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Who’s on the Move in F&B?

NATIONAL REPORT—Hotels across the country are revamping F&B operations. Here’s a look at the new additions to hotel culinary teams:

HGU New York Partners with Chef and Restauranteur John DeLucie

HGU New York Hotel has partnered with star chef and restauranteur John DeLucie to launch new food and beverage concepts across the luxury boutique hotel. The partnership includes a phased overhaul of the hotel’s bars and restaurants including the 1905 Lounge, rooftop, lobby bar and the creation of a signature restaurant set to open this fall.

Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead Welcomes Executive Chef

Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead has welcomed Executive Chef Christophe Truchet as the leader of the hotel’s culinary team. Truchet is responsible for the property’s culinary and banquet operations, menu development, concept and programming for the hotel’s signature restaurant, café & bar and oversees in­-room dining. He joins the hotel with nearly 20 years of experience. Most recently, Truchet served as executive sous chef at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.

The Peninsula Chicago Appoints Executive Chef 

The Peninsula Chicago has appointed Executive Chef Baasim Zafar, a native of England with more than 25 years of experience in restaurants and luxury hotels in the United States, London and Saudi Arabia. Chef Zafar will oversee all Peninsula restaurant kitchens for The Lobby, Shanghai Terrace, Pierrot Gourmet and Z Bar, as well as banquets, in-room dining and pastry kitchen operations. Most recently, he led culinary operations at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago that included the launch of Italian steakhouse Torali and accompanying bar, rooftop lounge and café.

Innisbrook Resort Appoints New Director of Restaurants

Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, FL has appointed Dan Brown to director of restaurants. In his new role, Brown will oversee restaurant operations at each of Innisbrook’s four restaurants, to include the implementation of creative concepts, showcasing the talents of the resort’s culinary team as well as the inviting indoor and outdoor spaces for dining and entertainment. Brown brings more than 26 years of management experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He has maintained positions ranging from manager to assistant director for multiple restaurant outlets, and has been employed by properties including the Sheraton Harbor Island Hotel & Marina in San Diego, the Fairmont Plaza Hotel in NY, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, FL.

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Charleston Historic District Appoint Executive Chef

Hyatt Place and Hyatt House Charleston Historic District has appointed of executive chef Albert Kunco. Kunco has more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry focused on honing his culinary skills. Most recently, Kunco served as the executive chef at Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners. Kunco will lead the development of a new catering program for group, corporate and social events and launch seasonal menus for the hotel restaurant, bar and happy hour.

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows Revamps Culinary Team

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows has introduced a new culinary team led by Executive Chef Nate Larsen and Sous Chef Chelsea Cummings. The new team under the direction of Chefs Larsen and Cummings will drive the culinary program at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen, Turquoise Pool Bar and Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary as well as in-room dining and banquet operations. Larsen most recently served as executive chef at Hyatt Centric Park City. Cummings most recently moved to Arizona as a corporate management trainee with Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch.

Source: https://www.hotelbusiness.com/whos-on-the-move-in-fb-2/

5 things you need to know about booking a budget airline ticket, according to experts

With summer just around the corner, many people are looking to make their vacation budget stretch further. And for those looking to fly international, one option may be to use a low-cost airline.

But the budget airline industry has had a rocky 2019 so far, withIceland’s Wow Air ceasing operations in March and Russian airline Aeroflot experiencing a crash landing on May 5.

Yet travel and safety experts say that the vast majority of budget airlines are a safe bet for travelers looking to save a buck. But while you may not encounter any major issues, you are probably going to give up some amenities and comforts in order to save that money.

“Budget airlines have built their entire business model around charging cheaper fares across the board ultimately giving travelers the option to choose what they pay for,” Steve Sintra, Kayak’s regional director of North America, tells CNBC Make It.

Here’s a look at what you need to know before you purchase a ticket on an international budget airline.

1. Know what’s included in the ticket cost

It used to be that your airfare included not only a seat on the plane, but luggage storage, a meal or two and even a drink. But when you’re flying budget, those amenities are extra.

“Make sure when you’re booking your ticket, you know what is or isn’t included so there are no surprises when you get to the airport,” Sintra says.Y

With most international low-cost airlines like AirAsia, Norwegian Air, EasyJet and Ryanair, the base fare includes a seat on that flight and a personal item that you can put under the seat in front of you. Checked luggage stored in the hold is almost always extra, but for some flights, even larger rolling carry-ons that you need to put in the overhead bins may be an additional fee.

