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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.

The Life of a Hotel Doctor – A No-show

When there was no response after my third knock, I experienced a familiar sinking feeling. Under the category “no show,” my database reveals 41 entries.

I phoned the room, but there was no answer. At the front desk, the clerks assured me that I had the correct number, and that they had no idea where the guest might be. A security officer opened the room and confirmed that it was empty.

For mysterious reasons, guests occasionally wait downstairs. I wandered through the lobby and restaurants. With my beard, suit, and black bag, I look exactly like a doctor, and now and then my quarry jumps up and identifies themselves. Not this time.

“When do you plan to arrive?” asked a desk clerk who phoned an hour later, adding that my guest had been waiting in the lobby. When I spoke to the guest, he insisted that he’d “told the hotel” where he could be found. Guests respond badly to a suggestion that they pay for two visits, so I simply went back.

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

In a series of pieces on luxury hospitality based on interviews with leading hoteliers in Paris, Suzanne Godfrey examines key pillars that define the luxury hotel, or more specially, the Palace. Here she explores the need for the soul – the tangible and intangible, something that’s not wholly definable.

So far we’ve examined two key pillars of luxury hospitality: quality and consistency; and service and the emotional connection. Here we turn our attention to the third and final pillar: the soul of the luxury hotel or Palace. It’s a concept that’s hard to define, a confluence of elements that uniquely come together. We’ve talked about some of these before in the earlier articles but here we will bring them together in the context of creating a soul. It’s a result of history and heritage; one reason why some people in the industry question whether the newer hotels in Paris – The Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, and Shangri-La – deserve the official designation of “Palace”, simply because they are too new.

As Laurence Bloch, Deputy Manager of the Plaza Athénée, Paris, says in terms of the history of the hotel, “of course, for me, you need a soul.” At a new hotel, she adds, you can’t create a soul. You have the ghost or you don’t have them … For me when I go into the Ritz Paris or the Bristol or the Plaza, it’s very different … to The Peninsula or Shangri-La.”

But it’s not just about history and heritage. It’s the result of other tangible elements: the location, the people – the creator and his or her vision, the clientele past and present, and employees – plus the resulting intangibles. Together, they make up the soul. This is not created overnight but as in all things luxury, it takes time. 50 years. 100 years. Or more…

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

Location: Where you are matters

According to Bloch, location is “very important for a luxury brand.” Your location makes a statement about who you are or who you aspire to be. It also defines your positioning in luxury. This applies to luxury hotels and not just Palaces, and is important for any luxury brand, not just in hospitality.

Take, for example, the locations of the Palace hotels in Paris. Their addresses range from the place Vendôme, rue St.- Honoré, rue de Rivoli, avenue Montaigne, avenue Kléber off la place Charles de Gaulle, avenue d’Iéna close to the Trocadéro, avenue George V, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, place de la Concorde and avenue Hoche. Each arrondissement, each street – in fact its exact location on a street – brings with it a different character and a different expectation. For example, the Ritz: the center of haute joallerie; the Plaza Athénée: haute couture; Le Meurice: art and culture, as well as reflecting the elegance of the Tuileries Garden; Le Royal Monceau Raffles: local and residential … And, as a result, the hotel attracts a different clientele. The location, a sense of destination, a “sense of place” is important.

François Delahaye, Chief Operating Office of the Dorchester Collection and General Manager of Plaza Athénée, Paris, also stresses the importance of location. The luxury hotel, he says, needs to have a sense of history: “You need to have life. You cannot create a Palace out of nowhere. You need to be in the center of what’s happening. Your hotel needs to be the place to be.”

He continues: “The hotel needs to be the place to be inside also. By having all those restaurants, all those bars, which are bringing the Parisian within the city to have a coffee, to have a gastronomic meal at Alain Ducasse, to have use of the spa, to have use of the restaurants. (For) foreigners, when they are choosing a hotel, I think what is important for them is to be in the middle of what is going on in Paris.”.

Heritage: Defining who you are

The hotel’s history and heritage define who you are and what you are. Together they enhance the brand and are the result of the creator, the people (employees, clientele), the location, and ‘things’ that create the Palace, which are unique to the brand and the property.

As we highlighted in an earlier article on redefining luxury in hospitality, the brand’s heritage defines its unique signatures – what characterizes the hotel that is emblematic of the past and provides consistency into the future. For the Ritz Paris: the gold swan taps and room key, peach towels, the Hemingway and Ritz Bars, the acknowledgements to Coco Chanel that extend from the Coco Chanel Suite (almost always booked) to Chanel au Ritz, the newly-opened spa that offers the “art of skincare by Chanel.” For the Plaza Athénée: the color red and geraniums, the relationship with Dior that extends into expressions of haute couture and the Dior Institute. In everything there is a story that initially creates and then builds on the heritage of the hotel. For The Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-La, their heritage is of course Asian.

