Thursday, December 29, 2016

Business Travel Tips Part 2

Here in part two of our business travel tips blog, we will examine some more ways to make travel less stressful and go more smoothly.

Bring hand sanitizer - Bacteria and viruses may be everywhere, however in airplanes, hotels and restaurants you are especially vulnerable because of the tight spaces and lots of people passing through. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your face as well as use hand sanitizer.

Join a rewards program - The benefits of joining a rewards program for both airlines and hotels are enormous. From no blackout dates and earning miles for free flights from airlines, to room upgrades and free room stays from hotels, joining a rewards program clearly has its benefits.

Fly with the same airline - Even if you do not travel enough to benefit from a rewards program, flying with the same airline does show the airline that you are a loyal customer.  A benefit to this is that the experience will be familiar and you will know what to expect, making travel less stressful.

Try to beat the jet lag - Jet lag is hard to avoid, but you can take some steps to lessen its effects, such as get plenty of rest before you leave home. On the plane, take sleep aids, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol.

Hopefully, by taking action with some of these tips, business travel can be a lot less stressful. 

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hotel Brand Loyalty - Part 3

The ongoing struggle for booking supremacy between hotels and the online travel agencies is forcing hoteliers to reevaluate their loyalty rewards programs. The points-based rewards offered by hotels are no longer adequate enough to earn the continuous brand loyalty of their guests. To gain and keep the traveling public’s loyalty, hoteliers must be more innovative in their approach with an emphasis on relationship building. Successfully transforming a customer into a brand advocate, one who will encourage others to stay with a particular hotel, requires going further than offers of a free night stay.


Customer Relationship Building 

The economic benefits for travelers of free giveaways and discounts from hotels cannot be denied. Particularly in regards to newer loyalty program members, financial rewards do effectively begin the relationship building process. New guests have trust in the brand and commitment to the program instilled in them through financial rewards. However, creating a true relationship, one which will result in sustained brand advocacy, demands making each and every guest feel uniquely special in the eyes of the hotel.

To instill those emotions in their guests, hoteliers should focus their efforts on perks that will feel inclusive. Generate enthusiasm among guests with offers as simple as Wi-Fi, movies, or even room upgrades when availability allows. Guests also love to be rewarded with the gift of complimentary services such as salon or spa treatments. Some hotels are now even trading unforgettable experiences for the brand devotion of their guests. Hotels can partner with local area venues for sports, concerts, or excursions. Memories of amazing experiences will last much longer than the memory of a free room night. 

Hotels can do much to make loyalty club members feel welcome before, during, and after their stay. Invite all first time guests to join the hotel’s loyalty program in advance of their stay, along with an invitation to the hotel’s online social channels. Encourage participation in feedback to the hotel at any time during or after their experience. Upon arrival, members should be welcomed with expedited check-in or even extended check-out times as well.

In the end, the most effective hotel rewards programs offer a well balanced approach composed of both financial benefits and customer relationship building measures. Both of which will develop true hotel brand advocates out of guests. These guests will both sustain and grow the hotel’s reputation into the future.  


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/23/16

Hotel Industry On The Right Path To Full Accessibility 

The Open Doors Organization has released the results of a two-year study of hotel access for travelers with disabilities and is reporting great improvement in that regards. In 2015, 46 percent of hotel guests reported major obstacles, this represents a 23 percent decrease since the last survey in 2005 documented a 60 percent finding. Other significant findings include: difficulty with doors reduced by 50 percent and inadequate bathroom space reduced by 55 percent. Full Story Here:


STR: US hotel performance for November 2016

Compared to November 2015, the U.S. hotel industry reported positive performance numbers for the month of November 2016. Industry-wide occupancy was 2.5 percent higher for the month, rising to 60.7 percent. Average daily rate saw 3.4 percent of growth, climbing to $119.71 by the end of November. This resulted in a 5.9 percent increase in revenue per available room to end the month at $72.68. Revenue per available room has now grown year-to-year for the 81 consecutive months. Full Story Here:


STR: US hotel results for week ending 17 December

The U.S. hotel industry saw increases in all three performance yardsticks for the week of 11-17 December 2016. Compare to the same time period last year, industry-wide occupancy climbed 4.7 percent to reach 54 percent for the week. Average daily rate was higher by 4.8 percent, ending up at $111.59 by week’s end. Revenue per available room jumped up by 9.7 percent to finish at $60.31 by the end of the week. Full Story Here:


4 Best Practices to Protect Guest Data

The holidays are a particularly vulnerable time for travelers, especially in regards to connectivity with unknown wireless networks. The convenience of our 24-7 connected world comes with considerable security risks. Hoteliers can protect their guests in a variety of ways including conducting regular audits of a hotel’s wireless space and keeping up with the latest industry standards and practices. Full Story Here:


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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Business Travel Tips Part 1

Traveling for business can be both hectic and stressful. Keeping a positive attitude can be hard, especially when flights are delayed or cancelled, or the car rental company charges you for the wrong car. That said, there are ways to minimize inconveniences and make business trips more tolerable and less stressful. Here are a few tips:

Be Prepared - Carefully plan every detail of your business trip as far out in advance of the trip as you can. Double check all dates and times on flights and your hotel check in. Map out the best routes to all of the places that you will be visiting while on the trip. Always try to stay ahead of the game and think about what could go wrong with your current plans.

Pack Light - Only take what you absolutely need for the trip. Try to fit everything in a carry-on so that you do not have to check your luggage at the airport. This will ensure that your luggage does not get lost. It will save you time and you will have everything that you need with you at all times.

Good Hotels - Choosing the right hotel can make all of the difference in the world. Try to pick a hotel that has great service, a close location to where you are going to be most of the time for your meetings, and has great facilities, such as comfortable beds and clean showers.

Eat Healthy - It is very easy to eat unhealthy while on a business trip. You are always on the go and need something fast. There are temptations everywhere, even that pastry tray in the meeting room! Slowdown and take a few minutes to choose more healthy alternatives like salads, lean meats, vegetables, and drink plenty of water.

Have Fun - If you get any free time, get out and have some fun. This will relieve stress and take some pressure off of you. Take advantage of being in a new place and play tourist for a while by going to see some local landmarks, restaurants, tourist attractions, or museums.  

In part 2 of this series we look at more ways to make your business trips go as smooth as possible. 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hotel Brand Loyalty - Part 2

Gaining the brand loyalty of hotel guests is one of the most pressing issues for hoteliers in recent years. With such intense competition between hotel chains as well as online travel agencies all vying for the hotel guest dollar, loyalty is of vital importance. Today’s hotel guest books their stay with high expectations. The conveniences offered by technology in our everyday lives have built up the anticipation that this will carry over when we travel. Travelers now expect and demand a hotel experience customized to their individual needs and tastes.

Mobile technology grants hoteliers an exciting means to meet the expectations of their guests with an unprecedented level of exceptional personalized service. Gaining the brand loyalty of guests requires a commitment on the part of hotels to invest in their customers through the provision of these technologies. Hotel guests are seeking greater control over their hotel guest experience every at step of the way. Hotel provided mobile apps empower them to do so.

With a hotel app downloaded to their smartphone or tablet, customers can chose from among common variables such as, room size and bed type, to customizing the room temperature and even selecting food and drinks for the mini-bar. All of these selections may be made in prior to their arrival, from any mobile device armed with an app from the hotel. Also, these settings may be retained and be waiting for the guest upon their next arrival, either at that location or another property in the case of a chain.

Considering how pervasive mobile devices have become and the resultant expectations of the public, the minimum standard for all hotels should be a website optimized for mobile. Those hotels and chains that choose to go the extra mile for their customers with a user-friendly and free mobile app will reap the rewards of improved brand loyalty, resulting in increased hotel bookings. The traveling public now seems more than willing to dream about, plan the details, and make all the arrangements for their travel via mobile devices. This includes actually paying for and booking the hotel. Giving customers an in-house mobile app that they feel comfortable with seems to make sense for hotel brands with the desire to win over their customer’s loyalty.

In part 3 of this series we will see how the hotel rewards program is experiencing innovative upgrades in the process of earning brand loyalty. 