“Their carry-on rules are much different,” says Charles Leocha, head of the consumer group Travelers United, tells CNBC Make It. Often the accepted sizes on international airlines are smaller than the traditional U.S. rolling carry-ons. For example, Ryanair only allows a personal item that fits under the seat in front of you with dimensions under 40cm x 20cm x 25cm (roughly 16 inches x 8 inches x 10 inches). Basically this is a purse, a laptop bag or a small backpack.

Plus, many of the budget airlines also have weight restrictions for all luggage, even carry-on bags. If you check-in with a carry-on that weighs more than 10 kilograms, about 22 pounds, you will typically have to pay a fee or check the bag. For example, Mexican-based Interjet allows you to bring a personal item like a purse and a carry-on,but both items have to be under 10 kilograms.

Even U.S. carriers have put major restrictions on carry-on bags these days, especially on U.S. budget airlines. Frontier, for example, charges a$35 fee for a carry-on bag (free for those with Elite status) if you purchase while booking online. It jumps to $50 if you wait to pay until you get to the airport and check-in.

Kayak has a Baggage Fee Assistant tool which lets you easily see whether your bags are included in the overall flight price when you’re searching for ticket options.

A Ryanair luggage stand is seen at Krakow international airport.

In many cases, an international budget carrier will charge you extra for options like picking your seat, getting a meal and seatback entertainment. For example easyJet charges roughly $3 to $14 to pick your seat in the general cabin without extra legroom. You may even find that the actual seat is smaller than on a traditional carrier.

“Weigh the pros and cons before you book,” Sintra says. It may be that you’ll end up paying more in extras than you would buying a ticket on a traditional airline. If you’re traveling with family members, for example, you’ll likely want to sit near them, but that generally costs extra for each person. Norwegian Air charges €35 ($39) for seat selection per leg. For a family of four, that could add up to roughly $300 in extra flight costs.

“If you prefer the extra amenities you may want to consider an airline that you know has them,” Sintra says. That said, if you’re simply looking to get to your destination for the cheapest price, then it might be worth sitting next to a stranger in the middle seat or limiting your packing to a small carry-on.

This 29-year-old turned an obsession with cheap flights into a million-dollar business

2. Know where you’re flying to and from

One of the biggest surprises for those who don’t fly budget airlines is the airports. Many low-cost carriers use alternate hubs.

“You should look at this very carefully” when booking, Leocha says. If you’re flying to Venice, Italy, for example, EasyJet flies into the city’s main airport, Marco Polo. But Ryanair flies into Treviso Airport, which is about 25 miles outside of the city.

These alternate airports may also be smaller and have fewer personnel and amenities. Norwegian recently launched flights out of New York’s Stewart International Airport, for instance, which is in New Windsor, New York — over 60 miles north of Manhattan. The airport only has two restaurants: a Quiznos sandwich shop before security and a cafe after security.

Perhaps even more frustrating, there are only limited check-in, security and customs systems in place, which means it may take travelers longer to get through the airport at Stewart.

3. Know about the airline

When you’re searching for your flight, there are typically a dizzying number of options. You likely don’t have to do in-depth research on all of them, but it can be helpful to look up some information in advance to avoid headaches. “If it’s an airline I’ve never heard of before, I’ll check it out,” Leocha says.

First, you should check out their safety record and performance. The site Airline Ratings can be an excellent source to get a quick view of an airline’s safety rating, which they base on seven factors, including the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification audit and the European Union’s Blacklist, which bans carriers it feels are too risky.

Cancellations and on-time performance are also major factors, especially if you have a connecting flight. FlightStats has an excellent database of airline performance, including low-cost carriers. Last month, easyJet flights operated on-time arrivals 80% of the time, while Ryanair had 88% of its flights arrive on schedule.

Yet travelers generally shouldn’t worry too much about an airline going under, despite the recent shut-down of Iceland’s Wow Air.

“It is very unlikely that a budget airline would go under without an earlier warning or indication,” Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp, tells CNBC Make It. Experts were speculating about Wow Air for months before it officially went under and ceased operation.

If you’re worried, Zillmer recommends doing a quick Google search to look at airlines’ previous performance and news before booking a flight.

Here’s what it’s actually like to be a flight attendant

4. Know how to buy

When you go to book your ticket, it’s best to book with a credit card over a debit card. If there are any issues, the money is not coming from your checking account and you have the right to dispute the transaction.

