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From High-touch to No-touch: How Hotel Guest Experience Has Changed?

A lot has changed in these few short months. What has not changed is your guests’ expectation to be wowed by your experience and service.

It used to be that guest experience was a key differentiator in a sea of sameness. Now the challenge is not just to meet your guests’ expectations but to adapt to new ways to surpass and exceed them.

Having robust health and safety guidelines is given. You will win lifelong loyalty by demonstrating your authenticity in adopting this change and making your guests feel safe.

For instance, a major American airline turned back a flight when passengers refused to wear masks.

Before we look at what guest experience looks like in a world of Coronavirus, let’s look at

What is guest experience means?

Guest experience is more than the service you offer when a guest walks through your front doors. It’s the first time they’re even aware of your property or your brand. It starts with the brand awareness and their experience with that brand, specifically. And it continues through their entire customer journey, from booking their room to checking in and checking out, and even long after their stay when they’re considering another visit.

Why guest experience matter?

Your guests are a powerful marketing tool. In this age of online reviews, especially as guests seek trusted and safe experiences due to COVID-19, a recommendation from someone who has stayed with you goes a long way to build trust and credibility.

Tips to deliver stellar guest satisfaction and experience in the times of COVID-19 are: 1 Focus on hygiene and cleanliness:

Hygiene practices and procedures are a key selling point. Potential guests want to know the measures that have been implemented and that their health and wellbeing have been prioritized. These measures must be communicated in advance via all available online channels such as your website, social channels, and listings on OTAs. Equally, display the new hygiene standards – including expectations from guests to adhere to these – through clearly displayed signage on-premise.

Make sure your health and safety guidelines always adhere to the local government advice. More importantly, it is critical to train your staff on these new policies. Giving rooms a good clean after a check-out, even “rest time” between bookings is becoming common as more stringent health measures are adopted.

2 Be flexible:

Uncertain times call for greater empathy from hoteliers. This empathy, in the form of flexible cancellation policies, will earn you loyal guests. You could get creative with your cancellation policy by offer guests gift cards when they change or cancel non-refundable bookings.

3 Adopt a contactless service model:

Driven by a need to be socially distant, contactless service is not just appreciated – it is expected. Introduce online check-ins and check-outs. Upgrade your point of sale system to be speedy and mobile. Take payments via a virtual payment gateway link pre-arrival to avoid handling of cash or credit cards by staff. Longer-term, you may even want to consider keyless entry activated via mobile apps.

4 Guests want tech-savvy accommodation:

Guests expect hotels to be keeping up with technology. A presence on social media channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, is vital, especially for up-to-the-minute updates. They expect hoteliers to deliver a contactless experience without compromising on quality. A hospitality world where the Internet of Things (IoT) is embraced through products such as Alexa, Google Home, smart lighting, etc to minimize touch is being further defined in this era.

5 Focus on in-room facilities:

As guests avoid common areas to avoid overcrowding, they spend more time in their rooms. Make sure it has all facilities needed. If you’re welcoming business guests, check that they have everything needed to work comfortably from their room. Widen your dine-in menu as they may be favored over buffets and restaurant service.

6 Personalized experience:

Contactless does not mean non-personal service; personalization is the key to making your guests feel special. If you’re welcoming a returning guest, make the check-in quicker by using details from the previous booking. Smile, even if it is hidden behind a mask. If the guest has stayed with you before, use what you know of them to customize the current visit. At the very least, leave a welcome message.


This is a pivotal moment. What we’re creating now is history. How we react now will impact us in the years to come.

While the pandemic has brought change and unfortunate times for the travel and hospitality industry, it presents an opportunity like never before. You have the option to rebuild your brand to be more customer-focused and digitally-led to achieve the responsiveness of start-ups and digital natives while tapping into the data and tools that you already have. And when you do this, you will be able to deliver an experience that will surpass the expectation of your future guests.


Is today’s hotel industry built on data-driven personalization?

Never has hospitality been more competitive; understanding the behavior of guests is now crucial to success.

The hotel industry is on track to reach its tenth year of consecutive growth— having surpassed US$800 billion in 2017 in the US— but while that brings immense opportunity for its members, it has never been more competitive.

Customers now have more choice and purchasing power than ever. Consider the roaring rise of Airbnb, wanderlust for new locations inspired by Instagram, and the wealth of choice and information available through comparison sites— it’s no wonder hotel companies are having to work so hard to stay at the top.

Meanwhile, demographic shifts, led by millennials and Gen Z, are bringing new expectations for technology and user experience.

In an industry where members can be made or broken from an online review, and optimal customer experience (CX) has become the reigning benchmark of success, power is now firmly in customers’ hands. And while they may be more fickle than ever, ensuring customers have a great experience is the best way to ensure ongoing loyalty.

More than ever, hotels are making use of the vast amounts of data available to them to streamline operations and personalize to ensure they’re hitting the mark when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Whether it comes from mining reviews sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, monitoring social media for likes, dislikes, and trends, good old fashioned surveys, or leveraging loyalty program data to optimize price-value combinations in guest promotions, the insight available to companies is practically unlimited.

“The more sophisticated properties might use keycards to collect data on guest use of amenities and put together packages to appeal to them based on that,” Dr. Anil Kaul, Co-founder, and CEO of Absolutdata, told TechHQ.

“If a guest used an on-site spa, a hotel could put together a spa weekend package to entice that customer to visit again.”

