RSS Companies News

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Who’s afraid of Google?

Google, whose mantra used to be ‘Don’t be evil’ (until it dropped it for the motto ‘Do the right thing’), is almost omnipresent in our lives these days. We use it for all sorts of online searches, whether it’s trying to access arcane information or find our way from A to B.

The European Commission though recently took the giant to task — slapping a 2.4 billion euro anti-trust fine on the internet giant at the end of June, following a seven-year competition investigation. It concluded that Google had “denied other companies the chance to compete” by placing its own comparison shopping service prominently and demoting those of its competitors.

While Google, which has ‘respectfully’ disagreed with the findings and has 90 days to change its ways, considers its next move, lawyers have been mulling over the case and its implications for Google’s other specialized search services such as maps and travel.

What then of the hospitality sector? What’s the impact of Google – good and bad – on the industry? Sit in a hospitality-related conference these days and the subject of Google is bound to raise its head. One general line of questioning has been: will Google come to dominate the industry, leaving online travel agencies and others in its wake?

Martin Soler, Marketing Advisor and Partner with, believes there will be a “massive shift in channels, where the channels will no longer be the OTAs or various structures as we know them.” He points out that Google has – up to now – not been interested in transactions as such as “they’ve always been about being the channel and getting the clicks or driving traffic.”

“They’re an ad agency and they like to be the channel, leaving the transaction to someone else, especially if they have one massive channel. It would be a bidding war between Expedia, Booking, direct channels and everyone’s just going to bid higher and they’re going to make more money.”

However, he says, they “could flip the switch and do it” so he would “definitely keep an eye on it.”

So could Google become a dominant force in hospitality?

“They’re one of the best poised currently to do so because they have integration with flight data, hotel data, integration with Uber and many others, so they could essentially have the entire trip.’

Also imagine a world in which we no longer search for information via browsers and apps as we do now but instead ask a virtual personal assistant – whether it be Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant – to book holidays or business trips for us. That may not be that far off now. But when we ask for help with booking flights, hotels and so on, will we get more than just a few suggestions?

“How do you know that you can talk to your fridge, your Echo or your Google Assistant to book a hotel? You don’t. So a lot of work needs to be done to get there. But it will reduce a lot of the issues with travel booking and if done right, we could totally shift from mega destinations which are still probably getting 80 per cent of the traffic and distribute all that travel to different destinations.” (Emphasis added).

On the issue of chatbots, Soler told the recent Young Hoteliers Summit at EHL that the “current booking funnel from inspiration to booking” takes about 29 days and involves checking some 50 or so websites. “It’s a really painful process”. But if that could be reduced to a few interactions with a bot, “we could grow the pie of travel because suddenly the spontaneous and impulse buy of travel becomes a reality.”

“So I believe once the technology is there and we can do that with three interactions, or four maximum, it suddenly changes the game completely … It’s definitely coming and that’s going to be a paradigm shift.”

“You know OTAs are going to have to rethink (this) because there will only be Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana will be the channel. The channel will no longer be Expedia or Booking or direct. It will be the device that you’re using and it’s going to be the war against who has that channel, who has purchased the rights for the channel and has the AI (artificial intelligence) connected to it. So it’s going to change the game quite a bit – not tomorrow but maybe the day after.”

Ait Voncke, Expedia‘s Vice President of Market Management for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), says they regard Google as one of their marketing channels. “We’re optimized in that channel of course, at scale globally, so in that sense we’re a big partner and Google’s a big partner of (ours).”

As to whether Google presents a threat to OTAs like Expedia, Voncke says: “We are getting transactions in the booking space right. We have 5,000 engineers just focused on that process, on building that technology. We have market managers in the field, thousands of them across the world, working very closely in a partnership with our hoteliers to be successful in the online space – and that’s typically not Google’s business. So I think there’s a very complementary skillset at work here.”

Another speaker at the Young Hoteliers Summit (#YHSconnects), Jeremy Ward, Chief Operating Officer of iRiS Software Systems, said although Google may start creating apps for guest experiences, he wasn’t too concerned about its potential to dominate the sector, as most of its revenue comes from advertising. “They’re not there to pick up the small transaction fee. So I think anything that can drive traffic through them, they’re quite interested in, because they take the revenue from it.”

