Hospitalty Hiring Paradox: Time to take a stand!

A paradox has haunted our industry for generations: there is a dearth of young people interested in this sector that is one of the most promising in terms of the future. Operators must manage an abnormal rotation of personnel on a daily basis as well as a lack of enthusiasm for their jobs. While new concepts have entered a movement with the arrival of new players, behavioral changes, and pressure from the competition… “traditional” management has not truly joined the revolution. And it is high time it did…

All too often, the hotel industry conveys the image of a sector that is ungrateful, has difficult hours, and under-valued careers; but what has truly been done to change that? With its history and that of generations of pigeonholed employees, the world of Hospitality is like a giant cruise ship trying – with great difficulty – to change its course. So it would be best to take the helm quickly. The transformation of concepts goes hand in hand with a return to the drawing board to reexamine the human role in the hotel industry. Traditional functions are exploding in in light of clients’ increasing need for autonomy and – paradoxically – a need for more direct and more authentic exchanges with personnel. The jobs, defined in terms of vertical functions that are associated with one another, no longer correspond to the expectations of a more polyvalent, warmer, less technical and more interactive contact.

The technological revolution that has taken place at headquarters must now trickle down to each property. This type of consideration of the hotelier’s work, from every angle, must not be subject to any taboos. The use of artificial intelligence and different applications makes it possible to give employees new tools to strengthen their abilities to know clients, meet their expectations and control several functions at once, and thus gain in terms of expertise and qualifications.

For hotel management, it is also a means of lightening structures, making them flexible again and increasing profitability that may thus result in better wages. There is no reason why the world of tourism and hospitality should be condemned to this image of minimum wages where propel work while they are looking for something better.

In hotel groups, each employee had a kind of “passport”, a more or less precise road book detailing their experience, training and qualifications. Today, they may be given a professional “toolbox” allowing them to handle any situation. This technical manual grows with the employee’s knowledge, experiences, and any information supplied by management. Such software is already available at major industrial firms where it is a kind of “Pilot Book” with descriptions of jobs and and related tutorials to increase polyvalency.

Hospitality is a world where start-ups get involved wholeheartedly. While hotel groups may have trouble bringing on this cultural revolution of management on the field, they can rely on the creativity of young people who assist in their metamorphosis, as other sectors have done. Daily management gains in efficiency and reactivity. The much hoped-for loyalty development can be realized when operations are able to give it meaning.

The hotel industry needs to strengthen its heart and lungs, its core, in order to nourish a new form of passion and reception and service and breath new life into its trades, which while they are old should not remain antiquated

Grace Gin – A Handcrafted Botanical Gin, Created by Three Proud Greek Women

It is the result of the shared vision between three women, two second generation distillers and a spirited woman with extensive knowledge and experience in the drinks industry.

The uniqueness of the product lies in its rich aromatic character that comes from the botanicals used, a selection from Greek nature’s land and sea. The hand crafted aspect, emphasizes the process of the ingredients’ selection and how the distiller blends them in order to achieve the recipe used, to flavour the neutral grain spirit.

The term “distilled gin” means it is 100% traditionally distilled in pot stills in combination with the finest perfume techniques.

The Three Graces have researched and experimented with recipes for more than a year to decide on the 13 different botanicals and the extraction processes to be used. They start with continuous distillation to flavor the base spirit with 8 botanicals: Juniper berries, angelica root, orris, lemon and orange peels, cardamom, coriander and cassia bark.

Then carefully selecting only the “heart” of the distillation, and using a vapor-infused method, also used for essence oils production.

In addition to the base botanicals, schinos, myrtle leaves and orange blossom from Evia, have been added, and are perfectly combined with critamos (from Crete) and pink pepper.  In order to enhance the final distillate’s aromas, the distiller has applied a smooth, light filtering method.

Grace gin has an ABV of 45,7%. On the nose it is juniper driven. At the same time, this fresh-pine aroma combines perfectly with the presence of critamos and schinos. The pink pepper and cassia flavor are in the background while Myrtle hints enhance this complex aromatic profile.

The palate is interestingly oily and robust. Both juniper and critamos are immediately to the fore, making a perfect match with the spicy character from coriander, pink pepper and cassia bark. There are underlying hints of an intense freshness with earthy elements.

Available in Greece and exported to England, Germany and Cyprus.



Do You Trust Your Customers? Do Your Customers Trust You?


I just returned from Influence 2017, the annual conference put on by the National Speakers Association. My friend and one of the world’s authorities on trust, David Horsager was one of the amazing keynote speakers. He shared an excellent customer service example that can be summed up this way: Trust your customers and they will trust you.

The quick version of the story is this: A farmer owns a fruit and vegetable stand where his customers pay on the honor system. They simply go over to the money jar and put the appropriate amount of money into the jar. If they need change, they make their own. He trusts his customers to do what’s right, and it pays off.

First, the farmer saves money by not having to hire a cashier. Next, he saves money by not having to buy rubber gloves that he has to change every time he touches money and then switches back to touching the produce. That also saves him time, which is, ultimately, money. But most of all, he gets loyal customers that come back, buy more, spend more when they buy and feel valued. That’s because he trusts his customers, and they trust him.

