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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.


7 work management best practices for the enterprise

The new, always on, always connected, digital and social world provides amazing opportunities for smart marketers to develop, test, and launch outreach programs, and generate results in far less time than it would have taken in years past.

As companies race to digitize work, they’re too often doing it piece by piece rather than with a holistic view. One department adopts an application here and another department adopts a different application there – all without giving proper attention to how these different pieces of work come together across the entire enterprise.

Put another way, while digitization has brought seemingly infinite possibilities, it has also brought new pressures that today’s organizations are not equipped to handle. Pressures that add up to create what we might call the digital work crisis.

New tools enable us to gather more information and work faster, but they also add to the activities we have to track. As a result, it’s no longer enough to only manage individual projects. We must also manage the fabric of work itself, especially at the enterprise level.

We’re talking about the difference between project management and work management.

What’s the distinction?

Project management is about managing a set of initiatives, each with a start and end date.

Work management includes these initiatives, but it also extends beyond them to include all work across the enterprise at every level.

Work management gives the extra insight that enables knowledge workers to execute on deliverables, managers to execute on projects, VPs to execute on objectives, and executives to execute on growth. It also enables everyone at each level to see how their work rolls up into the company goals.

This requires new processes and technologies, including a system of record for work. Here are seven best practices to implement such a system – and some stories of customers making strides.

1. Find one place to manage work

More than anything, a system of record for work must show activity across all tasks, content, and conversations so each person can see at a glance all the work that touches them. This brings transparency to priorities, work progress, resources, and outcomes to empower you to orchestrate enterprise work with the precision and certainty you run the rest of your business. In this way, the system of record for work diminishes the pressure of the digital work crisis. For instance, ATB Financial implemented such a system and saw a 30% increase in productivity – with five times the information to track – and reduced the cost to manage a job by 60%.

2. Build for people

To fully address the problems that arise from the digital work crisis, all processes and technologies should be familiar and intuitive, able to effortlessly connect every team and organization. Of course, people who regularly use the system must have the power to configure settings to their liking. With front-line users in the business engaged, you’ll have the ability to build cross-functional, connected workflows across an organization in motion. After implementing this system of record for work, Fender reduced time spent in meetings by 30–40%, and project managers eliminated two hours of daily busywork while significantly improving project visibility. That’s what can happen when the tech is built for people rather than getting in the way of people.

3. Keep using what you have

When the number of possible apps out there can be overwhelming, work management should connect all your technology across the company, allowing information and processes to flow seamlessly across teams, departments, systems, and locations. It should save valuable time through automation and multiply the value of your other platforms and systems as they connect with the platform to amplify productivity.

4. Move at a new pace

A true system of record for work brings together collaboration, content, and tasks throughout the lifecycle of work. This means the platform must be flexible enough to keep pace with constant technological change, including the tech of tomorrow. On this front, Citrix improved collaboration with 40 task owners across multiple organizations and teams that were evolving their technology needs, all while seeing a 50% reduction in time spent during compliance meetings.

5. Optimize for safety and security

Built-in security and compliance measures allow you to confidently audit your work, ensuring you maintain the enterprise-level control you need to safely operate in the digital economy. Put simply, there are certain tasks you don’t want visible to everyone in the company, especially if the tasks contain financially sensitive information. A system of record for work must be flexible enough to keep such information secure from those who shouldn’t access it.

6. See everything

The executive team must be able to see everything that’s happening across the company. This doesn’t mean that they will need to micromanage – In fact, just the opposite. It means that they will be able to see and deliver the results of the work that employees are doing so that they can pivot company strategy accordingly. Trek Bicycle achieved global collaboration and company-wide project alignment and then regained 30% of their time for innovation and improvement, after implementing work management.

7. Measure anything

The platform should contain a deep record of all work while delivering analytic-driven insights that empower you to analyze and optimize everything you do. Because you can measure anything, managers can see the results of knowledge workers, VPs can see the results of managers, and executives can see the results of VPs. Everything rolls up into the company goals so that everyone knows how the company is doing when it comes to fulfilling their vision.

With these measures firmly in place – both on the process and technology front – companies pave the way for full control over what’s to come and unifying work across the enterprise. In this way, they’ll effectively address the problems that surface from the digital work crisis, enabling a unified and streamlined approach to work management across the enterprise.

By: Heidi Melin – Source:

Why Happy Employees Matter Just as Much as Happy Customers to Your Company’s Bottom Line

Who is more important to an organization: customers or employees? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg … the customer or the employee? However this question is debated, there is a clear answer, but perhaps not the answer you are thinking.

ARGUMENT: The Customer is King:

If a business does not have a source of revenue, it will fail. No surprise there. This is an absolute whether it is a corporation, sole proprietorship, non-profit (foundation or charity), religious organization, e-commerce, or even a government entity. A business needs to have a source of revenue to pay the bills, invoices, employees, and expansion, etc. Customers support that. Without revenue, you cannot hire or support employees. But can an organization have hundreds or thousands of employees but little to no revenue and stay in business? Hasn’t Facebook and many other start-ups done that? Yes, but at some point investors need profits or they pull their funding which translates into a need for “customer comes first” or “build it and they will come” mentality (ie: Great products = Customers = Profits) Don’t customers need to receive excellent products and services in order to open their wallets? Of course yes, but who is going to provide them this exceptional product or service? Employees of course. But what happens if the employees are miserable in their jobs? How will this affect morale, innovation and customer relationships? Does it translate into a great product and/or service? Does it make sense to say, “build it and they will come?” Perhaps for Apple and their newest iPhone, but for the rest of us, it is not that simple.

