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Showing posts from October, 2010

Sheraton SU's Green Initiatives and LED Light Bulbs

On Wednesday, the Hotel & Resort Operations class and I toured the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center on campus. We met with eight executives and learned from their own words about how they lead their divisions to meet the departmental and organizational goals.

One of the commitments this hotel makes is to maintain its leading position in guest satisfaction and green initiatives. Over the years, the hotel has already lowered its energy consumption by 30 to 35 percents after installing the energy management system; it also cuts waste from 36 tons/month to 14-16 tons/month (the ultimate goal is to lower the number to around 10 tons/month). In addition, the hotel plans to replace the existing light bulbs with LED light bulbs, which will probably take the hotel’s green commitment to the next level.

Why do LED light bulbs seem so important in this case? As suggested in the embedded CNN News video, LED light bulbs is 10 times more efficient than the traditional…

Bedbug Issue in NYC

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Last month, I talked about bedbug issue in hotels. It seems that this problem has not gone away yet. Today’s ABC News video indicates that bedbugs have become a big threat to New York City’s tourism industry.

As a traveler, will you choose another destination if the bedbug problem continues in the City? Would you rather pay more for a room in a franchised hotel or a hotel that you know well? Would you rely more on online reviews or even google “bedbug + hotel name” before making reservations?

If you are running a hotel in the City, what measures will you take to communicate and educate your team members about this issue? How do you keep bedbugs away from your property? How do you monitor and maintain your hotel’s “positive” online reputation?

Revenue Management: Are You Ready?

Yesterday, we discussed social media as a must-have tool for today’s businesses. In addition to social media, revenue management (RM) is one of those tools that hotels can’t survive without. RM, also known as yield management or profit management, was introduced to help service providers to “yield” maximum revenues from a fixed, intangible, and perishable service capacity. I shared a January Cornell Hospitality Report (CHR) about RM before. Today, I am going to share another recent CHR that discusses the future of RM in hotels.
This report reveals the results of Dr. Kimes’ study with 487 RM professionals. According to Dr. Kimes, RM is being integrated into other aspects of hotel management, such as marketing, finance, and operating strategies. Hotels will rely more on technology and those revenue managers with strong analytical skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. Pricing, forecasting, budget, group decisions, and marketing are the key functions of RM. Among all possib…

Social Media: A Must-Have Tool for Businesses

In this blog, we have shared many successful stories about how social media can make significant impacts to businesses. Once again, this CNN news video reinforces such idea and suggests that social media is the “key” to small businesses. That is, to survive with social media or to vanish --- which option will you choose?

Social media are more than just a tool that leverages sales. People must understand both the “social” (interactions) and “media” (communications) aspects of this tool. The core of social media is to “build a long-term relationship.” In addition to sales, companies often share useful information with fans and followers and keep them engaged.

Interestingly, the mass media often reports the significant impacts of social media to small businesses. As compared to small businesses, are social media not as useful as to big companies? For those big companies that do not have a strong social media presence, I wonder if it is because they do not have a clear social media poli…

Bringing Fine-Dining Gourmet Food Back to the Sky

Continental is believed to be the last airline that served complimentary meals on domestic flights. The bad news is such service ended not long ago. Facing tight competitions, many airlines still serve food, but with a fee. Low-cost carriers are cutting service and adding more fees to travelers. The question is who still cares to serve good food on flights.

Lufthansa, a German airline and a Star Alliance member, still does. Today’s NBC News video shows the attention that Lufthansa puts on airline food. With the effort of bringing fine-dining, gourmet food back to the sky, Lufthansa teams up with LSG Sky Chef, an airline catering company, and the chefs in the Ritz Carlton Hotels for menu development. The challenge is how to maintain high quality and tasty airline food even after it goes through the food-chilled/freezed-and-reheat process.