Plus, there are several credit cards on the market, including Citi Prestige and both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, that offer travel protections. These kick in if your luggage is lost or delayed, or you’re stranded because of a cancelled or delayed flight, or even if you have a medical emergency.

Booking through a well-known travel operator like Expedia or Priceline may also offer more protections, Zillmer says. For example, he says if an airline does go under before your trip, you may be able to claim a refund if you booked through a site like this.Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flightsHenrik ZillmerCEO OF AIRHELP

It’s also worth noting that travel agents or partner airlines may also step up to refund or rebook you, depending on whether flights are covered by travel insurance. If a trip was booked as a package, coverage should be guaranteed, Zillmer says.

If you are booking directly with the budget carrier, be aware that its website may be difficult to navigate, so check everything carefully and be careful with translations.

“The websites can get a little funky,” Leocha says. If you do have issues, Leocha says he’s found that low-cost carriers are fairly responsive on social media. He’s cleared up several issues by shooting the airline a note on Facebook.5. Know your rights

“Travelers should always be aware of their rights in case something goes wrong when booking their flights,” Zillmer says. And while the specific rights can vary by flight route or departure and arrival destinations, they can be a big help regardless of whether someone has travel insurance.

Unfortunately, travelers in the U.S. have the fewest protections, Zillmer days. Essentially you can seek compensation of up to $1,350 from an airline if you are denied boarding due to overbooking and you ultimately suffered a delay in arriving at to your final destination.

If you’re flying back from a European country to the U.S, flying on a European airline or flying within Europe, you have more protections. You can get up to $700 per person if your flight is cancelled or delayed more than three hours unless it’s deemed an “extraordinary circumstance,” such as a storm, medical emergency or political unrest. Under these conditions, airlines do not owe you anything.

In addition to financial compensation, if your flight is delayed more than two hours, you’re entitled to food and refreshments, as well as a hotel room and transport if the trip interruption requires an overnight stay.

“When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to necessary assistance from the airline, depending on your situation,” Zillmer says.

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As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.

The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners, a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.O

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.

“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”

Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

Source: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/

Direct-To-Consumer Brands Are Out-Marketing Traditional Retailers–But It Comes At A Cost

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands continue to up-end business models and rewrite the playbook on how to engage customers. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in retail that a new report from CommerceNextshows an increasing divide in ecommerce marketing spending and priorities between traditional retailers and digital-first DTC brands.

The research clearly demonstrates that one of the biggest differences between traditional retailers and DTC brands is their investment in marketing. Marketing budgets across all retail business models are on the rise: 65% of respondents said their 2019 budget increased over the previous year. Conversely, only 10% of marketers indicated that they are reducing their budget. However, DTC brands’ budgets are increasing at a higher rate. In 2019, 78% of DTC marketers said their budgets had increased, compared to 60% of traditional retailers.

With larger marketing budgets and consumer tastes veering sharply in their favor, DTC brands are now dictating the terms of a new ecommerce customer experience. DTC brands have methodically seized market share by innovating on product, marketing tactics and technologies. The mattress industry serves as a stark example—dozens of new DTC bed-in-a-box mattress brands have sprung up while the incumbent retailer, Mattress Firm, had to restructure the company in bankruptcy in order to survive.

Unfortunately for DTC brands, the research also shows how this relentless focus on marketing comes with its own subsequent set of growing pains—those that traditional retailers have already worked through. All this innovation has its price, resulting in some notable differences in priorities and challenges between traditional retailers and DTC brands:

  • DTC brands are starting to focus on achieving profitability at scale. Nearly 45% of DTC brands named “achieving profitability at scale” as a top barrier to meeting 2019 marketing goals. In contrast, less than 18% of traditional retailers named this as a barrier.
  • DTC brands are experiencing concern over finding and retaining top workforce talent. Twenty-six percent of DTC brands named this as a barrier for 2019, compared to 20% of traditional retailers.
  • DTC brands focus on new channels over promotions. DTC brands are turning away from the use of promotions in favor of other channels, such as programmatic TV, to attract new customers. Once the domain of only the largest retailers with the biggest budgets, television is now a hearty feeding ground for many digital-first DTC ad campaigns.

Despite varying marketing spends and the resulting challenges for DTC brands, retailers of all business models reported sharing many of the same business woes and goals:

  • Acquisition marketing is still the prime directive.Acquisition marketing transcends business models as a top priority for all ecommerce marketers. A full 81% of ecommerce marketers named acquisition as a top investment priority. Ecommerce marketers plan to spend even more on acquisition in 2019.
  • Getting a unified view of the customer remains a struggle. Most marketers are not satisfied with their efforts to create a single view of the customer and personalize the customer experience. In 2019, the top innovation investment priority for all ecommerce marketers, regardless of business model, is in customer data platforms.
  • Marketers must make faster, more informed decisions.About 30% of ecommerce marketers from both traditional and DTC brands were most challenged by executing quickly enough on marketing initiatives.

