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Showing posts from June, 2011

One Year after Launching the Pay-As-You-Want and Eat-As-You-Need Concept

A year ago, I discussed Panera Bread’s pay-as-you-want and eat-as-you-need concept to support the company’s initiatives of helping others in need. Now, let’s revisit the topic and see how this “business model” works for a not-for-profit organization.

Featured in today’s MSNBC News video is the interview with Ron Shaich, the Founder and CEO of Panera Bread and the President of Panera Bread Foundation. Over the year, Ron has found that 20% of customers paid more than suggested donation (price), 60% left about the same amount as suggested donation, and 20% paid significantly less than the suggested donation. The business manages to self-sustain and is able to continuously support the community. At this point, Panera Bread operates three not-for-profit stores and plan to build more in the future.

Panera Bread sets another great example of how hospitality companies utilize their strengths and show commitments to the community. During the recession, many people need helps for food and opp…

A Gourmet Chef “Turning Lack into Luck”

Today, I am sharing another CNN News video about a gourmet chef’s successful experience on entrepreneurship. This time, however, is not about starting up a restaurant business.

Mary Moore is a gourmet chef herself. She noticed that there was a lack of good cooking utensils in the market and decided to pair up retail with gourmet classes. She wanted to educate customers how to use those wonderful tools she sells. It turned out to be great success. Now, Mary is the CEO of an online business and four retail stores. The video highlighted three tips of her success:
Tip #1: Pair Things UpTip #2: Create an ExperienceTip #3: Expand the Brand (but Stay Truth to the Original Business Concept)  I agree that creating the “whole” customer experience is very important in today’s business. When I was in Texas, I loved to shop at the Market Street. When I moved to Syracuse, the Wegmans in Dewitt becomes my favorite grocery store. They both sell fresh produce, as every other grocery store does (regard…

How Can Two Young Restaurant Entrepreneurs with No Relevant Education/Experience Survive in Recession?

It is very difficult to find a job these days, and some people may want to start their own business. Indeed, it may seem to be a good time to start one’s own business during recession because the start-up costs tend to be much lower than those in the good times. Recently, I have shared several successful stories of restaurant entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, today’s story is also about two young restaurant entrepreneurs featured in a CNN News video. When they started their business, they did not even have any experience in culinary arts or entrepreneurship. So, how can they survive in such a competitive market?  
They took advantage of the low interest rate and lower the financial experiences. They tested recipes with their friends before introducing the concept. They took a year to launch a low fixed cost business plan and found a cheap rental space. They did most preparations by themselves. They only offered a limited tasting menu to cut down the food cost (actually, they will al…

Another Restaurant Owner As a Great Example of Successful Entrepreneur

I am not sure if it is because running a good restaurant business could be very challenging; or if it is because the restaurant industry has a sales volume of $604 billion, hires 12.8 million employees, and has an overall economic impact of $1.7 trillion. I have found that public media love to use restaurant owners as good examples of successful entrepreneurs. This Fox News video, for example, also features an interview with Jeremy Merrin, the Founder and CEO of Havana Central, a growing Cuban restaurant chain. Let’s take a look at Jeremy’s secret ingredients:
Success starts from employee recruitment and selection: Hire the right people.Train employees well.Keep employees happy and retain them. Companies spend thousands of dollars in recruiting and training employees. Smart business leaders will certainly invest in their human capital and allow their employees to grow (stay) within the company. Analytical skills are very important. Business decisions are made based on “numbers” in Hava…

Tips for College Graduates on Job Hunting

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Recently, I heard more exciting updates from students that they found their dream jobs. Congratulations to those who got job offers! For the others who are still in the job market, they may find it useful to watch this ABC News video about tips on job hunting:

Tip No. 1: Look for a person, not a job. Networking is extremely important in job hunting --- knowing the right person will very likely lead to the right opportunity with the right job. Statistically, 80% of jobs are filled by referrals; 80% of jobs never got advertised before they are filled. This is very true. Quite a few of my colleagues recently found very good career opportunities because of referrals.

Relevant discussion: Social Media Job Search Tactics; Revisit Social Media and Job Search; Social Media and Job Search III.

Tip No. 2: Figure out what you want to do – or fake. First of all, if a job seeker does not know what s/he wants, nobody can help her/him. Then, job seeking is different from internship seeking. It may …

The Culinary Academy of Las Vegas: A Not-for-Profit Organization

I just came back from the Caesars Hospitality Research Summit in Las Vegas last week. I understand exactly how much this recession hit on the gaming and hospitality industry in Las Vegas. I saw many empty tables in casinos; there were not that much traffic in casinos, restaurants, or retail stores. According to this MSNBC news video, the recession actually cost the resorts on the Strip $6 billion in the last two years, casinos 24% of the gambling revenue as compared to the 2007’s figure, and the community an unemployment rate of 10%.

I discussed how Las Vegas is making big effort in re-branding the city. It takes time to make any transformational change. The good news is that professionals in the gaming and hospitality industry are already helping the community with their strengths. They founded The Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, a not-for-profit organization, which provides a variety of training programs to assist people in gaining the skills for a job or career in the gaming and ho…

Caesars Hospitality Research Summit: Panel Discussion on Revenue Management

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The Caesars Hospitality Research Summit at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) also hosted a panel discussion entitled “Emerging Trends and Issues in Revenue Management.” Overall, it was an interesting discussion, but I still have a question in mind which the panel did not address.