From this video, it is unclear whether Lufthansa will serve gourmet food in first/business class only or in coach as well. However, while almost ev…

Selling Fresh Fruit and Vegetables in Vending Machines

The Wall Street Journal Online shows a video about a newly designed vending machine. With cushions, angled walls, and better control of temperature, these machines can sell fresh banana and ready-to-eat vegetables. It is a great idea of promoting healthy diet. The tradeoff is consumers are expected to pay “much more” than those selling in a grocery store. How do you expect the future of these vending machines? Do you see vending machine a complement or a threat to restaurant business? How so?

A Personalized Handwritten Thank You Note: Why Bother?

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I discussed the importance of sending a handwritten thank you note after job interviews in my Leadership and Career Management class. A student asked me: “Can’t I write an e-mail?” I could tell she felt “shocked” when she heard “handwritten.” Seriously, why do we bother to “write” a thank you note in the 21st Century?

Several days ago, I celebrated my birthday. A friend of mine mailed me a personalized handwritten birthday card. Does it sound very old-fashioned and out-dated? Yes, it is, but I love it! Especially, I very much appreciate my friend’s time and attention. Likewise, the purpose of sending a thank you note after job interviews is to remind the recruiters (a) how serious you are, (b) how much interest you have for the job, and (c) how much attention and respect you show to the recruiters. Nowadays, people may receive hundreds of e-mails per day (one of the technology trends). A thank you e-mail will very likely be filtered as “spam.” Even if the e-mail goes through, how much…

Writing an Effective Cover Letter

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A cover letter is as important as a resume. If you are asked to complete an online application, which is the norm of these days, chances are you need to submit a cover letter together with your resume. We discussed how to prepare a good resume before. Today, we are going to share some suggestions on how to write an effective cover letter.

1. Be concise and specific. From the first paragraph (two or three sentences), you need to inform the readers of who you are, what your biggest strength or your qualification(s) is, for which position you are applying, and from which source you heard about this opening.
2. In responding to what the company is seeking, use one or two paragraphs to highlight your significant achievements, relevant work experience, and leadership skills. It does not have to be long, but measurable results are preferred.
3. Show your great interest to the job and the company with a brief closing statement, such as thanking a recruiter for his/her attention, requesting fo…

Work Distractions and Productivity: An ABC News Video

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Sometimes, I feel I have been extremely busy working for the whole day. Yet, at the end of the day, it turns out I have not accomplished much at all. Do you ever feel the same way? What are the reasons?

Today’s ABC News video lists top 5 distractions at work and shares some tips on how to increase productivity by minimizing such distractions. These top 5 distractions include: personal issues (i.e. drama; employee gossips), technology overloaded (i.e. too many e-mails or messages), meetings, office environment, and co-worker celebrations (i.e. birthday parties). Here are some suggestions:

• “Implement time management strategies.” For example, people can set a specific time of a day for answering e-mails and messages. We really don’t need to answer every e-mail as soon as we receive it.
• “Ward off drop-ins.” It is fine if we tell or “show” our co-workers that we are in the middle of something.
• Set up a social media and/or cell phone policy.
• Manage meetings. Call for meetings on…

Happy Advertisements

Today’s good news is companies are picking up their spending on advertisements in a variety of media, including magazines, broadcasting, and Internet. This MSNBC video moves further by reviewing a brief history of advertisements and discussing the methods of creating an iconic advertisement. A good advertisement must carry “a story” in a short time and be associated with “emotions,” such as happiness. I agree. In addition, I would like to see the “wow” effect and innovation from an advertisement. Referring back to our previous discussion on trends in innovation, I also believe it is critical for today’s multi-media advertisements to convey an image of a company, a product, or service with consistent, happy, and short stories. The ultimate goal is to make the target audience happy and push them to purchase a product or service. In turn, companies will feel pleased with the impacts of happy advertisements. What happy advertisements do you remember? How effective are they in pushing you …

Will Liquids Be Allowed on Planes Again in the Future?

