Monthly Archives: September 2017

Lodging Market Intelligence Tools Lead to Sales Success

Market intelligence simply put, tells you where your revenue opportunities exist. Gathering intelligence on your competitors and your hotel’s performance compared to theirs need not be a burdensome and challenging task. We used to call it “knowing your competition.” How they stack up in terms of product and service, who they are, how they operate and who are their customers were some of the facts we needed to find out.The tools used to uncover this information used to be a combination of gut instinct, interviewing their client base, poaching their staff and years of getting to know their hotels and those in charge. In today’s data-filled environment there is significantly more market intelligence that is more accurate, timelier and much easier to come by. If someone had told me when I was a junior sales person with Hilton more than 20 years ago that I could easily get reports like the ones below, I would have jumped at the chance, even if I had to pay for the information myself; on my $11,000 a year salary!Of course the “Grand Daddy” of all market intelligence tools has got to be Smith Travel Research’s STAR reports. Creating an industry that didn’t exist, Randy Smith has become the go-to guy for market data. Is there any hotel out there that is not getting this information on their monthly to year-to-date hotel performance in the areas of rate, occupancy and RevPar as compared against their competition, price points and market area? A must have to understand where you are so that you can plan where you need to be. Click here for more information on STAR reports.Remember the days of sending out the junior sales manager to scope out the competitors’ reader boards? Driving from hotel to hotel to conference center… well, for hotels seeking groups to fill rooms and meeting space these trips are a thing of the past! INSIGHT from the Knowland Group launched in September of this year. The company promises to “dramatically alter the way sales managers find group business”. INSIGHT is a simple computer application combining Google’s search engine and mapping technology with a searchable database tool that provides sales managers with qualified targeted sales leads on hundreds of thousands of events, groups and meeting planners every day, across every hotel brand, type, shape and size including freestanding conference centers. This market intelligence is currently available in over 70 markets within the United States and Canada. Click here for more information on INSIGHT.

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Do you know how well your hotel performs against the competition through the various Global Distribution Systems (GDS)? The Hotelligence report from TravelClick is an outstanding example of how to gather this type of market intelligence. It provides historical information on your local market’s hotel bookings made through the GDS’s (which are used by over 98% of worldwide travel agents) and through the major Internet sites. The report allows hoteliers to analyze the success of their direct sales effort by monitoring market share as well as review the impact of your rate and inventory decisions. The report demonstrates the number of room nights and average rate on a monthly basis of all reservations through these channels and where they booked (your hotel or your competitors’). It identifies the booking travel agent and often even the corporate source of the business. This report will help you learn if and how much your accounts are “sleeping around”, who is doing the philandering and who hasn’t slept with you yet! It’s worth every penny unless your sales team does not do anything with it… ask your sales team how they are utilizing this invaluable tool to book more business. For more information on Hotelligence and TravelClick click here.Knowing what has happened through such reports as STAR and Hotelligence is good but predicting the future is even better. TravelClick also offers a sister report to Hotelligence called FuturePACE which provides data on the actual future bookings from the GDS channels on a day-by-day basis so that hoteliers can improve revenues through advance insights into the performance of current rate strategies and marketing efforts for their hotel and those of the competition. Providing revenues, room nights, average rates and market penetration information for the current and next two months out, you can count on this report to be invaluable to identify unusual demand or shoulder days so that they can be addressed before they happen. Click here for more information.With some hoteliers still believing that discounting increases profits (how many times are we going to have to prove this myth wrong) and bouncing their rates up and down like a schoolyard basketball, you may need to identify these culprits so that you can drive to their hotel and deliver a copy of the Cornell report “Why Discounting Doesn’t Work” by Linda Canina Ph.D., Cathy A. Enz Ph.D. and Mark Lomanno.To check out your competitors pricing and what rates they’re really selling on their website, on internet sites and on the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) try on-line search tools like TravelAXE, TravelZoo, Orbitz and Expedia. TravelClick also offers a very comprehensive to-the-industry report called RateVIEW that includes rate data from Internet Sites, brand web sites as well as the GDS.It is now known that about one-third of all hotel bookings are made on the Internet. Of these Internet users, more than half will use a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or to research hotels and nearly 70% will check rates from at least three websites prior to booking. The growing trend towards the internet booking channel is dramatic. How does your hotel stack up on the web? Web analytical tools (web market intelligence) can capture the buying behavior of your guests and measure your website traffic origination points that have the best conversion rates, detail which online or print ads produce revenues and track down the success of search engine pay-per-click campaigns by identifying exactly how much revenue was booked. Overall they allow you to understand how today’s consumer sees your hotel from rank on the search engines to third party sites. An even more important emerging area of the web, the “social media” or what is also known as “Web or Travel 2.0” can also track online consumer reviews of your property and can assist you in maximizing this exciting new opportunity in hotel marketing. In short, knowing how you stack up on the web is vital to today’s sales success. Tools for measuring your web success are available through Merlin Metrics from A Couple of Chicks Marketing and SearchVIEW from TravelClick.