What then is Google’s view of the hospitality sector? At the International Hotel Investment Forum (#IHIF2017) in March, Terri Scriven, Google’s industry head for hospitality, emphasized how the tech giant works with hoteliers and others. She had plenty of practical advice for hoteliers about the need to hire data scientists and to integrate a hotel’s customer relationship management (CRM) system with the property management system or PMS. Asked about the ability of hotels to analyze and use data, Scriven replied: “It’s horrible, it’s kind of hitting my head against a brick wall on a day-to-day basis. But there’s progress being made which is good.”

“Your websites are rich with so much data,” she said, adding hoteliers should use an analytics tool for insights into why customers visit their sites but then leave to book with an OTA.

She suggested that hotels should not chase the OTAs, but instead should try to make sure their messaging relevant to their target audiences. “And the more relevant the messages are, the more likely they are to book direct with you.”

“Hotel websites leave much to be desired. It’s the reason why OTAs are winning out. The focus has been very much on conversion and how to better convert that user who comes to the website. And instead of providing beautiful imagery – and videos are so important as you need to inspire them to come to stay -focus on how you can better convert them and there’s a lot of data that can help that, and AI is part of it, to understanding people when they’ve come back to your site, customizing the suggested hotels for them to stay at or the overall offer on the site.”

“Let’s get the basics right first. Let’s get those sites looking much better, get mobile sites in place and then you can evaluate AI but you need to start with the site that converts first.”

Watch the panel discussion video “Meeting customers’ needs in hospitality”

Google then is currently working with both the hotels, in terms of their online presence, and also the OTAs. Asked whether the war with the OTAs was over, Scriven replied that she disagreed. “The game is not lost because you have to optimize different channels, channels, etc. but there’s still a good percentage of traffic that comes direct.”

The game may not be lost – yet – but as the game continues to change rapidly, hotels may find it difficult to keep pace. Even OTAs like Expedia with significant budgets for marketing and tech spending may be a little wary about what’s on the horizon if Google does broaden the scope of its ambitions, despite the European Commission’s attempts to rein it in.

Duty system can promote healthier attitudes towards alcohol

The ALMR has responded to HM Treasury’s consultation on alcohol structures encouraging the Government to adopt an innovative alcohol duty system that encourages products to be sold and consumed within the supervised environment of pubs, bars and restaurants.

HM Treasury has been consulting on new bands for cider, perry and still wine to encourage incentives for the production and consumption of lower strength products. The ALMR argues that this would provide greater choice for the sector’s customers and support industry initiatives to facilitate healthier lifestyles.

The organisation has also highlighted future opportunities to reform the duty system, either through a revision of the current EU Directive or post-Brexit. This could include differential duty rates, allowing lower duty to be charged on drinks sold through the on-trade.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “New bands for lower-strength wines, ciders and perries could reduce costs for both producers and retailers and help stimulate demand for high quality on-trade drinks. Brexit provides the opportunity for a more creative look at the duty regime to further incentivise innovation.

“We have evidence to show that lower-strength products are predominantly consumed in the supervised environment of a pub or restaurant. If the Government is serious about promoting healthier attitudes towards alcohol, a tactic would be to promote responsible and supervised consumption within our venues.

“High quality products that come with a lower strength and reduced price tag could help precipitate a shift in drinking habits that aids businesses and supports the Government’s plans to promote healthier lifestyles.”


1,190 Independent Restaurant Owners Share Their Thoughts on Over 100 POS System brands released the 2017 POS Survey Report today. The report summarizes input gathered from 1,190 independent restaurant owners from around the world regarding over 100 different brands of POS systems, focusing on several critical aspects including cost, installation and support experience, and features. The results of this survey provide unique insight into the POS system market and emerging trends, all of which are valuable to independent restaurant owners.

The average cost for a restaurant POS system has notably decreased since 2012. In 2012, the average expenditure for a POS system was just over $18,000, as opposed to $13,344, currently.

The top seven POS solutions were Aloha POS, MICROS, Digital Dining, Clover, Adelo POS, Future POS, and POSitouch. These top seven POS systems accounted for 47.5% of the market. Beyond the top seven, all other POS brands each accounted for less than 3% of the market share.

We identified a shift toward cloud-based systems and POS solutions offered by credit card processors. Clover, Dinerware, Harbor Touch, and Square were the top credit card processor provided POS solutions, accounting for nearly 11% of total market share.

