Monthly Archives: August 2009

Tom’s Take: No Time for Cutbacks

Mike Doherty, President of Cole & Weber United had an interesting article in this month’s edition of Seattle Business. There are several key points that apply to this stage of the hospitality industry recession.

“If business is in a slump, don’t retrench. Reinvent! The impact of innovation—especially in a recession—will always outweigh the impact of cost containment.”

“During economic uncertainty, consumers tend to reconsider brands based on their attendant value. That behavior means businesses need to look at their product portfolios and consumer shopping habits; they also should think about the different ways their product can add real value to people’s lives and experiences. This proactive review can reveal opportunities such as new pricing models, portfolio strategies and services, all of which can help people justify their buying. Unfortunately, brands typically retrench while consumers are rethinking their relationships with those brands, giving consumers less reason to make purchases.”

Recessions are helpful to our businesses if we use them to rethink our market segments and to improve the services and products we offer our guests.

Quick no cost ideas:

1. What are different ways your product or service can serve your customer base? When guests check out of your hotel, have the front desk ask each guest what your hotel could have done to make their stay more enjoyable. When guests pay their restaurant bill, ask them how you could have made their meal more enjoyable.

2. The above will give you ideas on how to establish better communications with your guests so guests know you understand and care about their  “wants.” People frequent those businesses that make them feel good.  Making customers feel good can be as simple as showing them a caring attitude and staying in touch. It doesn’t have to cost money.

The Internet provides a simple way to communicate with our customers…consistently. Monthly newsletters on specials, quotes from satisfied customers, new offerings, etc. Create special newsletters for each of your market segments. Short, breezy, 2-3 paragraph newsletters are read. Longer newsletters get set aside and never read. Not sure of your writing skills? Don’t worry about it. People are looking for information clearly stated.

3. Learn how your property can provide real value to your customers and guests. Then re-identify your market segments and how best to maximize sales from each segment. The Internet, Blackberry’s, and other hand held electronic devices., are teaching people to communicate in different ways. It helps if we use those media, but more importantly, we need to know how people want to be communicated to.

4. Create forums on your web site so guests can communicate with your about the topics that concern them.

We’d love to hear what your property or company is doing to better communicate your services and offerings to your customers.

What Candidates Want in Your Ads

All candidates want your ads to contain the following information. While it’s important for all, it’s imperative information when you are looking to hire candidates rated in the Top 1/3 in their job category.

We’ve said it for a long time. The best candidates are currently working. Employers need the candidates worse than the candidates need the new job. We would love to hear what you are doing to sell your company and jobs to candidates to encourage them to apply to your jobs.

Research, News and Information for Recruiting Professionals | August 10, 2009
Boomers and Gen Y’s, in Sync!
by David Earle
Sylvia Hewlett and two colleagues at the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York City have published new research on the attitudes and behaviors of Boomers and Gen Y’s. Her findings contradict the common assumption that these two groups approach employment very differently and must therefore be attracted with separate recruiting messages. Her conclusions dovetail neatly with research we published earlier this year in our Job Seeker Attitudes and Behaviors Report- Mastering Internet Recruiting.

Our Job Seeker research documented the importance of non-salary/benefit considerations to candidates considering your company. Hewlett’s new research, published in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review, reveals unexpected affinities between the candidate pools represented by Gen Y (roughly, ages 15-30) and Boomers (roughly, ages 45-63). Hewlett’s data show that although widely separated in life experience, these two groups share a group of common goals and attitudes that recruiters can capitalize on when trying to attract and retain them. Some of these are unexpected.

Tom’s Take: The Hated HR Metrics

CFO, the magazine for financial executives caught my eye with an article on HR Metrics. The article started me thinking. My first thought was “What do CFO’s know about HR metrics?” My second thought, “Why are we in HR waiting for CFO’s to tell us how to justify our jobs and functions?”

The article made several key points.

First, HR metrics usually fail to connect employee performance to corporate performance. HR likes to measure turnover ratios, cost and time to hire, cost of onboarding, etc. The author was right, very few HR Departments track how well the people hired actually perform, much less how to identify what the traits and skills are that contribute to superior, measurable performance.

