Don’t Just Sit There!

The Economy Won't Fix Itself and Nor will the Fed.

By Steven Ferry Chairman, International Institute of Modern Butlers | February 05, 2012

Just from my recent experience with batteries, I have to say, “Thank goodness life is not made in China.” The cell phones my carrier mandates are made in China. After two months, the first battery could hold no charge. The earlier phones were made elsewhere and lasted seven years. Similarly, the 17-inch Apple laptop made in Taiwan and purchased eight years ago is still going strong with its original battery operating at 70% capacity. The Chinese-made 17-inch Apple laptop bought two years ago is already on its third battery.

Some of us prefer to pay for well-made products that operate effectively, yet when we try to buy a cell phone, landline phone (or almost anything else you care to name) that has not been made in China (usually with as many short cuts as possible to maximize profits) it proves practically impossible. The ubiquity of it all makes for a grim shopping experience.

Extrapolating into the hospitality world, imagine if hotel ratings were adjusted so that two-stars were reported as five-stars because occupancy rates were insufficient in “higher-end” hotels to justify the service levels of “old-style” five-stars.

Well?

China is not the target of this little question, by the way—it takes two to tango: if the West did not demand cheap, then manufacturers would not close down their US and European operations (and economies) and move to the Far East. One could say the same about street drugs: No demand, no traffic from Columbia, Afghanistan, etc. We have brought these conditions upon ourselves.

Take the current economic collapse. China didn’t create that, although the new US Treasury Secretary, Mr. Geithner, implied as much recently regarding their alleged currency manipulation and factual underwriting of the US housing boom with their subsequent excesses of cash. No, it was people like Mr. Geithner who did, simply by being ignorant of the fundamentals of economics, espousing instead theories so arcane and abstruse as to turn a simple subject into a cult with membership only for the cognoscenti (knowledgeable). Again, my intent is not to target or finger point individuals when it has been a group effort that has led us down this path. Instead, my gnarly (knobbly) fingers are pointing at the lack of a manual for life that highlights fundamentals; in this particular case, regarding economics.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.