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Showing posts from July, 2010

Caribe Hilton San Juan, How Can You Do Better?

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After all the hassles I had been through, I expected Caribe Hilton San Juan would accommodate me with a better room. I was finally switched to an ocean view room. However, I feel more disappointed with this Hilton property than before. This property has serious maintenance and guest service problems that cannot be easily fixed.

At about 11:30am, a Front Office Agent left me a message in my room and informed me an ocean view room was made ready for my transfer. I stopped by the Front Office at about 1:00pm and picked up my key. I was asked: “do you want to take a look at the room first?” What does that mean? The hotel was not confident of their ocean view rooms? I then went up to the room and took a look. Indeed, I was not quite happy with the view, I requested for another room. Then, I was asked to wait another hour for a better room because the “better” room had not been cleaned yet. At 2:30pm, the room was ready. Again, I was offered to take a look before I make the transfer… The Fro…

Revisit Guest Service Issues – My Trip from Syracuse to San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Earlier this week, we visited guest service and guest satisfaction issues. Yesterday, I traveled from Syracuse to Puerto Rico. Now, I feel it is necessary to bring these issues to our attention again because 1% dissatisfaction may have huge negative impacts on a guest’s experience with the service provider. My experience with Delta Airlines and Caribe Hilton San Juan is a great example.

Like most airlines, I received an e-mail notification from Delta 24 hours before my flight took off. My itinerary required me to make a connection in Atlanta. Surprisingly, I could only check in the flight from Syracuse to Atlanta, but not the flight from Atlanta to San Juan. I called Delta Guest Service right away because I worried if my trip from Atlanta to San Juan was confirmed. I was informed the system was experiencing some technical problems. I might be able to solve the problem by either calling the website support hotline or checking in at the airport. I chose to check in at the airport.

I arriv…

Why Does Hotel Guest Satisfaction Go Up During Downturn?

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The J.D. Powers 2010 Hotel Survey reveals that consumers feel more satisfied with their hotel stays during downturn. The spokesperson of J.D. Powers provides three possible reasons that drive higher guest satisfaction. Those explanations include:

• There are fewer people on the road, which makes hotel facilities more accessible to guests.
• Hotel rates fall during downturn. Generally, guests tend to feel more satisfied with lower price.
• Hotels provide better guest service when facing tougher competition.

I would like to add two more alternatives:
• More hotels offer value-added products and service to attract more travelers, such as “bed & breakfast” package, “weekend family getaway” package, etc. Guests may feel more satisfied with higher value.
• The record high unemployment rate may push hotel employees to work harder.

While this news article provides some interesting findings, I feel the survey reveals some bias results (winners). For example, it only picked the winner of luxury ho…

A Small Hotel’s Social Media Strategies

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LA Times featured an article about how Venice Beach Suites & Hotel, a small hotel with 25 rooms, can use social media to boost sales. Venice Beach Suites & Hotel was built in 1912 in Venice Beach, California. A room in this hotel sells for $130 to $305 per night in the summer. However, its revenue dropped 20% last year to $800,000. So far, the hotel has a social media presence at TripAdvisor.com, with 75% of positive reviews. According to the discussion at LATimes.com, the hotel could have done more to increase sales.

1. Use Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to interact with customers and other business. The more interactions, the higher ranking the hotel will appear on search engines.
2. Encourage customers to create contents on the hotel’s website and/or other social media networks.
3. Update Facebook often. If the hotel does not have the resource to keep updating contents, then it is more important to encourage more customers to post and share contents.
4. Use YouTube and Twitter.…

A Company’s Reputation Can Be Built or Ruined by One Person

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This is a true story about my mom’s two day adventure with United Airlines and U.S. Airways. She spent 40 hours on her trip from IAH (Houston) to SYR (Syracuse, NY) and met with three airport guest service team members in ORD (Chicago O’Hare Airport) and DCA (Ronald Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC). Two of them almost turned her into a homeless person in D.C. and had ruined the reputation of United, while Tamara Strickler (石天美), a U.S. Airways team member provided exceptional guest service and has won my mom’s and my hearts to U.S. Airways.

On Friday afternoon, my mom flew United from IAH to SYR by herself, with a connection in ORD. Due to a severe thunderstorm, the flight from ORD to SYR was postponed for 3 hours and then cancelled at 1:30am Saturday DST-Eastern. My mom does not speak or understand English. So, she asked a United Airlines’ team member to talk to me on the phone to arrange another trip for her the next day. I asked the team member to consider my mom’s proficien…

