Friday, March 25, 2011

How do you spin a sad story?

The ripple effect of a weak economy is far reaching. The hospitality industry has gone through a very soul searching time. It has caused us to look at many things; the overbuilding of markets, the structure of our staff, the necessity of certain positions, the importance of rate parity,
the value of relationships and being committed during good and bad times. Unfortunately the list is endless and frankly it is quite exhausting. We have seen some of our friends lose their jobs and we have seen some struggling properties close their doors. If you focus on these issues, the story is sad.

However, as the future begins to brighten, as hoteliers we need to use this opportunity as a time of reflection. Remember the cuts we made and why we made them. Remember the vendors, staff members or other partners who stood by you. Times are getting better. As we feel the fog begin to lift, we must be careful not to get blinded by the sun. The days of instant gratification and maximizing profits for the short term should be ushered away. Strengthening the relationships with our staff, staying focused and streamlined, accountability and consistency and paying attention to the desires of our guests will pave the profits of the future.

However sad the story became for your property, your staff or your family. The strength and happiness of the future will be ensured by learning from the steps we had to take. We are by no means in the clear. There is still some obstacles to maneuver through and tough decisions to be made. Use everything in your arsenal of knowledge to make those decisions and come out on the other side stronger, kinder and more resilient.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Selling Value

I spend a lot of time talking about value. How do we make a guest feel that their experience has value?

How do we position our rates to make sure they are a value? What can I add to a guest stay that
raises their value perception. The questions about value can and do go on and on. When we speak of value, we are not speaking about the best price. We are speaking about what rate, combined with provided amenities and service, delivers the best value perception
to the guest that is looking to make a reservation.

Do third party sites offer value? Or do they offer what the consumer feels is the best price?

Is ease of booking a value? Is breakfast a value? Is location a value? Is bell service a value? I would have to say yes, yes, yes and yes. But are these a value to everyone? This is a struggle we face across the board.

"Don't lower your rates, just offer more value."

Value is the moving target, the phantom goal and a very fickle character.

What is valuable to me, may not be valuable to you. So then you take a multiple choice approach. Book two nights and choose from either free parking, free breakfast, $ 25 spa certificate or free greens fees.

"Uh, Mr. Howell, don't use the word free - it cheapens your product. It lowers the value." Ah, yes.

Value is very personal. My estimation is that we must listen to our guests and through consistent communication, target the value proposition that is appropriate to a specific audience. I am determined to offer value. I am determined through exceptional guests service to give our guests the greatest value.

If you have a better idea bout this subject, please comment, I value your opinion.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Fall is a very beautiful time at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort and in the Pocono Mountain in general. The cool crisp air, the spectacular colors combine with the already existing breathtaking views. The brilliant colors of the leaves in Fall make it a very special season. My four year old daughter, Kagan, asked me "Daddy, why do the leaves change colors?" Of course there is a very scientific explanation that involves capturing the suns energy throughout the summer in the chlorophyll of the green leaves and then turning that energy into food through what is called Photosynthesis. I began that explanation and she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Then I said, "As people get older we change, it is the same with leaves. As they get older they change their color." She thought for a minute and then said, "They want to be beautiful before they fall off the tree and die?' I said, "Yes, and aren't we so lucky that they are so beautiful?"

The innocence and directness of a child can cut through a complicated explanation. Here is the more detailed version: The chlorophyll that is collected is turned into sugar which the tree needs. While the chlorophyll is being collected during the summer, the green coloring overpowers the yellow and orange colors that already exist in the leaves. As winter approaches, trees form what is called a "corky" layer which prevents water from entering leaves from the branches of the tree. The lack of water causes the tree to stop making chlorophyll. The lack of chlorophyll causes the green to fade away exposing the brilliant yellows and oranges. The red color in the leaves happens when sunlight hits the leaves there is a reaction between the sugars that are trapped in the leaves by the formation of the "corky" layer and a chemical that exists in the leaves. A shaded leaf will not turn red. Because it is so difficult for trees to replace their water when the ground is frozen, to completely slow down the evaporation of water, the tree will shed its leaves.

The science of why leaves change colors is an interesting fact of nature. However, today I prefer Kagan's explanation. "They want to be beautiful before they die." My, oh, my how beautiful they are.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to Choose A Golf Destination

What is the most important thing about choosing a golf destination? Four factors seem to dominate conversations about selecting a golf destination; location of the golf destination, quality of the golf destination, the value the destination delivers for your money and available amenities for those who may not enjoy the game of golf (bite your tongue).

Why is the location of a golf destination important? Will you jump on a plane, will you drive or can you take some other mode of transportation? Location plays a significant role because of travel time and travel expense. A destination on the other side of the country or a few states away will take a plane ride or a significant investment in driving. This is all a factor in the price and value of your trip. Remember, time is money and your time is worth taking into consideration. A two to three hour drive to a quality golf destination is ideal (For example; New York City to Shawnee on Delaware).