Customers want to be trusted. After all, would you want to do business with a company that feels like they don’t trust you? Are we guilty of having a process or rules that send the message to the customer, “We don’t trust you.”?

A couple of years ago I shared an example that helps make this point. Guitar Center, one of my favorite stores, had a pretty hefty system to prevent shoplifting. As you walked in, they had a desk that had a full-time employee checking equipment that was brought into and out of the store. It turned out that the anti-shoplifting desk was costing dramatically more to manage and staff than the cost of the merchandise they were losing to dishonest customers. And even worse than that, it was also insulting their honest customers. This is an example of punishing all the customers for the sins of a few. The good people at Guitar Center figured this out and eventually did away with their expensive anti-shoplifting system.

You want your customers to trust you enough to buy from you. So, don’t create friction by putting up barriers with a process that makes them feel like you don’t trust them. It will raise a red flag. It will make them feel uncomfortable, and as mentioned, even insulted.

One of Horsager’s favorite lines is, “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.” He’s a smart man. He gets it. Do you?


What’s The Proper Amount to Tip a Waiter?

American diners are a fickle bunch. We love going out to eat but when the check comes we don’t know what to do. How much should we tip? Is it 15%, 18%, 20% or more?

It’s gotten so bad that many restaurant chains now place a “tip guide” on the bottom of their checks that list the recommended tip in percentage and dollar amounts. Yes, this makes it easier to figure out the totals but what do we base these amounts on?

Well it depends. It depends on:

1. Did the waiter greet you with a warm sincere smile?

2. Did the waiter make you feel welcome?

3. Did the waiter inform you of the various possibilities of food substitutions for your meal?

4. Did the waiter make your children feel important and not like a nuisance?

5. Did the waiter get your order correct and present it to you as advertised?

6. Did the waiter check back with you in 2 minutes or 2 bites to make sure you were fully satisfied with your meal?

7. Did the waiter make sure your beverage was always full and you had enough condiments?

8. Did the waiter look for an opportunity to follow-up on something that came up in your conversation? Example:

  • If you mentioned it was your birthday, did the waiter make arrangements for a special dessert, and at no charge?
  • If you were taking photos of each other at the table did the waiter offer to take a group shot for you or even recommend another location with a more appealing backdrop?
  • If you asked about local shopping in the area, did the waiter make a sincere effort to find an appropriate answer for you?

9. Did the waiter talk-up his fellow team mates and inform you that they could assist you during your meal in case he was not in view?

10. Did the waiter make sure that you, the customer, felt special and that YOUR enjoyment was HIS primary concern?

11. Did the waiter thank you for the opportunity to serve you and invite you back again?

If you can answer yes to these questions then by all means tip your waiter as much as you can. If he/she made you feel special then show your appreciation back and tip well.

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.

Think Like a Marketer: Four Tips to Fast-Track Your Career and Build Your Brand

As director of communications for White Lodging, a hotel management company with 165 properties nationwide, I witness every day the power of marketing a brand. Oddly enough, many of us who know this power don’t use the lessons learned to build and communicate our own brands to fast-track our careers.

Here are four tips I have started to use that may help get you on the fast track, too:

  • Be your own brand ambassador

Promoting yourself is often a challenge, but it is a critical element of building your career – especially today. Think of yourself like a brand. Where can recruiters or your colleagues find information about you? What can they find? What does it say?

Social media is an important tool for building your brand. Everyone should establish their social footprint and continue to build upon it throughout their career. At White Lodging, we work with our associates and a team of social media ambassadors to encourage them to not only help build the White Lodging brand, but to leverage social networks to help build their own.

  • Keep good company

It is essential to network no matter your current career level or the one to which you aspire. Surrounding yourself with inspiring and successful peers and mentors is critical. Look for networking opportunities in your area such as MeetUp or an industry association, and make every effort to reach out to people at the office you might not work with. Ask them to lunch or coffee, and pay for the meal out of your pocket. Learn what they do, broaden your horizons and network all at the same time.

It is also essential to understand issues beyond the four walls of your office. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry by keeping up with the latest trends and affiliating yourself with the influencers who are driving trends and decisions in your business.

  • Look for leaders and companies that put you first

It is important that you work for a company that helps you put your career front and center. Not only will this help your brand, but the investment can ultimately help drive the company’s business and recruiting efforts.

Many companies offer education incentives, internal training, support for sabbaticals, and affinity groups that can help you along the way. Both Glassdoor and the brand’s website are valuable resources for up-to-date information on this. Conversely, it also helps to reach out to someone at your level within the company to get the whole story.

At White Lodging, we have a talent development team that is committed to putting our employees first. And our commitment starts at recruitment with our week-long “Flight School,” which immerses new employees of all levels in the industry, our business and the plethora of career paths we offer.

  • Stick to your guns and know your purpose

It is essential to have a game plan. Understanding your needs and staying focused on them will help keep you on track. Know what you excel at, where you need help, and what you want to do today, tomorrow and five years from now. Ask for advice, but only take the advice that lets you stay true to yourself. By having a business plan for your personal brand, you will ensure success from day one.

