Monthly Archives: November 2009

Andrew Freeman & Co. presents hotel, restaurant trends for 2010

Andrew Freeman’s Trends for 2010 are a must read. Excellent ideas for all types of business.

San Francisco, CA—November 16, 2009. Available exclusively to media today, Andrew Freeman & Co. (AF&Co.), a leading hospitality and restaurant consulting firm, is releasing their 2010 Trend Watch List. Tapping into the pulse of top restaurant and hotel trends to expect in the coming year.

The 2010 Trend Watch List was developed by AF&Co., from a combination of close industry observation, coast-to-coast travel, discussions with industry experts, meetings with hotel and restaurant clients, press contacts, conferences attended and media sources.

An industry veteran, prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., Andrew worked at legendary New York venues including Windows on the World, the Russian Tea Room and the Rainbow Room. Eventually Andrew left New York for San Francisco to become the Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. While there Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities.

AF&Co.’s annual Trend List, now in its third year, has quickly become an industry standard in anticipating market demands and consumer feedback. Read on to review the complete list:


Putting Off the Ritz – Keep it simple! Forgo the finery for now. Keep ambiance, service, and menu items simple and comfortable. Hotels can lose some of the in-room amenities; restaurants take a more casual approach with less white linen, simpler tableware and less decoration. Less is more, but choose wisely.

Examples: 400 thread count sheets are fine, and when it comes to relaxation, a good cotton robe goes a lot farther than a silk throw.

The Magic Touch – Hotels and restaurants operate touch-screen interfaces for check-in, placing orders end user-guided guest education. Everything is paid for with the swipe of a card. Reach out and touch someone.

Examples: Incentient electronic winelist at SD26 (New York, NY) and for in-room guest service in-face Ritz Carlton in Moscow; Virgin Air snackbar; Stanford Court Hotel touchscreen tourist maps (San Francisco, CA)

Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner – Create cache by offering guests something special and inviting. Celebrity yoga instructors, chefs, actors, singers, masseurs, bartenders and designers visit and do what they do well. Restaurants host Guest Chef Nights and visiting bartenders come in once a week or for a week at a time. Pop-up restaurant appearances expand outreach and help build support. Guest experts are great for sales and public relations.

Examples: The Tides Zihuatanejo’s Yoga Retreats with celebrity instructor Tom Morley (Zihuatanejo, Mexico); Tastemaker Dinners at étoile at Domaine Chandon (Yountville, CA)

Reality Bites – Bring reality TV to real life whether it is culinary showdowns in restaurants or behind the scenes glimpses into running an outlet in the hospitality business.

Examples: Sommelier Smackdown at Fifth Floor (San Francisco, CA); Deathmatch dinners (Portland, ME)

There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch– Bring in guests by giving out. Hotels offer added services at no charge. Restaurants drink up the profits by keeping guests on site and happily hydrated from beverage purchases.

Examples: River Terrace Inn offers guests complimentary DVD rentals, bikes and bottled water (Napa, CA); Palio D’Asti provides free pizza during happy hour (San Francisco, CA)

Everything Old is Indeed New Again – It’s the revival. Old-school ambiance rich with historical significance enrich hotels. While restaurants return to “classic” salad dressings and dips: blue cheese, green goddess, thousand island and louis dressing or pimento cheese and onion dip. Let’s go retro.

Examples: Hotel Shattuck Plaza (Berkeley, CA); Shrimp cocktail with green goddess dressing at PorterHouse New York (New York, NY)

Get Your Game On – The lobby as living room concept goes more casual and fun with pinball, pool tables, foosball or with theme nights like Movie Nights, Makeover Madness, “Dancing With the Stars” and “American Idol” viewing parties. Restaurant make dining fun with activity oriented events.

Examples: Pillar & Post (Niagra on the Lake, Ontario); “Golf & Grill” twilight golf games and dinners at Wente Vineyards (Livermore, CA)

Values Driven Incentives – Guests choose hotels and restaurants based on like-minded values. Hotels will donate a percentage of group business from group stays to the charity of choice, while building a strong relationship and being able to reach out to like minded businesses. Restaurants attract guests with conscious concerns seeking restaurants that reinforce their views.

Examples: Kimpton Hotels Shared Values Program; River Terrace Inn sponsors the Napa Valley Land Trust

The Discovery Channel – Guests are in search of experience vacations that allow them to get involved. Wise hotels bring the true taste to the table, or the farm. Farm stays, winery bootcamp programs, voluntourism, and cooking classes. Escape to an alternate reality.

