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The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Now Has a Camel Milk Mixologist On Hand

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Now Has a Camel Milk Mixologist On Hand | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Now Has a Camel Milk Mixologist On Hand || HotelChatter
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Amenity creep?

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In defence of online travel agencies - they are not evil - Tnooz

In defence of online travel agencies - they are not evil - Tnooz | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
There are multiple opinion pieces pushing ways in which hoteliers can free themselves from online travel agencies and increase their own direct bookings.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

An interesting perspective on OTAs, we all have the ability to change our perception from half empty to half full.  #hotels #ota #hoteldistribution

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SURVEY: Travelers weigh in on housekeeping - Revinate

Looking for ways to cut costs at your hotel? A TripAdvisor poll shows you may not want to put housekeeping at the top of that list.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Interesting article based on a TripAdvisor study

43% of global travelers wouldn’t stay at a hotel that doesn’t offer housekeeping.49% of travelers would accept a benefit to forgo housekeeping. Of those:39% would expect a hotel that doesn’t offer housekeeping to cost less than a comparable property that does.9% would accept complementary items like beverages and food in exchange.Just 1% of travelers would accept loyalty points in exchange.8% will forgo housekeeping for no additional benefits.

Their recommendations:

Keep it optional: To appeal to everyone, give travelers the option of forgoing the service, but don’t make it mandatory.Experiment with different benefits:  Offer different benefits in exchange for skipping housekeeping to see what works best for your property and clientele.Pass some savings on to your guests: 39% of travelers would like cost savings in exchange for giving up housekeeping. Consider passing some of the savings from cutbacks in the service along to guests.Avoid offering loyalty points in exchange: The loyalty point benefit saw the lowest responses across all markets – even lower than passing on housekeeping in exchange for no benefits.
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Priceline CMO eyes bigger role in on-property purchases via mobile - Q&A - Mobile Commerce Daily

Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Interesting article about Priceline's desire to further its reach into their customer's travel experience -- their roots deeper into our soil.

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Which incentives should hotels offer to boost direct bookings? - Tnooz

Which incentives should hotels offer to boost direct bookings? - Tnooz | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Direct bookings are much coveted by hotels, and a survey of 2500 US consumers finds that free room upgrade is the top incentive that will entice guests.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

We hear many hotels cry over the cost of a guest who books through an OTA and we understand.  Here is a good article about what you can incentivize your guests with to book directly on your website.  It is something that should be part of every desk clerk's conversation when they are checking in an OTA guest.  We would like to add offering free wi-fi for booking direct.

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5 Ways to Serve Great Customer Service in Hotel | HotelCluster.com Blog

How to improve the quality of customer service at your hotel for business success? Here are some working tips for best hotel customer experience.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

The basics of blocking and tacking -- that what Vince Lombardi hammered into every player regardless of their experience.  So what are the basics of our industry  -- hospitality and customer service.   I have to remind myself that the basics aren't which OTAs you are selling on or am I connected to the right social media.  The basics start with a positive guest experience at the front desk -- please and thank you; really listening to an angry guest and communicating back that you understand their frustration.

http://www.hotelcluster.com/blog/providing-excellent-hotel-customer-service/

A nice article about hotel basics is always refreshing.  Having spent many years in the economy and mid priced segments, I'll add some comments to the authors (all very valid) points.

1.  Impressive First Impressions Matter -- You may not have the resources to build your own mobile check in app so how can you make the check in and out process as efficient and painless as possible?

- Collect all the contact data at the time of reservations

- Preassign the requested room type and prepare the key

- Have a back up staff member trained at the desk so they can jump in if it gets busy

- Express check out for all credit card customers

2.  Attend To Guests Quickly -- You know the items guests either forget or always ask for (iron, hairdryer, extra towels, extra coffee....).  Do you have a small supply of these that are easily accessible ( even at 11:30 pm)?  The use of Twitter or FB is an interesting idea but it will require that someone is monitoring it at ALL TIMES.

3.  Be Polite At All Times -- if you can't keep your cool when a guest is ripping your head off, maybe a back-of-the-house position is more to your likening.  I have always believed that the guest is NOT always right but THE GUEST IS STILL THE GUEST.  Please, thank you, I am sorry, I understand -- make these your daily mantra.