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There are many things hoteliers especially those in the sales functions should know about their local markets. How much does your sales leadership know about their success against the competition; where their revenue opportunities lie; the groups staying in competing hotels; their GDS market share; what corporations are staying at the competition; what upcoming periods represent surprise peaks or valleys in revenues; what rates your competitors are really selling or your hotel’s success in selling through what will become the primary booking channel, the Internet? If these questions go unanswered, you’re not sure how your hotel measures up or worse yet, there is no action plan around the market intelligence you have gathered, it may be time to assess and seek assistance from experts.

Choosing Home Decorating Fabric

An important aspect of home decorating is choosing home decorating fabric. When picking a theme such as Victorian, Modern or Oriental, the choice of fabric makes a difference to the overall theme. There are many kinds of home decorating fabric. If you are looking for fabric that compliments a particular theme, perhaps doing a little research regarding the theme would be helpful. This sort of information can be found in home decorating magazines, books and also the Internet on home decorating websites.

If you decide to use a Victorian theme for your decorating project, whether you do one room or the entire house, it is essential to remember that Victorian decorating is quite elaborate and tend to be very feminine. Choosing home decorating fabric for a Victorian theme, you should strive to pick those which resemble those used during the Victorian period. Home decorating fabric for bedding and curtains should be made from heavy materials. Choices such as velvet and brocade are popular for Victorian home decorating fabric. To accessorize the fabric, ribbons and bows, face and beads can be used as trim.

Choosing a modern theme would suggest the use home decorating fabric which is bold and vibrant. Modern home decorating is usually based on an open concept with big spacious rooms. The large space is intended to draw your attention to the various details in the room which would include home decorating fabric. These bold and vibrant fabrics, used in curtains, slip covers or throw pillows, will certainly stand out in a modern, spacious room with light to cool colors used on the walls. In this situation, the home decorating fabric would definitely be noticed and appreciated.

Oriental home decorating seems to be popular nowadays. Its unique design with accessories such as Chinese dragons, elephants, fans and screens, make a room interesting and a great topic of conversation. Home decorating fabric or an oriental theme usually includes coral, red, ivory and jade colors. The most popular fabric used in oriental home decorating is silk. Using silk in colors like coral or red would definitely stand out and compliment the rich dark wood furniture recommended for oriental decorating.

Home decorating fabric is sort of like icing on the cake. You add great pieces of furniture to a space with walls painted in beautiful colors. Then to accent the furniture or a window, you choose home decorating fabric. A window, because it provides access to the outside, is always a focal point in any room. Using fabrics made from materials suited to the theme, your window treatments would definitely draw attention to the window.

If you are wondering where to find home decorating fabric, there are several places to shop. You may want to buy slip covers, cushions or curtains that are already made. Department stores have a great selection. There are also stores that specialize in home décor. These would certainly provide a selection of home decorating fabric. If you are a crafty individual, you may choose to make your own decorative items for your home. Again, department stores usually stock a big variety of fabric. There are fabric stores in most areas as well. If undecided regarding what you should use or would like to use in home decorating fabric, the Internet will surely be able to provide links taking you to all the right places.