A personalized experience

Some of the largest hotel chains in the world are now incorporating voice assistants, while personalized recommendations for dining and drinking options in the hotel or in the surrounding area could be advertised on-screen. Just look at what Alibaba’s ‘future hotel’ is offering.

But data and AI technology are also transforming the supplier side as well. Personalized property recommendations can pour through a hotel’s online reviews and draw insights based on the nature of reviews services and facilities offered by the business. For example, suggest opening a restaurant later, or offering a healthy breakfast option.

AI bots could even shed light on pricing tactics used by competitors in real-time, such as adjusting pricing by 20 percent ahead of a compression period.

The key to success is to “be able to react quickly” and to improve overall CX, said Kaul, which, more often than not, comes down to providing a tailored experience to each individual guest.

“Data-led personalization is a critical success factor for hospitality companies because guests have a lot of choices,” said Kaul. “If the business doesn’t personalize service and make each guest feel like the property is tailoring service to meet their unique needs, those customers will go to a competitor instead.” And rest assured, if one hotel company isn’t leveraging the data available as well as it could be in order to provide a personalized service to its guests, outside of just sales and marketing, its competitors probably will be.

Acting on insights

But despite “almost all” hospitality businesses applying data in some way, many continue to fall short when it comes to data-led personalization because they’re not using that data to its full potential.

For example, Kaul explained, they’ll conduct market research to answer a business question, and then shelve the information, rather than integrating it into their institutional knowledge and applying it for other purposes.

Another problem is that too many hospitality businesses aren’t acting on data quick enough. To get the most out of data, it has to drive decision-making at the “speed of business” because trends change and preferences evolve day-by-day.

With data use now a differentiator in the hotel industry, Kaul said acquiring as much data as possible is now paramount, in order to more accurately personalize offers and develop better promotions. To overcome the difficulty of acting on that data and becoming overwhelmed by it, AI and machine learning can help process huge datasets and detect patterns that human analysts could easily overlook.

Of course, any doubling down on data collection, processing, storage, and use means hospitality businesses must ensure their cybersecurity defenses and compliancy policies are airtight.

Aside from the infamous Marriott data breach this year, a report by Symantec found that a staggering two of three hotel websites continue to inadvertently leak guests’ booking details.


How a Scotch whisky producer is setting up for a sustainable future

For Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of Pernod Ricard group – the world’s second-largest wine and spirits company – sustainability is a way of life.

The Dalmunach Distillery near Aberlour, Moray, is the company’s most energy-efficient distillery, and uses 38 per cent less energy than the industry average for sites of a similar size.

Commitment to specific targets, and resources to achieve them, is key to ensuring we end up with the right technologies for a sustainable whisky industry that remains a core part of the local community.

Ronald Daalmans

“We believe sustainable business should be at the core of any enterprise that takes a long-term approach and expects their product to have a purpose and role in society,” says Ronald Daalmans, environmental sustainability manager for Chivas Brothers.

“To me, personally, this means making sure we can say we are using resources responsibly, and reducing or treating emissions. Although many environmental challenges have been met, we still have significantly more to do, especially when it comes to carbon emissions, fossil fuels and heat.

“Commitment to specific targets, and resources to achieve them, is key to ensuring we end up with the right technologies for a sustainable whisky industry that remains a core part of the local community.”

As headline sponsor of VIBES: Scottish Environment Business Awards, Chivas Brothers is helping champion environmental sustainability for businesses.

Since they were established in 1999, the VIBES awards have recognised more than 150 businesses in Scotland that are taking significant steps to reduce their impact on the environment, typically making significant savings in the process.

Earlier this month, Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham confirmed that Scotland was setting an ambitious new target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 – meaning the country will stop contributing to climate change within a generation.

“There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations,” Cunningham said. “Every single one of us now needs to take more action – not just the Scottish Government but also all businesses, schools, communities, individuals and organisations.”

VIBES is run in a strategic partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Scottish Government, Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise, Zero Waste Scotland, Energy Saving Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA chief executive, says: “The scale of environmental challenge facing humanity is enormous, with a real urgency to act. If everyone lived as we do in Scotland, we would need three planets to sustain our current living. Yet we only have one.

“This underpins One Planet Prosperity – SEPA’s regulatory strategy for tackling the challenges facing Scotland’s environment.

“A key premise is that only those businesses, societies and nations that have developed ways to reduce their water, materials and carbon-based energy consumption, as well as creating little waste, will thrive.

“This is about businesses not just complying with environmental legislation – but going beyond – to help us leave behind a better world than the one we inherited.”

“Scottish Enterprise believes tackling climate change is critically important in a 21st-century economy and works with businesses and sector bodies to promote sustainable business.

“Our team works with companies to identify, develop and deliver projects which lead to improved business efficiency,” explains Ken Maxwell, sustainability specialist at Scottish Enterprise.

“The aim of our support is to improve the efficiency of premises, products and processes – leading to reduced costs and improved environmental performance.

“We also help to ‘future proof’ business practices by encouraging discussion on the impacts of climate change and identifying opportunities arising from increased awareness of sustainability issues and the circular economy.”



In his 1798 An Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus predicted that the world’s population growth would outpace food production, leading to global famine and mass starvation. That hasn’t happened yet. But a reportfrom the World Resources Institute last year predicts that food producers will need to supply 56 percent more calories by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing population.