4.  Little Things Matter -- A few years ago, I pulled up to a toll-plaza (one of the many here in NJ) and when I was handing my 35 cents to the toll collector they told me that the person before me paid for my toll and hoped I would have a great day.  I was speechless.  It was just 35 cents but has caused me to start and continue doing this over the years.  What little thing can you do for your guests that will make that kind of impression?

5.  Welcome Feedback -- Who doesn't want positive feedback?  I love to hear how great my service is, who wouldn't.  But that does not help my growth as a hospitality professional.  I need to be able to hear the consequences of my weaknesses and be willing to take action to change them.  That's much more difficult but more rewarding.

Anyway, read the whole article.

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The NY Times Wises Up To the Hotel Tech Revolution

The NY Times Wises Up To the Hotel Tech Revolution | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it

“ The NY Times Wises Up To the Hotel Tech Revolution || HotelChatter”


Via Katherine A., Brian Lombra
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

A cheeky poke at the NY Times.

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Sochi squalor: Journalists report hotel horror stories as Russians scramble to finish construction

Sochi squalor: Journalists report hotel horror stories as Russians scramble to finish construction | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Sportswriters from around the world have begun cataloguing a litany of accommodation-related woes in Sochi, Russia as organizers scramble to finish the construction of some hotels three days before the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, and two days before some competitions get underway. 
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Looks like the race to finish construction on Sochi hotels is being lost.

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Murder case sparks PBX configuration debate

After an alleged crime at a Texas hotel, the lodging industry is rethinking its guestroom phone policies for emergency dialing.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Certainly a very sad story but one that brings to light a technology that needs to be updated -- the hotel PBX.   We can argue whether it still is relevant later but emergency procedures should be revisited today.

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Top 5 Resolutions Hotels Should Make to Boost Online Revenue - Words of Vikram

Top 5 Resolutions Hotels Should Make to Boost Online Revenue - Words of Vikram | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
We have entered a new year of awesome possibilities. The hospitality and lodging business is poised for more disruption, innovation and growth.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

I have quickly grown to enjoy this author's blog.  He talks simply and tells it like it is.  I agree with all his points and will take them to heart in planning/executing our own digital marketing strategy.  I'll sum it up with one of his ending quotes "You can’t do it all, but you can do a few important things very well. Focus and win."  Sound advice for 2014.  #digitalmarketing #hotels

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Nearly Half of Employers Know if a Candidate is a Good Fit Within the First Five Minutes

Nearly Half of Employers Know if a Candidate is a Good Fit Within the First Five Minutes | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Article - Nearly Half of Employers Know if a Candidate is a Good Fit Within the First Five Minutes - When it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Funny/sad/true comments from hiring managers on some of the crazy things they see in interviews.

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Hotel sacks manager for slamming negative reviewers on TripAdvisor

A Scottish hotel has found itself in the limelight after its manager continually turned guests who left damning reviews of the property on TripAdvisor.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Sometimes the best lessons are those that show you what not to do.  It is similar to using episodes of Fawlty Towers as a hotel training tool.  Here's an article on how NOT to respond to guest reviews.  Enjoy.  #customerservice #hotels #socialmedia

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Mobile, meta on the move in travel bookings

Mobile devices and metasearch engines provide the hotel industry’s biggest opportunity for increasing bookings in 2014, according to executives speaking at the Expedia Partner Conference.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Some very interesting quotes and statistics from the Expedia Partner Conference last month:

“(Personal computers) are now a minority of connected devices in the world,” said Mark Okerstrom, executive VP and CFO of Expedia Inc. “All eyeballs are moving to digital mobile.”

Hotel roomnights booked on Expedia via mobile are up more than 135% this year (2013)

“More than 90% of business travelers are traveling with a smartphone; more than 60% are with a tablet. The majority of them are traveling with three or four devices.”

 

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5 Phrases That Should Never Be Used in the Customer Service Business - By Steve DiGioia

Article - 5 Phrases That Should Never Be Used in the Customer Service Business - By Steve DiGioia - 'Customer Service' is a term that too frequently is used as a catch-all for the experience received or given in today’s business world.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Some may think the author is getting picky or old fashion but I believe in what he is saying.  The casual manner in which customer service is taught by today's service industry is obvious by his examples.  I'll add one more to the list that I am trying to eliminate from my speech -- "yeah" and replace it with a "yes".

