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Marriott hosted first-ever Hybrid Meetings Event: Connect with Confidence

On November 9, Marriott International hosted a hybrid virtual and in-person event, “Connect with Confidence,” as the first part of a global series. The event was attended by 30 in-person customers and 238 virtual attendees, and took place at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in Virginia.  It showcased Marriott’s reimagined processes and meetings spaces, while reinforcing the brand’s commitment to help meeting planners execute conferences and events during this new normal.

Moderated by Doreen Burse, Vice President, Marriott Global Sales, U.S. and Canada, sessions further demonstrated the brand’s “Commitment to Clean” meeting and event protocols, and featured industry-leading tools, innovative insights and creative solutions from Marriott International leadership with speakers including:

  • Stephanie Linnartz, Group President, Consumer Operations, Technology & Emerging Businesses 
  • David Marriott, President, U.S. Full Service, Managed by Marriott 
  • Julius Robinson, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, U.S. & Canada 
  • Erika Alexander, Chief Global Officer, Global Operations 
  • Tammy Routh, Senior Vice President, Global Sales
  • Dana Pellicano, Vice President, Food & Beverage

“Our Connect with Confidence event demonstrated that it is possible to host meetings in a responsible, sophisticated, cost-effective, and enjoyable way. We are thrilled to have had this opportunity to showcase Marriott’s creative solutions for hybrid meetings,” said Tammy Routh, Senior Vice President, Global Sales for Marriott International. “We continue to be committed to collaborating with our valued customers as we navigate this new frontier for meetings and events to ensure they have the necessary tools to confidently connect.”

During the event, guests were able to experience Marriott’s new approach to meetings and try new developments such as: 

  • Digital registration and pre-selection of “Sanctuary Seats” with a meeting room set up preview
  • Individually packaged amenities for each in-person attendee, including a face shield, mask, hand sanitizer, and color-coated bracelets to showcase each attendee’s level of comfort i.e. red for “please keep your distance;” yellow for “respect my space;” and green for “elbow bumps welcome”
  • Curated virtual-only content to enhance the hybrid experience, including infographics outlining pre-event, event day, and post-event protocols 
  • Real-time interactive discussion and polling questions, multiple camera views for virtual attendees, virtual games with rewards, and a Q&A sessions for both virtual and in-person attendees
  • Creative lunch solutions, including a food delivery credit for virtual attendees, and option for in-person attendees to dine solo, or with one, two or three others at their table 

Based on live polling, nearly 25% of attendees plan to host a hybrid event within the next 1-3 months. Overall sentiment emphasized the importance of flexibility, offering attendees choices based on comfort levels, and delivering cost-effective and technology-driven solutions.

Source: https://www.traveldailynews.com/post/marriott-hosted-first-ever-hybrid-meetings-event-connect-with-confidence

How to keep your direct guests and steer the traveler booking motivations away from the OTAs?

A recent study conducted by Expedia Group claimed travelers are 57 percent more likely to book a hotel via an OTA than before the pandemic, as a result of emerging traveler booking motivations such as:

  • To get the best nightly rate (69 percent)
  • To get the best room (40 percent)
  • To compare properties in one location (35 percent)

Other motivations include earning reward points (32 percent), one-stop shopping (28 percent) direct promotions (26 percent), and buying a bundled offer, such a flight and hotel, in one transaction (25 percent).

Needless to say, this is a very self-serving study with less than stellar methodology (audience polled of only n=500 US consumers).

