Lodging operators are optimistic about leisure travel returning to Oregon. In addition to Oregonians traveling locally around the state, the World Athletic Championships - Oregon22 should bring visitors from around the globe to experience Oregon’s unique hospitality.
According to a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) report being likely to travel this summer, with 60% saying they are likely to take more vacations this year compared to 2020-21.
The survey of 2,210 adults was conducted May 18-22, 2022. Other key findings include:
As business and leisure travel continue to rebound from the last two and a half years of restrictions and shutdowns, lodging operators in Oregon are looking to in-state travel as well as the boost from over 200 countries and their fans coming to our state for the 2022 World Athletic Championships. Although the competition is in Eugene, there’s no doubt visitors to Oregon will take the opportunity to explore every corner of our state and take advantage of the natural beauty and hospitality our industry and others will offer.
You can find much more information on the World Athletic Championships on Travel Oregon's website. An industry-facing toolkit has also been developed to provide additional information, resources, broadcast-quality b-roll and hi-res images, as well as inspirational trip ideas and media contact information. Questions can be directed to Jaime Eder, Industry Communications Manager at Travel Oregon. | Greg Astley, Director of Government Affairs, ORLA
ORLA Update: May 20, 2022
RRF / Elections / Liquor Privatization...
Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Senate Vote – Oregon Senators Voted Yes
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate was unable to overcome a filibuster on a motion to begin debate on a $48 billion bill that would have replenished the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The vote to invoke cloture and overcome the filibuster failed by a vote of 52-43 (60 votes were needed to prevail). Read the press release from the National Restaurant Association for more information. Highlights of the vote from yesterday:
Primary Election Roundup
There has been an increase in the number of industry members who have expressed a willingness to run for office. ORLA members Cheri Helt (BOLI Commissioner candidate), Daniel Nguyen (State Rep Candidate), Janelle Bynum (Current State Rep), and former ORLA staff member Christine Drazan are all working to bring more industry expertise to our policy making decisions. Here are a few highlights from this week’s primary election on state races:
Portland Lodging Alliance (PLA) Statement on Portland City Budget
ORLA was involved in group discussions on the City of Portland's budget earlier this week. Generally, the high level social service and public safety investments and content within the budget seem on point. What continues to plague Portland are the deficiencies in management and a desire by our members to see consistent progress on the streets. One of ORLA’s local groups is called the Portland Lodging Alliance and current ORLA Board Members George Schweitzer and Daryn White Cyrus sit on the PLA Steering Committee. Joining them in leadership are Brandon Carter of the Bidwell downtown and Martin McAllister who runs the waterfront Marriott Hotel. This coming week the Portland Lodging Alliance is submitting comments on Mayor Wheeler’s proposed budget to the City through their online public comment portal.
Liquor Privatization Off the November Ballot
There’s one less thing to worry about on the November ballot now that the Northwest Grocers Association have pulled their initiative petition from the signature gathering process to qualify as a state measure. Initiative Petition 35 would have opened the door to liquor sales in grocery stores here in Oregon. Although the convenience may seem enticing on its surface there are far ranging implications if the current alcohol system were to be disrupted with cost escalations on liquor inevitable for ORLA members. See the story summing it all up here on OPB. ORLA has been an active part of the opposition campaign to this effort ever since our Government Affairs Committee voted unanimously to oppose these efforts when this was attempted the last time.
Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us via email.
Guest Blog | Porter
We’ve all had those moments where digital tools were brought in for “convenience” — contactless check-in kiosks, smart TVs, digital menus — but end up being more frustrating than convenient. Instead of making life easier for your reduced staff, now they have to troubleshoot IT problems. And guests who were previously known by name are suddenly made to feel anonymous.
Technology that isn’t elevating human experiences is compounding the problems we face in hospitality. That is because most digital tools have been designed to solve a financial problem, rather than trying to both solve a financial problem AND elevate the guest experience in the process. This has been especially true of the many attempts to streamline and digitize food and beverage experiences.
When we set out to design Porter, a digital F&B platform to elevate the guest experience at food halls, restaurants, and multi-vendor establishments, we followed a design thinking process that you can practice whenever you consider adding a new digital tool or are thinking of rolling out a new service. Here are the stages of the design thinking process:
First, you need to sit in the seat of the person who will be using this tool / service / experience. You don’t start with defining what you are building. You don’t start with financial implications. You start by observing the guest experience and determining how you can improve it.