Unencumbered by legacy technology, DTC challenger brands are reporting heavier investment in modern marketing solutions that help them respond more quickly to trends, acquire new customers across multiple channels and build loyalty. If they can overcome some of their early-stage growth challenges of profitability and talent, they will continue to take market share.

Traditional brands now have a choice: they can up their marketing investments and adopt new approaches to ecommerce that will help them grow; or, they can slide silently into the history books of traditional retailers unwilling to adapt to changing times.

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/veronikasonsev/2019/05/30/direct-to-consumer-brands-are-out-marketing-traditional-retailers-but-it-comes-at-a-cost/

Stepping Into 21st-Century Hospitality With Short-Term Tech

Some entrepreneurs are inspired to start companies because they spot unmet needs in the market: Frontdesk Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer Jesse DePinto, for instance, saw the amateur nature of home shares but the opportunity for something better than a hotel. The company saw the need for the best of both worlds and, to tackle this challenge, it is “evolving into a 21st-century tech-enabled hospitality brand,” DePinto told PYMNTS in an interview. As a result, the company can architect all the elements of its operation from technology to process and its people from the ground up with insight from the current day.

DePinto says the company aims to serve today’s modern travelers by hosting them in urban apartment units with all the service a traveler might need “from the initial communication and marketing to the physical location and amenities and furniture.” When it comes to booking the units, the company takes a multichannel approach. “We meet the guest where they’re most comfortable,” DePinto said. The company has its own website, and it loves when repeat guests book directly as they already know about the concept. At the same time, the company advertises through other channels such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, UrbanDoor and VRBO.

The company likes to host guests in upscale downtown apartments in an urban core with walkable neighborhoods. “For us, location is number one,” DePinto said, adding that Frontdesk is also looking for a consistent and professional high-quality experience with customers expecting at least a Class A luxury new apartment complex. The company looks to serve the 21st-century traveler, with young professionals looking to stay in cities. It has units in cities such as Charlotte, Tampa, Milwaukee and Columbus.

The Business

When it comes to partnerships, the company works with multifamily property management companies. It seeks to help them increase their occupancy and fill their vacant units. At the same time, the company creates an added amenity for long-term renters by offering its units as guest suites for residents in the buildings. Their family and friends can then stay in the apartments whenever they are in town so they, say, don’t have to sleep on the couch (or the resident that is hosting them doesn’t have to give up their bed to their guests).

For its target market, the company’s ideal customers are people who want to be in a city — those who are excited by the hustle and bustle of a downtown urban area. The company gets mostly business travelers as it has a product that tends to attract them, DePinto says, but it brings in leisure travelers as well. The target audience is harder to determine with the hybridization between real estate, hospitality, business travel and leisure travel. “It’s all just becoming travel,” DePinto said.

The offering comes as DePinto says Airbnb has changed the customer mindset for travel. “Consumers are conditioned to expect more than just a hotel,” once they started staying in other people’s apartments, condos as well as townhomes for the same price of a hotel, DePinto said. That shift pushed the boundary of what people could expect with hospitality, and created a whole new wave of travelers in the process. In the future, the company aims to provide more space as well as amenities and technology, among other plans.

The Market

Beyond Frontdesk, Mint House aims to deliver a hotel-like experience that is trusted and secure as well as built on a suite of amenities powered by technology. The company is currently in markets including Nashville, Miami, Denver, Detroit and Indianapolis, and is coming soon to San Diego and Minneapolis as of a PYMNTS report in May. Like Frontdesk, Mint House can also open up the rooms as guest suites to the rest of the tenants in the building to provide value to full-time residents as well.

And “aparthotel” company Locale, like Frontdesk, takes a multichannel approach to reservations. Consumers can book through Airbnb as well as online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Hotels.com, Expedia and Booking.com by searching for a particular property. At the same time, Locale also allows travelers to book directly through its website or via phone.

From Locale to Frontdesk, online platforms are combining technology and hotel-like service to allow travelers to stay in apartments for work or pleasure as they move about the country in the digital era.

Source: https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/frontdesk-hospitality-travel-tech/

3 reasons why the U.S. economy may have already peaked for the year

The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter — a pace that will likely prove to be the high-water mark for the year before growth weakens in the coming months.

