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Smart Building Technology Is Gaining Ground in Hospitality

The president of hotel technology integrator Mode:Green, Bill Lally, has a unique vantage point over the smart building landscape. Serving the luxury hotel market in New York City and elsewhere, Lally cut his teeth in the music and audio recording business and later audiovisual services. 

“I honestly haven’t figured out if everybody else is smart enough to stay out of the hospitality market or is crazy not to do it,” Lally said. 

The market is challenging, especially at the top end, where guests who pay tens of thousands of dollars per night for a hotel room expect perfection. 

But the luxury market segment also provides a chance to deploy smart building technologies that become mainstream over time. 

There are three main drivers of the hospitality sector’s embrace of smart building technology, according to Lally. “One is guest experience, two is back-end efficiency and three is what energy code is mandated,” he said. 

Starting with the final item last, many states, municipalities and major cities in the United States have mandates designed to help minimize wasted energy in unoccupied hotel rooms. Such rules, the increasing costs of heating and cooling buildings, are convincing more hotel execs to take action. On one end of the spectrum, occupancy detection systems help shut off lights automatically and adjust temperatures when guests are away. “Within major markets — New York, Chicago and Florida, for instance — [this trend] is growing.” 

Such technologies were once found in primarily luxury properties, but, in many areas, are required by code for any major renovation or new build. 

The second megatrend helping propel the use of smart building technology in the hospitality sector is shifting consumer expectations. Thanks to the widespread use of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, many hotels gave up on the premise they can provide movies guests couldn’t see at home. The new emerging model is for guests to bring their own devices to the hotel and use the hotel room’s infrastructure to make it an extension of their home. 

A parallel trend is growing interest in voice control in hotels. Roughly one-quarter of the U.S. public now owns at least one smart speaker. And a growing number of high-end hotels took notice. “We’re seeing voice control take off more and more, especially in the U.S. markets where the systems are primarily English-speaking,” Lally said. 

Also related to IoT is the gradual shift of high-end hotels to focus on guest experience as it extends across the property. “How do you take that experience outside the guest room so that the technology is enabling you to access room services across a resort-wide spectrum or even outside the resort?” Lally asked. 

The final theme driving interest in smart building technology in the hospitality sector relates to operational efficiency. One example is the hotel doorbell technology that supports electronic do not disturb functionality. In essence, they replace the plastic “Do Not Disturb” signs of yore. “There’s a fair amount in Vegas. We’re seeing loads of them in New York now,” Lally said.  

From a connected hotel perspective, the functionality gives housekeeping staff the potential to remotely see which rooms they can service, allowing them to come up with a data-driven game plan of which rooms to clean in what order. That can limit the amount of time staff spend traveling up and down elevators while allowing them to steer housekeeping goods where they are most needed. “Especially in the larger hotels where labor rates are extremely high and overhead is high, this is tremendously helpful,” Lally said.

One idea floating around is that the smart hotel and smart home industries will, to a certain extent, converge. For example, a guest with an Amazon Echo smart speaker, who prefers to set their thermostat at 72 degrees Fahrenheit and listens to 1950s-era jazz with dimmed lights, can walk into a hotel room and have that experience delivered. 

When asked about that general concept, Lally said that, while it is possible to deliver such experiences now, “it’s not being done in very great lengths right now.” 

For one thing, to provide such an experience requires a significant investment from the hotel and the ability to amass customer preferences in the hotel’s computer reservation system, rewards program database or customer relationship management software. 

“Getting [guest preference] information to translate into a room control system is complicated as far as being able to read those different categories or preferences and being able to translate that into the room itself,” Lally said. For one thing, there are security and compliance matters. Such systems would have to carefully gather customer preference data without storing voiceprints or a credit card number a guest might provide while on the phone with a bank. 

Still, the gap between hotels and the home will likely narrow in years to come. “I’d say things are definitely headed there. It’s what we’re all working toward,” Lally said. 

