An impressive LEED Platinum for a hotel, Napa’s Bardessono.  I would like to take the time to point out that the incredibly complex reuse project from the NPS and ECB/Fort Baker Retreat Group, Cavallo Point, was just awarded LEED Gold.  Being NPS land, historic buildings, and completely “green” presented an  interesting array of problems (aka opportunities), and I am happy to say 2 years after opening it’s doors, it has finally received it’s status.  It is a shining light for the Bay Area, a stunning addition to the National Parks and GGNRA, and a model for future development being ethical and about sustainability.  I applaud both these properties, especially knowing how complex the LEED process can be!

Sign of the times – Ritz Lake Las Vegas to close 2nd May.  The economy may be leveling off it’s slide, but foreclosures lurk everywhere.

Gulliver points out a fairly brilliant honors scheme hatched by Intercontinental Hotel Group over Hilton’s disastrous alteration of honor awards points.

This is sort of scary, but nothing new to our industry:  Hotel industry needs flexible graduates.  “Skeleton staffs don’t bode well for hospitality students preparing to enter the market today. As if the long hours and weekends shifts in the hospitality industry weren’t unattractive enough, students entering the job world in today’s economy are forced to be more flexible than ever, often taking jobs outside of their geographical preference and much lower on the corporate ladder than they had hoped.”  Honestly – if I had known the hours I was going to work prior to starting my career in hospitality, I don’t know if I could have done it.  Of all the things I have dealt with in my life, the hours as manager at every property were dehumanizing and exacerbating.  Looking back, I don’t know how I did it for over a decade.  But that is what our industry is… high pressure, fast paced, grueling grinds, and the self delusion that it is as important as saving lives and that it will all be better tomorrow – oh, and that “lateral promotion” you took to get out of the department you are currently pigeonholed in… was totally worth it. (a little cynical humor, of course – not at all from my career.  Riiiiiiiiiiight).

Why do hotels have so much trouble answering emails? This is an epic, well timed, post.  It’s a HUGE problem, and not enough companies have corporate policies.  It becomes a disaster for communication if people think they can reach you, but have zero real access to you.  It makes our industry look bad, and it has to stop.  On the up side…. if you make it a priority to reply to emails, and it becomes everyone’s priority, maybe they will slow down with better communication.  More phone calls, less emails (including those horrible passive ones hiding the real question of “why haven’t you answered my emails?) – but that might just be wishful thinking.

Interesting and thoughtful piece on being a cautious, calculating restaurateur & entrepreneur in these times.  Fact is, it pays off big in a lot of situations.

Hotels converting F&B space into meeting space. A lot of hotels are looking for revenue, and this was an actual conversation we had with a client in the last couple weeks…. nice to see the article agreeing with us.  Lounges and comfy spots don’t generate revenue – but meeting space does.

Here are some interesting thoughts on Luxury Lifestyle and Travel Trends for 2010

Is Social Media the next Search Engine?  Some people think it is, just as we find out Facebook directs more online users than Google.

Augmented Reality is buzzed about for a reason… and not just because it is PHENOMENALLY AWESOME.  But it may actually create business, even for small businesses.

Is geolocating the future of hotel marketing?  I love that hyperbole, I really do… but let’s just leave it at “a really important, impacting development” before waving the white flag at all other types of marketing.  I actually think it is… for one, there’s FourSquare.  But I don’t like getting *too* carried away. =)

Foursquare does have some strategic growth;  First Zagat, then Chicago.  Some pretty big stuff happening, and it makes me excited that with all this activity, and other industry people cloning their format in multiple ways, Foursquare seems aware and fluid enough with a solid enough business acumen, to withstand the turbulence in this crowded arena.  They seem smart, and I think you need to keep an eye on them.  If you haven’t gotten a google alert from them about someone “checking in” to your hotel or business, trust me… you will.

The future of marketing in hotels? This is a tech guy with idealistic notions of what hospitality *COULD* do – with money, foresight, more labor, and planning.  It’s a good idea, some luxury brands might try to get there with this as a gimmick, to start….. but interesting and enthusiastic read nonetheless.  Beyond that, I liked the idea… and don’t mind plugging him.  He has got to be one of the only people out there that I know building Iphone (and I assume Android as well) apps that has even the most rudimentary understanding of the hotel business.  A lot of people are yapping about apps in our industry…. we might not be able to afford one, but for those that moved enough of your 2009 marketing budget online, and have a bit to spare…. check him out.

An interesting blog about the development of social media in the Kenyan hotel industry, and can possibly be extrapolated to other small inns and boutique properties that don’t have the monster marketing budget, but know there is an audience to reach.

The UK heats up about online hotel reviews, looking for some sort of validation process for Tripadvisor.  Is this another aspect of GPS & Geolocation that could help curtail fraud and shill reviewing?  Whatever the case, I think the industry can handle itself…. it’s in their best interests.  Getting the government involved to regulate seems a bit much.  The only winner when you start legal proceedings are the lawyers.  Very few other people actually win besides them.

Speaking of Tripadvisor… here are a couple best practices for a top ranking.

Social media as customer service for hotels.  Thank you for not saying social media as a way “to sell” or “drive revenue”.  Social Media may have a valid ROI, but this is more about being a cost of operations than a revenue stream.  We can all drive revenue with it…. but it is simply more important to *ENGAGE*.  Because in the end, ignoring it will cost you.

Here’s an odd piece – great thoughts… horrible grammar.  I didn’t understand this, so I include it to see if you have any thoughts?

That’s it!  Just thoughts and links and interesting stuff!  A real post is coming soon, I promise!

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