Second, the author asked “If employees are “the company’s most important asset” as HR executives oft proclaim, why isn’t that asset being coolly assessed like any other?” CFO’s are starting to ask HR Departments to “Give me something that will impact quarterly results now.” That’s a polite way of saying “HR, justify your existence.”

CFO’s are paid to plan for the unexpected. This recession caught many people by surprise. CFO’s have learned from it. Now they are asking HR Departments:

1. What type of employees will our business need 18 months from now?

2. Specifically, what is HR doing to assure we have those employees?

3. How is HR measuring the contribution from each employee that HR helps us bring into the organization? How is HR using that information during the recruiting and interviewing process?

Jump Start the Process (Get ahead of the curve by being proactive. Don’t wait.)

Here’s a start on a quick questionaire HR can circulate to each Department. Use this if you like, but you can do better. Take these ideas and expand or customize them for your property/company.

A. What skills will your Department need in the next 18 months that your employees currently don’t have?

B. What is the annual turnover in your Department?

C. What are the three major reasons people leave?

D. How can we in HR help you reduce the turnover?

E. How are you measuring the productivity of each employee? Any tips on how we in HR can better  identify candidates with the skills/traits that assure increases in your productivity.

There are many more questions that could be asked. Start with no more than 5. You’re looking to open a dialogue. Not all Departments will respond. That’s good, most HR Departments are small and couldn’t easily address everyone at once. Should you be lucky enough to get responses from all Departments, you will find a number of common issues that will cut across all Departments.

To Grow and Succeed in HR

-Start thinking and identifying ways your HR Department helps boosts productivity. Do the metrics you track mean anything within the overall organization?

-How HR helps to indisputably sharpen your companies competitive edge.

All business, worldwide, need to identify how to get more production from each employee. Significant labor shortages are starting to occur in every country in the world, including India and China. Every business has to carefully and critically examine the production from each employee. HR plays a very key role, but historically, HR has done a very poor job selling the value of our services.

Tom’s Take: Using Facebook to Drive Business

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of time to spend researching all the social networking sites. I want to use them to drive business…now, not three years from now.

Following is one of the first articles I’ve seen that gave me specific ideas.

Excellent ideas on how hotels, restaurants, lounges, spas and recreational facilities, etc., can use Facebook to quickly, easily drive revenues without increasing costs.

Businesses turn to Facebook for word-of-mouth advertising
Updated 8/5/2009 11:33 AM
Bartender Beau Dieda, hanging with Michelle Hicks, helps drive traffic to Baja Sharkeez through Facebook. He lets 650 of his closest friends in on drink specials, discounts and events.
By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
Bartender Beau Dieda, hanging with Michelle Hicks, helps drive traffic to Baja Sharkeez through Facebook. He lets 650 of his closest friends in on drink specials, discounts and events.
HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — Bartender Beau Dieda does more than mix and serve drinks every night at popular nightspot Baja Sharkeez: He is also instructed to sign up friends and fans for his company’sFacebook page, as well as his own. Before he leaves the restaurant, he sends bulletins to his collective fan base inviting them back in for specials, discounts or events.

“It’s one of the best ways we can reach a vast audience,” he says. “After my shift, I can blast it to 650 friends in 30 seconds. I don’t have to go around to each person, or call them up.”

Facebook, with 250 million members, has gone beyond being just a place where you can alert friends about the music you’re listening to, who you’re dating or what movies you like. The social network’s expanded Pages feature lets businesses, organizations and public figures in on the action. They can create profiles that let them sign up fans, issue status updates and send messages. Businesses like Baja Sharkeez that cater to young people and big companies like Pizza Hut and Coca-Cola are finding it’s profitable to be your Facebook friend.

What also is enticing marketers: 120 million Facebook users log on at least once a day, and 30 million of them access Facebook on mobile devices. And those with major purchasing power — ages 35 and up — represent the fastest-growing demographic.

There are more than 100,000 small-business pages — 300,000 total business pages — on Facebook, says Tim Kendall, the company’s director of monetization.

Some large companies have attracted huge followings. Coca-Cola and Starbucks have over 3 million fans; Adidas shoes has 1.9 million. Pizza Hut is closing in on 1 million fans, whom it regularly updates about specials and new menu items.

