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October 29, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Increase Hotel Profits by Keeping Your Employees Happy

Happy hotel maid - Work in hotel roomThe hospitality industry is thriving, but with that success comes responsibility. Hotel and restaurant owners need good management practices in order to remain relevant and realize sustained profits. Effective management includes overseeing employee satisfaction. Research has shown that there is a direct connection between employee contentment and customer loyalty. This is why it is important to take an interest in each staff member’s happiness.

In an accommodation industry, the key to customer satisfaction is high-quality service. However, employees who are unhappy often lack the motivation to provide such service, which results in disgruntled customers. This trickle-down effect can adversely affect a company’s revenue. Studies have proven that the attitude of an employee is directly related to a customer’s spending. Essentially, happy employees create happy customers.

Online review sites and social networks have made it possible for travelers to instantly research hotels, resorts, restaurants and vacation hot spots. This on-the-spot reviewing can make or break a business. Find enough people ranting about slow, unfriendly or inexperienced staff members, and you will find a company struggling to prosper. The best weapon anyone in the travel industry has is employee engagement.

Encouraging employees to be connected to the process is the first step toward creating a long-lasting relationship between a business and its clientele. Customers seek authenticity, so employees should show genuine concern regarding customer satisfaction. Each team member should also understand the brand and its value. This will make it easier to represent the company on a day-to-day basis.

How can a business owner persuade employees to become engaged and authentic? The trick is to open communications so that team members can candidly discuss their gripes or praises. Managers should make the necessary adjustments to improve employee behavior. This may translate into a better understanding and delivery of the brand value, which can result in overall customer satisfaction.

The employee is the face of the business. With the ultimate goal being financial growth using responsible environmental practices, managers within this industry should focus on the employee-patron relationship. There is no denying that employee attitude, brand knowledge and productivity impact client satisfaction. A happy customer base is the gateway to security and longevity.

Customers often base their spending behaviors solely on their perception of the service. This is particularly true in the travel industry. Quick and efficient check-ins, a welcoming and accommodating staff, honesty and brand reliability are essential. When combined, these ingredients create the ultimate recipe for profitability.

Tourism is booming because it meets a need in society. As long as there is a hunger and need for travel, the hospitality industry will flourish. This does not mean that businesses can rest on their laurels. Competition is tough, and meeting the expectations of the customers is becoming more and more difficult. Hoteliers and other business owners must rely on personnel to provide superior service. The best way to support this goal is to keep staff members motivated, engaged and content.

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October 3, 2014 / HMG Hotels

21 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Hotel’s Social Media, Email, and Mobile Marketing Campaign More Effective

Key of successMarketing matters as much or more than any single factor in determining how successful your hotel can and will be. Everything positive about your hotel, from the actual rooms and amenities to the location and nearby attractions, can be promoted through a well-thought-out and coordinated social media hotel marketing campaign. Your goal should be to maintain an ongoing conversation with your current and potentially future customers.

Are you doing everything right to generate more business and greater returns for your hotel? Almost every hotel’s social media campaign can be improved in some way.

1. Don’t send mixed messages on different social media platforms. It is crucial to stay consistent with the information you provide whether it is on your website, on Facebook, or part of a mobile app on a smartphone.

2. Do make your email marketing catch the attention of every person contacted. When a new person is added to your mailing list, always thank them for signing-up.

3. Don’t make the mistake of using the same images over-and-over again. While it can be tricky to remember what you published three months ago, you can use a site like Dropbox or iPhoto to keep your images organized.

4. Do keep your website current and up-to-date. A hotel’s website is like the entrance to the hotel. Put your best foot forward when guests arrive to either your actual hotel or to your hotel’s website. Regularly review and compare your website to some of your competitors and try to have the best site. Read more.

5. Don’t make changes to your website just for the sake of change. There is a delicate balance between never changing what you do and making constant changes. Don’t confuse visitors by changing the layout, color scheme, and type of information typically provided. Occasional changes can be good, but frequent sweeping changes are usually not advised.

