Generation Y

Ignore ‘Generation Y’ at your peril, says a recent piece in HotelInteractive. Here’s some of the piece.
Generation ‘Y’ is celebrated for its youth, momentum, propensity for bold statements and for always going to new places. That’s how Starwood describes Aloft, a relatively new generation of its hotels being welcomed into the hospitality world. A baby born in June 2008, Aloft Hotels could well be called the ‘Millennials’ of the marketplace. This upstart is defined by loft-like interiors, dynamic public spaces for socializing without a loss of privacy, a bar scene showcasing up and coming music talent and guest rooms offering easy hookup to personal media.

So it comes as no surprise that Aloft Hotels are, in fact, something of an architectural counterpart to the very generation of guests they target: travelers born sometime in the early 1980s and beyond, now ripening into successful and peripatetic young adulthood. These Millennial Generation guests are gaining recognition as an enviable catch for anyone, and Aloft in particular. The brand recognizes that youthful thinking isn’t just found in the very young. “Who is actually coming to our door?” “As you know, this model appeals to a larger variety of the population, depending on their mindset. The self-driven early adopter, tech-savvy social person isn’t just limited to an actual age segment.” Say Aloft.

Indeed, as Millennials come of age, suitcases in hand, they become a force the greater industry cannot ignore. Even the most traditional bed and breakfast segment has had to come to grips with the question of whether to shake the dust off its doilies, and strip its floral wallpaper, judiciously, to attract them.

“It’s not that baby boomers are exiting, they are still going to travel,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute, a ratings and research company that focuses on high-end branding. “But the emerging Gen X and Gen Y, the Millennials, are traveling too. Their world is so interconnected, they learn about new destinations and want to go sooner than we ever did as baby boomers. Global travel today is second nature, especially to these American consumers.”

“And unlike the backpack-toting, hostel-focused youngsters of their predecessor generations”, said Pedraza, “they are not into roughing it. They want to experience luxury and at least a minimum level of quality in the premises and amenities. They are not willing to compromise on that and they shouldn’t. The world has much higher standards now for travel and hospitality and a lot of options.” The rapid expansion of Aloft bears this out. Some 63 hotels have been launched so far, with another five to open this month.
Generation Y is poised to become the largest consumer buying group. They are a very quickly growing group defining the present and will continue to define our future. But inns and bed and breakfast establishments, which grew popular by serving up tidy slices of the past, have been rethinking their Millennial strategies too. The inn and B&B segment is the market’s most Millennial friendly because of its easy flexibility. You always have to be conscious of who is the next traveler, and how do we maintain the balance of appealing to our current guests while appealing to our future guests. Finding something that appeals to everyone. B&Bs can do that. You are not coming to a hotel where the whole hotel appeals to one type of traveler.

But whether the property is an inn, a major hotel or even a cruise line or tour, the ingredients for appeal are the same. “You need to have a bold customer culture, something that differentiates you and the way you deliver your experience,” said Pedraza. “The way people greet you, check you in – the people you interact with have to create a fabulous human experience.”

In the end, he said, it comes down to living up to the Millennials’ own expectations. “They think: ‘You have collected data on me, you know my needs and my desires and you had better deliver them, or I will consider your kind a dinosaur in the digital age.’

So don’t neglect the Millennials, they are the future.”


Confident Leadership

I loved this piece from Steve Tobak in Inc Magazine – a great read and a great site for all aspiring young leaders and managers. These are Steve’s thoughts on what confident leaders do NOT do:

1. What everyone else is doing.
Quite the contrary, confident leaders seem to have a natural tendency to question conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo. Fads, cultural norms, groupthink, forget it. They don’t worry about their personal brands, personal productivity, or social media. That is, unless that’s their competency, their passion, who they are. I’m sure Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey manage to update their Facebook and Twitter pages from time to time.