2 Rules of Being a Successful Manager

There is so much to learn from those who have proven themselves to be great in their field. So, who better to learn from than the great hotelier himself, Bill Marriott. I have enormous respect for this man and the empire that his family built beginning in 1927 with a nine-stool root beer stand that grew into the Hot Shoppes Restaurant chain and evolved into today’s Marriott International hotel company. His success is obvious, but what I love about this company is the attention to important details that are always put forth by a simple, basic, and very actionable message, as you can see above in Mr. Marriott’s 12 Rules of Being a Successful Manager. This is how 90 years later Marriott business is more than booming.

12 Rules of Being a Successful Manager | By Jana Love

If you are a first-time manager, you now are responsible for leading and motivating your team to accomplish goals for your organization. Now what? If leadership is a new role for you it can be quite intimidating knowing there is a group of people looking to you for answers. Many young managers learn through trial and error regarding what works and what doesn’t, but there are things that can make this transition easier. Mr. Marriott’s list is a great tool to continue to sharpen, or begin to sharpen, your managerial skills.

I believe in all 12 rules, but for me, #2 is one of the most important to execute. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is failing to develop solid working relationships with their employees. If the employee feels the focus is only on performance and productivity, and not about getting to know the person by establishing a relationship, the message about taking care of the employee and they will take care of the customer, will be lost. Learning not only what is important in their careers, but also in their personal lives, helps build the rapport needed to foster this rule and several of the others.

12 Rules of Being a Successful Manager | By Jana Love

Becoming a successful manager is the goal and getting there takes commitment and hard work. Being a new or middle manager is not easy. The good news is that, as a manager, you get to lead, mentor, and motivate others, and much of the company’s overall success depends on how effective you are in this role. So, grab all the resources you can to help yourself learn how to be the best manager you can be.

[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

High Tech or High Touch? What Hotels Need to Know About Technology Adoption & Guest Service

Hotels worldwide are playing with just how much can be automated. Comfort Hotel Xpress in Oslo opened in 2011 to media fanfare over an almost entirely automated process—check-in, key, checkout and so forth. Housekeeping comes every four days. There’s no restaurant, but there is some food in the lobby. It sounds from reviews like they ended up needing a floating staff person downstairs. Not a surprise.

So exactly how much can be automated, or more to the point, how much should be automated? (And, really, at what point does it cease to be a hotel when there is no service?) Clearly, almost everything can be technologized, so hotels are confronted with just where and how much of the human touch is needed to create a satisfying guest experience.

The question of high tech or high touch lies with your guests. In some ways, we need a new market segment based on technology needs. Some segments want as much automated as possible, but many of these guests want just as much, if not more, control over their experience as those who prefer one-on-one service. And then there are guests who want to hold hands all the way through the process; this is their definition of hospitality and asking them to download an app to check in won’t do. With technology, these guests actually get better service because staff is more available to walk them through the process.

The answer to the question of high tech or high touch isn’t an easy one because the answer is: options. You can take any aspect of hotel operations and service to the cloud as long as you offer guests easy access to staff person at any point along the way. Perhaps a guest wants to book online, check in via mobile, control her AC from an app, and request a pillow via text message—all of these are absolutely possible. BUT she also wants to make her spa reservation on the phone, because she has some specific needs and wants to be sure she can properly get the message across to guarantee the ideal experience.

If technology tasks hotels with offering more options, does it actually uncomplicated anything? Does it save money and time? Still a resounding yes. Especially in cases where the technology is integrated with major systems and when hotels have maximum control over the technology and the way it functions. Every time a guest is satisfied by technology, which is more often than not these days, or every time messaging helps staff communicate an issue more quickly, or every time one fewer front desk person takes the elevator to the eleventh floor, efficiency is achieved. Each time this happens, energy and space are made for the instances where guests desire a person. These very critical moments are more effective and more meaningful.

So let’s say you can automate anything pre-stay, during stay (except for housekeeping itself), and post-stay. Let’s say you can integrate major systems and streamline your internal communication, using messaging that interacts with the PMS and the CRM. What specifically still needs the human touch?

Most importantly staff should be present. And by “present” we mean that they should not only be visible, but they should also be clearly available and ready to engage. As reliance on technology for guest services increases so does the need for staff to appear undistracted. Having staff at entries and exits—whether at the front desk, the spa, the restaurant, or on checkout—is essential.

Additionally, the phone becomes (surprisingly) more important. Every call should be answered, and the speed of answer matters more than ever. When guests decide they need to speak with someone, someone should be available as soon as possible, including reservations, guest service, housekeeping, and so forth. This is the tradeoff for the efficiency of technology. Availability and responsiveness are paramount for the personal moments that matter to guests.

Hotels aim at every turn to prioritize efficiency and cost-saving measures while continuing to offer the highest possible level guest service. If the person-to-person elements of guest service are handled well, and they really are fairly simple, technology adoption can better serve hotels and their guests.