6. Do check and make sure that your online links are not broken before they are published. While it is always possible that a visitor will click on a link and it does not work, if this occurs regularly, it will drive visitors away from your website or social media pages.

7. Don’t disappoint your guests by over-promising. While there is nothing inherently wrong with using flowery language and displaying inviting poolside images to make your hotel appear as attractive as it can be, avoid claims that you have the best breakfast in town when all that is really offered is coffee and donuts. Disappointed guests will tell their friends just how disappointed they were if they have been misled.

8. Do focus on the “Big Three.” Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin should all be platforms in your social media strategy. Facebook reaches the most people, Twitter gives users the most succinct updates, and Linkedin appeals to the business-oriented traveler. You can further extend your reach to a wider audience by also including other popular platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler, and Snapchat. Read more.

9. Don’t make grammatical or spelling errors on your website, they come across as unprofessional. Have several pairs of eyes proofread your copy.

10. Do share new blog posts. Google ranks new blog posts higher in searches when they are shared within two hours of being published. Read more.

11. Don’t get lazy. No one will read your blog if you do not keep it fresh and interesting. Your website should provide information about upcoming events and new topics. It takes some effort, but the work will pay off.

12. Do encourage recipients of your emails to open them, read further, and even forward them. Use a catchy headline. Then, when they do click-to-read, feature some photos showing guests enjoying their stay at your hotel.

13. Don’t ignore complaints. Whether it is on an independent site like TripAdvisor or on your own site, when people comment on a negative experience at your hotel, answering their complaints is a good way to show that you are paying attention and actually care about your guests. Read more.

14. Do celebrate and respond to your fans and to those who comment. Take a moment to reply professionally to comments.

15. Don’t overuse hashtags on Twitter. One or two is fine, but a string of five or six is excessive.

16. Do make it easy for your visitor to get the information she or he wants. Instead of sending a follower to the homepage of your hotel’s website and then making them click again to get to the reservations page, send them a link that will take them directly to the reservations page.

17. Don’t buy followers. This can compromise your accounts in more than one way.

18. Do post colorful images. Always choose images that you have the legal right to post and make sure the images are tasteful and consistent with the brand you are promoting.

19. Don’t assume that everyone shares the same religion, especially during holidays.

20. Do be a steward of our planet by seizing every chance to be environmentally conscious and encouraging readers to interact responsibly with our delicate planet at all times.

Lastly, don’t make a person who is using a mobile application go to another website. If you have an app for restaurants in your area, for example, the user should be able to make their reservation for dinner on that app and not have to go to the restaurant site, or call a phone number to secure a table.

Happy social networking and remember that with great power comes great responsibility, so be sure to carefully choose your social networking posts for the longterm success of your company.

Infographic: here is a compelling infographic online by Sam Kucinitz visually illustrating some of the principles outlined here http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/dos-donts-facebook-business-infographic

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September 29, 2014 / HMG Hotels

10 Ways to Help an Effective Hotel General Manager

General Manager in LobbyWhen you hire a general manager to run your hotel, you expect them to do everything within their power to make your operation successful. In their role as supervisor, they are responsible for everything that goes on in your hotel. While they may not be the one who failed to fix the air-conditioner in room 201, they need to be aware that there is a problem and resolve it expeditiously. Ultimately, the general manager is held responsible for making sure that every problem, no matter how small or large, is resolved. Here are 10 constructive coaching tips for your new general manager:

1. Be Prepared  GMs should regularly prepare for meetings and be familiar with their clientele, employees and property.

2. Communicate Effectively with Employees – It is imperative that every employee clearly understands what they should be doing. A GM should not hide behind a desk, but instead be visible and available to all employees. It is a good idea to publicly praise an employee for doing a good job and a GM should never criticize an employee in front of others or on a group email thread.