I've forgotten when was the last time I was allowed to carry liquids on planes --- of course, I am not talking about those that can be put in a quart-size Ziploc bag. This MSNBC video gives us a hope that we might be able to carry liquids on planes again in the future. However, given the fact that travelers have dramatically changed their travel behaviors due to those “one-after-another” airport regulations and airline add-on fees, will things go back to “normal” if liquids are allowed again?

Wine Buying Made Easy

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Not everyone is wine savvy or knows which bottle to order or purchase. Thanks to technology, buying wine these days is much easier than before. This ABC News video shows how customers may use iPad to order wine in a restaurant. An “electronic wine list” allows customers to search wine by type, region, price, and more. They can also navigate the Internet for reviews with a fingertip, which is described in this video as “wine course in a minute.” Furthermore, if a customer likes a bottle, s/he may take a picture and use an iPhone app to find a nearby place where s/he can purchase the same bottle for the best price.

By making it easier for customers to make a purchasing decision, restaurants hope to increase the bottom line. If you are interested in reading relevant discussion, please also check out the posts of MenuPad and e-menu in this blog.

Social Media Policies

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These days, a company’s corporate secrets can be stolen by spy agencies through social networking sites if these spies win employees’ trust over the Internet. As a result, Porsche’s headquarter prohibits its employees from accessing Facebook and other social networking sites with the company’s computers. I believe in today’s business world, almost every company has a Facebook page --- Porsche itself also has one. Even though Porsche’s policy does not apply to its North American locations, this case reminds me the importance of establishing a social media policy for businesses.
Here, I would like to emphasize that no matter if a company chooses to get actively involved in social media or not, very likely, it already has an “image” in social media. People share information of almost everything on Facebook, which has become the No. 1 visited website in the U.S. and is the website on which Americans spend the most time. Actually, we have briefly discussed a company’s social media policy a…

Trends in Innovation: A CNN News Video

This CNN News video presents six (6) trends in technology and media identified by a Georgia Tech University professor. Many of these trends have excellent business implications and deserve our attention.

Trend 1: Data Tsunami. Do you feel there is way too much information around? Consequently, people become very selective in choosing which e-mail or message they want read. This trend challenges marketing and PR managers to design an effective means to reach the target audience with the “right” information.

Trend 2: True Personalization. Technology provides companies valuable social-demographic information of consumers and great tools to “customize” their products and/or services. Guest History used in hotels is a good example.

Trend 3: Content Integrity. Recent debates have been focused on issues like data security and privacy settings. Furthermore, how does a company identify the “authentic” and useful information from an overwhelming data set? How does a company protect customers’ p…

Ways to Clean Up a Person's Negative Online Reputation

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I shared two news videos in July 2010 on how to manage a person’s online reputation (FoxNews video and ABCNews video). But what if somebody already has a negative online reputation? Is there any way to clean up the mess?

This ABCNews video presents several ways to “reboot” a person’s online reputation. The easiest and most expensive way is to hire a professional for help. More directly, a person can contact those people or the websites to take off the “inappropriate” content from the Internet. It is also important to use a person’ real name to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts. Personally, if people ask me if it is fine to post some “questionable” information or pictures of themselves, I would tell them: “If you think they are questionable, they probably are.” Do you agree?

Michelin and Zagat Restaurant Reviews: Which One Do You Value More?

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Earlier this year, we talked about what kind of online reviews about hotels and restaurants consumers may trust. Today, Bruce Palling at the Wall Street Journal discussed the differences between Zagat and Michelin reviews on restaurant ratings. My questions are: (1) Between Zagat and Michelin, which one do you value more than the other? (2) Which rating method do you trust the most?

