Yesterday, I featured a simply sensational property with an even more sensational management team and program. Called "Enjoy One...Share One," the Century House just outside of Albany NY provides funding for a meal through the Food Bank of Northeastern New York for every meal and room that is consumed at their Hotel and Restaurant.
Since 2009...that equates to over a half million meals. Which is another reason why I love the hospitality industry. It gives back like no other.
After the Century House received the highest award given by the Albany County CVB last Thursday, I had the honor to take the stage and share my thoughts on Destination Marketing in America and Albany's future as they begin construction on a downtown Convention Center.
And, as I was clicking through my prepared remarks...I was overtaken by a random thought. Which, of course, I blurted out.
I wondered how many other business people in the room gave back to their community like the Century House. Maybe not on the same scale...but, I bet there were a lot of people in the room that did. Because...that's just what hospitality pros do. We give back. It's who we are. But, unlike the Century House...most of us are never recognized.
I encouraged everyone in the room to catalogue their generosity and share that number with the CVB. If everyone does...that would be a number that would shock the community.
As I flew back to Madison, my thoughts drifted to a beloved tourism icon in my town that provided free hotel rooms each December for parents of kids being treated at the Ronald McDonald House. Sure, he had rooms to give at that time of the year. But, that he did set him apart from so many businesses in town.
Every one of our communities is blessed with hospitality businesses that give back. If you are a Destination Marketing pro, reach out and try to quantify what that impact is on our collective Quality of Life.
To the sophisticated traveler, it’s the little things that signal you’ve stepped into a superbly managed hotel or restaurant.
From something as little as the iron having water in the steam capsule to a shower head pointed toward the wall (and not your face), I can spot a sensational Head of Housekeeping in a heartbeat.
When your meeting room is set with table water, it's always a nice touch if there is a bowl of lemon and lime slices. It’s something completely different when those slices are presented as a tropical palm (click image to enlarge).
Of course, a lot of that comes from the caring culture of an ownership and management team that “gets it.” When you treat your people with empathy and respect, amazing things can happen. And, they do at the Century House Hotel & Restaurant, just outside of Albany NY.
Since its debut in the heart of the last recession, their restaurant’s “Enjoy One, Share One” campaign has been nothing short of amazing. For every meal served onsite and every overnight stay, a meal is provided to those less fortunate through the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
Since 2009, that would be over a half million meals. A half million.
And, it doesn’t stop there, as staff is encouraged to serve those meals from time to time at missions and shelters. And, they look forward to it.
To Colin Demers and his sensational team at the Century House: Your hospitality and customer service at every corner was simply superb during my stay last week. Merci.
But, it is your humanity and generosity that I will never forget.
Just one of the many reasons Colin and the Century House won the Albany County CVB’s Hospitality Excellence award last Thursday evening. And, again, congratulations.
Ben traces the decline of American newspaper journalism to Craigslist. When Craigslist became a cheaper and more effective means of classified advertising, it removed a huge revenue stream upon which newspapers relied to pay experienced reporters and editors. Take away the revenue, staff is sloughed. No staff...no content.
He frets that the decline of junk mail (a good thing, right?) will have the same effect on the US Postal Service, which relies on this revenue source to pay for delivering all the good stuff we've come to expect from the USPS.
While there are clearly some residents of this nation that benefit from the Affordable Care Act, it's pretty obvious that the majority of Americans do not. And, as much as we were all promised that insurance rates would not rise, I have yet to talk with a single business owner whose costs to provide insurance to their employees did not instantly increase.
Old news, to be sure. And, small business owners just had to grin and bear it. But, the Affordable Care Act's impact goes beyond simply how much business owners now have to shell out to insure their workforce. It also mandates that restaurants now need to post the caloric content of the foods they serve.
For In-N-Out Burger (which only features 5 choices), that's probably doable (although, more problematic if the Food and Drug Administration insists on the inclusion of their secret menu).
But, imagine Domino's. CEO Patrick Doyle asks a simple question: "How do we list the calorie count of our pizzas on a menu when we have 34 million different variations of pizza?"
For those of us in the Destination Marketing realm who are assembling images for an upcoming brochure or video, a golf shot is pretty much a de facto inclusion every time.
It shouldn't be.
Indeed, unless the target is consumers who travel TO golf, it's the last thing that will lure a visitor to your destination. That's one of several take-aways our team has learned through our latest service to DMOs called DMOvision. Regardless the market or demographic, focus groups across North America consistently reject scenes of golf and golf courses when viewing tourism spots and b-roll.
The reasons vary by age group, gender and family status...but the end result is that golf is a turn-off for all but a very select few.
As the "march" to the Final Four begins, we have to kick off the week with the biggest, baddest example of a Destination Marketing Organization owning a sponsorship.
Forget that the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber/CVB scored amazing cutaway shots for its beachfront, SkyWheel and a cool sand sculpture on almost every commercial break. Forget that the game announcers wore Myrtle Beach sunglasses on camera and praised the destination.
During last weekend's round of Conference Championships, the Myrtle Beach Chamber/CVB pasted the biggest mid-court decal (replete with it's URL) we've ever seen on an ESPN broadcast (click on image to enlarge).
It was an album that, sadly, did not connect with the zeitgeist of the time. A lot of that was because it was essentially a jazz-rock-industrial fusion outing with a one-off pop song designed to garner airplay. The word "uneven" comes to mind.
Add to the mix that the song is probably the saddest love song I've ever heard and the chick singer was an unknown and, yeah...it wasn't going to work on mainstream radio.
When things go badly for your community (I mean really badly), one of the silver linings is that a number of meeting planners of this nation's largest conventions and trade shows will be coming to your town in the years ahead.