High-end hotel properties will likely be the first to move in this direction. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s not the cheapest work to do from the hotel or developer standpoint. So a lot of it will be adapted in the luxury market first,” Lally said. “But it will trickle down once the [systems have been] built to support those types of things. It’s somewhat of a dream right now, but I’d say it’s not that far off. And it’s certainly something that everybody in the industry is striving for.”


Mindfulness: Improving The Culture Of Service In The Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry is all about service—serving the customer’s needs and creating a customer experience that creates loyalty. We want them to come back again and again, trusting that not only will we do right by them, but that we will provide what they want, even if they don’t know what that is yet.

It’s a tall order, but in my history in the hospitality industry, I have worked with some legendary human beings who truly found their joy in service, like the waiter who can read a table as they sit down and know who is in authority and who needs a little bit of extra attention to set them at ease. Or accurately predicting what on the menu will please each person and suggesting modifications is an art form. Knowing how to resolve an issue with the food, even if it’s not about the food at all, with grace and courtesy is an art form too. These men and women set the bar high for anyone in any sort of service role, be that customer service, retail or corporate sales. The job is about setting and exceeding expectations through careful attention to what the customer needs.

I’ve worked in service since I was a child, serving guests at my parent’s resort, then working pretty much every position in foodservice from dishwasher and busser to server, manager, pastry and chef de cuisine. I will always believe that everyone should work in the service industry at least once to truly learn what service and respect are. But that’s for another, likely much longer rant.

Hospitality staff often work under very high stress and physical pressure, day after day. Obviously, this can result in a less-than-perfect attitude when they run into a challenging customer or co-worker. It’s a volatile environment. Stress like this can cause a number of maladaptive behaviors. Substance abuse, depression, aggression and behavioral sublimation are easily recognized by those in the business. It’s also common for emotional exhaustion to result in employees exhibiting obvious, forced emotions, which further erodes mental health.

Stemming from this stress, we may see a drop in productivity, efficiency, chronic tardiness or failure to show for work. Turnover rates depend on the culture of the organization and the general feeling of the team. Of course, all of this also trickles into family relationships or dropping out of school and support programs.

Whether you work in hospitality, sales, customer service or support, the job is all about service, but if you don’t have good tools to cope with it and support from the employer, it can be a harrowing experience.

What to do?

Organizations can be overlooking simple ways to improve company culture and the wellbeing of the staff. Offering personal development services can dramatically improve the culture and wellbeing of the entire organization.

According to a study on work-related mental health and job performance, mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) can be effective when a trained instructor works with employees to be more mindful.

MBI is a secular (not based on religion), conscious discipline around how we pay attention to our life. It’s most simply described by Jon Kabat-Zinn as the intentional cultivation of moment-to-moment awareness. Simply stated: being aware of the present moment without judgment of self or others.

The practices of mindfulness have been shown to be transformational in a number of industries. Westin hotels, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Google and Facebook all have programs to aid employee wellness that goes beyond the usual insurance plans and on-site gyms.

Famed Chef Eric Ripert, owner of Le Bernardin, credits meditation for his transformation from screaming and plate-throwing to express himself, to a happier, more productive and compassionate chef.

Making It Work

A single meditation class is not going to change the culture overnight. The trick to making mindfulness part of the culture is in repetition and, especially, knowing that top-level executives are committed to their own wellbeing too. However, that doesn’t mean it has to disrupt service or workflow.

Examples can be as simple as:

• Learning to take a breath before approaching a table to bring attention to the guest for this moment.

• Developing mindful listening skills to be more attentive to body language as well as what the customer is saying and to ask better questions.

• Switching from the traditional “smoke break” to a “sanity break,” a way to get out of the fray for a moment and recollect. Consider creating a quiet room where micro-breaks can be taken without disruption.

• Spending time with employees to talk about stress and the benefits of mindfulness and meditation as well as the physical effects of stress.

• Creating opportunities for employees to learn more through repeating classes on emotional intelligence and mindfulness to boost self-awareness, resilience and communication skills.