Heritage is also created through an iconic building, which has its own history and adds to the soul of individual properties.

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

Luxury and the creator

Luxury is always about the creator – their vision and, ultimately, their creations; and is fundamental to who they are as a brand. The same is true for luxury hotels. Consider César Ritz. Or, Charles-Augustine Meurice, a French postmaster in the business of transportation. He recognized the need – and opportunity – for English guests traveling from London to Paris to have somewhere to rest on arrival. Hence the location of Le Meurice but also a hotel designed with the (English) traveler in mind, which included an English bar, more like a Gentleman’s club, where English was spoken.

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

The clientele: Creating history and myths

The clientele help create not just the history but also the hotel’s aura. They create the distance – important to luxury – and its reputation, and the aspiration. They lend the hotel a unique ambience and character, adding to the ‘ego’ of the establishment. They help create the magic and the dream. They don’t need to be famous clients as such; all clients have the capacity to do this to some extent.

“(In) all those outstanding ‘old ladies’ there is a soul and that soul can only be given by clients (famous or otherwise),.” says Delahaye. “I think there is a soul there. They are looking for something.”

The Ritz Paris, for example, had a number of literary and artistic clientele, along with well-known aristocrats, who have helped create the mythology and stamped their own mark on the place. From Charlie Chaplin to Chanel, from Proust to Hemmingway. The Plaza Athénée attacted its share of film stars and celebrities but also had links with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the fashion world of Christian Dior. After the war, Dior gave his models money to hang around the bar at the Plaza, in order to be seen. The tactic (and gossip) worked and the relationship benefited both the hotel and the House of Dior.

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

But it’s not just about the past. Today’s clientele also have an impact on the soul of the hotel and its current ambience. As Aaron Kaupp, General Manager of Le Royal Monceau Raffles, explains, when you’re traveling you don’t want to be constantly surrounded by expats and tourists. He says the clientele at his hotel’s F&B outlets are all locals. “You want to hang out where the locals hang out. Because 95 per cent of the time, where the locals hang out are the authentic spots and it makes you really get to live the culture.” Whether past or present, the clients are important to creating the soul of the hotel.

The employees: Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Employees convey the hotel’s unique culture, its DNA and spirit. They deliver a particular style of service based on the brand’s values and its service philosophy. They reflect the past, they represent the present, and they help create the future.

Just to demonstrate how important employees are, the Ritz Paris rehired more than 200 people when the hotel reopened last year. Consequently, they now have a combination of “old” – or rather former staff – plus new staff. “Ex” staff have the knowledge and experience; retaining them was important. They help provide the familiarity and the recognition – as a guest, you know them and they know you. They have the ‘memory’, which helps deliver the personal service and consistency. “Guests find the same service but with a little twist, something different … (because) we introduced new trends, new things,” says Jean-Pierre Trevisan, the hotel’s Director of Operations.

It’s not just about qualifications and diplomas – although they help of course. Sébastien Chebaiki, who handles guest relations at the Plaza Athénée, Paris, says: “It’s about knowing your client, plus (having) a genuine attitude. You do it because you want to do it and not because you get paid for it. It’s about the detail. Just small things … It’s understanding the psychology of the guest.” That means having the right attitude and possessing the human touch. This isn’t something you can accomplish through training. It’s about being innovative, caring, passionate and committed. In short, it’s more than just a job.

It’s also about giving employees the autonomy to make decisions on the spot and be empowered to act spontaneously on them. That comes with trust; in hiring the right people with the right attitude. People that genuinely care and are sensitive to the client’s needs, who can read their body language and interpret the guest’s tone of voice. And, as a manager, being a good role model and able to connect with employees.

The overall experience: The ‘wow!’ effect

Finally, the soul is a result of the overall experience you create. The sum of all the things we’ve highlighted.

Delahaye, of the Dorchester Collection and Plaza Athénée, talks of creating a ‘wow!’ experience. “I think we are selling experiences. We are in a strange business because the only thing you have when we finish what we are doing is the feeling in your pockets. So you need to bring a ‘wow!’ experience for the guest to come back, to get that experience again.”

That feeling can be inspired by all sorts of things, both little and big. Delivering something unexpected, surprising, novel, unique. Whether it’s a view of the Eiffel Tower whilst immersed in the bath or in a relatively small service. The taste of a drink or a meal, its presentation. In the architect or designer responsible for the décor, the chandeliers, lighting and chairs. The art. The ambience. The people. It’s about creating ‘magic’ and delivering this – and the dream – to each individual guest, all the time.