That’s the assessment widely shared by economists in light of the rising threats facing the U.S. economy, from a raging trade war to more cautious spending by consumers and businesses to a global slowdown. Their collective forecast is that last year’s 2.9 percent growth — the fastest year of expansion since 2015 — will be followed by a more tepid 2.3 percent gain this year.

That pace would roughly match the average annual growth since the current expansion began in 2009. In two months, it will become the longest post-recession recovery on record. But it has also been the slowest since World War II.

The Trump administration, defying the assessments of mainstream economists, insists that its program of tax cuts, regulatory reform and tougher enforcement of trade deals will produce dramatically higher annual growth above 3 percent for the next six years.

Here are three key reasons why economists think growth has peaked for the year:

A pendulum swings back

Half the 3.1 percent growth rate in the January-March quarter that the government reported Thursday was due to two temporary factors: A surge in business efforts to restock shelves. And a big narrowing in the trade deficit.

In the calculations that produce the nation’s gross domestic product, a widening trade deficit subtracts from growth. By contrast, a narrowing trade deficit, like the one last quarter, raises growth. Yet economists predict that the pendulum will swing back to a wider trade gap in the current April-June quarter. That’s because neither a sharp drop in imports nor a big surge in exports in the first quarter is expected to persist.

For that reason, analysts foresee second-quarter growth slowing to around a 1.5 percent annul rate — just about half the first-quarter figure.

Fading stimulus

President Donald Trump’s signature domestic achievement was the passage of a $1.5 trillion tax cut in December 2017. Billions in additional spending for domestic and military programs that Congress approved in early 2018 also delivered a stimulative lift to the economy.

The tax cuts allowed companies, which received a major portion of the bounty, to spend more on plants and equipment. Business investment grew sharply as a result. So did stock buybacks, which helped boost the stock market.

And for households, tax cuts began showing up in paychecks early last year in the form of lower withholding amounts, leaving consumers with more money to spend. Consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of economic activity, averaged a sizzling 3.3 percent annual rate over the final three quarters of 2018.

But the initial surge from the tax cuts and the increased government spending are waning now. That’s a major reason why economists think growth this year will slow to a modest 2.3 percent annual pace, in line with the pattern of the past decade.

An ominous trade war

A return to a 2.3 percent growth rate, while slower than last year, would still likely leave the economy with enough steam to keep unemployment, already near a 50-year low, at a healthy level. What concerns economists is that some further shock might significantly slow growth.

Analysts are warily monitoring an array of risks, from disruptions resulting from a British exit from the European Union to weakening manufacturing and retail industries to jitters over congressional investigations into Trump’s presidency.

But the gravest perceived threat may be the escalating trade war between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies. Stock markets have been falling since talks broke off this month and the Trump administration announced that it was boosting tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing vowed to retaliate against U.S. products as it has done with previous Trump tariffs.

For economists, the concern is that the disruptions in trade could become severe enough to trigger a recession in an already weakening economy.

“If the trade war escalates, that could cause unemployment to start to rise and that could cause consumers to cut back on their spending, which would then prompt businesses to cut back,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s. “Then the recession risks become very high.”

Yet Zandi said he thought that risk could fade if the United States and China can at least declare a truce in their trade war, which would keep punitive tariffs from widening further.

Economists are watching for such an outcome, with Trump and President Xi Jinping set to meet on the sidelines of a Group of 20 major nations’ summit next month in Japan.

Source:
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/3-reasons-why-the-u-s-economy-may-have-already-peaked-for-the-year

5 WAYS AIRLINES CAN IMPROVE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: THE POINTS GUY

A new report from J.D. Power claims customer satisfaction with America’s airlines is at an all-time high. You wouldn’t know it by looking at a typical airline passenger’s Twitter account, though: Social media constantly seems to be flooded with complaints about massive delays, skimpy in-flight amenities and poor treatment by flight crew members. (Get ready for more: Some airlines are cutting down on how much their seats recline.) 

So how can airlines improve their act?

If you’re Singapore Air, you launch a farm-to-plane program providing organic greens for passengers’ meals. But for struggling U.S. carriers, staying ahead of low-cost competitors has meant slashing prices—and amenities. (American and United Airlines have chosen not to include seatback entertainment devices on new planes designed for shorter trips.)

But there are several things airlines can do to improve customer relations that don’t cost a dime. We spoke with Brian Kelly, found and CEO of The Points Guy, who shared his simple recommendations for America’s airline industry. 
 