• Considering subscriptions to training programs to promote mental fitness in the workforce. Even if there is not an established program, employees can learn simple methods of staying focused, reducing stress and conflict and improving the wellbeing of the entire organization through the use of micro-practices they can do anywhere any time.

Many of these practices are simple to do and not at all disruptive of the flow of work. The key is to create an environment where these tools are supported and a trainer who understands the complexity of the service industry and can accommodate the sometimes chaotic workflow.

Rather than adopting a rigorous program, it’s often best to start small and demonstrate results. It’s wonderful to hear someone say they feel more grounded and find jobs that were once onerous now less so. Finding joy in simple tasks allows us to be happier throughout our day and our life.


Fears for hospitality sector job shortages after Brexit

THE UK’s hospitality industry faces a huge shortage of workers such as waiters, bartenders and chefs as a result of a hard Brexit, a new report has warned.

A study suggested that most hospitality business owners and managers are expecting to suffer a shortage of labour if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, with many believing the UK does not have the workforce available to fill the vacancies.

The jobs most at risk of shortages from Brexit include waiters/waitresses, bar staff, hotel concierge, chefs and restaurant managers, according to online training provider High Speed Training.

Dr Richard Anderson, its head of learning and development, said: “Hospitality has the largest staff shortfall of all UK sectors and a widening skills gap – including a declining number of catering college students and home-grown qualified recruits.

“Brexit is accelerating this labour shortage due to the industry’s strong reliance on migrant workers.

“The Home Office has signalled that EU freedom of movement would end immediately in a no-deal scenario, and the exacerbation effect of this on already challenging conditions has been the focus of debate within the sector.

“Businesses need contingency plans that consider how the service currently being delivered can be maintained to ensure any negative impacts to the bottom line are minimised.”


Study: Hospitality dominates today’s consumer spending

Millennials seek nearby staycation resorts over house-sharing, most travelers react to slogans that speak to value and cleanliness, and “bleisure” (mix of business and pleasure travel) is a growing trend in the evolving and strongly performing world of tourism.

These and other key findings can be found in The “2019 Southwest Hospitality Marketing Report,” developed and commissioned by LAVIDGE, a leading marketing services agency with over 35 years of experience in the travel and hotel industry. The report reveals insights around consumer preferences including: vacationers strongly resonate with ads containing practical words such as “affordable,” rely on referrals and are motivated by slogans that convey convenience.

What’s more, consumers are spending generously on getaways and trips. STR and Tourism Economics, the hotel market data leader, predicts vigorous financial growth through 2020 for the nearly $70 billion industry.

The LAVIDGE 2019 Report is complimentary and available here.

“Our hospitality research pinpoints the specific types of messages that resonate with today’s travel-minded consumers,” said David Nobs, managing director, business development at LAVIDGE. “Understanding what motivates consumers into action is critical for hospitality marketers in this competitive arena.”

Hospitality is getting more sophisticated

Technology has also impacted how people travel, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence like digital check-in and face-recognition systems. Future trends predict travelers seeking hospitality on-the-go and the introduction of mobile suites, and more adults-only travel.

Indeed, hoteliers are exploring adaptations of the Airbnb boom. Some now offer home sharing (as a concierge service) for travelers to go offsite for smaller trips during their stay.


Hospitality Industry Dominates Today’s Consumer Spending According to New Research

Report identifies the hotel and resort marketing trends driving consumer preferences

PHOENIX, June 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Millennials seek nearby staycation resorts over house-sharing, most travelers react to slogans that speak to value and cleanliness, and “bleisure” (mix of business and pleasure travel) is a growing trend in the evolving and strongly performing world of tourism.

These and other key findings can be found in The “2019 Southwest Hospitality Marketing Report,” developed and commissioned by LAVIDGE, a leading marketing services agency with over 35 years of experience in the travel and hotel industry. The report reveals insights around consumer preferences including: vacationers strongly resonate with ads containing practical words such as “affordable,” rely on referrals and are motivated by slogans that convey convenience.