Key pillars of luxury hospitality: The soul | By Suzanne Godfrey

This is what we should all aspire to, whether at a Palace or a luxury boutique hotel. This is what today’s luxury hotel guests are looking for. This is what differentiates you, as a Palace, from the rest and why Palace hotels can charge as much as they do, for the pleasure and experience they create.

The Magic of Metamorphosis: Organizational Change and Inspirational Leadership

They say that our security can only be found in our ability to adapt and he who rejects change designs his nemesis. Corporate culture has undergone radical change, and the need to align business models with these changes has proved a challenge if the right channels of implementation are not used. In the contemporary business environment, challenges have had a new twist due to technological advancements, globalization as well as competition. In such a world, it is not the biggest and most endowed who can thrive but those who will strongly embrace transformation. It is, however, important to remember that people are the stakeholders of change and without the right perceptions, organizational change cannot be effective.

Leaders have emerged as vital tools of organizational change implementation. The organizational change stems from leadership which involves the ability of an individual to influence others to follow them. Leaders are diverse, and each of them follows their style and strategy to implement change in an organization. Styles and strategies may vary especially due to the contemporary challenges of the ever-evolving business world. Leaders using the right strategies have managed to fight of organizational resistance to change by convincing people that change is healthy and will guide them to the right direction which will ensure sustainability in the modern business setting. In a bid to stay relevant in the challenging world, leaders have been perceived as important drivers of transformation success. Let’s make an analysis of the role of leadership in organizational change as well as the various leadership styles and strategies that leaders can adopt to overcome the problem of resistance to change.

Organizational Change

Organizational change can be defined as the review and modification of management processes and business structures. An organization adds or removes a significant practice in the business model which then requires being further integrated into the business processes. It is a fundamental strategy for survival and competitive advantage due to the rapid changes facing the business world. Just like human beings evolve in various stages, organizations also face some changes as they develop to become mature brands.

Kurt Lewin’s change model presents organizational change as a freeze-movement-refreeze situation whereby change is introduced, integrated and then allowed to solidify within the normal routine. Stage theory of organizational change postulates that a company undergoes four progressive stages before it fully transitions from one state to the other. The four phases include identifying the need which triggers a need for change, decision making to help identify a solution to the need, change the implementation of change and evaluation of change implementation. The four stages of organizational change need to follow systematically to ensure the correct application of organization change as a strategy to competitive advantage as well as sustainability. However various market orientations have different requirements and expectations which call for different strategies by which organizations must adapt to thrive in strong harmony with customers and other stakeholders.

Organizational change is done to enhance business processes as well as performance but also involves changing people’s behaviors to align with the new practices. The Carnegie school theory was developed in mid-1950 and aimed to exemplify the drivers of stability and change in an organization. The theory states that organizations engage in change when they face failure in their current business procedures. If the current nature of the business model, technical feasibility, human resource policies and organization culture do not lead the company towards their goals, then it leads to a failure induced need for change. The Carnegie school theory states that the source for stability in the organization are the routine procedures and programs in the business and when the standard practices do not help develop stability in the business, then the need for change arises. The major reason for the change is to tighten up organizational procedure to ensure more efficiency for the optimization of resources.

People don’t like change and attempts to implement change may be futile if not done with the proper change management techniques. Change management is a vital aspect of successful organizational change and refers to the methodology used to transition employees and organizational procedures to the new methods intended to bring about optimization of organization resources and profitability as well as a significant reduction of costs. In, essence, change management how management plans to reshape how the enterprise works to fit more realistic and achievable goals depending on the nature of the business and the environment. Concerning change management, it is important to understand what change entails to have a clear picture of what to consider while designing a change plan.

There are various elements of organizational change depending on the motive and nature of the business environment. Perpetual change is one of the elements of change in an organization since in essence the modern business world is tough and requires constant upgrade and re-engineering of business processes. Perpetual change involves constant transitioning of the operational course to suit the needs of the dynamic business world. The second element of organizational change is the need to change lenses. Business needs to apply different lenses in their change management all which include political, marketing, economic as well as cultural lenses to be able to develop viable procedures for change development and management. The third element to be considered during the process of organizational change is employee psychology. With so much transition and downshift, employees may become frustrated and confused by the changes which may act by undermining their ability to work since they feel threatened by the alterations. The final element of organizational change is the nature of the approach used. The change management approach applied should be consistent with company’s mission and vision as well as obeys legal requirements. Leaders and decision makers need to consider all these elements to ensure the successful transition of business processes.