It turns out some of the same farming techniques that staved off a Malthusian catastrophe also led to soil erosion and contributed to climate change, which in turn contributes to drought and other challenges for farmers. Feeding the world without deepening the climate crisis will require new technological breakthroughs.

This situation illustrates the push and pull effect of new technologies. Humanity solves one problem, but the unintended side effects of the solution create new ones. Thus far civilization has stayed one step ahead of its problems. But philosopher Nick Bostrom worries we might not always be so lucky.

If you’ve heard of Bostrom, it’s probably for his 2003 “simulation argument” paper which, along with The Matrix, made the question of whether we might all be living in a computer simulation into a popular topic for dorm room conversations and Elon Musk interviews. But since founding the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford in 2005, Bostrom has been focused on a decidedly more grim field of speculation: existential risks to humanity. In his 2014 book Superintelligence, Bostrom sounded an alarm about the risks of artificial intelligence. His latest paper, The Vulnerable World Hypothesis, widens the lens to look at other ways technology could ultimately devastate civilization, and how humanity might try to avoid that fate. But his vision of a totalitarian future shows why the cure might be worse than the cause.

WIRED: What is the vulnerable world hypothesis?

Nick Bostrom: It’s the idea that we could picture the history of human creativity as the process of extracting balls from a giant urn. These balls represent different ideas, technologies, and methods that we have discovered throughout history. By now we have extracted a great many of these and for the most part they have been beneficial. They are white balls. Some have been mixed blessings, gray balls of various shades. But what we haven’t seen is a black ball, some technology that by default devastates the civilization that discovers it. The vulnerable world hypothesis is that there is some black ball in the urn, that there is some level of technology at which civilization gets decimated by default.

WIRED: What might be an example of a “black ball?”

“The vulnerable world hypothesis is that there is some black ball in the urn, that there is some level of technology at which civilization gets decimated by default.”


NB: It looks like we will one day democratize the ability to create weapons of mass destruction using synthetic biology. But there isn’t nearly the same kind of security culture in biological sciences as there is nuclear physics and nuclear engineering. After Hiroshima, nuclear scientists realized that what they were doing wasn’t all fun and games and that they needed oversight and a broader sense of responsibility. Many of the physicists who were involved in the Manhattan Project became active in the nuclear disarmament movement and so forth. There isn’t something similar in the bioscience communities. So that’s one area where we could see possible black balls emerging.

WIRED: People have been worried that a suicidal lone wolf might kill the world with a “superbug” at least since Alice Bradley Sheldon’s sci-fi story “The Last Flight of Doctor Ain,” which was published in 1969. What’s new in your paper?

NB: To some extent, the hypothesis is kind of a crystallization of various big ideas that are floating around. I wanted to draw attention to different types of vulnerability. One possibility is that it gets too easy to destroy things, and the world gets destroyed by some evil doer. I call this “easy nukes.” But there are also these other slightly more subtle ways that technology could change the incentives that bad actors face. For example, the “safe first strike scenario,” where it becomes in the interest of some powerful actor like a state to do things that are destructive because they risk being destroyed by a more aggressive actor if they don’t. Another is the “worse global warming” scenario where lots of individually weak actors are incentivized to take actions that individually are quite insignificant but cumulatively create devastating harm to civilization. Cows and fossil fuels look like gray balls so far, but that could change.

“It looks like we will one day democratize the ability to create weapons of mass destruction using synthetic biology.”


I think what this paper adds is a more systematic way to think about these risks, a categorization of the different approaches to managing these risks and their pros and cons, and the metaphor itself makes it easier to call attention to possibilities that are hard to see.

WIRED: But technological development isn’t as random as pulling balls out of an urn, is it? Governments, universities, corporations, and other institutions decide what research to fund, and the research builds on previous research. It’s not as if research just produces random results in random order.

NB: What’s often hard to predict is, supposing you find the result you’re looking for, what result comes from using that as a stepping stone, what other discoveries might follow from this and what uses might someone put this new information or technology to.

In the paper I have this historical example of when nuclear physicists realized you could split the atom, Leo Szilard realized you could make a chain reaction and make a nuclear bomb. Now we know to make a nuclear explosion requires these difficult and rare materials. We were lucky in that sense.

And though we did avoid nuclear armageddon it looks like a fair amount of luck was involved in that. If you look at the archives from the Cold War it looks like there were many occasions when we drove all the way to the brink. If we’d been slightly less lucky or if we continue in the future to have other Cold Wars or nuclear arms races we might find that nuclear technology was a black ball.

“We might not think the possibility of drawing a black ball outweighs the risks involved in building a surveillance state.”


If you want to refine the metaphor and make it more realistic you could stipulate that it’s a tubular urn so you’ve got to pull out the balls towards the top of the urn before you can reach the balls further into the urn. You might say that some balls have strings between them so if you get one you get another automatically, you could add various details that would complicate the metaphor but would also incorporate more aspects of our real technological situation. But I think the basic point is best made by the original perhaps oversimplified metaphor of the urn.

WIRED: So is it inevitable that as technology advances, as we continue pulling balls from the urn so to speak, that we’ll eventually draw a black one? Is there anything we can do about that?

NB: I don’t think it’s inevitable. For one, we don’t know if the urn contains any black balls. If we are lucky it doesn’t.

If you want to have a general ability to stabilize civilization in the event that we should pull out the black ball, logically speaking there are four possible things you could do. One would be to stop pulling balls out of the urn. As a general solution, that’s clearly no good. We can’t stop technological development and even if we did, that could be the greatest catastrophe at all. We can choose to deemphasize work on developing more powerful biological weapons. I think that’s clearly a good idea, but that won’t create a general solution.