3. Listen to Employees – There is no better feedback about what is really going on in your hotel than what can be heard from the women and men who do the hard work that keeps a hotel running. If a GM discourages employees from bringing up complaints from guests, or from making suggestions on how the hotel can do things better, it makes it harder for a hotel to shine. Employees are a hotel’s greatest asset. Encourage GMs to listen carefully to employees and hotel guests so that every hotel stay is optimized for greatest satisfaction.

4. Management Through Encouragement – Stressing out employees by placing unrealistic demands on them is a sure way to decrease morale and can lead to a high employee turnover rate. When training general managers, be sure to recommend a management style that includes regular positive reinforcement for all employees. Compliments may be delivered in person, on the phone or in a supportive email.

5. Delegate Work – No one can do it all and there are always people who can do a job as well or better than you. Make sure that the GM empowers the entire hospitality team by letting each member shine according to their professional talents.

6. Blaming Weak Top-Line Revenues for Not Making a Profit – A GM who does not take some responsibility for improving sales (top-line revenue), and instead blames the marketing or other departments for not attracting more paying customers, is shirking responsibility.  A well-trained GM should regularly consult with the sales team and the sales team should coordinate efforts with the marketing team. Revenue generation cannot be separated from the role of the GM. When RevPAR and occupancy go up, your GM will take credit. The GM should also accept responsibility when revenues are down and take prompt professional steps to improve sales.

7. Be Decisive – Work with a GM who has no trouble running a team whose principles are transparent, whose operations are consistent, whose communications are positive and prompt, and whose motives are the good of the company where the customer comes first.

8. Always Have the Best Interest of the Hotel in Mind – Work with GMs who believe in the company they work for and who take pride in being a team player for that company at all times.

9. Motivate Employees – Employees can be motivated by kind and supportive words, an increase in pay, a company picnic, emplyee-of-the-month recognition or numerous other rewards that make them feel valued and an important asset to the team.

10. Projecting the Right Image for the Hotel – A friendly and personable GM who regularly walks through the lobby and talks to guests can do wonders for business. In the hospitality industry, friendly smiles and fabulous customer service are everything.

If your GM is excelling at their job and responsibly handles the work that comes with hotel management, then reward them generously with praise and let them know that they are leading by example, making your hotel a success. A confident GM will in turn encourage their own employees and create a hospitality culture of kindness that is contagious and rewarding for all.

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September 17, 2014 / HMG Hotels

2015: Smooth Sailing Ahead for the U.S. Hotel Industry

Reports Hotel Industry 2014 and 2015Reports from a number of well-respected companies that gather and analyze data for the hotel industry all seem to have come to the same conclusion: hotels all across the United States have been doing well in 2014 and they will do even better in 2015. There is unanimous consent in the most recent reports issued by Smith Travel Reports (STR), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and TravelClick’s North American Hospitality Review (NAHR) that RevPAR, Average Daily Rates and Occupancy, will all show improvement in 2015.

According to the latest statistics reported by STR and STR Global, all three of the key data-points that are used to assess hotel performance were up in year-over-year comparisons. The July of 2014 occupancy rate was 73.6%, an increase of 3.9% over the July of 2013 occupancy rate. The ADR in July of 2014 was $117.81, bettering the prior year’s ADR by 4.8%. RevPAR showed the biggest year-over-year gains, surging by 8.8% in July of 2014.

PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded in an August 2014 report that U.S. hotel occupancy rates will reach their highest levels in 20 years, during calendar year 2015.They noted that companies are increasing their travel spending budgets which leads to more group reservations. With the supply of hotel rooms remaining almost unchanged, added demand allows hotel managers the flexibility to raise rates without hurting occupancy rates. The PwC report predicts that continued strong group travel, as well as a strong summer travel season, will push hotel occupancy rates up about 2 percentage points, to 64.1% for the year ending December 31, 2014. For 2015, the momentum is expected to continue with occupancy rates rising to a 20-year high of 64.8%. PwC also predicts that RevPAR for 2014 will increase by 7.6% over 2013 RevPAR, and in 2015, RevPAR will be up 6.9% over the 2014 figure.

