Monthly Archives: June 2009

Nagib’s Corner: Showing Gratitude

We have all been on an aircraft where the flight attendant thanks you from rote memory and function, little or no genuine intention or gratitude included.

As for many retail stores – there is rarely even an attempt at false gratitude.

Now this would be a great story to share with your team – wouldn’t it be remarkable for us to realize the source of our paychecks be demonstrative in gratitude that this generosity deserves?

There have been a number of articles lately that have spoken of brands making a real effort to ‘Get Down to The Basics’ of service. The article below highlights a simple, humanistic and resonating way to connect, in one person’s perspective. There are many other ways that may be more comfortable to your team that will lead to comparable impact.

· Eye contact (10 yard rule) with a smile and a ‘thank you’.

· Offers to assist in simple tasks – baggage, phone numbers, restaurant reservations, etc, etc

· Use of courtesy words – these automatically force a certain level of personal connection and humility. ‘May I please …, Would you like me to …, It would be a pleasure …., I would appreciate that …,’ etc.

· Ask your teams what would be a genuine statement of gratitude for them – many Y Gens will have a different perspective of what that means than the Baby Boomers.

Nagib Lakhani,     RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services

O: (425)677-7866     C: (425)445-7750     F: (866)508-7866
4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Nagib’s Corner: Cornell Study on Rates

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Below is an interesting study from Cornell. It has, essentially, the same results as a study they conducted earlier showing that maintaining rates resulted in higher RevPAR performance levels.

Whilst this is obviously the case based on a very large sample, the challenge is that it does go counter to intuition. However, a critically important component, in my opinion, is to be very acutely aware of your immediate surroundings and the response that your comp set has chosen to take. That, coupled with knowing who your guest is, will always allow you to make a highly informed decision about the responses that work in your location.

· A corporate client, for the limited service segment, is likely to respond more favorably to the added service levels and familiarity you can offer rather than sacrifice that for a minor differential in rate. That means knowing them to deliver on this promise.

· A leisure client, in a similar segment, will likely be more swayed by a package that makes the experience more meaningful and memorable than a slight differential in rate (which is less apparent when bundled anyway).

Thank you.


Cornell Study Finds that Lower Hotel Prices Cost Hotels Money in Good Times and Bad

Contact:  Glenn Withiam, 607.255.3025,

Ithaca, NY, June 24, 2009 – When close competitors cut their prices, the temptation for hotel operators is to follow with reductions of their own. While that strategy may increase occupancy, it reduces revenue per average room (RevPAR), when compared to a hotel’s competitive group. This is the key finding of a new study from Cornell’s Center for Hospitality Research, “Competitive Pricing in Uncertain Times,” by Cathy A. Enz, Linda Canina, and Mark Lomanno. The study is available at no charge from the center at

“Our goal was to compare the effects of pricing strategies among close competitors, first during a weak economy and then during boom times,” said Enz, who is the Louis G. Schaeneman, Jr. Professor of Innovation and Dynamic Management at the School of Hotel Administration. “Using the database provided by STR, we were able to analyze relative pricing, occupancy, and RevPAR in over 67,000 hotel observations, from 2001 through 2007.”

“Our findings were consistent, despite the economic situation,” explained Canina, an associate professor at Cornell. “Hotels that maintained average daily rates above those of their direct competitors experienced lower occupancies compared to those other hotels, but they recorded higher relative RevPARs. This was true in all market segments.”

Added Lomanno, who is president of STR: “Our overall results suggest that the best way to have better revenue performance than your competitors is to maintain higher average rates.” Lomanno pointed out that the researchers were careful to analyze only comparable hotels in each competitive group. Most hotels that charged relatively lower rates than their competitors had relatively higher occupancy, but that did not mean stronger RevPARs.

