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On Chatbots and the Hospitality Industry

The premise of a chatbot is simple – automate communication and act as a window to access a service.

In the hospitality industry, one which is built around making the customer alpha, communication and information transactions must be smart, swift, insightful and analysable. Chatbots are hence the perfect tool for this type of communication and service provision. They live in messaging apps where today’s internet user spends a significant portion of his time, they are also cheap in the long run and can provide deep insights into customer preferences that can greatly improve offerings for the the customer, the alpha.

In 2017, the key players are still trying to figure out how to build the perfect chatbot – smart, capable of understanding complex semantics, and conversing with the customer as an experienced service rep would. Today’s chatbots, limited as they are by the available underlying technology have been deployed by several players in the hospitality industry – flight providers, hotels and more., a Nigerian OTA looks at existing and projected applications of chatbots and attempts to estimate the net effect that they might have on the entire industry in years to come.

Bookings and reservations

Brands that require that bookings be made – flights, hotels, tour guides and more are already rolling out functional chatbots. Using these bots is convenient, simple and gives an air of chatting with a friend. Hipmunk recently upgraded their chatbot to allow for group planning and chats on their Facebook Messanger based platform. It’s easy to see how this can be adopted for OTAs providing group tours.

Expedia and Kayak are some other early adopters of chatbots for the purpose of making reservations.

Learn user preferences

By silently sitting in the background, and potentially collecting information such as correlation between geolocation and time versus brand-specific actions carried out, smart deductions can be made as to the user’s behavioural tendencies and preferences. Also, past responses, questions and queries that the customer made can be automatically processed to give actionable insights into the customer. Brands can as a result offer personalised and customised services to the customer and increase the chances of delighting him and spending less to acquire each dollar from him than they normally would.

Customers can also be retargeted in the future with higher precisions. Brands are able to engineer a greater correlation between the time of the customer’s need, and the content and timing of chats sent with a marketing intent.

Upselling to clients

With chatbots, brands can more easily induce customers to make more expensive purchases, upgrades, and add-ons thereby increasing the chances of squeezing more value out of the client without appearing over enthusiastic. Products and services can be upsold or cross-sold through casual suggestions to the client.

Top-of-mind awareness (TOMA)

The modern day internet user spends more time on messaging apps than they do on social media. In the fight for users’ eyeballs, chatbots which mostly live in messaging apps therefore provide very great opportunities for subtle top-of-mind awareness campaigns. TOMA is defined as awareness campaigns aimed at making a brand the first a customer thinks of when asked an unprompted question about a brand’s category.

Cost effective customer support

Eventually, AI driven chatbots become smarter through learning. When they become sufficiently smart and are able to handle complex queries, brands spend less on the supervision of chats, customer support, and can dedicate saved funds into other segments of the brand.

Challenges & Controversies

As with most novel technologies, chatbots too have controversies and challenges tied to their successful implementation. A few pressing ones are discussed below:

Threat to existing jobs:

As in all forms of automation, job shifts occur and jobs designing and managing the automation always displace the jobs that previously ran the processes. Markets will always demand for more reliable, cost effective, and faster processes making these threats to jobs an occurrence that can be managed but not eliminated.


To tap into what makes chatbots powerful for brands – large audiences, they have to be sharecropped on platforms that host the most people thereby expanding the potential reach and influence of the brand. Facebook, Wechat, and Amazon Echo are a few popular platforms that host numerous chatbots. They are popular because people want to interact with brands on platforms where they already interact with friends. Understandably, this hands over reins of control to the messaging and voice AI giants, but it’s a reasonable compromise that should be made.

  • Privacy concerns:

Chatbots have the potential to offer so much personalised information and services that they might come off as intrusive. Care must therefore be made while designing them to handle information transactions at levels of personalisation that are at par with the target audience’s temperament toward AI. Helpful can easily become creepy.

  • High cost of build:

Chatbots can be expensive to build. In the long run however, they are almost always smart investments as they bring down operational costs, open up new opportunities for brands and help generate more revenue.

  • Lack of empathy:

Chatbots can come off as stiff or robotic. While this is not a problem for many, a few people are put off by it. Most primitive chatbots work like a search engine that search for some keywords that then trigger predetermined responses. AI driven chatbots are however more capable of handling more complex queries and conversing as a human would.