What’s more, consumers are spending generously on getaways and trips. STR and Tourism Economics, the hotel market data leader, predicts vigorous financial growth through 2020 for the nearly $70 billion industry.

The LAVIDGE 2019 Report is complimentary and available here.

“Our hospitality research pinpoints the specific types of messages that resonate with today’s travel-minded consumers,” said David Nobs, managing director, business development at LAVIDGE. “Understanding what motivates consumers into action is critical for hospitality marketers in this competitive arena.”

Hospitality is getting more sophisticated 

Technology has also impacted how people travel, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence like digital check-in and face-recognition systems. Future trends predict travelers seeking hospitality on-the-go and the introduction of mobile suites, and more adults-only travel.

Indeed, hoteliers are exploring adaptations of the Airbnb boom. Some now offer home sharing (as a concierge service) for travelers to go offsite for smaller trips during their stay.

The Research

WestGroup Research surveyed 450 adult consumers working and living in the Southwest United States to provide fresh insights for major hospitality marketing executives, travel professionals, meeting planners and business and leisure guests about specific phrases and tactics to market their products and services successfully.


Meet LAVIDGE, an employee-owned ad agency specializing in discovering and communicating insights which engage, motivate and inspire. From building brand awareness to driving revenue, from positioning thought leaders to enhancing perceptions, it’s why we do what we do. Our unified marketing approach encompasses advertising, public relations, and digital marketing. And we’ve been doing it successfully since 1982 for clients in healthcare, real estate, education, hospitality, technology, sports marketing, personal care, food service, and government. Intrigued? Visit us at and get social with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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,, 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, Expedia and 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.


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. 


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. 


Unique Challenges for Homeless Women Shape Future Hospitality Hub

Umeki Jones recently helped a client, a homeless woman, land a janitorial job.

“We pointed her in a direction to a place that would possibly be able to help her, and they did hire her,” Jones says. “She came back today to show us her schedule.”

Jones is an intake manager at the Hospitality Hub, a non-profit organization that offers services for people cycling through homelessness—anything from job counseling to help getting a state ID. Sometimes, just a cup of coffee.  

The Hospitality Hub is even helping her with a bus pass to get to and from work. But the job has created a new challenge. The homeless shelter where she’s staying doesn’t allow entries past 5 pm. Her shift isn’t over by then. 

The only shelter that can accommodate the woman is a two-hour bus ride away. It costs $10 a night. 

This is one reason the Hospitality Hub is looking to offer more than mere guidance. It needs beds, specifically for women. 

“If we had our shelter and she was working as a client of ours, we know that she would be getting off work at this time,” Jones says. “We would have someone there ready for her.”

The Hospitality Hub has raised $5.5 million toward a new facility downtown, a plan that includes a 32-bed emergency women’s shelter.  

“The need is so profound,” says the Hub’s director Kelcey Johnson, pointing out that women are nearly 40 percent of Memphis’ homeless population, but have access to less than 10 percent of local shelter beds.  

“This past year…a woman froze to death [Downtown],” he says. “The city was outraged, but I see it every single year; I have female clients who are raped [or] murdered.”  

The City of Memphis and the Shelby County Commission are offering operational support for the new Hub headquarters. Each has proposed more than $1 million in funding over three years. 

The city has already approved the allocation, while the commission is slated to vote on it in June.

Unlike other shelters, the Hospitality Hub’s lodging will not have barriers to entry such as fees, age limits for children or check-in time constraints.  

It’s something that would have helped Shundria Anderson through uncertain times. 

A Hospitality Hub poster. CREDIT KATIE RIORDAN

“It’s a depressing feeling to watch people go to their houses, and you’re just sitting there,” says the 42-year-old, who’s been homeless off and on for years. “You don’t know where you going to sleep at.”

Anderson is living with her sister now, but at one point slept in her storage unit and in a local hospital’s bathroom. 

