Is There a Villa in Your Future? An Interview with Debbie Misajon of Epic Hideaways

Debbie Misajon is the founder and managing director of Epic Hideaways – a villa rental company specializing in destination luxury properties.  She brings over 25 years of experience and a passion for traveling the world to every location offered and personal recommendation.  I had the opportunity to interview Debbie over the holiday break and ask a few questions about some of the more exceptional aspects of Epic Hideaways ( Tell us about yourself.  Where does Epic Hideaways fit into the picture? My background has been in the luxury hotel arena working with Four Seasons, Leading Hotels of the World’s Prima Hotels, and Amanresorts. I also launched a successful villa company in Hawaii about a decade ago. After years of working with the best and learning from the best, I wanted to create something through which I could blend my hotel and villa background. So, I developed Epic Hideaways, offering the …

Larry MogelonskyIs There a Villa in Your Future? An Interview with Debbie Misajon of Epic Hideaways

Mini-Bar, Maxi-Profits

One aspect of a hotel room that definitely merits more discussion from a profitability and customer satisfaction standpoint is the minibar. Truth be told, I seldom use the minibar when I travel.  I like to eat out and experience the city that I’m in, plus there’s the stigma of having to pay exorbitant fees for staple goods.  All said, the minibar is one aspect primed for reimagining, and to help kick start the call to action, I sat down with Sandeep Sharma, VP Account Management at Minibar Systems (, the pre-eminent supplier in this segment, to address the issue. PKF’s 2011 annual Trends® in the Hotel Industry report examined minibar utilization. With 727 hotels (out of 6,500) reporting minibar revenue in 2010 and 2009, the results indicated: In 2010, minibar revenue averaged $152 per available room, 60 cents per occupied room, or 0.24% of total hotel revenue. In 2009, minibar …

Larry MogelonskyMini-Bar, Maxi-Profits

Group Sales Automation Tools Hit Critical Mass

Reggie Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Cvent, speaks in a slow deliberate fashion. When asked to describe his approach to business, he replied, “Running scared always, and the paranoid survive.” Perhaps those hotel managers who do not embrace his computerized group RFP system are the ones who should be scared. In 2008, Cvent solicited about $60 million worth of meeting RFPs on behalf of prospective meeting planners to hotels in their system. (Meeting value defined as guest room sales plus ancillary charges.) In 2011, just three years later, Cvent's throughput is expected to reach about $4 billion. For perspective, Reggie estimates this to be about 10% of the total worldwide group meeting business. Impressive, yet with lots of room for growth! Reggie accomplishes this with a staff of 850 that helps manage 500,000 events in 50 countries. These numbers led to a further $136 million  investment, which according to the …

Larry MogelonskyGroup Sales Automation Tools Hit Critical Mass

Hotel Predictions for 2012

There are probably as many predictions for 2012 as there are pundits in the media. All doomsday forecasts aside, let me throw my hat in the ring with my own hotel predictions for the New Year. The rise of the OTAs will accelerate. If you think that the statistic of 10% of total rooms booked in 2010 was significant, wait for the final numbers for 2012. The stock market is already there, with trading at 16 times earnings, and Orbitz nearly double its 52 week low. Expedia shares are not there yet, but give them a chance. Without a significant counterattack from the major hotel chain marketing teams, these companies are bound to set new sales records. My prediction is that the OTA market share will rise by a few percentage points to the high teens of total hotel sales by year end. Google will exert its muscle and …

Larry MogelonskyHotel Predictions for 2012

In Search of Hotel Excellence: Interview with Gloria Ah Sam, Spa Director at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Gloria Ah Sam is the Spa Director at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a 5-Diamond resort nestled within the pastoral mountains of Southern California.  As a destination spa, Spa Ojai has received numerous accolades for its unique treatments that blend new age aesthetics with locally sourced, organic produce as well as traditions from the Chumash, Ojai Valley’s indigenous people.  Spa Ojai fashions itself as a ‘spa university’ where, although the treatments are the main draw, there’s also an organic restaurant, Café Verde, and an Artist’s Cottage and Apothecary with holistic classes for guests to improve their wellbeing through self-discovery.   Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you join Spa Ojai and why? Gracious hospitality has been in my career path beginning in the late seventies when I was a flight attendant.  Back in the days of intense customer service training and fierce competition, passenger complaints were …

Larry MogelonskyIn Search of Hotel Excellence: Interview with Gloria Ah Sam, Spa Director at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

New Year’s Resolutions for Hoteliers

Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? Have you ever made any? Moreover, have you ever stuck to them?  Here is a list for hoteliers I’ve complied that I hope you’ll consider adding to your own for the upcoming year. I will try to use less online ‘flash’ sale programs. Everyone knows they work at delivering occupancy, but at what cost to your core customer base and brand value strategy? Commit to building your occupancies properly with well-founded yield management strategies. I promise to reduce my reliance on OTAs, focusing more on business generated through my (or my chain’s) website. Remember, OTA customers are not your customers. The goal is to secure your own customers for re-marketing purposes, let alone the yield enhancements that come from direct bookings. I will respond to every TripAdvisor rating within 24 hours. Good, bad or ugly, I will ensure that everyone knows we are …

Larry MogelonskyNew Year’s Resolutions for Hoteliers