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Showing posts from September, 2010

Springhill Suites Syracuse Carrier Circle

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Yesterday, I attended the grand opening reception of the Springhill Suites Syracuse Carrier Circle and met with several Marriott managers. I am glad that Marriott is bringing an all-suite hotel to Syracuse. I like the blue and green theme, the lobby, the market, and the guestrooms --- it seems to me that this brand catches the hotel design trends very well. As several other Marriott brands are also undergoing some changes, I am expecting to see more refresh looks of Marriott properties in Syracuse in the near future. 
Interested in seeing more pictures of this property? Please check out my Facebook Photo Album via http://www.facebook.com/#!/album.php?aid=30403&id=100000622851240
References: The video was downloaded from Marriott.com via: http://tinyurl.com/LinchiKwok09292010V

Student Resumes

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I see resumes as a personal statement that highlights a person’s achievements over time. Accordingly, a good resume can be “personal,” where the person needs to make the ultimate decision on what should be included in the document. Meanwhile, a good resume must demonstrate a person’s qualification(s) for a targeting job with “quantifiable” achievements and “outcomes.”

I teach students how to write an efficient resume in my Leadership and Career Management class. In general, I make the following suggestions to college students:
1. Objective is NOT necessary because a vain objective is a useless statement while a specific objective narrows a person’s career options. A specific objective may work if a person is exceptional and has interest in only one particular career option.
2. In terms of education, information of high school diploma, the department name or the college name is not important. However, the university that issues the degree, the degree itself, major(s) or minor(s), an…

Twitter: An Effective Way to Communicate between Restaurants and Customers

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In June 2010, we discussed how a complaint about a hotel stay may get more attention and better results if it is communicated through social media. Today, we are going to visit the power of Twitter in solving guest complaints or customer issues in the restaurant settings. Here is an example:

A guest checked in at Wow Bao, an upscale fast food restaurant in Chicago. He saw some negative reviews of the place and tweeted: “Going to ‘business dinner (at) Wow Bao. Can any1 tell me if its going to suck as much reviews suggests.” Soon, he received an almost immediate response from the restaurant --- two $15 gift cards via an iPhone app, encouraging him to try it out by himself. The next night, this guest ate at Wow Bao and posted pictures of the food on Twitter.
According to Wow Bao’s Twitter commitment: “If somebody has 1,000 followers and writes a negative Tweet about Wow Bao, then 1,000 people could think the restaurant is bad. But if Wow Bao publicly responds to that Tweet, 1,000 people …

Restaurant App that Helps Us Watch Our Diets

This CNN news video introduced a restaurant app that helps consumers better watch their diets. Based on a person’s specific diet needs, this app makes personalized meal recommendations from a restaurant’s digital menu. This web-based app is newly developed by two Georgia Tech professors and has not yet been widely adopted by the restaurant industry. However, I feel this app works really well with the E-menu concept we discussed back in January 2010. As consumers, how would you like to download this app when it becomes available to mobile devices later? As a restaurant manager, how feasible do you think of this app?

College Graduates as Restaurant Entrepreneurs

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Restaurant business is huge. The National Restaurant Association predicted $580 billion in sales for the industry in 2010. Quite often, I hear hospitality students telling me they plan to open their own restaurants upon graduation. My questions to these students are: what they have done to prepare themselves for a career in restaurants and how ready they are in managing their own business at the time when they graduate. Managing a restaurant is not as easy as it seems.
Nayeli Rodriguez at Newsweek suggested an entrepreneur needs to make seven decisions before opening a restaurant. I agree. Building on Nayeli’s discussion, I suggest students to check the following questions:

• Do I know everything about restaurant operations? Can I manage the back as well as the front of a restaurant? • Do I have a solid business plan? How do I make a profit for the business? • Do I have a great marketing plan? What brand do I want to create? • Do I select the “right” location based on demographics a…

Facebook’s Job Search App --- BranchOut

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We know Facebook is the No. 1 visited site in the U.S. We also know that Americans spent the most time on Facebook as compared to other websites. However, when it comes to job search, we all go to LinkedIn.

With the attempt to maximize the utility of a Facebook user’s connections, which may also be referred to as a person’s social capital, Facebook introduced a job search app called BranchOut (http://superfan.com/). I signed up for the service and gave it a trial. BranchOut is very much like LinkedIn in this stage. With this app, I can see a list of companies in which my friends work or worked before, my friends’ work histories, post a job for free, refer a friend to a position (with bonuses), and invite my friends’ to join the network. I believe I am the first one among my network who has added this app.

