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HITEC 2015: A New Hope

With a new Star Wars movie opening this Christmas, it seems only fitting that we borrow the original 1977 film’s subtitle to describe the state of affairs at this year’s HITEC in Austin, Texas. The weather outside was sweltering with rolling thunderstorms, sheets of rain and tornado warnings, yet the mood inside the Austin Convention Center has never been brighter. Exhibitors were optimistic and enthusiastic while the throngs of attendees were eager to learn about how the new products only display will not only increase a property’s bottom line but also improve the overall travel experience for guests. Yes, competition is fierce in the technology sector, but the general undertone on the tradeshow floor was collegial, collaborative and eternally hopeful. We all know that there are many external forces working to seismically shift how accommodations are purchased by consumers. And not all of these influencers are good news for hotels …

lmaadminHITEC 2015: A New Hope
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In Search of Hotel Excellence: The Langham Auckland

As I sit down for afternoon tea in Palm Court, the lobby lounge at The Langham Auckland, I’m astounded by the immaculate presentation, the flawless service and the attention to detail in every corner at this incredible New Zealand hotel. It’s a luxury property that feels quintessentially European and yet is about as far away from the contintent as is possible. After acquiring the property in 2005, the Langham Hospitality Group spent over $12 million to refurbish the 411-room hotel (in addition to many other subsequent upgrades) and model it after The Langham London with its grand tradition of Victorian elegance and sophistication. Look no further for evidence of this than the exquisite Langham Afternoon Tea at Palm Court or a formal gathering at The Great Room which can seat 900 guests. To help elucidate readers on how this property excels and what differentiates New Zealand hospitality, I met with …

lmaadminIn Search of Hotel Excellence: The Langham Auckland
Towels with white frangipani flowers in a Balinese spa

Marketing Wellness to the Unenlightened

A spa or wellness center can be a tremendous profit maker for a hotel or resort property. Indeed, various estimates put wellness tourism in or around half a trillion US dollars worldwide, more than one-seventh of all travel bucks spent. Hardly a loss leader, but I nonetheless ask: how can wellness tap into the other six-sevenths? To spa or not to spa – that is the question I’ve asked travelers in the past, both anecdotally and through dedicated research. Without making this a numbers or methodology debate, let me just say that there is a sizeable percentage of the traveling population that has never utilized a spa or very rarely does so. While rigorously working to retain existing business (that is, those customers who actively seek out spa accommodations) is always a prudent course of action, that six-sevenths is too big to ignore. So it’s clear, we aren’t discussing wellness …

lmaadminMarketing Wellness to the Unenlightened
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HITEC 2015: Lessons for You as an Exhibitor

Okay, this is my last article on this year’s HITEC, I swear! Superior booth design is worth addressing much like my diatribe on e-blasts because with hundreds of exhibitors on the convention floor it is still hard to get attendees to notice you. While this may not concern many of you as hoteliers, nonetheless there are many vendors amongst us and, heck, you never know when you’ll be charged to represent your hotel abroad at a convention or other booth-mandated symposium. Without further adieu, here are my observations for you to consider: Coffee and snacks. Tradeshows are tiring. You’re on your feet for most of the day, moving from booth to booth with back-to-back meetings. Then throw in jetlag and I’m surprised they don’t have a napping station on the main floor. To alleviate drowsiness and to encourage attendees to stop in for a minute, offer them coffee and treats. …

lmaadminHITEC 2015: Lessons for You as an Exhibitor
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New Mini-site Launched for Optimé GameDay™

Today LMA launched a designated mini-site for Optimé focusing on their exclusive product: GameDay™. GameDay™ is a customized business simulation that uses competition as a catalyst to engage a sales team. Participants are immersed in a real-life, challenging selling and customer call environment based on your business reality. In creating a mini-site to promote this new tool, LMA developed a customized, integrated WordPress framework and content management system. The site features a video, contact form and interactive data that appears as you scroll down through the page. To view the site, visit http://optimegameday.com/.

lmaadminNew Mini-site Launched for Optimé GameDay™
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HITEC 2015: Lessons for Your Outbound E-Marketing Efforts