Despite the increased use of cloud-based and mobile systems, less than 10% of independent restaurant owners indicated they use pay-at-the-table devices. Moreover, only 31% of restaurants reported using EMV compliant POS systems. This is particularly noteworthy considering the fraud liability shift that took place in October 2015, mandating that merchants upgrade to EMV chip technology or accept increased liability for fraudulent transactions.

Improvements in plug-and-play components, increased Wi-Fi capability, and a tech savvy labor pool are allowing many restaurant owners to opt for self-installation and remote support. As a consequence, only 74% reported using an authorized POS vendor for programming, training, and support.


Four Seasons owner Provenance Land may sell up to 50 per cent stake to global investors

India’s hospitality industry may be one of the heavily taxed sectors in the country, but that has not deterred global investors from looking at key properties in the country.

According to a media report, Brookfield Asset Management and GIC of Singapore are vying to buy 50 per cent stake in Provenance Land that owns Four Seasons hotel and residences in Mumbai.

The deal is likely to value Provenance Land at over Rs 2,000 crore and could see Adarsh Jatia offloading between 26 per cent and 49 per cent stake, said a report in The Times of India.

Provenance Land has been constructing Four Seasons-branded ultra luxury residences at the 4.5-acre property located at Worli.

If the deal fructifies, the funds from the stake sale will be used for the company’s plans to develop branded luxury homes and offices adjoining the Four Seasons hotel, the TOI report said.

There were reports that Provenance was constructing a five-storeyed second tower with 26 luxury residences for outright sale with a price tag ranging from Rs 30 crore to Rs 100 crore, the TOI report added.

According to a recent report by KPMG, India’s hospitality sector is expected to grow at 16.1 percent CAGR to reach Rs 2,796.9 crore in 2022. The sector contributes significantly to indirect tax revenue at the state and central level which includes revenues from VAT, Service Tax, and Luxury Tax etc.

As per the GST Council’s decision all hospitality products above Rs 5,000 has been termed as luxury, drawing flak from the industry. The GST Council said along with rooms, even dining at restaurants at 5-star hotels will invite GST at the rate of 28 per cent.

Experts are of the opinion that a higher GST rate on the hospitality sector could make the country’s tourism products uncompetitive in the region. The industry also fears major events, congresses, conferences, etc. could give a miss to India in coming times.


What kind of a Leader are you – a Maker or a Breaker?


The dominant traits of the top most leader in any organization, unarguably, define the shape and personality of the organization as a whole. So whether the top dog is fair, biased, aggressive, assimilative, open-minded and inclusive or clique and coterie centered, insecure or confident, the organization tends to take on similar features and harbour the climate that screams of the same defining set of behavioural facets.

A Balanced Leader is the backbone of a Healthy Organization

In one’s career history, while growth and better opportunity are often the crucial reasons for moving out from one and into another organization, the other main reason that seldom gets talked about openly is a huge sense of disenchantment or dissatisfaction or unhappiness stemming from a sour equation with an immediate boss or the super boss or the politically charged peer group that makes it difficult for one to perform optimally. Complicated and unreasonable bosses or a set of ogre-like colleagues is in fact a bigger, often unspoken reason for people to move and seek greener pastures elsewhere. Several HR studies, globally, have proved this fact time and again.

In the early 1990s, as a young, sprightly fresher with rose-tinted glasses I joined the Public Affairs Section of a Diplomatic Mission in Delhi. This was my second job and I had often heard that it was Asians who were more clique-y, gossipy, with inherent biases and prone to apple-polishing. So, imagine my astonishment when I found some of my Western colleagues as guilty as their Asian counterparts. My first reaction was, “Hell, Here too!” And the second reaction post some thought, “We all are the same beneath the veneer.”

My first boss here was a grouchy, somewhat mean, cranky man given to favouritism and unpleasant disposition. He was tendentious towards one single person – obviously his favourite – instead of treating the entire team fairly; so much so that this person embodied the same attributes as the boss, adding extra doses of her viciousness to it. At one time when I was working along with her, she would rejoice in giving me some of the most menial tasks – “just do the filing,” “get me connected to so and so on the phone,” – and had the audacity to keep the official files hidden away and stashed under lock and key lest I lay my hands on them even when I had to file. Mind you, this was no confidential data but the ludicrous behavior continued, fanned by the boss’ strong inclination towards this person that allowed for many such unprofessional acts to flourish in the department.