1. Keep passengers informed

“Travelers can deal with flight delays but their patience and understanding dwindles when neither the pilot, flight attendants nor gate agents provide updates,” says Kelly. “Even if there’s no available information to share, show sympathy and take ownership of the situation.”

2. Help families with children

Wrangling the kids onto a plane is a hassle—for parents and other passengers alike.  Families with small children should always be preboarded, says Kelly, to expedite the boarding process and provide them with enough time to get settled. At the same time, they shouldn’t have to play musical chairs to sit together.

“Try to solve seating requests for families ahead of time,” Kelly advises, “to avoid flight delays due to last minute seat changes.”

3. Ensure better communication

“Overall communication between airlines and passengers could be improved. During delays, it would be beneficial to receive email, text and push notifications from the airline app as soon as possible.”

And, Kelly suggests, airlines should be better about empowering travelers to automate simple requests through their app or website, whether that’s rebooking on a later flight or filing a compensation claim. The traveler will feel less stress and customer service departments will save time and resources.

4. Organize meal service

Kelly doesn’t have any suggestions for making the food taste better, but he does think information about meal options can be disseminated better.

“Announce meal options in economy before meal service begins,” advises Kelly. “This might alleviate the irritation felt from flight attendants after they’ve had to repeat themselves at every row.”

5. Above all, show compassion 

Source:
https://www.newsweek.com/points-guy-airlines-1438353

LinkedIn Improves Video Marketing Metrics via New Integration with Moat

Video is the best performing content type on all social media platforms, and that includes the professional social network LinkedIn. According to internal data, LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post – while for paid content, LinkedIn members now spend 300% more time watching video ads, as compared to time spent with static Sponsored Content.

If you’re looking to maximize your LinkedIn marketing performance, video should be somewhere on your considerations list. Catering to this, over the last year, the platform has added new sticker and text options to give your video presentations another creative element, the aforementioned Video Sponsored Content (launched last July), and video for company pages.

And now, LinkedIn is improving its measurement options for video, to help assure marketers of their actual performance.

The platform has this week announced a new integration with Moat Analytics, which will provide additional, third party data oversight to further validate on-platform video data.

“Validating the impact of your LinkedIn video ads just became a no-brainer with Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat Analytics + LinkedIn. Moat Analytics is a third-party analytics and measurement platform that enables advertisers to consistently measure viewability metrics of their ads across multiple platforms. Using the Moat Analytics integration, LinkedIn advertisers can now validate their metrics for accuracy and compare video campaign results across platforms in one streamlined location.”

Moat’s video performance data has become the industry standard, with several other social platforms already offering supplementary Moat data to solidify their metric offerings (and provide additional, third-party reassurance).

LinkedIn says that the integration “gives LinkedIn advertisers the ability to validate their viewability metrics, while also providing traffic quality verification”. In addition, LinkedIn is adding in new analytic capability, with extra ‘audibility’ metrics.

“With a deeper understanding of the viewability and audibility metrics your video campaigns are producing, you’re able to better determine which messages best captivate your audience. That provides you with a recipe for finding what works and then following that template – rinse and repeat.”

LinkedIn was a little late to the video shift, with LinkedIn’s own native video option only released in August 2017, but as the stats here show, it’s already become a much bigger part of the LinkedIn ecosystem. That’s an important shift to consider in your platform approach – and when you also consider that LinkedIn is currently seeing ‘record levels of engagement‘ it may be worth giving both LinkedIn and LinkedIn video ads additional thought.

Source:
https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/linkedin-improves-video-marketing-metrics-via-new-integration-with-moat/555865/

Why is now a good time to invest in a hospitality business?

Investors must always strike at opportune times. It’s a process that requires a great deal of foresight and strategy, as the right move at the right opening can enable stakeholders to reap a bevy of financial rewards.

Consequently, where hospitality businesses are concerned, the best time to move forward with an investment is now. 

But after all this time, why now? Well, some have succeeded enormously in hospitality despite failures early in life – why not get in on the action somewhat? 

Consequently, here’s a few reasons why you should make your move in this arena right now. 

An active industry

It’s no secret that Brexit is coming up sooner or later, and many businesses are holding their breath and stagnating until the black cloud passes. The hospitality industry is taking a different tactic; working as hard as possible and staying busy to weather the storm instead. While other industries are taking a hit already, tourism and travel in the UK is something that’ll likely never falter. 