Attending HITEC as a member of the press, I was bombarded with e-blasts and emails from vendor representatives vying for me to drop by their booths or set up a meeting. All together, I received close to five hundred emails in the month leading up to and during the week that was the tradeshow. That’s a lot to read – too much in fact for someone who also has a full-time job outside of his hospitality writing. As such, most of these emails received only a cursory glance and were summarily dispatched via the DELETE button. But herein lies a very powerful lesson. When someone is harried, stressed and managing multiple projects at once (as I’m sure you all are if you are doing your jobs rights!), you just don’t have time for much else. So, how do you get a stranger’s attention in an email, even if the call …

lmaadminHITEC 2015: Lessons for Your Outbound E-Marketing Efforts
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HITEC: Why You Must Go

Full disclosure: I love tradeshows. The exhibitors bring the excitement while the throngs of attendees build the energy to a fever pitch. I marvel at the glossy displays and all the fascinating new products ready for sampling. Yet, despite encouragement from me – the-ultimate fan-of-tradeshows fan – I was saddened that very few of my colleagues – general managers, asset managers, owners, sales and marketing directors and so on – attended this year’s HITEC in steamy Austin, Texas. Your responsibility as an hotelier does not stop at your lobby door. In the days of yore, the big tradeshow for the hotel industry was the International Hotel Motel and Restaurant Show (IHMRS), perennially staged at New York’s Javits Center. That’s still a great opportunity to look for hard and soft goods, kitchen equipment, amenities and pretty much everything you need to fill and run your property. If you’re shopping, remodeling or …

lmaadminHITEC: Why You Must Go
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Predicting Next Year’s Food Trends from The Ex

Gourmet burgers are soooo 2013. Tacos? I thought they peaked last summer. What’s next year’s hot dish going to be? When will our current bacon craze go belly up? (pun intended) Important to us hoteliers, if we have a vague semblance of where food trends are headed, then we can plan menus accordingly and harness the ‘hype’ surrounding on-the-up cuisines for an extra marketing boost. The Ex, short for the Canadian National Exhibition, is Toronto’s (my hometown’s) annual carnival event and provincial fair, held during the tail end of August at Exhibition Place near the city center. It also happens to a massive gathering for food trucks and countless other avant garde culinary pioneers. Having long since considered the rickety mechanical rides and games as juvenile, I’m one of thousands who visits The Ex solely to try several esoteric snacks. Congregating in the convention-sized Food Building where deep-fried Mars bars, …

lmaadminPredicting Next Year’s Food Trends from The Ex
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Recapping HITEC 2015

Last month’s HITEC tradeshow was a revelation – not so much that every exhibitor or presenter was right on the leading edge, but just the fact that for the first time in a long while, there was so much optimism on the future of the hospitality industry. Putting aside most of the excellent educational seminars, I wanted to share with you some of the broad themes and big issues that the exhibitors addressed. As well, I would like to share with you some of the more interesting products/services presented. The sophistication of data manipulation and application was a definitive core theme of the show. Big Data, a buzz term for several years already, now has immediate relevance to the hotelier. Most companies operating in this space use the expanse of digital metrics to augment business intelligence or to develop predictive modeling software with a number of subsequent functions – for …

lmaadminRecapping HITEC 2015
Boat on the Shore of a Fiord in Marlborough Sounds, South Island

Summer Holiday Week and Beyond

Can you believe that it’s already the end of June? Time flies when you’re putting in 12-hour days at the office, doesn’t it? Given the timing with which I’m writing today’s article, there’s an elephant in the room besides the impending high tide of summer travel – the rogue wave that is the holiday week comprised of Independence Day and, to a lesser extent, Canada Day. With the Fourth of July falling on a Saturday this year and the statutory observation on the preceding Friday, it’s a given that many will book off the adjacent Monday or Thursday (or both!) to pad their vacation time. In order words, we are presented with quite a few people who have enough consecutive days off to warrant a proper getaway. Earlier this month, I discussed Father’s Day and how your activities on that weekend might serve as a litmus test of sorts for …

lmaadminSummer Holiday Week and Beyond