Let's Get Engaged!

By Herve Houdre Regional Director of Operations & General Manager, Intercontinental New York Barclay | May 19, 2013

Sustainable Development (or Sustainability or Corporate Responsibility) is now part of the hotel industry's key words and programs. Though the concept was recognized in 1987 by the United Nations Brundtland Commission and translated for the corporate world through the Triple Bottom Line of Profit, People and Planet (Cannibals with Forks, John Elkington, 1997), it took almost twenty years for it to be acknowledged and included on the agenda of most of the major hotel companies. In comparison, Social Media with Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) got almost instant recognition within the hospitality industry. It would be interesting to understand the reasons for this disparity. Is it because Social Media is a simpler concept and does not intrinsically change the way we work, whereas Sustainable Development (SD) obliges us to rethink our values and our business strategies?

In a world of instantaneous communication, Social Media is definitely sexier than Sustainable Development, and it offers immediate gratification when one sees the number of "followers" or "likes" who appreciate one's brand. Yet SD is so much more important to the world, its communities and to the future of our children.

It is heartening nonetheless to see the recognition that Sustainable Development has achieved in the past seven years in America. Most hotel management companies now recognize that their business model must endorse Sustainability. There is a lot more to be done until SD becomes the foundation of their strategy and not simply part of it, but we need to be confident and patient.

Adopting the Triple Bottom Line of Economic Prosperity, Social Responsibility and Environmental Protection is a smart business decision but not recognized as such by some who are hesitant or doubtful. In other industries, major companies (General Electric, Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, Wal Mart, etc.) have adopted this business model and we can be certain that they have made their decision after carefully taking into account all business parameters, not the least of them being their Return on Equity.

Hoteliers should consider that one of the numerous advantages of a Sustainable Development strategy is the relationship it helps develop with stakeholders and the trust and image enhancement their company gets thanks to this. Let's pause and see where we stand today.

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.