Thanks to the support of the Center for Hospitality Research partners listed below, all publications posted on the center’s website are available free of charge,

About The Center for Hospitality Research
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center’s 77 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. The center also publishes the award-winning hospitality journal, the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit

Nagib Lakhani     RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866       C: (425)445-7750      F: (866)508-7866
4313 245th Avenue SE

Issaquah, WA 98029

Nagib’s Corner: Hotel Industry posts record revenue in 2008, other metrics slide

Some interesting key facts from the statistics below:

Full Service GOP:
·         2008: 34.3%
·         2007: 34.4%
o    Pretty good, all things considered!
Limited Service GOP:
·         2008: 51.2%
·         2007: 55.4%
o    A little worse than full service but pretty respectable, overall.
All things considered, this was not as bad as we may have anticipated. After all, 2007 was amongst the very best years the industry has had so the declines should not be considered precipitous or, as many of us felt, disastrous when viewed from the perspective of the entire year.

What did, however, contribute to the perception of ‘falling off the cliff’ was the following reality (from the article below):

The decrease in room revenue during the last four months of 2008 was US$1.7 billion when compared with the final four months of 2007. As a result, the total profit loss in the U.S. hotel industry in 2008 was US$2.0 billion, which illustrates that the room revenue loss post-Labor Day was essentially pure profit loss.

Hope this will help you reflect over the year with a more ‘perspective’ and less ‘depressive’ memory. More importantly, I hope your hotels did not experience results worse than those ‘averages’ listed above.

Take care


Hotel Industry posts record revenue in 2008, other metrics slide
Date: 2009-06-23

The U.S. hotel industry average daily rate reached a record high, ending 2008 at US$106.55, but Pre-Tax Income Profits for the year were down 7.9 percent to US$25.8 billion, according to STR’s Hotel Operating Statistics (HOST) Study.
According to the HOST Study, the hotel industry generated US$140.6 billion in room revenue, a 0.9-percent increase from 2007. However, the ongoing economic slowdown affected the hotel industry considerably. The decrease in room revenue during the last four months of 2008 was US$1.7 billion when compared with the final four months of 2007. As a result, the total profit loss in the U.S. hotel industry in 2008 was US$2.0 billion, which illustrates that the room revenue loss post-Labor Day was essentially pure profit loss. The Gross Operational Profit (GOP) percent as a percentage of revenue was 38.2 percent of the total revenue.

‘The hotel industry was hit hard by the decreases in leisure and business demand,’ said Mark Lomanno, president of STR. ‘Unfortunately we will be operating in an environment of declining demand and increasing room supply for a while, which will put additional pressures on room rates and profits. We just have to remember that this is a cyclical industry, and things are expected to get better towards the end of 2009. But, operators need to watch their cost structure and continue to maximize ADR where ever possible.’

The study included results from more than 5,800 hotels, the most participants ever to contribute to the HOST Study.

Other highlights of the HOST Study:

• Full-service hotels reported an average occupancy rate of 67.4 percent and ADR of US$164.31 in 2008, compared with 2007 when occupancy was 70.0 percent and ADR was US$166.69.

• Full-service hotels’ GOP in 2008 was 34.3 percent, compared with 34.4 percent in 2007. The GOP was equivalent to about US$21,972 per available room.

• The study showed the bigger the full-service hotel, the better the occupancy. Full-service hotels with more than 500 rooms reported an occupancy rate of 71.3 percent compared to hotels with under 150 rooms, which reported an occupancy rate of 63.5 percent.

• Among the limited-service hotels, the Middle Atlantic region had the highest occupancy rate (72.3 percent) and the highest ADR (US$147.50) among the geographic regions for the year.

• Limited-service hotels’ GOP in 2008 was 51.2 percent (compared with 55.4 percent in 2007), which amounts to US$12,842 per available room.

• Limited-service hotels’ Income from Fixed Charges (Gross Operating Profit after deducting franchise and management fees) was US$47.65 per occupied room night-up from US$84.15 in 2007. That represents US$11,406 per available room.