New tools need to work, but they also need to elevate how we feel about an experience. By building prototypes and watching guests interact with them — physically and digitally watching them — we are able to not only see how those prototypes work, but also how they make guests feel. We pay attention to what they say to their friends across the table. We can refine later and make our new tool more elegant, but for now we just want to see if it will truly solve a problem before we invest time and resources in a solution.
When we design to elevate a guest experience, we take that empathetic foundation and the lessons learned while prototyping, and we then design a moment that frictionlessly folds into the human experiences we are trying to improve. If we can make a guest’s experience feel smoother, more personal, and more memorable than it previously felt, then we have a successful design. If not, we need to go back to prototyping.
Once we build a useful tool or service, we can enjoy and celebrate for five minutes, but then we get back to work. We go back to watching, identifying where hangups happen, and discover where the frustrations occur. And then we evolve, because the world keeps moving forward and our tools and services need to adapt to those changes lest they end up becoming another clunky experience.
Pulling it All Together
If you’re not familiar with design thinking, it is the process that is essentially outlined above, and it was the framework that we utilized to build Porter. As owners of three food halls, we wanted to solve one main problem: long lines. We watched as people would spend the first 10 minutes standing in multiple lines rather than with the people they came to be with. And before ordering a second round, they would again look to see how long the lines were before deciding whether it was worth leaving their friends and standing in line again.
These observations formed the empathy that we used to build some digital prototypes to test at one location. First we built a digital re-ordering tool for patrons who had already opened a tab. This first prototype was designed to simply see if patrons would use technology to solve the long line problem. And they did! The average number of rounds jumped to 3.4 rounds per tab.
We had empathetically observed, built a prototype, designed the tool, and then went back to evolve as we learned more. Next we added the ability to preauthorize a card so guests could order from multiple vendors on one tab. Then we added the ability to create an account and store payment information. Today, average tickets are up 20%, tips are up 15%, 50% of our patrons use Porter to order, and our staff save 50 seconds per order placed digitally through Porter as compared to orders placed at the counter.
We continued to observe, prototype, design, and evolve the tool at our three halls until we decided it was a tool that was worth sharing with others who were looking to elevate the F&B experience at their food halls, breweries, and venues. Anywhere that offers F&B, values efficiency, but is also looking to elevate the guest experience can now use Porter — which all started with a simple observation and a desire to solve a problem for our guests.
So what problem are you looking to solve? | Bryan Taylor, Co-founder at Porter
This guest blog was submitted by Porter. For more information on guest blog opportunities, contact Marla McColly, Business Development Director, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
Guest Blog | My Accounting Team
There are pros and cons for closing books monthly versus using four weekends per period
The Gregorian calendar has been around since 1582. Even then, there was controversy. Some parts of the world waited four centuries to adopt the new calendar.
It now seems quite natural that we’d split our fiscal years into these same 12 months of the year. But this presents unique challenges for the hospitality industry. Over 99% of accounting is done by closing the books at the end of each month, then comparing this month against last month. Most who use monthly methods know to be cautious about seasonality. It’s obvious you can’t compare July to January. The results can be misleading. But the problems for restaurants go deeper than seasonality.
To illustrate the challenges, consider this puzzle. In 2022, July has four weekends. August has five. In two years (2024), this will flip! July will have five weekends. August will have four. Many, if not most, restaurants do wildly different business on weekends and weekdays. Some are much busier, while others (for example, a central business district lunch spot) may be almost empty on the weekends. Comparing July and August is like comparing apples and oranges. The variation means that even this June versus last June can be similarly misleading.
We can all imagine how difficult it was to shift the world calendars ten days back in 1582. This was before the advent of telegraphs, telephones, Internet and computers. Thankfully, modern accounting methods mean there are a couple of ways around this conundrum of extra weekends that comes up with monthly-based accounting. As with most solutions, there is a fast fix and a harder fix. The more difficult way is more accurate. The easier way is less precise.
Some accounting firms have done both. From experience, we in the accounting world know that both have merits. It just depends on your needs and circumstances.