The August 2014 TravelClick North American Hospitality Review was quite optimistic about the immediate future prospects for the hotel industry. John Hach, Senior Vice President for Global Product Management at TravelClick said “While summer may be coming to an end, the hotel market has a hot outlook for the winter months.” Traditionally, summer is always a good time to be in the hotel business as the kids are home from school and families use the time to take vacations. In 2014, business travel has done surprisingly well and is expected to stay strong through 2015. Over the next 12 months (August 2014 through July 2015), committed occupancy is up 3.7% over the same 12-month period a year ago. Committed occupancy includes both group commitments and individual room reservations. The NAHP data also showed that in year-over-year comparisons, bookings for the transient leisure segment are up 4% and bookings for the transient business segment are up is up 5%.

The hotel industry is one of the most economically sensitive sectors of our economy. A strong hotel market is a solid indicator of the strength of the overall economy. When times are good, there is more economic activity and business executives travel for meetings, conferences and trade shows. When people have more money in their pockets, they go on vacations, book more hotel rooms, and inject money into the economy.

There are few industries that rely more on compiling and analyzing data than the hotel industry. RevPAR, occupancy, ADR and other metrics are used to measure a hotel’s performance. Once numbers and the latest economic data (GDP, unemployment rates, disposable income etc.) are analyzed, they can be used to guide managers to deploy the best pricing, marketing, and other strategies to maximize a hotel’s future revenues.

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September 4, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Today’s Savvy Hotelier Adapts to the Digital World

Digital World - Old Hotel Marketing GraphHotel Profits Linked to Strong Digital Strategies - 

Running a successful hotel in an industry where profit margins have been historically thin is a challenge. It takes competent management to control costs while still offering the amenities and true value that attract paying guests. 

Adapting to the New Way of Marketing Hotel Rooms

In previous generations, before the digital age, traditional travel agents, brochures and hotel travel guides were used by travelers to find and book hotel rooms. Most often, travelers chose their accommodations based on the brand and not on reviews posted on social media sites. Having a strong brand is still very important because it tells guests what to expect when they visit a branded hotel in any city around the country or around the world. The way people are booking their travels today however – researching hotels online, reading reviews and reserving rooms through their smartphones – is forcing hoteliers to step up their digital marketing strategies. 

Hoteliers Now Have to Work Harder and Smarter

It is no longer enough to simply have a website for your hotel. Your website must be robust and allow visitors to interact with the site when they arrive. Since the depths of the recession five-rears ago, the hotel industry has bounced back and is now posting positive numbers. Broadly speaking, Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), occupancy, and the average daily rate are all up from 2009. While the country was digging its way out of the recession, hotels have been steadily prospering. Currently however, many hotels are finding it difficult to continue to beat the previous year’s key numbers. 

Margins are Being Squeezed by Online Travel Agencies

Customers love the transparency afforded them by the various online travel agencies, hotel booking sites, and array of ways they can find out more about hotels before they actually book a room. As evidenced by the enormous growth of companies like Priceline and Expedia, people want low prices and value when they search for accommodations. While great for customers, the competition is squeezing the profit margin for hotel operators.

  • Google gets five percent of its total revenue from Priceline and Expedia and only financial services and retail generate more sales than the travel sector.
  • TripAdvisor ($13.9 billion) and Airbnb ($10 billion) both have higher market values than industry stalwarts Hyatt Hotels ($9.55 billion) and the InterContinental Hotel Group ($9.97 billion).
  • • In the first quarter of 2014, hotel brand sites accounted for 27.1 percent of all bookings while OTA sites booked 13.2 percent of all hotel rooms. At first sight, this sounds like good news for the major hotels, but looking more closely, the OTA share has grown by 9.2 percent from year-to-year as compared to a growth rate of only 6.1 percent for branded sites. 
  • Use of metasearch engines (search tools that aggregate information from several search engines at once) to decide on which hotel room to book is becoming more prevalent in the industry. In 2013, millennial travelers in the key 18-36 age group used search engines 39 percent of the time when booking hotel rooms.