Chatbots are simple, ubiquitous, and highly effective. AI driven chatbots also become better and smarter with use so while the wide adoption by hospitality brands will create job shifts, it will also create new opportunities that will allow for better personalisation of experiences for the customer.

In one line, the hospitality industry will be benefit greatly from the adoption of chatbots.

The perfect jobs for travel enthusiasts

s travel your everyday dose? Then, you must know that some jobs have a restricting nature that would restrain you from actively living that vacation dream life. Yet, there are others that will allow you to explore the world while working unrestricted by the office walls eight hours a day. Jumia Travel highlights 5 jobs that are perfect for travel enthusiasts without necessarily being minimalists.


If you are an expert in your field of work, being a consultant rather than a full-time employee gives you the flexibility to be your own boss. It also enables one to have an extensive clientele, most of which require you to travel to on-site locations for physical consultations. This helps you to visit different places and work from luxurious locations such as hotels and beaches most often catered for by the company you are consulting for.

Pilot or Flight Attendant

There are those whose flying is the best part of their travel experiences. Stunning in those beautifully donned attires and well-placed smiles, being a flight attendant or the captain steering the airliner could give you a fulfilling thrill as you fly from one destination to another. These two jobs give you the opportunity to explore the world from high on the sky, and what other best way to live the travel dream? Often inconsistent working hours may however mean frequently being away from family and close friends.

Cruise Worker

Often associated with amorousness, cruising is something water lovers would want to try. Voyaging brings you as close to the sea world as possible, as you travel the different destinations and transits on the floating vessels. Jobs on the cruise range from engineering, to attendants, deck jobs and entertainment among others.

Destination photographer

The greatest beauty of travel is being able to perfectly capture each moment for memories, and for presentation of the destination to the world. Whether for weddings, corporate or social events, or just destination photography, one can make money selling their high-quality images for different use to different people. Creating a photography website for display could attract advertisers thus bringing extra income to fund your travels.

Travel blogger/writer

From the bustling attractions in Nairobi, to the gorilla trekking adventures in Uganda/Rwanda, and to Notre-Dame de Paris, there is a lot to write about the destinations you visit. Join the club of travel bloggers and writers making a fortune sampling and telling the world of their escapades. It is one of the most expressive ways to record your experiences, and in the tech era, you are sure to reach thousands, if not millions of readers online. The larger the travel record, the more the opportunities to also provide travel consultation and other travel related services; thus increasing your earnings and making the job even more exciting.

The list of the numerous jobs is endless, therefore these five are a simple guide to those wishing to venture into a more exciting career in line with their travel desires. To echo Hans Christian Andersen, “To travel is to live” – so go travel, go live your life.

Eight Ways NOT to Respond to a Whistleblower Report (and Three Ways You Should)

What hotel or restaurant veteran hasn’t heard the phrase “time to lean, time to clean”? We ensure our properties are spotless inside and out, maintain dress codes and scripted phrases for every interaction, and I would challenge any high-fashion magazine cover model to look more polished than a GM walking through their lobby or dining room to greet a VIP guest.

However, when it comes to responding to an internal whistleblower allegation, few GMs, chefs or managers have a script or SOP. Even the most experienced leaders generally cycle through the following emotions when confronted with an allegation of fraud, bribery or other misconduct:

  • INDIGNANT. “No way this happened on my watch.”
  • DENIAL. “This is made up.”
  • DISMAY. “How could they do this to ME? We’re like a family here!”
  • CLARITY: “Well, we HAVE been seeing… (insert red flag here).”
  • ACCEPTANCE: “Let’s find out what happened and resolve this.”

Keeping these emotions in mind, here are a few tips on what NOT to do when you learn an allegation was made (anonymously or not) about someone in your organization.


