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Showing posts from December, 2010

The Hottest Hotels of 2011

The Travel + Leisure Magazine selected 2011’s hottest hotels, six of which were also featured in this MSNBC News video. Let’s check them out and see why they deserve the “hot spots.”
The Nines @ Portland OR: A fashion-oriented and green hotel, $199 (per night). The Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa @ Scottsdale, AZ: A high-end resort and spa in the desert, $199. The Palazzo @ Las Vegas, NV: An all-suite hotel that features a poor club (new trend in Vegas), $199.The Greenbrier Hotel @ White Sulphur Springs, WV: A family resort, $199.The Casamagna Marriott Resort @ Cancun, Mexico: A family resort, $179.Hotel Villa Cipriani @ Asolo, Italy: An Italian escape, $249. These properties represent a variety of market segments in the lodging industry, some of which also have a long history of success. I wonder if any students in my Hotel & Resort Operations class will use one of these hottest hotels as an example when they profile a lodging product. 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, w…

Food Technology: Robots in Restaurants & Vending Machines that Sell Live Crabs

Today’s two short MSNBC videos are about food technology. Video I shows a restaurant in Jinan China that uses robots to serve food. To me, these robots look no more than just some “moving food carts,” but it is an interesting concept. At least, the restaurant has put itself on the news. I personally like the e-menu concept better.

Video II is about vending machines in Nanjing China that sell live hairy crabs. It seems that technology has allowed us to sell almost anything in vending machines (we talked about selling fresh fruit and vegetables in vending machines before). Isn’t it amazing? Actually, selling live crabs in vending machines is easier than what many people may assume. Crabs are in “habitation” under cold temperature. In Syracuse, I buy live blue shell crabs in the morning and usually keep them in the fridge before I cook them for dinner. They will be alive but remain very “calm” in the fridge. So, it is feasible to sell live hairy crabs in refrigerated vending machines. H…

Mobile Food Trucks for Gourmet Food

Mobile food truck is not a new concept. Customers may expect items of hot dogs, ice cream, sandwiches, burgers, BBQ, or some “easy-fixed” food. According to this Fox News video, several gourmet food chefs in LA are now participating in the mobile food truck phenomenon. So, as a restaurant manager, how would you like to promote your gourmet food menu on the street? As a consumer, how would you like trying out gourmet food on the street?

Interested in relevant discussion? Please visit the following topics:
Tips on starting a mobile food businessBecome a mobile food entrepreneurMobile food truck and social mediaA Facebook News Television story about mobile food truck

Facebook: The 3rd Largest Website in the World

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With nearly 650 million unique visitors last month, Facebook outpassed Yahoo by about 20 million and has become the 3rd largest website in the world. The top two largest websites are Google and Microsoft.

Today, people in Mainland China have access to Google and Microsoft but not Facebook. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg visited China and met with several CEOs of the top IT firms in Beijing. Can you imagine what will happen if China opens its door to Facebook?

Facebook is now the No. 1 visited website in the U.S. and the No. 1 website on which Americans spent the most time. The time may come very soon when Facebook becomes the most visited website of the world and the website on which human beings spent the most time.

Top 10 Innovations of the Year

Innovation is extremely important in today’s business. So, what are the top 10 innovations of 2010? According to this CNN News video, they are:

10. The Rebirth of 3-D
9. Google’s Driverless Car
8. Malaria-Proof Mosquito
7. Motorcycle Jacket Airbag
6. Lab-grown Lungs
5. Launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9
4. Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox
3. Bionic Legs Help Paraplegic
2. Electric Cars
1. Apple’s iPad

Regardless what criteria CNN used when making this list, many of these innovations have direct impacts on our lives. IPad indeed received the most attention from me as I have talked about using iPads in enhancing guest service, hotel training, restaurant menus, and wine list in this blog. In your opinions, what is the No. 1 innovation of the year?

Cover Letter, Resume, and LinkedIn

Bob Dixon is a businessman and looking for a job on LinkedIn. He ended up helping veterans find jobs by giving his professional critics on cover letters, resumes, and interview skills on LinkedIn. I agree with Bob Dixon that (a) cover letter is a marketing tool and needs to get recruiters’ attention and (b) resume is the key to get an interview and needs to emphasize a job seeker’s qualifications that fit in a particular position. Even though these two documents have two purposes, they all need to show off job candidates’ strengths and qualifications with quantifiable facts and specific accomplishments.

It is no doubt that Bob Dixon is providing great service on LinkedIn. He networks with other LinkedIn users and demonstrates his expertise by helping others, which is also an important social-media job-search tactic. I hope more headhunters will reach him after they see Bob Dixon’s featured interview on Fox News. He has my best wishes for finding his dream job.

Job search is beyond s…

Tips on Holiday Tipping

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Holiday is a good time to show appreciations to those who consistently provide great service over time. The question is how much is considered the “right” amount of tipping? Different service professionals have different expectations. The embedded MSNBC and ABC News videos show us some tips on holiday tipping. Generally speaking, the “right” amount equals to a one-time service fee that a person pays per visit. So, if a person pays $200 per visit to his/her hair stylist, s/he should tip no less than $200 on his/her visit during holiday.

