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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.