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San Francisco hospitality startup opens hotel-Airbnb hybrid in Uptown

You can check in anytime you like, connect to WiFi with the press of a button and relax in a living room all to yourself.

After securing the necessary license this month, Sonder, a San Francisco-based hospitality startup, has opened its first hotel-Airbnb hybrid in Denver.

The startup has leased the entire building at 630 E. 16th Ave. in Uptown, and is calling it The Essex. The three-story building, built in 1908, used to be a hostel but was closed for fire code violations in 2016. Denver-based developer GM Development bought it last year for $2.1 million and began renovations.

“The opportunity to bring a tech-driven model of hospitality to this old, historical part of the city and partner with a developer to bring old and new together, that was so attractive to us,” said Sonder spokesman Mason Harrison.

It’s not the first time Sonder has targeted old buildings to redesign into rentals. In New Orleans, the company is teaming with a developer to renovate a block of units along Canal Street that were damaged by fire; in Chicago, Sonder recently opened in what used to be a boarding school, Harrison said.

Guests booking rooms at The Essex can choose between eight two-bedroom and 11 one-bedroom units. Booking can be done through Sonder’s website or hotel booking sites.

Guests can download the Sonder app to request a late checkout, schedule a cleaning or connect to the building’s WiFi at the touch of a button. Each unit has laundry, keyless locks and Bluetooth speakers, Harrison said.

Sonder will have an onsite employee to help with check-in and any other concierge services. In addition, there also will be a communal area for breakfasts and other snacks for guests.

“Obviously we’re the type of company where we don’t have to have someone always there,” Harrison said. “Your check-in is never required to be done at a physical desk at a Sonder.”

The average nightly rate across all of Sonder’s locations is $129.

Although Sonder markets itself as a cross between a hotel and an Airbnb, it’s more the former in the eyes of the city. Eric Escudero, spokesman for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses, confirmed that Sonder has received a lodging facility license for its spot in Uptown.

That’s the same type of license a traditional hotel would get. Airbnb listings, meanwhile, typically require a short-term rental license, and Denver gives those only to individuals renting out a primary residence.

Denver is the 18th market where Sonder – which has 170 employees in Denver – now offers rooms, joining cities like London, Rome and Montreal. Harrison said the average nightly rate across all of Sonder’s locations is $129.

Sonder has had a presence in the Denver market; it leased 30,000 square feet of warehouse and office space in Thornton last year for a customer service hub. Since then, the startup also has leased warehouse space at 2488 W. 2nd Ave. in Denver, the former headquarters of survival gear company Survival Frog.

The company has plans to operate more units in Denver, although Harrison declined to discuss specifics, saying the company was waiting on permits and other logistics.

“It would be impossible to speculate how many units we’d have by the end of the year,” he said. “We hope it’s a lot. We think that Denver obviously has become such a huge hub of hospitality. It was just a question of when, not if, we’d expand there.”

Source:https://businessden.com/2019/04/15/san-francisco-hospitality-startup-opens-hotel-airbnb-hybrid-in-uptown/

Hyatt Expands Loyalty Program to Include Its Two Roads Hospitality Brands

Hyatt Hotels is expanding its World of Hyatt loyalty program to incorporate properties from a recent expansion. In October of 2018, the acquisition-hungry hotel chain announced its intent to acquire Two Roads Hospitality, a network of 85 properties and several brands around the world. Now, Hyatt is releasing plans to incorporate those properties piecemeal into its loyalty program.

This follows a similar move Marriott last year when it consolidated its Starwood loyalty members into one program with Marriott’s, now called Bonvoy.

When it was acquired, Two Roads Hospitality oversaw 85 properties across the Alila, Destination, Joie de Vivre, Thompson and Tommie brands. The first batch of properties getting incorporated into World of Hyatt will be those of Thompson Hotels. For stays starting on March 28th, 2019, World of Hyatt members can earn and book points at eight of nine of the Thompson Hotels including the Thompson Chicago, Gild Hall and The Beekman in New York, the Thompson Nashville and the Thompson Seattle.

