UNH Hospitality Management is at the cutting edge of the industry's need for change. As a thought leader in this space, below we offer monthly insights.
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By Nelson A. Barber, PhD and Chair
In the lodging industry, change is happening at a rapid pace, creating numerous transformational challenges for higher educational systems. These challenges include, among others, relevance of curricula, learning materials, and content delivery methods. Education institutions should take these challenges seriously and should include restructuring the process of learning to reflect the use of information in the real world, changing the role of educators from presenters of facts to enabler of active and engaged learning.
Educators must realize teaching is not lecturing on information changes; but rather engaging, inspiring, and transformational centers of creativity ingenuity. All instructional methods and student assessment processes must be reflective of this. Those educational providers on the cutting edge have stepped forward to fill the unquestionable need for open, flexible, life-long, relevant and timely learning.1
Critical areas for curriculum changes, include the challenges of keeping up with the difficult and expensive fast pace of technology [e.g. new property and reservation platforms, guest room innovations, and social media]; data analytics allowing marketing and sales personnel to find new ways to use guest-related data for stronger marketing decisions; and revenue and pricing management applied to every revenue department across the organization, matching guest demand with revenue rates. For hospitality firms this will likely mean the need for future managers capable of adjusting to the fast pace of change throughout the conventional functions of management. However interesting and potentially compelling; how can educators operationalize this in the learning space?
Here at the UNH Hospitality Management Program, which is ranked #2 in New England and #26 out of nearly 400 programs in the U.S., the constant changing and evolving world of hospitality management is more than an area of study; it’s a way of life. We recognize the increasing complexity of employee/customer/technology engagement will shape the future of human resources hiring needs.
Students will EXPERIENCE an education that keeps pace with the industry by receiving relevant industry certifications [e.g. CHIA, Delphi], with in class experience using cutting edge industry technology [such as Amadeus Hospitality and their product modules Sales & Event Management and Hospitality Operations solutions (Delphi, and HotSos)]. They also receive personal attention and support, hands-on real-world career development; and alumni mentoring and engagement. All of this wrapped in a business education.
Thus, our graduates are well prepared to meet the ever changing needs of the industry and for a successful and meaningful career.
Learn more on how to become one of the best at https://paulcollege.unh.edu/hospitality-management
1Wang and Wang (2009)
By Nelson A. Barber, PhD and Chair
Revenue and pricing management is developing quickly in the face of the increasingly technologically complex hospitality environment. The concept is not new. Long since early bird specials and yield management, today revenue and pricing policies are critically and fundamentally important factors in the operations of hospitality organizations, whether they are lodging, resorts, or even restaurants. In the hospitality space, regardless of size, the truth is to stay competitive hotels, resorts, and restaurants must tackle issues of fixed capacity, with revenue and pricing management critical to this success.
What is revenue and pricing management [RPM]? RPM is the disciplined application of analytics predicting consumption behavior at the lowest market level, optimizing product/service availability and price; thus maximizing revenue growth. The motivation to focus on price by far embodies the most operational variable managers can use to drive short-term demand.
Hospitality managers are charged with making strategic decisions to increase total revenue for their organization and by applying a systematic process to such decision-making can increase their success.
Big data is the key. Large data sets offer incredible opportunities for hospitality managers to advance their revenue and pricing decisions, but only to the extent the data is properly focused and then leveraged. The challenge of big data is often quality of the data collected. Thus the successful manager will find data that is most relevant and reliable to their specific operation.
Leveraging information technology to strategically predict demand to solve revenue problems will be critical to shaping future success in the hospitality industry. Will increased dependence on computerization of pricing become the standard? Will this increase the need for college graduates from hospitality management programs better trained in pricing and data analytics? Should hospitality management programs partner with technology companies, such as Amadeus Hospitality or IDeaS Revenue Solutions? Finally, with the increase in social media and digital marketing, how will this influence revenue and pricing management models?
Today, many undergraduate hospitality management university programs do not promote or emphasize strategic revenue and pricing management as a critical component of the curriculum; nor is the development and analysis of big data. Programs in business colleges are moving in this direction through partnerships and sharing across marketing, data analytics, and other related disciplines.
The UNH Hospitality Management Program has begun to address these challenges through technology partnerships with leading firms such as Amadeus Hospitality and R.E.D. Global, among others, as well as a focus on data analytics and revenue and pricing management. Our goal is to insure graduates of the program are well prepared for the challenging hospitality management industry with relevant skills and certifications to immediately add value to their employers.
Learn more about becoming one of the best through a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality from UNH, visit http://paulcollege.unh.edu/hospitality-management .
How to Build a Championship Mix of Business for Hotels
By: Jon Moore, President of Jon Moore & Associates, LLC
What can we learn from World Champion and future Hall of Famers like Bill Belichick and Theo Epstein?
Love them or hate them, you have to respect what Bill Belichick and Theo Epstein have accomplished in their amazing careers. They have taken perennial losing franchises and turned them into winners, using a variety of skills all leaders can learn from. For the purpose of this article I’d like to comment that their obsession with prepping their teams with attention to detail, use of data, and analyzing their competition is clearly part of their secret sauce. Both franchises were prepared to launch historic comebacks due to conditioning, in-game adjustments, and a willingness to be positive in the face of defeat.