Role of Leadership in Organizational Change

Successful change implementation highly depends on the contribution of individuals holding direct authority and power. To achieve successful transformation, there must be a change agent with a robust understanding of the nature of business processes and organizational context. Organizational change is an integrative process that requires the involvement of all elements in an organization which include the human resource element, operating systems and technologies adopted. Leaders hold a central character in change management and development in organizations by neutralizing the frustrations and confusion created by the modifications, ensuring that the transformation is less painful or tense. The process of transitioning human attitudes and behaviors is very sensitive, and leaders act as a buffer by ensuring a balance between human characteristics and successful transitioning. Special leadership attributes places leaders in a strategic position, valuable enough to play the role of a change agent.

Companies continue to face tough times which create a lot of difficulties and threaten their survival. The capabilities of corporate leaders can make a huge difference in driving the business towards the right type of change. The primary focus of leaders and managers here is to effect continuous efforts that allow for successful change. Organizational change by itself requires the development of new organizational arrangements which are then required to be implemented.

Leaders are in a good position to influence masses to accept change as well as explain procedures for how this can go about. Leaders sponsor change in the organization by advocating for the need to have new processes and techniques in the organization. The ability to influence change while ensuring to meet the needs of stakeholders, therefore, requires very crucial skills and abilities. Leaders’ help employees gain a clear perspective of the changes and exemplify the importance of adopting such change thereof. They will often communicate the nature of modification and interpret any information gaps that may hinder complete change implementation among the employees. Leaders play the role of being role models in change management by exhibiting behaviors and attitudes that are consistent with the intended change. Employees will normally look out to leaders and will be more empowered to embrace change if the leaders accept it. Most important of all, leaders hold direct authority in an organization which means that they can manipulate resources and decisions so that employees can be fully engaged in the change process. True leaders acknowledge the value of training and mentorship and ensure to set aside resources for such factors.

Leadership styles and skills

The ability to embrace change highly depends on the way the change is managed. It is very important for a leader to be charismatic, emotionally intelligent and transformational for him to have the desired impact during the organizational transition. Various situations and the need for change motives require different leadership traits and styles for there to be the successful implementation of change. Transformational, charismatic leadership styles and emotional intelligence allow a leader to remain focused and influential in the change process.

The leadership skills and style create an impact on the employees with which change implementation is achieved. If the leader has the right set of skills, then they can trigger a desirable attitude among the employees who drives the success of the strategy. Employee involvement is one of the most important skills required by a leader in ensuring effective influence. Employees need to be engaged and consulted during change development and implementation since the change mostly affects them. Involving employees not only motivates employees to embrace change but also helps them understand the nature and reason for the change.

A leader needs to have strong communication skills for them to have the right influence on the employees. A leader with the right communication skills will be able to interpret complex procedures simply and will also be able to raise the right attitude in the employees whenever there is a training or mentorship program.

Leaders with good communication skills will often promote healthy team work and work relationships which in turn foster a good working environment whereby change is easy to inject. Good leaders need to have the right personal values so that they can be good role models to the employees. This requires leaders to be flexible and easily adjustable to change so that he can lead the way for others to follow. To be able to generate positive outcomes from organizational change development, leaders are required to have the emotional intelligence to ensure that as they teach other to embrace change, they maintain patience and composure. Leaders who give in to emotions may exhibit poor communication and employees may pretend to embrace change just to make such a leader satisfied.

Successful change implementation highly depends on the personal decision and motivation to transform, and when a leader exhibits poor emotional management ability, they discourage employees from wholeheartedly accepting the change and may not feel free to inquire when faced with difficulty. It is possible to achieve successful organizational change so long as there are successful leadership support and procedural effectiveness all which depend on the leadership skills of the leader.

Leadership theories

With the perpetual change, leaders need to have the ability to analyze situations and make rapid responses. Having the right skills orientation and the strength to cope with different situations makes a leader more effective in their role. It can be hard to identify true leaders who can be change agents in an organization. Various theories have been postulated to explain the nature of leaders and how to identify good leaders. The great man theory of leadership states that leadership is inborn and cannot be developed. This theory states that a true leader is born with the rightful leadership skills and is automatically able to use them as they grow up, up to the time they have corporate responsibilities. Based on this theory, leaders can be identified from their leadership history and how well they can be natural leaders. This theory was opposed by Herbert Spencer since he stated that the ability to use any inborn abilities highly depends on the social conditions a person is exposed to while growing up.

The behavioral theory, on the other hand, identifies true leaders as those who exhibit favorable behaviors characterized by the right skills, attitudes as well as personal beliefs. The theory has been opposed since it assumes the physical, mental and social aspects of the leader. The trait theory states that a leader with the right abilities can be identified by the traits they exhibit in the day to day roles. Traits such as intelligence as well as mental health depict the ability of a person to lead. The theory gives a logical explanation but fails to outline how these traits apply to the various leadership styles and situations.