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World of Hyatt’s loyalty program assigns hotels to categorized tiers which dictate how many points each award night will cost. According to the team at Chicago-based Hyatt, most Thompson hotels will be assigned to award category 6, where rooms cost 25,000 points/night. The Thompson Seattle will be assigned category 5 while Gild Hall and the Thompson Chicago will both be in category 4. The most expensive hotels in World of Hyatt’s award chart are assigned to category 8.

On May 15, Joie de Vivre’s 22 hotel properties will be added into the fold. After that, Alila and Destination hotels are slated for incorporation into World of Hyatt, though the group hasn’t got an official timeline for those properties yet.

In total, Hyatt currently has plans to incorporate just over 60 Two Roads Hospitality properties into its World of Hyatt network through the year, which leaves about 15 remaining from the acquisition. Many of those remaining properties, such as the Thompson Playa del Carmen, have a unique relationship with Hyatt that may not permit it to join World of Hyatt, but as the hotel chain continues to forge partnerships it expects to release news through the year.

The addition of Two Roads Properties into the World of Hyatt program will eventually expand the program 5 to 10 percent up from the brand’s current portfolio of around 775 hotels. That’ll keep Hyatt solidly in the boutique category compared to monoliths like Hilton Worldwide and Marriott, which oversee about 5,200 and 6,500 properties respectively. For loyal World of Hyatt members, however it’ll be a significant expansion.

Source: https://skift.com/2019/03/27/hyatt-expands-loyalty-program-to-include-its-two-roads-hospitality-brands/

Hotel industry grapples with minimum-wage hikes

he federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25 an hour, but that doesn’t mean everyone adheres to that amount. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia pay a minimum wage that is higher than the federal one. Because these plans already are set in stone, and other states are at the bargaining table to follow suit, hoteliers are wondering how these increases will impact the overall industry and their ability to pay their employees—or even keep their doors open.

The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association voiced its opposition to one such minimum-wage increase in February. Illinois passed an initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, which is in line with the targets set by a number of states. IH&LA President/CEO Michael Jacobson said that such an increase may be necessary in large cities such as Chicago, but he expressed concern that many hotels throughout rural Illinois will be burdened by the increase and may face financial hardship going forward.

“There is a common misconception that hotels are cash cows and are generating huge profits. If you look property by property, the profit individual hotels generate is razor thin,” Jacobson said. “If you decrease that profit margin … many may have to consider cutting back or even closing their doors.”

Jacobson is in favor of raising minimum wage based on economic factors related to geography and an area’s median cost of living. Liz Washko, shareholder in the Nashville office of labor and employment law firm Ogletree Deakins, said employers already are grappling with rising materials costs in all aspects of business, from construction to restaurant purchasing, as well as increasing healthcare costs. A rising minimum wage, she said, will have an adverse impact on the entire hotel business.

“Some hoteliers will be positioned to adapt to this, but you will see some businesses close,” Washko said.

Monster Under the Bed

Dave Morrison, principal at Chicago law firm Goldberg Kohn, is skeptical of just how much potential minimum-wage increases will impact hospitality. He pointed out that the American Hotel & Lodging Association already claims that the hotel industry consistently employs workers above the minimum wage, so he doesn’t think other increases will have a dramatic result on the industry’s operations.

Morrison also chose to dispel rumors that a higher minimum wage would discourage future hotel development, pointing specifically to Seattle. There, the minimum wage was increased to $11 an hour in 2015 for companies with more than 500 workers, and has reached $16 per hour as of January 2019. According to data from Lodging Econometrics, Seattle had 15 hotel projects under development in Q4 2014—that number reached 27 projects in Q42016 and 23 projects by Q4 2018. While this is just one area of the country, and a large city to boot, Seattle has seen an overall increase in its development pipeline.

Minimum-wages increases also may increase competition for workers from neighboring states, Morrison said. As Illinois’ minimum wage increases, neighboring states such as Iowa, which retains an average minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, may see difficulty attracting workers. This problem is further complicated in areas with a high cost of living.