How does this translate to the hotel business? As leaders, we must demand our teams assess and reexamine our business models, just as Belichick and Epstein tweaked theirs during championship drives.
Start with analyzing your current mix of rooms business. Assess what your optimal mix of business should look like. Challenge high volumes of expensive segments like OTAs. Determine if you have done enough to maximize volume from less expensive channels such as brand.com or metasearch sites.
Next, determine your current Net mix of business. Deduct acquisition costs required to attract OTAs, group, BT, brand.com, GDS, direct, voice, metasearch sites, and more. Include your direct expenses such as sales and marketing costs, entertainment, advertising and promotion, loyalty programs, group, leisure, and commissions. Identify your acquisition cost per RN, by channel. This is a great opportunity for savings, since most hotels pay between 16-18% of their business in acquisition costs and many may pay as high as 25-35%!
You are ready to determine your optimal mix! What segments could you dial up or dial down? What are the real costs to bring in each segment?
Once you have determined your optimal mix, there are a myriad of actions you can take to increase incremental business. For now, let’s focus on the digital actions that will have some of the lowest acquisition costs.
- Establish a robust search strategy – combine SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) into your action plan, with heavy emphasis on SEM. Metasearch sites such as TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Google can integrate personalization to deliver messages to consumers that speak to individual needs and aspirations.
- Create content for the entire sales funnel – your message, photos, and videos should differ based on where the consumer is in the funnel. The average consumer searches on anywhere from 12-20 sites during their travel research journey, so you must be aggressive in bringing and keeping them on your site! All three of these sales funnel stages should be in play in unison to attract guests from all lead times.
- Awareness Stage –content and key words should motivate shoppers! Videos should be inspirational and lead the consumer to dream about their trip to your area. Broader destination terms like “beach resort“ and “urban vacation” are in play.
- Consideration Stage – the consumer has narrowed their research, and wants to know more about availability and activities in your market. Photos and video of area and property activities should continue to inspire and draw the customer research to your site.
- Conversion Stage –property photo and videos are a must! Three or more photos of every type of guest room is critical on your website. Location, pricing, deals, and value-adds will contribute to your conversions. A combination of branded and unbranded key words will keep your bookers coming direct to your website and away from more expensive third parties buying up your branded words.
- Use retargeting in your digital strategy – less than 5% of visitors to your site will convert on the first search. Retargeting visitors allows you to put messages in front of potential customers who have demonstrated interest in your product.
- Combine social/content presence – UGC (User-Generated Content) is what your customers want to see. They trust other guests more than brand messaging. Consumers base their decision greatly on what others say on your social sites, through their comments, photos, and videos.
- Loyalty & advocacy stage customers are more than satisfied and become your raving fans!
Connecting your optimal mix with an aggressive SEO/SEM strategy will charge up your hotel. Like Belichick and Epstein, these types of “in game adjustments” are what creates a championship run. Knowing you can win no matter what obstacles you must overcome is what defines a winner!
About Jon Moore & Associates, LLC (JMA)
JMA is a collection of hospitality leaders specializing in Digital Marketing, Branding, and Revenue Performance. The team at Jon Moore & Associates, LLC has a proven track record of building demand through innovative and cutting edge strategies across the Americas. Through the expertise of JMA partners, we can help hotels content and win with innovative websites, optimization, search marketing, social and content management, and mobile technology. We can tie your direct sales strategy to your business positioning and messaging, reposition hotels, markets, and restaurants to compete effectively, and are skilled in developing pre-opening or renovation sales or marketing strategies. JMA is based in Andover, MA.
Web: http://www.jonmooreassociates.com, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/jon-moore-&-associates-llc/, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JonMooreAssociates/
Learning from HSMAI’s Digital Conference: How to Know if You Have a Budding Superstar in Your Midst
By: Jon Moore, Faculty Member, Hospitality Management Program, University of New Hampshire
At a recent HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis, I had a wonderful opportunity to take a group of UNH Hospitality Management students. These millennial students were bursting with excitement to be exposed to the many wonders of the digital space from a business and career opportunity perspective.
The conference did not let us down. Titled “Optimizing the Digital Experience From Today’s Tools to Tomorrow’s Needs”, there were fascinating presentations, panel discussions, and a Partner Showcase with exhibitors such as Expedia Solutions, TripAdvisor, TravelClick, Adobe, IDeaS, and several other strong digital brands.
I was fascinated by sessions such as “Demystifying Distribution” and “Hotel Search and Booking Insights”, and in an earlier article connected the dots between identifying a hotel’s optimal mix and how to improve that mix through marketing to all levels of the sales funnel.
My greatest “aha moment” came from a panel discussion of some extremely seasoned Hospitality veterans. One of those panelists, Jeff Senior, VP Marketing for KSL Resorts, was asked what advice he would offer to the next generation of leaders and young professionals entering the workforce. His response was to be “curious in all areas” and to “show tenacity for getting valuable ideas of change across the goal line.”
