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Showing posts from 2014

IHMRS and BDNY 2014

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-->I attended both IHMRS (International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show) and BDNY (Boutique Design Trade Fair) this year with 15 students, faculty, and staff from the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. Being a five-time attendee of IHMRS since 2009 and a professor who often shares hospitality trends and industrial updates, I paid special attention to new products and ideas that were different from those in the past. Guess what new products and ideas I found?

Fewer e-commerce sites, OTA sites, or mobile app developers attended IHMRS than before. TV mirrors are here. Green practices will stay. "Special" textiles will be used for a variety of purposes and facilities. Preserved vertical gardens help businesses keep the beauty of plants but require no maintenance.+DrainWig is helpful in solving the clogging issues of drains.  +Made In China --- there is a section just for Chinese manufacturers. 
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If you attended this year’s IHMRS and/or B…

Do You Want a Virtual Vacation? Marriott #GetTeleporter Will Take You

Is there anything technology can't do?  Recently, Marriott launched the #GetTeleporter campaign, taking us to a virtual vacation.  What business applications do you see from the teleporter?  Will people buy in this concept?  Tell us what you think. 

Aloft Hotels Introduce Robotic Butlers, Bringing in Better or Worse Customer Experience?

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The Aloft Hotel is testing a robotic butler concept in the Cupertino, California location.  The chain has no intention to replace any service staff at this point and is planning to bring more "botlers" (robotic butlers) to other Aloft Hotel if the concept proves to be successful.

In general, I believe technology can enhance customer service, but at the same time, technology may also minimize the real human interactions among customers and staff.  So, is it a good thing when hotels use machines to serve people? Do customers have a saying on how they will be served (by a real human or by a robot)?

With those thoughts in mind, I wrote two articles on MultiBriefs.com. I believe machine serving people has become a reality, but at the same time, there will be a variety of options (brands) in the future to meet different needs from customers. Customers will be able to choose a hotel that uses machines or uses real human being for customer service.

In your opinions, to which directi…

Think How We Eat, Not What We Eat

The Wall Street Journal reported a new research finding, suggesting us to chew more if we want to lose weight. But isn't it obvious? It takes longer for people to eat if they chew more. Studies have shown people eat less if they eat slowly (in this case, chew more). On top of that, food that mixed well with saliva will get digested better. Regardless, it is interesting to see somebody actually making effort to prove the causal relationship. Hopefully, nobody would start eating more unhealthy food because they will chew more of the unhealthy food.

Are Customers Also Responsible for Their Dining Experience?

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I recently read an interesting experiment from a famous restaurant in #NYC, where the owners compared customers' behavior of today and that of 10 years ago.  I wrote an article about it on MultiBriefs.  Here is what was reported by the restaurant (and what I included in the article): 
July 1, 2004:

Customers walked in. 
They were seated with a menu.  Three out of 45 requested for a different seat. 
Customers spent about 8 minutes on the menu before closing it, indicating that they were ready to order. 
Servers instantly took the order. 
Appetizers were served in about 6 minutes (except for complex items). 
Two out of 45 customers sent items back. 
Servers remained attentive to customers. 
Checks were delivered when customers finished their meals. 
Customers left within 5 minutes. 
On average, it took 1 hour and 5 minutes from start to finish.

July 3, 2014:

Customers walked in. 
They were seated with a menu.  Eighteen out of 45 re…

Stay Healthy on the Road - Hotels Respond to Travelers' Demand

President Obama was caught on tape working out in a hotel during a trip to Poland.  Leaving politics aside, this video shows Obama is just like many other travelers: They all work out in a hotel gym. 

According to a 2012 survey conducted by TripAdvisor with over 1,400 U.S. travelers, healthy eating and exercise have played an important role in Americans' vacation.  Sixty-nine (69) percent mentioned healthy eating is important during vacation, and 53 percent said they always or often do exercise while they travel.

I am glad to see the industry is responding to what travelers want. Many hotel brands have already updated their workout facilities through renovations and/or re-branding.  Today, travelers can easily find up-to-date equipment in a large workout room in hotels.  There are also websites that are specifically developed for hotel gym reviews (e.g., HotelGymReview.com).  My recent stay at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower was a great example.

So, what should hot…

Chinese and Tourist Desinations: A Love-Hate Relationship

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I was in Hong Kong and mainland China for a conference in May.  During my visit, I witnessed a debate between Chinese tourists and the local residents in Hong Kong.

On one hand, Chinese tourists spend a lot of money on luxury goods and daily necessities in Hong Kong.  On the other hand, the overflow of Chinese tourists brings in many inconveniences to local residents.

Many other tourist destinations also experience some negative effect from the overflow of Chinese tourists.  I wonder why people seem to love and hate Chinese tourists at the same time.  More importantly, what can Chinese tourists do to win the harts from other tourist destinations?

Visit Multibriefs.com for my in-depth discussion on this topic.