I was in Las Vegas recently and had a banquet setup person walk with me across half his casino/hotel to show me where the conference room I was looking for was located.  I was very impressed and made a point of sharing the story in my TripAdvisor review.  Customer service isn't dead, it is just sometimes harder to find.

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From Airlines to Hotels, a Quest to Help You Sleep

From Airlines to Hotels, a Quest to Help You Sleep | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
The travel industry is offering custom bedding, headphones, essential oils and more to aid those who suffer from a sleep shortage on the road.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Good article with some interesting facts on our ability to sleep:

1.  Laptops, tablets and smartphones are “sleep stealers” because we cozy up with them at night and blue wavelengths from their screens suppress the secretion of melatonin (a hormone that influences circadian rhythm) more powerfully than other types of light.

2.  Mobile devices that enable us to be anywhere and respond to anything at all hours erase “boundaries and cycles between work, home, sleep, wake.

3.  Westin's Heavenly Bed has been around 15 years already ?!?

4.  The first-class suites on Etihad Airways (airplanes have "suites" ??) have mattresses made from natural materials, along with down duvets and pillows that are sprayed by the cabin crew with a scented mist as a kind of “sweet dreams” gesture.

5.  Dr. Sanna of Harvard wants Americans to stop thinking about sleep as a lifestyle choice and rather as the third pillar of health along with diet and exercise.

I agree with the last point.  In my humble opinion, an honest day's labor, some exercise for the heart and a clear conscience make the softest pillow to rest my head.

 

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The Science of ‘Paying It Forward’

The Science of ‘Paying It Forward’ | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
How generosity among strangers becomes socially contagious.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Although this is not a hospitality-specific entry, I thought I warranted my attention none the less.  Years ago, I was going to pay my toll on the Garden State Parkway and when I handed my money to the toll-taker, he told me that the guy in front had paid my toll and asked that I have a nice day.  I was speechless.  Why would a stranger pay my toll ?  I drove away amazed.  It was only 35 cents but it changed my day.

I have since tried to do the same for others and expecting nothing in return.  Altruism, a good way for everyone to live.

#randomactofkindness

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Pictures of hotel food and restaurants are most popular in Facebook

Pictures of hotel food and restaurants are most popular in Facebook | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Among content posted by hotels on Facebook, pictures of restaurant food have the highest engagement, likes, comments and shares for every 1,000 impressions.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

I came across this article on hotel content on Facebook.  While I found the article interesting, there are two facts that stopped me in my tracks:

Among the content posted by hotels on Facebook, pictures of their restaurant food have the highest engagement at 27.75 likes -- So apparently people like to look at food.InsideFacebook, a news and analysis service about Facebook, conducted a study among 2,121 hotels and resorts on Facebook scanning about 110,000 posts -- there is at least one company who's sole purpose is to study FB, incredible.
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How Airbnb, Yelp Are Changing Hotel Marketing

How Airbnb, Yelp Are Changing Hotel Marketing | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
As the lodging industry grapples with Airbnb, TripAdvisor and other locally oriented services, major hotel brands are increasingly taking a back seat to the surrounding neighborhoods. “Our facility is no longer the destination,” said one hotel executive.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

I've spoken in the past about the need to understand what makes your hotel unique versus your competitor.  You need to find these features and benefits and use them in your messaging to potential customers.  After reading this article, I would expand your search for finding unique aspects about your market or neighborhood that would further differentiate your hotel from your competitor.  The article has some interesting statements:

"...travelers want to go home with memories and stories to tell their friends."

"For business travelers, “discovery” now ranks higher than “escape”... "

"...more chains are offering unique settings and stimulating local experiences."

Your customer can't tell a story about the breakfast you had at the Cracker Barrel.  But they can talk about the diner, located 1/2 mile from the hotel that looked like it hasn't changed in 50 years; about their home-fries and how they were different from every other plate of home-fries you have ever had before; about the locals that they met while they were eating.

Now, for that to happen, the hotel must be ready to recommend it and have it listed as a local restaurant.  The unique experience your customers will have there will help the positive image they have with you (and the review they post online) .