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/16/16

Hoteliers planned for interest-rate rise, see benefits
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.25% this week, but hoteliers see the increase as a positive move. Hotels view the interest rate hike as an inevitable necessity that is not surprising. The increase was the first since December of 2015 and is not expected to have a widespread or deep impact on the hospitality industry. Many hoteliers have already included the higher rates into their upcoming budgets in advance of the move. Full Story Here:

US Hotel Occupancy Up 1.7 Percent To 59.2 Percent - Week Ending December 10th - 2016
Hotels across the U.S. posted positive performance numbers for the week of 4-10 December 2016. According to data published by STR, industry-wide occupancy was higher by 1.7 percent when compared to the same period last year. Average daily rate increased by 3.9 percent to reach $120.12 for the week. Revenue per available room saw an increase of 5.7 percent to attain $71.08 by the end of the week. Full Story Here:

3 Hospitality Trends to Look for in 2017
As the year comes to a close, the hospitality industry should see three trends have an impact during 2017. Increasing brand loyalty through guest feedback is near the top on the list, particularly in regards to business travelers. Guest personalization will continue its preeminence for hotels in 2017. Also, hotels are expected to increase their targeting of Millennial Generation travelers as well. Full Story Here:

2016 see sharp rise in buyers using sharing economy suppliers
Business travel saw an astronomical rise in the utilization of sharing economy travel suppliers during the year of 2016. Travel managers have increased inclusion of sharing economy providers such as Airbnb and Uber in their travel policies, with more than 28 percent doing so. This represents an astounding 250 percent increase over the only 8 percent in 2015. These figures come from the Business Travel Show poll of 178 European travel managers. Full Story Here:

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Hotel Brand Loyalty - Part 1

There has been much talk and effort within the hospitality industry during the course of 2016 around fostering hotel brand loyalty among guests. As hoteliers head into 2017, customer loyalty is likely to only increase in significance to the industry as the new year progresses. Hotels are building brand loyalty in a number of ways, some of which have been in use for a long time, such as providing guests with exceptional service. Others, including customer personalization, are a bit more recent and unconventional. Even the time tested technique of a reward programs are being implemented with new innovations.  


Guest Personalization

The effort to personalize the hotel guest experience has been mounting in recent years. Once reserved solely for luxury hotel guests, all hotels are discovering the benefits of customer personalization. Hotel guest personalization has become a powerful tool for hoteliers to build brand loyalty and garner increased direct bookings. Through such methods as dynamic content personalization, hotels can create individualized marketing messages based on past guest information and current interests.

The user’s past viewing history, both on the hotel website and elsewhere on the Internet, is tracked. This can include past online purchases and any reviews which may have been written by the user, combined with demographic and purchase information available from any past hotel stays. Even the geographic location of the user is taken into account. Taken together, this data can result in a truly customized website experience for users.

In another way, guest personalization is allowing hoteliers to utilize their customer data to create individualized room rates. This is called personalized loyalty pricing. The hotel tracks how frequently the guest stays and how much they spend while on-property and uses that information to arrive at a specific rate for each individual guest. Of course, the rates are within the agreed upon rate parity structure. However, the guest will see the consistently lower rates offered by the hotel’s brand website and be compelled to always book directly. This instills in hotel customers a feeling of being truly valued by the hotel brands they stay with, resulting in true loyalty.  

Emerging technologies offer exciting possibilities for hoteliers to make their guests feel uniquely special. In part 2 of this series we’ll examine how mobile technology is transforming the guest experience and in turn winning the brand loyalty of hotel guests. 


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/9/16

Survey Reveals Americans Are Willing To Spend More And Prioritize Travel In 2017

Americans expect to significantly increase their travel budgets in 2017, according to the annual traveler survey published by Choice Hotels International. The increased spending comes despite American travelers feeling too busy for all the trips they would like to make in the coming year. Budgets for leisure travel in 2017 are 42 percent higher than in 2016. The top domestic destinations are Florida and California at 56 percent. Australia is the leading international destination with 63 percent. Full Story Here:


Legal landscape shifting for sharing-economy lodging

Recently settled lawsuits between Airbnb and large metropolitan areas have resulting in a shifting focus for state and local regulators. The City of New York and the State of New York recently settled with the website and agreed to shift their law enforcement efforts towards owners running illegal hotels, rather than the site. San Francisco is being sued by Airbnb in order to prevent the city from fining the site $1000.00 for each illegal listing. Full Story Here:


STR: US hotel results for week ending 3 December

The U.S. hotel industry posted mostly negative performance results for the week of 27 November through 3 December 2016, according to published data from STR. Compared to the same time period last year, industry-wide occupancy dropped 1.5 percent to 56.0 percent for the week. Average daily rate however climbed 0.5 percent higher, ending the week at $117.31. Revenue per available room saw a decline of 1.0 percent to finish the week at $65.65. Full Story Here:


Expedia Releases American Bleisure Traveler Study

The online travel agency Expedia has released its study of business travelers called Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler. The survey results state for example, 43 percent of all business trips blend in pleasure with business. The “bleisure” traveler tends to be a frequent traveler, with 32 percent traveling at least once or twice a month. The trips are two or three nights in length at least 71 percent of the time. Since the bleisure travelers are saving money on their leisure travel, 66 percent of them spend more money on leisure activities during their trip. Full Story Here:


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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hotel Point Of Sale Security - Part 2

Hotel customers usually seek overnight accommodations either to escape their everyday lives and find solace in vacation time, or for the necessity of travel for work. Whatever their reason for travel, the uncertainty of the hotel’s security of their personal information is the last worry they need to face when they are away from home. Hoteliers must protect the private information which has been entrusted to them by those from whom they derive their livelihood.


End-To End Encryption

Hackers never cease in their effort to develop malware designed to steal POS (Point of Sale) data. However, that data is completely useless to them if it is merely nothing more than encrypted information. By totally encrypting the credit card data in every step of the payments’ history, especially the instant the card is swiped, the data is significantly more secure.

Another method of data protection, called tokenization, involves creating a unique digital placeholder or token to represent the credit card data. Both techniques may be used together in a coordinated effort to mutually ensure data security.


Regular Testing

The assumption on the part of hoteliers, when they invest hard-earned revenue in new point-of-sale equipment, is that the hardware will perform its intended purpose in a highly secure manner. Hotels further assume the level of security is measured against the product’s adherence to payment industry standards. But, in this expectation hotels are terribly mistaken.

Many providers and installers of POS systems are not in fact security experts. Often times the systems may be incorrectly installed, opening the door to cyber criminals. To remain ahead of the hackers as much as is feasible, hoteliers are advised to have their POS systems pitted against the most up to date testing available. Security specialists can uncover vulnerabilities with the proper implementation.

Without the proper security steps in place, the one thing hotels can assume regarding their point-of-sale systems is the fact they have vulnerabilities that either are or will become breaches. However, as we have seen, all is not lost and this crime is largely preventable. 


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Hospitality News For The Week Of 12/2/16

8 Big Travel Predictions for 2017

The online travel booking website, has released the results of a study of travelers in ten markets, indicating future developments in travel during the coming year. The research points to eight key predictions for the state of travel in 2017. Among the findings, the technology-fueled impatience of travelers, the dissolving boundaries between business and leisure travel, and the drive to discover new destinations are at the top of the list. Full Story Here:


Hospitality meeting trends for 2017 revealed from fifth annual ‘State of the Meetings Industry’ Survey

The results of the fifth annual “State of the Meetings Industry” survey were published this week by Destination Hotels, part of Two Roads Hospitality. The survey uncovered expected trends in meetings during the upcoming year of 2017. Findings include; the changing age demographics of meeting attendees, the mixing of business and pleasure, and desire for flexibility and multi functionality of the host property spaces. Also of paramount importance is the on-site technology availability at host properties. Full Story Here:  


More and More Hotels Are Getting Rid of These Amenities

The American Hotel & Lodging Association has released a new survey, of over 8,000 hotels nationwide, asking them about the amenities they offer their guests. The results indicate that a number of common amenities are being offered less commonly now. Since the last survey in 2014, the number of hotels offering outdoor pools has dropped by five percent. And indoor pools are only provided at 36 percent of hotels now. Also, only five percent of hotels currently have an on-site spa. However, 85 percent now offer a gym or exercise room, a small increase over the previous survey. Full Story Here:


US Hotel Occupancy Up 2.7 Percent To 50.7 Percent - Week Ending November 26th - 2016

Positive performance results were posted by the U.S. hotel industry during the week of 20-26 November 2016, according to figures from STR. Compared to the same week last year, industry-wide occupancy was up by 2.7 percent to 50.7 percent for the week. Average daily rate climbed higher by 2.8 percent, to reach $107.66 at the end of the week. Revenue per available room rose by 5.5 percent, to attain $54.62 by week’s end. Full Story Here:

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