Pillow Talk – July 2014

Dear Amita,

Welcome to the July 2014 issue of Pillow Talk by Pillow Mint Partners.

July marks the middle of summer – the height of vacation travel for families before the new school year begins. It also marks the beginning of collecting information for our 2015 Sales and Marketing Plans. The plans will probably include contemplating a new marketing campaign and reviewing the latest travel trends and data.

For those who are compiling their first marketing campaign, there are a few great tips below to guide you through the process.

Trend wise – Millennials are becoming the fastest growing leisure travel segment…though their trips may be short and close – the revenues still add up.

Summer is also RFP Season…Yippee! Thank goodness we now have RFP platforms such as Lanyon and Sabre. I remember the good old days of completing paperwork over and over again by hand…yes, filling out pieces of paper… Oh and I also walked three miles to work in the snow carrying a huge back pack!

Time is indeed becoming a truly rare commodity!  With so much on our plates, it can become overwhelming…I have shared a few tips to increase productivity. With careful planning and constant vigilance…we can have it all!

Enjoy this issue of Pillow Talk and I would love to hear back any feedback you may have…

Warmest Regards


In This Issue

What is Pillow Mint Partners
Take the PMP Hotel IQ Test
Need Staffing Assistance?
The Three Pillars of Customer Service
Millennials Drive Leisure Travel
5 Productivity Tips
Tips For Developing A Marketing Campaign
New Hotels – Genre Hotels

What is Pillow Mint Partners?

Find out more about Pillow Mint Partners and how we can assist you achieve your revenue and marketing goals in 2014…click here

Take the Pillow Mint Partners Hotel IQ Test

IQ Test

Click Here

Hospitality Taskforce

Need Staffing Assistance?

Is the sales office short staffed due to a vacant position or a leave of absence? Need someone to fill in for a short time? Need a telemarketer to call on inactive files to generate new leads?

Look no further than HospitalityTASKFORCE – providing staffing solutions  for sales, catering, conference services and upper management positions.

Use promo code PMP

Tony DiRaimondo

Customer Service

Customer ServiceAnyone working in the hospitality industry in relation to guest service knows about guest expectations: one must meet it and then exceed it. Success is when one has the ability to meet the guest’s expectations – because the flip side is that if you cannot, the guest will be disappointed. However, simply meeting the guest expectation is only just okay which in equates to mediocre. Being okay is no longer good enough. There are far too many hotels that are already accomplishing mediocre – you do not want to be placed in this category…you want to be differentiated from mediocre. By exceeding expectations, you not only will you surprise but also delight your guests while elevating your hotel in the marketplace.

Take one step at a time… anticipate guest expectations – which is considered to be the pinnacle of guest service. So how do you anticipate guest expectation? Think of it as a relationship with an individual.

  • When you are strangers – having just met, wants and needs must be spelled out
  • When you are acquaintances, expectations are more easily met and more accurately met
  • When you are friends, you not only know what is expected but have the ability to predict what is actually needed.

The best way to visualize it is in terms of birthday gifts. In general, strangers give cash while true friends give presents, though not necessarily expensive, but generally the most thoughtful. Best friends are individuals who you will help out and support in a heartbeat and they would do the same for you. These individuals are also your biggest advocates, praising you to others. The question to ask yourself: do your guests consider your hotel to be a best friend?

While exceeding expectations might surprise your guests, anticipating will most definitely leave your guests in awe.   Though the ongoing goal is to strive to meet expectations; exceeding and anticipating are difficult feats to achieve concurrently.

Here are three tips to assist your hotel move in the right direction:

1. Increase Internal Communications
Communicating between departments will go a long way in assisting with guest anticipation. It allows managers to share ideas and trends they have either read or observed thought their daily interactions.

2.  Review Guest Analytics
By reviewing patterns in past guest behavior can let you predict future guest requests. This is not necessarily limited to internal data mining. Also incorporate the competitive set as well as qualitative feedback such asTripAdvisor. Though analysis is a great deal of grunt work especially on social media, it is a great way to understand and to get to know your consumer demographics (age, gender, location) and psychographics (interests, hobbies, and motivations). The end result will allow you to have the ability to predict prospective guest requests and needs.

3. Incorporate New Technology
There are many devices and software programs that focus on improving the guest experience.

However, the back end strategy of capturing and analyzing the data will assist in developing relationships with prospective guests. An area of growth with new technology is location analytics  – using the guest smartphone to follow how individuals move within a space and what specific areas are most used by the guest is useful for anticipating guest needs.

Millennials Drive Leisure Travel

MillenialsFor the past 10 years, the travel industry was focused on Baby Boomers, who were considered the most lucrative market. As Boomers got older, it was assumed, they would have more time and more money to travel.

That certainly has been the case over the last decade, and boomers continue to be a major market for travel. But now the industry may want to refocus on the often forgotten Millennial or Gen Y traveler, at least according to the 2014 Portrait of American Travelers, an annual survey by MMGY Global, a travel marketing services firm.