Examples: Feather Down Farms (multiple locations, Europe); Stony Creek Farm (New York, NY), Liberty Hill Farm (Rochester, VT)

The Loyal Treatment – Guest loyalty programs give more out, more often, in efforts to boost business and keep a strong relationship.

Statistics: Loyalty is up 19% in a tough economy (Hospitality Technology)

I Heart Art –Say it with flowers and you’ll have to say it again and again. Art speaks volumes and doesn’t have to be replaced every week. It saves money, it can be a source of community involvement and it looks good. Art is smart.

Examples: Hotel Palomar, Art in Motion (multiple locations); rotating local art work at The Lodge at Sonoma (Sonoma, CA)

One Size Does Not Fit All – Small and quirky hotels offer a unique experience; often at a more budget friendly price. Loose the traditional hotel accoutrements and replace with an alternative vibe. Airstream trailers, unusual property conversions, small but funky is the rule.

Examples: Pod hotels, Micro Hotels, Hotel Airstream (Newport Beach, CA), hip/funky hostels.

Outside the Box – Open air or outdoor lobbies, independently situated bungalows or guest units set amongst landscaped areas. Outdoor massages and exercise programs. Urban adaptations feature mini-rooftop gardens. It’s the great, great outdoors.

Examples: Cottage Suites at The Lodge at Sonoma (Sonoma, CA), Bardessono (Yountville, CA), Apple Farm (Philo, CA)

The New F Words – Form. Function. Flair. Hotel guests demand fully functional work and relaxation spaces; from practical desks, focused lighting, adequate bathroom counter space, plenty of plugs and the latest tech equipment. Don’t let design be a detriment.

Examples: ergonomic chairs, spare desk-side outlets, wireless speaker phone, and in-room connection ports with USB outlets including direct connection capabilities to sync a laptop with the 32” flat screen TV at Wyndham Phoenix Hotel (Phoenix, AZ)

Let’s Get Really Personal – Show the love and appreciation with a completely personalized experience. Customization goes to the next level to create the at-home feeling. Design at every touch-point is being personalized.

Examples: Pre-loaded digital images of family photographs, customized playlists and magazine selections in every guestroom for return guests.


Coming to America – International influences are ingrained. Sriracha (rooster sauce) is the new salsa, which replaced the old ketchup. Vietnamese Banh Mi is the new Ham & Swiss; and Middle Eastern spices and spreads go mainstream as pizza makes way for pide. Forget chicken noodle soup, it is pho; pho sure.

Examples: Short rib sliders with Sriracha aioli at E&O Trading Co. (San Francisco, Larkspur and San Jose, CA); Sourdough bread and lavash with feta walnut spread and Caspian tapenade at Zare at Fly Trap (San Francisco, CA)

This Is a Stick Up – Small foods on a stick. Skewers, satay, and yakitori; no ifs, ands or kebabs about it.

Examples: Satay at Pranna (New York, NY); Anticuchos at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana (multiple locations worldwide)

Use Your Noodle – Asian noodles including ramen, soba and pho; from basic broths to high-charged broths with barbecued meats and all sorts of additions.

Examples: Big Bowl (multiple locations, ILL, VA, MN)

Sandwich Smorgasbord – Enjoy a globally inspired buffet of sandwich style options including Scandinavian open faced, Indian Kati rolls, PLTs with pancetta or pork belly, international grilled cheeses and tricked out Mexican tortas bursting at the seams. There’s a reason why delicous begins with Deli.

Examples: The Sentinel (San Francisco, CA); Take a Bao (Century City, CA)

Love Shack Baby– Seafood shacks go upscale and mainstream, even in inland areas. Old favorites like oysters, fried clams, fish ‘n chips, lobster rolls, crab cakes and clam chowder, as well as fish tacos, clam bakes, lobster boils and all encompassing fish frys. We’re hooked.

Examples: Nettie’s Crab Shack (San Francisco, CA); Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll (multiple locations, East Coast)

School of Fish – Pristine local organic produce is no longer enough, chefs and guests are casting their nets beyond small, local, sustainable and organic farming to demand sustainable seafood certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood watch and other eco-conscious organizations. So long snapper; make way for mackerel.

