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Showing posts from March, 2011

SBP11 Day 2

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I stayed in SBP11 for the whole day today, attending the keynote speaker sessions and all presentations. As it is a multi-disciplinary computer-modeling conference, I will not say I have interest in every topic presented. Here, I summarize my observation into four themes:


1. A few studies use social network analysis to identify the relationships among a group of people. Based on the frequency and pattern of communications and/or interactions, a social-network map can be drawn. This tactic could be used by federal agencies to identify the leaders of an organization (e.g. terrorist groups).

2. Some studies identify the frequently-used key words from a large data set (e.g. tweets) with data mining techniques, such as Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA). Social network analysis and LDA seems to be the “popular” methods.

3. There are more topics related to public health and medicare issues than I expected. Computer-modeling is a tool for data analysis. Where should these methods be used i…

SBP11 Day 1

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I am in University of Maryland, College Park this week for the 2011 International Conference on Social Computing, Behavioral-Cultural Modeling, & Prediction (SBP11) Conference. The Conference is nice to call those attendees without computer science background like me the “domain experts” because we bring our domain knowledge (hospitality management in my case) to the field.


I attended two tutorials on the first day (March 28). I like Dr. Alex “Sandy” Pentland’s mobile sensor project at MIT. His team uses “mobile sensors” or cell phones to collect data about actual human interactions. The data --- “signals” --- can help researchers predict people’s social relationships among groups, organizational structures, participants’ daily routine, and behaviors.
I have to admit that I do not know computer science or Dr. Pentland’s work well. However, I can see an even brighter future of the mobile device market. Have you imagined that you can predict your customers’ purchasing behaviors? H…

Facebook Takes Over: What Does It Mean to the Hospitality Industry?

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Facebook just reached another milestone --- 51% of Americans aged 12 or older are Facebook users. It took 25 years for telephones, eight years for TVs, and nine years for VCRs to reach that 50% threshold.

If people can organize family reunions on Facebook (as shown in the ABC News video), leisure, hospitality, and tourism companies can absolutely use Facebook to attract more business. According to a discussion on HotelNewsNow.com, many hotels have already drawn more traffic from Facebook than TripAdvisor or other travel review websites. Some hotels (e.g. Design Hotel) and airlines (e.g. Delta) have already allowed Facebook users to make reservations on the company’s Facebook page. In 2010, “nearly 13% of social-network users use social networks to shop for travel,” and “35% of U.S. online travelers interacted with a travel company on an online social network.” Wouldn't you agree with me that social media is a must-have tool for business?



References:
Black, C. (2011, March 23).

The Impacts of Hospitality and Tourism

This Wall Street Journal video shows us an example of how eco-tourism can change people’s lives without sacrificing the nature in Philippine. I have to admit that not every place has the resources to develop eco-tourism, but I believe the hospitality and tourism industry can benefit almost everyone in any place. In fact, such benefits can go beyond the economic impacts.

Ben Eberhardt, a hotel entrepreneur, shared a great example with us when he spoke in my Hotel & Resort Operations class on Tuesday. He is currently in charge of the Colgate Inn renovation project in Hamilton, NY. As part of the downtown “make-over” effort, the City of Hamilton and Colgate University believe that better hospitality facilities will attract and retain students as well as faculty members.

I have been living in Syracuse (Upstate New York) for almost two years. This region has great potential for hospitality and tourism. The Finger Lakes region is beautiful. There are many wineries and very good local r…

Thoughts and Advices from Three Hospitality Professionals

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Yesterday, three hospitality professionals spoke in my Human Resource Management and Hotel Operations classes. They are Jason Bretz, GM of Hilton Garden Inn Saratoga Spring (White Lodging), Ben Eberhardt, a hotel entrepreneur in Upstate NY (i.e. The Sherwood Inn), and Gil Reyes, Hotel Manager of Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center. While they have distinguished career paths and came from different background, they agreed on some main concepts. For example: Hospitality industry is not for everyone. It takes leadership, hard work, good work ethic, flexibility, and often long hours to succeed.   Relevant work experience is critical to a hospitality career. College students are advised to gain as much industry experience as possible before they enter the work force. Hotel design trends may have pushed everyone in the market to make renovations. F&B operations are very important in hotel operations. Hilton Garden Inn, for instance, is pushing the Great American …

Revisit Social Media and Job Search

I received a phone call a couple days ago from a SU alumna. She graduated in 2005 with a finance degree and is currently seeking career opportunities in the hospitality industry. I have two advices for her. One is to gain some relevant work experience in the field; the other is to brand herself as an expert in hospitality management on social media.

Several months ago, I discussed the tactics of using social media in job search. Today, I am going to revisit this topic and share a Fox News video. Here are some of the advices discussed in the video:
A “private” setting does not protect a person from being screened by his/her potential employers. Once a post, a picture, or a video is put online, it will be there forever. So, be careful of what you say on social media.  If you are looking for a job in today’s job market, you want your employers, and probably even better, everyone to know that you are an expert of something by sharing relevant content, participating on online discussions, …

How Often Do People Mirror Their Behaviors?