The second option would be to make sure there are there is nobody who would use technology to do catastrophic evil even if they had access to it. That also looks like a limited solution because realistically you couldn’t get rid of every person who would use a destructive technology. So that leaves two other options. One is to develop the capacity for extremely effective preventive policing, to surveil populations in real time so if someone began using a black ball technology they could be intercepted and stopped. That has many risks and problems as well if you’re talking about an intrusive surveillance scheme, but we can discuss that further. Just to put everything on the map, the fourth possibility would be effective ways of solving global coordination problems, some sort of global governance capability that would prevent great power wars, arms races, and destruction of the global commons.

WIRED: That sounds dystopian. And wouldn’t that sort of one-world government/surveillance state be the exact sort of thing that would motivate someone to try to destroy the world?

NB: It’s not like I’m gung-ho about living under surveillance, or that I’m blind about the ways that could be misused. In the discussion about the preventive policing, I have a little vignette where everyone has a kind of necklace with cameras. I called it a “freedom tag.” It sounds Orwellian on purpose. I wanted to make sure that everybody would be vividly aware of the obvious potential for misuse. I’m not sure every reader got the sense of irony. The vulnerable world hypothesis should be just one consideration among many other considerations. We might not think the possibility of drawing a black ball outweighs the risks involved in building a surveillance state. The paper is not an attempt to make an all things considered assessment about these policy issues.

WIRED: What if instead of focusing on general solutions that attempt to deal with any potential black ball we instead tried to deal with black balls on a case by case basis?

NB: If I were advising a policymaker on what to do first, it would be to take action on specific issues. It would be a lot more feasible and cheaper and less intrusive than these general things. To use biotechnology as an example, there might be specific interventions in the field. For example, perhaps instead of every DNA synthesis research group having their own equipment, maybe DNA synthesis could be structured as a service, where there would be, say, four or five providers, and each research team would send their materials to one of those providers. Then if something really horrific one day did emerge from the urn there would be four or five choke points where you could intervene. Or maybe you could have increased background checks for people working with synthetic biology. That would be the first place I would look if I wanted to translate any of these ideas into practical action.

But if one is looking philosophically at the future of humanity, it’s helpful to have these conceptual tools to allow one to look at these broader structural properties. Many people read the paper and agree with the diagnosis of the problem and then don’t really like the possible remedies. But I’m waiting to hear some better alternatives about how one would better deal with black balls.


Hotel Club Level Stays Are The Best Luxury Bargain In The Hospitality Business

The best indulgences are always those that are easiest to justify. Heading to the club level of a hotel is one of my favourites. A privileged enclave of peace and quiet. Space to work. Magazine and newspapers to rifle through. Usually at the top of the hotel, guests benefit from the best views in the building. One more hors d’oeuvre. Another glass of wine. 

Not all club levels are equal though. Some appear to content themselves with a few slightly curled sandwiches and rapidly dehydrating cake at tea time, but at others, the sense of munificence runs the course of a full day.  

At the Belmond Charleston Place – in a quintessentially Southern way – the hospitality doesn’t stop coming. Breakfast has all the bacon, salmon, scrambled eggs, bagels and danishes you might want. It moves seamlessly into lunch – a mixture of cold and hot hors d’oeuvre, then afternoon tea (a particularly delicious coffee cake to go with the sandwiches). Evening sees more hot appetisers and cheese. 

Cementing the Belmond Charleston Place’s charm, to one side, there’s a bar to sit at, with a sterling collection of wines, beers and spirits and if you’re lucky, veteran bar tender Dan Etherton will be mixing potent cocktails, all of which are complimentary.

A really good club level of a hotel has the ease of your parent’s fridge but with none of the restrictions or guilt factor; the feel-good flipside to butler service, and a boon to greedy introverts who don’t want to navigate room service. At the Renaissance St Pancras, guests of the Chambers Suites have access to the Victorian splendour of Chambers Club room. As hotel loyalty programmes start to ramp up, club lounges are being increasingly deployed.  Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite Members of the Marriott Bonvoy travel programme have guaranteed lounge access.

It’s an area where innovations are coming thick and fast. At the PuXuanhotel in Beijing, the club kitchen has been designed by Bulthaup. Designed to look and feel like an apartment, the perks include laundry and dry-cleaning, secretarial assistance and complimentary car travel. At the Ritz-Carlton Millenia in Singapore, there’s an easel set up and drawing materials provided. 

Initially designed to appeal for business travellers, these days, they often have considerable appeal for families. Food at club level is generally buffet-minded and keep extended hours, cutting down on room service and are a handy, controlled space outside the hotel room for both parent and child. 

Do your sums right and they can be cost-effective too, especially for leisure travellers. For instance, rates at Belmond Charleston Place start at $345, but only $475 for the club level. A few cocktails in the evening soon smooths out the price difference. For the best bargains, look for weekend rates in hotels that are generally geared towards Monday-Friday business travel.

A good club area isn’t too quiet either. Guests chat to each other, conversations are easily formed. Clubs are meant to be convivial places after all.


Four Seasons Montreal Transforms the Luxury Hospitality Landscape

The highly anticipated Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Montreal, which is also home to MARCUS, the first Canadian outpost of renowned celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, is now open.