Examples: Area 31 (Miami, FLA); Fish (Sausalito, CA)

Dinner Theatre – Interactive entrees, apps and desserts create an experience not just a dish. From simple tableside preparations, mix it yourself tartar, sauces added at the table, build your own sundaes and ingredients that pop in your mouth; dinner is the show. We’ll all work for food.

Example: Cote de boeuf pour deux served and sliced tableside at Grand Cafe Brasserie and Bar, (San Francisco, CA); at home dessert kits from Mi2Sweets (San Francisco, CA)

One Plate Wonders – The carte du jour is combined for speed, efficiency, cost-savings and fun. It’s a completely fresh take on the blue plate special.

Examples: TV dinner at FIVE (Berkeley, CA); Quadrifoglio at SD26 (New York, NY), Red plate special at Red Star Tavern and Roast House (Portland, OR)

Suit-Your-Size – One size doesn’t always fit all. Entrees available in small and large sizes lets guests tailor the experience to size. Call it the shrinking waste-line.

Examples: Perbacco (San Francisco, CA) and Poggio (Sausalito, CA) offer pastas in half and full sizes; Hobson’s Choice (Williamstown, MA) offers most entrees and the Mudd pie dessert in full and half sizes.

Downsizing – Small is now smaller. With smaller budgets and more flexible menus we’ll see the equivalent of cocktail hors d’oeuvres; something to nibble with your drink before (or in lieu of) a full meal. Mini tacos, snack sized empanadas, finger sandwiches, sliders, and riblets. Equally approachable for the waistline and wallet these are the new essential handheld devices.

Examples: Best-O-Burger (San Francisco, CA); “Three bites and a flight” three mini tacos and a flight of paired wines Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar (Sonoma, CA)

Paint My Plate – Restaurants and art galleries merge as restaurants with art galleries attached open and art galleries bring in chefs and food for artistic food-focused events.

Examples: 18 Reasons (San Francisco, CA); Mua (Oakland, CA)

Garden Tap – Sausages and suds under the open sky. Beer gardens with good grub are spreading like Teutonic plague.

Examples: Charlie’s Kitchen, (Cambridge, MA) Café Berlin, (Denver, CO)

Eat Street – It’s the food truck tweet-up, a mash-up of narrowly focused food purveyors clustered together and sharing a communal seating area. Consider it the new block party.

If You’re Happy and You Know it… – Extend happy hours; start early, go late and offer a second late night shift. How happy can you get?

Examples: Postrio happy hour 2:30pm – 6:30pm (San Francisco, CA), Grand Cafe Brasserie & Bar happy hour 4pm – 7pm (San Francisco, CA)

Hot Foods:
Eggs: deviled, pickled and deep fried
Sous vide fruit, jam packed fruit with jolly rancher intensity
Pasta: ramen, soba and spaghetti
Legs & feet
You silly rabbit
Cassoulet and crock pots
Fritters and croquettes
Ceviche (moving east), fried chicken (moving west)
Polenta and grits
More than just your token tofu

Cool Drinks
Iced tea is the new water
Retro sodas
Red, white or orange – natural wines
Hard ciders and cask aged beers
Dessert drinks and spiked shakes
All tapped in: wine on tap
Beer cocktails
Flower power: rosewater, crème de violette and hibiscus syrup
Foam art and branded drinks on cocktails and coffee
Bitter cocoa and coffee tinctures in cocktails

This article is from Nov 17, 2009 HotelWorld Network. To subscribe:

Tom Take: What are Vidoes of Your Property Company

The number of businesses that have videos has increased greatly. But what is the purpose of the video for your hotel, business or company?

Any authorized video for your business is better than no video at all. Many businesses talk about how professional and up-to-date their company is. Your company will come across as behind the times if you talk about the above but don’t have a video when asked for one.

A video gives you the opportunity to convey your message to job candidates and potential customers. The video doesn’t have to be professionally done. High priced professional videos often miss the mark because they are obviously professionally done and designed to present the company in the best possible light. People are interested in seeing your company as it really is.

Videos enable you to convey a message to candidates for your jobs and to your customers.

Many companies make the mistake of having one video, when they really need several. If you only have one video, use it. But tell people information that is not in the video. The information that will help the person make an informed judgement about your company.