2. Worry about weaknesses.
Maybe they should. For all I know, maybe that’s the difference between successful people and really successful people. All I know is, they’re usually confident and comfortable with who they are. They’re not plagued by the fear and self-doubt that derails so many people. They don’t fixate on what they’re not. They accept it. Don’t get me wrong. They are human. They have fear. But one of the key reasons why they’re so successful at what they do is because it is their passion. They’ve found their true path. When they’re doing what they love, they’re comfortable with it, not fearful of it. And it shows in their work.

3. Waste a lot of time.
It’s not that they’re concerned with productivity or time management. They don’t waste a lot of time because they have a vision–a mission. They truly want to spend their lives on whatever it is they love doing, so that’s what they do. Period. They don’t indulge activities that so many people waste their lives on. They don’t try to get inside other people’s heads. They don’t ask why things happen or why people do the things they do. That is, unless it’s a problem they really want to solve. They don’t wish for things to be different. They make things different.

4. Try to be successful.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they’re not savvy business people. What I am saying is they’re usually just trying to accomplish something. Then they’re trying to accomplish another thing. Then another. Most successful people are driven to do, to accomplish, to win. It’s one thing at a time. Success just comes with the territory.

5. Breathe their own fumes.
There is a downside to being too indoctrinated with your own vision. You can become blinded by it. That’s what ultimately takes down lots of people who are initially successful but can’t sustain it. They stop asking questions, succumb to their own status quo, stick with flawed ideas. Highly accomplished people do not surround themselves with yes-men, give in to group think, or accept anything other than the genuine unfiltered truth. Sure, they might bite your head off at first. But that doesn’t mean they’re not listening. What can I say; that’s how it is.

6. Fear competition.
They understand competition, know their competition, are comfortable with competition. They’re generally confident in their abilities and courageous in the face of competitive battle. That said, they’re not fools. They’re not sure they’ll prevail. It’s just that, the question doesn’t usually enter their minds. They just do what they do best and give it all they’ve got. After the fact they may look back and see that they’ve won, but only briefly. By then, they’re usually on to the next battle.

7. Try to be what they’re not.
Not a single successful executive, VC, entrepreneur, or business owner that I’ve ever known has ever gotten to where he is by being something he’s not. Not a single one. Anyone who tells you to focus on self-promotion instead of doing whatever it is you love to do just doesn’t get it. It sounds so simple, but this is the big takeaway that will set you apart. In a world full of wannabe entrepreneurs and leaders, where everyone’s a CEO of their own little world, don’t try to be what you’re not. Just be you.


‘Boss Lady’ Bosses ‘The Experience’!

“You’ve brought ‘The Boss Lady’ to the show!” exclaimed Milli Jam happily when Annastasia Katele and I walked into the studios of Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station, for the latest edition of the ‘Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Kaufela’. The Experience is our weekly Sunday night radio show, comprising a cool mixture of international and Zambian music with lively chat between tracks, airing from 20.30 – 21.30 hrs CAT to a 70 km radius around Livingstone, as well as streaming live on the internet.

Anny doesn’t need much introduction (there she is in the photo above with ‘Kaufela’) to regular blog readers and supporters of Chanters Lodge. She told listeners that she’d been the assistant manager at Chanters for the past three years and had actually been employed at the lodge for the past 10 – it would be her 10th anniversary in May. “The lodge will have been open for 15 years in July” I said, “we’d better have a party in June to celebrate both ‘birthdays’!” “Oh yes!” said the presenters eagerly, who are always up for a party, drinks or lunch, whatever might be available! Anny explained that she had first joined the lodge as a trainee, following her catering course at the Youth Community Training Centre in Livingstone, and had then proceeded to work in the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping and reception sections before her promotion to assistant manager. Milli Jam wanted to know the biggest challenge in her job. “Those girls!” Anny exclaimed apparently referring to the rest of the ‘Chanters Girls’- our staff! “They don’t give me any problems” I commented helpfully, some would say snidely! “You’re a man!” said Anny, pointedly.