Therefore, the industry will be consistently proactive in the future in this regard. There’re many famous landmarks and tourist spots that millions of people visit every year, so investment into travel and tourism would likely prove lucrative. At the very least, hospitality is one of the few industries that, while concerned, isn’t rendered immobile and ineffective by their fears. 

A sustainable industry

The hospitality industry is also sustainable in its operations. Businesses in this field will go to great lengths to things like recycle and be environmentally friendly, or make careful use of water waste for other means.

While this might seem like a minor thing, it displays that hospitality businesses are forward thinking and always try and better the way they do things. It also makes them media friendly, and favourable in the eyes of the public. 

Industries that aren’t afraid to evolve with the times always make for the best investment playgrounds. There’s new technologies, new methods, new rules and regulations that shape and mould how they do their business.

Once again, this plays on the theme of avoiding stagnation, and gives investors plenty of additional sectors to pump their resources into that develop alongside them. New needs are constantly in circulation that investors can have a hand in funding. 

Social media

These days, it seems like everyone has social media. However, businesses obviously use it differently to how the average joe does. It’s their outreach channel, and their means of communicating with customers.

Not only this, but its’s also a research tool, enabling firms to keep an eye on market trends and to track their competitor’s strategies. Ultimately, social media is an all-seeing force here. 

Ultimately, this is just another way that the hospitality industry keeps moving forward while never looking back. The sector has a great deal of influence over its customer base, and with the right strategies, can inspire and bend willing customers to their will.

Once again, it’s also another sub-sector in the industry, and as technology is constantly progressing, investment opportunities will forever be plentiful here. 

Conclusion

The hospital industry will always offer viable investment opportunities due to one key factor; change. It doesn’t shy from it in any of its forms. This, in turn, opens up further avenues for investors to explore, and enables them to be a part of these recurring periods of seismic and profitable evolution. 

Source:
https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/in-business/why-is-now-a-good-time-to-invest-in-a-hospitality-business/

As Tourism Booms, Amsterdam Shifts to Damage Control

Earlier this month, a report from the Netherlands Tourist Board announced a remarkable policy change: Acknowledging that “more is not always better,” the board will no longer actively promote its country as a tourist destination. Instead, straining under the pressure of a booming tourism scene, the board will focus on redistributing the visitors it already has, operating as a sort of tourism damage control for popular vacation hotspots.

It seems that barely a week goes by in Amsterdam without some new push to contain the travel industry. Also this month, the city announced a ban on tour groups in the Red Light District, where they have been causing frustration by coming solely to gawp. After a previous ban on beer bikes, the city considered (but then rejected) banning drinking on boats to prevent noise and nuisance on the canals. And things have reached such a head that, last winter, the city removed the famous “I Amsterdam” sign from outside the Rijksmuseum because people were sick of the gridlock it created as tourists flocked to get a good selfie.

These smaller fights have some heftier policies backing them up, too.

In 2016, Amsterdam imposed a “hotel stop,” which barred approval for more hotel rooms in the city. It also tightened the reins on Airbnb, reducing its 60-night-a-year cap for Airbnb rentals down to 30 nights. Last winter, it introduced an €8 charge for cruise passengers arriving in the harbor.

Amsterdam, it might appear, has reached a tipping point, and is trying hard to bring tourism under control. Look more closely, however, and a paradox emerges.

Amsterdam and the Netherlands may be frantically trying to limit tourist excesses and preserve livability for locals, but they’re also pursuing policies that make further tourist growth ever easier. Greater Amsterdam is in fact going through a hotel boom, including in the city itself. Meanwhile, airports in the region are due for substantial expansion, and a vast new cruise terminal nearby is on the way.
The desire for control is there, but it’s warring with a push for growth that can only serve to further inflate the tourist bubble. Zoom in on the issues and a complex picture emerges of one step forward, one step back.

The wrong crowd

Amsterdam’s charm has long attracted visitors, but the city’s popularity has recently spiked. After a 13 percent increase in overnight stays in 2017, and 7 percent in 2018, the city saw just under 17 million visitors last year. That’s no small number for a city of 830,000 residents.“The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them.”

The crowds that flock to Amsterdam can be rowdier than most. Easily available weed, throbbing bars, and a high-profile sex industry have long attracted a bachelor party crowd to Amsterdam, especially from the British Isles. Not all these visitors are that bad, but many still seem intent on turning the Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal into a torrent of spew. Amsterdam is traditionally a laid-back place, but tolerance has thinned. People who think terminal drunkenness is standard local behavior need a reality check, says Geerte Udo, director of amsterdam&partners,a public-private non-profit that functions as the city’s main marketing body.