We discussed how people may lose their jobs because of Facebook posts and how people can manage their online reputations before. I believe BranchOut will bring Facebook to a more pro…

Smart Phones as Room Keys

Starwood introduced a “Smart Check-In” pilot program in February 2010, allowing selected Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) to skip the Front Desk and use their SPG cards as room keys. This pilot program provides guests an option of skipping the Front Desk during their stay. Today, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) introduced a similar pilot program at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago O’Hare and the Holiday Inn Express downtown Houston. In these two locations, guests may choose to use their smart phones as room keys (as demonstrated in the embedded video). Here is how it works:

• Guests opt to participate in the program by registering through e-mail or at the Front Desk.
• On the day of arrival, the room number as well as a secured link will be sent to the registered guests’ smart phones via text messages.
• Guests may then open the door with the secured link.

Even though IHG plans to introduce this “mobile-key” concept to more properties, guests may still choose between the smart…

Creating a Memorable Experience with Unique Amenities: ABCNews Videos

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We discussed boutique hotel concept and hotel designs before. Today, I would like to share three ABCNews videos about unique hotel amenities:

Video I (The Ritz Carlton Hotels & Resorts) includes:
• Feeding horses in Central Park, NYC
• Cultural Embassador, Kapulua, Maui Hawaii
• Load-a-Lab in Bachelor Gulch, Colorado
• Tanning Butler in South Beach Miami, Florida
• Fire and Wine Butler in Half Moon Bay, California
• Bicycling Concierge, Enniskerry, County Wicklow Ireland


Video II shows:
• Sleep Concierge at the Benjamin Hotel, NYC
• Running Concierge at the Westin Hotels
• Professional Astronomers, L’Auberge de Sedona, Arizona


Video III presents:
• Soap Concierge at the Tides Riviera Maya Mexico
• Tall rooms at the Epic Hotel Miami, Florida
• Barbie Suites at the Hotel Plaza Athenee Paris
• Gondola Massages at the Lowes Coronado Bay Resort San Diego
• Underwater Suite at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
• Pet Therapy at the Hotel deLuxe Portland Oregon
• Mile High Arrival at the Si…

Event Planning Experience Shared by Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

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Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts host many events every year, from private wedding receptions, corporate retreats, professional conferences, to PGA’s Byron Nelson Golf Tournaments. These events have different purposes and may request distinguished service or products. What Four Seasons do in creating that many impressive events? The answer is “combining beautiful designed settings, delicious food, and skilled event coordinators who keep all the elements moving smoothly and seamlessly.”
Four Seasons noticed today’s event planners prefer to have all function rooms on the same floor. Accordingly, the hotel “incorporated this layout concept” in a recently renovated property in London. This new floor plan provides a central area for mingling and socializing.
Another big change Four Seasons made is to create “rooms with views.” Such design not only brings more natural energy to function rooms, but also captures “the excitement of a big city or the beautiful landscapes of a remote resort. In …

Top Universities in Corporate Recruiters’ Mind – Part II

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Yesterday, I discussed the important role a university faculty or staff member plays in college recruiting. I received some comments about how students also need to be actively involved in the process because at the end of the day, they are the ones who are looking for a job.
A successful college recruitment program relies on a close partnership between a school and a company. The Wall Street Journal report also suggests companies have increased interest in working with universities on either class projects or internships. The latter has become the key of how companies select job candidates as well as how students may secure a job offer even before they graduate.
During internships, companies will be able to observe students at work and see how well the interns fit in the organization --- as companies want to hire “well-rounded” and the best fit students. Meanwhile, students can “show off” their qualifications and see if they really enjoy working for the company. One fourth recruiters…

Top Universities in Corporate Recruiters’ Mind - Part I

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The Wall Street Journal asked 842 recruiting executives to rank the top universities with the best bachelor-degree graduates who are best-trained and educated and best able to succeed after hire. Based on the results of 479 responses, the top three universities are Penn State, Texas A&M, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My home school Texas Tech (as shown in the pictures) is named the No. 18 in the list.

The costs for college recruiting could run up to $5,000 per grad. During recession, corporate has greatly curtailed recruiting budget. Recruiters want to make sure their effort has good return. One indication of success is to measure how many grads are hired and how long these hires will stay within the company. As a result, recruiters like those schools who have the most prepared and well-rounded students, whose graduates fit well into the corporate culture, and those with the best track record over time. In particular, employers like schools where they can form pa…

Hotel's Fashion Statement

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Probably because of the New York Fashion Week, attention has been focused on fashion in September. This month’s Lodging Magazine also features an article about hotel designs. More hotel brands are making their fashion statements by introducing new properties, new lobbies, new guestrooms, new bathroom, new restaurants, and new service. The magazine outlines the evolution of hotel architecture:

• 1950s – Basic motels with simple rooms were the norm.
• 1960s – First atrium hotel was introduced. • 1970s – Specialty restaurants and distinct pool areas were integrated in mixed-use hotels.
• 1980s – Guestroom “suite” concept was introduced.
• 1990s – Overall guest experience is emphasized, with spacious lobbies and revitalized products in rooms (i.e. Starwood’s Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Shower).
• 2000s and beyond – More technology gadgets are equipped in rooms.