The music on this edition of the show was seriously ‘latest’. ‘White Noise’ from Disclosure back to back with Gabrielle Aplin’s ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’ opened the programme. George played two tracks from Pompi’s popular new Zambian album ‘Mizu’ meaning ‘Roots’ – a charming blend of songs sung in both vernacular and English. Milli Jam dropped tracks from Swedish House Mafia and his favourite Ne-Yo. Our oldie of the week was ‘Step By Step’ from Whitney Houston and the prize awarded to the first listener to text us the name of the performing artist was quickly snapped up. My pick of the week was Avicii vs Nicky Romero’s ‘I Could Be The One’ – debuting at number one in UK as we went on air.

Anny told listeners that she has a daughter Maryam age 14 currently in Grade 9 and doing well in school. Her favourite music is gospel (despite her Islamic faith) and R&B – her favourite singer Chris Brown – and her favourite football team Arsenal. She told listeners that a large part of her job was recommending and booking activities for Guests, saying that the sunset cruise and one day safari to Chobe were amongst the most popular, as well as swimming in Devil’s Pool in the dry season. She expressed the wish that operators were more timely with their payments! I concurred! The presenters wanted to know why ‘The Boss Lady’ spent more time at the front desk than in her super office. “I love company!” she said and so she does.

Asked where she would like to be and what she would like to be doing in ten years’ time, Annastasia said she would love to own her own restaurant as she loved cooking! I’m sure she will – in the meantime we hope she continues to be the loyal, honest, hard working and talented manager she has become at Chanters Lodge!


Happy Birthday Annie!

Wishing our assistant manager at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone Annastasia Katele (above) a very happy birthday today! Annie has worked at the lodge for more than ten years, starting as a young trainee waitress and working up to her present important position in our team. Miss Annie (as she is known to the other girls) is very hard working, friendly but tough! She is calm when the owner is not and has bouncebackability!

The place wouldn’t be the same without her and we wish her a very happy day with her family – she has a day off to celebrate!



Here’s an interesting take from Inc Magazine. Young managers? Inc should be a ‘must for you’!
This piece is by Geoffrey James.

1. Preparation
Customers want you to do your homework before talking with them. They resent it when you ask questions that can easily be answered by a few minutes on the Web.

    Wrong: “And your VP of manufacturing is who?”
    Right: “How are purchasing decisions made between the manufacturing and engineering group?”

2. Simplicity
Customers, like everyone else, must cope with the complexities of business. They want you to make what you’re selling simple but without being simplistic.

    Wrong: “, the enterprise cloud computing company, today announced new next generation social analytics for the Marketing Cloud. With the expanded Marketing Cloud ecosystem, which now includes 20 industry leading social analytics vendors, companies are able to make better business decisions based on the massive amounts of social media data created every day, all from a single dashboard.” (BTW, this is a real example, selected pretty much at random.)
    Right: “We make it easier to find sales prospects on the web by gathering the results from multiple social media searches into a single convenient place.”

3. Creativity

Customers already have ideas on how to solve their problems and create their opportunities. They want you to surface new ideas that won’t turn up during in-house discussions.

    Wrong: “We can address your list of requirements.”
    Right: “Have you considered an alliance that might let you outsource that function?”

4. Loyalty

Customers are risking their companies and careers by doing business with you. They therefore want you to represent THEIR interests and not just those of your company.

    Wrong: “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t buy from us?” (Move to the close.)
    Right: “If you’re not 100% certain this is a good idea, then we should reassess the situation together.”

5. Accessibility

Customers want to know they’re a priority and that you’ll get back to them immediately if they have a problem. If you don’t, they conclude they’re not important to you.

    Wrong: (recording) “I’m out of the office for a few days. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you when I return.”
    Right: (recording) “If this is important, please text me at [number]. Otherwise leave a message.”

6. Accountability

Customers don’t want you to pass the buck to anybody else in your company. If they’re going to work with you, they want your skin in the game.

    Wrong: “You’ll have to take that up with the sale support team.”
    Right: “I will call the sales support team right now and have them give your problem immediate attention.”

The list above is based upon scientific research conducted by The Chally Group Worldwide.


Think For Yourself!