Unfortunately, there is some truth to Expedia’s claims and the hospitality industry is partly to blame for at least some of the emerging traveler booking motivations cited above. Here are some of the advantages the OTAs undoubtedly have in the post-crisis period and the tactics hoteliers can deploy to neutralize these advantages, hold on to their direct guests, and ultimately outsmart the OTAs:

1. Calamities make the OTAs stronger

Traditionally, the OTAs have emerged stronger after all of the previous crisis and calamities: 9/11, SARS, MERS, the recession, ZIKA, H1N1. The main reason is that travel suppliers – especially hoteliers – panic too easy, shut down their marketing efforts due to budget cuts, and run for help to the OTAs. In post-calamity periods, hoteliers are more willing to work with the OTAs, to discount and provide the OTA with sales promotions (24- or 48-hour sale, etc.) without promoting these same sales via the direct channel due to lack of marketing budget. All of this allows the OTAs to convince the traveling public that they can find the lowest rates on the OTA sites/apps – rates they cannot find elsewhere.

  • What can hoteliers do? Hoteliers should continue to maintain rate parity and invest in omni-channel marketing campaigns. All discounts or promotions you provide to the OTAs should also be promoted in the direct channel: Hotel website, content marketing, SEM, online media, social media, CRM and loyalty marketing. Travel consumers are shopping around (45 digital interactions before making a hotel booking – Google Research 2019) and omni-channel marketing gives the hotel an equal to the OTAs chance to engage the travelers throughout the Digital Customer Journey and its five phases (Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing Phases), eventually acquire and retain them.

2. COVID-19 accelerated the shift from offline to online

eMarketer reports that US e-Commerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. E-Commerce sales in Europe have exploded as well. The pandemic drastically accelerated the shift from offline to online commerce, a shift that will also impact how travel is being researched, planned and booked in the future. Because of the shelter-at-home mandates around the world, the vast majority of the population – even late adopters – were forced to use online services to communicate, work and study remotely, search for news or information, purchase goods and services, order food, chat with friends and family, watch streaming services and entertain themselves.

This “online planning and purchasing education” has created millions of converts and believers in online services, which will inevitably affect how they research, plan and book travel in the future. This new wave of online converts will benefit online travel players like the OTAs immensely at the expense of brick-and-mortar travel agencies and traditional tour operators and wholesalers.

  • How about hoteliers? This “forced” conversion from offline to online can also greatly benefit smart hoteliers who continue to invest in digital marketing, cloud technology and applications and “reach out” to these newbie online travelers vs shutting down their marketing and technology budgets. Recently I wrote an article outlining a hotelier’s action plan for maintaining online presence that does not require significant investments Can Hoteliers Afford to Ignore Google in the Post-Crisis Era?

3. The OTAs now have a formidable reward membership base

Unlike the previous calamities, this time the OTAs have a significant new advantage: very robust Reward Programs comparable in popularity to the loyalty programs of the major hotel chains. Booking’s Genius Program has more than 100 million active members; Expedia Group and its three reward programs (Expedia, Hotels.com and Orbitz) have approximately the same membership count. The OTAs have been investing heavily in their reward programs over the past 3-4 years with the hope to increase repeat business, which is 10-15 times cheaper than acquiring new customers and decrease dependency on the expensive performance marketing (read Google and metasearch players like Trivago and TripAdvisor). Before the current pandemic, the OTAs have been spending in excess of $11 billion a year on performance marketing.

Many of the current OTA initiatives – for example Expedia Partner Recovery Program – require hoteliers to provide special discounted rates to the OTA’s reward members if they want to benefit from the OTA’s recovery program initiatives. All of this creates a vicious cycle where hoteliers are forced or enticed to provide lower rates and discounts to OTA reward members, which in turn increases the membership and further convinces the traveling public that the OTAs have the lowest rates and are the place to book their next trip.

  • What can hoteliers do? Focusing on your past guests and repeat business should become a top priority vs chasing new customers. Past guests and loyalty members are already familiar with the property, its location and product, the only thing now is to convince them that the property is safe to stay at. Past guests and repeat business will rule the next 24 months!

Hotel chains with loyalty programs should not participate in OTA reward member discounts and should provide any discounts and promotions to their own loyalty members instead. Due to weak travel demand, loyalty member initiatives, such as loyalty marketing, CRM initiatives, upsells and cross sells, should be top of mind for any branded hotelier as opposed to chasing new customers.