Built around the “Social Square” that brings together both locals and visitors to the heart of the Golden Square Mile in one multi-faceted space, Four Seasons is much more than a hotel, encompassing a lively dining and drinking experience, a spa and wellness sanctuary, the city’s newest venue for top-level business meetings and glittering social galas, and within the same building, an exclusive community of private residences, all just steps away from the city’s best shops, galleries, restaurants and museums.

“The joie de vivre of Montreal is unlike any city in North America. We’ve captured this incredible spirit and infused it into every aspect of this stunning new property,” says Christian Clerc, president, Worldwide Hotel Operations, Four Seasons Hotels, and Resorts. “Everything has been designed to set the stage for connecting people, community and culture; and to showcase the very best of Four Seasons through world-class design, culinary experiences, and personalized service.”

Hotel General Manager Goncalo Monteiro leads a team of more than 200 hand-picked staff who are dedicated to providing world-renowned signature Four Seasons service.

“Ultimately this place belongs to Montrealers, we want to create a space where locals and international visitors can connect and interact. We’ve created a unique eco-system where visitors are surprised at every turn, that encourages social engagement, sets the stage for unexpected encounters and where unique moments and memories are created.”

Be Among the First to Experience the Four Seasons Lifestyle in the Golden Square Mile: Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is currently presenting an introductory offer that extends 20 percent savings on the regular room rate, along with other attractive packages designed to introduce the Hotel. For reservations, call 1 800 819 5053 or book online.

Destination: Montreal

Montreal is a city of poets, visionaries, innovators, dreamers, and builders, regarded as one of the world’s great capitals of style, culture, and lifestyle.

The city also hosts an array of international events including the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the internationally renowned Festival International de Jazz de Montreal and the always popular Just for Laughs Festival, the Osheaga Festival Musique et Arts and the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, all happening this summer.

“Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is an important and prestigious addition to the destination that elevates Montreal and sets it apart as a world-class city. Plus, we are counting on this hotel to add to our value proposition on the luxury market,” says President of Tourisme Montreal Yves Lalumière.

Design: Sensual Style

The Social Square: The focal point of Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is its Social Square, a sprawling space on the third floor that encompasses the hotel’s lobby and signature dining and drinking experience, MARCUS by Chef Marcus Samuelsson.

The Social Square is a series of spaces that includes a restaurant, terrace, day bar, night bar and lounge, each with its unique design, musical selection, and atmosphere, designed by Montreal renowned Atelier Zébulon Perron to inspire connections. Within the city’s luxury ecosystem, the Social Square at Four Seasons also offers a direct connection to high-end department store Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, where guests can seamlessly marry a day of shopping with lunch or dinner or drinks at MARCUS.

Art and Architecture: The new building, swathed in black with metallic ribbons was designed by Lemay and Sid Lee Architecture. Hotel interiors including guest rooms, spa, Palais des Possibles ballroom and public areas are designed by Paris-based firm Gilles & Boissier in collaboration with Montreal-based architect and designer Philip Hazan.

Interiors are enhanced by a carefully curated collection of works by local and international artists, including Pascale Girardin’s floral-inspired installation cascading down the building’s open-air atrium and showcasing nature in the heart of the architecture, providing a unique perspective for guests and residents alike.

Original artworks grace all guest rooms and public areas, highlighted by a conversation-igniting collection of vintage photographs of well-known Montrealers and other celebrities displayed throughout MARCUS restaurant and lounge.

The artistic experience surrounds the building, with both the ballroom terrace and the year-round outdoor terrace at MARCUS overlooking the giant, much-photographed mural of one of the city’s most beloved sons, Leonard Cohen.

MARCUS by Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson: A Canadian First

The Canadian debut of the renowned celebrity chef is a modern brasserie that combines Marcus Samuelsson’s signature approach to the dining experience with fresh inspiration from the city’s markets, port, surrounding forests, and farmland.

MARCUS restaurant and its terrace are open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Local seafood – including daily catches from Quebec’s surrounding waters – takes center stage through myriad preparations. The heated terrace overlooking the city’s bustling streets and wrapped in panoramic views is a delightful choice year-round.

“Montreal’s sophisticated and worldly sensibility is one that I’ve long been attracted to,” says Chef Samuelsson. “Its global dynamic and European flair closely relate to my own journey. I’m excited to bring my flavors and vision to this incredible culinary culture.”

As day transforms into night, the MARCUS lounge and bar become the see-and-be-seen center of the Social Square with a lively soundtrack curated by Samuelsson himself, including live musicians, bands and DJs every evening. Designed by Bellosound, expect to hear emerging avant-garde artists and rich electronic sound textures reflective of the city’s sophisticated, international style.

Experience MARCUS at Four Seasons Hotel Montreal: For more information about MARCUS, click here. For table reservations, book via Open Table or call 514 843 2500.

Spa and Wellness Sanctuary at Four Seasons

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is a wellness sanctuary. While the Social Square is all about connectivity, the Spa is the place to disconnect and enjoy a relaxing, stress-free experience. Results-oriented therapies and indulgent pampering are offered by highly trained therapists who adapt each treatment to individual needs. There are eight treatment rooms including the Golden Square VIP Suite for two with its own discreet entrance that offers complete privacy.

Kneipp Hydrotherapy: A very special experience awaits with the city’s only Kneipp hydrotherapy facility, which focuses on the health-promoting qualities of hot and cold water.