When New Orleans was rocked by Katrina, a number of major Associations were quick to ask when they could meet in the Big Easy to bring the substantial buying power of large events to town to help the comeback. Today, it's Detroit's turn.
Not taking anything away from the sales professionals at the Detroit Metro CVB, the ignominious fall of one of the nation's major cities is a big reason that the "majors" are lining up to place events in the Motor City. It's our industry's way of infusing cash into a destination that needs a helping hand. And, we do it (not with a large check but) with tens of thousands of little checks from attendees, vendors and sponsors.
It's a Southern thing. You can say the most unflattering thing about someone...but, if you tack on "bless their heart" at the end of the sentence, it somehow absolves the speaker for trashing someone else.
A report from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimates that just over 425,000 residents work in the hospitality industry...with average wages less than half the average of those in all other industries (like healthcare, real estate, banking, etc.).
LAEDC VP Christine Cooper said, "The jobs tend to be on the low end of the scale (bless their heart*), but they are also jobs for people who may not want to work full time, may be working while attending school or are working on plans to move up to another position." She goes on to say "This is an economy that provides jobs across a wide skills and wage spectrum" (bless their heart*), but these jobs can't be outsourced to other countries.
Carl Wilson, Director of San Diego State's Hospitality and Tourism program said he'd like to see Los Angeles County work harder at developing higher paying jobs...but that more tourism jobs is a good thing for those workers without an education or specific skills (bless their heart*). "Thank goodness someone is creating jobs for people who don't have other skills," he said (bless their heart*). "It's good for people who are ambitious and want to climb the career ladder."
And, that line is the truest of all, as research has proven that the hospitality sector is the fastest path to management among all industries.
Bless their heart, indeed. Because, in Tourism, there is a job for everyone that wants to work (regardless of education and skill set)...and a management position for those that want to work hard and excel.
And, isn't that the best kind of industry?
* The "Bless Their Hearts" are added by the author for emphasis.
Skift'sGreg Oates posted an interesting question last week in our DMOproZ LinkedIn group. While Destination Marketing Organizations have been relatively quick to embrace Social Media and Blogs for Leisure markets, why haven't their Meeting & Convention Sales divisions followed suit?
Serendipitously, my e-mail box alerted me to the 2015 tour by David Coverdale and Whitesnake. Dubbed the Purple Tour, in honor of the band's new album "The Purple Album," the new offering from David & Company features songs from his time as the frontman for Deep Purple in the post-Ian Gillan / pre-Whitesnake incarnations.
The first video has just been released...and it's the tornadic "Stormbringer."
It's always difficult to get a real sense of reality when consuming information from what passes as today's news media. Does the reporter have an agenda? Is s/he sophisticated enough to understand the nuance of the situation? Can they ferret out a hidden agenda within a story?
From the outset of the editorial, we couldn't be more pleased that our friend (and departing DMO CEO) Katherine Hoppe is being described as being talented, high energy, social media savvy and pragmatic. We also couldn't be more startled that some members of the Board think hiring an ad agency to replace her would be a good idea.
How, after eight years of the Kat, could anyone think such a thing?
Or, is it that they believe she is simply irreplaceable...and their only alternative is an agency?
Not having been a fly on that Boardroom wall, I'll never know.
What I do know is that the Editorial Board at The World is bang on when it says, "the real challenge facing the Visitor and Convention Bureau Board right now isn’t finding a new director, it’s finding its focus."
For, without said focus, they'll never find the next Kat. And the community deserves no less.
Before Airbnb shook up the lodging space and made us all look, there was an online play that had successfully been putting vacationers and homeowners together for a number of years. It's called HomeAway / VRBO.
And, as the HomeAway braintrust watches the media-fueled Airbnb phenomenon and company's market valuation catch fire, it recently made some strategic decisions...encapsulated by one of the truly great business quotes in recent memory:
And, that's just what they plan to do with a new $100 million ad campaign that will focus on what their true core competency is (and always has been): The Whole House. The Whole Family. The Whole Vacation.
Every time I lead a Destination Marketing Board through a Strategic Planning process, the topic of increasing resources naturally surfaces. And, as public sector revenue streams have tightened considerably for many destinations over the past decade, the conversation quickly turns to private sector options.
As I tick through the alternative funding streams in play across the nation to see if one clicks, the Tourism Assessment Model (where hotels agree to an assessment of a dollar or two per occupied room) pretty much always receives some pushback. And, I get that.
But, what I don't get is that, upon explaining that Assessment Programs are controlled by those that are assessed, the resistance rarely abates. And, when I share that virtually every Tourism Assessment District has been renewed by the very businesses being assessed (indicating to me that, if the ROI wasn't substantial, the assessed wouldn't vote to continue to assess themselves), I still get that arms-folded frown.
The original Van Halen was always the brothers (virtuosos), the singer (the showman) and the bass player (the soul). Then, it became Van Hagar with the brothers (virtuosos), and Sammy and Michael (the party).
Ultimately, the band disintegrated and the party moved on...to Chickenfoot.
Today's Music Friday post offers up Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (along with Joe Satriani and Chad Smith) with their insane version of Deep Purple's "Highway Star."
And...there's just one more week til Daylight Savings, babies!
"We’re moving away from the idea that we have to be the central point of everything. We don’t have to create everything ourselves say, 'Here’s a list of everything you need to know about Britain. Come and find it.' We’re moving towards a role where we’re much more of a catalyst.
We might use user-generated content rather than our own and add value by curating and putting a voice around it.
We listen and connect rather than create and push."