One can argue that customers are more important than employees because without revenue, no business even a non-profit (Charities have 3 months funding in reserve) will not survive. A VC funded business will eventually dry up without revenue/customers. When the customer stops taking out their wallets, employees get laid off and a business teeters on the brink of filing for bankruptcy or closing. The customer is king!ADVERTISING

ARGUMENT: Employees Come First

There are millions of websites that run on auto-pilot or have evergreen contentwhere employees are not needed to maintain the page. An example might be a site like Ebay or Amazon where you don’t need employees to run a business. But we are looking at businesses that have employees who have direct contact with customers. How important are they, really? Can’t business owners simply hire new bodies as the old ones exit through the backdoor?

Happy employees tend to exhibit their enthusiasm when interacting with customers. How employees are treated, or the atmosphere of the internal culture, will dictate how your employees feel. Attitude is tied to an employee’s performance and is transformed into the quality of their work. Ultimately what is felt and experienced by customers from employees, turns into a decision to return back to your business or visit a competitor (assuming there is nothing wrong with the product itself and your business is not the only business selling a particular product).

REAL LIFE CASE: Happy vs. Unhappy Employees

In early 1994, Continental Airlines’ culture was toxic. Employee moral was virtually dead and the company experienced ten CEOs in ten years’ time. The low morale translated into being ranked last in every measurable airline performance category, and the airline was on the verge of its third bankruptcy. Then, Gordon Bethune took over as President in October of 1994. (In 1996, Bethune became the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors.) Bethune changed the culture of Continental by changing the culture starting at the top, the Executive Floor at the Corporate Headquarters. With a new “open door” policy, he eliminated company restricted access to the 20th floor, the Executive Floor, that could only be accessed by Senior Vice-Presidents with a key card. Security had patrolled the floor to remove any employee who was not a VP. That stopped and he removed key-card-only access and invited any employee to access to the floor. He fired 39 senior VPs who had trouble adjusting to this new “employees first” mantra. By looking inside, at the core of Continental’s culture, and starting with themselves, he transformed the airline from ranking dead last in every customer service ranking, to winning more J.D. Powers and Associates awards for Customer Service than any other airline in the world. The stock price rose from $2 a share to over $50 a share and the company was ranked as one of the top 100 companies to work for by Fortune Magazine.

Yes, there are unhappy employees at companies that generate profits but this will always be a short-term gain. If employees are not putting their hearts into their work, service can’t help but suffer, and innovation is repressed, killing any chance for the product to evolve and satisfy the customer’s growing needs. This is why every business owner should look at themselves and ask, “Are my employees feeling good about where they are?” Managers should be asking themselves the same question. Are your employees happy? Change must come from the inside if change is to take place and morale is to climb. This is true with all of us. Are you performing at your best when you are stressed, down and out or feeling blue inside? Chances are the answer is no. Controlling how an employee feels is in direct correlation to how happy a customer feels about their experience and whether they return to you or go to a competitor.

So which is the answer? Your customers are your lifeline. They pay the bills, salaries, and provide the resource needed for infrastructure, like expansion. Happy employees put their hearts into their work and can produce innovative ideas, products, and services which benefit both customer and company.

With unhappy customers and unhappy employees or with happy customers and happy employees, either way you slice it, the answer appears to derive from a cyclical process. How can we say which is more important? Each has their own unique qualities that are important, no, critical to the big picture and success or failure of the company.

When it comes down to it, we have come full circle and are back to asking what we first asked, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Which is more important to an organization, the customers or the employees? To answer the question, lets think outside the box.

Who or what is the force to which we can turn to and say, “Without ______ (fill in the blank)” both customer and employee are either happy or unhappy? That force sets the course, tone and culture of the business as the “Captain of the ship”. This is the person setting the course for both customer and employee satisfaction and that person is your most senior executive, the President. Your senior leadership, specifically, the #1 person in charge at the top sets the tone for how happy or miserable both your customers and employees are. It is the leader who determines, even dictates the culture of the company. Without the Captain of the ship directing the culture by his or her own actions and where the team can see his/her actions in play, the question will pretty much remain a debate. It is an inside force leading both employee and customer. That inside force is the leader of the business, the CEO, the President, the owner. Employees and customers are both affected by how leadership runs the company by virtue of the product or service that the customer receives, which generates recommendations and more business, even repeat business (see Continental example above). Mr. Bethune changed the culture of Continental by setting a new course and the employees at the time were either with him or against him. You can conclude where 39 Vice-Presidents stood when he told them that in order to change to a profitable company, they needed to change the culture. I guess they ended up standing in the unemployment line.

When a company does not have to tell its customers why they are the best in their market, and it is naturally a business we gravitate to because we feel good about paying the company because the product is very good and the customer service is very good, we can conclude that employees have put their heart and soul in a great product, service and company. The employees radiate and feel it, the customers experience it and, the company benefits from all of it.