Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Belmonte

Steven Belmonte

CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC

Since becoming the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn at the age of 18 and later buying the hotel he started at, to holding the title of longest standing President of a national franchised hotel chain while at the helm of the Ramada hotel chain, Steven J. Belmonte brings new meaning to the phrase “from the mailroom to the Boardroom.”

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots and launched Hospitality Solutions LLC, a full-service, nationwide consultation firm specializing in lodging industry issues at the hotel and corporate level. Drawing on over 35 years of experience and key contacts both inside and outside of the industry, Hospitality Solutions was specifically designed to offer franchise negotiation services for hotel, restaurant, and quick service restaurant owners nationwide.

In 2002, Mr. Belmonte launched Vimana Franchise Systems LLC. In May 2011, Vimana Franchise Systems launched the Centerstone brand as a three-segment franchise designed to create a fair and cost effective model for the hospitality industry.

In November 2011, Key West Inns was re-launched under the Vimana Franchise ownership umbrella as a fun and uniquely themed leisure brand.

Prior to Hospitality Solutions, for nearly 11 years Mr. Belmonte was President and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain, which had over 1,000 hotels and nearly 135,000 hotel rooms throughout the United States. He also served as Executive Vice President of the Cendant Hotel Division. Major accomplishments included more than doubling the size of the chain, adding the Ramada Limited and Ramada Plaza Hotel tiers, and launching the bold "Ramada's In/Holiday's Out" advertising campaign.

As part of his plan to solidly position the Ramada chain in the upper-mid-tier segment, Mr. Belmonte also masterminded the revolutionary customer service initiative, Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and a variety of other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry.

Please visit http://www.vimanafs.com for more information.

Mr. Belmonte can be contacted at 407-654-5540 or steve@vimanafs.com

Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.