“One interesting phenomenon we have is that in high-cost, touristy areas hotel companies are having a harder time finding people to work in their hotels because the cost of living is so high,” Morrison said. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and I appreciate the concerns that are expressed by more rural locations regarding these increases.”

Never Enough

On the other hand, some consider a $15 minimum wage to be too little. Unite Here, a labor union in the U.S. and Canada with more than 265,000 active members, successfully organized a series of strikes against multiple Marriott International hotels in 2018, and at the Westin San Diego the union negotiated a $24-an-hour wage that will go into effect by 2022.

“The idea that the minimum wage is a living wage is a falsehood. There should be no rush to the bottom, and we can do better,” said Unite Here press secretary Rachel Gumpert. “Even $15 an hour doesn’t cut it in most major cities, especially in North America. In San Francisco, $15 an hour can leave people on the brink of homelessness. The floor should not be set so low.”

Despite scheduled increases in minimum wages already approved throughout the U.S., Washko said she anticipates tensions between employers and employees seeking greater pay and benefits to persist. However, Gumpert is adamant that the hospitality business is capable of offering workers what they demand.

“We negotiated with Marriott first because they are the biggest in this space, and if Marriott wouldn’t agree to our standards than no smaller organization would follow suit,” Gumpert said. “The challenge for employers is that if they aren’t solvent enough to pay employees a living wage, they can’t afford to run their business. Workers take pay cuts and pay freezes after every economic downturn. Now we are in a positive period, and they haven’t seen any benefit.”

Source:https://www.hotelmanagement.net/operate/hotel-industry-forced-to-adapt-to-inevitable-minimum-wage-increases

Visit Buffalo Niagara drives record tourism to Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo reached new heights as a visitor destination in 2018. Opening new attractions, hotels, restaurants and breweries, the region has set tourism records.

Visit Buffalo Niagara released new figures showing the record amounts of tourism brought to the area.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Hotel room revenue in Erie County set a new record in 2018 of $257 million, an increase of $40 million from five years ago.
  • Tourism spending in Erie County now totals $1.8 billion, growing by 11 percent over the last five years.
  • Tourism employment has grown by 10 percent in five years, now supporting 33 thousand jobs.
  • Visit Buffalo Niagara generated a record amount of out-of-town media coverage about Buffalo, placing more than 230 stories and hosting more than 50 travel media on press visits.
  • VBN’s sales team and the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission collectively booked nearly 500 future meetings and sporting events worth $116 million in future economic impact. These events will fill more than 136 thousand hotel rooms.

Source: https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/visit-buffalo-niagara-drives-record-tourism-to-western-new-york

Hyatt expands Vietnam footprint with island resort

The resort is located on Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc. Half of the island is within the confines of the country’s national park and UNESCO World Heritage-designated Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest such reserves in Southeast Asia. The reserve covers an extensive area of tropical rain forests, coral reefs and wetlands and is home to hundreds of species of plants and wild animals.

Public spaces include four dining venues, the An Mai Spa, an outdoor pool and an indoor fitness center.

This is the second Hyatt-branded property announced for Phu Quoc island in as many weeks. In March, affiliates of Hyatt Hotels Corp.and BIM Group agreed to develop a 110-room Park Hyatt Phu Quoc hotel, as well as 65 residences. Slated to open in 2022, the hotel will be the brand’s first resort in Vietnam.

In addition, an affiliate of Ben Thanh Holdings entered into a management agreement with Hyatt to develop a Hyatt Place in Ho Chi Minh City. The 200-room Hyatt Place Saigon Phu Nhuan will mark that brand’s launch in Vietnam.

By: Jena Tesse Fox

Source: https://www.hotelmanagement.net/development/hyatt-expands-vietnam-footprint-island-resort

How A Hotel Earned Five Stars For Five Years

It’s difficult to earn a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award — only 20 percent of all hotels rated attain the honor — but it’s even harder to maintain it. The Langham, Chicago hit a hot streak, winning the top accolade for five years in a row. The 52-story riverfront hotel also holds the distinction of having the only Five-Star spa in the city.

We talked to hotel managing director Robert Schofield to find out what it takes to achieve excellence year after year, the most underrated amenity at the property and what you should do on your next Chicago visit.