“It makes us very relevant to the audience, and lets us communicate with them where they are, in a way that our website can’t do,” says Bernard Acoca, Pizza Hut’s senior director of digital marketing.

Sprinkles, a small chain of cupcake bakeries, is itching to get to 100,000 Facebook fans. Co-owner Charles Nelson started in April sending quizzes, free cupcake offers, contests and other enticements on Facebook to bring people in.

Back then he had 8,000 fans. Now he’s at 27,000 and is staging a contest to get to 100,000, offering free cupcakes and a trip to Beverly Hills to the winner.

“A website is you speaking out, but a Facebook page lets our customers come in and give their feedback,” he says. “It generates business, and it’s also a great community builder.”

Targeted advertising

In addition to a free profile page, Chicago-based T-shirt marketer Threadless uses Facebook’s advertising program. Advertisers can choose pay-per-click ads similar to Google‘s auction-based ad program, bidding on words and paying when someone clicks on their ad, or traditional ads based on “impressions,” or the number of times an ad is presented.

Cam Balzer, director of marketing at Threadless, bids on words relating to video games, music and zombies. “This works phenomenally well,” says Balzer. “You can target your ad better on Facebook than anywhere else. I know my customers’ age, where they live, what their interests are, and only the people who fit my target see the ads.”

Facebook declined to disclose financial specifics, but Kendall says the local ad program is “ahead of expectations,” and the number of advertisers has tripled since 2008.

Marketers increasingly are gravitating to Facebook because they can advertise to a targeted audience, says Emily Riley, an analyst at Forrester Research. She says marketers can pick and choose consumers based on public information they share on their Facebook profiles, such as the city they live in, the college they attended, their group affiliations and their fan pages.

“You can literally find a book lover in New York who is a fan of Stephen King,” says Riley. “That is gold for a local book seller.”

To sign up (, advertisers commit to spending a minimum of $5 per day. An ad campaign can be turned off and on with no monthly minimum. Kendall says businesses using the ad program successfully are those who depend upon word of mouth, like real estate agents and wedding photographers.

“Brides tell their friends they’re engaged, and wedding vendors can run ads specifically targeted to them,” he says.

Sharkeez doesn’t spend money on Facebook ads for its five Southern California restaurants. Jeffrey Tyler, director of marketing for Sharkeez, says Facebook attracts enough customers for free.

His restaurants — with 50 TV screens playing the latest sports, low-priced drinks and a young singles crowd — are usually busy, but Facebook has helped “tremendously” in the soft economy, he says.

Restaurant patron Amber Mather of Hermosa Beach came into Baja Sharkeez on a Thursday afternoon specifically because Tyler sent her an invitation with a 2-for-1 Happy Hour special. “You let your clientele know every day if something is going on — new deals, new specials. That’s how I know what’s happening at Baja Sharkeez,” she says.

Tyler agrees. “We can drive sales so much more. It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to us in the past 10 years.”

Contributing: Jon Swartz in San Francisco

Nagib’s Corner: Ironing is Gaining Steam as a Perk

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Follow up from my last email, this amenity is gaining steam!

For anyone who has been on the road for a business trip (all of you), you know what a drag this is to the trip.

You can offer either a steam service or light ironing at limited cost and high value.

· Shoe shines – you can offer these with the help of your housemen who will be in the building, for the most part, in the evening/graveyard. NO                         EXTRA COST

· Ironing – offer this over a certain time period when you can retain a room attendant to stay over for an additional couple hours or so. Or ask another to come in for a couple hours in the evening. Imagine the impact with your corporate guest!

  • Test it for a Mon, Tue and Wed only and see how it works.
  • Make it a back to work special for September for all corporate clients who have a negotiated rate with you.
  • If you offer a manger’s reception (which I hope many of you are), you could offer this over that period which will really get them talking!
  • 2 HOURS @ $18-$20 max total.
  • Offer some free ironing to groups or at least to the group organizers as a point of differentiation.

For those who try this, please let me know your comments!