Reached via a specially designed reflexology footpath, the therapy pool features a large waterfall as part of the methods originally developed by Bavarian naturopath Sebastian Kneipp in the 19th century.

Additional spa and wellness facilities include sauna, whirlpool and relaxation areas; a state-of-the-art gym designed by celebrity fitness expert Harley Pasternak; and a skylit indoor pool with an upstream current generator.

Lead by Spa Director Geneviève Poulos a careful edit of product lines are featured at the Spa: Omorovicza, a Hungarian skincare line, is featured exclusively at Four Seasons in Montreal, including the signature Gold Hydra Lifting Facial. 111SKIN is another result-driven line, created in London, England by Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, a cosmetic surgeon, in his Harley Street clinic. Finally, the Spa team is delighted to offer PEONI by JB Skin Guru, a line created by Montreal skincare expert Jennifer Brodeur.

More About Four Seasons Hotel Montreal

Guest Rooms and Suites: The Hotel’s 169 guest rooms and suites are designed in a modern, residential style with comfortable seating areas for work or relaxation, at one’s fingertips technology, and generous washrooms with freestanding tubs and Byredo toiletries from Sweden.

Of particular note are the Carré Doré rooms located on the building’s higher floors are on the atrium floors where guests can admire Pascale Girardin’s grandiose art installation; Four Seasons Executive Suites offering the ability to separate the lounge area from the sleep area; and the elegant, two-bedroom Presidential Suite on the top floor that features a full-size dining table and butler’s pantry with separate entrance, ideal for entertaining.

Meetings, Events, Weddings, and Other Social Occasions: The Palais des Possibles is the hotel’s main ballroom, which opens onto the Belvedere Terrace, affording one of the city’s best views of the landmark Leonard Cohen mural.

Easily divisible in several configurations of intimate spaces for board meetings and breakouts, or at full size, for receptions of up to 450 guests, the room also has an adjacent VIP suite, a private retreat for guest speakers and wedding couples. Two additional salons are also located on the fifth floor along with restrooms and a cloakroom, allowing for exclusive booking of the entire suite of spaces.

Private Residences at Four Seasons: Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is also home to a community of 18 Four Seasons Private Residences with interiors by Montreal-based Philip Hazan.


Houston’s Berg Hospitality Group opens two new Italian concepts this week

When B.B. Italia Kitchen & Bar opens this week, Houston will finally get to taste the Italian restaurant that owner Benjamin Berg had in his mind when he first acquired the former Carmelo’s on Memorial near the Energy Corridor.

The path to B.B. Italia’s opening on May 2, however, wasn’t without its setbacks. Berg acquired the space at 14795 Memorial in late 2017 and reopened it a week after Carmelo’s closed on Christmas Day 2017. Along with his brother and partner, chef Daniel Berg, the restaurateur known for his B&B Butchers & Restaurant and B.B. Lemon renamed the restaurant Carmelo’s Cucina Italia with a big new menu and major plans for remodeling. That was in spring of 2018.

During that time Berg Hospitality Group was busy: it opened a B&B Butchers in Fort Worth and a new concept, B.B. Lemon, in the Washington Corridor in Houston. Carmelo’s, meanwhile, was looking to find its audience as it dealt with its renovation plans.

The Bergs apparently said basta, and closed Carmelo’s Cucina Italia in January 2019 with plans to reopen with a new concept and name.

“Daniel and I promise to reopen with a new and improved concept that we are confident will be received well by the community,” Benjamin Berg said at the time.

For the Berg brothers, B.B. Italia is a fresh start on their goal for creating a contemporary version of a classic Italian-American restaurant. Daniel Berg’s menu offers upscale takes on checkerboard-tablecloth Italian-American dining with iconic dishes such as shrimp fra diavolo, veal chop parmigiana, lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs. The menu is completely different from the Bergs’ Carmelo’s days.

A pasta connoisseur, Berg and his team are making all pastas in house daily. Pasta options include shells with hot Italian sausage and mini meatballs in a Sunday ragu; tagliatelle with veal Bolognese; linguine with shrimp scampi; rigatoni with spicy vodka sauce; fettuccini Alfredo; bell-shaped pasta carbonara; linguine with clam sauce; three-cheese ravioli in gorgonzola sauce with pecans; Grandma’s Ravioli stuffed with short ribs and glossed with a mushroom and Marsala sauce; and a 20-layer lasagna.

Other entrees: Eggplant parmigiana; chicken parmigiana; chicken with hot Italian sausage and peppers; Italian fried chicken with garlic and Calabrian peppers set on Italian grits; salmon piccata; Chianti-braised short ribs on whipped potatoes; jumbo diver scallops saltimbocca; and pork ribs glazed in a hot Italian cherry pepper sauce.

Starters and salads will include whipped ricotta with grilled bread; beef carpaccio; crab fingers sautéed in oregano, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs; fried zucchini; fried mozzarella; prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella; minestrone; Caprese salad; roasted beets, oranges, fennel and candied pistachio salad; and antipasto salad with salami, provolone and cherry peppers.

B.B. Pizza, meanwhile, is a separate operation with its own substantial menu of 12- and 16-inch pizzas. And more: hot calzones, sub sandwiches (chicken parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, sausage and peppers, Italian cold cut combo, roast beef), salads, meatballs, fried calamari, fried zucchini and garlic knots.

B.B. Italia’s 8,000-square-foot space has been redecorated in a modern design with a dining room that can seat 100 and a 20-seat horseshoe-shape bar (the bar area also has booths and high-top tables) and boxwood-lined patio for al fresco dining. There are six semi-private and private rooms, too.

