More on the R Word

This short note is for general managers and other senior managers over 50. If you do not meet these two criteria, please discontinue reading right now. On second thought, this serves as a great head’s up for anyone of any age in the business.  Having reached the prime age of 60 last month, I am told by many that ‘60 is the new 40′ or ‘60 is the new 50′. Not very reassuring, as the aches and pains of every sport injury of my youth reacquaint themselves with my joints. Many friends of mine have retired and are urging me in this direction.  Still others have left their employers of many years and are starting new businesses or consultancies with a vim and vigor that defies their age. These folks are passionate about their new work, their clients and their relationships, and are determined to do great work. It used …

Larry MogelonskyMore on the R Word

What’s the Buzz About Sliders?

Half a year ago, I doted on the remarkable upswing in creative interpretations of the Western staple cuisine – the burger. Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed this dish go from an ordinary menu item at any old greasy spoon or fast food location to a carte blanche for artisanal combinations of premium toppings and high quality patty ingredients. Sure, there are always the McDonalds of the world to fill out the bottom end, but now the glass ceiling has been shattered and the sky literally is the limit on where burgers can go. Aside of the healthier vegan counterpart, people are well aware of the artery-clogging implications of eating a slab of fried meat. Labeled as a comfort food, people aren’t yearning for burgers seven days a week. But when they crave an indulgence, they go all out. Upscale burger joints are currently ‘trending’ and signs of slowdown aren’t …

Larry MogelonskyWhat’s the Buzz About Sliders?

In vino veritas, part X: Cheese tastings

Cheese is often thought of as the lowly second-tier cousin to wine even though the two go hand-in-hand across the globe for fancy soirees. Take a closer look and you’ll see the craft and sophistication behind these semisolid dairy products goes just as deep as their alcoholic pairings. My appreciation for cheeses was sparked a few summers ago when I sojourned in Cannes, France, with my wife. While shacked up at a bucolic Relais & Chateaux property, Hotel Le Mas Candille, in the town of Mougins, we needed only walk downstairs 20 paces to reach the entrance of a Michelin star-rated restaurant, Le Candille, headed by celebrated chef Serge Gouloumès. Most notable at first glance was the prix fixe menu at €400 (US$543) per head. Not only are we talking about a truly empyrean bill (taking into account this trip occurred before the recent recession and subsequent European currency reevaluation), …

Larry MogelonskyIn vino veritas, part X: Cheese tastings

A ratings evolution beyond TripAdvisor

I wish to bloviate on a particular issue that concerns a client of mine and its organizational needs in the online space. This client owns two franchise properties located within a few miles of each other, one a Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) and the other a Hilton resort. Ergo, this unique situation lets us draw some interesting comparisons. From a product standpoint, each of these properties is consistent with its own brand standards. The HGI has adequate furnishings, functional bathrooms and minimal extras. The public areas are not lavishly excessive (admittedly with a spectacular courtyard and poolside), and the restaurant and bar services are mostly self-serve. As a contrast, the resort is utterly magnificent. Newly minted, the property has all of the accouterments one would expect from a luxury resort. As you’d expect from a superb operator, both properties also deliver exceptional guest service. Within their respective classes, they quite …

Larry MogelonskyA ratings evolution beyond TripAdvisor

Ten Most Common Hotel Marketing Mistakes

Marketing dollars are precious and scarce. No one wants to pilfer resources away towards programs that fail to deliver a solid return on investment. As a general manager, here are ten thoughts to keep in mind as your hotel marketing team prepares to execute this year’s plan. 1. You can’t measure everything. As a consultant, after presenting a concept, the director of marketing often asks, “Yes, but can we measure the results?” The simple fact is this: not one system has been invented that accurately records the results of each and every iota of action. There are so many variables at play that the ability to study the minutia of each and every element is, at best, a scientific anomaly.  Mind you, as digital avenues flourish, we are getting better at capturing this enormity of data. But more data can easily bring on more headaches. Instead, train your team to focus on …