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Take A Dip In The Pool THE LANGHAM, CHICAGO

What’s The Langham, Chicago’s secret to continual Five-Star success?

The Langham brand itself was not very well-known in the United States when we decided to build the Chicago company, and therefore we were faced with some real big challenges in terms of our competition because we have some really great hotels here in Chicago — the Peninsula, the Waldorf and the Ritz.

We said, “Okay, how are we going to introduce a sort of limited name, not a lot of recognition, a Five-Star property against the big brands?” The only way we could do that was to establish the best hotel.

We set about seeing what standards we would need to do that. [We blended] in the Forbes [Travel Guide] standards into Langham brand standards and then basically created a vision for all our colleagues that we employ.

Most importantly, with any product at all, it’s the consistency of that product. So to make sure that we were consistent in what is a human service type of business is in many ways much more challenging than creating a motorcar or suit or any other product that you put to the public. They can test it before they go out, and therefore the guest gets something that has already been checked as being perfect.

Human beings aren’t quite the same in terms of being perfect, and we have to instill a culture into the hotel whereby each colleague actually feels ownership of our product. And through ownership of our product, they have to engage with our guests, they effectively have to take that ownership to deal with any guest inquiry at any point in time. And through tens and twenties of thirties of contact points in that whole of the guest experience, not one of those can be adverse. Because as we all know, the one that you remember is the one that doesn’t go well.

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Infinity Suite THE LANGHAM, CHICAGO

We don’t employ guest relations managers in the hotel, which is odd. I know many, many Five-Star hotels do. The philosophy behind that was really every single colleague has to take responsibility to be the guest relations manager. So effectively everybody has to take action on the spot to meet the needs of the guest. The key thing there is each and every one of our colleagues is personally empowered to do that. We expect it from every one of our colleagues. And we orientate them to that right at the beginning. We try to employ colleagues that are willing to take ownership, that are naturally hospitable, keen to please the guest, and this will create a total environment whereby everybody is a guest relations manager.

If we have guests who leave without great memories, we have failed. We have a beautiful stage, a beautiful hotel. But a stage is a stage, and at the end of the day, it’s the performance on that stage that creates the memories for our guests.

To make something consistent, you have to have processes in place. Once those processes are in place, you have to continually review what your colleagues are doing. The same way that if you were a producer of a stage production, you would be watching what everybody was doing on that stage all of the time to make sure everything was perfect and was in accordance in what your goals and objectives were.

We have the same attitude with our departmental managers. They effectively have their stages via the Pavilion restaurant, Travelle restaurant or spa. It doesn’t matter which location in the hotel — the manager in charge of that, it’s their show. They have to watch the body language, they have to watch the reactions of our colleagues towards guests and basically make sure they are in full compliance with the training we’ve given them.

But most of all, it’s hiring the right people who actually want to do this and want to be part of building the reputation of the hotel, maintaining the reputation of the hotel.

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Pavilion THE LANGHAM, CHICAGO

What are the biggest challenges of running a Five-Star hotel?

The biggest challenge is to be better every day. You can never rest on your laurels, you have to effectively all day, every day, look at every aspect of the operation and see how it can be better, whether the maintenance department, the kitchen, the restaurant, the spa — the whole team has to continually be looking to see how they can get better.

Challenges come and go. The market conditions in a hotel change. Sometimes you’ll have a bigger demand in the marketplace, sometimes a lesser demand. Maybe new hotels are built and that becomes challenge, because now the guest has more opportunities. We have to build guest loyalty through their interactions with us so they will continually come back and spend time with us.

The challenges going forward: it’s a tight labor market in Chicago and nationally. We have to make sure we hire the right people. We only hire 2 percent of the applicants that actually apply to us. We have to make sure we retain the colleagues we have, and we do that through a big concentration on our colleagues in terms of what their individual needs are for the next five years. We look at the succession planning processes that we incorporate into the hotel. We train people, we recognize and respect each and every our colleagues for the part they play. At the end of the day, it’s a one team, one dream situation. Our goal now is to become a legendary Langham.