Let’s start with the most accurate way. Rather than dividing the year into months, we can divide it into thirteen periods. Each period has 28 days. Typically, the periods would be Monday to Sunday. Now see what we did? Each period is directly comparable. Each period has four weekends. Each period has the same number of days. Sure, there are still other seasonal factors. And we also need to manage a 364-day year (the IRS is not going to move away from annual returns any time soon). But these are relatively easy problems to deal with. (Also, the 28-day period also greatly simplifies cash planning, but we’ll save that discussion for another time.)
The above method of thirteen periods with 28 days each is accurate, yes. But it involves some heavy lifting. For example, rent is typically paid monthly, but with the 28-day methodology, every so often, the period won’t include a month end. Just like you may receive a batch of ingredients that are a bit different from the norm, or factors such as humidity or oven temperature can affect products–accountants have to adjust for variations, too. This month’s-end issue requires that we adapt, otherwise our comparability will collapse like a mishandled souffle. So, we record rent daily to accommodate this.
There are a dozen other similar challenges. For many small businesses, this is overkill. If you need the simpler method, we’ve also done an adjusted month where we reduce or increase revenue and expense amounts to equalize the effect of the number of days and weekends. This has worked well when planning a new restaurant, because targets can be set and analyzed. (Note, these adjustments are purely for comparison purposes.) So, from a formal accounting perspective, we have a regular January and a regular February, and so on.
If you’ve ever wondered why the irregular calendar months have created problems for accounting and forecasting, you’re not wrong. Think about how hard it was to reconcile all the calendar problems in the 16th century, when scientists and leaders took 37 years to strategize a plan to create the Gregorian calendar–and then it still took years for adoption.
Modern accounting doesn’t have these same problems now. We have tools and tips to address variability. We have the cloud. We have software. When restaurants and the food service industry face the extra weekend problem, we have reliable solutions. If you’re a small restaurant and want to keep things simple, we generally recommend the quicker fix. If you do complex costing and calculations, often the more elaborate solution can provide you with precision and clarity on cash flow and other important data.
Don’t get lost in the seasonality and calendar conundrum. Talk with an accountant today about how to manage the extra weekends and get a handle of variability.
Bruce Lange is the Chief Financial Officer of My Accounting Team (MAT). He has three decades of experience in Finance and Administration, having worked with organizations from small start-ups to multinational corporations like Oracle. MAT offers simple, secure, scalable cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting services. Contact Bruce and the team at MAT at email@example.com or 541.844.1484.
This guest blog was submitted by My Accounting Team. For more information on guest blog opportunities, contact Marla McColly, Business Development Director, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.
ORLA Update: Maay 6, 2022
Paid Family Leave / Governor's Race / 'Hospitality is Working'
Paid Family Leave Rulemaking
Paid Family Leave passed in the long legislative session of 2019 before Covid and has been in a delayed planning state ever since. The law is now getting more attention as the Oregon Employment Department and their new Paid Family Medical Leave Insurance Division (PFMLI) work to launch the new program in 2023. The program is ambitious and requires a 60/40 percent employee/employer split in contributions to a new fund for specific family and medical leave needs. ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs serves on the rulemaking committee; we'll keep members informed of paid family leave updates.
Governor’s Race & GOP Polling
Recent polling for the Governor’s Race shows former Oregon Restaurant Association staffer Christine Drazan may have a good shot at securing the GOP nomination for Governor in the upcoming primary. Most political pundits continue to believe the Democrat primary win will go to Tina Kotek although Tobias Read has been making a considerable push to gain more favor within the party.
Hospitality is Working Campaign
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) relaunched its Hospitality is Working campaign seeking to reignite travel nationwide and showcase the economic and community benefits hotels provide in neighborhoods across the country. Hospitality is Working showcases the broad range of benefits hotels provide the communities they serve while highlighting the industry’s strong commitment to investing in its workforce, providing quality career opportunities, and protecting employees and guests as more and more Americans begin to travel. The campaign will include television and digital advertising as well as AHLA events around the country alongside local hoteliers, economic development organizations and community groups.
Have questions? Give us a call at 503.682.4422 or email us if you have any questions. Happy Friday!