Berg Hospitality staff are lending their talents to the new Italian enterprise: B.B. Lemon’s beverage director Monique Cioffi-Hernandez has created a cocktail menu and B&B Butcher’s sommelier Lexey Johnson is rolling out an Italian wine list with bottles priced between $30 and $300.


School of Hospitality Business Management receives global recognition

Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management has received recognition from two global ranking organizations.

The school was ranked 15th by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in hospitality and tourism management. The ranking, done by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, focuses on the strength of academic research in the social sciences.

The ranking confirms “the caliber of our hospitality faculty’s research and their prolific output,” said Nancy Swanger, Carson College of Business senior associate dean and director of the School of Hospitality Business Management.

The hospitality program, which started in 1932, is part of WSU Carson College of Business. The school has a worldwide reputation for hospitality and tourism research.

Swanger said she was pleased to see the school advance in both global and national rankings. Over the past year, the school moved from a 27thglobal ranking to 15th. Among U.S. programs, the school moved from a 9thplace ranking to 7thplace.

CEOWorld Magazine also ranked the school 15th globally among hospitality and hotel management schools. That ranking measured academic reputation and job placement rate, among other factors.


How Brands Are Improving Customer Experiences in the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Technology has been steadily improving customer experiences (CX) across a breadth of industries, with travel and hospitality among them. But to truly see how CX marketing is changing how we vacation, consider how we now book trips. What once started with a trip to a local agent, who you entrusted to take your needs and wants—and hard-earned cash—and translate them into the excursion of your dreams, now begins with an interactive online experience where consumers can not only consider reviews from other travelers, compare prices, and even live chat with customer service representatives, but they’ll also get tailor-made recommendations on when best to fly, package deals to consider, and inspiring and informative marketing content on locales when they’re booking their trip on their own, straight from home.

Sounds good, right? But what exactly is CX? I’m partial to this definition from HubSpot, which looks at both the context of CX and what brands must do to create it: “If customer experience (CX) refers to the sum of every interaction a customer has with a business, both pre- and post-sale, the customer experience strategy defines the actionable plans in place to deliver a positive, meaningful experience across those interactions.”

So how have technology and customer-centric marketing converged to improve CX in both travel and hospitality, and what can brands learn about improving customer experience from their example? Let’s dive in.

The Travel CX Is Not a Static CX: Prepare for Dynamic Customer Journeys

Technology is changing everything, from the way we book trips to how we experience destinations on the go. Think about it: You get a week off, so what are you going to do with it? A few years ago, you would have called a travel agent and said something like “I want to go to Ireland,” or “I really like vacationing by the sea. What’s on sale in June?”

Today, you talk to friends. You read travel guides. You browse TripAdvisor. And then you start searching—online. Maybe the bleak winter has left you tired and uninspired and you’re determined to get to Hawaii. In today’s market, you could end up at a branded resort on Waikiki, Airbnbing a spare room on a farm on Oahu’s north shore, taking a luxury cruise through the islands, staying on a houseboat, or booking a B&B package with a car rental. From the way you learn about the options available to you, to the ways people experience activities, all aspects of the travel experience have completely shifted as a result of CX marketing.

In large part, the customer journey has shifted from a chance to pick a standard trip to an opportunity to design a unique adventure. And in this journey, the touchpoints are nearly endless for consumers to discover brands, learn more about said brands, and ultimately make a purchase or enjoy products or services the brand specializes in. In a nutshell: The customer journey is no longer static.

So how can modern marketers continue improving customer experiences online while leveraging the latest technology? And what are some ways to look at this process systematically and creatively throughout the customer life cycle?

As Aberdeen notes, “Customer journeys, however, are dynamic; customer behavior evolves rapidly, and so do the related journeys. Therefore, to keep up with changing buyer behavior, companies must have real-time visibility into customer journeys. Only then will firms deliver truly omni-channel interactions.” Hospitality and travel brands have found ways to gather real-time customer data and create feedback loops that feed that information into the CX delivery system. Typically, that starts with effective technology-driven data gathering to power a dynamic customer journey.

In hospitality marketing, strong data can make the difference between attracting a stampede of customers and struggling to fill rooms. Beverly Jackson, MGM Resorts International‘s VP of social and content strategy, wanted to find out if her ads resonated with audiences on social media. She went through marketing insight company TrackMaven, which joined forces with Skyword in late 2018, to get to the bottom of it.

In an interview with TrackMaven, Jackson said: “People come to our resorts not to have a bad time, people come to our resorts to be entertained, to be wowed, to be inspired, to be delighted. The opportunity to retell their stories on social media, the opportunity to inspire them to have great fun and experiences and make lifelong memories, that’s the absolute best part of my job every day.”

In part, Jackson and her team seize that opportunity by using customer data to inform a smart, competitive CX marketing strategy. The company also works to meet the needs of different tiered properties, with ad effectiveness being one area they wanted to explore.

“What we wanted to really see was whether or not our television commercials were resonating on social with our audiences,” she explained. “What we were able to do with TrackMaven was to go in and see the ads we set out on Facebook, (and determine) what was the role of that ad in terms of bringing new customers into the mix … we were able to see in Vegas a couple of months that we have a competitor in the marketplace who, for the first time, was going big into video. TrackMaven was able to show us how our video campaigns, even at the organic level, were resonating in a way that their paid campaign was not. And that’s a very powerful piece of data for us.”