Other relevant discussions from this blog:

Welcome Chinese Tourists The Biggest Challenge and the Hidden Opportunity of Entering the Chinese Market Investing in Digging the “Gold Mine” of China: Now Is the Time Lodging Stocks in China Starbucks and Pizza Huts: Time Has Come for aRapid Ex…

The Power of a Single Search: Offering the Right Deals to the Right People (by Cesar Tenorio)

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How powerful can a single click on the internet be?  One click can search up endless opportunities on the internet, 'like' a video, or even just simply view a picture.  Now with companies such as MGM Resorts International, a click is all you need to be exposed to their services.  Does it work?  An increase of over 300 percent in revenues may make MGM think so. 
MGM introduced a new digital marketing strategy in 2010 that hones in on their most relevant customers.  By simply searching up prices on hotels or even 'liking' their photos, MGM can specifically advertise to these customers with tailored materials in addition to the "regular" ones of MGM.  What is interesting is how MGM states that they create individual profiles of their customers so that they can determine whether or not someone is more of a big spender or a penny pincher.  With the right data, MGM then targets past customers, as well as the potential with this personalized campaign.  For those who …

Business Intelligence: Your Part-Time Business Sidekick (By Rachel Shabtai)

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Technology has become the norm in today’s society, which has greatly impacted the hospitality industry from all different angles.  Restaurants depend on easy to use point of sales (POS) systems such as Squirrel or Aloha, but what about other departments such as Revenue Management and Sales and Marketing? 
The business intelligence goal is to solve this issue by providing the most efficient and up-to-date information on tracing booking patterns as well as maximizing promotional marketing to external outlets.  It is important for hotels to understand the efficiency that business intelligence can offer; it isn’t the technology that seems complex, but rather the algorithms used to collect all the data.  Of course, those who may use this program won’t have to worry about complicated calculations or data collection, even though they already have the experience of gathering the information.
Business intelligence should be used hand-in-hand to complement the skills a revenue manager or sales an…

Will Meta-Search Push More Travelers to Book Rooms Directly on a Hotel's Website? (by Melodye Jung)

As technology advances in our society, it creates a myriad of changes that help improve people’s everyday lives.  A particular advancement, the creation of the Internet, has proven to be essential to the success of the hospitality industry.  It efficiently tracks, records, and provides information in a matter of minutes when it would have taken hours to do it manually.
In the past, people normally went to travel agents and spoke to them in person to arrange their trip.  When the Internet was created, travel agents took their business to the Internet.  Guests were happy to make the switch; after all, it was more convenient for them to book their travel online than in person.  Realizing that guests could book directly from the hotel’s website instead of from OTAs (Online Travel Agents such as Expedia.com), hotels have long tried to persuade guests to book through their own website.  After all, why pay someone else to do the job when you can do it yourself?

Today, everything is easily a…

What Is the Core Principle of Social Media Marketing?

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I attended the Social Media Marketing World Conference 2014 in San Diego (#SMMW14).  I heard many case studies and real success on social media marketing, which were drawn from different industrial sectors and represented a variety of social media platforms.  In the end, I made one conclusion: Listening and responding to customers is the core principle of social media marketing.  Companies now can answer the following questions by analyzing the consumer data on the Internet:

For what purpose or on what occasion do customers use a product/service?What do they like or dislike about a product/service? And for what reasons?Who is actually buying and using a particular product/service?When is the best time to communicate with the target customers on social media?Where is the best "place" to reach the target customers?
Is it that simple?  Just "listen" to what customers said online, and then "respond" to what they need?  Check out my reflections on #SMMW14.

Winning Customers with a Small Touch

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DoubleTree by Hilton shows us how to win customers with its signature chocolate cookies.  For over 20 years, the signature chocolate cookies have become the buzzword associate with the brand and a symbol of the company's "care culture."  

This time, DoubleTree developed a series of marketing strategies around the signature cookies, including:
Initiating a "pay it forward" event by giving two cookies to every in-house guest or a person on the street — one for the guest, the other for passing along. People are also encouraged to answer "Who else deserves some Cookie Care?" on DoubleTree's social media channels.Making Cookie Care tour stops. During this scheduled tour, the hotel will surprise customers in selected locations with Hilton Cookie Care giveaways."#CookieCare" Sweepstakes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other major social media platforms.Selling the chocolate chip cookie dough on the hotel's website in late spring…

Is It Possible to Develop a “Classic” Brand and Market It to All Generations?

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On March 10, I published an article entitled "Hotels, Restaurants Respond to Shifting Customer Base" on MultiBriefs.com.  It is good to see hospitality companies are developing fresh concepts and new brands to target younger generations, such as Gen Y and Gen Z, but at the same time, I am a little worried about the strategy of marketing a new product/service strictly to one generation but not the others (e.g., the AC Hotel by Marriott).  If  a hotel or a restaurant only targets Millennials, for example, does it mean the establishment would not welcome other generations?  I argue if it would be better to market a new product/service as a "classic" brand or a new life-style brand that would welcome all generations.  What do you think?  