Larry MogelonskyTen Most Common Hotel Marketing Mistakes

Reminiscing about Sedona

Towering red rock mesas glimmering under a beating desert sun, a silence only pierced by the squawk of far-off falcons and the scrunch of tumbleweed, crystal-clear air that soothes any sinus and more than 372 mi (600 km) of mountainous trails. The location? Sedona, Arizona, a short drive north of Phoenix and the perfect vacation hotspot to escape the winds of winter. From an accommodations standpoint, Enchantment is perhaps the most recognized destination spa, situated a few miles out of the hustle and bustle of this resort conclave. But search TripAdvisor, and a 16-room property, the Adobe Grand Villas, stands proud at number one. My visit with Michael Merilli, general manager and executive chef (a rare and interesting combination), provided some insight behind this online triumph. First to mind, the property redefines décor. The doubters and cost accountants among readers might deem it kitsch, but, alas, it works. Each 825-sq-ft …

Larry MogelonskyReminiscing about Sedona

Social Media Marketing in China for Hotels

The world’s most populous country and the second largest economy as of this writing, China is exceedingly difficult to ignore. To many Westerners, the nation is still largely a mystery and widely misunderstood behind antiquated perceptions of their government, censorship laws, outsourcing and many others. For hoteliers, all this can perplex to the point of noninvolvement. Lest you forget that where there are people, there are eager travelers, and this bastion of humanity is no exception. Outbound tourism from China has already risen significantly in the past 20 years since they reopened their borders to the capitalist world. Given the causal relationship between prosperity and travel as well as the nation’s stable economic forecasts, this trend is bound to continue. However, a broad rallying cry does not preclude the hard work and tact you’ll need to penetrate China’s curtain, never mind the startup costs of adapting to the nation’s internal …

Larry MogelonskySocial Media Marketing in China for Hotels

Ambient scent marketing activates olfactory

When it comes to depicting a hotel experience, our lexicon usually describes a journey primarily of sights—soothing room ambience, extravagant lobby décor and so on—with glossy, high-resolution photographs as worthy complements. Next on the list is sound, portrayed as crashing ocean waves, birds chirping peacefully at a bucolic resort, or for urbanites, a quiet space fit for a restful sleep between harried business days. Meanwhile, restaurants and bars excite with poetic verses that stimulate the palate, while bed sheet linens and marble-tiled bathrooms do wonders to arouse the sense of touch. What’s often left out of the picture is the fifth spoke on the wheel: smell. Not that the people who write your promotional materials morally abstain from infusing this, but there’s simply nothing in the room, lobby or hallways to spark an aromatic reaction. Our sense of smell can at times be highly underrated for its powerful psychological effect on …

Larry MogelonskyAmbient scent marketing activates olfactory

A Review of the Guest Survey Tool, GuestInsight

How do you manage your electronic guest feedback? What’s your response rate? How do you interpret the answers? How do you translate numerical ratings into a targeted call to action? Or, do you disregard your own customer feedback model and opt to trust solely in the third-party deities of TripAdvisor, Travelocity and their ilk? All good questions, and indeed, consumer surveys are essential tools to gain new insights about your operations and refine certain aspects of the experience. My talk with Rich Raffel, the Director of Sales for GuestInsight, highlighted a few critical issues concerning the nature of guest feedback in the digital age. GuestInsight specializes in designing analytical customer feedback systems for independent operators and management companies, but we’ll get to the details of their software later. The cardinal tenet is to keep your appraisal short and sweet. Ideally, you’d want your past guests to detail and quantify every …

Larry MogelonskyA Review of the Guest Survey Tool, GuestInsight

Privacy When They Want It, Service When They Need It

When was the last time you had to ‘hunt down’ a server in a retail store, a restaurant or other service environment? Yesterday, last week, last month? Consider a guest while on vacation or after a day of meetings. Suppose this guest decides to relax near the pool or perhaps at the hotel’s secluded patio space. This tactic may ensure privacy, but it also means no servers will be in sight. Normally, if he or she wanted a drink or some chow, they’d either have to wait for a staff member to amble by or get up and wave one down. Now consider the reverse scenario. A guest plucks down in the restaurant or lounge and the patrolling wait staff checks in every five minutes. I mean, they just won’t leave the guest alone! Frankly, it’s getting annoying. One of the trickiest aspects to mastering guest service is finding the …

Larry MogelonskyPrivacy When They Want It, Service When They Need It