Think of a video as a commercial. Think about all the commercials you see about cars and trucks on the TV every day. A typical commecial talks about safety reliability, gas mileage, their warranty, etc.  Each commercial highlites several features and benefits. There is rarely any time for details. A video for your property, or about a specific job you are trying to fill is similar.

The ideal job video.

  • Will show several key aspects of the job.
  • Then show a typical day.
  • It will include comments from one or more people who are in or have held the job.
  • Last it will talk about some of the challenges of the job.

We hear a great deal about branding. When creating a general video for your business, that is very important. When creating recruiting videos the content is more important. Work the brand in, but it does not need repeated reference like it should in a general video.

A recruiting video should communicate the culture and values and mission of the company or property. Be sure the video accurately portrays the job. Don’t be afraid to talk about some of the challenges of the job. You want candidates who understand and have the skills to meet the challenges.

There are people working at your location that can shoot the video. Ask for volunteers. Better yet have a contest with a simple fun prize (like pizza and pop.) Then see what they can do. Typically employees will get into the project and work together and the end product will be better…and everybody can win share the prize.

If nothing else, a project like this creates buzz about your property and company, and gives your employees something positive to talk about.

Create your video and post it on You Tube. It’s quick and easy. People are used to looking at You Tube videos and they have an understanding on the quality of video to expect.

You can include your video on your Internet ads on Hospitality Jobs Online to give your company an edge when advertising.

5 Football Analogies That Will Resonate With 80% of Hiring Managers

The following article by Allison Boyce is written for those of us trying to convince others to hire candidates. The football analogies however can work in many areas of management when you run into opposition.

I have officially lost control of the remote on Sundays, Saturdays, and Mondays. In 15 years of love and marriage with a football fanatic, I haven’t learned a whole lot about the whole pastime, but I have learned that most men know a lot about football and care about it a lot more than recruiting. I also have noticed that most men use football to talk to each other on holidays, campouts, and soccer games. I would imagine it accounts for about 70% of all guy small talk. So I started thinking about using football as a metaphor for getting managers to do what I want, which is help me sell the company, the candidate, and get me hires. I didn’t come up with this idea, and it isn’t very original, but by golly, it works. Here’s how to do it.

Instead of going to a career fair to find your next top tier hire, get your manager to realize that great people have to be recruited. “If you needed another QB like Tom Brady, would he stand in line at a career fair, or answer a want ad online, in the paper, or on your website? No, you have to call his agent who gets him interested and to the table to talk. I’m that agent.”

When a hiring manager and HR want to make a lowball offer
because the recession has made everyone more desperate, but your candidate is employed, here’s what you say to get them to reconsider low-balling. “When a kid is getting ready to go out high in the draft, do you think about what the lowest package is that he will consider? No, you make him the best offer you can afford to make or you pass on the pick. No one who is good is going to be happy or accept a low-ball offer.”

When a manager wants to look around at all resumes and candidates
on the planet even though the very best candidate just interviewed and wants the job: “It’s kind of like picking a starter instead of second string. When you see someone who is going to be the key to your bench, you don’t hesitate to look around in case someone else might be better; you add them to the team in the first string. Just because he is first doesn’t mean he isn’t the best.”

When a manager wants to change the position or add unrealistic job functions to a new role:
“It’s not like there aren’t people like Deion Sanders who can play offense and defense and the entire length of the game. It is just extremely rare to find someone who will do both. It would be better to find a great cornerback than an average cornerback who can also return a kick.”

Instead of letting a team do too many jobs for too long and asking them to double that for the “good of the company,” consider this: “Even the best players need to feel like they have back up, have time to recover, and like to play one position very well. Do you think that you may risk losing your best players if you play them too long?”

I know a lot of people who will think it is very funny that I would ever remotely write about football because I don’t give a hoot about it. And I also know that managers don’t want to be talked down to or reduced to silly analogies. But there is some truth to the fact that language and cultural barriers account for the majority of miscommunications. Finding the common ground in what interests them may be the entry point toward showing them what you got.

Allison Boyce wrote the above article and it was published in ERE.Net. Electronic Recruiting Exchange has great articles for those of us who are responsible for finding candidates. To read more articles by Allison:

Nagib’s Corner: Room Demand is on the Rise!

We’re at the bottom – aren’t we??