Change is inevitable and as the business world evolves it has become mandatory for organizations to change their operational causes to survive the competition and customer expectations. In this light, organizational change has emerged as an important topic of study. The need for successful organizational change has placed a lens on the role played by leadership in ensuring such change thereof. Leaders are important in the process of organization transition since they ensure good mentorship, training as well as motivation to employees with the aim of influencing them to embrace change. Embracing change requires employees to have the right attitudes and perceptions while most importantly hold a deep understanding of the change in procedures and practices. Leaders uphold positive outcomes in organizational change so long as they have the right set of skills. Charismatic and transformational leadership styles are the strongest drivers of change in an organization. Such style combined with the right set of skills place leaders at a very crucial position in organizational change and development.

Hospitality Financial Leadership – Ego is Not Part of the Recipe

“If you want to be more than a flash in the pan, you must be prepared to focus on the long term. We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status in their pursuit, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.” Ryan Holidays – Ego is the Enemy

In the financial leaders’ world, ego will not serve them well. Ego will put distance between them and their audience. Ego would have a leader being the star of the show and there would only be one act in the play.

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Knowing how to get non-financial leaders to produce amazing results through their creativity and leadership support to manufacture this product on a continuous stream.

If one succumbs to ego they take themselves out of the game as if they were once a star but now they are too important to engage and really find out what the other leaders need. Being ego driven means the financial leader is hiding out. He or she wears the ego like a thin suit of armor to deflect any legitimate acknowledgement that maybe they do not have all the answers after all. Ego serves to tell them they are too important to go to that level of engagement. This is a big mistake because they miss seeing what is really going on and miss the opportunity to change it. “Can’t fix what we can’t see.”

Einstein said, “More the knowledge lesser the ego, lesser the knowledge more the ego.”

This quote really sums things up quite well. Egotistical people really lack the knowledge because they have shut down. They are closed for business. They cannot learn and grow if they are shut down. The game is an incremental day in day out, conversation after conversation, idea after idea, support after support, financial leadership is a relationship-building deposit-based enterprise. Leaders out-give constituents. That is what makes them tick successfully. Ego has no place in this environment.

I once worked with a financial leader who made it a point and even verbalized the fact that he only spoke with members of the executive team. He was too important to speak to anyone else. According to him the idea of communicating with anyone else was a waste of time and beneath him.

Well, the truth was he was hiding out. He was not comfortable communicating with anyone who might challenge his way of seeing the world of his business. What a waste to leave out so many inputs that are there to help shape and grow a vibrant, continually evolving and growing business landscape!

The other interesting aspect of this example is the chief executive allowed and even condoned this behavior. Information is the currency of leadership. If leaders want more currency, they need to embrace leadership practices that allow for its accumulation.

Ego and hiding out will not produce more currency.

What are egotistical people afraid of? They are afraid of the very real possibility that they do not have all the answers, some of the answers, or even the answer. Rather than giving up their fake self-image they hold onto it and believe in it. Ego is not who they really are and inside they know this is the case. Yet it is too scary to let go, or seemingly to scary. However, ego is only a habit. This is the good news. Let go and have that next conversation and acknowledge that maybe “I don’t know everything and I’m willing to learn.”

Leadership Lessons Learned From Being A Guest When The Hotel Was Overbooked

Earlier this month I observed a difficult situation playing out at hotel where I was a guest, and it provided an invaluable reminder of just how important effective leadership is when things go wrong in the hotel business.

The story is that I was traveling back from a trip to the Middle East where I had taken my college age daughter to practice the Arabic she is learning at University. To split up 16 hours of flying time, I planned for us to stay overnight in Rome, Italy at a hotel I had used previously and knew was directly connected by a walkway to the airport. Since we landed about 8pm, we would be able to grab our bags, walk to the hotel, secure our room and drop the luggage, and take a cab to city center so I could show her the famous Roman Colosseum.

All went as planned with the flights, baggage claim, and immigration, and since the hotel I’d booked carried the flag of one of the oldest, largest and most respected International hotel brands, as we entered the lobby I was confident that my plan had worked out!

First thing I noticed was that the lines were moving very slowly. After about 15 minutes it was our turn and Giulia, who I noticed had a “trainee” badge on, warmly welcomed my daughter and I and thanked me for being a member of the brand loyalty program.

Although it was spoken kindly, her next statement that shocked me; there were no rooms ready and she would buy us drinks in the bar while we waited for the 30 or so minutes it would take. “What? 9pm and no rooms?” I asked, as she had not acknowledged that this was a major shortcoming and it was about 5 hours after their posted check-in time. Being in the business, I tried to be as polite as possible, especially since she was obviously new and doing her best. I pointed out out that my daughter was only 19 and I don’t drink alcohol, and asking if there was instead a place to get a bottle of water or snack.