Independent hoteliers should focus on bringing back their past guests and creating a guest recognition program to reward any repeat guest. A simple program based on giving free nights based on X number of roomnights stayed can go a long way today. Hotels.com has 50 million members in its simple, but very effective reward program, which gives one free night with every 10 nights stayed at any hotel. Independents should also strongly consider implementing a cloud CRM technology and create a CRM program to increase repeat business, engage last and current guests and turn them into future guests.

The big question is what else can hoteliers do in this environment of weak travel demand and severe budget cuts? I believe selling on value vs selling on price alone can compensate to a great extent the budget limitations and online dominance by the OTAs. Hoteliers must remember and relearn how to sell on value vs price alone! The OTAs are the masters of selling on price, hoteliers have no chance outwitting or outspending them in their marketing efforts. But selling on value? This is where hoteliers can truly outwit the OTAs and provide real value to their customers. Do you have cooking classes, weekend specials, coronavirus de-stressing packages, spa packages, family packages, activity packages, special occasion packages, wine tastings, F&B packages and promotions, work-from-hotel packages, etc. that you can use to target your local, short-haul and drive-in feeder markets?

Especially now, it is not difficult to be creative and figure out what your customers want and need – they, like all of us, have been locked at home for most of the past 7 months. We have all been there and you can easily come up with enticing packages and special offers based on what your guests would love to do and experience at your property and its surroundings in the current environment.

Remember, the OTAs have one huge disadvantage: in spite of all of their technology and marketing might, they do not know your hotel product and your destination like you do.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4101163.html

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry

By Carlos Martin-Rios, Associate Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

An insight into what food waste really means and the processes that create it. Reducing food loss is a global, multidimensional challenge, so what can the foodservice industry specifically do to be more mindful of its role in the food value chain?

The current state of food wastage

On September 29, the world celebrated the 1st International Day of the Food Loss and Waste. This was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of reducing food waste (FW) as a key sustainability challenge for the hospitality and foodservice industry. FW epitomizes an unsustainable system of food production and consumption. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calculates that the amount of food wasted each year will rise by a third by 2030, “when 2.1 billion tons will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tons per second”.

Food wastage appears to be higher in developed countries, while on the other hand, there are an estimated 842 million people in poor countries experiencing chronic hunger. According to Oxfam, the current pandemic has deepened the hunger crisis and “by the end of the year, 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself”. Ten countries top the list of hunger spots (Figure) accounting for 65% people living in crisis level hunger.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 1: Countries and regions where the food crisis is most severe (Oxfam, 2020) — Photo: EHL

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), FW is defined as food which is fit for consumption but discarded by choice or because has been left to spoil or expire, with ‘food’ referring to “whether processed, semi-processed or raw edible products going to human consumption.”

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Food loss/waste — Photo: EHL

The fact that FW is perceived as amounting, yet avoidable, the challenge has driven the United Nations to adopt target 12.3 as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to:

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
The sustainable Development Goals Report 2020 — https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2020/

The how and where of food wastage

Food loss and waste occur at each stage of the global food value chain, from agricultural production to final consumption. Food production is linked to land conversion and biodiversity loss, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, water and pesticide use. At the post-harvest and processing stages, there is also waste in each step of the transport, storage, processing and distribution stages. At the end of the food value chain, final consumption (including commercial and household) accounts for as much as 40% of total food losses. Evidence shows that in developed countries, food is mainly wasted at the final consumer stage of the supply chain.

FW management has thus become a key priority, referring to all the activities related to avoiding, reducing or recycling waste throughout the production and consumption chain. This raises the question as to whether food wastage could also be reduced along the food supply chains.