The Savvy Hotelier

Industry analysts and experts in digital marketing almost unanimously agree that hotel owners and managers must incorporate enhanced websites, a strong social media strategy, as well as innovative apps that make booking rooms from a smartphone, or other digital device, a snap. Although it may be difficult for traditional operators to change from what has worked well in the past, in today’s hotel industry, hoteliers must either adapt to the current environment or watch the competition steadily pull ahead. 

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August 26, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Hospitality Miracle on El Camino Real in Mountain View, California

HMG Hotels Profit 2014The Numbers Speak for Themselves: HMG Hotels Transforms $32,000 Loss into Three Million Dollar Profit

This month we share with you an internal report whose numbers speak for themselves and, in the words of the hotel owner, demonstrate a “remarkable turnaround.” Occasionally, the Hotel Managers Group gets a phone call from a hotel owner whose property is not performing well despite robust expense ledgers. One such appeal came a few years ago when a owner shared their books which reflected losses of $32,000 in the space of just six months. Hotel Managers Group came to the rescue of Camino Inn and Suites in Mountain View, California, in order to stop the financial bleeding and implemented a number of professional fixes. From the perspective of the owner, the transformation was nothing less than miraculous. In just one year, HMG Hotels not only turned losses into gains, but into big gains. Really Big Gains.
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In light of this rebound, the owner communicated to HMG Hotels: “I sincerely wish we had more hotel assets to put under your control.” The numbers say it all: between August 2011 and June 2014 the net operating profits of Camino Inn and Suites were over three million dollars — $3,065,451 to be exact. Obviously projections for the future are bright: 2014 is expected to generate a year-end net operating income of about $2,200,000. Results like these may appear miraculous to most, especially to hotel owners worried about an under-performing asset, but to the team at HMG Hotels, turn around stories like this one are a regular part of doing business. It is always rewarding to get a thank you like this: “”I want to express my appreciation for the work and success your team has been able to achieve at the property; it has been truly a remarkable turnaround.”

Read more about our Miracle on El Camino Real HERE: http://www.prlog.org/12362678-the-miracle-on-el-camino-real-camino-inn-and-suites-in-mountain-view.html

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August 18, 2014 / HMG Hotels

Hotel Guests Want Culturally Enriching Vacations

Remember when we were 10 years old and our parents sent us to summer camp in the mountains. At first we may have objected to the notion of spending two weeks away from home. Once we arrived and saw the sparkling lake and got involved in camp activities, we had a great time. That youthful exuberance for experiencing new things does not always disappear as we age. Many adults still have that spirit of adventure and want to pursue culturally rewarding activities when they travel or go on vacation. 

Woman learning and experiencing massage techniques

Hotel guests can learn massage techniques while on vacation

Creative Tourism

Recently, hotels have been paying closer attention to the growing number of guests who want to participate in creative tourism. The term “creative tourism” was coined back in 2000 by Crispin Raymond. Raymond defined the term as “Tourism which offers visitors the opportunity to develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are undertaken.” 

Crispin Raymond’s daughter was the inspiration for his book entitled “Creative Tourism.” While his daughter was traveling through Southeast Asia and Australia, she related stories of her experiences back to her parents. Among the activities she participated in was a week of learning and experiencing massage techniques in Thailand, a day spent learning vegetarian cooking in Bali, Indonesia, and taking a course in the Australian Outback that taught her how to become a “Jillaroo” (Cowgirl).