In your five years of having the Five-Star award, how has the luxury traveler changed?

I think much more casual elegance as opposed to formal elegance. Things don’t change drastically over a five-year period. But things tend to evolve. The world is a much more casual environment. We maintain a graciousness. We definitely don’t want to be formal and stuffy — and we never were when we opened the hotel.

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Travelle THE LANGHAM, CHICAGO

What’s an underrated feature at the hotel?

I think the club lounge on the 13th floor. Many hotels in the past had butlers that went to guest rooms and knocked on doors to ask if guests effectively wanted any services.

We incorporated our butlers into our club lounge, which is a very unique, relaxing area with food available for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. And that has been so popular. The panoramic view covers Lake Michigan and the whole of the riverwalk and the river itself.

The goal of the butlers in the club lounge is to have a private check-in facility and very much a personalized level of service whereby the guest meets the butlers all day long, rather than just meeting them when they have tea in a normal situation. Now the butlers get the guests the minute they arrive, they check them in, they escort them to the room, they provide other services for them if they want a bath run or want their luggage unpacked.

How has Chicago changed in the six years you’ve been at the Langham?

We’ve seen a very lovely evolvement on the Chicago Riverwalk whereby the walking and entertainment area has been expanded for a great distance all the way up to Lake Street. That is literally what we look out onto — the Chicago Riverwalk and the Chicago River. So that’s been much more of a leisure destination now, which has brought a lot of business down into this part of town where we are located.

What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?

The riverwalk. You have all the restaurants, you have the kayaking — it’s lovely. The architectural tour is obviously right outside our windows, and that is such a popular thing for anybody coming to Chicago.

If you want to go a little further north, you can go to Lincoln Park. I personally love that area for walking dogs. It has a zoo, it has the lakefront down there, it has a lot of people sunbathing during the summer months and bicycling up and down there all year round. It’s a really memorable section of Chicago, for sure.

By: Jennifer Kester and Forbes Travel Guide. Source: Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2019/04/01/how-a-hotel-earned-five-stars-for-five-years/#1b74647f7c22

Female-Friendly Hospitality: How to Make Your Hotel Appeal to Women

Following the global outpoor on International Women’s day last March 8 (2019), hoteliers around the world should take some time to look into a very important market segment, the solo female traveler. Tapping into and capitalizing on new and growing niches such as solo and experience-focused travel has become a major asset for hotel manager, but also to open up new revenue streams. “Female-friendly” is one such niche, which is now experiencing considerable growth in the hospitality industry.

Women make up half the business travel sector, they are in charge of 85% of household purchasing decisions, and more female travellers are asking for a room for one. Therefore, your hotel has a lucrative opportunity if you can take advantage of this growing trend for female-focused hospitality. This of course doesn’t mean employing old stereotypes such as displaying flowers or scented candles, but rather proposing practical solutions to problems, while also ensuring that you appeal to men too. Join me in this article as we look at how to transform your hotel into a female-friendly point of reference, to attract first-time female guests and entice them to come back for repeat stays.

How to Become a Female-Friendly Hotel

1. OFFER NIGHT-TIME AIRPORT PICK-UP

You can offer your female guests peace of mind when they arrive at what is usually for them an unfamiliar city with direct hotel transfer from the airport at night time.

This way you remove the potential worry of finding their way with luggage after dark. And after a long flight, this can be the perfect way to greet your guests and welcome them to enjoy their hospitality experience with you.

2. KIT OUT ROOMS WITH HIGH-QUALITY FEMALE-SPECIFIC BEAUTY AND SHOWER PRODUCTS

Small details are often what turn a four-star review into five, or what compels a guest to want to return. While many hotels offer generic bathroom products with little quality differentiation, you can stand head and shoulders above your competition by providing high-quality soap, shampoo, creams and more, designed specifically for women and/or girls.

You can also offer different types of products for different age groups. This includes leveraging the appeal of other niches here, such as sustainability by offering environmentally thoughtful products.