“If you respect the city’s rituals and you’re really interested in what it has to show, there’s a huge way for you to participate in our whole system,” Udo told CityLab. “For the rest, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you visit Amsterdam, Barcelona, or a Thai island—you should respect local tradition, and clean up behind your ass, so to speak. Walking the streets beer-in-hand is not what [Amsterdam] locals do, nor is smoking pot on the street or a terrace. We have coffee shops for that.”

To spread the message, amsterdam&partners launched a high-profile “Enjoy and Respect” campaign last year, informing visitors of local customs, rules, and penalties. For many, however, there’s more amiss with contemporary tourism than rowdiness alone.

“You could say quality tourism people travel because they’re inquisitive and want to learn,” says Stephen Hodes, founder of local tourism think tank Amsterdam in Progress. “Unfortunately, that kind of tourism is on the downward trend. The new tourists are the status seekers, who travel because it’s good for the way other people perceive them. They’re people who go to sites, take a selfie first to show they’ve have been there, and otherwise aren’t interested.”

This might be annoying, but you can’t legislate against disinterest. What you can do, Udo says, is channel and distribute people more effectively. Even people who say they want an authentic local experience can fall unwittingly into a tourist rut. People who want to be responsible can, for example, cause hold-ups by riding bikes during morning rush hour.“There isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future.”

“If you look at factual data, people behave very much alike,” she says. “Many people go to the Van Gogh Museum in the morning, and on a canal boat in the afternoon. That puts pressure on the city at certain places in certain moments, which can end up creating collisions with the locals.”

The city is thus in the process of tailoring its “I Amsterdam” app to match suggestions to visitors’ tastes, and recommend activities at times when they’re not normally full of people.

Opening the gates

This seems sensible, but is this focus on visitor behavior realistic, or entirely fair? While Amsterdam attempts to manage tourist flows, some aspects of both national and local government policy serve to pump ever more visitors into the city. In 2020, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will expand to host a further 50,000 flights a year, making yet more room by shunting low-cost carriers to tiny Lelystad Airport,which is currently closed but set to reopen on a far larger scale in 2020.

This revamped overflow airport, of which the city of Amsterdam owns 20 percent, will also host some new flights, something that is required by E.U. competition law. Meanwhile, cruise ships will soon be able to dock at a vastly expanded cruise terminal (probably 24 miles away at IJmuiden, although the location has not yet been confirmed) one that’s capable of hosting ships containing 6,000 or more passengers. This new terminal may save inner Amsterdam some pollution, but could also increase cruise passenger numbers to 770,000 annually by 2030, almost three times the 2015 figure of 280,000 a year. Hodes says he can’t believe that this could be seen as a benefit to the city.

“[Cruise ships] pollute the environment, their passengers spend the lowest amount of any kind of tourists coming to Amsterdam, and they travel in large groups,” he says. “What’s the idea behind encouraging this?”

Meanwhile, despite the hotel stop, new hotel room construction in the city continues apace, with a total of 8,133 new rooms still due in the coming years. These rooms aren’t limited by the hotel stop because their licenses were granted before it was introduced. With a further 14,000 rooms currently in planning for the outer suburbs, Greater Amsterdam’s overnight accommodation will ultimately rise by 63 percent. Amsterdam has seen a modest drop of 5 percent in Airbnb bookings, but its difficulties in ensuring listings obey the rules means that the city’s control of tourist accommodation is tenuous at best.

The forces pumping up the city’s tourist industry are so great that some campaigners are beginning to despair. Since talking to CityLab, Stephen Hode of Amsterdam in Progress has announced that he is closing the think tank down, discouraged by what he sees as a lack of municipal will to actually improve things.
“I’ve had meetings with the mayor and with city aldermen and civil servants focused on tourism,” he says. “I’ve come to the conclusion that the degree of denial is so unbelievable that there isn’t a hope in hell of our problems being solved in the near future—and that no one has any real intention of doing anything about it.”
Amsterdam isn’t alone in facing these issues, and while the measures it has tried may not be enough, it has still tried much harder than many other cities to alleviate the situation. A time will still come when both the city and its country may have to make some tough choices in order to reconcile a desire for livability with a desire for growth. And if that time isn’t now, it’s probably soon.

By: Feargus O’Sullivan – Source:
https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/05/amsterdam-tourism-travel-tips-vacation-cruise-hotels-airbnb/590221/