To my surprise there was no other option, so we proceeded to the bar where we found it overcrowded and understaffed as was the restaurant. After a long wait, my daughter was able to flag down the bartender and get water but no snacks. We changed clothes in the lobby restroom and then went back to the desk. “Good news,” Giulia said, “your room is ready” and off we went. Yet to our surprise the room key did not work and then a young man came to the door of the room we were assigned to explain that he was already staying there.

Back to the desk we went to explain the situation, still maintaining a polite demeanor. Yet when another guest nearby heard our story he practically shouted out “You TOO? WHAT is going on here?” Then I realized that most of the guests who were originally in line with us about 45 minutes ago were still in the lobby also waiting for their rooms.

As my daughter and I stood patiently waiting once again, I heard at numerous other guests who had lost their cool explaining various versions of how high their brand loyalty status is, how often they travel, and how this was their worst hotel experience ever. I also noticed that of the four people at the desk, two had trainee badges and no one had a management title on their nametag. (I should add that all seemed to be handing the situation as well as possible and maintaining their hospitality demeanor.) Several guests were asking to speak with “THE” manager, but the only ones I saw responding seemed to be shift supervisors and they were certainly doing all they could as well.

Finally, our trainee issued a new key to another room and although this time it was not occupied, it did smell strongly of fresh smoke and the mini bar was half emptied, but at least it was clean. We dropped the bags, grabbed our taxi, and ended up having a memorable dinner at my favorite street café right across from the Colosseum.

Reflecting back on this situation, I first of all felt bad for the frontline staff who were left to deal with such angry guests and such a difficult situation without proper leadership there to support them. I felt especially bad for the two bright young front desk staffers who were wearing those “trainee” badges; what a terrible first impression of the hotel industry to go to work for a top tier hotel brand and observe this big of a gap in service. I also felt bad for the other travelers who were counting on this reputable hotel brand to deliver a place to rest for the weary international airline passenger, especially the families with young children and elderly.

Once good thing about being a hotel trainer though is that incidents of bad service like these give us plenty of new material to write about in training articles such as this one! So here are my training tips for this month, which I hope will serve as reminders for managers who will inevidibly one day face a similar situation:

  • This was obviously a predictable over-book situation and leadership should never have left their poor frontline workers to face it alone. A lack of leadership is probably why this hotel has so much turnover that two of four staffers on that shift were wearing “trainee” badges. Had the executive leadership team pro-actively managed this situation, it would have played out completely differently.
  • Knowing the hotel was overbooked and needing to wait for evening departures (such as the many airline crews we saw walking out the door while we waited) management should have scheduled extra staffing for all affected departments.
  • A mid or executive level manager should have been right there inside the front door greeting guests upon arrival, politely explaining the circumstance, humbly apologizing and gently asking for patience.
  • They should have provided drinks and snacks, especially knowing that most guests are arriving from International flights. With no place in the hotel other than the bar to buy refreshments, offering bottled water, juices, fruit and some snacks would have gone a long way and some complimentary beer or wine would have soothed the drinkers.
  • The bar and restaurant should have been properly staffed for a sold-out / over-sold night. Likewise, the bell staff should have been staffed accordingly (there was only one bellman.)
  • Extra housekeeping supervisors should have been called in to speed up room inspections.
  • Guests who were first sent to occupied rooms should have thereafter been escorted to the second room by a manager or at least a frontline colleague.
  • To avoid this whole situation, the hotel should have asked early on in the day for volunteers who were willing to be relocated to a discounted (or comp) room at a neighboring hotel, much like the airlines do by asking for volunteers for oversold flights.
  • The executive level managers should have followed-up with guests who had this bad experience with personalized emails to apologize.

Instead, this hotel suffered a loss of guest loyalty to go along with plenty of negative social media exposure. I know my daughter had this all over SnapChat and I’m sure most guests were doing their Facebook rants like I was. I hardly ever take time to do online reviews, but this time I vented to both TripAdvisor and (By the way, the management did respond to my one-star TripAdvisor review – but it was a generic and canned apology with no reference to my personal situation. For me this was worse than no reply at all and showed an even greater lack of empathy.)

I hope these lessons help managers understand that although bad situations are bound to occur in the hotel business, because if leaders pro-actively manage them the situation can be made better for all parties. Most of all, I hope those two trainees don’t give up on their careers in the hotel industry after this! I suggest they apply elsewhere as soon as possible.

What C-Level Executives Need to Know About Total Hotel Profitability

f attaining guests through loyalty programs, personalization and the provision of choice is the hospitality industry’s Holy Grail, then profitability is the infinite abundance it promises. When it comes to achieving higher degrees of hotel profitability, nothing provides more opportunities for the incorporation of these elements than an intelligent revenue strategy.