References:
The picture was downloaded from Gather.com

Witness the Breakfast War (by Kyra Yong)

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When it comes to breakfast fast-food, McDonald’s is usually the first company that comes to our minds.  From their signature Egg McMuffins, to their up and coming McCafe, the thought of having a warm golden arched, hash brown in the golden mornings of the day is an appeal that many of us can resonate with.  Currently, many companies are also considering taking a part in the breakfast market. Breakfast is slowly becoming a great part of the fast food lifeline – resulting to be a business contributing more than $50 billion dollars in revenue, as stated by USA Today.With all this in mind, Mexican fast-food chain, Taco Bell is taking a step to participate for their fair share in the breakfast market as they will be launching a completely new breakfast menu.  By mid-March, consumers will be given the option to purchase drip coffee, Waffle Tacos or A.M. Crunchwraps.  To appeal to their target Millennial crowd, these items will be easy to hold and available a half hour later than many other …

What Is the Future for Hotel Centeral Reservation Centers?

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In a recent post I shared on MultiBriefs.com, I discussed the future of the traditional central reservation centers (CRCs) in hotels.  If CRCs are determined to "step down from the stage," what can hotels do to prepare for the future?  Will a mobile service center be the answer?  If so, what will a mobile service center do?

What changes do you anticipate in CRCs?  If you work in a hotel's CRCs, what changes have you seen in the past five years?


References:
The picture was downloaded from PhonePhunnies.com

Brand Loyalty Programs: Let the Customer Work for You (Contributed by Cesar Tenorio)

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One of the biggest issues that the hotel industry has been facing today is the lack of guest retention to a certain brand.  With the added competition of online travel agencies (OTA's) today, hotels are scrambling to try and get guests to stick around for more reasons than just room rates and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Cue in the loyalty program: a business technique that awards those returning guests through free parking, free snacks, a fancy name, and you guessed it, complimentary Wi-Fi.  However, even with the opportunity with all the perks and salty snacks that a hotel offers, marketing researchers are still scratching their heads as to what will make people not only prefer a certain brand, but also desire it.  It strongly poses the question, what do we have to do next? Or what new thing can we offer? Maybe it's time to start asking, is it time to step back and view the issue in a new lens?
To begin, we need to boil down this issue to its core: satisfying the guests' wants in …

Social Media in Hotel Operations - by Yu Hsan Wang

The amount of smart phone users are ever-growing, and ownership of smartphones have become the norm.  With carriers rolling out cheap data plans, wireless internet on the go has become extremely affordable.  The widespread access to internet content on mobile devices has made it possible for millions of smartphone users to stay connected through social media regardless of their location.  

According to the article, Social Media Inspires Hotel Design by Terence Baker, many hotels are incorporating social media into their hotel designs in order to keep up with the trends of the digital age.  By capitalizing this idea, hoteliers are able to attract consumers and provide them with a brand new experience where they can “meet, interact, have fun, compete, experience, flirt, tweet and much, much more” (Baker).  A hotel property in Dublin offers Twitter-themed rooms where customers can “tweet” requests such as filling their mini bars.  This innovative service makes it extremely easy for the ro…

Creating Original Content --- First and Foremost for Blogging

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Do you know many websites are built on a WordPress (blog) theme?  Oh yes.  People are very likely reading blogs when they browse contents on the internet, and blogging can be very effective in marketing communications and making sales.  Yet, how does blogging different from Facebook or Twitter updates?  What can we expected from a good blog post?

Blog is definitely different from Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.  Blogging is more than just an update.  There is no set limit on how many characters a blog post can have, allowing people to publish longer and more in-depth discussion.  Plus, bloggers can embed other social media contents in a post (e.g., pictures and videos).
I started blogging about four years ago.  When I first started, I did more “sharing” than “creating.”  I shared the news articles that I found interesting and relevant to my target audience.  My blog posts read more like summaries of relevant news articles with very little in-depth discussion.  Over tim…

Integrating Mobile Technology into Customer Service

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Today, 52% of the population have smartphones, of whom over 94% are expected to use smartphones in searching for local business, according to a recent newsletter I received from the California Lodging Industry Association.  Many OTAs (online travel agents such as Expedia.com and Priceline.com) and entrepreneurs are getting into the “app business,” and they are doing very well (as suggested in the Bloomberg video).  Hotels and restaurants for sure would also like to have a piece of the pie. 

Indeed, many hotels follow the SoLoMo (Social, Local, and Mobile) movement and have introduced many mobile apps.  The big hotel groups, for example, all have mobile apps, allowing customers to search and make reservations using mobile devices; but at the same time, there are also other apps for different hotel brands within the same hotel group and even apps for individual properties.  Moreover, there are concierge (service) apps for luxury and upper upscale brands.  Really?  Does a hotel group nee…