Then one day this boss was transferred out and in came a breath of fresh air in the form of a youthful, dynamic lady who brought in a sea change in the department in terms of how we viewed PR work, how we regarded each other as colleagues, how our work was perceived by other departments and the parent Government we had to report back to.

What came across bright and clear were two different modes of leadership, two distinct personalities who contributed in their own way to the manner the department looked, breathed, felt and delivered.

While one was a negative influence, the other used her high standard of skills, fine leadership style, fair & equal opportunity approach to make every work day a fun and productive day and ended up turning the Public Affairs Department into a highly respected and sought after department in the High Commission.

Leadership Traits must dovetail into the Big Picture

My next stint for a period of about two decades has been with hotels. Now, hotels are completely multicultural organizations where the work force is truly international, hailing from different countries; but of course the largest base is of the countrymen from the place where the hotel is located. Yet, in hotels it becomes extremely pertinent to know how to work together with people from as far and wide as France and Germany to Sri Lanka and China. Despite the cultural differences, this ends up adding lot of fun elements to one’s day in the life of the organization as you

end up learning about these cultures and understanding what makes the ‘other’ people tick. This, however, is subject matter of another discourse.

In hotels, while the owner or the CEO of the hotel chain is the defining personality, the GM of the unit hotel where you may work is the lord of his own fiefdom. The team and staff pick out from this leader’s personality aspects and way of running his hotel as much as the top boss’ style percolates down.

On hindsight, having worked with six different GMs across three hotel chains, I have been fortunate to sometimes thrive and at times strive & struggle in as many organizational climates. And where there has been striving, it really has been a battlefront that has made one as hard as a rock, yet more understanding of the complexities and dynamics of a fire-pit organization.

As a Leader, are you a Maker or a Breaker?

It has also brought home the point that leaders can really make or break an organization. Not just what corporate literature may tell you, from personal experience, too, I can list out the following –

  1. The organization can be a happy and fun place to which you look forward to returning every morning and to which you willingly want to give extra hours at the end of the day. Such organizations create an overriding sense of job engagement and satisfaction.
  2. It can be such that each day, nay, moment is difficult to pass with an impossible boss breathing menacingly down your neck; and wicked set of colleagues rubbing their hands in malicious glee every time they pull you down like the proverbial crab.
  3. The organization can be healthy, conducive to work with unsurpassed functionality and highly ethical work practices. Responsibilities and recognition, exemplary output and rewards go hand in hand in such places.
  4. It can be sick, divisive, undermining and demoralizing. What might get you ahead is hoodwinking and proximity to the influential people like the bosses or the boss’ right hand man; even if such easily ill-gotten prizes are short-lived and open to scrutiny.
  5. The organization can be a place that allows you to blossom as a star worker with positive strokes that help germinate your skills and talent into wonderful fruits of productivity.
  6. It can also be a place where there is so much of negative energy that all that can flower there is more bad blood splattered about by parasitic employees who eat into the climate.
  7. The organization can be a place where workers breathe in fresh air, enjoy positive influences, are allowed space to make mistakes and grow, have access to information, become a two way process in clear communication and are given learning opportunities.
  8. Then there are organizations that live in the dark zone of fear, punishment, connivance and control. They operate like secret missions where unnecessary stuff is hidden and kept out of reach of the employees thereby acting as major impediment in the processes and execution of duty.
  9. There are healthy and buzzing organizations that promote good work practices, innovation and creativity and encourage workers to take ownership of their actions.
  10. And there are organizations where flattery, manipulation, bad performances, terrible attitudes and overall downward slope in almost all areas rule the roost.

It is widely seen that the top man maneuvering the reins of the Organization can really lead by example, allowing for the finest personal and professional traits and benchmarked business best practices to shape the organization into an exemplary company; that boasts happy, engaged and optimally delivering team.


Protein packed meals, superfood smoothies and salads galore

Wholesome eating for time-poor Londoners is set to get a little easier this June when all-day healthy food destination Simple Health Kitchen launches its second site at 48 Baker Street on the 21st June.