The HOST Study is the most extensive and definitive database on the U.S. hotel industry revenues and expenses. The study includes operating statements from more than 5,800 hotels. HOST contains information on hotel revenues and expenses, as well as presents information by department including rooms, food & beverage, marketing, utility costs, property and maintenance, administrative & general, and selected fixed charges. HOST is available in electronic, PDF or excel files, or printed versions. For more information and details about HOST e-mail

About STR & STR Global
For more than 20 years, Smith Travel Research has been the recognized leader for lodging industry benchmarking and research. Smith Travel Research and STR Global offer monthly, weekly, and daily STAR benchmarking reports to more than 36,000 hotel clients, representing nearly 5 million rooms worldwide. STR is headquartered in Hendersonville, Tenn., and STR Global is based in London. For more information, visit or

This article comes from Hotel News Resource

The URL for this story is:
Nagib Lakhani
RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866
C: (425)445-7750
F: (866)508-7866
4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Nagib’s Corner: Internet Generated Reservations

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Interesting statistics on the current online travel habits of vacationers. Certainly, this is highly sensitive information for us as we manage our various channels.

· 66 percent of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35 percent in 2000): this is a statistic that has variation depending on which survey you refer to. High, no matter which one and growing.

· Website of online travel agency
(Expedia, Travelocity)                                                  31 percent
Search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN)                           26 percent
Website of specific hotel chain                                     21 percent

.     With the rankings clearly identified, you should take close stock of the OTA listings for your hotels – how are they showing up? Have you got key sell phrases clearly visible? Are you taking advantage of package discounts for multiple stays, participating in packaging with air, especially on your slower days?

. Search engines – this has a lot to do with your website management, PPC, etc, etc. Much info on this over past several email newsletters. If organic searches are not getting you high enough, get some advice on PPC. It has some great advantages.

. specific sites: images, images – real important in getting that ‘sticky factor’. Does you brand offer landing pages? Can you click through to other sections of your site from the main page? Do they offer any custom search words (some brands do)? Have you listed all the amenities around your hotel, even within an hour’s drive?

  • Some brands are now offering you a direct click from the to your own site, provided you comply with their guidelines (same look and feel as the Ask the question – what do you gain by doing this? If you have them on the, and you can make that effective, what is the benefit of having them be able to click to your own site? You want your own site to be as varied and reflective of your character and area features as you can make it. You will direct them to the to book anyway so they can see that. If you have them at, you already have them so is the trade off between flexibility with your own site worth it for getting the two-way?

Take care!

Computer-assisted travel picks up

While the percentage of leisure travelers who report making reservations online has grown more than 37 percent since the year 2000, “Consumers’ search behavior has changed in recent years as people have become more familiar with search technology and the number of travel planning/purchasing sites has grown exponentially,” said Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership.

monitorAccording to the latest National Travel Monitor, 66 percent of leisure travelers now use the Internet to plan some aspect of their travel (versus 35 percent in 2000), while 56 percent now report making reservations online. The nationally representative survey of 1,590 active travelers was conducted during the months of February and March 2009 and is co-authored annually by Ypartnership and Yankelovich.

Travelers visit search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN first when considering vacation destination alternatives. The websites of specific countries or destination boards are visited next, followed by online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity. Only 1 percent of travelers commence their search for a vacation destination by visiting a blog:

Visit first when selecting a destination

Search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN)                            34 percent
Website of national tourist office/CVB                           23 percent
Online travel agency like Expedia, Travelocity            22 percent
Website of hotel chain                                                           8 percent
Web site of individual hotel or resort                                 7 percent
Blog                                                                                              1 percent

Search patterns for selecting airline or lodging accommodations are understandably different. Consumers who are searching for these travel services first visit the websites of online travel agencies. Brand-specific sites follow closely when leisure travelers are selecting an airline, yet significantly less so when they select lodging. Meta search engines that compare fares are visited first by just over 1-out-of-10 travelers when selecting an airline:

Visit first when selecting an airline
Website of online travel agency
(Expedia, Travelocity)                                                  42 percent
Website of specific airline                                           41 percent
Meta search engine that compares fares                13 percent

Visit first when selecting hotel/resort
Website of online travel agency
(Expedia, Travelocity)                                                   31 percent
Search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN)                      26 percent
Website of specific hotel chain                                    21 percent
Website of individual hotel/resort                              10 percent
Meta search engine that compares rates                     5 percent

For further information on the National Travel Monitor, please visit the publications section of

Source: 2009 National Travel Monitor, Ypartnership and Yankelovich

Nagib Lakhani  RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866       C: (425)445-7750       F: (866)508-7866

4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Nagib’s Corner: The Best $73 I ever Spent

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

A truly do-able function with higher returns than other functions we may spend our time at. From the founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels.

As we work our way through his environment, it is the commitment of those who lift the load for us that will allow us to emerge on the other side with a minimal of bruising.

A simple technique I learnt from a veteran commenting on how little effort we spend on appreciating and thanking our teams:

Place 10 pennies in one pocket at the start of the day.

Every time you appreciate a team member, transfer one of those pennies to the other pocket.

Make sure you transfer all 10 by the end of the day. Surely you come across at least ten occasions to be grateful to someone on your team.

If you don’t, then you don’t have the right team!

Enjoy the day!


The best $73 I ever spent

By Chip Conley, HWN Contributor

Originally printed on The Huffington Post, Joie de Vivre Hospitality founder Chip Conley shares his beliefs on how to manage and properly treat employees

Close your eyes for a moment and consider the collection of bosses you’ve had since you joined the workforce. I remember my first boss, Mac, when I suffered through six weeks at the fries and shake workstation of McDonald’s. He helped me understand that “boss” was a four-letter word and spelled backward it’s what I felt like doing when I came home from work each day (SOB also is how I described Mac to my friends).

Chip Conley

Chip Conley

But, I also remember Larry Keating, who mentored me with great patience and wisdom in my summer internship between college and business school. Larry helped me realize I had more ability than I thought I did so I could accomplish more than I thought I would.

My hotel company, Joie de Vivre, has a more than 10-year tradition of celebrating “Employee Recognition Week” just as we’re going into our busy summer season. We started this tradition as a means of helping our maids, bellmen, bartenders and managers realize that we truly appreciated how much life they gave to our enterprise. While we initially were thrifty with our expenses during this week, with time our generosity grew to include tickets to theme parks, baseball games or cruises on the bay.

More recently, we spent nearly $100,000 on these various recognition-week activities, which may sound lavish. But when you realize this is only about $35 per employee (or about $1 per hour that each of our employees worked that week), you come to realize the good feelings that are generated about our company culture are probably worth it. Heck, you could spend $100,000 in legal fees in California just settling one wrongful termination suit of an employee who didn’t feel properly recognized.

While employee recognition week may be a wise investment, this year we don’t have the cash to invest, and we’ve had to make cutbacks. Sound familiar? Does that mean we can’t recognize our people? Compensation is a right, but recognition is a gift. What gift could I give my staff that would be as meaningful as what Larry Keating gave me that summer 27 years ago?

Yesterday, I decided to write each of the 80 people who work in our headquarters a handwritten, heart-felt thank you card. For less than a dollar per card and about six hours of my time, I could give the ultimate gift that we all are looking for. Cancel your round of golf this weekend and plant yourself in your favorite chair watching the NBA Finals and pen some thankful prose to those who work for you. As William James once wrote, “The deepest hunger in humans is the desire to be appreciated.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve saved cards that old high school flames wrote me as well as those employees have written me over the years. The power of genuine, customized appreciation will never lose its value—even in a gloomy economy … in fact, it’s probably what we’re all thirsty for in this desert of a depression.