Around the world there are countless ways to take part in a creative tourism trip. Hoteliers regularly partner with local companies and skilled tradesmen to create unique and culturally enriching experiences for their guests. For example:

• In the French village of Biot, tourists can take a 5-day course in glass-making from a master craftsman. Each student learns the techniques and gets to make their own creation. 
• In Guatemala tourists are offered weaving classes and learn how to dye fabrics in the vibrant colors favored by the native population.
• Hotel guests can take dance lessons in Brazil and then Samba the night away at a club in Rio.

Destination Experiences

Closely related to creative tourism is the implementation of destination experiences. Tourists are looking for more unique experiences than just dining at a fine restaurant or visiting an amusement park. They want to feel like they are part of a new culture by getting involved in local activities. Whether it is taking sailing lessons in San Diego or spending a day riding a mule along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, active participation adds to the travel experience. A three hour ride on a mule in the Grand Canyon is an unforgettable experience. 

Rewards Points Can Buy Memorable Cultural and Destination Experiences

Earning miles and rewards points through loyalty programs has been possible for decades, but only recently have the rewards focused on creating truly memorable travel experiences. Originally, airlines rewarded loyal customers with travel miles that could be converted to upgraded seating or complimentary plane tickets. Hotels exchanged free rooms and other perks for their customers who participated in their loyalty programs. Eventually, companies of all types started loyalty programs of their own (from the CVS card to your local grocery store, casinos and the NFL) and offered all types of merchandise. For many frequent travelers with large point balances, getting a new TV or set of golf clubs is no longer what they want. Loyal customers are looking for one-of-a-kind experiences for their loyalty points. Some colorful examples include:

• Diners Club points were used to send a 13 year old boy to a 5-day NASA space camp for his birthday.
• 500,000 Diners Club points were used by one couple to go on a 180 mile professionally-guided dogsled trek through the Alaskan wilderness.
• American Express allows its members to exchange points for cooking school in Tuscany and for backstage passes to concerts.
• Hilton Hotels offers a yoga retreat in Bali and helicopter tours over London.
• Marriott Rewards feature a hot-air balloon ride over wine country in the Napa Valley or a guided kayak tour down the Russian River in Northern California. 

Culturally Diverse Neighborhoods 

One does not have to travel overseas to get one’s share of exciting cultural experiences here in the United States. Almost every major city in America has ethnic sections or neighborhoods where it is possible to absorb different cultures and traditions. For instance, in San Francisco, it is easy to walk around Chinatown, shop, eat, and interact with someone who was born in Shanghai. In New York, a melting pot of dozens of nationalities, one can go from Little Italy to Chinatown in Manhattan and over to Brooklyn to interact with Russian immigrants and the Hasidic Jewish community. Head south to Miami and there is a vibrant little Haiti neighborhood that sells Jerk chicken. Along SW 8th Street in Little Havana, order a cup of Cuban coffee and ask the old-timers in Domino Park to demonstrate the finer points of this dot-matching tile game.

Dedicating Resources to Give Hotel Guests the Best Possible Experience

The hotel industry is proceeding along the same path as the most successful leaders in the cruise ship industry. Most cruise lines offer interesting daily excursions in the ports of call where they dock for a day or two. For instance, Holland Lines offers a cruise of the Western Caribbean, making stops in the Cayman Islands, Mexico and Guatemala. Passengers can schedule a combination bus and river tour through a banana plantation and watch the native population fish, canoe, and wash clothes along the river banks. The excursion also includes a beautiful fruit-filled luncheon under a thatched roof restaurant. Cruise lines charge extra and share in the profits of these local excursions. For hotels, facilitating cultural and destination excursions can help improve narrow profit margins. 

While smaller hotels may not have the resources to hire a full-time employee to coordinate the various activities, they can still develop relationships within their local community by simply reaching out and making contact. When tourists have a memorable experience while staying at your hotel, they will tell their friends and probably come back for a future visit. 

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