Here is Glenn’s article, one in a number of recent articles that have talked about the trough bottoming out. The future is looking brighter although how bright depends very much on the amount of new supply in your backyard.
The challenge on the horizon is – what will the way back up the hill look like? Will it be gradual and more U-shaped , a sharper uptick to the top? At the recent Distressed Hotel Summit, Lee Pillsbury, Chairman and CEO of Thayer Lodging, subscribed to the sharper rise while Mark Woodhouse, Executive Vice President of PKF Hospitality Research, thought it would be a more gradual and U-shaped return. While Jim Abrahamson from IHG sees the uptick more like the Nike Swoosh, slow and more gradual than U shaped.

Either way, I think we should rejoice in the obvious – it’s looking brighter at the end of this long, dark and claustrophobic tunnel!
For those of you with more supply to contend with, the going may still has some bumps for you. However, your experience, stronger guest service and interaction are the stall worthy hallmarks of a steady and reliable guest base. You cannot go wrong with an investment in your team who can make that investment in guest experience.

Thank you


Room Demand is on the Rise!
Pricing power may still lag, but at least there are real indications that demand for hotel rooms is back.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Glenn Haussman

While Nervous Nellies are still ruling the roost, signs of an industry rebound are finally becoming tangible. During the last couple of months many industry insiders were saying a recovery was afoot, but the evidence was anecdotal. Now it looks as if there are some provable signs – and the numbers to back it up — that demand for hotel room nights is coming back.

However, the biggest problem going forward will be pricing power. That is, hoteliers will still have a hard time pushing that ADR back to levels enjoyed just a little over a year ago. As the hotel industry rapidly lowered prices to pump up occupancy, the industry will now have to reckon with a baseline price that is much lower than it’s been in about five years.

“It is getting a little better,” said Mark V. Lomanno, president of Smith Travel Research (STR), during this past weekend’s AHLA Fall Conference held in conjunction with the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant show here in New York. “During the last couple of months, demand has begun to trend upward and I can say with a great deal of confidence it is not going to get any worse.”

Lomanno said that, while the hotel business has been in a malaise, on average there are 2.7 million rooms sold every day in the United States.

According to figures from STR, rates during the last year declined precipitously from an average daily rate (ADR) of $107 a night to about $96. However, that seems to have hit a plateau that is reminiscent of the previous downturn experience in fall 2001 after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But it’s the revenue per available room (RevPAR) that has suffered most during the last year.

Lomanno said RevPAR is at the lowest levels since the company began tracking that statistic 16 years ago. RevPAR has plummeted 18.1 percent this year, a full 10 percent by last year’s most dour estimates predicted by PricewaterhouseCoopers last year at this event. RevPAR slipped just 1.8 percent in 2008. As for ADR, it’s dropped about 9.1 percent so far this year after a 2.5 percent decline in 2008.

Though Warren J. Marr, director with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said the U.S. economy has stopped contracting, he expects the economy recovery to be “uneven and a bit choppy.” Part of the reason is the severity of this past decline which has been extremely significant, especially for hotel occupancy. “The magnitude on occupancy during this decline has been greater than at least the last two previous cycles,” said Marr.

He said, however, that leisure business will still be strong, although it’s because the consumer is more highly engaged in finding the best deals. According to PwC, on September 15, 2008 – the day Lehman Brothers fell apart – consumer interest in travel deals was 13 percent below average. On November 5, 2009, interest was 7 percent above average. That’s a huge swing that is helping to further depress pricing power.

“The Internet has added to the challenge and the industry needs to be targeted as to how and why to discount. What is happening now is if I find at 8:00 AM you drop your rate, by early afternoon your competitors will too. That is something you didn’t have to deal with 10-15 years ago,” said Marr.

Interestingly Marr broke down exactly where the occupancy declines have come from during the past year. And it’s group business that is essentially responsible for the mess the industry is in. Call the AIG Effect or whatever, but 81 percent of the decline is due to vanishing group business, something many hoteliers don’t see fully coming back until 2011. Seventeen percent of the decline was due to transient business; however, Marr said it was offset by increases in leisure travel. Two percent of the decline was due to contract business, such as fewer airline crews utilizing rooms.

“Our real focus is on utilizing new strategies and technology for 2010 and beyond to drive revenue,” said Jeff Wagoner, president, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. “We are all looking at 2011 for when things turn around. Unfortunately we have all of 2010.”

One area STR’s Lomanno said could help boost pricing is through better yield management. While the science of pricing rooms is the right way, it’s still not being used effectively to bump up weekend rates as leisure travelers still set their sights on getting away. “Yield management still isn’t beinf applied properly,” he said.