Looking forward, trends of going green and high-tech are expected. “Trends, like fashion, will come and go, but strong, timeless …

Americans Spent Over 41 Million Minutes on Facebook in August

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In March 2010, Facebook out-passed Google and became the No. 1 site visited in the U.S. Last month, Americans spent over 41 million minutes on Facebook, as compared to under 40 million minutes on Google (including YouTube). If your company is not on Facebook or has not put ads on Facebook, probably it is the time to do so. Being late is better than doing nothing. If your company is already on Facebook, what are your Facebook strategies?

Job Questions Answered by Troy Johnson at ABCNews.com

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When college graduating seniors are getting ready for interviews and entering the work force, I would like to share an ABCNews video about job hunts. In this video, Troy Johnson answered five frequently asked questions:

1. Is it a good idea of using a recommendation letter or references that was dated 10 years ago?
2. Is it appropriate to knock a company's door even the company states "no visits or no phone calls"?
3. When is the best time to ask questions about salary?
4. What is the best way to state my career objective?
5. How can I find my dream job?

I agree with Troy Johnson. I also believe job hunting these days is not about what "I" want. Sometimes, it is not even about what "I" am good at or how good "I" am. It is more about what the employer wants. So, when writing a resume and preparing for an interview, I suggest candidates keep in mind of what the prospective employer is looking for and ask: What can I bring to the table? What…

Hotel Training

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Classroom, CDs, and online training: these terms all represent yesterday’s training methods. Today, hotels use gadgets like iPod and PlayStation to “engage” employees in training.
According to Jane Levere (The New York Times), these gadgets appeal more to younger employees. Moreover, the training content is not that expensive to create. A traditional 20-minute training DVD may cost $250,000, but an iPod training module only costs between $30,000 and $50,000.

These new hotel training methods reflect the changes of how people communicate and learn these days. As social media become a crucial part of people’s lives, communication and learning are all about “engagement” and interactions.
Because younger employees and younger guests have already used these gadgets to interact and stay connected with their friends, training employees with the “tools” they use every day may become more effective. Plus, many hotels have already used tech gadgets in operations (see iPad in Hotel, iPad App/Gam…

3D TVs in Sports Bar

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"3D" is another buzzword in today's business --- 3D movies, 3D TVs, 3D cameras, etc. A businessman brought 3D TVs to his sports bar (as shown in the first ABCNews video). It seems that this new tech gadget received warm welcome by customers.

I think 3D TVs are excellent in showing sports, motion movies, and cartoons, but there is a problem ---different 3D TVs require unique lenses. These lenses are not cheap, and they only work for one particular brand. The good news is we will soon be able to watch 3D TVs without glasses. The second CNNNews video demonstrates the future of 3D TVs that do not need special glasses.

3D TVs in general are not cheap. Business owners want to see the return on investment. As to customers though, when you choose a sports bar, which factor seems most important to you? 3D TVs, cool beer, great food, good service, the clientele of the bar, or some other factors?



Another Example of How Social Media May Do for a Business

We have discussed several examples of how social media may do for a business in this blog before --- e.g. 4food and Mobile Food Truck (a Facebook video). This CNN video provides another successful example of using social media in mobile cupcake business. Even though this video does not reveal much new information, it shows the importance of tying every social media tool together. This is the way to build a brand with consistent messages and maximize the strengths of a variety of social media tools. Do you agree?

Bedbug Problem

In the last couple months, I read more news articles about bedbugs in hotels. Bedbug is a small pest that lives in mattresses and sometimes carpets. It bites. Every hotel manager is working hard to keep bedbugs away from the property because “cleanness” is hotel guests’ foremost expectation. Hotels often hire pests control companies to prevent the problem.

This news video shows us a new way to kill bedbugs --- heat. Bedbugs die when the temperature reaches 115 degree. Accordingly, heating a room to 140 degree for two hours will kill all bedbugs in a room. However, this method is not cheap --- it costs $1200 to "clean" an apartment like what is shown in the video.
References: The News5 video was downloaded from YouTube via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Os63_DzO4

Unmarried Young Women with No Children Earn More than Men

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This ABCNews video shows women who are under 30, unmarried, with no children, earn an average of 8% more than their counterpart. In New York City, young women make 17% more. This could be explained by the fact that there are more female than male college graduates, with a ratio of 3:2. A college graduate earns almost $30,000 more than a high school graduate. I believe this group of young female professionals is also more flexible in terms of work, work hours, and locations (i.e. travelling). Being flexible is also very important in career success. What do you think?

The Debate of Groupon

Even though Groupon can substantially increase the traffic of a business (as suggested in the second NBC News video), business owners may also feel the burden of carrying the costs of deep discounts and commissions (as suggested in the first CNN News video). In fact, the CNN News video also mentioned e-mail promotions --- you may be interested in a relevant discussion on E-mail Marketing in this blog. What do you think? Does Groupon benefits or hurts business?