I actually do not use the same hair stylist. I tip my hair stylist 15% to 20% every time when I have my hair cut. I believe that’s reasonable. I give presents or gift cards to those people who work closely with me at work and those who have helped me over time. And yes, the amount of tips I spend on the garage attendants and the receptionists in my apartment varies --- I give more to those who are nice to me as compared to those who are just doing thei…

Dress to Impress: “Old-Fashioned” Business Attire Still Works

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High fashion may work well in the New York Fashion Show, but the Wall Street may prefer something more conservative. The Wall Street Journal features a discussion on UBS’ dress code. The Swiss bank UBS AG has a 43-page dress code for all retail banking staff because the company believes “first impressions count.” Some of the Do’s and Don’ts include: DO’S For women: Wear your jacket buttoned. When sitting, the buttons should be unfastened. Make sure to touch up hair re-growth regularly if you color your hair. For man: Store your suit on a large hanger with rounded shoulders to preserve the shape of the garment. Schedule barber appointments every four weeks to maintain your haircut shape.
DON’S Eating garlic and onions. Smoking or spending time in smoke-filled places. Wearing short-sleeved shirts or cuff links. Wearing socks that are too short, showing your skin while sitting. Allowing underwear to be seen. Touching up perfume during or after lunch break. Using tie knots that don’t match yo…

The $4.5 Billion “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids” Act

The Congress just passed a $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids” Act, allowing the government to decide what children eat in public school cafeterias and vending machines, limit the frequency of bakery sales for fund raising, and let those kids who cannot afford certain meals have a meal after school before they go home. Here, I am not going to join the debate of whether the government should decide what kids eat. My point is running a managed services account in schools (K-12 and universities) has become a very challenging job. Whoever manages these accounts needs to be health conscious, creative, and good at menu engineering.

In particular, I like a quote of a superintendent mentioned in this Fox News video --- “you can put the piece and the carrot on the lunch tray; you can force them to do that, but you just can’t force these kids to eat it.” If the kids are not going to eat healthy food, are we creating more waste by putting healthy food on the trays? What are the reasons for…

Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) for Restaurants

I like the CSA idea in Pennsylvania. A family pays $500 a season for weekly delivery of fresh produce. Then, the family is guaranteed to have fresh vegetables and sometimes fruits. Eating fresh and supporting local farmers are the biggest advantages. The challenge, however, is that the family cook has to be very creative because the kind of vegetable and the amount of produce being delivered may vary every week according to the weather conditions.

I see the potential of applying this CSA idea to independent restaurants. Well, if an urban restaurant can count on its rooftop garden for greens, why can’t an independent restaurant reply on local farmers? In fact, growing vegetables on one’s own has become the hottest restaurant trend of the year. By using local ingredients, talented chefs can show off their creative culinary arts skills; an independent restaurant may also find a niche to “distinguish” itself from other restaurant chains.

What do you think of this CSA idea in restaurant …

Lessons Learned from Angie’s 2010 List of Worst Businesses

This Fox News video features an interview with the founder of Angie’s List. The company uses six criteria of overall experience, price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, and professionalism to select the worst businesses, including:
Home Warranties Property Management Communication Wedding Professionals Florists Dry Cleaners Indeed, providing exceptional overall experience with reasonable price and reliable quality are important to all hospitality business. From this list, however, I believe we can learn a few lessons.
Inform customers with clear expectations of the products and services provided. Allow customers to make informed decisions on their own. Provide good follow-up customer service. NEVER over-promise anything that a company cannot deliver. What other lessons do you learn from this video news? What was your experience with exceptional customer service? How did such customer service impact your purchasing decisions with the company?

How Can We Remain Competitive without the Most Competitive Human Capital?

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This ABC News video gives us a wake-up call that this nation needs to improve education to stay competitive. According to the results of an international test, U.S. kids are ranked the No. 30 in Math, No. 20 in Science, and No. 17 in Reading. Shanghai is not the cultural capital of China, but kids in Shanghai have the highest performance among all categories. What does this mean to the U.S. economy? According to a research by Stanford, if U.S. can raise the performance in the international test by 5%, such improvement in human capital will translate into 41 trillion dollars in the U.S. economy over the next 20 years.

As compared to those in the U.S., kids in China spend 41 more days a year in school and receive 30% more hours of instructions. In Finland, all elementary school teachers have at least a master’s degree. Kids in Finland have already learned three languages by the 7th Grade. They started taking Physics and Chemistry in middle schools.

I spent my adolescent in one of the …

No Texting, Tweeting, or Facebooking?!

Two days ago, I shared a Fox News video about a “tough” cell phone policy that was adopted by a school in the Bay Area. Today, I found another CNN News video discussing a similar topic. It seems that a debate has emerged of whether school shall ban cell phones and access to social media.

In this video, two school teachers and a group of students tried to live without cell phones or checking social networking sites for one week. Can you imagine how difficult it would be? Will their lives become miserable as they have to talk to real people instead of texting or tweeting? Wouldn’t it be weird when they have to actually talk to somebody face to face? Are these people insane?