She’s turned to the Hub for assistance more than once. Currently, she’s makes $50 dollars a day most weekends emptying trash bins along Main Street through a Hub program. 

She says the organization’s methods are uncommon among those serving the homeless. 

“We need someone that’s going to care and show us the way how to get up out of this,” she says. 

While the Hospitality Hub’s new beds will fill an immediate need, Brad Watkins, the director of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, isn’t convinced that another shelter is how local government should be combatting homelessness. An investment in longer-term housing programs is a more effective approach to keep people off the streets, he says.     

“In a city with the problems that we have, something like this sounds like a godsend, and it will be to a small amount of people,” Watkins says. “[But] for that same amount of money, we can provide permanent supportive housing for four times that many people.”

Rhodes College Professor Ari Eisenberg, who is writing a book about homelessness in America, says the cities most successfully tackling homelessness are funding multiple solutions.   

“Where Memphis currently is right now, it does have chronically homeless people who are regularly living in shelters and on the street,” she says. “Until more permanent housing, along with services, is made available to those people, shelters and other services Hospitality Hub provides are going to remain crucial.”  

Officials throwing their support behind the Hospitality Hub, like commission Chairman Van Turner, say more funding for homelessness initiatives like what Watkins is suggesting could possibly be budgeted for in the future. 

“I would fight for the necessary funding to have both temporary and a permanent housing solution for homeless individuals in this community,” he says.  

Meanwhile, Johnson, the Hub director, says it isn’t just about housing. 

“Houses don’t cure homelessness,” he says.  

The organization’s new headquarters will reflect the center’s holistic approach. It will include a large outdoor plaza where people can rest in a welcoming environment. People will be also be able to safely store their belongings there, get job support, or even earn some money working at an onsite car wash.  

“Everything we’re doing is so that people who are experiencing homelessness can interact with someone who’s trying to help them stop experiencing homelessness,” Johnson says.  


Summer Racing Hospitality Begins At The Investec Derby Festival With Jockey Club Catering And Fizz!

Anticipation is building for one of the UK’s most celebrated events in the racing calendar, The Investec Derby Festival, which marks the beginning of the summer racing season on Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June. At Epsom Downs racecourse preparations are well underway to ensure topquality racing, entertainment and food for racegoers. Behind the scenes, Jockey Club Catering’s Head Chef Rhys Owen, 100 chefs and another 1,200 catering staff are preparing to deliver a delicious array of food and drinks over the two-day festival.

Jockey Club Catering’s continuing commitment to ensure every racegoer has a perfect culinary experience has resulted in a diverse and eclectic selection of food and beverage options. Rhys comments “The Investec Derby Festival is a special event and for me it is so important every attendee enjoys the wonderful spectacle on and off the track, including the very best in food, drink and service. I love my job and this is the most exciting event of the year. It’s my pleasure to lead the Jockey Club Catering team delivering a fantastic hospitality experience.”

From the grandeur of an elegant four-course à la carte lunch in Chez Roux @ Blue Riband restaurant to a relaxed day in the Tattenham Straight enclosure with a beautiful “Best of British” picnic hamper, there are gastronomic experiences to suit every palate and pocket. Throughout the racecourse, guests will be able to pick the best spot to dine, drink and celebrate as they watch the finest thoroughbreds on the track.

Using expertise developed during fourteen years with Jockey Club Catering, Rhys has designed imaginative menus for The Investec Derby Festival restaurants. Blending tradition and innovation whilst using the best quality ingredients and skilful techniques, seasonal favourites sit alongside adventurous options, all beautifully presented to delight the eye and the taste buds.

Perfectly prepared for summer dining, menu highlights include smoked salmon from the Severn and Wye smokery served with honey-whisky beetroot, pickled cucumber and smoked yoghurt in the Winning Post restaurant. Seabass with masala raita, pickled courgette, butternut purée, Bombay potato and tandoori onion feature in the Derby Suite, where celeriac, hazelnut and truffle soup, with British artisan cheeses and gooseberry and nettle relish top and tail the menu. Racegoers can enjoy lighter dishes too, including, on the Downs View Suite menu, sous vide fennel with orange and quinoa salad and coriander cress, a vegetarian speciality perfect for the warmer weather.

