garner, Alessandro Grassivaro, and George Gudgeon, as well as Robert Mandelbaum and Raymond Schmidgall.  

* * * * * * * * * * * 

To purchase a copy of the 11 th edition of the USALI, and access the nearly 100 questions and answers on the FAQ, or submit your own question for the FMC, please visit www.ahlei.org/usali

[1] Page vii, Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry , Ninth Revised Edition (1996), Educational Institute of the AH&MA, East Lansing, MI. 

[2] Reporting on the Costs of Start-Up Activities , Statement of Position 98-5, AICPA, 1998. The Statement of Position was superseded by FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 720-15. International accounting standards treat start-up costs similarly (IAS 38.69). 

[3] For more details on what constitutes a start-up for tax purposes and tax treatment of start-up costs in the United States please refer to Section 195 of the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, and IRS Publication 535. Currently, a small amount of these expenses can be expense immediately, and a taxpayer can elect not to amortize these costs.

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