3. OFFER SUPERIOR EXTRAS THAT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

Many women and girls use devices such as hair straighteners, curlers and powerful dryers. Other often desirable items include a good iron, meditation and exercise matt, makeup, nail polish and nail polish remover. You can focus on their relaxation needs, with a selection of teas and coffees and other refreshments, as well as popular magazines and books, among other add-ons.

As an additional add-on, you can solve the problem of forgetting to pack something, which 73% of female travellers do. Offering a service to purchase or otherwise provide replacements for forgotten items is something else to consider.

4. ADD A TOUCH OF LUXURY WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

You can make your female guests feel like they are in the lap of luxury with some subtle offerings. These can include thick, comfortable bathrobes and towels; pleasant aromas; extra closet space; a full-length beautifying mirror as well as night table; and modern, stylish bedding, sheets and duvets.After all, who doesn’t want to feel pampered?

5. TRAIN YOUR STAFF TO BE HIGHLY DETAIL-ORIENTED

Conscious staff take care of the small details, pay attention to the unique needs of each female guest, and understand when discretion is required in order to provide the best service possible.

This extends to room location. Women are more likely to experience sleep problems than men, so a mindful exercise on your hotel’s part is to room female guests away from guests who are likelier to be noisy, and to avoid the ground floor or end of a corridor.

Otherwise, attention to food allergies or preferences, by including vegan and gluten-free options help your hotel to appeal to a wider audience.

6. EMPLOY STAFF WITH SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE OF LOCAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WOMEN.

For solo and group female guests, you can publish recommendations for activities, entertainment and so forth on your website. For a bespoke experience, your staff can also speak to your female guests directly.

This also gives you the opportunity to organize and sell solo female and group activity packages, as well as partner with local businesses, which can create a snowball business generation impact in other ways.

7. IMPLEMENT A 24-HOUR MANNED FRONT DESK AND OTHER SECURITY MEASURES

To make female guests feel completely safe while staying at your hotel, you can implement a series of security measures. A 24-hour manned front desk is critical. The employee on shift should always be contactable via a phone call from your guests’ rooms, although for additional peace of mind, you can offer other communication methods such as WhatsApp.

Other measures include double locks on room doors, a code at the main entrance, and room alarms.

Source: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4092571.html

Trend digest – hotel loyalty programs in 2017

A good loyalty program usually forms the backbone of a hotel’s business strategy, but thanks to changing consumer behaviour and expectations, the landscape is changing.

We take a look at the trends emerging in 2017, and how hoteliers can adapt to the evolving world of loyalty programs.

What to expect from hotel loyalty programs in 2017 – US News

Personalisation is the name of the game in 2017, according to top loyalty executives in the hotel industry. And with this increased focus on individualised value, loyalty members can expect more flexibility, earning opportunities and better options for redeeming points.

“When it comes to loyalty, transaction-based relationships are no longer enough. Consumers want meaningful, personal relationships,” – Liz Crisafi, head of loyalty, partnerships and portfolio marketing at InterContinental Hotels Group.

Looking at everything from expanded buying power, new benefits and smart apps, here’s what we can expect to see more of as loyalty programs evolve in 2017.

Read the full article >>

Fifteen mind-blowing stats about loyalty – CMO

Did you know that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones? Or that 57% of consumers want to engage with their loyalty programs via mobile devices, but 49% don’t know whether there is an app associated with their loyalty program? Stats collected by CMO help paint a better picture of the landscape hoteliers find themselves operating in today.

“Building loyalty today means a lot more than handing out points. Meeting customer expectations at every step in the journey is the new mandate for loyalty marketing.” – CMO

But what are these expectations, and how are loyalty marketers meeting them?

Read the full article >>

Travel Trends for 2017: Loyalty Programs Evolve – Fuel Travel Marketing

Competition is fierce in the loyalty program industry, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. But hotel brands are learning that by providing innovative incentives that foster loyalty, they can compete just as fiercely without cutting profits.

“There are now over 3-billion loyalty programs in the United States alone. Now consider the entire population of the United States, approximately 325-million. That is a vast gap that clearly demonstrates the competitive battleground that loyalty programs have entered,” – Meisha Bochicchio, marketing specialist at Fuel Travel Marketing

Bigger certainly isn’t better in the loyalty market, at least not anymore. Often it’s the little things – like simplifying loyalty programs or offering smaller perks that guests can cash in on quicker – that count towards satisfaction and long-term retention.

