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Showing posts from October, 2011

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?

A Director of HR’s Experience during a Hotel Transition

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Today, I invited Ms. Britney Bubrowski,the Director of Human Resources (HR) at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Syracuse to speak in my Hospitality Human Resource Management class. She shared with us her experience in the time when the hotel went through a transition from a Renaissance Hotel (a Marriott brand) to a Crowne Plaza Hotel (an IHG brand).

Usually, executives will leave a company either voluntarily or involuntarily when there is a shift of ownership, CEO, a brand, or a management company. In Britney’s case, she is among the two executives who stayed. According to Britney, she stayed because she, as the Director of HR, connected with employees. HR is the “go-to” department when employees have concerns about their career or the future of the company. It is important for her to stay during the transition process so that those who worry about their future can find a “trustful” person to talk to. Personally, I believe that Britney’s positive attitude towards changes also help her secure the…

Tour of the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center, Oct 2011

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Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center is located right in the heart of the SU campus. The property is owned by SU and managed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Recently, it is finishing up a $5 million renovation. I am glad that my Hotel & Resort Operations class and I had a chance to hear about the renovation experience from the hotel executives and see the results of their hard work.
We all enjoyed the tour. I, in particular, liked the bigger-size and a more-modern-look Club Lounge, the more spacious workout room, and the clean design of the guestrooms. I believe that these changes reflect Sheraton’s vision very well under its system-wide $6 billion “revitalizing the brand” campaign.
I also very much appreciate the fact that every executive shared their work experience and advice with us. There are many takeaways from this tour, some of which can be found in my discussion of our previous tours. Here, I would like to highlight that regardless which executive …

Etiquette for the New Age

New trend comes and goes, but good manners should stay and will always be appreciated. The basic etiquette is to treat others with consideration and respect. Let’s see if you agree to the following etiquette discussed in this MSNBC News video:
It is fine to “de-friend” a Facebook friend if you no longer feel comfortable to be attached with that person. One may buy a smaller gift if attending a destination wedding, depending on the person’s budget.  If a client is sick but s/he wants to shake your hand, do it but wash your hand immediately afterwards. If you are sick, you may refuse to shake hands and explain to the client that you are sick.  It is inappropriate to text or play with any gadgets when one is with others, regardless how busy s/he is. S/he may excuse herself/himself if it is absolutely necessary.   Interested in etiquette? Check out the following posts and read more.
New Dining Etiquette by Zagat
Wedding Etiquette
Smartphone Etiquette
International Etiquette
Social Media Etiquet…

What Are the Most Inappropriate Guest Conducts You Have Ever Seen in a Hotel or a Restaurant?

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Time can change a lot of things. When people show more understanding of others and become more acceptant to our diverse society, certain behaviors that used to be considered “blizzard” will no longer be seen as “inappropriate.” Decades ago, for example, people of colors were not allowed to ride in the front of a bus or eat in a fine dining restaurant. Thank goodness, those times have become history. The questions are: When can we draw the line for changes? And who is entitled to define the appropriate or inappropriate behaviors?

This NBC News video brings up an interesting case of hotel operations --- Is the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis Missouri doing the right thing by kicking a lesbian couple out of the property because they were kissing in the hotel’s jacuzzi? According the interview, the hotel received complaints from other guests and believes that kissing (either between heterosexual or homosexual couples) is one of those inappropriate conducts in the property.

Different from …

The Art of Curiosity

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The Fall Career Fair at Syracuse University took place at the Carrier Dome yesterday. I met with several hospitality recruiters in the Dome and asked them about their recruiting experience with different schools in the Northeastern region. They did not compare the calibers of students from different hospitality schools, but they indicated that they prefer those schools where students are curious about what their companies are doing and ask a lot of questions. I have found it very interesting that recruiters’ impression of a good hospitality program is not built upon how many students sign up for an interview, how many graduates they hire, or even how well the graduates perform at work after they are hired. Instead, they value the students’ curiosity. 

When making a presentation on campus, recruiters can tell whether students have interest in their companies and the hospitality industry in general by observing students’ behaviors and listening to their questions. If students are quiet o…

Companies Ask: What Does Facebook Mean to Business?

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Ever since I began doing reach on social media, I have often heard from people asking me: “Yes, you can build a large group of fans on Facebook, so what?” “What does it mean to business?” “After spending all these money and time on building a large fan base, I want to see some green on the book. Where is it?” Unfortunately, (to my knowledge) there is no such an easy formula like “X number of Facebook fans = Y amount of revenue.”

This Mondy’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that companies are eager to dig into the “rich” demographic information of their Facebook fans and get some value out of it (report + video). Walt Disney, for example, hires an independent customer relationship marketing agency to track the profiles of their fans, their previous visits to Disney, and their plans for future visits. According to this WSJ report, Facebook does not share individual users’ information with advertisers. One way to attain Facebook users’ information is to have them sign up for an app a…

More Employers Are Using Social Media in Screening Job Candidates

I often discuss how employers are using social media in screening job candidates and how job seekers need to be proactive in building a strong personal brand on social media in order to secure a job offer. Today, I am sharing two additional MSNBC News video with you.

According to Video I, a survey by Microsoft suggests that 80% employers are screening job candidates on social media. Such number was just 11% in my February’sdiscussion (which was reported in the HR Magazine by the Society for Human Resource Management). Not surprisingly, employers are looking for candidates’ pictures, comments, group affiliations, status updates, and who their friends are on social networking sites. Another interesting finding revealed by a study conducted at Columbia University, 100% of the students being surveyed made mistakes about social networking sites’ privacy settings. My advice to students has always been like this: nothing is really “private” on the Internet, no matter what privacy setting a …