Prof. Brey Helps Develop Hospitality Program in Rwanda; Makes Presentation on Small
Hotels to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
Dr. Eric T. Brey, Assistant Professor in the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management
and Director of the Center for Resort and Hospitality Business will be traveling to
the Eastern South African country of Rwanda to assist Muhabura University in developing
their hospitality and tourism management program. The university, which will admit
their first group of students in the fall, will focus on programs in business, engineering,
agriculture and hospitality. Through a relationship with Little Rock, AR based Bridge
2 Rwanda Eric will be joining a team around the United States to assist in creating
a new university in this quickly developing country. Eric will be leading the development
of a hospitality program where students gain hands-on knowledge in the lodging, foodservice
and tourism industries.
For more information, visit http://memphis.bizjournals.com/memphis/stories/2009/09/28/story10.html
CHTA SMALL HOTELS RETREAT GAINS MOMENTUM AS
U.S.V.I. CONFERENCE EXCEEDS 2008 ATTENDANCE
225 Delegates From 17 Countries Gather In St. Thomas For Marketing, Operations Seminars
ST. THOMAS, U.S.V.I. (Oct. 13, 2009) – Caribbean hoteliers representing properties
with 75 rooms or less gathered in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, last week to strengthen
their marketing and operations programs at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
(CHTA) Small Hotels Retreat. With 225 delegates from 17 countries, 2009 attendance
exceeded that of last year’s event in St. Kitts by 13%.
“The small hotels of the Caribbean are … as diversified as our people and we truly
believe this is where we stand out,” said The Hon. Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner
of Tourism for the U.S.V.I. in her keynote address at the Opening Ceremony on Sept.
CHTA Director General and CEO, Alec Sanguinetti, C.D., kicked off the first plenary
session on Oct. 1. Referring to the current economic uncertainty, Sanguinetti noted
that “Tourism is a cyclical event. This is just another challenge we have to work
our way through.”
Sanguinetti was followed by Lindsay Culbreath, Director of Sales for Smith Travel
Research (STR), who provided an industry overview for the Caribbean and addressed
its impact on the marketing success of small hotels.
In comparison, small hotels seem to be faring slightly better in this economy than
their larger counterparts. While occupancy dropped slightly more for hotels of 75
rooms or less (9.4% compared to 6.8% for hotels with more than 75 rooms), declines
in the average daily rates of small properties was virtually half that of large hotels
(8.5% versus 16.2%, respectively). RevPAR fell 17.1% for small hotels, whereas larger
properties saw a 21.9 % drop in RevPAR.
According to STR data, statistics for Jan. – Aug. 2009 showed that demand for Caribbean
hotel stays was down 6.3%, while supply has increased by 0.5%. Hotel occupancy in
the Caribbean is down 6.7% in 2009, following a 1.9% decline in 2008, which has led
to a 17.3% drop in average daily rates for 2009. RevPAR fell 22.9% in 2009 after
declining 9.9% in 2008.
Despite this downward trend, Culbreath predicted the fourth quarter of 2009 will be
less bumpy. She also foresees moderate improvement in 2010 and significant improvement
in 2011, though she indicated “it may take 10 years for rates to return to normal
levels,” comments resonated by other speakers at the Small Hotels Retreat warning
that deep discounting will do more harm than good.
Culbreath’s presentation will be accessible in the members-only CHTA Data Center,
along with a wealth of other helpful statistics and research from organizations such
as STR, CTO and Expedia, together with tourism statistics from 17 Caribbean destinations.
The second plenary session on Oct. 1 was presented by John Fareed, Partner, Fareed
Zapala Koepke, and focused on Winning Social Media Strategies For Small Hotels and Resorts.
"[Social Media] is no fad, it is here to stay," said Fareed as he demystified the
marketing potential of social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
According to Fareed, more than four out of five U.S. adults online use social media
at least once a month, while 30% use social media daily. “The proliferation of smart
phones is going up exponentially,” said Fareed, who noted that consumers will spend
$343 million this year on phone apps, and a projected $4.2 billion by 2013.