  1. Assume you are to blame or will be blamed. Even the most talented and vigilant leaders and managers have been defrauded or dealt with accusations of misconduct.
  2. Dismiss or ignore the report or reporter. If you (or whomever receives the report) can respond directly in writing or in person, thank them sincerely for their report, let them know you will look into it, and ask them if they can be available for follow-up questions if needed.
  3. Assume the reporter is fabricating the report. It doesn’t matter if they just received an unfavorable performance review or were terminated. Unfortunately, some employees believe in keeping things “in their back pocket” rather than speaking out immediately. But, a less-than-gracious motivation for reporting does notmean the reporter is being untruthful.
  4. Confront the implicated person with the report. Plan how (or if) the matter will be investigated or cooperate with whomever is leading the investigation. Do your homework. If you charge over to the implicated employee with an accusation, do you expect them to confess on the spot? Avoid putting them on notice until the time is right, or you may risk losing key evidence that can be destroyed or manipulated before your investigation even gets started.
  5. Share with those who do not need to know. I know every hotel and restaurant is a family atmosphere. But sharing the details, or even the existence of an allegation, outside of a “need to know” circle can lead to possible damage to someone’s reputation, hinder an objective investigation, and lead to a leak of a confidential matter to a larger audience, among other risks.
  6. Delegate an investigation to the reporter’s immediate supervisor. Although this may be justified in some situations, generally it is best to keep it objective and independent. That supervisor may not want to admit something happened on their watch – or worse, they may be involved in the scheme.
  7. Go wobbly on disciplinary action.Everyone is remorseful when they have been caught. Be consistent. Consult with HR and Legal if you have the resources available. Consider reporting to law enforcement if warranted. Your entire team is watching your next move.
  8. Retaliate against the reporter. Just don’t. And ensure no one else does.


  • Be objective, fair and thorough in your investigation of both the “accused” and the “accuser.”
  • Continue to focus on your business. Ensure whomever investigates does so with minimal disruption to your operation and do not tolerate gossip.

Learn from the experience. How did the fraud or misconduct occur and how can you prevent it from happening again?

Trend digest – hotel loyalty programs in 2017

A good loyalty program usually forms the backbone of a hotel’s business strategy, but thanks to changing consumer behaviour and expectations, the landscape is changing.

We take a look at the trends emerging in 2017, and how hoteliers can adapt to the evolving world of loyalty programs.

What to expect from hotel loyalty programs in 2017 – US News

Personalisation is the name of the game in 2017, according to top loyalty executives in the hotel industry. And with this increased focus on individualised value, loyalty members can expect more flexibility, earning opportunities and better options for redeeming points.

“When it comes to loyalty, transaction-based relationships are no longer enough. Consumers want meaningful, personal relationships,” – Liz Crisafi, head of loyalty, partnerships and portfolio marketing at InterContinental Hotels Group.

Looking at everything from expanded buying power, new benefits and smart apps, here’s what we can expect to see more of as loyalty programs evolve in 2017.

Read the full article >>

Fifteen mind-blowing stats about loyalty – CMO

Did you know that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones? Or that 57% of consumers want to engage with their loyalty programs via mobile devices, but 49% don’t know whether there is an app associated with their loyalty program? Stats collected by CMO help paint a better picture of the landscape hoteliers find themselves operating in today.

“Building loyalty today means a lot more than handing out points. Meeting customer expectations at every step in the journey is the new mandate for loyalty marketing.” – CMO

But what are these expectations, and how are loyalty marketers meeting them?

Read the full article >>

Travel Trends for 2017: Loyalty Programs Evolve – Fuel Travel Marketing

Competition is fierce in the loyalty program industry, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. But hotel brands are learning that by providing innovative incentives that foster loyalty, they can compete just as fiercely without cutting profits.

“There are now over 3-billion loyalty programs in the United States alone. Now consider the entire population of the United States, approximately 325-million. That is a vast gap that clearly demonstrates the competitive battleground that loyalty programs have entered,” – Meisha Bochicchio, marketing specialist at Fuel Travel Marketing

Bigger certainly isn’t better in the loyalty market, at least not anymore. Often it’s the little things – like simplifying loyalty programs or offering smaller perks that guests can cash in on quicker – that count towards satisfaction and long-term retention.

Read the full article >>

The Shrinking Value of Hotel Loyalty Programs – Hospitality Upgrade

On the other side of the coin, it’s argued that people prioritise the convenience of a hotel’s location over loyalty to a particular brand, and thus hotel loyalty programs are losing their appeal to the modern business traveller.