Determine the Data You Need to Protect

Cyper security is tough to keep up with. David Meizlik is web data security expert. This article identifies the 5 questions to answer before determining what security is needed.

Protecting essential information such as intellectual property and customer data is critical for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses deal with many of the same regulatory compliance demands as large enterprises, such as HIPAA, PCI, SOX, and state laws governing the protection of individuals’ personally identifiable information—but with far fewer resources than their big business counterparts. Before beginning a data security strategy, businesses must first decide how important data security is in relation to other IT goals, and define exactly what types of data need to be protected.

First, determine how important data-loss prevention is in comparison to other security concerns by asking the following questions:

1. What regulations involving confidential data must we comply with?

2. Do we know where all copies of confidential data are stored?

3. How is sensitive information being used and shared inside and outside our organization?

4. How do our employees exchange critical data with business partners and customers—and are these channels secure?

5. What would happen to the sales, customers, and reputation of our business if a data breach occurred?

Second, define what data are deemed sensitive. Once data protection is deemed a priority, the second step is to define what exactly constitutes sensitive data for your business. The definition of sensitive data can vary greatly across industries and will not be the same for a local credit union as for a midsize retail chain. Sensitive data can include customer lists, company financial data, trade secrets, intellectual property, marketing plans, credit-card numbers, employees’ social security numbers and more. It’s critical to review all functional areas—including legal, finance, human resources, marketing, sales, and others—to determine what types of data are essential to each area of the business and need to be protected.

Only after businesses have taken these initial steps can they begin to set policies that will protect their sensitive data, yet not impede their business processes. Ultimately every organization, no matter its size, must protect the information that is essential to its business.

David Meizlik
Director of Web and Data Security
San Diego

Article from Nov. 5, 2009 AH&LA Smartbrief

Tom’s Take: How Job Seekers Evaluate You & Your Jobs

Smart job seekers:

  1. Research employers using Google, Your Website, Social Networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Ladders, Facebook, etc. They also use industry experts like Securemploy, who track and research employers.
  2. They want to know about your culture, values, training you provide and employee loyalty and morale.
  3. Then they evaluate your requirements and decide if they will apply for your job.

Employers who do the best job on steps 1-2 receive the best candidates in step 3.

There are 2 categories of Job Seeker. Which are you attracting?

Currently Employed & Relatively Happy

  • Will listen to new opportunities but let opportunities come to them.
  • Feel they strongly contribute to their current job and company.
  • Feel recognized and appreciated.
  • Look for careers with companies they can contribute to and advance with.
  • Have compensation they feel is fair, so carefully consider offers.
  • Secure knowing they will advance their careers.
  • Average 42 months per employer, giving employers solid ROI.

Aggressively Looking

  • Frequently Unemployed
  • Often have lots of job movement.
  • Often complacent about their careers or unrealistic on how fast they should advance.
  • Typically look for jobs.
  • Often willing to take any or the first job offered.
  • Usually feel undercompensated, overworked, or unappreciated.
  • Stay in most jobs 15 months or less.

Which group are you getting your employees from?

Nagib’s Corner: Gaining Medical Group Business

The medical sector remains one of the few industries that is still showing strong demand for the lodging industry. If you are tracking and data-mining your in-house guests, you may already have much of this information at your fingertips:

Opportunities within the medical segment:
·         Hospitals and clinics employ IT personnel to convert their records to digital formats. Much of this demand is extended stay or comprises of significant repeating stays.
·         Medical equipment training – installation and training generates extended stay traffic. Check with your local hospital or clinic – if they’re planning on installing new equipment, there may be opportunity.
·         Pharmaceutical reps coming to your area (some of these positions have been consolidated so smaller centers are seeing more visits from out-of-town reps making sales calls) and other related demand.
·         Training, training, training – a significant portion of the medical industry traffic.
·         Nurses – many hospitals bring in contract nursing to meet demand or move staff from other hospitals and clinics within their system to meet specialty needs. This also includes specialty physicians. Marketing to this segment should focus on safety and convenience – shuttle services, accommodating shift schedules, light and healthy snacks, welcome amenity, etc.
·         Patients, friends and family – if your area hospital has a specialty they are known for, you will likely see patient traffic related to this specialty. Or if your area hospital acts as a regional facility, you’ll see traffic from patients and family. Again, probably multi-night stays. How do you attract? Shuttle, refrigerators, microwaves, direct bill (very important in some cases), a landing page on your website and sensitivity to their reason for the visit, for a start.

