williamvale1

In Search of Hotel Excellence: The William Vale

The millennial revolution has turned Brooklyn from a place you came from to a highly sought-after destination. And no part of Brooklyn has witnessed a broader transformation than Williamsburg. The William Vale is located at the northernmost edge of this part of the borough, on land that once housed waterside manufacturing facilities. Despite its newfound hipness, Williamsburg’s street life is still in its infancy. Hence, to build a 183-room hotel in an area that has no considerable amount of pre-existing sidewalk life or nearby landmark attractions is risky business. So, as Sebastien Maingourd, the property’s general manager, remarked, “From an architectural standpoint alone, The William Vale attracts an audience just to check us out. We are creating our own foot traffic!” The sheer brilliance of the property’s imposing facade is evident from very far away. In fact, the design is so iconic that I was easily able to identify the …

lmaadminIn Search of Hotel Excellence: The William Vale
Tractor leveling soccer field grass using heavy metal lawn roller

Leveling the Sharing Economy Playing Field

I attended an interesting travel panel earlier this month in my hometown of Toronto. The topic was the leisure segment, with the panelists all senior members of tourism bureaus and hotel organizations, while their presentations quoted the usual ream of statistical gobbledegook. The mood was rosy as Canadian travel statistics have never been better with the nation approaching its 150th anniversary. The ebullience in the room was so thick that I felt that it couldn’t be cut with even the finest Japanese samurai sword. Bu then I asked the question with a somewhat naïve tone, “Have you seen any impact on the hotel sector from alternate lodgings?” The responses revealed a sharp dichotomy. Those representing the tourism sector clearly want more accommodations, with Airbnb and the like fitting that bill to a tee. A hotel can take several years to build while Airbnb rooms can be added almost instantaneously. Contrarily, those …

lmaadminLeveling the Sharing Economy Playing Field
Cancel Button - Enter Key

Thoughts on the Major Chains’ Cancellation Policy Change

The slew of recent announcements that major chains including Marriott, Hilton and IHG will now require a minimum notice (48 hours for the first two and 24 hours for the other) to cancel a reservation and avoid a penalty should come as no surprise to anyone. There are a few exceptions to this rule, of course, but overall the policy is fair and appropriate given the current business landscape and the ever-vital need to maximize revenue. Taken together, these three chains dominate the largest segments of the hospitality marketplace and one should anticipate that many additional hotel companies operating in other niches will soon follow suit. And for good reason, too! But first, you must understand why policies have been undertaken at this particular moment in time rather than, say, ten years ago or even five decades ago when they were equally applicable. It all has to do with the …

lmaadminThoughts on the Major Chains’ Cancellation Policy Change
Charts and analytical data on the tablet screen with a cup of coffee on a wooden vintage table.

The Downward Spiral of SEO and SEM

Want to hold the top spot on Google for everyone searching an accommodation in your area? I am sure that this is the dream of every hotelier on earth. Somehow, there would be a magic potion or genius company that could drive us to the top of the listings for both the lower funnel (branded terms) as well the top of funnel (broader travel terms). Deep down, though, we all know that this is pretty much impossible all the while Google (traded under its parent company’s name, Alphabet) is showing record profits and commensurate share prices. But does this all make sense? Why is it that our budgets for this activity are constantly growing yet we don’t seem to be making any real progress in this regard? Our industry spends billions of dollars, not just on these so-called ads but we also employ a cadre of internal experts both and …

lmaadminThe Downward Spiral of SEO and SEM
Business acronym CRM as Customer Relationship Management written with chalk on wooden mini blackboard labels, defocused chalkboard and wood table in background

CRM Success Is Built On Partnerships

Participating in a recent panel discussion in Toronto sponsored by Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) alongside experts from Acxiom, Serenata, Oracle and Cendyn served to be a truly enlightening hour and half on the future of customer relationship management (CRM). Apart from your humble scribe, it was an impressive panel of leaders in this highly technical field with an equally prestigious audience comprising over two dozen CIOs from the world’s leading hotel brands. The program started with an identification of exactly what today’s CRM comprises. At a minimum, CRM includes the following in no particular order: Data collection and storage of information pertaining to hotel guests The ability to access and aggregate this data for the purposes of personalized marketing through email and perhaps social media Campaign management tools to effectively undertake this activity Triggered event activity from pre- and post-stay Analytics, including surveys and guest review analysis The ability to …

lmaadminCRM Success Is Built On Partnerships
Chiang Mai, Thailand - September 4, 2016: Apple iPhone 6s plus with Airbnb application on the screen. Airbnb is a website for people to list, find, and rent lodging.

