Hotels v B&B

This is a fascinating piece by Daniel Craig (above) on B&B’s v Hotels, I came across the article on HotelInteractive – I’ve added some comments on our own behalf.

“Social media, the great equalizer, has allowed bed-and-breakfasts and independent boutiques to compete for the attention of travelers online with big-box, chain hotels. And when it comes to creative content and compelling stories, small, independent properties have emerged with some of the strongest voices. Recently, the Professional Association of Innkeepers launched a campaign called “A Better Way to Stay” to convince travelers to choose inns and B&Bs over hotels. PAII’s President & CEO Jay Karen calls it “a true grassroots campaign” that will feature “fresh and edgy content—perfect for social media—never seen from our industry.”
(Pity the powers that be in Zambia don’t do something similar!ed)

To find out more, I caught up with Jay. Here’s a condensed version of our Q A session.
Some wear boxers, others brief; some prefer B&Bs, others hotels. Convince us: Why choose a B&B over a hotel?

That’s easy! Do you prefer your breakfast made from food off a Sysco truck or hand-picked by an innkeeper (most likely sourced locally)? Do you like never having to pay for wi-fi? How do you feel about free parking? Historical settings? Beautiful properties? Afternoon or 24-hour free snacks? Sometimes wine and cheese hours or afternoon tea? Local knowledge of the best places for recreation and dining? Also, B&Bs are considered by many women business travelers as safer than hotels. Guests at B&Bs aren’t just a room number and a stat that adds to the RevPAR and occupancy charts – they’re people looking for more than just a room, and innkeepers enjoy delivering more than an electronic key card.

(We still have to charge for wifi though we do give one free hour, we provide free parking, safety for single women travellers is definitely a selling point for us and we value the personal attention we can give to Guests – ed.)

Do B&Bs compete more against hotels or other B&Bs? Should hotels be worried?

When someone chooses a B&B, it’s safe to say they likely chose that B&B over another B&B, not a Hilton or Marriott. We compete with hotels every day of the week. I firmly believe that the loyalty index among B&B guests is much higher than hotel guests. And in the new world of social media, more and more loyal guests will be telling their friends and families about their fantastic experiences. I’m not saying hotels should be shivering with fear, because our total room volume is incredibly modest by comparison, but the playing field has certainly been leveled in this new age of connectivity. I have no doubt we will be stealing some market share.
Lately there’s been a lot of controversy over the authenticity of online reviews. What’s your position on this?

My belief is that the vast majority of online reviews on travel sites are legitimate – at least in our neck of the woods. Travel websites that do not authenticate reviews by verifying that reviewers actually stayed at the properties in question have an inherent weakness. But the concept they rely on is that the law of large numbers will overcome that weakness … the wisdom of the crowds. There’s going to be the occasional fool or fake in the crowd, but the thought is they will be drowned out.

There is a problem with that in the B&B world – we don’t have the large numbers that hotels do. A good B&B that is actively soliciting reviews from guests will still only have a few dozen reviews over the course of a year – not a few hundred. A few bad apples can spoil things a hell of a lot faster for a B&B with 5 rooms than a hotel with 500 rooms.

To me, the bigger problem is review sites claim little or no responsibility when it comes to the details within the review and won’t get involved in the veracity of the reviews. When it comes to negative reviews that have been embellished or falsified, the property owners have everything to lose. Joe Schmoe Reviewer has nothing to lose, and that’s still very troublesome at times.
(So much of our business is now initiated from online reviews – ours are genuine as far as I know -ed)
TripAdvisor: friend or foe of innkeepers?

On balance? Definitely a friend. While we still suffer from second-class-citizenship on the site (we’re mostly found behind the “hotels” moniker instead of beside them, like vacation rentals, in the most visible areas of the site), the site allows the smallest of inns to compete with the largest of hotels in the same city. TripAdvisor is a great site for those who love doing their homework when deciding where to stay.

TripAdvisor reviews can work really well for local, independent players. The rest of the commerce on the site, i.e. banner ads, booking, etc., is no friend to the innkeeper. Nine out of ten B&Bs do not participate in the GDS system, so when someone is searching for availability, we are left out almost completely. It would be good to build a bridge with the off-GDS platforms that most B&Bs use and the TripAdvisor availability search tool.

Over the past few years, we have gained a good bit of attention through our high-profile discussions with TripAdvisor. I believe we have been the only lodging organization that is persistently meeting with their senior staff about parity, fairness and responsiveness with their very powerful system. I’ve been blogging about it since 2008.

