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Showing posts from 2011

Creating an Organizational Culture that Nurtures the Freedom of Thinking

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This holiday, I visited San Francisco Bay Area, which is the home for many start-ups and IT giants. I can’t help but wonder why people in this neighborhood can create so many new ideas and innovative products. 
With this question in mind, I toured the GoogleCampus in Mountain View, CA today. The Campus is as nice and as “open” as what many business journals and case studies describe --- it provides great and flexible work environments with free workout facilities, free food and drink (even to visitors), childcare service (with a fee), and etc. It may seem to many visitors like me that there are “no disciplines” in this place. Yet, Google has introduced a large number of successful products and services. 
Many scholarly discussions contribute Google’s success to the company’s “exploratory culture.” For example, employees in Google have the options of allocating 20% - 30% of their work time in a collaborative or innovative project of their choice. Different from Google, many companies set…

Strategies for Responding to Online Reviews

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Voyager’s World --- an “India’s premier Travel and Tourism monthly” --- featured my comments about online reviews in its cover story of this month’s issue. I believe that no business can ignore online reviews anymore. It would be too late to fix a problem if a business has been labeled in the “worst list” of some sort by online review sites. Businesses can either manage their online presence with designated staff or pay for an agent to periodically feed the online reviews and comments about their establishments.

If monitoring online reviews is not a question, then how should a business respond to online reviews? Here are some suggestions: 
If the business makes a mistake, acknowledge it and fix the problem. If customers repeatedly complain about one issue, it is very likely that this is a serious problem, and the business needs to address it. If customers said anything good about the business, “publish” and “share” it on as many social networking sites as possible. In particular, if a c…

Science of Shopping: Do You Know You Are Being Watched?

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We just talked about how mobile technology allows marketers to track consumers’ shopping routines last week. Today, we are going to revisit more tracking tools available for retailers/marketers. According this ABC News video, retailers can tell if a shopper like or dislike a product by two indexes: 

The “enthusiasm level” measured by the indicators of body temperature, motions, and heart ratesThe “disagree score” with the aids of facial recognition technology. 
The goal of these marketers or retailers, however, is not to invade anyone’s privacy. Instead, it is intended to create a more pleasant shopping experience for consumers by tailoring to their preferences, habits, and budgets. What do you think of these tracking technologies?

Strategies for Managing a Company’s Social Media Presence

There is a voice among hospitality professionals, saying “People talk about my company and my brands all the time on social media sites. What should I do? Do I need to hire somebody to watch it 24/7? How many employees do I have to hire for this thing?!” 

I understand their frustrations, but if we think positively, it is nice to have people talking about the company/brand all the time on the internet because by default, Google Search will display the results pulled from multiple sources for the keyword(s) being used (e.g. the official websites, Wikipedia, news, pictures, videos, blogs, customer review sites, etc.). The more people talk about a company/brand, the better this company can “optimize” the search engine results. 
It is out of the question whether a company must manage their social media presence. The questions is probably how or which person (position) should be hired to manage the conversations on social media sites.
Today’s Wall Street Journal shared three best-practice appr…

A Tour of the Newly Renovated Courtyard by Marriott in Syracuse

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Yesterday, I toured the newly renovated Courtyard Hotel by Marriott in Syracuse. I was very impressed with its new lobby.  
Over the last two or three years, Marriott put big effort on transforming the Courtyard brand with a “refreshing business lobby.” Personally, I have stayed in several Courtyard hotels with the new lobby concept in different locations, but I have to admit that I really love the new lobby of this Courtyard in Syracuse. 
Like many other newly renovated Courtyard, this hotel’s lobby also has many functional zones. It also has a cozy feel. What I like the most about this lobby, however, is how seamlessly one functional space flows to another. These functional spaces look great as individual zones, yet they are nicely put together as different components of the lobby. I also love the blue and orange accent, which blends with the SU theme very well. I feel relax in this welcoming atmosphere. 
As food retail has become more important in hotel operations, I also saw the Mark…

Do You Want to Own a Successful Career?

Carmen Wong Ulrich, Russ Michell, and Rebecca Jarvis at CBS News discussed the traits that successful businesspersons have in common. They include: Stay “hungry” for success, creativity, and learning. Being curious and striving to acquire new knowledge and skills are very important.Maintain a positive attitude. Do you know that people will lose 10% of productivity in a day if they do not have the positive attitude?Pick your battles. Be effective. Ask yourself what you can accomplish after doing this or that. One must demonstrate his/her accomplishments at work.Less screen time and more face time. Networking takes place beyond social networking sites. It is important to sit down with someone for a face to face conversation. I, myself, use social media a lot, but I cannot agree more on this point. The truth is I will never get to know a person or a co-worker unless I spend time drinking coffee, having lunch/dinner, or working with this person.Career 24/7. Join affiliated groups and conne…

Going After the "A" Players: Is It the Best Strategy for Every Organization?