To me, the key concepts of revenue management include forecasting, market segmentation, room (seat or space) allocation, and price discrimination. The panel briefly covered some of those areas. One clear message I heard from the panel is that the industry is in great need of qualified revenue managers who know some hotel operations, have a general business background, possess good statistical and analytical skills and communication skills, and demonstrate leadership potential. The panel would love to recruit more hospitality students to fill in the revenue management positions, but very often, they end up hiring students with a business background. There seems to be a gap between what the industry is loo…

Las Vegas as the Technology Hub

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What comes to your mind when you hear “Las Vegas”? The Strip? Casinos? Games? Shows? Restaurants? Night clubs? Shopping malls? … I would probably call Las Vegas the Entertainment Center. I am not sure, however, if I would call Las Vegas the Technology Hub.

Last week, I attended the Caesars Hospitality Research Summit at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). The technology panel gave us a talk of Creating the Premier Hospitality Technology Hub. I agree with the panel that Las Vegas has many mega hotels and casinos and that these casinos have state-of-art facility and cutting-edge technology to manage their giant consumer database. Indeed, Las Vegas has the potential of becoming the market leader of the service industry in almost every aspect of hospitality management and operations.
The panel reminds me a MSNBC news video about turning Las Vegas into a destination of medical tourism (as embedded in this post). Such discussions indicate that Las Vegas is making a big effort of re-pos…

Good --- Seeing the “New Face” of the Las Vegas Strip; Bad --- Experiencing Poor Customer Service in Chinatown

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Las Vegas is in a big effort of making changes. I am glad that I have a chance to see the Sin City’s “new face.” I stay in the Grand Chateau, a Marriott’s Vacation Club, which is two blocks away from the City Center. I cannot wait to check out the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Aria Hotel. I talked about these new hotel projects in my classes and also on this blog, yet I have not personally visited these two properties yet. This week, I will update my experience in Las Vegas on this blog. Let’s see if we will find that Las Vegas has made a transformational change over the years.
When I was in Las Vegas, I also experienced poor customer service in the Sam Woo Bar-B-Q Restaurant in Chinatown. Here are the dialogues between the waiters and guests:

Case 1 (Dialogue in Cantonese) I ordered a pan-fried Chinese vegetable with garlic, but it looked yellowish to me (should look freshly green) and did not seem to be an a-la-carte item. So, I asked the waiter: Sir, I don’t think the vegetable cooked r…

QUIS 12 (The 12th Int. Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management): A Conclusion

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This year’s QUIS Conference was held in the School of Hospitality Administration at Cornell University. The school organized a nice conference, where I presented a paper and networked with many international scholars in a relax atmosphere.
I have found that this conference has a very strong European accent and that many attendees have a supply chain management background. I agree with Dr. Michael Johnson, the Dean of the Hospitality School at Cornell, that QUIS reflects how scholars apply the theories and practice of business administration in the service industry.
I believe that hospitality or service management is a multi-disciplinary subject. While the field of hospitality or service management benefits from other disciplines, such as business administration, psychology, arts, and science, we are also making contributions by twisting, testing, and advancing theories.
Dean Johnson’s comment reminds me an old discussion of what the true meaning of hospitality management is and how…

QUIS 12: The 12th International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management (06/03)

I am at Cornell University, attending the QUIS 12 Conference. This afternoon’s keynote speakers are Gina Pingitore, Chief Research Officer at J.D. Power and Associates, and Stuart Greif, VP and General Manager of Global Travel and Hospitality Practice at J.D. Power and Associates. Their presentation was about guest satisfaction trend over the last 10 years. Better customer satisfaction means better customer retention, Word-of-Mouth effect, and the bottom line --- which is not new. One interesting point is that customer satisfaction is positively associated with the frequency of the customer’s positive interactions with a company’s associate.

In this blog, we discussed how people may skip the Front Office because they can use smart phones as hotel room keys and how travelers may skip the kiosk at the airport because they can use their smart phones as boarding passes. While technology brings in efficiency and accuracy, it may also “disable” the connections between customers and a compa…

Managing the Millennials at Work

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As more and more Millennials are graduating and entering the work force, managing the Millennials, Gen Xs, and Boomers under the same roof could be challenging. Last month’s HR Magazine dedicated almost a whole issue addressing the generation gaps issue. So does this ABC News video.

I love the way how this video talks about the Millennial phenomenon. I teach many Millennials in class. I agree that (a) many of them have the sense of “entitlement,” (b) they could be very energetic with the “right” motivation and always want to be “engaged,” (c) many of them are very creative and technology savvy, (d) they need clear guidelines, (e) they want acknowledgement (who doesn’t?), and (f) many of them need good advice on e-mail, cell phone, and social media etiquette. What advices does this video give to the Millennials?
Expect to work hard in the work place.Listen to those who offer critiques --- those who “bother” to provide constructive criticisms may not tell the most beautiful things in th…