Many moons ago when I was GM of Southern Sun Ridgeway Hotel in Lusaka I used to give training lectures to assistant managers and department heads, based on the works of Peter Drucker. Some found it tiresome, others lapped up the knowledge. This, therefore, from Inc by Steve Tobak (above) grabbed my attention, if you’re a manager or a leader it is some of the best advice you will ever hear.

“There was a time when nobody talked about leadership. We managed our companies to develop great products that beat the competition. The goal was to maximize sales, profits, and the almighty holy grail of the corporate world, shareholder value. We didn’t give a crap about our employees. Then came emotional intelligence. Command and control style management was out; soft skills were in: empathy, self-awareness, social skills, motivation, communication, and all that. Employee engagement soon followed. Finally, business leaders learned to treat employees with genuine respect and dignity. Hallelujah. I know that sounds great, but that’s not how it happened.

Actually, we learned all that stuff decades ago from the father of modern management, Peter Drucker.That’s right, it was Drucker, a management consultant, who taught a generation of executives how to effectively run large, complex organizations. He was the first to argue the importance of serving customers versus profits, knowledge workers and their productivity, and respect for employees as assets, not liabilities.

He invented many of the management concepts used by every company to this day, including managing by objectives, decentralization, outsourcing, simplification, and focus. And he was an outspoken critic of out-of-control CEO compensation, calling it “morally and socially unforgivable” and saying, “we will pay a heavy price for it.” Drucker was a major influence on some of the most successful CEOs of the past 50 years, including GE’s Jack Welch, Procter & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley, Intel’s Andy Grove, and Toyota chairman Shoichiro Toyoda. And they in turn mentored another generation of executives who lead hundreds of companies today.

More than anything, Drucker was a great observer and a brilliant thinker. And a central theme behind much of his teaching was the idea that business is all about the behavior of individuals. That managing companies is about managing people. Well, that’s exactly how I’ve always thought of it, as well. Along those lines, one thing I’ve observed over the years is that some companies are well run by good people who aren’t terribly dysfunctional, others are run like mini-monarchs with the CEO as supreme ruler, and there’s everything in between. In any case, it’s all about the individuals and their behavior. Like it or not, that’s the way it is, and as it should be.

People always ask me why I’m so critical of leadership concepts like emotional intelligence and employee engagement. I’m really not. What I object to is plastering sound-bite labels on otherwise good ideas and marketing them more or less like miracle cures and diet pills. More importantly, I object to the notion of turning a crank and running a company by management fad du jour, as opposed to thoughtfully developing unique plans designed to accomplish specific strategic objectives.

You see, as a consultant, Drucker was known for telling managers what he thought. He didn’t give them answers; he gave them unique insights that opened the door for them to come up with their own solutions to their company’s specific dilemmas and challenges. And that’s exactly what you should do. Because every business, every company, is as unique as the individuals that develop its products and serve its customers. Running a business or an organization is never, ever about buying into canned solutions or turning a crank.

By all means, ask your lieutenants and trusted mentors for advice. Listen carefully to what they say. But don’t ask them what you should do. You know your business, your company, or your organization better than anyone. Trust your gut, find your own path, and make your own decisions.

Think for yourself. It’s an attribute that’s in short supply these days.”


Jimmy J Priest Maliseni Rocks The Experience!

Jimmy J Priest Maliseni (above) needed very little introduction to listeners when I was asked to introduce him at the start of the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George Kaufela. That’s our regular Sunday night radio show airing on Zambezi 107.7 fm every week from 20.30 hrs to 21.30 hrs CAT.

Why? Well Jimmy is one of the stalwarts of 107.7 fm, hosting the Zamtel Sunset Cruise show Monday to Friday, The Boiling Point – a weekly controversial, usually political, interview progamme, as well as ‘Reggae Sunday Service’ on a Sunday afternoon. “So you’re full time with Zambezi 107.7 fm?” Queried Milli Jam “No, part time.” Replied Jimmy. “Gosh!” I said “if that’s a part time work load what on earth do the full time people do here?” No reply…Jimmy admitted to a certain amount of nervousness, being ‘on the other side’ of the microphone for our show..