Some Last Minute Summer Travel Tips

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Good Morning America at ABCNews.com offered some last minute travel tips. Let's check them out and see how useful they are:
1. Travel after the kids go back to school. We all know we have to pay more during peak travel seasons. The question is whether we will have time to travel after the summer or major holidays.
2. The best time of searching cheap tickets include Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Usually airlines put new deals during those days.
3. Follow airlines and resort destinations/hotels at Twitter.com. They often tweet exclusive deals.
4. Consider the option of bus travels. Excellent example is $1 fare between NYC and Boston or between NYC and D.C. I know http://www.megabus.com/ offers $1 deals between Syracuse and NYC, but I have not found these deals for myself yet. However, a ticket of $28 each way between NYC and SYR is still a great deal --- I need to pay about $50 for gas alone if I am driving.
5. Check out http://www.hotelchatter.com/ and stay in a newly open and renov…

Facebook Reaches 500 Million Users Milestone - By ABCNews.com

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Facebook has reached a 500 million users milestone. According to ABCNews.com, there were 8 new users signing up for Facebook every second in the past 15 months. Each Facebook user has 130 friends, and each shares 70 posts per month. No wonder Facebook strategy has become every organization's top priority.

The Impact of Social Media – May Not Be As Big As One Expects

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Almost every business and organization has adopted or is rushing to implement a social media strategy in operations. The impact of social media could be huge. However, the result may not be as big as expected; and it may take a long time before any outcomes are seen.

Two recent studies on restaurants showed that social media only have limited impact to consumers in general. However, it has strong impact on specific segments like younger clienteles. Another research focuses on QSR (quick service restaurant) segment and found even social media is important in sending out promotion messages, it is not a major information source for most consumers. Here are some highlights of the research findings:

• 15% and 8% of 1,000 U.S. consumers being surveyed can be categorized as, respectively, “early adopter” (opinion leaders) or “innovators” (those who are the first to try innovations).
• 83% of the innovators and 75% the early adopters order fast-food at least once a week while only 56% consumers …

Restaurant Serves Up the BP Menu - ABCNews.com

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Travel with Google - by ABCNews.com

A Win-Win Relationship Between Horseshoe Bay Resort and Texa Tech University: Part III

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Together with Dr. Blum and Dr. Adams, I toured the Highland Lakes University Center today and met with 10 out of the 26 Texas Tech students who are doing internships in the Horseshoe Bay Resort. Students shared their internship experience with me.

These 10 students work in the Concierge, Marina, the Yacht Club (with a high end restaurant), golf course, and the restaurant and wine room inside the hotel. During the summer, many of them also have a chance to work in two different departments or areas to gain a variety of work experience. Students seem very happy with their internships; and they greatly appreciate the opportunity they have in Horseshoe Bay.

Studying in the RHIM (Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management) program at Texas Tech, students have to complete 400 hours of hospitality work experience and 400 hours of internship before they can graduate with a B.S. degree in RHIM. Many RHIM students work while they are in school. I asked them what differences they found betwee…

A Win-Win Relationship Between Horseshoe Bay Resort and Texa Tech University: Part II

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Today, Dr. Blum, Dr. Adams, and I toured the hospitality and culinary arts program at Austin Community College and the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg. We met with a few community leaders and discussed the future needs of the community and hospitality students. I believe strong community support is one key why Horseshoe Bay Resort and the RHIM (Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management) program at Texas Tech University can build a win-win relationship.

As a tourist destination, Texas Hill Country needs many well-trained hospitality professionals to sustain the business. There are a few community colleges in this region that offer associate degree in hospitality and relative field. However, the community is still facing a challenge of providing adequate education to the labor force for their career advancement. There is a need for a four-year hospitality program in the Hill Country. In addition to Lubbock (main campus) and San Angelo (Angelo State University), Tex…

A Win-Win Relationship Between Horseshoe Bay Resort and Texa Tech University: Part I

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Over the years, Horseshoe Bay Resort, a Marriott franchised property, and the RHIM (Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management) program at Texas Tech University has built a close and win-win relationship. On one hand, the resort hotel hires about 25 RHIM students in the summer and a couple interns in the fall and spring to meet its temporary needs in staffing. On the other hand, RHIM students at Texas Tech can gain valuable first-hand operation experience in the resort hotel. How does this relationship work?

Today, I am travelling with two RHIM professors to the Texas Hill Country and learn more about Horseshoe Bay Resort and the students’ work. These professors are Dr. Shane Blum, Chairperson of the Nutrition, Hospitality, and Retailing Department, and Dr. Charlie Adams, Director of Career Center in the College of Human Sciences.

Horseshoe Bay Resort is located in the Texas Hill Country, about 45 minutes away from Austin and 90 minutes from San Antonio. Next to Horseshoe Bay, ther…

Chain Restaurants Show Social Responsibility by Saving Fisheries

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When a restaurant chain serves millions of customers every day, adding or removing a menu item could greatly impact the environment. For example, when McDonald’s introduced Alaskan Pollock, the consumption of Alaskan Pollock increased dramatically. McDonald’s strategy would not only impact the stock of Alaskan Pollock but also affect other species in the same food supply chain, such as Steller sea lions and fur seals. The fact is McDonald’s buys 50,000 metric tons of whitefishes every year.