While a hotel revenue strategy doesn’t lend itself as the panacea to every organizational crossroads, it does provide hotels with a way to profitably navigate through the unpredictability of economical and geopolitical climates, natural disasters and terrorism. This is in addition to finding profitable success in hypercompetitive online environments prone to fluctuating markets and intensifying competition. Strategic revenue management is also recognized as an important component to increasing asset value, attracting investors and improving overall operational efficiency.

Among other things, today’s hoteliers face mounting pressure to increase their hotel profitability. From acquiring brand new customers to driving repeat business and loyalty, making the right operational decisions and running a hotel with optimal efficiency continues to be an ongoing challenge for top hotel executives. However, with increased scrutiny focused on the best ways to drive total hotel profitability, what exactly do the industry’s c-suite executives need to know about revenue strategy and profit optimization?

More specifically, what is this push toward profit optimization and where does it need to begin for the best results? What are the KPIs that paint the most accurate picture of a hotel’s health and performance? How do hotel distribution channel costs impact overall hotel profitability? And, finally, what are the tools that facilitate these critical activities for hoteliers?

What is This Push Towards Profit Optimization?

Revenue management used to be considered a very niche function, and one that was only applied to guestroom strategies without the influence or contributions from other hotel revenue streams. Over the years, however, hotels have recognized its benefits and enthusiastically adopted more scientific and analytical approaches to strategic revenue management – experiencing significant financial rewards in the process.

As these principles became even more popular and widespread, the industry has looked for ways to apply these holistic strategies to other operational areas and increase their overall profitability even further. And with a recent STR Global report indicating both revenue and expenses for rooms, F&B, payroll and other departments are on the rise in between 2015 and 2016 alone, more and more hotels are seeing the benefits of extending the principles of strategic revenue management to their ancillary streams.

The goal of profit optimization is to leverage all hotel functions and maximize their profits in conjunction with one another. It encourages hotels to intelligently decide which business to accept across multiple revenue streams at all times, based on greatest overall value to the asset. This kind of holistic approach to revenue management goes beyond guest room rates and maximizes profits from the strategic management of other revenue streams. Hotels that adopt these principles successfully can drive profit performance to new heights across their entire asset with more competitive positioning, pricing and inventory management.

However, it is very important that today’s hotel executives recognize that a shift towards profit optimization means they may also need to focus on strengthening their internal culture. Moving revenue management past guestrooms into other organizational areas requires having a robust revenue culture in place, something the industry has fundamentally identified as an ideal environment for supporting initiatives that increase total hotel profits.

Today’s hotel executives are tasked with converging the traditional roles of sales, marketing and revenue management with an inclusion of other departments like F&B, banquets and finance. Focusing all departments around identifying and nurturing the most profitable business will result in the most lucrative results. The performance metrics that matter

The shift from focusing solely on guestroom revenue to the adoption of an organizational culture that applies revenue management throughout various departments has also encouraged hoteliers to broaden the types of metrics they use for performance evaluation. Traditionally, hotels solely relied on KPIs such as occupancy (OCC), average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) to evaluate the revenue and profit performance of their properties. And while these are still important metrics of performance measurement, the industry has begun gravitating toward other standards that represent their wider spectrum of operations.

One area of increased interest for hotel executives is a focused attention on market share, which gives hoteliers a better estimation of their market performance compared to the competition. This is a critical factor when considering today’s often uncertain environments. It also makes identifying the right competitive set extremely important, and one of the most crucial elements in accurately measuring overall performance. By identifying a property’s true competitors, a hotel can benchmark their market penetration index (MPI), average rate index (ARI) and revenue generated index (RGI) with the valuable context they need to make the best strategic decisions.

If a property measures itself and strategizes against an average of hotels that are targeting a vastly different mix of business, or represent a different type of accommodation segment (such as a full service hotel vs. a limited service hotel), it could end up making unprofitable decisions that dilute its brand value and soften its position in the market. There are other opportunities for measurements that the industry should be looking to as well.

Aside from standard rooms-focused metrics, hotels need to shift toward a comprehensive understanding and comparison of total revenue performance metrics. Hotel meetings and events space, onsite restaurants, spa services and other hotel revenue streams all make significant contributions to overall profitability. When these revenue streams are not properly measured and evaluated, the hotel’s big picture view of its overall profitability misses some very critical pieces.

Establishing KPIs that measure areas beyond rooms to meetings and events space (also commonly referred to as function space) is typically the best place for organizations to start. Emerging KPIs in function space revenue management include space utilization, profit per occupied space (ProPost) and profit per available space (ProPast), and are fast becoming the industry standard metric in evaluating function space performance.

Establishing these types of performance metrics within an organization, in addition to having the right technology and processes in place to capture, measure and control these KPIs, will help establish a baseline for hotel teams to work towards improving and optimizing against. And while the industry largely lacks a standard KPI to account for total revenue performance and profitability, it is an area of focus steadily gaining more traction.