According to the survey, Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 35) will be the driving force behind the continued recovery of the U.S. travel industry. They are also expected to spend incrementally more on travel services than any other age group over the next 12 months.

The survey found that 24 percent of Millennial travelers are planning to take more overnight leisure trips in the next 12 months, versus 14 percent who are planning fewer trips, a net difference of 10 percent. This compares with a negative net difference of 1 percent for Boomers, and negative net differences of 3 percent and 6 percent for Matures and Xers, respectively.

Gen Yers also plan to spend significantly more on leisure travel services in the next 12 months, well ahead than any of the other generational cohorts: an average of $887 on a previous-year base of $4,499. Gen Xers intend to spend the second highest increment: $666 on a previous-year base of $4,341.

According the MMGY Global, both trends are consistent with the manner in which Millennials view the sanctity of their vacation time. Last year they took an average of 4.6 overnight trips for leisure purposes versus an average of 4.2 trips for all U.S. households with an annual income over $50,000.

“Six in 10 Millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things,” said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights for MMGY Global. “This is presumably one of the reasons we’ve observed the spike in their intentions with respect to leisure travel in the year ahead…Millennials’ planning, booking and sharing habits are significantly different from those of older leisure travelers.”

All this could be good for travel agents. In an earlier survey for the American Society of Travel Agents on the value of using a travel agent, MMGY Global found nearly 60 percent of Millennials who used travel agents believed that their vacations were better than those organized without their assistance. The study also found that consumers that use an agent travel more (average 4.7 trips) than consumers that don’t use a travel agent (average 3.6 trips).

On the other hand, Millennials’ travel interests don’t always extend to more distant destinations. Gen Yers are more likely to have taken a “staycation” during the last 12 months than all other travelers. Thirty-three percent took at least one vacation within 50 miles of their home, versus 27 percent among all other leisure travelers. One third said their choice was made to save money to take a more substantial vacation during the year ahead.

5 Productivity Tips

ProductivityProductivity is the combination of intelligent planning and focused efforts.  Staying productive at work or at home can be a challenge. Every time the work day ends, odds are that you are not satisfied with what you have accomplished.  Productivity can be continuously improved, but here are some pointers:

1. Do not get sucked into unnecessary meetings
Time is the most important currency in today’s world.  While it may be tempting to meet with as many people for the benefit of networking, the time you get at your desk is extremely valuable.  Knowing what meetings to refuse is very important.

If your manager wants to have a one-on-one meeting, then it is obviously very important.  However, attending a meeting about whether to use a Times New Roman or Georgia font at the weekly newsletter design subcommittee get-together may not be worth your time.

We are always interrupted by people who want to meet with us, especially vendors. Try to designate two days out of the week for meetings and the rest of the time to focus on core tasks.

2. Create to-do lists
In life, there are tasks that are simple and ones that are complex. My preference is to go after the easy ones first and then tackle the complicated ones after.  To stay on top of tasks, create to-do lists and track them using Google Tasks.  Since Google Tasks sync with Gmail, Google Calendar, and the Google mobile app, it makes it easier to refer to them while on-the-go.

If some of the tasks are larger, then break them into multiple smaller tasks. For example, if you need to put together a white paper, you should make it a point to complete 2-3 pages per day rather than trying to put together one large document on the day before it is due.

Putting a timer on these tasks is worth considering so that you do not lose focus on other items on your to-do list.  Sometimes I focus too much on one task while another one gets neglected. Before I know it, the deadline for the other task arrives and I am not ready for it.

One of the most satisfying aspects of creating a to-do list is crossing off things when they are done.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment and gives you a visualization of progress.

3. Take breaks
Recently scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana reviewed the lifestyle of 17,000 men and women over the duration of 13 years.  The scientists found that 54% of those people are likely to die of heart attacks!  The reason was because those people were sitting for most of the day.  The enzyme, lipoprotein lipase (LPL), breaks down fat in the bloodstream and turns it into energy.  When people are sitting, it is likely that LPL levels drop. according to Marc Hamilton, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri.  This causes fat cells to build up.

If you spend more than 8-10 hours at a desk and without moving around much, then you will notice that you have less energy.  Productivity is not measured by the number of hours you sit at a desk.  It is measured by how much you get done without sacrificing your health.

4. Designate times to handle e-mail
Every day there is a good amount of time spent writing e-mail replies in a timely manner.  If you are constantly checking your e-mail, this could mean you have too much free time on your hands and need to work on other tasks.

Urgent information tends to be passed through phone calls rather than e-mail.  If you are spending an average of over 2 hours per day replying to e-mails, then you may want to reassess how you budget your time.

Instead of stopping what you are doing to respond to a new e-mail, you should consider setting aside a time for responding to e-mails in batches.  I prefer to respond to e-mails that I receive right when I get to work.  I also like to put aside 15 minutes right before leaving work to respond to e-mails. Try to respond the e-mails within 24 hours.