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The Fortune magazine published a three-page long “Special Advertising Section” in its December 12 2011 issue, where a company offers solutions for other organizations to recruit, develop, and retain A players. I have no doubt that A players can be the best asset and may create great value for an organization. When I think deeper, however, I wonder if it is the best strategy for every company to go after the A players.

According to the Theory of Personality Fit (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005) or the ASA (Attraction-Selection-Attrition) Theory by Schneider et al. (1995), an organization tends to hire those candidates who are the most similar to the organization’s existing members. Those who “fit” in the organization, the job, the group, and the supervisors are likely to stay. On the country, those who do not “fit” will probably end up leaving the organization voluntarily or involuntarily.

If an organization is not among the top performers in the field, chances are this organization hires…

Technology Allows Marketers to Track Consumers’ Shopping Routines

Thanks to mobile technology, marketers can now track where and probably how consumers move from one location to another in a shopping trip.

As illustrated in this MSNBC News video, as soon as a consumer enters the parking lot of a shopping mall, his/her cell phone signal will be recognized by the sensors. Then, this consumer’s whole shopping trip will be recorded. The cell phone users’ personal or demographic information, however, will not be identified by this tracking system.

Such information could be critically important to marketers, and probably the landlords as well, but some people feel that tracking consumers’ shopping routines may violate their rights of privacy. This concern makes sense. If a hacker connects cell phone users’ personal and demographic information with the data of their shopping routines, customers are indeed being watched. Also, it would be quite different if consumers are tracked in a larger neighborhood rather than a mall, such as in a city, and if they a…

Thanksgiving --- Let’s Thank Our Service Providers

What do you do in Thanksgiving? Eating a nice family meal? Shopping for bargains? …

I love those traditions, but quite often, “Thanksgiving” also reminds me the importance of showing genial appreciations to those who have done something nice to me in the past. This CBS News video reminds us the same thing --- we need to be nice to waiters and waitresses. Servers in restaurants often receive very minimal hourly wage as they must count tips towards their incomes. Accordingly, it is important that we tip them 15-20% of the bill.

In addition to tips, showing genial appreciations can mean a lot to the service providers. For example, it is nice to maintain an eye contact with the servers while they take the orders, give them the attention when they place the food/drink on the table or remove the empty plates, and often, use words like “please” and “thank you.” Being a good server is not easy. S/he must be very patient, possess good communication skills and multi-tasking skills, work long ho…

Professional Dress in the Workplace

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This Tuesday, a colleague of mine, who is also a restaurant entrepreneur, briefly spoke in my Human Resource Management (HRM) class about the importance of HRM in his career. When he screened candidates, he started from three observable details: (a) whether the candidate carries a pen for interviews, (b) how well the candidate dresses for the position, and (c) what demeanors the candidate shows during the interview.
Indeed, how we dress and handle ourselves matter! According to the recruiter working in an international hotel chain (Kwok et al., 2011), hospitality is a still a conservative field; the hotel chain wants to see that candidates dress in business attire during job interviews, as what they would be expected at work.

Before, I shared some thoughts on business attire and business casual attire. In addition to those “common” what-not-to-wear tips (e.g., tattoos in most workplaces, mini-skirts, low-cut shirts, etc.), this ABC News video tells us more. For example,

Do NOT wear c…

International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show 2011

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This is the third time that I attended the International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show (Hotel Show) in New York City. While my schedule did not allow me to “explore” the new neighborhoods and trends in the City, I attended the Leadership Forum in the Hotel Show and the Alligator Hour hosted by CHRIE.

I did not find any “wow” factors or information that really surprised me in the Hotel Show. I, however, wrote down some notes taken in the Leadership Forum. If you attended or presented in the Hotel Show, let me know if you agree or disagree with me on the following: 
Overall, the statistics have shown signs of recovery based on ADR and occupancy, but the performance has not bounced back to the “peak” yet. Many uncertainties still exist (from a variety of sources).Opportunities can be found in the university, military, and airport markets because they have captive customers. There are several market “myths.” The truth include: income does not define segments; leisure, not business, drives…

Highlighting the Deliverable and Quantifiable Results: A Piece of Career Advice from a White Lodging Manager

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Today, Jason Bretz, the General Manager of Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Spring (White Lodging), spoke in my Hospitality Human Resource Management class and conducted some job interviews on campus. He received his bachelor’s degree in Marketing, but he started his career in the lodging industry upon graduation. I was glad to hear his career advice in class today.