It is interesting to see that smartphone etiquette becomes a hot topic of these days. This MSNBC new video, once again, reminds us how “serious” the problem of lacking cell phone etiquette is.

As indicated in a recent survey, 88% respondents do not think that people take others into considerations when using mobile devices. Then, what are the top misdemeanors? Having a private conversation in a public place, using cell phones in a funeral, or in a public bathroom. Actually, the real problem is not about why people fail to acknowledge the inappropriate behaviors. It is about the fact that many of us do NOT notice we are one of those “offenders.” Now, probably it is time to ask ourselves how well we follow the smartphone etiquette.

I strongly believe that a leader needs to set good examples for his/her followers. From this story, we may need to mirror our behaviors more often. What do you think?

Smartphone Etiquette

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Many of us are obsessed with smartphones. However, not everyone knows how to respect others when using cell phones. I shared some news videos before about schools teaching teenagers how to properly use cell phones and people trying to live without smartphones. Now, let’s see what business professionals talk about smartphone etiquette. Here are some of their advices:
Do NOT text or read e-mails while you are in a conversation --- unless you want the other persons to know that they are not important to you. Use spell check --- everything you send speaks for who you are as a person, even in text messages. Turn your phone on silence instead of vibrate --- people can still hear vibrates in a meeting. Do NOT look down and check your phones in a meeting or a conversation --- people can tell if you are paying attention to them; “it is also really rude and gives a terrible impression.” Do NOT leave long messages --- people prefer you to leave a brief messages with the reason of why you are ca…

Social Media and Japan Earthquake

My heart goes out to those who experienced the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as those who suffered in a lower-magnitude earthquake in Southwest China. A huge natural disaster like this will certainly affect people’s lives, a place’s travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, and even a country’s economy (actually, everything!). Today, however, I would like to share a Fox News video and talk about how social media could be useful in helping human beings go through a disaster.
Japanese share pictures and updates on social media, keeping the global village informed with what is happening n Japan.  People use Google People Finder to locate their relatives and friends in Japan. People support one another and share their thoughts on social media. Non-profit organizations raise money to help those in need on social media. We have already been living in a very small world, but social media brings us even closer. I hope social media will help people speed up the recovery…

Is There a Future for Landline Phone Service in Hotels?

Technology evolves very fast. Thursday, March 10, marked the 135 anniversary of the invention of telephone. This MSNBC News video helps us review the changing roles of telephones play in our lives. “Once upon a time,” people might feel bored, lonely, or odd if not being able to talk on the phone. Since 2007, however, the length of phone calls has dropped 50%. That does not mean people spend less time on phones; they just don’t talk as much. I cannot help wondering the future of landline phone service in hotels again.

When I discussed PBX and At Your Service in my Hotel Operations class, I asked students to think about the future of landline phone service in hotels. Hotels used to provide the telecommunication service at a loss. In the 80s, PBX finally generated some extra incomes. These days, hotels find that very few guests even touch the telephones in the rooms. If that is the case, can hotels take the telephones away from guestrooms?

The hospitality industry is doing very well in…

How Much Is Your Tweet Worth?

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Do you believe that every tweet has a price tag? If so, how much is a person’s tweet worth?

Let’s use Charlie Sheen in this ABC News video as an exceptional example. He recently signed up a Twitter account. The number of his followers reached 1 million within 6 days and passed 2.5 million by now! Internships.com paid Charlie Sheen to endorse the website on Twitter and received more than 100,000 hits after his tweet. Even though the amount of how much Internship.com paid to Charlie Sheen remains a secret, there must be a high price tagged with this tweet. As suggested in the video, the value of a tweet can be determined with the following formula:

(Number of Followers ÷ 27) × $51.28 ÷ Number of Tweets

Using this formula, Lady Gaga’s tweet is worth almost $2.6 thousand and Charlie Sheen’s tweet is worth more than $5.1 thousand. My tweet? Actually, it is worth more than I thought. I could earn 22 cents every time when I tweet. Once again, I have to admit that Twitter is a very powerful…

Culinary Challenges in the K-12 Foodservice Industry

If you are a “food” person and enjoy cooking, have you ever considered pursuing a culinary career in K-12 schools? Over the years, foodservice operations in K-12 schools have changed dramatically. Even before the $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act” was announced, I already felt very impressed by the foodservice operations in Dallas and Austin school districts when I toured the managed services accounts there in 2007. Managing a K-12 account is challenging, demanding, and rewarding.

Foodservice managers in K-12 segment are required to follow applicable nutritional restrictions and provide healthy food with low fat, low sodium, and fresh ingredients. On top of that, cost control is extremely important. As suggested in this New York Times video, K-12 schools in New York City must serve a lunch under the cost of $2.67 (meal + labor). Managers are expected to design a non-repeatable menu with eye-appealing and tasty food because kids can also be very demanding.