Read the full article >>

The Shrinking Value of Hotel Loyalty Programs – Hospitality Upgrade

On the other side of the coin, it’s argued that people prioritise the convenience of a hotel’s location over loyalty to a particular brand, and thus hotel loyalty programs are losing their appeal to the modern business traveller.

“After reviewing five of the major brand loyalty programs, I realise more than ever that I cannot be the only one with a razor sharp focus on location over brand. If the industry continues to see more devaluations and major changes, maybe the points and loyalty game will finally lose its appeal.” – Vikram Singh, hospitality expert

Fostering true loyalty is going to be increasingly difficult for hotel brands in 2017 and beyond, and it will be interesting to see how they adapt.

Read the full article >>

The best hotel loyalty programs for 2017 – Smarter Travel

With literally billions of loyalty programs to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck? With the landscape of hotel loyalty changing in 2017, Smarter Travel looks at 10 of the best programs on the market today.

“We view hotel loyalty programs through the lens of “ordinary” travelers, leisure or business, who travel enough to take advantage of a loyalty program but not enough to be considered road warriors. Our credit-card scoring was based strictly on points per dollar charged, without regard to enrollment bonuses.” – Smarter Travel

Smarter Travel used an in-depth methodology to determine its top entrants. Do you agree with this list?

IHG reveals insight into the world’s most exquisite seasonal dishes

IHG reveals insight into the world’s most exquisite seasonal dishes

IHG®, (InterContinental® Hotels Group), today announces that InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest luxury hotel brand, has created a new global Culinary Calendar, designed to be a snapshot of five-star seasonal dishes for food and travel enthusiasts around the world.

The new seasonal map showcases world-class dining experiences available to guests throughout the year, in every corner of the globe. From unique dining destinations to signature dishes created by an enviable roster of renowned chefs, the Culinary Calendar illustrates the brand’s unwavering commitment to offering the best seasonal and local cuisines; a practice which over seven decades, has seen InterContinental Hotels & Resorts establish itself as the ideal getaway for luxury leisure and business travellers with a discerning palate.

Plating up 81 million meals annually, it takes a team of highly skilled and dedicated chefs to maintain InterContinental Hotels & Resorts’ luxury dining legacy. With several Michelin-starred restaurants across the portfolio and a team of internationally acclaimed chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Theo Randall, Jason Atherton, Alain Ducasse, and Martha Ortiz, who is soon to join the team, the brand remains at the forefront of luxury travel and dining.

Featured in the new Culinary Calendar and leading the growing food trend to offer versatile and innovative seafood-inspired menus, InterContinental Santiago’s signature Seafood Ceviche served in Autumn, perfectly demonstrates the ‘ocean-to-plate concept’ with its octopus, shrimp and squid, caught and served on the same day. Adding to the culturally authentic dining experience, the ceviche is paired with a traditional Pisco Sour cocktail, a recipe that originated in the region.

Across the Pacific Ocean to Japan, the Winter menu at InterContinental-ANA Tokyo offers guests Tokyo’s highest grade Blowfish Sashimi, one of the country’s most exclusive seafood delicacies sourced from the famed Tsukiji Market. For lovers of lobster, InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is the place to visit in Spring, with the famous and locally sourced, Blue Lobster served alongside InterContinental’s classic Old Fashioned Worldly Classic Cocktail.

Ginger Taggart, Vice President Global Brand Strategy, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts said: “As leaders in international luxury travel for more than 70 years, we are continually innovating to meet the changing tastes of the world’s most discerning travellers. Along with the InterContinental brand’s rich heritage and expertise, our community of great chefs and Restaurant & Bar teams across over 180 properties worldwide, means we are uniquely placed to deliver unrivalled and truly authentic dining experiences year-round, in every corner of the globe.”

