Young Asian male frustrated, confused and headache by WannaCry ransomware attack on desktop screen, notebook and smartphone, cyber attack internet security concept

Cyber Crime, Cyber Liability and Cyber Liability Insurance

It is a hotelier’s worst nightmare – the theft or loss of guest records. Recall the data security failure at Target Stores HQ or the more recent challenges being faced by Sabre Corporation on their SynXis booking system. Now, imagine that this happened to your IT system. How would you explain this to your past guests? What steps would you take to remedy this situation, and at what cost? The simple fact is that when it comes to cyber security, no one can claim to be 100%, ironclad safe insofar as protection of data. If it is not hackers then it could be an internal breach from, say, a disgruntled employee. As a general manager, it is your responsibility to your guests as well as to your owners to take both the appropriate precautionary steps in protecting data, but also to consider means of mitigating damages to the company in …

lmaadminCyber Crime, Cyber Liability and Cyber Liability Insurance
Bangkok, Thailand - June 6, 2016 : Apple iPhone5s showing its screen with popular travel applications.

HAC on the Attack

Anyone who has read my columns on the topic of alternate lodging providers knows that I have my qualms with Airbnb. While I have the utmost respect for this organization and am in awe of its marketing prowess, I am increasingly concerned that its rapid growth is occurring at the expense of the more traditional accommodations industry. Not to be a luddite insofar as stubbornly standing in the way of logical industry disruptors and the inevitability of technological progress, my anxiety stems from the fact that most hoteliers are less worried than I am about the company that just may be the harbinger of their own demise. No matter how much I express concerns regarding Airbnb, in the back of my head it is particularly amusing as I appear to be more apprehensive for the future of the hospitality sector than those individuals who are actually responsible for generating room …

lmaadminHAC on the Attack
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
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
feedback concept, write review online, rating on internet

Close The Feedback Loop

Does any hotel still offer customer satisfaction surveys? Do you, as a hotelier, rely upon comment cards as a quality control for your operations? A decade ago, the answer would undoubtedly be yes, but now it isn’t so black-and-white. Let’s reflect on what’s happened, specifically related to the advent of internet-born travel websites. With the success of online review sites, including the behemoth that is TripAdvisor, it’s all too easy to surmise that their growth was primarily because of how they aggregated hotels and cross-linked to OTA booking engines. However, we must also stomach the fact that it’s our own fault that these channels proliferated. We gave these watchdogs an abundance of meat to chew on because our properties were rife with unchecked service errors. These sites gave angry customers a place to vent. Eventually we woke up, realized we had created a monstrously powerful beast, then attempted to rein …

lmaadminClose The Feedback Loop
Chiang Mai, Thailand - April 26, 2016: man hand holding screen shot of Uber application showing on Asus Zenfone 2 mobile phone. Uber is an American multinational online transportation network company.

How the Sharing Economy Impacts Select-Service Hotels

Outer space may be the only place to escape the onslaught of the newly famous cadre of alternative lodging companies categorized as a part of the sharing economy, including but not limited to HomeAway (owned by Expedia), HomeToGo, Vacation Rentals By Owner (otherwise known as VRBO), Couchsurfing, onefinestay (recently acquired by Accor), FlipKey (owned by TripAdvisor) and, of course, the behemoth that is Airbnb. Even those select service, limited service and all other hotels that primarily cater to the business crowd have largely escaped the direct impact on their occupancies and ADRs from this rapidly burgeoning section, it is only a matter of time before the alternative lodging industry starts to influence every hospitality establishment in every corner of the earth and becomes a direct competitor for your property. On its most fundamental level, the sharing economy is changing the way consumers think about travel and how to go about …

lmaadminHow the Sharing Economy Impacts Select-Service Hotels