According to Jason, relevant work experience is definitely important, but he is also looking for candidates who can deliver quantifiable results. For example, if a student tells him that s/he worked at the Front Desk, Housekeeping, or any position in a hotel, he knows what kind of work the position is involved. As a result, a resume that simply lists a person’s job responsibilities does not help this candidate stand out from the crowd. It becomes critical that a job candidate can describe how much impact s/he has made at work. More specifically, it will be helpful to see a statement like “increased sales/revenue by 10%,” “reduce…

Smart TVs in Hotels

I heard about the gadget of smart TV soon after 3D TVs were introduced. According to this CNN News video, smart TVs are internet-enabled TVs that allow people to surf the internet and download/use the apps that were designed for smart TVs. I expect that smart TVs will appear in hotel rooms very soon because of the following reasons:

Many hotels have already linked their PMS (Property Management System) and on-demand services with the traditional TV sets in guest rooms. For example, guests can check out, play video games, and watch on-demand movies on TV. Very likely, smart TVs will allow hotels to manage these functions in a better way.  Hotels can purchase brand new smart TVs. Or, they may purchase some “boxes” to upgrade their existing TV sets to smart TVs.  Instead of charging guests the WiFi service, hotels may sell a “Smart TV Package” instead. Guests can use the smart TV and the internet service for an additional fee. Otherwise, they can still use the machine as a traditional TV…

What Is the Future for Newspaper in Hotels?

We just talked about hotel fees last week. Newspaper happens to be one of those possible charges. This CBS News video reported that a man in Sacramento, California filed a class-action lawsuit for 7 million consumers against Hilton Hotels for $5 million. As quoted in the statement, the Hilton family was sued because the hotels “intentionally, recklessly, and/or negligently concealed, suppressed, and misled customers about the scheme.”

This lawsuit was triggered by the man’s stay in a Hilton Garden Inn. The man picked up the 75 cent USA Today that was lying in front of his hotel room without knowing the fact that he would be charged the 75 cents for the newspaper.

Here, I will leave the decision on this case to you and the judge. I, on the other hand, would like to share with you another relevant CBS news article: Marriott, which was the first hotel chain that delivered USA Today and other newspaper to guest rooms, had ended the “automatic delivery” of newspaper to guest rooms in Apr…

Will You Turn down a Job Offer because of the Company’s Strict Social Media Policy?

It is no doubt that more employers are using social media in recruiting and screening job candidates. As a job candidate, however, will you turn down an offer if the company does not allow you to use social media at work?

This CNN News video reports some very interesting statistics. According to a survey of 300 job recruiters:
91% employers use social media in screening job candidates; 9% do not. When screening job candidates on social media, 76% use Facebook, 53% use Twitter, and 48% use LinkedIn. 69% had rejected a candidate based on the “negative information” they found online about the candidate; 26% never rejected anyone; 5% do not use social media in screening at all. The top “negative information” includes lying about a candidate’s qualifications and the inappropriate contents posted on social media sites. 68% had hired someone because of the “positive information” they found about the candidate on social media sites. “Positive information” is helpful in portraying a candidate’s …

Do You Think Hotel Fees Reasonable or Rip-off Charges?

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In 2009, the airline industry collected $7.8 billion revenue because of fees. Seeing airlines’ ability of pocketing fees, I asked a question last year: Will fees become a new revenue stream for hotels? At that time, I was in doubt that hotels could do the same as what airlines did because there are way too many hotels. Customers have more options when selecting hotels than taking a flight, which makes it almost impossible for hotels to make travelers pay un-necessary fees.

Today, a student in my Hotel & Resort Operations class raised a similar question by presenting a CNN news article about hotel fees. According to the estimation, the lodging industry in the U.S. will be able to collect $1.8 billion fees this year, up 80% from a decade ago.

It happened that ABC News Network also raised a concern about hotel fees and thus provided some advice for travelers on how to save money when travelling (as shown in this embedded video). Probably because I worked in hotels before, I feel ma…

Roof-Top Farming

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I first talked about roof-top gardening in August 2010 and believed that farm-to-table and urban-farming could be a great entrepreneurship idea. Fourteen months later, I am glad to see that roof-top farming has already become a common scene in New York City.

As shown in this ABC News video, solar energy and hydroponics system can help urban farmers create an almost complete control environment. Vegetables are harvested in 30 to 35 days. People can enjoy fresh vegetables that are grown right in their neighborhoods.

One may assume that it would cost a lot to install the solar panels and the hydroponics system, but I believe that such expenses can be offset by the ability of yielding fresh produce in a consistent and controlled manner as well as the low shipping costs. Roof-Top farming is already here.

It seems that in the future, cities will rely less on rural areas for produce. What can traditional farms do to prepare for this foreseeing change?