Also featured in the Culinary Calendar is InterContinental Bali Resort, located in one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations. The hotel’s renowned Summer signature dish,Marinated Duck in Pepes Tahuserved with sautéed chilli vegetables, is the resort’s most sought-after menu item and is perfectly complemented by aWhite Two Island Sangria, made with Balinese white wine and local tropical fruits.

For guests travelling to North-America, InterContinental Los Angeles Century City offers mouth-wateringSeared Diver Scallops with carrot-lime purée and local purple cauliflower during the Autumn months. Using succulent scallops caught in the nearby Gulf of California, the speciality dish is full of vibrant colours and textures to reflect the changing colours of the season and is complemented by a Mexicali Garden cocktail, flavoured with herbs and fruit grown in California.

With a seven-decade heritage in restaurant and bar excellence, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has catered for some of the world’s most illustrious people, from Princess Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Martin Luther King, to The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Queen Elizabeth II. Embarking on a new era in luxury travel, the brand continues to grow and evolve its culinary expertise to offer guests the very best five-star local cuisine in every corner of the globe.

First Hospitality Group Expands Team Of Hospitality Professionals

Rosemont, Ill. – First Hospitality Group, Inc. (FHG), a leading hotel management, acquisition and development company, announced that it has hired Edward Rohn as director of construction and development, two additional hospitality professionals and promoted four team members. FHG President and CEO Bob Habeeb made the announcement.

“As we continue on our growth trajectory and move forward with some very big and exc iting new developments in our pipeline, it’s crucial that we have the right leadership team in place,” said Habeeb. “Each of these individuals will play a key role in contributing to the overall growth and success of our company and ensuring that we are consistently delivering a positive experience for guests at our existing properties, and gearing up to deliver those same great experiences at the properties in our development pipeline.”

Edward Rohn comes to FHG with over 30 years of experience in construction and development working with real estate developers and property owners. Rohn will serve as FHG’s director of construction and development, where he will be responsible for implementing hotel developments and redevelopments throughout the Midwest.

Kevin Carlin has been hired as the Director of Sales & Marketing of FHG’s Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton—Hilton’s first triple-brand hotelâ �”at McCormick Place, where he will be responsible for building and driving sales and promoting the hotel within the Chicago community. Prior to joining FHG, Carlin served as the assistant director of sales at the Hilton O’Hare/Hilton Rosemont Complex.

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience Jeffrey Hassan will serve as the general manager at FHG’s Renaissance Toledo Downtown. Prior to joining FHG, he served as general manager in a number of different hotels for the Westmont Hospitality Group, Remington Hotels and Hilton & DoubleTree Oceanside Hotels.

Gabriela Rizzo Rinkle, who has been with FHG for two years as the assistant general manager of the Hampton Inn Majestic Chicago Theatre District, has been promoted to the general manager where she will be responsible for increasing revenue and coaching and empowering associates to achieve company goals.

Previously serving as the General Manager at FHG’s Residence Inn by Marriott Omaha D owntown, Kyle Highberg has been promoted to the general manager of the company’s DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasant Prairie Kenosha.

Penny Lenz has been promoted from director of operations for Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Downtown to the general manager for Home2 Suites by Hilton Louisville NuLu Medical District, which broke ground in late 2016 and is expected to open in September 2017. Lenz will oversee all operational and sales responsibilities.

Additionally, FHG’s Sylwia Oak, formerly a general manager at the company’s Hilton Garden Inn Minneapolis Airport Mall of America, has transferred to FHG’s Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale as a general manager and David Laukkonen has transferred from the company’s Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale as a general manager to The Hilton Garden Inn Bloomington.

“Our team members’ happiness and quality of life is of utmost importance to us and these transitions will allow both Sylwia and Dav id to continue their development as general managers, while also allowing them to work much closer to where they live,” said Habeeb.

Having been recognized in 2016 as No. 1 in Travel in Forbes America’s Best Midsize Employers 2016, No. 28 overall, and No. 3 amongst all of America’s best travel companies, FHG moved up to a No.19 ranking out of the 250 best midsize employers in the country in 2017 and No. 1 in the travel category for the second year in a row. FHG is one of only 25 companies to ever place on the Forbes list two consecutive years.