The Gallup organization found that the single most important variable in employee productivity and loyalty is not the pay, the perks or the benefits. It’s the quality of the relationship between employees and their supervisors. Isn’t it ironic that pay, perks and benefits all cost your company at the bottom line but authentic recognition, especially when it’s most unexpected, costs very little and gives the most impressive return on investment? The $73 I spent on those cards was the best investment I’ll make in 2009.

Chip Conley is founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality. To read more of his thoughts, visit

Nagib Lakhani RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866         C: (425)445-7750         F: (866)508-7866
4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Tom’s Take: Standing Out in a Crowded Market.

How do you make yourself stand out when there are lots of people applying for jobs?

Make sure your resume shows employers what they want to see.

Easy to say. Easier to do.

Employers hire people who can help them:

  • Make money
  • Improve guest service
  • Improve employee morale
  • Most employers also prefer to hire people who have experience at a business of similar size and quality.

To make your sure your resume is on the top of the stack, concentrate on your 3 most recent jobs. For each include:

  • Paragraph describing the company.
  • 3-4 accomplishments. Be sure to quantify your results. “Personal sales exceeded quota by $280,000” is much stronger than “Exceeded sales quota.” Be sure accomplishments address one of the above points.

Nagib’s Corner: Should You Care if Your Employees Love You.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson  is the author of this article. Some very wise words to be mindful of in our daily interactions with other managers.

Highlights added by me.

As human beings, we have a natural tendency to want to be loved. But what happens when your desire to be loved interferes with your ability to lead?  People who gravitate toward leadership roles tend to be charismatic. They work hard at keeping their audiences captivated and enjoy the adoration they receive from their followers. This is all fine and good, until their desire to be liked, or even loved, begins to cloud their judgment. Here are some examples of how this can play out:

Colleagues rather than subordinates

In their quest to be liked, leaders drop their guards and become more informal with their employees than they should be. An example of this is when a leader joins his staff at Happy Hour. There is nothing wrong with sharing a beer with the team. However, things can quickly get out of hand when one beer leads to a six-pack. Before you know it, managers are sharing drinking stories from their college days. Throw in a few shots of tequila, and all bets are off.

To effectively lead, your followers must have a high regard for you. Sure, they may look up to you all evening, but will they still respect you in the morning?

Communicating versus commiserating

It is lonely at the top. There are few people who you can confide in regarding your hopes and fears. It can happen to the best of leaders – eventually they stop communicating and start commiserating with their executive team and sometimes with staff.

In these trying times, your team is looking for a leader. Someone who they are confident will be able to steer their ship through these choppy waters. The last thing they need to hear is a leader expressing doubt. If you find that you need a sounding board, consider hiring an executive coach or joining an association. Then be sure you return to the business of communicating the information employees need to hear, so when you turn around, you actually have people following you.

Are you doing too much for your employees?

Are you constantly picking up the slack for members of your team who are not cutting it? When doing so, do you take the time to explain how they can improve their performance? Or do you simply decide it is easier to do things yourself to avoid more conflict?

Conflict fuels improved performance and innovation. It can also strengthen relationships when both parties have an opportunity to have their say. Think about your own personal relationships – do you have more respect and adoration for those who are willing to call you on your actions, or for those that avoid conflict?

It is nice to be loved, but as a leader, it is more important to be respected.

(C) 2009 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions ( and has been helping companies align their people assets with their business goals. She is considered an expert in generational workforce issues. Roberta publishes a monthly newsletter ‘HR Matters’ which is jammed with resources, articles and tips to help companies navigate through sticky and complicated HR workforce issues. Click here to read her new blog on Generation Integration. She can be reached at 413-582-1840 or

This article comes from Hotel News Resource

Nagib Lakhani
RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services

O: (425)677-7866
C: (425)445-7750

F: (866)508-7866
4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029

Nagib’s Corner: Travel Trends

Below is a message from Indiana Office of Tourism Development Director – it’s a summary of the keynote speaker, Peter Ypartnership.