"Nearly 70 million photos are uploaded by consumers every day on Facebook," advised
Fareed, while Twitter is "fast, efficient and prolific."
Social media is “the single greatest marketing tool you as a small hotelier will have
in the 21st century,” said Fareed, but he warned that hoteliers “need to have a strategy
and it needs to be consistent.
"If all you’re putting out are rates and packages, you will die. You need to have
something to talk about," noted Fareed.
The final plenary session on Oct. 1 – Managing Your Online Sales: An Update For Small Hotels Presented By Expedia – was led by Demetrius Canton, Director of Market Management, Caribbean, Expedia,
and Barry Landes, Business Development Manager, Expedia.
Delegates heard an overview on the economy and comparative analysis of lodging trends
across the global industry, the U.S. and the Caribbean – with a particular focus on
small hotels – as well as valuable advice on how they could work with online travel
agencies. Hoteliers gained insight into promotional possibilities, opaque channels
such as Hotwire and techniques they can implement to manage the booking window.
Hoteliers also received a brief update on the Expedia Travel Affiliate program, a
private label booking engine which can power a property’s online bookings, including
hotel and air packaging with a 24/7 call center for offline bookings and customer
service. Delegates were especially receptive when they learned that there is no start-up
or ongoing cost for properties enrolled in the Travel Affiliate program – news that
earned Canton and Landes much applause.
The second full day of the conference, Oct. 2, was devoted to hotel operations and
led off with a presentation from Eric T. Brey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kemmons
Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, University of Memphis, on Driving Revenue – Creating Memorable Guest Experiences.
Brey focused on several revenue enhancing themes which are all rooted in the fundamental
need for hoteliers to prioritize the guest experience. According to research, 65%
of satisfied customers switch brands, which means hoteliers need to go beyond customer
satisfaction in order to achieve customer loyalty.
Travelers are “17% more likely to stay loyal if they enjoy the experience,” said Brey,
distinguishing the difference between mere satisfaction and experiences which invoke
an emotional response.
The first step, according to Brey, is understanding the customer. “Don’t just ask
them … find out who they are,” said Brey, noting that the interests, behaviors and
personalities of guests should be utilized for better comprehension of what makes
them tick and how to strike a chord with them.
"When establishing service standards it is important to ask the customer what their
standards are and where the focus should be placed," said Brey.
A proponent of focus groups, Brey emphasized the role settings can play when gathering
information. Conducting focus groups on the beach will illicit a more actionable
response than surveys conducted in a white room, for example, as the guests will be
in a more appropriate mindset.
Once hoteliers understand their customers, they can begin the task of redesigning
the guest experience and implementing these changes. Brey discussed factors ranging
from positive versus negative cues to service standards. A major focus, according
to Brey, should be on the hotel’s staff.
"Great experiences are rooted in employee actions," said Brey, emphasizing the role
of hotel employees' interaction with customers in achieving customer loyalty.
In regards to implementation, Brey acknowledged the budget difficulties faced by many
small properties, but noted that revenue generating benefits will ensure a return
on investment. Brey went on to map out the entire process for an experience-centric
strategy from the evaluation stage to implementation and measurement.
Brey was followed by Josue Merced-Reyes, President of InterEmktg, who led the conference’s
final plenary session, a timely presentation on F&B Marketing in a Recession. Designed specifically for managers, chefs and food & beverage directors of hotels,
restaurants and bars, Merced-Reyes focused on whether cutting F&B costs is really
the best response to the revenue difficulties associated with this recession.
Rather than cutting costs at every opportunity, Merced-Reyes suggested an innovative
strategy for restaurants and bars with tactics designed to bring in sales despite
the economic climate.
A highlight of the presentation was a rundown of food and drinks that customers are
willing to pay for in 2009, giving delegates insightful advice on ways to earn F&B
profits throughout the recession instead of cutting costs and quality – a move that
could result devastating consequences far beyond a resort’s F&B program.