The FW challenge in tourism and foodservice

Tourism, as a global foodservice industry, is implicated in food consumption and waste generation. Consumer foodservices include restaurants, fast food chains, cafés, cafeterias, canteens and dining halls, as well as event catering. This sector employs more people than any single other retail business, including 14 million in the USA and 8 million in Europe (Euromonitor International) and serves billions of meals every year. The Figure shows the average annual food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households from 2010 to 2019. In 2019, average food away-from-home expenditure of U.S. households amounted to about 3,526 U.S. dollars, compared to 2,505 dollars in 2010. Therefore, the activity has a critical role in the global FW challenge.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Figure 2: Average annual food away-from-home expenditures of United States households from 2010 to 2019 (in U.S. dollars) (Source: Statista, 2020) — Photo: EHL
  • Producers: Collaborating with local farmers, e.g. sourcing locally can boost FW source reduction and turn FW into animal feed.
  • Suppliers: Partnering with suppliers that are ready to participate in sustainable initiatives (e.g. oil suppliers that collect used oil).
  • Retailers: Bargaining an off-spec protocol that consider FW reduction, e.g. acquiring imperfect or off-grade produce before is thrown away.
  • Employees: Providing with training for purchasing inventory management, production planning and menu planning & service.
  • Consumers: Increasing awareness and engagement of customers (dining out) and households (dining in).
  • Collaborative platforms: Partnering with food donation recovery partners, e.g. Too good to go.
  • Technology providers: Data feeding restaurants with FW information, e.g. Kitro technology (article).

Study findings

Despite the significance of this issue to the global foodservice industry, the link between innovation practices and FW management has received limited attention. An exception is Martin-Rios et al. (article) recent research on the interrelationships of foodservice provisions and innovations in FW management through the lenses of innovation theory.

The study presents a range of waste management initiatives using the distinction between incremental innovations (those revolving around work processes and technologies) and radical innovations (innovations exploring opportunities to significantly change waste management approaches). The study also points out different approaches to FW based on FW characterization, management practices and management’s beliefs, knowledge and awareness to identify practices that suggest some type of innovation.

Food Waste Management Innovations In The Foodservice Industry
Table: Summary of FW innovations for the hospitality and commercial foodservice — Photo: EHL

The main objectives

The concepts discussed in this research could help practitioners to become more aware of the factors that drive the adoption of FW innovations. Any initiative towards FW minimization and management must necessarily address the following two objectives:

  1. Customization: Identity which innovative food management practices contribute to the avoidance (reducing and rethinking), re-use or recycling of food waste in each particular foodservice establishment.
  2. Awareness: Evaluate foodservice managers’ perspectives regarding the opportunities, challenges, costs and benefits of various FW innovations.

A traditional waste management program that ignores the social aspects of management and professional skills can be a barrier to the effective implementation of FW innovations. Results also show that interest in innovation as a systematic process to minimize waste and facilitate waste management is limited.

Foodservice providers implement innovations based on a cost-saving analysis. Interviews highlighted a general lack of concern and knowledge about FW management. Food industry professionals face an array of daily organizational and financial challenges linked to waste sorting, storage and disposal, and they mostly count on the standard recycling/waste procedures their local councils make available to cope with them. Professionals tend to approach waste reduction from a practical, experience-based approach, but there is no systematic implementation of waste reduction strategies based on forms of institutional knowledge. What they really need is proper training and achievable goals to be set by governments.

A key finding is that many companies are not actively innovating in the waste domain. They are however increasingly aware of the economic and social importance of waste management. The foodservice industry is not leading the way when it comes to innovation. There are only a few low- or zero-waste restaurants, and just a few chefs who are creating meals out of food scraps.

Conclusion

One important finding academic research highlights are the importance of developing partnerships between foodservice providers and other businesses, non-for-profits, and institutional players. Closer collaboration underlines the importance of bringing together different (and sometimes competing) stakeholders and combining between them innovation types and innovation generation and adoption with greater efficiency. This calls for more research, tools and concepts to design the innovative practices supporting the next generation of FW management systems if the situation is to ever improve.

Foodservice, as a labor-intensive activity where innovation has tended to be slow, can benefit from other firms and institutions sharing knowledge, insights and experiences, helping the industry get on track to hit the goal of halving food waste by 2030.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4100958.html