If you have comments on how you have marketed to this segment, please let me know.

David Brudney, a columists offers more thoughts

Much has been written and discussed about the restrictions placed on physicians attending pharmaceutical and other life-science industry corporation training and educational programs, in particular, at high-end resorts throughout North America. It’s no wonder then that many resort operators have limited drastically or even abandoned altogether pursing this lucrative and highly coveted business.

That’s why I was nearly blown away at what I discovered recently at a very much “non-resort” hotel here in San Diego. Old habits are hard to break for us hotel sales guys, and, of course, I checked the reader board first before meeting my out-of-town breakfast guest.

I found a medical technology company’s name listed with a full day and evening agenda of meetings. One that really caught my eye was a meeting or event scheduled in the hotel’s outdoor parking lot.

Curiosity got the better of me. I wandered out to the large outdoor parking area, and there I found in a corner of the lot connected end-to-end, two oversized mobile homes—too huge and too long to be called truck and trailers.

I walked inside the tented reception and refreshment center in front and then up the steps into the first unit. What I found was a complete mobile operating room. (I recognized my surroundings right away having personally experienced hip replacement surgery.) In the room were two orthopedic surgeons—both employed, I learned later, by the host medical technology company—in full scrubs maneuvering a cadaver leg under a sheet on one of several operating tables. My tour guide explained the two surgeons would be demonstrating new procedures and techniques for large joint implants for the hip and knee and, later on, extremity implants for the hand, elbow, shoulder, foot and ankle.
Upon returning to my office, I logged onto the medical technology company’s Web site and learned they’ve been a certified designer, manufacturer and worldwide distributor of orthopedic implants and instrumentation for more than 50 years. Drilling further, I found they produce a number of educational programs for health care professionals at various regional locations.

These programs are designed to educate the seasoned veteran surgeon interested in expanding his/her scope of practice in the foot and ankle. The program aims to “facilitate higher levels of physician competencies, improve health care delivery and subsequent outcomes of patient care . . . to promote the highest level of patient safety, and further advance the specialty of orthopedic surgery (of the foot and ankle).”

Physicians and other health care professionals attending—as many as 100 over the two-day event—received hands-on training sessions, cadaver workshops, lectures and presentations.

I wanted to be sure the company was compliant with all current rules and regulations, so I navigated my way to the site’s “Customer Relationship Policy” definitions where I found the following information:

(Company authorized) use of “appropriate” off-site venues including hotel or other commercially available meeting facilities conducive to the effective transmission of information.
Health care professional attendees may be provided with modest meals and refreshments in connection with these programs. Any such meals and refreshments must be modest in value and subordinate in time and focus to the educational or training purpose of the meeting.
(The company) may pay for reasonable travel and modest lodging costs incurred by attending health care professionals where there are objective reasons to support the need for out-of-town travel to efficiently deliver training and education on products and/or medical technologies.
They do, in fact, state that “resort locations are not acceptable locations” for the company’s training and/or education events, adding resorts “are generally not deemed conducive to training, education, or the effective transmission of knowledge and should be avoided as venues for programs and events.” I can’t think of a single resort I know that would not take issue with that statement—but let’s save that for one of my future columns or articles.

No doubt there must be countless other medical technology companies booking similar training and education events at hotels just like the one here in San Diego. Where resorts have lost, maybe well-located, full-service commercial hotels will benefit—especially those with large, accommodating outdoor parking areas. The San Diego hotel in question was a large, well-respected branded, full-service commercial hotel with 350 guestrooms, less than 25,000 square feet of indoor function space, shopping close by, freeways accessible, located only eight miles away from San Diego’s downtown and airport.

Events just like the one described in this column will be held at various regional locations throughout 2010.  Should they continue to avoid booking resorts, for whatever reason or reasons, this creates some terrific business opportunities for full-service commercial hotels. (Especially those with large outdoor parking.)

Happy marketing!

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

Tom’s Take: Recruiting Techniques have Changed, Have You?

Candidates continue to change how they search for jobs.

In the early 1990’s print employment advertising still held sway. Early 2000’s it was cross-industry job boards and then niche job sites. In2009-10 Web 2.0 tools are being used, Search Engine optimization continues to evolve, social networking has taken off, and job aggregators play a key role. All aspects of recruiting now rely on technology.