If you were challenged today for not texting, tweeting, or Facebooking for a week, what are your reactions? Will you be able to “survive”? How additive do you think you are with cell phones or social media?

Landing Your Next Job by Tweeting

I shared some social-media job search tactics in November. This MSNBC News video shows us two specific examples of how people used Twitter to find jobs. Lessons learned from these two examples include:
Tweet like an expert --- for job seekers, social media is no longer a tool for personal communications; everything posted on social media is open to the public and should be professional. Use Twitter hashtags (i.e. @LinchiKwok) Connect with recruiters and current employees of the companyBuild a relevant networkStart a “Hire Me” campaignTake it offline --- continue a conversation with potential employers with e-mails or phone, or meet with them in person. Within this blog, we also discussed the power of Twitter several times. What are your experiences with Twitter? How would you like to try using Twitter in job search?


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Can a Tough Cell Phone Policy Teach Teenagers Cell Phone Etiquette?

Cell phone is no doubt an important tool for communications. However, it is inappropriate and sometimes rude if one uses cell phones during class, meetings, seminars, business lunch, a date, job interviews, or other functions that needs the person’s attention. Since schools are the places where future leaders are educated, should schools teach students good cell phone etiquette by enforcing a tough cell phone policy? When I say “tough,” I mean locking up the cell phones for up to ONE YEAR for those repeat offenders. If a student refuses to turn in his/her cell phone, s/he could be suspended from schools.

Does it sound crazy? This Fox News video reports that a high school in Bay Area (California) is taking the “tough” approach I mentioned above. Those who support this policy believe that schools need to teach students the consequences of their behaviors. If a school has a policy but fails to enforce the rules, students will not learn anything.

If you are a manager, what is the cell p…

Seeking Online Feedback from Customers: How Proactive Can It Be?

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Online comments can significantly influence customers’ purchasing decisions. Some hospitality companies have created full time positions to monitor and respond to online reviews. My question to hospitality companies is: Are we proactive enough in promoting positive feedback while responding to negative comments?

Last week, I ordered a small gift online. It states on the receipt that:
Please take a moment to leave us POSITIVE FEEDBACK (a score of 4 or 5)
Please contact us at *** (e-mail address) or *** (phone number) before leaving any negative or neutral feedback.
(Followed by a coupon code for next order online)
I give this retailer two thumbs up because this statement (company) not only encourages customers to post positive feedback but also proactively reacts to customers’ negative or neutral comments if there is any before they publish anything negative online. I stay in hotels several times a year, and I eat in restaurants quite often, some of which have my e-mail address on file. How…

Social Media for Toddlers?!

A company developed a social media tool for toddlers so that they can “post” their updates on the Internet and “communicate” with their friends in the network (as shown in the embeded CNN News video). This tool looks like a “brick game,” where toddlers insert the bricks with distinguished shapes into a corresponding box. For example, a squared block represents “I’m eating;” a circle block indicates “I’m brushing my teeth;” and a triangle block means “I’m sleeping.” The corresponding box is connected to the Internet so that the status will be updated within the toddlers’ network.

Today, I read a reflection paper on the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education about the 15th Annual Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism (Van Hoof & Mattila, 2010). One of the issues emerged in the conference is that many graduate students do not process good communication (presentation) skills. Related to this issue, I wonder if this social media tool for toddlers goes…

Top Airlines of the Year

MSNBC released the results of an airline survey by Zagat. Here are some results:
Top Economic Class: JetBlue. With newer planes, younger crews, and first-check bag free, I flew JetBlue several times after I moved to Syracuse.  Top Premium Class: Continental. I am not sure if it will sustain after the mergers with United. Top Frequent Flyer Program: Virgin Airlines.Top Best-Value-for-the-Ticket: Southwest. I often flew Southwest when I was in Texas. I hope Southwest will fly to Syracuse soon. Top Flight Entertainment: JetBlue. I really like the individual “entertainment system.” I recalled that I flew Singapore Airlines in 2001, when I first experienced my individual game/movie system in my seat. Entering 2011, I wonder why there are still very few airlines that adopt this concept. Best Airport: Portland, OR. I agree that JFK and LaGuardia never brought me any pleasant experiences. Period. In terms of big airports, I like DFW the best. I shared a family story about how a person may bu…

Food-Safety Modernization Act

The Senate passed the Food-Safety Modernization Act. I hear two major changes from this Fox News video about the regulations:

1. Voluntary recall is replaced by mandatory recall. Before this Act, contaminated food would be voluntarily recalled by the companies who showed responsibility. Now, the government has the authority to recall unsafe items.

2. The government is putting more resources out there for food safety. However, due to the constraints of resources, the focus will be put on “where the risks are” --- namely on imported food, which only 1% is being inspected, as well as big corporations. Small farmers will be exempted from the new regulations because their influences are considered smaller than those of big farmers.

What does this Food-Safety Modernization Act mean to restaurant and/or food retail business? Where are the real sources of contaminated food? Does this Act make you feel “safer” as a consumer? How so? What other suggestions will you make to ensure that everyon…