Maintaining Your Rates and Helping to Carbon Offset

By Rani Bhattacharyya Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality | March 27, 2011

As more and more data becomes accessible online to the general public, its "management" for both marketing and performance reporting is also gaining signifigance for c- level decision makers in both the private and public sector. This article is going to highlight a few business traveler oriented data management platforms that hospitality professionals can also utilize to streamline RevPAR and ROI calculations. The unique data stored in these platforms concerning guest behavior and preferences can help your facilities operations run more efficiently based on accurate occupancy rates and allocation of resources, and indirectly reduce its impact on the environment.

GSA Bulletin FTR 10_06 and the E-Gov Travel Service

With Executive Order 13514 that was signed in 2009, federal agencies were directed to find ways to reduce the harmful impacts of their activities on the environment. To implement this effort, the US General Services Administration revised the Federal Travel Regulation Bulletin 10_06 by adding a list of recommendations for how government employees can achieve reductions while on business travel. The recommendations outlined in the bulletin by GSA include environmentally preferable purchasing guidelines for hotel, transportation, meeting planning, the suggestion that agency event planners also try to centralize facilities hosting federally sponsored events, utilize electronic checkout options when available, and use remote conferencing capabilities when feasible.

Along with this travel policy revision by the GSA, late last year the agency also initiated and RFP tendering process to select a vendor for hosting an upgraded version of their web-based travel portal, the E-Gov Travel Service. The upgrades which are interesting to note in this platform (that were outlined in the RFP) are enhanced capabilities for government employees to report on and track the environmental impacts resulting from transportation, lodging and event planning purchases. Vendors that have expressed an interest in the RFP include IT platform managers who are specialized in information management across a variety of social media, Web 2.0 applications, smart phones, and other personal data assistants. Since the initial start up of E-Gov Travel Service in 2002, the GSA has estimated that it has saved 38.3 million dollars a year in travel expenditures generated from civilian agency travel costs.

STAMMP

The STAMMP (Statewide Travel and Meeting Management Platform) was recently launched by the state of California to consolidate the state's employee travel program with its Green meeting and management program. In this website, planning resources (both environmentally responsible and traditional) are available for state employee and public review. The site also contains a listing of hotels that are participating in California's Green lodging and meeting programs. Vendor's helping California's Department of General Services administer this site include the Travel Store, Inc. and Concur, a new and creative data management provider that also specializes in information management across a variety of instant internet access applications, devices, and accounting platforms.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.