‘J Priest’ told listeners that he’d been involved with the radio station since December 2008 coming from a background as a DeeJay at New Fairmount Hotel in Livingstone, where in fact our own Milli Jam is currently entertainment manager. In 2002 when the disco had closed for renovation Jimmy J revealed that he had been ‘born again’ and since that time had taken a keen interest in religion. “Are you a priest like your name says?” We wondered. “Not really” said Jimmy, more of a ‘street preacher’. “Ah!” We said. Asked whether he had been brought up in Livingstone Jimmy told listeners that he had been raised and educated ‘all over the country’ as his father had been a manager with NIEC in Kenneth Kaunda days (National Import and Export Company) – a parastatal organization with the habit of regularly transferring managers at a moment’s notice to anywhere in Zambia.

The music on our show was up to the usual high standard. We opened with our 2013 theme by Rudimental ft John Newman – ‘Feel The Love’. The next two tracks were new releases from long established bands – Bon Jovi with ‘Because We Can’ and Pet Shop Boys with ‘Memory Of The Future’. George dropped Roberto’s latest hit ‘Took You’ which features he himself – and a very good track it is too. We also featured tracks from Pompi, LL Cool J, Pink and David Bowie. Our oldie of the week was ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams but no-one could text us the name of the performing artist, so no-one won the dinner for two we offer each week for a correct answer to the question! The song was dedicated to the road construction company resurfacing Obote Avenue, the road to Chanters, who had managed to trap us in the lodge earlier in the week!

Jimmy revealed that his younger brother was a singer with the band Camouflage (whom we had featured on a recent show) and that they had both been born on May 11th although in different years. We joked about the same at his dad’s expense! ‘Priest’ said he was married and had two beautiful daughters. He also revealed that he was the CEO of a company supplying building materials to the Government and that it was really hard to get paid on time to sustain the company. He told us he was passionate about the construction industry. Asked if he had undertaken any of the tourist activities available in Livingstone he told us he had been white water rafting but had not bungee jumped! His favourite music was ‘gospel reggae’ and his favourite artist ‘Stitchie’. He loved football and was an Arsenal supporter. Some of us liked this.

Asked about his biggest influences in terms of broadcasting Jimmy mentioned Field Ruwe. I reminded listeners of the work Field had I had done together on Zambian television in the 80’s. Jimmy J Priest Maliseni said that in ten years’ time he hoped to be ‘a construction industry magnate’ and we wished him the best of luck.


Room Renovations

In 2012 we completed renovations of three of our eleven rooms at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, one in the ‘main house’ which was the last of the three original rooms we opened in 1998 to be completely renovated.

We then turned our attention to the four Lukulu Crescent rooms opened in 2004 and managed to completely renovate two of them, before being hit by a rather a bleak mid-November to mid-December business wise, that curtailed our activities. Following this unusually difficult period we had a reasonably good festive season.

This morning we are happy to report that we have started renovation of the third of the four Lukulu Crescent rooms, and the picture above shows the workers starting to break the bedroom floor tiles. These will be replaced with a larger lighter, brighter ceramic floor tile. A new toilet and pedestal wash hand basin are to be fitted in the shower room and the floor and walls of the shower room will be completely retiled. New drainage arrangements, tap and towel rail fittings to match.

We were happy with the results of our renovation in the first two Lukulu rooms and I’m sure room five will turn out just as well. It gets slightly easier as you go along, as the team are aware of the requirements from the previous work. We will keep you posted!


How To Irritate Your Guests!

I liked this piece from Mr. Larry Mogelonsky, CHA on HotelInteractive. This is how Larry says hotels irritate their Guests. Underneath each point I’ve written how I think we fare at Chanters Lodge.

1. Overpriced minibar and bottled water.

Why exactly is an in-room bottle of water $5? Every traveler knows this is shamefully marked up. It’s perceived as an aggressive cash grab for the hotel; you’re not winning your guests over with this exorbitant price. In fact, you’re insulting their intelligence. Ditto for the minibar.