At The Investec Derby Festival Coates and Seely will be offering vintage charm aboard their characterful Albion bus where a glass of their award-winning English sparkling wine can be enjoyed – the perfect drink for a very British sporting event. In addition, a selection of expertly chosen wines from around the world will be available across the racecourse, along with premium spirits, craft beers, ciders and refreshing soft drinks.


The S.A. hospitality industry gives back

That Americans have a heart for giving is evidenced each year by the tremendous amount of money donated to organizations and individuals that need it. According to a recent study released by, our country’s residents, estates, foundations and corporations donated more than $410 billion to U.S. charities in 2017.

In doing so, total giving rose by nearly 3 percent from the previous year, an upward trend that has become a powerful tradition in the United States.

Few places are as dedicated to charitable outreach as San Antonio. From the incredible, tangible impact of Morgan’s Wonderland and Haven for Hope to the various purpose-driven initiatives by San Antonio’s civic-minded companies, our city views helping others as a part of its very culture, every bit as valued as breakfast tacos, Spurs championships and Fiesta parades.

That our community believes it can only rise by lifting others is an important emphasis, as most nonprofit and charitable entities rely heavily on outside support, financial or in time and talent, to carry on the good work they do. For so many, their very survival depends on those investments.

That ethos extends to the tourism and hospitality industry, which has quietly gone about its business for years extending a hand to those in need, from feeding the homeless to aiding programs that support those with family, mental and physical difficulties.

It’s why the theme of the recent National Travel & Tourism Week, “Travel Matters,” carries a special significance.

Travel does matter, and in San Antonio that extends beyond the $15.2 billion the industry generates for the area economy. The tourism and hospitality community, by its very nature, has a heart for service to others. It’s represented in what local individuals and companies dedicate to charitable efforts, as well as the civic engagement showcased by many of the more than 300 meetings and conventions that come through San Antonio annually.

A few examples:

Last year’s annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians partnered with the city for a free community lung health fair at Main Plaza.

This year’s gathering of the Society of Critical Care Medicine included a “Save A Life” free CPR training and public health event in association with the city, Brooke Army Medical Center and St. Philip’s College.

The Younique Convention, held last August, saw the visiting organization donate more than 10,000 boxes of baby items for families in need.

Today, as we celebrate Visitor Appreciation Month, examples of charitable responsibility abound, from our attractions that back family-support enterprises to the culinary operations that devote portions of their profits to altruistic outreaches. Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Splashtown and SeaWorld San Antonio, for instance, donate thousands of dollars in park tickets each year to nonprofit entities in the city, fueling those organization’s fundraising initiatives.

Additionally, the tourism gives back through scholarships, grants, internships and volunteer events. Some examples:

Chef Johnny Hernandez just opened Kitchen Campus, a 501(c)(3) project that is a “learning kitchen” with an after-school program for middle school students.

Louis Barrios, whose family owns and operates several restaurants, has a 501(c)(3) organization called Viola’s Huge Heart Foundation. It’s designed to improve the lives of individuals, particularly women, who “face insurmountable obstacles in life.”

Lisa Fullerton, president and CEO of A Novel Idea, which owns and operates five Auntie Anne’s and two Cinnabons in San Antonio, has been a proactive supporter of the San Antonio Clubhouse, which works to support adults living with mental health difficulties.

Visit San Antonio, for its part, dedicates time and resources to its charity of choice, Boysville, a nonprofit children’s home and shelter that has rebuilt lives for more than seven decades.

The San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association financially backs the mission of the Angel Buys program, which has given more than $500,000 to need-based organizations since 2005.

It’s all part of who we are as a tourism and hospitality industry.

Travel matters. And those in need benefit because of it.