Where Distribution Fits in

The role of distribution is one historically intertwined with the strategic function of revenue management. While distribution strategy has a very micro and specific business focus, it is something that has become a hot topic of interest for hotel executives. As another facet of revenue management, we, as an industry, have spent a lot of time over the recent years analyzing and dissecting the opportunities an intelligent distribution strategy can bring hotels.

Most notably, there has been a significant evolution in the role it plays in driving hotel profitability – largely due to emerging industry data sources, channels and various types of technology. Add in the complexity of prices, restrictions, add-ons, channel usage, technology and distribution costs, and many hotel organizations have easily considered this function large enough to split off on its own, increasing job roles that develop, execute and measure their comprehensive and intelligent distribution strategies.

The complexity of distribution and its impact on today’s organizational structure makes it critical for executives to understand how the quality of this role increases their overall hotel profitability. Not accounting for real distribution costs (which include details like basics of percentages, tracking direct costs and monitoring revenue results) can have an extremely unprofitable impact on overall revenue management strategies. Not properly managing or accounting for distribution costs directly affects the net revenue results hotel executives can expect from their property’s distribution channel strategy.

The Tools Driving Increased Profitability

Big data has undoubtedly helped our industry make big moves over the years. One of the profitable ways hotels have capitalized on the influx of big data is by recognizing that most intelligent revenue strategies look past the “big” description and identify “smart” data. For hotels focusing on driving better business through loyalty programs, personalization and a wealth of attractive guest choices, revenue technology that offers them data-driven methods and powerful analytics has become one of the first stepping stones in doing so.

There are many different factors that can influence a hotel purchase decision: online ratings and reviews, competitive pricing, strong loyalty program rewards, location, etc. Hoteliers need to leverage and analyze every one of those factors – and the data sources that drive them – to build guest loyalty, provide a personalized guest experience, boost marketing ROI, attract an optimal business mix and improve their market performance. For a successful data-driven approach to holistic revenue management, it is critical to employ analytical tools and technology that incorporates market intelligence, ancillary revenue data, online reputation sentiments, competitor pricing, and historical data. For today’s hotel executives looking to strategic revenue management for increases in profitability, it’s important to recognize that maximizing revenue is different from maximizing profits.

There is a complexity of revenue management – and the data that it needs to make optimal decisions – that may seem counterintuitive and perplexing at times. However, trusting, investigating and understanding its underlying principles pays off in dividends in the end.

Hotels pairing powerful and analytical technology with the right holistic data sources are finding themselves with the most profitable way to strategically tackle today’s unpredictable climates and fluctuating markets – improving asset values and efficiencies.

[Infographic] Majority of Travelers: Need to Use Mobile Devices on Holiday Stronger Than Cybersecurity Risks

PHOENIX – University of Phoenix® today released the results of its summer travel cybersecurity survey, which found that while half of registered voters worry about cybersecurity risks while on vacation, 55 percent feel that the need to use personal devices outweighs those risks.

“Vacations are often a time when we let our guard down, which can leave us vulnerable to hackers who want to steal personal information,” said Dr. Kirsten Hoyt, academic dean, College of Information Systems & Technology at University of Phoenix. “Whether you are in another country or down the street, it is important for people to take precautionary measures when travelling this summer.”

Summer vacation is often seen as a time to disconnect, yet three out of four respondents say they bring their smartphone with them, and half check their devices at least once an hour. Despite using their devices often, very few take measures to prevent hackers from potentially accessing personal information: 54 percent lock devices when not in use, but less than half take other precautions, such as hiding devices when away (40 percent), updating antivirus software (39 percent) or changing passwords (24 percent).

According to the survey, stolen bank information is the top concern for registered voters while travelling, selected by more than half of respondents. Other major concerns include losing devices (48 percent) and contracting viruses on devices (44 percent), while less than a third are concerned about hacked email or social media accounts. Some people are taking steps to be more secure: 86 percent of those surveyed say they update security settings if hacked.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Half of respondents say using devices on vacation is as safe as at home.
  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents feel more secure using their phone’s hotspot versus public Wi-Fi.
  • More than half of respondents check email or social media while on vacation.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents post photos from trips on social media accounts while away from home.

“There are myriad ways your personal information can be compromised while you’re away from home; the best method to prevent it is to be aware of how you can be hacked and take steps to avoid that,” Dr. Hoyt said. “Vacations should be relaxing and fun, but in today’s world of connected devices, we always have to be alert.”

The Need to Use Smartphones and Other Personal Electronic Devices on Vacation Outweighs Cybersecurity Risks for Majority of Travelers