Our bottled water is the equivalent of US$1

2. Weak in-room coffee and tea selection. 
It’s always highly assuring and soothing to know that there’s a warm cup of stimulating beverage waiting for you across the bed, except when that beverage tastes like watered down battery acid. So I try to alleviate this insipid rot with cream and sugar, only to my dismay, there’s only one of the former and none of the latter. A little extreme, yes, but consider your coffee accessory allotment for when you’re dealing with more than one person per room.

We provide a kettle. We supply milk, sugar, tea and instant coffee on request with no limit on quantities. Our instant coffee is not of the highest standard………

2. Charging for local calls. 

Why are you billing guests a full dollar per five minutes for each completed local call? Anyone who has ever owned a phone, landline or cellular, knows that local calls never amount to such incredulous fees. When you do this, the guest perception is one of hostility. You’re not doing your part to develop the friendship and positive emotional connection between the hotel and its patrons, which is an essential if you ever want such a guest to give you an actual recommendation.

We do not have much demand for local land line local calls but when there is, we do not charge.

3. Housekeeping knocks too early. 
When is the earliest time that housekeeping should start making their rounds? How does this vary for weekdays versus weekends? Every traveler has a different routine and itinerary, so this is a tough call, but keep in mind that knocking too early and disturbing someone’s sleep is an instant deal breaker. I remember staying at a budget chain hotel where housekeeping knocked at 8am on a Saturday. And then, after I muffled out a half-reply, they proceeded to enter my room! Not only will I never stay there again, but I’ve been very vocal to advise my friends never to stay at this particular chain. Don’t let this be you!

We do not disturb guests in the room unless they have not appeared for breakfast before 10.00 hrs on departure day. On the whole the lodge is quiet, though there is noise from neighbourhood dogs at night – common in Africa. We have no time limit on the availability of breakfast, which is included in the room rate.

4. Not enough bathroom amenities.
Towels, soaps and shampoos primarily. Picture this: you are staying in a room with your significant other, getting ready for the day’s events, and he or she decides to shower first. Then you shower. Upon getting out, you notice that all the towels have been used. So now, drenched and sparsely clothed, you have to await housekeeping to deliver more of what should have been there in the first place. Not a good way to start your day.

We do not provide as many bathroom amenities as we should, mainly due to the absence of a reliable local supplier. We are happy to provide extra towels on request, as well as for the swimming pool.

5. Not enough pillows or coat hangers. 

Some people are used to sleeping on one pillow, others two, and some even three. Is appeasing the latter two groups really that hard to do? True, a guest can always call down to request more pillows, but why start off on the wrong foot? Furthermore, too often I’ve entered rooms that only have five coat hangers or less. When this happens, I think to myself, “Do they really not trust me?” Apart from the obvious inconvenience of having to jockey for coat hanger real estate, this is just one more pesky, little thing to drive a wedge in an otherwise positive guest-hotel relationship.

Most travellers to Victoria Falls do not have a huge demand for coat hangers as clothing is strictly casual. We provide extra pillows on request. As Sod’s Law would have it we had a complaint about pillows as this blog was being prepared!

6. Noisy air conditioner or heating unit.
Less a problem during the day, but if your guest is a light sleeper and this stops him or her from getting a full night’s sleep, you’re in for big problems. Without their seven hours, your guests will be put in irrational states of mind and they’re bound to do anything, including actions like loudly complaining at the front desk, writing derisive online reviews and making it their mission to tell all their friends about their experience. Mind you, this one is substantially more expensive to fix and it requires a total maintenance overhaul, but that doesn’t preclude its importance. You’re going to have to upgrade these units eventually, why not know?

Our split unit air conditioners are generally quiet.

7. Too many promotional tent cards.

Once a guest is in the room, you don’t need to beat them over the head with endless advertisements for your own F&B or spa programs. The worst I’ve seen is when these cards and papers clog up the counters so much that it prevents a guest from using them. A polite, concise reminder will do. The guest is already staying with you, right? This is one area where tablets will shine as they can get these types of messages across neatly and colorfully without cluttering the room.