(Friend – ed)

Given such limited resources, which social media tools and resources if any do you recommend B&B owners engage in?

Facebook – no doubt. There is no better tool that allows a happy B&B guest to tell their hundreds of friends and family what a wonderful time they had. We haven’t even seen the beginning of the fruits Facebook will produce for innkeepers. I’m encouraged greatly by the social buying sites out there – especially LivingSocial. Twitter is great, but only if you’re posting content that is relevant to Twitter users, and if you look at it as a search engine.

(Find us on Facebook – ed)
How is 2011 looking for the innkeeping industry?

The only weak point in our industry as a result of this recession has been the transaction market. Our RevPAR, occupancy and revenue numbers have remained steady. Changes in travel preferences have benefited our industry – the desire to stay closer to home, long weekend trips, smaller, boutique properties (duh), etc. Therefore, we are generally poised for strong performance in the coming months and years, as long as the economy doesn’t tank again.

Our biggest challenge seems to be that more and more gets added to the plate of innkeepers each year, but nothing gets taken off. Innkeepers pine for the days when SEO was the only internet-related marketing game they had to keep up with. Keeping all the plates spinning in an ever-more-complex world is a big challenge. But that’s where PAII comes in, right Daniel?

(Not brilliant in Livingstone, Zambia at the moment. We’re waiting for a decision about the addition of VAT on accommodation and forward reservations don’t look great. Expenses ever increasing – ed)

Daniel Edward Craig is a former general manager turned hotel consultant specializing in social media strategy, storytelling, and reputation management for the lodging industry. He is the author of three hotel-based novels, a popular blog, and various articles about issues in the hotel industry. His new e-book, The Hotelier’s Guide to Online Reputation Management, is now available. Visit or email Twitter: dcraig. Copyright © 2011 Daniel Edward Craig. All rights reserved.


The Jolly Fisherman, London

For all you Zambian foody fans in UK here’s some good news for you in London!

The Jolly Fisherman, at 108 North St, Barking, Essex, the only Zambian owned pub in the United Kingdom has told UKZAMBIANS that they will be working together with Fredor (a Zambian owned restaurant) to offer Zambian food in the pub.

Bernard Chisanga, owner of The Jolly Fisherman said: “We have been talking to Ms. Mubiana for a while and now a mature agreement is in place to offer Zambian meals during the weekend at the Jolly Fisherman. This will make sure that Zambians and non-Zambians alike who come to enjoy our drink will also enjoy a proper Zambian meal (nshima, chibwabwa, ifishimi,etc) in one place. Our patrons will from this weekend onwards enjoy their drink and food with full Zambian flavor”.

In a separate interview, Ms. Dorothy Mubiana, owner of FREDOR, confirmed the new partnership as a way forward for Zambians demonstrating a model working partnership for Zambians living overseas. Ms. Mubiana said: “Zambians need to work together for the good of every Zambian, not running away from each other, particularly Zambians living abroad”. She said, they had discussed the partnership with The Jolly Fisherman for more than a year and she was very pleased that they had finally agreed the modalities. “We have done all the work and I am calling everyone out there to come with their friends and family to enjoy an authentic Zambian dish starting this weekend, 26th February and onwards every weekend Saturdays and Sundays”.

Ms Mubiana added that apart from selling Zambian cooked food, she has uncooked Zambian beans, peas, maize, peanuts, sweet potatoes, pumpkins leaves, smoked caterpillars, Kapenta, etc. She can be contacted on 07947 106 429.

We wish them the best of luck!


Mao Kasonso

“Some say he’s recently been in UK working as ‘The Stig’ others that he built Victoria Falls, all we know is that he’s called Mao!” I declared, when I was asked by Milli Jam to introduce our guest on the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with The Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild. That’s our regular weekly Sunday night radio show airing at 20.30 hrs on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s best loved local radio station. Why start like that? Well Mao Kasonso, in the picture above, to the right of George da Soulchild, is well known on Facebook and people often do Clarksonesque things with his name on that site. Anyway my intro took everyone by surprise, got a good laugh and got our show off to a happy start.