The Baker Street outlet follows in the success of its first restaurant launched in St Pauls in 2016. Simple Health Kitchen was founded by former rugby player turned personal trainer and health-conscious restaurateur, Bradley Hill, after a life-threatening illness sparked an interest in nutrition.

Bradley woke up one morning with what he thought was back pain. It turned out to be an abscess on the spinal cord that spread up the spinal column, resulting in emergency surgery. After dying twice on the operating table, he spent the next six months paralysed from the neck down. Left with permanent nerve damage, Bradley had to learn to walk again.

Defying odds Bradley fought back and begun a long, remarkable recovery that led him back to personal training with a keen focus on diet and nutrition. With health-giving food and changes to diet playing an integral role in his healing, Bradley conceived Simple Health Kitchen.

“There is a misconception that health food has to be boring. The great thing about Simple Health Kitchen is customers can walk in and know anything they choose not only tastes delicious but is also good for them. And getting people to try new dishes and ingredients they never knew they would love, that’s exciting!” – Bradley Hill, Founder.

Simple Health Kitchen is open Monday to Friday and serves a seasonally updated menu of nutritionally balanced dishes including its famous Turkey & Cranberry Burger, Peri Peri Chicken, Sweet Potato Falafel as well as a variety of fresh salads made on site including Superfood Turmeric Inspired Coronation Quinoa and the super green seeded Spinach and Mizuna Leaf Salad.

Also on offer is an array of protein pots, snacks and low calorie high protein desserts, as well as cold-pressed juices and smoothies. All dishes are free of any refined sugars with plenty of options for high protein, vegetarian, vegan and free-from diets.


Marriott International combats homelessness among LGBTQ youth through #LoveTravels

In the United States, nearly four in ten American youths experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender*, and the number has been rising for the past decade. Marriott International, along with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actor Tituss Burgess, True Colors Fund, Casa Ruby and social influencers Raymond Braun, Shannon Beveridge and Amber’s Closet, are inviting people everywhere to join the global #LoveTravels movement this week to spread awareness and stand in support of the LGBTQ homeless youth community by raising funds to combat this growing issue.

Marriott is dedicated to helping LGBTQ Homeless Youth

“Marriott created #LoveTravels four years ago to send a clear message that our company, including more than 6,100 properties in 124 countries and territories has a long-standing commitment to welcoming everyone,” said Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President of Multicultural Affairs, Marriott International. “This year, as the #LoveTravels movement grows, we are expanding our commitment to include support for Casa Ruby and True Colors Fund, two organizations dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth that help ensure safe and reassuring homes and services so they may thrive.”

On Thursday, June 8 and Friday, June 9, ahead of Capital Pride in Washington, D.C., an art installation will rise in Freedom Plaza in support of LGBTQ homeless youth. Expressions of unconditional acceptance and love in the form of paintings, doodles, photographs and hand-written notes created in-person and on Twitter and Instagram tagged #LoveTravels and #MyPride will be brought to life on the collaborative #LoveTravels Mosaic.

How are they making a positive change?

Throughout the two days, celebrities, influencers and local personalities are scheduled to stop by to add their own expressions of love. In addition, seven Marriott properties, including Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront; The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City; Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel; AC Hotel San Juan; Charlotte Marriott City Center; Moxy New Orleans and Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel & Conference Center, will hold ‘expression sessions’ to invite their guests to create and contribute their own pieces of art to be included in the global #LoveTravels Mosaic.

For every original submission created on site or tagged #LoveTravels and #MyPride on Twitter and Instagram, Marriott will donate to True Colors Fund and Casa Ruby. Working locally, Casa Ruby is the only bilingual multicultural LGBTQ organization providing lifesaving services and safe shelter to many of the most vulnerable transgender residents of Washington D.C. The True Colors Fund is working on a national level to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves, and recently created the first ever True Innovation Fellowship, underwritten by Marriott. The fellowship will provide a young person the opportunity to participate in the development of technology solutions that address homelessness among LGBTQ youth.

Marriott unveiled the first glimpse of the #LoveTravels Mosaic in 2016 with contributions from Laverne Cox, Jazz Jennings, Ross Mathews and thousands of LGBTQ supporters from over 90 countries around the world. This year, actor/activist Tituss Burgess is joining the movement as official ambassador.