Obviously the quality of a golf destination is an important factor. When assessing the quality, the first item on the list is golf. There are many things to consider, but these items top the list. Look at the designer, layout, slope, par and search for any comments you can find regarding pace of play and course condition. You can search for these comments on the Internet. When assessing reviews and observations about a golf destination, remember the golf experience starts from the time they take your bags. This means, are you greeted immediately and properly, is the staff efficient, is there excellent upkeep of carts and other equipment? These are very important to how you will enjoy your golf experience. After you check out the golf, check out the accommodations. Where will you sleep? How far is it from where you will golf? Are the rooms nice, well appointed, clean, comfortable? How is the dining experience? Do they have a restaurant, are there any restaurants near by or do you have to order in? These are only a few areas to keep in mind when looking at the quality of your golf destination (For example; Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort has 27 holes of championship golf, comfortable guest rooms and dining choices from The Gem and Keystone Brewpub to the River Room).

We all like to receive value for our money. Choosing a golf destination is no different. If the golf destination is rated five stars, get ready to pull out the big bucks. But in return, the expectation that you have will be a flawless golf experience. Remember, there are many different levels of golf destinations. Be sure your expectations are in line with the dollars you are paying, the feedback you have read and the amenities available. Once you have evaluated these factors, be sure that your perceived value is delivered. Also, make sure you communicate to the manager or owner of the destination you visited if your expectations were not met or exceeded (For example, Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort has a four star golf course and delivers excellent value for their cost).

We don’t always travel with golfers. When we don’t, we want to make sure there are amenities and/or activities available for them. Search the website of the destination you are interested in and list the activities available and share them with your travel partner or partners. This will allow them to do some advance planning. Don’t forget to look at affiliated links on the Internet of websites of cities or attractions that are close to the golf resort or hotel you will be staying at. Make it easy for your travel partner or partners to entertain themselves while you play golf (For example, Shawnee on Delaware has a spa and salon, art gallery, river trips, a professional theater, nearby Crossings Premium Outlets, hiking and more).

When making a decision on any vacation, research and planning is important. It is no different with your selection of a golf destination. The quality of golf, the value you will receive for your money, the time it takes to get there and other activities available are some of the most important areas to consider. Here are some quality destinations to add to your list; Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania; Pinehurst, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Orlando, Florida to name just a few. Good luck on your search for a quality golf destination.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

To Blog or not to Blog

To blog, or not to blog: is that a question? Whether 'tis time to write our thoughts daily or leave caution to the wind and post infrequently, or to have someone else blog for you, and have their words be your speech? To post: to sleep; no more; and by sleep I mean not staying up until 3:00 am to make sure you have not forgotten to place words on the page for all to read and therefore avoid the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks of a post less blog, 'tis an abomination of Internet saavy. To post, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to reinvigorate the mind for an inspirational post; for in that sleep what dreams may come when we have allowed our mind to rest, must give us pause: there's the opportunity that makes all this blogging worth it; for who would deny someone a chance to go viral, the selfish blogger is wrong, the indignant blogger contumely, the creativity of the soul cries out, the arrogance of those who do not blog, and the accolades the false posters take, when they themselves might not care what they hadst for lunch or what vegetables grew on their virtual farm?

It is our burden, to pain over a post that may seem benign to some, but that the dread of leaving a blog blank too long, the discovered page of dead links and lengthy spaces between posts to which no visitor returns, puzzles the empty pages and makes judgments and assumptions of those that he know not of?

Thus the mere reading of our words cause us great pause; and herein lies our resolution however difficult and void of thought, to create blogs of great inspiration and movement
With regard to our readers and industry, and hopefully garner an audience of supporters.--I must go now!

Other work calls, be all my blogs remembered.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tough Times? Resource Management!

Our daily responsibilities are growing. As our economic future becomes more uncertain, our time must be better managed. Demands on our time become insurmountable.

The best way for us to make it through this economic downturn is to plan.
What does that mean? As our time becomes more valuable, our ability to plan and delegate must sharpen.

Have an austerity program to keep your labor and expenses low. Make sure you are considering your customers (or guests in our case) and making sure they are being taken care of. No staff = unhappy guests. The staff you do have is interacting with guests. Maintaining a professional demeanor and exceeding their expectations.

Reach out to your past guests. These are your most valuable opportunities for future business. Use direct mail, e-mail marketing, bounce back offers, ask for referrals, etc...

Analyze your energy consumption. Do you have an energy plan? Do you try to regulate temperatures in a certain area? Do you turn off lights? Have you researched alternative energy resources? Solar, geo thermal, wind, water? Have you taken a hard look at your financial statement and each employee? Are you over spending anywhere? Are you using your human capital to the best of their ability? Is there a reoccurring charge that has fallen under
the radar?

Amidst all this planning, don't forget to make time for family, friends and personal interests. The time you allot to this will make the time you spend on analyzing and improving your business more enjoyable.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cyber Monday

To show our appreciation for our dedicated Shawnee guests that come to this blog, we are offering an exclusive incentive. Anyone who reserves a room on “Cyber Monday”*, and mentions this promotion, will receive a 15% discount.

Again, thank you for your support.

For more information or make a reservation please call: 800.SHAWNEE and mention Cyber Monday.

*Cyber Monday – The Monday preceding Black Friday in which online distributors offer discounted rates on various goods and services. The stay must take place prior to March 28th 2009, excludes packages, groups and holidays, and must take place Tuesday through Thursday. Not available with any other promotion or discount.