“After reviewing five of the major brand loyalty programs, I realise more than ever that I cannot be the only one with a razor sharp focus on location over brand. If the industry continues to see more devaluations and major changes, maybe the points and loyalty game will finally lose its appeal.” – Vikram Singh, hospitality expert

Fostering true loyalty is going to be increasingly difficult for hotel brands in 2017 and beyond, and it will be interesting to see how they adapt.

Read the full article >>

The best hotel loyalty programs for 2017 – Smarter Travel

With literally billions of loyalty programs to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck? With the landscape of hotel loyalty changing in 2017, Smarter Travel looks at 10 of the best programs on the market today.

“We view hotel loyalty programs through the lens of “ordinary” travelers, leisure or business, who travel enough to take advantage of a loyalty program but not enough to be considered road warriors. Our credit-card scoring was based strictly on points per dollar charged, without regard to enrollment bonuses.” – Smarter Travel

Smarter Travel used an in-depth methodology to determine its top entrants. Do you agree with this list?

IHG reveals insight into the world’s most exquisite seasonal dishes

IHG reveals insight into the world’s most exquisite seasonal dishes

IHG®, (InterContinental® Hotels Group), today announces that InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest luxury hotel brand, has created a new global Culinary Calendar, designed to be a snapshot of five-star seasonal dishes for food and travel enthusiasts around the world.

The new seasonal map showcases world-class dining experiences available to guests throughout the year, in every corner of the globe. From unique dining destinations to signature dishes created by an enviable roster of renowned chefs, the Culinary Calendar illustrates the brand’s unwavering commitment to offering the best seasonal and local cuisines; a practice which over seven decades, has seen InterContinental Hotels & Resorts establish itself as the ideal getaway for luxury leisure and business travellers with a discerning palate.

Plating up 81 million meals annually, it takes a team of highly skilled and dedicated chefs to maintain InterContinental Hotels & Resorts’ luxury dining legacy. With several Michelin-starred restaurants across the portfolio and a team of internationally acclaimed chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Theo Randall, Jason Atherton, Alain Ducasse, and Martha Ortiz, who is soon to join the team, the brand remains at the forefront of luxury travel and dining.

Featured in the new Culinary Calendar and leading the growing food trend to offer versatile and innovative seafood-inspired menus, InterContinental Santiago’s signature Seafood Ceviche served in Autumn, perfectly demonstrates the ‘ocean-to-plate concept’ with its octopus, shrimp and squid, caught and served on the same day. Adding to the culturally authentic dining experience, the ceviche is paired with a traditional Pisco Sour cocktail, a recipe that originated in the region.

Across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, the Winter menu at InterContinental-ANA Tokyo offers guests Tokyo’s highest grade Blowfish Sashimi, one of the country’s most exclusive seafood delicacies sourced from the famed Tsukiji Market. For lovers of lobster, InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is the place to visit in Spring, with the famous and locally sourced, Blue Lobster served alongside InterContinental’s classic Old Fashioned Worldly Classic Cocktail.

Ginger Taggart, Vice President Global Brand Strategy, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts said: “As leaders in international luxury travel for more than 70 years, we are continually innovating to meet the changing tastes of the world’s most discerning travellers. Along with the InterContinental brand’s rich heritage and expertise, our community of great chefs and Restaurant & Bar teams across over 180 properties worldwide, means we are uniquely placed to deliver unrivalled and truly authentic dining experiences year-round, in every corner of the globe.”

Also featured in the Culinary Calendar is InterContinental Bali Resort, located in one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations. The hotel’s renowned Summer signature dish,Marinated Duck in Pepes Tahuserved with sautéed chilli vegetables, is the resort’s most sought-after menu item and is perfectly complemented by aWhite Two Island Sangria, made with Balinese white wine and local tropical fruits.

For guests travelling to North-America, InterContinental Los Angeles Century City offers mouth-wateringSeared Diver Scallops with carrot-lime purée and local purple cauliflower during the Autumn months. Using succulent scallops caught in the nearby Gulf of California, the speciality dish is full of vibrant colours and textures to reflect the changing colours of the season and is complemented by a Mexicali Garden cocktail, flavoured with herbs and fruit grown in California.