If you are a hosp…

Craft Beer Business Grows in the U.S.

While the overall beer consumptions in the U.S. dropped 3% in the first six months of 2010, the demand of craft beer increased 9% in volume to 7 million barrels and 12% in sales to 6 – 7 billion dollars. No wonder there are about 500 brewers planning to enter the market to compete with the existing 1,600 breweries.

This Fox News video features a story of Brooklyn Brewery, one of the biggest craft beer breweries in the nation. To my knowledge, many local breweries are actually much smaller than the one we see in the video. Regardless of the size of their business, good breweries attract beer drinkers by adding local favors, producing better quality (fresher) beer, and providing “interesting” food-and-beverage (F&B) experience. Obviously, their competitive advantage is not about volume or mass production. I tried several local breweries in Lubbock, Texas and Syracuse, New York. Good breweries are known for fresh beer and great food. Believe it or not, people are talking about beer-…

The Outlook for the Hotel Industry

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Starting from 2010, I heard from quite a few hotel managers and in a variety of cover stories that the lodging industry is recovering from recession. As ADR, RevPAR, and occupancy are slowly improving in major markets, March Gordon, the President of Morgans Hotel Group, Co., shared his experience of developing and managing boutique hotels in today’s Fox News video.
As suggested in this interview, a boutique hotel can stand out in a competitive market with distinguished hotel design, great dining and entertainment experience, and exceptional service. Some of the Morgans properties also incorporate the sustainability concept. Because each boutique hotel is unique in some ways, the group is able to operate a cluster of boutique hotels in the same neighborhood.
I agree with March Gordon and discussed relevant topics in this blog such as hotel designs, boutique hotel trend, and green hotel trend. On the way of slow recovery, what is the outlook for the hotel industry? What strategies ca…

The Problem of Lacking Effective Written Communication Skills

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For years, I have heard many colleagues expressing their concerns of students’ poor written communication skills. Indeed, lack of writing proficiency does not seem to be an isolated problem for one particular academic program or college.
According to Dianna Middleton’s report on Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Corporate America is complaining that business-school graduates could be “data-savvy” but may not be able to communication effectively. Some writing deficiency examples include: using complicated words over simple ones, rarely getting to the point, failing to adapt the writing for multiple audiences, and writing incomplete sentences. As a result, consulting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. do not allow new hires from working on any written proposal independently until they are ready.

Many business schools are making efforts to help students improve their writing skills. The Wharton school at University of Pennsylvania is planning to double the communication coursework to 1…

Text Messages That Teach: A Great Example of Entrepreneurship in the Mobile Device Market

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When Steve Jobs unveiled iPad 2 yesterday, I felt Apple deserves some credits for its contributions to today’s vivid mobile device market. Because Apple allows people to transform their ideas into cell phone apps (followed by Google’s Android), mobile devices become smarter and more personalized; many app developers also become entrepreneurs and/or millionaires.

Gabrielle Blue (2011) reported another great example of starting a business in the mobile device market. Breanden Beneschott, a Princeton senior, started a “text-message test-prep subscription service” after he helped his sister study organic chemistry by answering her questions via text messages. It turned out that text-messaging became a very effective tutoring method for his sister. Then, he founded smsPREP, where students pay $19.99 a month and receive interactive study questions according to the students’ busy schedule. At this point, smsPREP provide text-messaging tutoring service of SAT, ACT, GRE, and MCAT. Breanden pla…

International Etiquette

Professionals who are doing global business must know the etiquette of the places where they travel. This Fox News video shares some examples with us.
In Russia, Vodka is not meant to be mixed with other drinks. People should also expect to finish drinking a whole bottle if they open one and put the empty bottle on the floor.In Japan (also in Korea), never pour a drink on one’s own. Alcohol or tea must be poured by somebody else. In Asian, always use both hands to give or receive something such as letters, business cards, brochures, etc. (This is my personal comment). In Thailand, it is fine to pick on one’s nose in front of others (I actually doubt about this one). Some body languages may mean completely different things in different cultures and/or countries. Drinks may not be served with ice. As matter of fact, many Asian women prefer to drink warm or room-temperature water or tea. Americans may have to ask for ice if traveling to an international location. And so forth … It is imp…

How Much Can We Trust Those Online Reviews?

We may not necessarily know those people who posted or shared their travel experiences on social networking sites. Yet, we often make travel arrangements based on the reviews we found online. Isn’t it interesting?

This MSNBC News video shows us a series of ethical and illegal misconducts about online comments and reviews. According to this report, hotels and restaurants may (a) exaggerate the services and features that they provide by posting customized pictures, (b) make up positive online reviews about their own services and products, and (c) create negative online comments about their competitors.

After watching this video, may I ask you the same question I raised about a year ago on this blog --- who shall we trust in terms of hotel and restaurant reviews? Furthermore, how much can we trust on a particular online comment?

It is probably because of the concern about trustworthiness that some hospitality companies have hired full time social media officers to manage their online …