For more than a century, Michelin is “the guide” for restaurants. Initiated in Europe, Michelin rates restaurants based on the feedback from anonymous inspectors and publishes their review once a year. Its territory has expanded from Europe to U.S. and Far East. Recently, it started using social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to promote Michelin and the ratings.
Zagat, on the other hand, is a relatively new guide for restaurant ratings. Zagat solely relies on reader surveys. North America is the biggest market for Zagat, followed by Europe and Asia. Zagat updates its online review more frequently as…

How to Find the Right Internship or Job

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Yesterday, I met a student who had worked in restaurants for years. He asked me how he could find an internship in a hotel for the summer of 2011. I feel very pleased that he prepares early, and I also believe that he already have had an excellent start by asking advices from his professors. I gave him several suggestions:

1. Have an updated resume ready for job applications and ask peers, professors, and professionals to critique the resume. 2. Start talking to professors and staff members who may have industry connections. Very likely, they know somebody who is hiring.
3. Be actively involved in the activities hosted by the Career Service Center and utilize the resources provided by the center.
4. Research your dream companies and see if they have internship or management trainee program in place for college students. Then, prepare your application materials that target specifically to the dream jobs/companies.
5. Join professional organizations and start networking. AH&LA, NRA,…

What Is Your Company's Position on Facebook?

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As I am working on two research projects on social media, I pay special attention to companies' activities on Facebook. This ABCNews video shows how Starbucks, as an example, uses Facebook to communicate with its customers. Starbucks has more than 14.6 million Facebook fans (or people who "Like" the company) as of Oct 5, 2010. It is not difficult to imagine how much valuable marketing and market information Starbucks may get by actively engaging with its customers on Facebook. Interestingly, I also found a large number of big companies that do not have any Facebook page. What are these companies thinking? May I ask, what is your company's position on Facebook?

Hottest Restaurant Trend of the Year: Growing One’s Own Vegetables

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A recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association revealed that growing one’s own garden vegetables is 2010’s top restaurant trend. More independent restaurants grow vegetables for going green and cutting operation costs.
The Blue Water Grill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, has increased the size of its garden from 1,000 square feet to about 3,000 square feet. The gardens now provide supplies of tomatoes, squash, peppers, sweet corn, herbs, and strawberries. Restaurant owners believe that such practice allows them to better control the quality of food and lower the food costs. Some restaurants also open their gardens for tours. During tours, creative chefs may offer to cook something “special” from the garden for guests.
In August 2010, I shared an ABCNews video of how a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan is able to use a rooftop garden to produce the “green supplies” for its business. Even though this idea may work better for independent restaurants because they h…

Return on Investment in Education: Thoughts on the Top Executive M.B.A. Programs

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Last week, a Wall Street Journal report listed the top 25 Executive M.B.A. (E.M.B.A.) Programs of 2010. The Wharton School (UPenn) ranks No. 1 and costs an executive $167,250 to finish the program. Among those E.M.B.A. students who responded to the survey, 36% are paying for their own expenses. I wonder what makes these schools so good that people want to pay big bucks for the education.
The No. 1 motivation is they hope an E.M.B.A. can help them change careers or industry, followed by the reason of getting promotion their current company. Under financial crisis, the top E.M.B.A. programs added new specializations such as finance and leadership. The focus of these programs switched from business skills to modern thinking, ethics, and leadership. Upon finishing an E.M.B.A. program, a student’s return on investment can be assessed by (a) if his/her personal goals are met; (b) improvement in performance is noticed at work; and (c) s/he attributes his/her growth to the program. In particu…

Tips on Online Job Search: An ABCNews Video

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This ABCNews video discusses strategies used in online job search. Building on the advices shared in this video, I would like to emphasize the following:

1. Online job search is more than just submitting resumes and applications online. It is about creating a job candidate’s “visibility” online --- you want recruiters to find you these days.
2. Job candidates need to build a good online reputation.
3. Job seekers need to join online communities, such as LinkedIn, and network with other professionals online. Today’s networking is about participating in online discussions and giving valuable inputs to online communities. Giving intellectual answers in online forum is a good indication of a person’s expertise.
4. Job seekers need to build an authentic personal brand by communicating with consistent messages and having a frequent online presence.

What are your experiences in online job search?