We don’t do these.

9. Charging for WiFi
 In-room internet connectivity is no longer a value-added service. Wake up; it’s 2012. For many people, internet access is an essential part of their way of life, much like breathing, sleeping, eating and hydrating. Charging for this service is highway robbery and guests won’t see it any other way. Whatever objections you have – legacy contracts or bandwidth overload for instance – get over them and think like a guest for a minute. Nowadays, why would I pay $15 per day to use the hotel’s internet when I could run down to a nearby cellular store and get 200 MB of data for $2 per day on my 4G smartphone, which downloads at a rate that’s at par with the hotel’s service?

Our wifi is free, it needs a booster to reach all and not just some of the rooms.

10. Worse – no WiFi at all! 
Let me reiterate: Internet access is a necessity for the modern traveler. Your guests will treat the room as their ‘home base’ – planning the next day, answering emails, posting to social media and unwinding with a quick Netflix television episode. For some, denying them internet access is equivalent of denying them running water! It’s a given that travelers will research their accommodations before booking and lack of WiFi, free or not, is an instant deal breaker. If you operate at a hotel that doesn’t offer internet access, you’re not likely to receive any complaints about this, because every discerning guest has already booked and stayed elsewhere.

We were one one of the first small lodges in Livingstone to have wifi. We wish our provider’s speeds were better.



Great piece this from Mr. Larry Mogelonsky – CHA on Hotel Interactive on the importance of SEO. Though some dispute the importance, it is worth taking note!
“It never ceases to amaze me as to how many unsolicited emails my clients get from companies promising to do wonders for a hotel’s web site in terms of search engine optimization. Usually, these missives are well written in an onerous tone that has GM’s questioning their web site, their web agency, their director of marketing and usually all of the above. What’s a GM to do? Just how important is SEO, and can a “specialist” company really help? Above all, is there any value to the whole exercise in terms of true revenue generation?

First, some notes. This article focuses on Google, which at this current time processes roughly two-thirds of all search activity. For those who purchase Google Ad Words, these appear as sponsored links on the right hand side or top of the page and are not influenced by SEO tactics. Positioning your product in this arena, combined with SEO is called Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, and is a whole other discussion.

Why is SEO important?

If a person is looking for a hotel in a foreign city, doing a Google search is the easiest way to find accommodations. Surely every GM knows that this is not the only approach that a potential guest would undertake in their quest to find the perfect spot to rest their weary legs. But it’s typically the first. Other resources include travel agents, OTAs, Facebook, other social media, other travel sites, hotel chain sites and association sites such as Preferred, SLH, or Leading.

With so many methods to find your hotel, being in first place for a broad Google search is far from being the panacea to your occupancy challenges. In fact, it may be almost insignificant depending upon how relevant new customer search is to your marketing strategy. Certainly, it cannot hurt to be in the top two or three as a matter of search results, but it is not Armageddon if you miss this spot.

The rationale here is simple: the more “optimized” your site is, the more relevant it is within the Google search algorithm, resulting in a higher placement for all posted results. But Google rankings cannot be fooled! Don’t think that hiring some third party sales company can take you from an eighth ranked page to a top three position in a matter of days or weeks. It doesn’t work that way. Moreover, Google is wary of some tactics that these proverbial snake oil salesmen utilize and likely has algorithms that negate such surreptitious tactics.

Take the Initiative Yourself
A basic optimization strategy is quite easy to do internally. Review your web site as you do your property, both strategically and tactically. Here is a typical checklist of what you should look for before seeking external help.

    A flawless site, with clear text and no internal errors
    Correct and accurate tags (title, keyword, page and headers)
    Optimized images with photo alt tags
    Fully linked and active blog
    Fully linked and active social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter, but don’t forget Google Plus and Pinterest)
    Your URL registered for at least 24 months before it expires
    Active RSS feed
    At least one data collection form
    Clear navigation structure of indexed pages with sitemap files
    A number of quality in-bound links

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