“As an advocate for the LGBTQ community, I am proud to stand with Marriott International in support of the True Colors Fund, Casa Ruby and everyone fighting to keep kids and young adults in need of help safe and warm,” said actor Tituss Burgess. “And as a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I am humbled and honored to join in the unveiling of the #LoveTravels Mosaic. It warms my heart to see people from around the world participating in such a powerful expression of love.”

Launched in 2014, #LoveTravels brings to life Marriott’s longstanding commitment to ensuring every person is valued and welcomed whenever they enter the doors of its hotels.  It serves as a platform for sharing diverse perspectives on the importance of travel, including those of Jason Collins, Geena Rocero, Tim Howard Angela Simmons, Diane Guerrero and Diego Boneta.  The cornerstone of Marriott’s culture is its ‘put people first’ philosophy coupled with its belief that everyone deserves a welcome.  Just weeks before marriage equality became the law of the land nationwide, #LoveTravels hosted the wedding of George Carrancho and Sean Franklin in Washington, DC’s Capital Pride Parade, with TV personality Ross Mathews as officiant.  The campaign has also raised donations for recent immigrants at the Open Arms Community Center in South Florida.

Want to learn more?

Liquitex, creators of the first water-based acrylic paints will be donating art supplies for the #LoveTravels Mosaic. To learn more or join the conversation, travelers can visit, follow #LoveTravels and @MarriottIntl on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Marriott International’s commitment to social impact and sustainability dates to our founding and our core value to “Serve Our World.” Through volunteerism, strategic partnerships, charitable giving, and lasting program development, we focus our efforts on social and environmental issues that affect our business, our communities, and our planet. We identify these issues as our Purpose Priorities: Protect the Environment, Advance Human Rights and Cultural Understanding, Empower through Opportunity and Build for the Future. In 2016 alone, Marriott provided over $28M in cash and in-kind support to its local communities, as well as over 720K hours of volunteerism. Awards and recognition for efforts over the years include Ethisphere’s Most Ethical Companies List, Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, Forbes’ Just 100: Best Corporate Citizens List, the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Tourism for Tomorrow Award for Sustainability” and a 100% Score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.


Hospitality industry needs to “plan for the worst” on staff shortages

The hospitality industry needs to “plan for the worst” regarding an imminent labour shortage according to George Vezza, Managing Director, Nestlé Professional UK and Ireland. During a panel discussion at the British Hospitality Association Hospitality Summit 2017, Mr Vezza asked five hospitality professionals how they plan to inspire the future workforce.

He said that the current staff shortage is like “standing on the track knowing that the train is coming” quoting a recent study by KPMG that predicted a 65,000 job shortage per year if the industry didn’t have an EU workforce available.

“Before Brexit staffing was an issue, but now it is going to get a hell of a lot worse,” he said. “Some 75 percent of waiting staff are EU migrants.”

Natalie Cramp, Chief Operating Officer, Careers Enterprise Company said that brands need to open their doors to volunteers. “People volunteer because they want to see what you can offer them and the pathways,” she said.

Ms Cramp also encouraged businesses to “tell their stories better” by going into schools and showcasing the industry. She said: “Get role models into schools and start changing perceptions. Bring someone in who started on the shop floor and worked their way up to the top. I think we have got more of those stories of progression than any other industry.”

Nikki Kelly, Employment and Skills Manager, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation shared Ms Cramp’s enthusiasm for volunteering. The operation recently took on a catering stand in the northern section of the stadium where 12 volunteers can work on match days. “It does better than any other kiosk in the grounds because it supports young people and has become a great employment mechanism.”

Oliver Crofton, founder and CEO of staffing agency Flexy, said that businesses need to appeal to millennials by offering flexible working. “Gig Economy is a temporary, task-based work,” he said. “It’s often given a bad rep because of the few companies that are exploiting it, however, it offers work on a casual basis and that’s what the modern workforce want.”

Andrew Parkinson, Operations Director, Liverpool Football Club said they also rely on flexibility and regularly visit colleges and schools to celebrate the industry. “We recently went out to colleges and assessment centres and spoke to 5,000 people about the club, how they can get involved and start them thinking about entering the industry and starting a career with us,” he said. “One of the most important things is that we offer millennials flexibility and recognise their needs. We have done our best to make jobs available to a widest spectrum as possible.”