One can generally detect the urgency in the e-mails by the subject line.  This is why setting up push notifications for e-mail on your phone can be very beneficial.  Being able to quickly glance at the subject lines of e-mails you are receiving throughout the day saves you from having to constantly open up your inbox.

Tip: If it is urgent for you to get a response, then you should write “time sensitive” in the subject line.

5. Spend a few minutes preparing for the next day
This one works for me. If I don’t do this my whole week is wrecked!  On Sundays, I typically decide my wardrobe for the week.  I also prepare the menu for my meals for the week.  Mornings can be chaotic and the less you have to do before heading out the door, the more smooth your day will be.

Tips For Developing a Marketing Campaign

Marketing TipsIt is that time of year again when we begin to draft the annual marketing plan which generally includes an updated marketing campaign. It is important to remember that the process does not have to be difficult… by using a phased approach you will be able to develop a detailed plan that will allow you to communicate a single strategy to all of your partners, agencies, owners, employees, as well as assist in holding others accountable for their roles in the overall success.

Phase 1: Setting the stage

The foundation of marketing success comes from strong positioning in the market place. The time and effort you put into the planning phases will pay off during the execution phase.

Formulate the brand
Many believe that branding is simply a logo and tagline. It is much more… A brand is the combination of every touch point a person has with your company. How are they greeted when they walk into your hotel? How the guests greeted in the restaurant? Do your in-room amenities reflect the true essence of your brand? What messaging is in the on hold recording? Do emails contain useful information?

Define your positioning:
Define you are…Are you a quaint, relaxing bed and breakfast? Or an amenity-driven, technology-filled oasis for business travelers? What makes your property unique? How is your brand presented in relation to your competitive set? A good way to determine your positioning is to focus how your hotel stands apart from the competitive set

Determine the messaging – How would you describe your hotel? What words represent your brand identity and what does the hotel have to offer? Are you clearly explaining the value of your business?

Determine your audiences – The first step is to ask, “Who is my target market?” Are you a luxury brand targeting C-Level executives for transient business or high impact group events? Does your hotel cater to predominantly corporate transient business or leisure business? Is there a certain age demographic such as Millennials or baby boomers? All of these questions will help you determine your target audience

Phase 2: Resource Development

Now that you have set the stage with a brand look and feel it’s time to execute in different mediums.

Website – With today’s advances in technology, the website is often the first interaction and impression your client will have with your brand. Make sure that first impression is a good one. Websites should have clean, simple design and be easy to navigate. The rule of thumb is no more than 3 clicks for the client to get the information they are seeking. Never sacrifice usability for ascetics. The website is merely a touch point for the client to reach out to you.

Collateral – In the digital age, collateral provides an opportunity to stand out even more by offering an emotional experience. Make your collateral clear, concise with minimal verbiage. Use professional photography that invokes a positive emotional response. Collateral must represent your brand. Do not be something you are not…this will lead to a client’s expectation not being fulfilled…thus possible loss of the client’s future business.

Communication appropriate for the medium – When drafting copy, make note of the medium it will be used in. Website copy is best written in a more bulleted format than a brochure. White papers are written in a more formal voice than social media posts. POP graphics may be bolder than visuals in a 32-page brochure.

Phase 3: Drafting the strategy

How will you achieve your sales and revenue goals within each market segment? A well-thought out and defined strategy will identify who your target customers are, how to reach them, how to have them become loyal repeat guests while general referral business from them.

Budget – Know your total available budget. Make sure that funds are allotted to each expense line item. By knowing what the monthly budget is for advertising, sales travel, client entertainment etc. will allow you to keep on budget…and the possibility of saving a few dollars to use elsewhere. Then prioritize your needs from there. Try to keep some funds in reserve so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Plan – A strong plan will ensure you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your marketing funds and resources wisely and appropriately.

Track the results:

this will help you identify strategies that are working:

  • Track sales leads
  • Track visitors to the hotel website
  • Survey clients

A year is 12 months – The marketing cmpaign should include a year-round strategy on how to reach each market segment. An integrated plan includes: online, seo, ppc; social media; PR; email marketing; customer relationship management, and more. A combination of programming, offers, events, and activities will keep your customer engaged.

Phase 4: Pulling the trigger!

This is where you make it happen!

Maintain focus – An actionable timeline will keep everyone on track with deadlines and allow advanced planning for proper execution. The result – resources are used more efficiently on what is needed to make things happen. Think beyond the boundaries – Most boutique and lifestyle hotels have limited teams. Do not let that get in the way of you accomplishing the predetermined goals. You can always hire additional support to execute a more aggressive plan that will help you achieve your sales/revenue goals.

Genre Hotels – New Hotels

Genre Hotels

Hotels recently added to the Genre Hotels portfolio:

Hotel G – San Francisco, CA
Your quintessential San Francisco experience has arrived!

Learn more about Genre Hotels…click here 


Pillow Talk