In addition to these expert presentations on marketing and operators for small hotels,
delegates also participated in several roundtable discussions on topics including:
- 10 Steps in Promoting Business & Service Excellence, led by Jennifer Edwards, Director, Sustainable Development, Bahamas Hotel Association
- Basic Supervisory Training, led by Helen P. Bayne, CHA
- Benchmarking Capabilities of the STAR Report by Smith Travel Research, led by Brittany Baldwin, Independent Hotel Sales Associate, STR
- Case Study – How a Small Hotel Prospered in Difficult Times led by Madigan Pratt, Managing Director, Madigan Pratt & Associates, and Jamie Holmes,
General Manager, Nevis Plantation Beach Club
- Cost Saving Technology in the Hospitality Sector, led by David Brathwaite, Managing Director, DNS Management Services, Inc.
- Effective Hospitality Public Relations, led by Josh Kahn, Senior Account Executive, KTCpr
- Energy Management in Small Hotels and the CHENACT Project, led by Loretto Duffy-Meyers, Project Manager, CHENACT
- Operational Cost Savings for the Small Hotelier, led by Jim Leahy, Chairman, American Hotel Register Company
- Rental Distribution, led by Eugenio Macouzet, Sr. VP Business Development, Group RCI
- Resort Tour: Marriott Vacation Club Timeshare Resort, led by Neil Kolton, Regional Manager for the Caribbean, Interval International
- Revenue Management, led by Josea Brown, Director of Revenue, Mango Bay Barbados
- Save Money by Going Green, led by Charmaine Sealey, Caribbean Project Manager, The Travel Foundation – UK
- Shared Ownership in the Caribbean, led by David Callaghan, VP Eastern Region, Resort Sales & Service, Interval International
- Sustainability – The Marketing Advantage, led by Jonathan Winfield, CSR Executive (Responsible Business), Virgin Holidays
- The Power of Franchising, led by J. Sal Icaza, Director, Emerging Markets and Caribbean Franchise Development,
Choice Hotels International
- Training Skills, led by Helen P. Bayne, CHA
CHTA President Enrique De Marchena Kaluche commended the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel
& Tourism Association for getting so many of its small hotels involved in this retreat.
“These efforts, along with the Department of Tourism’s contributions of providing
registrations for local hotels 50 rooms or less, are a clear example of the collaborative
spirit we need in the Caribbean, and an affirmation of everything we’ve been working
toward at CHTA,” said De Marchena Kaluche.
De Marchena Kaluche also acknowledged the host property for the 2009 CHTA Small Hotels
Retreat, Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, and recognized the
invaluable contributions of the Small Hotels Retreat sponsors –American Hotel Register,
Choice Hotels International, DNS Management Services, Group RCI, Interval International,
MasterCard, Virgin Holidays, U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association and
U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism.
"We could not have hoped for a better turnout," said De Marchena Kaluche in a statement
at the end of the conference, which was attended by numerous hotel industry and public
sector VIPs, including U.S.V.I. Senate President The Hon. Louis Patrick Hill, Sen.
The Hon. Craig W. Barshinger, Sen. The Hon. Shawn Michael Malone, Sen. The Hon. Alvin
L. Williams, Jr. and Sen. The Hon. Patrick Simeon Sprauve.
Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) facilitates the full potential of
the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving members’ needs and building partnerships
in a socially responsible and sustainable manner. CHTA was founded in 1962; it is
the voice of the Caribbean hospitality industry for the development of the region
in the highly competitive and sophisticated environment of international tourism.
Today, tourism is widely recognized as a pivotal industry in the economy of the region
– and CHTA functions as the common denominator for this industry in a region of diverse
nationalities, languages and styles, identifying mutual problems and marshalling the
resources of the active and allied members to devise solutions. CHTA represents all
facets of the hospitality industry with more than 750 member hotels and 525 allied