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Robert Trainor

Like clothing or hair styles in the fashion world, china in the restaurant business is ever changing. Twenty years ago when I participated in culinary competitions, judges told us the china would not make a difference in scoring. I disagreed then and still feel strongly about the effect china has on the presentation and overall guest experience. The table top, especially the china, is the herald of the dining experience to come, giving guests their fist hint of what to expect from the meal. In a 1987 competition in Boston, a connection at a German china company allowed me to borrow several different plates in exchange for promoting their product after the judging when the salon was open to the public. I finished in first place with a gold medal and high score. My menu and food were very good, but so were the entries of many of my competitors. It was the way the food was presented on this great line of china that gave my presentation that little extra touch that pushed me ahead of the others. Read on...

Al Ferrone

As all of us know in the food and beverage industry, we are in a highly competitive and low-margin business. Most of our products are perishable, and providing top-notch service is expensive. Technology is becoming more important to making gains in productivity, in managing products to keep our inventories low, and in keeping products fresh. Technology is also helping us become more competitive by allowing us to manage CRM. And although technology is useful, we need to be careful when applying it so that we do not diminish the experiences that our guests expect. We need to apply it in areas that do not inconvenience or burden our guests when using it. It may make sense for guests to use a kiosk ordering system at an airport, but I would be reluctant to place that kind of technology in a full-service environment. In a full-service food and beverage operation, I feel that it would be a grave mistake to replace service with technology even though it is available. Read on...

Susie Ross

Soft-selling is suggestive selling. No one likes to feel like they're being "sold" anything, including food. Suggestive selling is an art form. Guests should never feel like they're being pushed into buying the most expensive item on the menu. When done properly, guests never know the server is artfully guiding them toward a higher check average, which is actually excellent customer service. Quite possibly, the best marketing line ever created was, "Would you like fries with that?" Fries go with a burger; therefore it's logical to ask a guest if he would like fries to accompany his burger! It works the same in any kind of restaurant, burgers or steaks, fries or baked potatoes. We can learn a lot from the fast food chains... Read on...

Al Ferrone

As our labor force increases and we evolve into more of a leisure society, many of our new-generation workers do not want to spend as much time on their jobs as employees of the past. This means that one of the key words we as managers, should keep in mind when seeking new talent is balance. We need to make sure that the people who work in our industry keep a balance between work, family and leisure time. The more balance, the more stability. The more stability, the more productivity and less turnover. If we are going to attract the new wave of talented managers, we need to measure a person's worth or accomplishments based not on how much time is spent on the job, but rather on the person's productivity. A highly productive 50-hour, gung-ho enthusiastic manager who gives 110% is much more valuable than a tired, half-conscious 70-hour manager going through the motions. Read on...

Al Ferrone

One thing we know for sure is that diet fads will come and go, but people will always have a desire to eat healthy. When the Atkins diet was introduced, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Hilton Hotels Corporation did not. In addition, many manufacturers rushed to produce low-carb products. I've sampled some low-carb breads that were tasteless and so hard that I doubt a beaver could gnaw or digest it. I thought, "Who in the world would want to endure that kind of an assault on the taste buds and digestive system?" I'm sure that eating a loaf of this bread would cause anyone to develop jaw muscles that pit bulls would envy. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Although catering has always been an important factor in the success of hotel food and beverage departments, today it has evolved to share focal point status with the other outlets. Food quality and service is expected to equal, if not exceed, what you would find in the restaurant. Clients want creativity and variety. They are savvy, they hold numerous events in many different venues, and they are constantly challenging operators to come up with new ideas. Read on...

Susie Ross

There are so many things you want to know about a person when you interview them, the most important being their work ethic. There are ways to find that out with proper questions and review of a resume. You want to set the stage from the beginning that you operate a professional business. It isn't just a caf'e, diner, restaurant or deli. It's your business and, if you want to take an aggressive approach, ask questions of your applicant that will reveal personality and the salesperson in her. This is assuming you want a personality that wants to sell and not take orders. Read on...

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.