MGM’s inquiry showcases a critical reality in today’s complex environment: Things happen quickly, so quickly that without real market data, you’re at a disadvantage. By using data-gathering and analysis technology, you’ll be able to better understand how effective your campaigns are and narrow in on what steps you can take next to better reach your customers.

Technology Helps Solve Common Complaints

Vacations are meant to be a great escape, not a stressful event. Yet, too many of us have wrestled with the horrors of bad travel—delayed flights, screaming baby seatmates, hotels with bedbugs, poor customer service across the board—to not be wary when booking, or even resort to praying the vacation gods will smile down on us for this one, much-needed trip.

But times are a-changin’, as CIO notes, “For an industry that has been resistant to incorporating evolving technology into the mix, travel and tourism is ripe for disruption that will touch on every phase of the customer experience, from arranging plans to discovering new destinations with a local perspective. Service providers will also benefit, but it ultimately depends on all stakeholders embracing the valuable technology ecosystems being touted by the newer entrants to the industry and their plans to shake the foundations of the tourism industry.”

Currently, the travel and hospitality industry is improving customer experiences by using emerging technology to address common complaints. Hotel guests who don’t want to have to call the concierge for a wake-up call or to get room service, for instance, can simply ask the Alexa device in their hotel room or make a request using a hotel app on their smartphone.

Disney made waves with its MyMagic+ band, which not only made it easier for guests to access their whole itinerary and pay in the parks, but the technology created a data collection feedback loop for the brand to take advantage of as well.

The goal of the tech team who developed the MagicBands was to “root out all the friction within the Disney World experience,” according to Bernard Marr at Forbes. Some ways the bands leverage personalized data to build these seamless experiences include having restaurant hosts greet you and your family by name or having your child’s favorite Disney character meet them in line for a certain ride.

By putting technology at the heart of individual touch points, resorts and other travel businesses are getting foundational aspects of their CX right.

Liz Alton is a technology and marketing writer, and content strategist, for Fortune 500 brands and creative agencies. Her specialties include marketing, technology, B2B, big data/analytics, cloud, and mobility. She’s worked with clients including Adobe, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Twitter, ADP, and Google. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA. She is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism from Harvard University.S

As CX marketing moves to the forefront of business models, companies need better strategies for deploying technology that improves the customer experience. Gathering data, eliminating chaos in the customer journey, and taking a touch point application on implementation can turn technology into a powerful asset. For marketers, there are opportunities at all stages—prospect, buying in, experience, and post-purchase—to integrate technology and provide a personalized customer experience, which can help your brand earn stripes in the eyes of prospective travelers and truly stand out in this competitive industry.


Smart Hospitality Industry Business: Impressed Guests Are Return Guests

NATIONAL REPORT—Any hotel manager who has tried to increase year-on-year sales is familiar with the marketing investment needed to achieve even modest incremental growth. And always, those marketing dollars could also be well spent on facility repairs and upgrades or a range of other business needs.

A cost-effective option to pursue increased sales while holding down costs is a renewed focus on impressing and delighting the guests you already have. Happy guests often make a point of returning again and again and recommending your location to family and friends, which can increase demand and revenues with minimal new investment.

The best way to impress guests is to focus on what’s most important to them—cleanliness. A recent study indicated that, for a whopping 97% of hotel guests, clean rooms and common areas were the single-most important factor in assessing the quality of their stay.*

A great way to ensure your hotel is clean is to provide your cleaning staff with the machines to address any kind of mess, whether high or low, in tight or open spots, during busy or quiet times or near or far from electrical outlets. The solution? Making sure your cleaning toolkit includes cordless upright vacuums, backpack vacuums and wide-area vacuums.

Cordless upright vacuums allow cleaning staff to easily and safely focus on efficient and powerful cleaning, even in crowded environments. Staff members don’t need to constantly find outlets, and guests don’t need to avoid dangerous cords.

The new Sanitaire® QUICKBOOST™ cordless upright offers the added benefits of operating for up to 47 minutes on a single charge** and at less than 70 dBA. With Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)-rated cleaning performance, the lightweight and agile QUICKBOOST™ easily tackles both day-to-day and emergency 24/7 cleaning.

Backpack vacuums offer unique comfort and convenience advantages. Cleaning staff don’t need to push them around, freeing them to easily clean cluttered spaces, tight spaces, stairs, drapes and high-up spots like ceiling vents, to name a few. And when a backpack vacuum is lightweight, its even distribution across an employee’s frame makes it almost incomparably easy to transport and operate. The CRI-rated and LEED-qualified Sanitaire® TRANSPORT™ QuietClean® backpack vacuumweighs less than 12 pounds and includes a comfortable harness.

For larger, open areas like ballrooms, banquet rooms, conference rooms and lobbies, debris is both widely dispersed and easy to spot across large interior spaces. Delight your guests with dirt-free floors that were cleaned in a fraction of the time it would take with a traditional vacuum.

Wide area vacuums can cut cleaning time in half, especially if they include the right features. The Sanitaire® SPAN™ Wide Track® vacuum has a two-and-a-third-ft.-wide (28-in.) cleaning path for maximum efficiency. A 60-ft. cord and seven-gallon dust bag mean minimal stopping and starting. And most importantly for your guests, the SPAN™ wide area cleaner is CRI rated, ensuring a best-possible clean.