That really struck a chord with me! As a father of 3 Millennial professionals, and being a Hospitality leader for four decades, this is something I have always valued, admired, and tried to instill in those around me.
Jeff continued to elaborate his sage observations:
- Get out of your comfort zone, and test yourself in areas you are not familiar with. Ask questions that perplex you. Be curious about how and why things are done. Bring an attitude of wanting to know if there is a better way.
- Learn to fail and make mistakes, and make improvements through your and your team’s journey.
- Through insights you have gained and ideas you have developed, influence the organization to push the ball over the goal line. Many curious people are left behind because they don’t develop the tenacity and fortitude to inspire others take them in a new direction.
As I listened to Jeff Senior speak, thoughts of a boss I had on a former Marriott Regional team resonated in my mind; “Our jobs are to take people where they don’t want to go on their own.”
It is that type of tenacity that drives the type of change well-run organizations need. And well-run organizations need leaders at all levels, from all generations, to contribute with a perspective of curiosity and inspirational drive made up of strong tenacity! If you find this person, you know you have a budding superstar in your midst!
I frequently see content on LinkedIn and other social channels with people asking about strategies to make a positive impression in interviews. They ask about attire, follow-up, posting, and résumés, but rarely about the actual interview preparation and strategies to tell your story.
Interviews can be very stressful, and cause sleepless nights for many. Most people are extremely nervous and uncomfortable in interview settings for a variety of natural reasons. I’ve been there! The good news is, you don’t have to be this way!
Nobody knows you better than yourself, and how you prepare to tell your story counts. You can, in fact, take control of an interviewin order to communicate your strengths in a powerful set of planned illustrations of your skills.
A well-prepared interviewee is ready with STARs…stories you can share about situations where you impacted your personal or professional life, that demonstrate your leadership aptitude, teamwork, conflict resolution skills, relationship building, business acumen, ability to execute a plan, or how you play in the “sandbox.”
It starts with identifying at least 10 different diverse situations that you are proud of your accomplishments or learnings. We call these examples STARs because you will articulate the:
- Situation you were faced with
- Tactics you developed
- Actions you took
- Results you achieved
If the interviewer asks “situational interview” types of questions like, “Give me an example of a time you resolved a conflict using your interpersonal skills,” you will be prepared! This line of questioning is ideal for the candidate who has prepared a portfolio of STARs! You may be asked 10 or more of these requests for examples that show you’ve handled situations that may come up in the day-to-day role of the position you are interviewing for.
I would like to add the following 5 pieces of advice as you prepare for your interview:
- Develop a list of 10 or more STARs that are your best examples to demonstrate actions you took and results you achieved. Write or type them on one page.
- Do one or more mock interviews with a friend or co-worker to practice your answers.
- Listen closely to questions that are asked, so your answer demonstrates the type of skill being probed for.
- Carry your one page of STARs in a leather or vinyl portfolio to the meeting (or phone interview), and refer to the page for reminders of the STARs you could use, based on the question.
- Prepare 2 or 3 questions about the company or job you are interviewing for, that you can ask at the end of your interview—ensure they are intriguing in nature, and not fluff. This is a great way to leave a strong last impression.
Not all interviews include “situational” interview questions, but if you are prepared for them, you can blend them into your responses. If you do have an interviewer that asks for specific examples of a variety of your skills, then you control the story that you tell. That is a powerful interview technique, that will make you stand out from the crowd,and generate job offers!
For more information on STAR interview preparation or career coaching, contact email@example.com
University Support and Career Development Responsibilities
By: Hospitality Management Program, University of New Hampshire
During the great recession, this was a challenging time for college graduates to enter the job market. Unemployment for college graduates, 20 to 25 reached a high of just over 10%, from a low of 5% 7 years earlier; declining to 8% in 2013. Many of graduates who did find employment in their field of study, worked in jobs that did not match the skills and knowledge gained during their college career.
Universities have been aware of the often harsh criticism directed toward them regarding the employment and income outcomes of their graduates. Universities have a responsibility as part of the overall education they provide to prepare students for entry into the work force. Yet, this is a complex activity; more than simply providing greater levels of information and even more sophisticated general skills. Universities, through Career development processes, have a responsibility to educate students about the nature of the employment market and their potential place in it, and what course of study is pursued and how this choice eventually may affect the student’s success in their career.
Career development should offer immediate assistance graduates may need to maximize the capacity to start a successful and rewarding career. Through university career centers and their professional personnel, they can offer vehicles to meet these responsibilities. Curriculum can be structured to provide for professional development courses starting from freshmen through junior year. Sadly, for many universities, the professional and career development support has not responded to the increased need.
To insure graduate career success, professional development needs to be an integrated part of the overall “academic” program and faculty, administration, as well as career development professionals need to take ownership of this critical role. In particular, university administrators must recognize changes in the economy demand a more prominent place for professional and career education, mentoring, and guidance within their institutions through offering adequate levels of support.