More hotels get the wrinkles out for guests; Ironing is gaining steam as a perk in the USA
News from LexisNexis

Gary Stoller — USA TODAY, August 4, 2009 Tuesday FIRST EDITION

Owen Mekitarian checks into a hotel almost every week and faces the same problem when he unzips his bags.

“I arrive just about every week with wrinkled clothes,” says Mekitarian, 52, a Canadian broadcast engineering consultant who frequently travels across the border to visit U.S. radio stations.

Like Mekitarian, millions of travelers can arrive at hotels each year with wrinkled clothing. Many reluctantly reach for an ironing board and iron or call the front desk for the equipment.

That’s no longer needed at Omni Hotels. In late April, it announced that its 41 North American hotels are providing free ironing for frequent-guest-program members.

Omni joins a growing number of hotels offering complimentary clothing and grooming services. Complimentary shoeshines, for instance, are increasingly common. And more hotels are letting guests use washers and dryers for free.

But simply getting the wrinkles out is often the biggest concern, and free ironing remains a rarity. Looking for hotels with free ironing, USA TODAY contacted numerous chains, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association asked its thousands of members.

Two other hotels offer the free service: the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, and The Jefferson, a Washington, D.C., hotel that’s scheduled to open later this month after an extensive renovation.

The White Barn may have the most guest-friendly policy in the country. Guests can have as many items as they wish washed and ironed for free, and the inn provides free shoeshines, says spokeswoman Kristin Hutton.

The Jefferson will iron one item of clothing for free per stay and provide free shoeshines.

Omni irons two items for free per stay for most members of its Select Guest frequent-stay program, which can be joined without charge at check-in.

Select Guest black-level members — those who have 11 stays or spend 20 nights annually at Omni hotels — can have as many items as they wish ironed for free.

Omni estimates that 8% to 10% of its guests a week use the service, according to Vice President Caryn Kboudi. Excluding repeat guests, the chain says it has ironed more than 1,000 shirts a week for free.

Guests at 190 Hyatt hotels who pay a higher room rate for upgraded amenities can have one shirt or blouse ironed daily per room without an extra charge. The amenities are part of the Hyatt Business Plan available at participating Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt hotels.

Free ironing is more prevalent at foreign hotels.

The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, north of Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta airport, offers free ironing of two items of clothing per stay and free shoeshine and button repair.

Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh, Scotland, washes and irons for free two items of clothing daily per guest room.

Many hotel guests despise ironing clothes in their rooms.

Omni announced in June that it hired a research company to survey business travelers and found that some would rather have their teeth pulled than iron clothes.

Mekitarian, the frequent business traveler from Canada, can relate.

“I do not really know how to iron a shirt,” he says. “I hate ironing shirts so much that I would rather do just about anything else — even torture myself on the treadmill.”

Mekitarian and Michael Lake, a business traveler from Auburn, Calif., say free ironing is a “great” policy.

“Most hotel irons do not work properly, leak or stick to clothing,” says Lake, who works in the transportation safety industry and spends up to 150 nights a year in hotels.

Packing dirty clothes

Mekitarian says he carefully packs his bags to keep clothes wrinkle-free, but they still wrinkle or are wrinkled during airport security searches.

To avoid ironing, he sometimes packs his bag with dirty clothes and pays for laundry service after arriving at a hotel.

Such a charge may be avoided at an increasing number of North American hotels that offer washers and driers for free for guests who do their own laundry.

All 213 Candlewood Suites hotels and all 155 Staybridge Suites properties provide washers and dryers without charge, but guests have to bring or buy detergent.

At AKA’s eight hotels in New York City; White Plains, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and Arlington, Va., the use of washers and dryers is free, and complimentary detergent is provided.

Washers and dryers are in every room at the chain’s hotels in Washington and New York’s Times Square.

The laundry room at AKA’s Central Park hotel has a lounge area with a flat-screen TV.

Hotels’ free clothing and grooming services appeal to many travelers.

But Marla Juliano of Birmingham, Ala., says she travels three to five days a week, and they won’t influence her hotel choice.

“If they are going to send someone home with me to wash, iron, cook and clean after a long trip,” says Juliano, a sales director for a hair care manufacturer, “now, that is a different story.”

Nagib Lakhani-RevMax Hospitality Consulting Services
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