With a seven-decade heritage in restaurant and bar excellence, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has catered for some of the world’s most illustrious people, from Princess Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Martin Luther King, to The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Queen Elizabeth II. Embarking on a new era in luxury travel, the brand continues to grow and evolve its culinary expertise to offer guests the very best five-star local cuisine in every corner of the globe.

LKC Boutique Drinks Launched on the Greek Market – Featuring Sheep Dip Malt

The Blended Malt Scotch whisky with the eccentric name, Sheep Dip. Iss name comes from the times where British farmers placed their home made whisky in barrels with the indication “Sheep Dip” (disinfectant for Sheep), in order to avoid tax payment. Sheep Dip whisky is the result of mixing 16 different malts, aged from 8-20 years, from the different whisky regions of Scotland, each one adding unique characteristics to the product. Produced in small batches and matured in carefully selected first fill oak casks. A rich gold- colour with copper highlights, an elegant nose, with soft, sensual flowery aromas, in perfect balance  with an attractive array of complex fruit flavours. Sheep Dip has heritage and tradition being blended by Richard Paterson, the only 3rd generation master blender in Scotland.

Multi-award winning including Gold medals at Great Taste Gold Award 2009, International Wine & Spirits Award 2004, 2005 and the famous Le Concours Mondial Spirits Award 2009. Recognised as outstanding in well-known journals including Ian Buxton’s 101 Whiskies to Try Before you Die, The Whisky Bible, World of Whiskies and Whisky magazine.



First Hospitality Group Expands Team Of Hospitality Professionals

Rosemont, Ill. – First Hospitality Group, Inc. (FHG), a leading hotel management, acquisition and development company, announced that it has hired Edward Rohn as director of construction and development, two additional hospitality professionals and promoted four team members. FHG President and CEO Bob Habeeb made the announcement.

“As we continue on our growth trajectory and move forward with some very big and exc iting new developments in our pipeline, it’s crucial that we have the right leadership team in place,” said Habeeb. “Each of these individuals will play a key role in contributing to the overall growth and success of our company and ensuring that we are consistently delivering a positive experience for guests at our existing properties, and gearing up to deliver those same great experiences at the properties in our development pipeline.”

Edward Rohn comes to FHG with over 30 years of experience in construction and development working with real estate developers and property owners. Rohn will serve as FHG’s director of construction and development, where he will be responsible for implementing hotel developments and redevelopments throughout the Midwest.

Kevin Carlin has been hired as the Director of Sales & Marketing of FHG’s Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton—Hilton’s first triple-brand hotelâ �”at McCormick Place, where he will be responsible for building and driving sales and promoting the hotel within the Chicago community. Prior to joining FHG, Carlin served as the assistant director of sales at the Hilton O’Hare/Hilton Rosemont Complex.

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience Jeffrey Hassan will serve as the general manager at FHG’s Renaissance Toledo Downtown. Prior to joining FHG, he served as general manager in a number of different hotels for the Westmont Hospitality Group, Remington Hotels and Hilton & DoubleTree Oceanside Hotels.

Gabriela Rizzo Rinkle, who has been with FHG for two years as the assistant general manager of the Hampton Inn Majestic Chicago Theatre District, has been promoted to the general manager where she will be responsible for increasing revenue and coaching and empowering associates to achieve company goals.

Previously serving as the General Manager at FHG’s Residence Inn by Marriott Omaha D owntown, Kyle Highberg has been promoted to the general manager of the company’s DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasant Prairie Kenosha.

Penny Lenz has been promoted from director of operations for Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Downtown to the general manager for Home2 Suites by Hilton Louisville NuLu Medical District, which broke ground in late 2016 and is expected to open in September 2017. Lenz will oversee all operational and sales responsibilities.

Additionally, FHG’s Sylwia Oak, formerly a general manager at the company’s Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis Airport Mall of America, has transferred to FHG’s Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale as a general manager and David Laukkonen has transferred from the company’s Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale as a general manager to The Hilton Garden Inn Bloomington.