The good news is several restaurant chains, including McDonald’s Corp, Yum Brands Inc., and Darden Restaurants, have joined the growing movement toward eco-friendly practices to help sustain species (The Wall Street Journal, July 12). Fishes sold in McDonald’s come from sources that meet sustainability guidelines, such as the ones given by the Marine Stewardship Council. Darden Restaurants, which owns Red Lobster, incorporate more grains in recipes to reduce seafood-based consumptions.

Another altern…

Development of a Universal Standard for Boutique and Lifestyle Hotels

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When describing boutique hotels, people may use the words of “charming,” “distinctive,” “quirky,” “cutting-edge,” “avant-garde,” “trendy,” “funky,” and “classic.” These adjectives all sound very nice, but they may carry different meanings to different people. The question is: are there ways to set a universal standard and criteria to categorize boutique and lifestyle hotels?

The newly formed Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association (BLLA; http://www.blla.org/) is determined to answer this question. BLLA is developing a classification system that can “define boutique and lifestyle property types, standards, characteristics, and attributes.” In turn, boutique properties can better “market themselves with their niche;” travelers will find it easier to pick the “right” boutique hotel for their stays.

I support BLLA’s initiative. Industry standards and criteria are important and necessary. Meanwhile, I also see an opportunity for those big franchised boutique hotel brands. Instead of wai…

Texas Tech Hosts Iron Chef Competition

I was in the SHRM Conference. Otherwise, I would have been there. Go Red Raider!

Credit Card Hackers Target Hospitality Companies

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This week, many media reported that hotels become the most visited place by credit card hackers. Among all the credit card hacking cases, 38% involved with hotels, 19% with financial services industry, 14.2% with retails, and 13% with restaurants and bars (The New York Times). By combining the figures of hotels, restaurants, and bars, 52% of these cases were associated with the hospitality industry.

Large amount of daily credit card transactions in the service industry attracts hackers. Media also believes that hotels’ inadequate data security creates opportunities for hackers. So far, credit card companies have been pushing merchants to adopt uniform security standards. I believe it is time for hotels and restaurants to reevaluate their existing data security systems.

As to customers, I offered some tips on how to protect our privacy during a hotel stay in my March 7’s discussion. I hope I will see some improvements from the industry next year.

References:
The New York Times (July 5): ht…

The Right Restaurants for Business Lunch

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Many business deals are sealed during power lunch. If your restaurant wants to attract customers for business lunch, then you need to check out the criteria of “how to pick the right restaurant for a business lunch” that are discussed in the Open Forum at American Express.

Foremost, it starts from great service. Your servers need to be “observant and discreet --- they know when to come by, and when to leave you alone to discuss business matters.”

Then, it comes to appealing food. American food and steak-and-seafood option are considered good choices. The forum suggests businessmen should offer a variety of options to the person whom is invited, including vegetarian. Restaurants may want to consider adding healthy and/or vegetarian items --- healthy, organic, and vegetarian food is one of upcoming food trends anyway.

Last, it ends with great atmosphere. From the forum, I hear words like “impressive,” “professional ambiance” and “beautiful décor.” I myself prefer a place with tablecloths, …

Video from FoxNews.com: Managing Your Online Reputation

Whether or not we choose to become an active user of social media, we all have online reputation. Today's and yesterday's videos tell us how to manage our online reputation.

References:
FoxNews.com: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4247102/keep-online-reputation-intact?playlist_id=86861
Previously shared video entitled "Do You Have a Bad Online Reputation?" was downloaded from ABCNews.com: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/video/google-online-information-privacy-11088651

Do You Have a Bad Online Reputation?

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Video from Facebook News Television: A Good Example of Mobile Food Truck

What’s new of this video? First of all, it was the first Facebook TV video I ever watched online. Then, this video provides a great example of how Facebook can be used in marketing.

Interested in reading more about the concept of mobile food truck, please visit http://linchikwok.blogspot.com/2010/05/become-mobile-food-entrepreneur.html

References:
Video was downloaded from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb36kt741MI

Porto Vista Hotel San Diego: A Brand that Claims To Be a Boutique Concept

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Last week, I stayed in Porto Vista Hotel San Diego for the SHRM Conference. This property was marketed as a boutique-style hotel in its official website and other online travel agents such as Hotels.com. However, my experience informed me that Porto Vista is just another hotel that claims to be “boutique” and “chic.” This hotel is not comparable to any boutique hotels I stayed before or the boutique concept I discussed in this blog.

I booked this hotel through Travelocity.com. Travelocity used “Porto Vista, an Ascend Collection Hotel” as the property name. Ascend Collection is a “historic, boutique, and unique” hotel concept introduced by Choice Hotels International. Before I wrote this discussion, I tried to find Porto Vista in Ascend Collection’s official website. It appeared to me that Porto Vista is not affiliated with the Ascend Collection --- maybe it was before; maybe it was Travelocity’s mistake.

I reserved a standard room with two queen beds. It is reasonable that a standard r…