There are numerous very critical points raised in this. I have taken the liberty of highlighting some points of particular interest.

Ask the question:

How has your property responded to each of the highlighted trends?

We know what the guest is looking for, how they are behaving. Are we ready to respond in the most appropriate fashion?

If you wish to focus on any of the particular areas identified, please do call.

Take care


Director’s E-mail: Summer Travel Trends
Amy Vaughan, Indiana Office of Tourism Development

Dear Tourism Partners,

As we prepare for Indiana’s summer travel season, many of us are re-examining our marketing strategies due to the slowdown in the economy. Moreover, we know that travelers in the current environment are motivated by a value message.

At the recent Indiana Cultural Tourism Conference, keynote speaker Peter Yesawich, Ypartnership Chairman, offered some insights into today’s tourism marketing environment. In particular, he noted that technology, social values and demography are reshaping the world of tourism.

Today, value is king. He said that anxiety about an uncertain future continues to be an issue but people are still traveling. They are very motivated by value and want to know exactly how much the entire trip will cost before they leave home.

In particular, he recommended “bundling” or packaging travel product.  He noted:
· 87% book packages to save money
· 84% spend less overall today
· 64% comparison shop online
· 51% stay fewer nights

According to Yesawich, people continue to trade down but not out. He said that four-star and five-star hotels have seen the biggest drop in occupancy. He also emphasized the increased importance of customer service. He said travelers’ tolerance for things going wrong is zero.

Changing Environment
Yesawich noted how quickly things began to change. He said that generally, 2008 was not too bad until September.  He said that revenue for the lodging industry has been particularly weak in 2009. He stated that content had been the most important factor on a web site until now. Today, consumers want content and the ability to compare prices.

Use of the Internet

· 70% of households have access to the internet today

· 59% of households go online first/only when planning travel

Most Important Web Site Features

· 88% of travelers want to check fares/rates themselves

· 81% of travelers want the ability to book their travel online

· Overall, no one wants to overpay

Technology Trends

· 72% of travelers are uncomfortable with behavioral targeting

· One out of five travelers go to blogs for opinions

· Four out of ten consumers regularly read reviews on (which Expedia owns)

New Behavioral Trends

· Consumers want to reconnect with what’s important in life (this is similar to behavior after 9/11)

· There is a renewed interest in spending time with family. 71% of parents wish their family spent more time together.

· 38% of travelers want to travel with their children.

· Multigenerational travel is on the rise. 38% of grandparents want to travel with their grandchildren.

· There is a change in buyer psychology. Today, price is as important as the destination. People are willing to change their destination for more value.

· Time poverty has grown as a factor. Four in ten travelers say they don’t have enough time.

It’s All about Convenience

· The speed vacation is on the rise – hurry up and relax.

· Six of 10 people think that life has become too complicated.

· 47% say they don’t have enough vacation time.

Not All Vacations Are Created Equal

· Milestone anniversary and birthday trips are planned further in advance, have a longer stay, have higher spending and have more people.

· 70% of leisure travelers have taken a vacation for a special occasion.

· Disney offers travelers free admission on their birthday.

Are People Still Traveling?

· 65% of US households are planning a trip in the next six months.

· Four nights is the length of the typical U.S. vacation

As we move into summer, I think it is important to note that we are seeing some positive indicators.  In May, consumer confidence rose to 54.9, up considerably from 40.8 in April. Consumers appear much more hopeful about the future which could help the economy. Hopefully, we will see this positive outlook continue to gain momentum.

Thanks to all of you for everything that you do for Indiana’s tourism industry. Best wishes for a strong tourism season!

Amy Vaughan

Nagib Lakhani
RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
O: (425)677-7866  C: (425)445-7750  F: (866)508-7866|
4313 245th Avenue SE
Issaquah, WA 98029