Sophie Kilic, Senior Vice-President, Talent and Culture, hotel services UK and Ireland for AccorHotels highlighted an importance in employing a diverse workforce. “If you want to grow as an industry you need to tap into a diverse workforce. For the first time we have promoted as many female general managers as men which is huge for us,” she said.

AccorHotels aim to achieve a total of 35 percent female senior positions across the brand.


Online web portal rentals are riling the hospitality industry

Measures to tax and license “transient accommodations” such as Airbnb online rentals are advancing in the New Jersey Legislature. New Jersey Tourism Industry Association Executive Director Joseph Simonetta outlined an update to an interested audience at a Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting recently.

First, to clarify what the bills are not: They do not apply to listings done through a real estate agency. Instead, the bills intend to regulate rentals done through the up-and-coming online portals.

Mr Simonetta said regulating online transient rental portals is something that the Tourism Industry Association has been “pushing for, for quite some time.”

Reasons given are both to add more income to the state coffers (part of the existing hotel/motel tax goes to support the arts and tourism promotion, Simonetta noted), and for municipalities to be able to license the rentals for safety reasons.

A-4587 “Imposes State sales and use tax and hotel and motel occupancy fee on transient accommodations; authorizes various municipal taxes and fees on transient accommodations,” reads the bill’s definition. It would impose the same taxes and fees on the marketplaces that hotels and motels must pay in the state.

It passed the state Assembly by a 45-29 vote on May 22. It was received in the Senate on May 25 and sent to the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

A related bill, A-4441, is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. With similar wording, it “Authorizes prohibition, or licensure and regulation, of rental of certain space for accommodation of transient guests.”

Taking numerous questions from the audience, Mr Simonetta also clarified what “transient” means in this case.

“A transient basis is under 29 days or less,” he said. “If you’re renting your home on an annual seasonal basis, you’re exempt from this. If you have your home listed with a Realtor … you’re exempt from this.

“What this applies to are those individuals who have turned their home into a transient rental through an online portal.”

The online websites have grown with property owners who want to make some money, and with renters who get more choices if they are willing to take some risk.

The most well known of the new online portals, Airbnb, was used by about 6,100 residents in New Jersey last year, statistics show. A total of about 257,000 people partook in these rooms, apartments and houses. The plan was a moneymaker of $50 million in total to the hosts who rented them out.

As an aside, Mr Simonetta told this true anecdote: “I didn’t know that Airbnb started in San Francisco with four guys who lost a roommate and rented out a room with an air mattress.”

The hospitality industry complains that it is unfair that these accommodations are not taxed when state law does tax hotel and motel rooms. Current law also allows municipalities to impose certain taxes and fees. If legislation is passed and signed by the governor, the law would expand to include the now-debated transient short-term rentals.

Rental websites such as Airbnb and HomeAway “serve an important part of our tourism economy,” Mr Simonetta acknowledged, “just like Uber serves an important service in the transportation industry, but Uber tries to operate outside regulations, and Airbnb and HomeAway are trying to do the same. … We’re trying to capture the people who are in the underground economy, who have absolutely no regulations, no oversight.”

A sponsor of A-4441, Assemblywoman Valeri Vaineri Huttle (D-Bergen), has said: “We want residents and tourists to enjoy the options provided by companies like Airbnb, but not at the expense of neighbors who live there on a permanent basis. This legislation creates a baseline registry that municipalities can implement as they see fit.”

Added Mr Simonetta to the Southern Ocean Chamber audience: “This second bill requires anybody who decides to use their individual home to rent, through (sites such as) Airbnb or HomeAway, to register through their municipality … assume all codes and regulations that you would have to if you were renting your property out on an annual basis.

“It’s basically saying if you are going to take a home in a residential area and turn it into a short-term rental, your neighbors have a right to know about that, the town has a right to know about it, the people that are coming in there have a right to be assured that the property is properly coded for fire and safety hazards – the appropriate things that every other hotel would have to do.”

Municipalities already have statutory authority to regulate whole-house rentals, Mr Simonetta said, but do not currently have that authority with rentals through a web portal.

“That’s what this is, basically; it’s expanding the oversight to include this new technology,” he said.

Web portal companies have been testifying against the proposed legislation. The legislation would take effect immediately if enacted, but observers doubt that it would pass in time to take effect this summer.