Home Decorating Magazines

You know your house needs improvements. You know you need to redecorate. You can’t seem to come up with ideas for decorating your home. You need inspiration. Where do you go for help? One great source of home decorating ideas and inspiration is home decorating magazines. These publications provide a look into the world of home decorating and offer suggestions and tips to help you decorate your home. Home decorating magazines provide pictures of homes and rooms that were remodelled which may inspire you to recreate that space in your very own home.

There are many home decorating magazines available. Most of these magazines not only provide pictures and ideas but also offers the customer an opportunity to buy directly from them items you like in their magazine. Many magazines are advertised on the Internet. With websites displaying their ideas and pictures, you can browse these sites in your search for a decorating style. These online magazines will likely offer you a chance to buy directly from them via the Internet.

Home decorating magazines are constantly in circulation. Some of the popular home decorating magazines are listed here.

* Traditional Home – This magazine has its main focus on traditional décor and historical homes. Articles are written that allow you to visit historic places, gathering ideas and tips for decorating a traditional home. This home decorating magazine offers information on furniture, window treatments and color schemes.

* Country Living – This is a magazine which is published monthly and offers ideas about country décor, crafts, and antiques. It also provides tips for traditional cooking. This home decorating magazine provides details regarding furniture, window treatments, fireplaces and historic colors.

* Elle Décor – This home decorating magazine is published semi-monthly. It is a magazine dedicated to focusing on modern design with a French influence. Focusing on luxury living, furniture style and planning your room, this magazine intends to offer the average homeowner ideas and tips to achieve this terrific style for their homes.

* Better Homes & Gardens – This popular magazine provides the reader with information about various subjects relating to the homeowner and their family. This information includes ideas for home décor as well as garden decorating. Better Homes & Gardens also publishes a seasonal magazine which focuses on décor with a lot of information regarding specific projects.

* Metropolitan Home – Published six times a year, this home decorating magazine provides details about renovating and designing modern urban homes. This magazine focuses on contemporary design and current trends. It offers the reader information regarding transforming a traditional home or space into a modern, contemporary environment.

These home decorating magazines are great sources or inspiration if you are having difficulty coming up with ideas and techniques for your home. Providing detailed information and vivid photos, these home decorating magazines offer you instructions and often step-by-step directions to achieve the desired look. Each of these magazines also offers you, the customer an opportunity to buy directly from them. This can make your job so much easier if you see a room or space in the magazine that you like. Buying directly from them, you have a chance to recreate that beautiful space in your home.

Decorating for Spring

Spring is a time of renewal. It is the time of year when people across the country begin shaking off the final dregs of winter, opening their windows, and hanging clothes on the lines to dry. It is the time of year that many people associate with cleaning but very few associate with home decorating. Sadly enough there are very few times of year when it is more appropriate to decorate your home. Face it, for most of us, this is the only time of year that we are actually happy about cleaning.

During the summer months we clean because the kids (young and old alike) are constantly tracking dirt, mud, grass, and goodness knows what else into the house. Cleaning in these days is a chore and yet we still manage to bring out the patriotic colors and celebrate America in style. Goodness knows how with all the extra cleaning that is going on and the nearly double amounts of lemonade and iced tea being consumed daily. Still we manage to decorate and take great joy in doing so as if some right of passage has been achieved by our home decorating efforts.

During the Thanksgiving and Winter months we clean house because we have no choice. Friends and family will be coming over and they expect our homes to be well decorated and clean. This I must tell you is quite the accomplishment with the rush of the holidays afoot and yet somehow we manage to muster up some Christmas cheer when others are around while playing Mr. Scrooge when it comes to running the mop and the broom around our rooms.

Spring is the one time of year in which our cleaning efforts are nothing short of inspired. Yet it is also the spring that often eludes us when it comes to inspiration for decoration. Perhaps we are too tired from all of our cleaning efforts to seek the inspiration to decorate. If this is the case with you, then my hope is that some of the ideas mentioned below will help bring some serious decoration inspiration your way.