“Our team members’ happiness and quality of life is of utmost importance to us and these transitions will allow both Sylwia and Dav id to continue their development as general managers, while also allowing them to work much closer to where they live,” said Habeeb.

Having been recognized in 2016 as No. 1 in Travel in Forbes America’s Best Midsize Employers 2016, No. 28 overall, and No. 3 amongst all of America’s best travel companies, FHG moved up to a No.19 ranking out of the 250 best midsize employers in the country in 2017 and No. 1 in the travel category for the second year in a row. FHG is one of only 25 companies to ever place on the Forbes list two consecutive years.

The Life of a Hotel Doctor – A No-show

When there was no response after my third knock, I experienced a familiar sinking feeling. Under the category “no show,” my database reveals 41 entries.

I phoned the room, but there was no answer. At the front desk, the clerks assured me that I had the correct number, and that they had no idea where the guest might be. A security officer opened the room and confirmed that it was empty.

For mysterious reasons, guests occasionally wait downstairs. I wandered through the lobby and restaurants. With my beard, suit, and black bag, I look exactly like a doctor, and now and then my quarry jumps up and identifies themselves. Not this time.

“When do you plan to arrive?” asked a desk clerk who phoned an hour later, adding that my guest had been waiting in the lobby. When I spoke to the guest, he insisted that he’d “told the hotel” where he could be found. Guests respond badly to a suggestion that they pay for two visits, so I simply went back.

Prioritizing technology for your hotel staff

In the last few years, there has been a steady uptick in integrating the use of technology within the hospitality industry. Hotels are now heavily investing in guest-facing technologies such as booking engines, mobile apps, digital concierge services, keyless entry systems, beacons, automated check in and check out processes amongst many other, especially for their guests. In a recent New York Times article, Scott Dobroski, of corporate communications for Glassdoor, says that ‘All companies are becoming technology companies to some degree, and this is especially true in the hospitality industry’.

This phenomenon is definite progress for the hospitality industry, and it is time to shift the focus on adapting mobile technologies for your employees too. Stefan Tweraser of Snapshot writes about how employees are using multi faceted systems that can affect productivity and even shrink job satisfaction. These systems are so complex that guests are left waiting while employees navigate the user interface for information – information that should be mobile, on their fingertips and readily available at any given point of the day. Mobile technologies that allow for internal connectivity, communication, access to all information can be extremely valuable for operations and in-house staff.

A mobile platform can provide more benefits due to its flexible nature. For instance, staff members have instant access to the company intranet allowing them to provide enhanced service to guests. Gaining that access to daily news and real time updates increases their ability to work efficiently and with complete information. On the other hand, management can use employee behaviour data to optimise their operational processes. The key is to find technology that will save your employee’s time in doing routine tasks with all the required information to perform their job, available for their use at any time along with giving managers access to gather and analyse staff data. It will fit your operational purpose with simplicity in function and adaptability and most importantly, help improve your strategic goals and bottom-line.

By finding platforms that are multifaceted and provide different features to tie your operational processes together, it could provide valuable data into how staff carries out their work, and how it affects factors such as employee retention, satisfaction and productivity. These metrics have a direct impact on guests as well as the bottom line.

Features such as communication could include sending out daily updates regarding VIP guests or check in’s or having a portable database with documents on security, personnel HR, training, employee marketing and departmental reports. These enable staff to remain informed at all times, stay updated with recent knowledge and skills allowing them to do their tasks optimally and provide impeccable guest service. Just by using such a feature, guest satisfaction and retention can increase; along with productivity, again, positively affecting the bottom-line.

Added features such as surveys and feedback provide management with the opportunity to engage with their teams and have open dialogue frequently. Managers can respond faster to employee feedback, take action, and create a sense of community. As a result, employee retention boosts, satisfaction surges and the costs of hiring are reduced!

Bonus functions such as chatting, conducting assessments, filling checklists and inventory lists allow for optimising operational processes, reduced paper trails and collecting analytical in-house process data that can help management strategize better.

To simplify this, it is advisable to contain the adoption of technology within one department initially. This can help gauge responsiveness from both employees and management. From there on, the technology can then be adopted by others (property wide or company wide). Management, too, can better adapt the use of this app and observe staff responses. Once the platforms are in use, and then integrating them into existing systems to heighten usage and optimise processes amplifies seamless operations.