The Importance of Listening Skills and the Impact of a Negative Online Review

I experienced the most terrible customer service last Friday in Dewitt Cleaners Inc. The manager does not possess any listening skills and accused me for several faults. I posted my review on Google, and I believe that we can learn a good lesson from the manager’s bad example.
The Story
I brought to the store three pieces of Ralph Lauren brand-new garments in late September of 2011 (I always wash my new clothes before wearing them). The girl who greeted me was nice --- she put my info in the system as a first-time customer, inspected my clothes, told me I could pick it up in a week or so, and put the cloths in the basket for dirty clothes.
On Oct 1 (at 12:46 pm), a girl from the dry cleaning called me, telling me that the long jacket must be sent out to a special cleaner because it has leather trims in several places. As a result, it will take two more weeks. The other two pieces (suit) can be picked up as scheduled.
I came back two weeks later as what I was told on Oct 1. When I was i…

Dinner Etiquette

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Last night, I presented in the Etiquette Dinner for about 90 graduate students at SU. While it is important to know the basics like the appropriate ways of drinking soup, using folks and knives, passing items on the table, and etc., I believe that showing respect to the host/hostess is the foremost important etiquette. In many cases, showing respect means going with the flow. Here are some examples: 
When I eat with my India friends in an India restaurant, even though silverwares are provided, I will eat with my hands if all my Indian friends want to do that.  I am not a Christian. If I am eating with my Christian friends and they want to make a meal blessing by holding my hands on the dining table, I will hold their hands, but I usually just listen to what they say. When everyone at the table uses hands on chicken wings and ribs, I will do the same. When I eat with my Korean friends in a traditional Korean restaurant, if they choose to sit on the floor, I will not object their choice b…

Career Advice Suggested by a Restaurant Recruiter

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Today, the recruiter of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants (LEYE) spoke in my Human Resource Management class and conducted several job interviews on campus. She shared with students plenty of good advice about career management. Interestingly, yet not surprisingly, I agree with her on every piece of her advice. In addition to the fact that more managers are now screening potential candidates on social media, her suggestions are quite similar to the practical implications I drew from one of my research studies.

According to my research findings (Kwok et al., 2011), I made the following suggestions for those students who plan to start a hospitality career (p. 394):

Seek career advancement opportunities at work and take a leadership role in extra-curricular activities, class projects, and at work. (Also suggested by the recruiter of LEYE) Understand their career goals and find a part-time job and/or an internship that closely matches their “dream jobs.” Complete personality test(s) and th…

Ad Hominem: Can It Be Used as a Tip?

In a debate or an argument, people sometimes use “ad hominem” as a tactic to attack the rivals even though they may know that this tactic creates illogical fraud. The question is: Is it OK to use “ad hominem” as a tip when one receives poor service?

According to this NBC News video, a couple left a waitress no tip but the following sentence: “P.S. You could stand to lose a few pounds!” The victim (waitress) shared her story on Facebook. As a feminist, she does not feel that it is right for a man to “attack” her on her weights.

No matter how bad the service was, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to leave a comment like that. I had bad experience with waiters or waitresses before. There were also a few times when I did not leave any tips because of the level of service --- if I left no tips, however, I often wrote down why the service was not appropriate and asked the managers to better train their staff. Why would a person blame the poor service to the weight or the physical a…

The Soul Kitchen: Another Pay-As-You-Want and Eat-As-You-Need Restaurant

We first visited the social entrepreneurship project of Panera Bread’s pay-as-you-want and eat-as-you-need restaurants in June 2010, and then followed up with a video about their success a year after. I am not sure if Jon Bon Jovi was inspired by the Panera Bread’s social entrepreneurship idea, but I know he opens a restaurant call The Soul Kitchen in New Jersey, which is modeled by the pay-as-you-want and eat-as-you-need concept, and he plans to open more Soul Kitchens in the future.

Leaving alone the possibility that Jon Bon Jovi was trying to get rid of his negative stigma, as suggested by CBS News, I love this concept. People volunteer in the kitchen or in the community if they cannot afford for a meal. Or, they leave a donation for the meal.

I believe that this pay-as-you-want and eat-as-you-need concept works very well with the urban farming and farm to table trend in many communities. What do you think? Will we expect more restaurants that offer “free food” in the future? W…

SoundTracking: How Can Hospitality Companies Use This App for Their Advantages?

The Wall Street Journal called SoundTracking the “next big thing in tech.” It is a social mobile app that allows people to share the music they are listening to in the form of virtual postcard: First, it recognizes the music that is playing on air. Then, it lets users attach a picture, update, and the location with the song if they want to share it on the social networking sites. Within seven months, the app has created a community of over 750,000 users and has become “the most twitted music service on Twitter.”

For those hospitality companies that sell CDs and music (e.g. W Hotels and Starbucks), SoundTracking can be helpful in promoting their retail sales and the brand. If you are using this app, how do you like or dislike the service? If this is the first time you heard of this app, are you interested in using the service? Should SoundTracking become “the next big thing in tech,” how can hospitality companies use this app for their advantages?