Reality-television star Anthony Melchiorri brought his hit show, Hotel Impossible, to Ocean City to help the fourth-generation owners of the Boardwalk property The Lankford. The popular host gave Coastal Style an exclusive interview during its taping.
Can you describe the state of The Lankford when you arrived in town?
The Lankford is the oldest operating hotel in its original structure in Ocean City; some of the policies, procedures and the way they’re doing business you wouldn’t exactly call 2013 procedures and policies. They had a lot of things that they needed to reflect on and to potentially change.
Does working with fourth-generation owners give you more motivation to help them succeed?
Not only does it give you more motivation, it’s the reason I do my job. These people can sell this structure for millions of dollars, but they will not sell it because they do not want to be the first generation to sell out. So, it not only gives me more motivation for the owners, it gives me motivation for Ocean City because as you go up and down this boardwalk, you see a lot of high-rises, which is fine, but this is Ocean City right here. The Lankford is Ocean City, and that’s what this is about. So, if you lose this hotel, Ocean City loses something, too. If this hotel is sold, what do you think is going to be here? Another high-rise. There’s a lot at risk when we took on this hotel, a significant amount at risk. And speaking for the hotel business itself, we need hotels like The Lankford. As a person who’s in love with this business and as a traveler, this is the kind of hotel you want to come to. I can stay at that kind of hotel over there [pointing] in Anywhere, USA.
Have the owners been receptive to your changes this week?
Watch the show.
Would you encourage viewers of Hotel Impossible to inspect a room upon their arrival at a hotel, like you do on the show?
When you sit down to eat a plate of food and there’s a fingerprint on the plate, is it going to skeeve you out? Are you going to eat? When you walk into a hotel, that fingerprint isn’t always so visible, so you’ve got to do a little inspection. But once you inspect it, whether it be for bedbugs or for cleanliness, do what you have to do – clean or change rooms – then enjoy yourself. I would absolutely encourage people to inspect their hotel rooms.
If the inspection fails to meet their standards what are they encouraged to do?
Go to the front desk and ask for a room change. If it’s to the point where your skeeved out by the whole place, ask for your money back and go somewhere else. We live in a day and age where everyone deserves the respect to be told there’s a problem. Then, you have the opportunity, as an owner or manager, to fix my problem. If you don’t, I have something called the Internet, and I can go there and tell everyone in America and the world that your hotel is not up to my standards. First, give the owner or manager the chance to fix your problem. If they don’t, go to the Internet.
I imagine now that you’re filming Season 3, you’re even busier than when you were in the hotel business full time. How do you manage being a popular television host and a father and a husband and a business owner?
There’s a book by Jack Welsh that speaks of life balance. It doesn’t exist. For two years, I stayed at home and worked from home. The last two years have been a challenge – and that’s an understatement by a lot. It’s been extraordinarily challenging to travel and pursue something I really want to do with small children and a family at home, but it’s been really rewarding all the way around, and we’re starting to figure it out. Yes, my job is challenging, but your job’s challenging, too. Everybody’s job is challenging, so there’s no such thing as life balance. Sometimes you work more; sometimes you play more. I try to work and play, but I just wish my wife and my children could be traveling with me.
Speaking of play, what are some of your hobbies?
I like racing cars. Unfortunately, my director beat me by one second on the go-kart track last night, so before I leave, I will seek that win. I will win.
Where’s the best vacation spot in America, in your opinion.
Ocean City, Maryland.
Because it’s amazing. It’s an old-world beach community. Coney Island is coming back. Coney Island was the first Disney World – the first place people went to play in the early 20th century. I think Ocean City is what Coney Island was in the early 20th century. This is true family fun, a true beach community. I love Ocean City.
What are three secrets in the hotel business that people don’t know but should?
I guess in every business there are secrets, but I’m a pretty a transparent person, and I think the industry is transparent because of the Internet. I think the tips I would give, which aren’t so much secrets, are that the best rate you’re going to find is at the hotel itself and to always book online. Always call the hotel after you book online to see if there’s even a better rate or to say, “Hi, my name is Anthony, and I’ll be arriving soon. Is there anything you can do for me?” Especially if there’s an anniversary or something like that. Always pack your smile and always be pleasant to people. I’m going to take care of you as a hotel employee if you’re nice to me. There are two virtual buttons at the front desk: One says upgrade, and one says downgrade. If you’re nice to me, I upgrade you. If you piss me off, I downgrade you. I think that’s in any business. Don’t upset your chef or your airline pilot or your accountant.
Or your wife?
Happy wife, happy life.
What gives you the most satisfaction about hosting Hotel Impossible?
That we’re helping people – that we literally have the opportunity to change someone’s life. And they have the opportunity to change it moving forward with just a little bit of guidance. In some cases, we’ve actually helped a hotel change the town. Without one hotel in California, the town was out of business. And by saving that hotel, you save the town. I think that here, to a smaller degree, if you save The Lankford, you save a part of Ocean City. If this hotel goes, it is never coming back. If that becomes a trend, Ocean City will loose its historical hotels. Every hotel on the boardwalk, I guarantee you, is in trouble. And I bet you that every hotel like this on the boardwalk has been in trouble for 90 years, but they’ve found a way. But I think those ways are going away because of taxes and reassessments and because of politics. People like these are losing their hotels and can no longer scrimp and save to get by. You need to make real income because your expenses are going up and up and up. And if your expenses are going up by 30-40 percent, you can’t raise your rates by 30-40 percent, especially when you have monster hotels like you do in this town, where they have more rooms and can afford to sell them at a lower rate.
Thank you very much for your time, Anthony.
You didn’t ask me my favorite four-letter word.
Tell me. What is it?
I’m kidding. We have a curse jar because you are not allowed to curse in this hotel. I’m in the lead.
Hotel Impossible's Season 3 debuts on The Travel Channel on August 12. The Lankford episode is set to air this September.
There are no comments. Be the first to post a comment.