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Marsha Gastwirth's curator insight, February 21, 10:16 AM

Competition in traditional lodging from "do-it-yourself" businesses.

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AAHOA LODGING BUSINESS

AAHOA LODGING BUSINESS | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Good article about the simple steps everyone can take to improve their online reputation.  (It does not need to be said that your online reputation has become a revenue driver all itself.)

1.  Make it easy for guests to leave feedback

2. Omit needless steps in the feedback process

3. Don't try to incentivize guests for reviews

4.  Don't use fake reviews

5.  Think locally, not globally

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Forget Customer Satisfaction. Think Customer Surprise

Forget Customer Satisfaction. Think Customer Surprise | Revenue Management & Hotel Data | Scoop.it
Customers say service is getting worse. And, as we know, they're always right. Buck the trend with these five keys to customer delight.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Nice, easy article to read about customer service - it is worth your 5 minute investment of time.  It has caused me to think  about how can I give my customers a surprise?  I don't have the answer yet but it looks like something I should put on my to-do list.  Knowing how I think - I tend to overcomplicate everything - I need to remember to keep it simple.

http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/forget-customer-service-think-customer-surprise.html

 

#customerservice

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New hotel booking website 'gives OTAs the boot'

The co-founder of a new booking website that allows hotels to bid for guests believes the current Online Travel Agency (OTA) model is an ‘unsustainable, tangled web that only serves the intermediates’.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Well this is an interesting turn of events?  Guests fill in data about their stay requirements and preferences and hotels bid on the guest.  If the hotel wins the guest, the booking is direct and there are no commissions.

This is a new idea.

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How to use all the pricing data available

While the amount of pricing and forecasting data might be overwhelming to revenue managers, experts suggest simplifying it and making data-driven decisions.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

I had a general manager that would challenge me (I was the FOM) to prove my gut feelings about price increases or decreases with data.  He would ask to see the PMS forecast reports by market segment and the previous years comparables.  I quickly learned to come prepared with this information and used it as the "proof" for my guy feelings.  Over the years, I've learned to base many different decisions (not just revenue) on the data.  The attached article talks about the plethora of data we have today when making rate strategy decisions.  Here's a quote that exemplifies what my gm was teaching me, "Make data-based decisions and keep emotions out,”

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Peyton Manning Unintentionally Promotes Omaha Tourism

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning's now famous "Omaha!" call is having an unintended impact on the largest city in Nebraska.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

It is one of those situations no one could ever of predicted -- a NFL quarterback's choice of commands at the line of scrimmage has a positive effect on Omaha, NE's visibility. #socialmedia #tourism

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Differentiation is in the eyes of the consumer

Differentiation can lead to competitive advantages, but the definition lies within customers’ perceptions.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

A timely article from our perspective, it is a new year and great time to review what makes my/your product or service different than the competitors.  This is great competitive intelligence,  understanding and actioning what is different and why it is important to the customer.  I like when the author says "Differentiation doesn’t exist until the customer perceives it exists."  #marketing #hotels

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Hotels Expand Mobile Check-In Options - Business Travel News

Already available at a smattering of brands and individual
hotels, mobile hotel check-in is poised for rapid expansion this year across
the industry.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Change is a difficult process, especially changing the way you think.

Having grown up in the hotel industry, I've always been grounded in having "service" be the bedrock which the operation was based on.  The hospitality service experience begins and ends  at the front desk during the check in and out process.  With the advent of "zipout checkout" and now express and mobile check in, the amount of true face time that a guest spends with a hotel's ambassadors has decreased considerably -- maybe even to zero.  But this is what the customer has asked for, this is the service they request.  That is the difficult part to accept.

Here are plans for increased mobile check in for some major brands.

#hotels 

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Girl Who'd Rather Go to Mobile, AL Than Disney World Gets Honored by the City

A young girl who cried after learning her family wasn't going to Mobile but was taking a surprise trip to Disney World was presented with a key to the city.
Andrew Kraemer's insight:

Kudos to the city of Mobile for turning this 20 second clip into a great PR moment.  You can not script or buy this but you can keep your eyes open for other opportunities like this and do some self-promotion.

 

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