1) Flowers. Spring is the time of flowers. They are all around us. Use fresh cut flowers and candles to create beautiful arrangement and centerpieces throughout your home.
2) Candles. While briefly mentioned above they deserve their own spot among the top five to say the least. Candles can be soothing, relaxing, invigorating, inspiring, beautiful, elegant, and simply smell good. Candles are great no matter what time of the year it is however, if you select candles in bright spring colors and fragrances you might be amazed at exactly how uplifting these candles can be.
3) Towels. Yes I said towels. In your kitchen and your bathrooms you need bright, bold colors that signify spring, birth, and renewal. These little touches can make a huge difference in not only your attitude about cleaning and decorating but also your attitude about cooking.
4) Fragrance. While most people do not realize that the fragrances we use in our homes is a type of decoration. It makes our noses happy to some degree but also the potpourri and candles are often decorations in and of themselves. Put out bowls filled with brightly colored and lightly scented fragrance balls, dried fruit, and other delights. Gourmet potpourri can be found in all kinds of gift and fragrance shops and is a rather inexpensive way to add a fragrant touch to your home decorating as well as the fragrance of your home.
5) Fruit. Have bowls placed throughout your home filled with fresh fragrant fruit. Not only does this add yet another layer of fragrance to your home but it is also visually appealing and edible. There are three checks in the ‘pro’ column for this simple decorative step and I have yet to find one in the ‘con’ column unless you consider the fact that it must be eaten before it gets too ripe.

Decorating for Halloween

If there is ever a time of year when the ghosts and goblins roam the streets of the modern world, that time would be Halloween. Today’s ghost and goblins are probably a little more frightening than at any other time in history but they are often tempered by a princess seeking frogs and a few witches and wizards along the way. Halloween is a great day to be a kid but can also be a great day for grown ups as well. Decorating for Halloween can be almost as fun as going out and begging for candy any day of the week.

Besides, having a well decorated home for this holiday gives you the perfect excuse to scare the evil out of some young ghoul or vampire that thinks he or she has the market cornered on frightening. The really cool thing about decorating for Halloween is that it is not one size fits all. You are perfectly free to find some very scary home decorations for this delightful holiday or take on a kinder, gentler, more kid friendly style of decorating. Either decision is yours and yours alone and should carefully monitor the scare-ability of your own children when deciding. You certainly don’t want them afraid to come home.

For a more frightening Halloween scene you will probably want to use some strobe lights, frightening music and sound effects, dry ice in order to incorporate spooky fog, and plenty of spider web type netting in order to give those who dare approach your door bells a complete and thorough case of the willies. Doesn’t this sound like so much fun? Coffins with headless straw men are also a great addition as well as skittering spiders and the occasional chainsaw or two. A glow in the dark hockey mask may also be a good choice. Bodiless heads suspended by fishing wire are also quite the highlight for a true and robust fright.

If your goal is to create a kid friendly Halloween atmosphere there are cheerful pumpkin decorations that can be found in many shapes and sizes as well as Casper the friendly ghost, Frankenstein piñatas, and countless other fun party favors that are designed to bring entertainment and delight rather than terror and far. String pumpkin lights around the porch for added lighting and another friendly face in addition to keeping plenty of candles and lanterns lit nearby. Not all trick or treaters are older kids who appreciate a good scare so keep this in mind as the little ghosts, goblins, princesses, and super heroes arrive.

For adult gatherings all bets are off when it comes to home decorating for Halloween. There are all kinds of themes that can be followed from the incredibly zany and outrageous to the frightening or flamboyant. The biggest suggestion in these matters is to have fun at all times and bring the be the life of the party rather than having the decorations upstage your efforts. Far too many people spend more time concerned with how they will decorate their homes rather than wondering how they will decorate themselves for the festivities. If you find the perfect costumes all eyes will be on you and not your decorations.

Favorite suggestions for adult parties would include strobe lights, much like the frightening scene described above, low additional lights, perhaps black lights near the food and drink area of the party. More dry ice (if tolerable some people have difficulties with the smell particularly those with allergies or asthma so you may want to avoid this inside your home and leave it for the exterior). Bales of hay in the corner make excellent additional seating and can contribute to the harvest/autumn/Halloween atmosphere you are attempting to create. Just remember that the underlying goal is for you and your guests to have a great time. Have good food, good music, and good friends, and the decorations really and truly should be a secondary concern.