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Showing posts from August, 2011

Yotel Hotel, New York: A Model of Future Hotels?

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The first half of the ABC News video features a short tour of the 600-room Yotel Hotel in Manhattan. Yotel Hotel is a small chain that has four international locations including NYC, London (two locations), and Amsterdam. The video describes the hotel “futuristic and fun.” Some of the highlights include:

Luggage Yobot: A luggage sourcing system with a robotSelf Check-in and Check-out Kiosks20,000 square feet of public spaces, i.e. lounges, studio, restaurants and barsOrganic mattressesFree WiFiMonsoon Rain ShowersThoughtful and “traveler-friendly” room design So, do you think this hotel “speaks” for the future of the lodging industry? What trend(s) does this hotel embrace?

References: The picture was downloaded from Stashrewards.com.

Yammer: A Social Networking Site Exclusively for the Workplace

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Effective internal communications among employees are related to some desirable organizational outcomes, such as robust morale, a clear vision, low turnover, and high employee engagement. The question is what platform can serve the purpose.

This ABC News video introduces “Yammer,” an exclusive internal communication tool for companies. A user must use a valid company e-mail address to sign up for an account. Once an account is validated, the user will be led to the company page that is pretty much like a Facebook page. The difference is that only the users whose e-mail addresses share the same domain can see the wall and communicate with each other.

I have no question about whether Yammer could be a useful internal communication tool for companies, but I just wonder: how many social networking sites do people need for communication? Why people have to “create” so many platforms or channels for “effective communications”?

To many people, Facebook is only for “friends,” where they…

Making Personal Connections in Job Search

Job seekers NEED to make the personal connections in order to get hired, no matter if it is done in person or on social media. Here are some examples:

A 90-year old woman got hired after she knocked on people’s doors. As illustrated in the embedded Wall Street Journal video, the lady was not able to find a job for 15 months. Then she went to the tallest building in the neighborhood. Starting from the top floor, she knocked on the door of every business. It happened that a firm on the second floor just fired the secretary. She got the job!

A friend of mine, who is now a GM at a four-diamond, four-star resort and convention center, found his first job many years ago in a similar way: He needed a job after college. He dressed up, brought a dozen of resumes with him, and stopped by the HR office of every hotel in the city. He landed his first hotel job in a Hilton hotel.

Recently, two colleagues of mine started a new career in another institution with higher rank and better salary. T…

What Can We Do to Stop the Spread of Fake Reviews?

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Recently, I had a phone conversation with David Streitfeld at The New York Times. We shared our opinions about fake online reviews. He later published a report entitled “In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5” and cited some of my comments. After reading David’s news article, I can’t help asking myself --- are we (the hospitality industry) trapping ourselves by paying an agent for bogus reviews?
The Web 2.0 technology provides a platform (i.e. social media) for people to exchange user-generated content on the Internet. Over the years, I have heard that many small businesses benefit from the Word-of-Mouth (WOM) effect created on social media, and I also notice companies’ increasing attention about online reviews. If everyone plays a “fair” game, online reviews should be a good thing for everyone because companies will be striving to gain authentic positive online reviews by delivering quality products and exceptional services. What happens if somebody pays an agent for…

Great Entrepreneurship Ideas Must Root in Useful Service

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Yesterday, I met with a group of college entrepreneurs at the 2011 Student Sandbox Demo Day, an event hosted by The Syracuse Tech Garden and Syracuse University, with the partnership of other colleges and universities in the region. Over the summer, more than 50 student entrepreneurs worked at the Tech Garden on startup ventures. In this culmination, they presented their business projects at the Pitchfest and showed off their business ideas in the Tech Innovation Demonstrations Exposition. Seventeen (17) projects were presented. It was a great and very successful event!

Many of these entrepreneurship ideas are built upon information technology, engineering, and computer science. The “core science” of these projects is certainly very important. It seems to me, however, it is the “service implications” behind the “core science” that turns human technology into great entrepreneurship ideas. To name a couple of examples: iGetMoreFit is an idea that connects a fitness sensor to a user’s …

NFC (Near Field Communication): Another Buzzword for Mobile Technology

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If you like sports, you will probably refer to NFC as “National Football Conference.” Do you know that NFC also stands for “Near Field Communication”? According to this ABC News video, NFC is another “buzzword” for mobile technology. As a matter of fact, “Near Field Communication” tops “National Football Conference” in Google Search as the No. 1 result for the acronym of NFC.