When fully functional, management can create reports to recognise their team skills and compare and correlate usage within the app to metrics such as employee satisfaction and retention, guest satisfaction and retention, printing costs, training costs and productivity levels, all of which will be demonstrated financially as well.

By working with developers to customise technology to best suit your property, it allows you to exploit every function for maximum efficiency. With all the technology available at our disposal, do not invest in technology without purpose; rather invest in technology that serves your staff to serve your guests better eventually.

Building Summer Occupancy for City Hotels

Temperatures rise. Humidity creeps up. Sounds like time to pack up and head to the nearest beach. While your team may be thinking ‘vacation’, you should be thinking ‘revenue’ when it comes to your leisure segment.

Every resort owner knows that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is peak. The kids are out of school by mid-to-late June, making it family time. For a moment, though, let’s focus on city properties. Bricks and mortar are depreciated all 12 months of the year. There are no summer breaks in your debt service even as the meetings and conference segment wanes. You need a plan to cover your business through a quarter that will see limited, if any, group activity. So, let’s examine the fundamentals of a solid leisure plan.

  1. Know and be a part of your market. Product knowledge is essential. Look beyond your property’s walls to see what is happening locally. Typically, there is a schedule of activities covering everything from music, to sports and, of course, food. Get involved by sponsoring those events that are consistent with your brand strategy and target guest interests. Being the exclusive hotel partner is not necessary. You want breadth of coverage in this case and not necessarily depth.
  2. Flag your summer activities. It’s great to be a sponsor. I’m sure that some local, and perhaps regional, advertising and promotions are included in your sponsorship package. That’s simply not enough these days. You need to broaden awareness on your website and through other relationship channels such as e-newsletters and in-house materials. Then add your own onsite features to elevate your property from just a hotel to an outright destination.
  3. Everyone eats. What was considered exotic a decade ago is now thoroughly mainstream. Sushi, Thai, deep dish pizza, crazy burgers, gourmet tacos and even poke bowls and all have widespread awareness and appeal, meaning that you won’t be surprising anyone or winning accolades for their inclusion. Your guests want to try something new so you can just imitate what was trendy two years ago. As well, while it may sound sacrilegious to send a guest off property to eat, you must face the fact that unless you’re a destination resort in a remote location, guests will want to roam. Why not give them the tools to do so effectively and thereby stay relevant in the conversation?
  4. Everyone also drinks. Separate from food, beverage is a critical component in delivering a truly local experience. Most every region has local wine, craft beer or small-batch distilleries. Your responsibility is to proudly demonstrate your community spirit by giving your guests an opportunity to sample these unique creations, adding to their local knowledge and creating a memorable touchpoint. The lure of supplemental revenue from the national brands is strong, and I’m not advocating walking away from those long-established relationships. Rather, I’m suggesting a balanced approach that augments consumer choice.
  5. Bring back a little something. When traveling, I’m always looking for some souvenirs. Nothing distresses me more than seeing the same items in the hotel gift shop that I can find at a Walmart (with no disrespect to this fantastic retailer). Think of your on-property store as less of a profit center and more of a guest service reinforcement. If the goods are ho-hum and overpriced, you may make a buck or two more but, as a consequence, imbue a feeling that, once again, the guest is being taken for a ride.
  6. Summer is not just for kids. My wife and I travel extensively during the summer period, and our kids are definitely not in tow. Re-examine your marketplace positioning and consider outbound materials that show adult enjoyment, not just a bunch of screaming kids by the pool. Examine your property’s ability to simultaneously manage families with kids and those without. Once you’ve figured it out, amp up your promotions as the empty nesters are a vastly underserved demographic at present.
  7. Balance is key. You need to be true to your product. Know your limitations and plan accordingly. Resist temptations to overload your pool or restaurants. That additional bus tour stopover might have looked like great revenue when you booked it in February, but when they arrive in July and max out your facilities – thereby choking off high paying transients – well, you get the idea. While everyone strives for occupancy over 90% during these peak periods, your staff must be appropriately trained and services properly allocated to handle this surge, lest you tick off a few customers whose needs aren’t adequately met.