Do you have a Pinpoint Recruiting Strategy? One that saves you money and measures the ROI on the people you have hired?

View Securemploy’s Media Services to help you tie all the latest technologies into one simple  plan.

Recruiting isn’t tough, but it does require the effort to create media that will draw the candidates you want…people currently successful in their  jobs.

The chocolate cake theory of pricing

Jason Freed always writes stimulating articles and this is no exception. What do you think of the five practices within revenue management

I’ll admit—I’ve struggled with understanding the rate debate. Considering industry-wide average daily rate is down $10 from last year as experts preach about holding rate, I don’t think I’m alone.

I’ve come to terms with how falling ADR hurts the industry as a whole. And I get how long it will take rate to recover from any slashing that’s going on currently. And I completely buy the evidence that discounting does not create demand.

But when I step into the shoes of a consumer—and I do every day—I’m stunned by expert advice to continue raising hotel room rates while the economy sputters, jobs are lost, businesses cut travel budgets and everyday people simply cannot afford to take a vacation.

It’s like this: Say a restaurant has chocolate cake on the menu as a dessert item. In 1998 the slice of cake was priced at $4.50; in 2000 the price was raised to $4.75; in 2004 it was $5.50 and in 2009 the same slice of cake cost $6.50. Eventually, guests at the restaurant just stop ordering dessert. They realize $6.50 is too much to pay for a slice of cake and they go without, especially in a down economy when most of the guests are already penny pinching.

Compare the cake to an overnight stay in a hotel room, except instead of $6.50 it’s $650 for a one-night stay in the new Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. At some point, consumers are going to forgo their vacations, trade down or look for a hotel that is offering a discounted rate. Now, does it really make sense for the Mandarin Oriental to hold that rate if occupancy dips to atrocious levels?

To the experts’ credit, evidence clearly shows that dropping the price of the chocolate cake back down to $4.50 isn’t going to get anyone to purchase it. At least not enough people to make up the difference in price. Similarly, dropping your room rate $20 may get you one or two more guests per night, but you’re going to lose overall revenue in the long run.

The solution heading into 2010 is revenue management. The industry has adopted revenue management well, and the organizations that maximize revenue managers and yield management software are the most successful. Those that haven’t are left with rate slashing as their only option.

On a recent webinar, Klaus Kohlmayr, director of Ideas Advantage revenue management consulting division, said hotel companies who have the right tools in place and the right outlook on business and strategies moving forward will be much better off in terms of performance.

Kohlmayr said there are five practices within revenue management—strategic pricing, total asset maximization, win-win distribution, benchmarking performance and back to basics philosophies—that need to be 100 percent in place for a hotel to succeed.

Kohlmayr illustrated strategic pricing—which he said is “recognized as the biggest threat to the industry”—not with chocolate cake, but with cheeseburgers.

At McDonalds, he explained, the pricing philosophy previously called for raising the price of sandwiches by 10 cents and fries by 5 cents across the board.

Then McDonalds implemented revenue management concepts and their philosophy changed. Now, corporate looks more closely at each menu item and each individual restaurant. Executives might suggest one restaurant increase the price of fries by 3 cents, and another restaurant increase beverages by 3 cents and fries by 1 cent.

“Rather than across the board, they look within each restaurant, within each product they sell and they understand pricing sensitivity,” he said. “In some instances they can increase prices and in some they need to decrease. It’s a better and more micro-approach to pricing.”

Kohlmayr outlined some do’s and don’ts for hoteliers.

— Think about positioning within market
— Ask yourself if customer segments have changed
— Ask yourself if competitors have changed
— Make it easier to roll back discounts

— Follow every competitor movement
— Have competing promotions in place
— Simply discount without exploring options, such as reducing value adds

“There is myriad ways of how you get around reducing your rate,” Kohlmayr said. “Historically we know once you discount it takes three to four years to get rate back to where it used to be. So think about where you want to be in three to four years and if you can afford to suffer.”

Without efficient revenue management processes, the chocolate cake might be discounted, sales remain flat, dessert revenues dwindle and the restaurant struggles. With a successful approach, chocolate cake is offered free with the purchase of two entrees. Demand increases, guest-spend is up and no one walks away hungry.

November 3, 2009
By Jason Q. Freed