NFC allows mobile users to receive information, such as videos, photos, data, etc., over a “very short distance” (i.e. within a couple of inches). NFC can be used in e-commerce, similar to what we had discussed before about the barcode city, the mobile payment solution, and the mobile boarding pass. Different from the Bluetooth technology, NFC does not need users to “pair” different devices in order to transfer information. As a result, NFC is expected to be “the player” for future e-commerce and mobile technology.

I like the idea. I would love to have a NFC-enabled phone, and I can see how NFC can benefit th…

Whom Should We NOT “Friend” on Social Media?

Do you “friend” your professors on Facebook? How about your supervisors or managers at work? In fact, “whether or not to friend a teacher” is an on-going debate in this nation. According to this CNN news video, 59% students are “friends” with their teachers. The majority of this group also believes that it would be easier to get their questions answered if they are “friends” with their teachers. On the other hand, the State of Missouri just passed the law, limiting the amount of contacts that a teacher may have with his/her students on social media.

While I am aware that some teachers attempted to take the “friendship” to a different level, I feel it might be a little bit too extreme if the legislation prohibits the contacts between students and teachers. Because social media have already been part of many people’s lives, being “friends” with teachers might also allow students to “understand” that their teachers are actually human beings --- they also “live and breathe,” “go shopping…

What We Wear Matters!

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I am a firm believer that what we wear and how we handle ourselves matter in many occasions. I even talked about the importance of dressing business attire at work (also business casual during the summer). I, however, must confess that I feel somewhat surprised when reading George Hobica’s discussion on USA Today.

According to George, wearing a nice suit got his friend and him an upgrade from the economy-class all the way to the first class when they flew. None of them have elite status of the airlines; the planes were not even full. When everybody else is charged extra fees for a couple inches of extra leg room or an aisle seat, how come they are so “lucky” to get upgraded? Here is what the gate agent said according to George’s direct quote: “our station manager noticed how well dressed you were and told me to upgrade you.”
So, what do we learn from this story? Are we getting another good excuse to shop more? Or do we have to wear suit and tie all the time? Actually, my point is: w…

My Stay at the Westin Hotel - City Center in Washington, D.C.

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I stayed in the Westin Hotel – City Center in Washington D.C. last week for the 119th Annual APA (American Psychological Association) Convention. I enjoyed my stay and would like to comment on several small “impressive touches” added by the hotel staff.
Upon check-in, the Front Desk Agent asked me if I wanted to take part in the “make a green choice” program that I once discussed in February 2010. This program allows me to choose to opt out the housekeeping service during my stay. In return, the hotel will reward me either a $5 F&B (food & beverage) voucher or 500 SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) points. The reward is very small, but it lets guests get involved in a “feel-good” program. I like it.
I participated in the “make a green choice” program, and I put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door. When I came back from the Convention Center, I found additional refreshments (e.g. Starbucks coffee, tea bags, mouth wash, etc.) and extra sets of fresh towels in my room even thoug…

Entrepreneurship and the Foodservice Industry

I wonder why the foodservice or restaurant industry ties so much with entrepreneurship. There is certainly a demand in the market for good food --- we live, we breathe, and we eat. Another contributing factor is that restaurant or foodservice industry, as compared to other service or IT firms, usually has smaller business threshold.

This Fox News video, once again, reports another entrepreneurship idea for the foodies --- renting a community-supported commercial kitchen for start-up business with very flexible hours. The business model seems working very well.

I wonder if this business model will work for the rapidly-growing hospitality programs around the country. Already, academic programs are encouraged to reach out to the communities. As a professor in hospitality management, I know that many hospitality programs have commercial kitchens for teaching purposes. If we can make our commercial kitchens available at nights or during weekends, local entrepreneurs may be able to benefi…