Analyzing Airbnb’s Advertising

I have to hand it to the folks running Airbnb. Their brilliance in communicating their message makes all of us in the hotel business look a bit amateurish. And incredibly for that matter, Airbnb’s latest TV missive has nothing to do with travel or even accommodations. For those who have restricted their television viewing to Netflix or other streaming services and have missed the advertisement, here’s a short synopsis. The ad depicts an retired couple talking about how renting out a room in their home helps them keep up with payments. It goes on to suggest that Airbnb is helping thousands of friendly folks just like them make ends meet. Moreover, the ads are geotargeted. The one I saw focused on Toronto – my home city – with classically iconic CN Tower photography thrown in for good measure. My sister reported similarly bespoke cutaway stock shots adapted for the New …

lmaadminAnalyzing Airbnb’s Advertising
Waiter presenting burnished flask of beverage. Focus on wine

In Vino Veritas LVIII: Beverage Specialist Nomenclature

Educating your servers about wine so they pay that knowledge forward to patrons in the form of intelligent menu recommendations and building a rapport is a worthwhile pursuit as well as one I have wholly espoused throughout this column. However, with many restaurants already encouraging this practice and with even more waiters seeing this as an avenue for bigger tips, basic wine knowledge has become the norm rather than a value-add. And therein lies an opportunity to further enhance overall guest satisfaction. This doesn’t mean you should abort all attempts at staff education or in offering recommendations. Rather, we have to put our marketing caps on for a moment to see if there’s a way we can tweak this aspect of the meal experience so that it feels fresh once again. And an easy solution may be in further specializing your F&B team then giving these dedicated experts uniquely alluring …

lmaadminIn Vino Veritas LVIII: Beverage Specialist Nomenclature
D-Day hedgehogs in Normandy, France

Drumming Up Your War Tourism

It’s long been on my bucket list to visit the beaches of Normandy and experience just a sliver of what our fathers and grandfathers went through on June 6, 1944. Coupled with some fine cuisine including exquisite wine and delicious camembert cheeses as well as a few walkabouts through picturesque Northern French towns and other historic sites, this would make for an unforgettable summer vacation. Talking over this dream in conversation, it became apparent that many of my friends and colleagues have similar ambitions or have already completed such a journey. And I’d imagine that you or your friends are in the same boat. In fact, while touring the D-Day Invasion locales may represent the pinnacle of war tourism, it is hardly an anomaly insofar as popular travel motivations. Just consider how much war history is out there and how much effort has been put into preserving these locations and …

lmaadminDrumming Up Your War Tourism
A menu resting on a restaurant table, emphasis placed on the golden embroidery lettering against the black with the image's focus.  Silverware, napkins and glasses sit in the background as blurry shapes at the menu's edge, all resting on a light brown table.

The Proof of Prix Fixe

Choice is a tricky thing. Confronted with too much of it and you are stymied by indecision. Yet faced by too little and you feel shortchanged or indifferent to the whole buying process. It’s all about finding that happy medium, and to help you decipher this golden mean there’s better place to start than by examining how prix fixe menus subtly work to build revenue and customer satisfaction. The best prix fixe menus not only feature a restaurant’s signature dishes as selected and perfected by your chefs, but they also offer a few options within broader course grouping. For instance, if you offer a simple three-course dinner, you might give two choices for appetizers, three as mains and another two for desserts. This way your patrons don’t feel as though they are being coerced to go down one specific track where the perception would be one of inevitable boredom unless, …

lmaadminThe Proof of Prix Fixe
hitec2017

HITEC 2017: A Show About Integration

For those who did not attend the 2017 edition of HITEC, held in Toronto this time around, you may be wondering what you missed. Frankly, the same question may be posed by those who attended as well! Putting aside the exceptional educational seminars, the exhibition show floor now resembles a miniature version of the world’s largest technology trade fair, the annual Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas each January. Some of the HITEC supplier booths have even gone to great lengths to replicate hotel facilities in order to elicit the same levels of customer excitement generated at CES. Most also have ample space for lively conversations and intimate customer presentations. Spending as much as is humanly possible of 15 hours of allotted open time on the actual exhibit floor, I ended up speaking with dozens of vendors. Walking every aisle, I attempted to absorb all the various product and …

lmaadminHITEC 2017: A Show About Integration