It was for us a ground breaking show, not only did we feature three international No 1 hits, but for the first time we had an additional guest interview by phone from Lusaka. This featured Mr Vezzy aka Lang’a Mweene, a musician with a smash hit in Zambia on his hands – ‘Imma Bad Boy’ – which we played on the show (for the second time). Lang’a talked to us mid-way through the show when Milli Jam asked him about his work, his music, his family and his ambitions – it went down well with the listening audience. I asked him how long he’d been on Twitter and what he thought about it. He replied “about 3 months and it’s the world”. More evidence, if it was needed, that Twitter’s popularity continues to grow in Zambia.

Mao Kasonso our studio guest is a well known figure in Livingstone. He was a club DJ at The Fairmount Hotel in his younger days and then for many years was employed by Radio Mosi-o-Tunya, starting as a volunteer and working his way up to become Head of Production. At Radio Mosi-o-Tunya Mao hosted a weekly show as well as managing his administrative duties. The station is a Catholic Church owned community service radio station and Livingstone’s other local radio station. “What are you doing now?” Milli Jam asked our guest, who went on to explain that he’s currently studying a one and a half year business management course. He has an ambition to set up his own radio station in the future and we wouldn’t bet against that. Vibrant, intelligent and hard working speak for themselves!

The music on the show was excellent – as mentioned we featured three international number one hits: Kenny Chesney’s ‘Somewhere With You’ – currently top of the US country charts. Britney Spears with ‘Hold It Against Me’ charted at number one in the US pop charts last week and ‘Who’s That Girl’ by Guy Sebastian featuring Eve – the Australian number one. In this regard I told listeners how we’d received blog comments querying our lack of knowledge about Guy on the previous week’s show! We all agreed that the track was excellent and we were happy to have aired it for the first time on radio in Zambia. Together with these smash hits we featured Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull with ‘On The Floor’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Animal’ and Ty2 featuring Scarlet with ‘Desire’ this last number the second of our two local tracks. Milli Jam chose a Nigerian track ‘Jupka’ by J Martins.

Mao greeted his wife and family at home, especially his 3 children Geen 10, Ben 5 and Melinda 2.5 and told listeners that he didn’t like football but loved music, particularly pop, rock and dance and that his favourite track at the moment was ‘Hello’ by Martin Solveig and Dragonette. We gave listeners their regular chart news – featuring for the first time the USA Ringtones Charts – that caught listeners’ interest.

Appropriately the question we asked for the prize dinner for two was ‘tell us the 3 letter name of this week’s guest on the show’ and ‘Mao’ was quickly texted and the winner rewarded!


Leaving A Mark

I loved this from Seth Godin – takes a couple of readings but spot on as usual!


All you’ve got, all your brand has got, all any of us have are the memories and expectations and changes we’ve left with others.

It’s so easy to get hung up on the itinerary, the features and the specs, but that’s not real, it’s actually pretty fuzzy stuff. The concrete impact of our lives and our work is the mark you make on other people. It might be a product you make or the way you look someone in the eye. It might be a powerful experience you have on a trip with your dad, or the way you keep a promise.

The experiences you create are the moments that define you. We’ll miss you when you’re gone, because we will always remember the mark you made on us.

There’s a sign on most squash courts encouraging players to wear only sneakers with non-marking soles. I’m not sure there’s such a thing. If you’re going to do anything worthy, you’re going to leave a mark.


Ethel Mashawila & Shupiwe Mulenga

This week, for a change, on the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Kaufela – our weekly Sunday night radio show, airing at 20.30 hrs for an hour on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm – we featured two of the kitchen staff from Chanters Lodge. Ethel Mashawila (left) and Shupiwe Mulenga pictured above. Shupiwe’s our acting head cook and Ethel ‘the vice’ as she put it, when Milli Jam asked the girls what positions they held at the lodge.

Although the girls confessed to being ‘a bit nervous’ on the way to the studio they had no need to be – they were both well spoken, interesting and happy on air, as indeed they are for the most part at work. “What would you cook for us if we came to eat at the lodge”? George (Kaufela) and Milimo (Milli Jam) asked the girls. “For you Kaufela we’d cook pepper steak with mashed potatoes” replied Ethel. “Mmmm nice” said George. “You, Milli Jam, will have chitonga chicken with nsima” continued Shupi. “Why”? asked Milimo. “You look like a Tonga”! She replied, as we all laughed. The girls went on to explain the preparation of the dishes to the listeners.

Shupiwe and Ethel explained that they’d both worked at Chanters for about 2 years. Milli Jam asked Shupiwe how old she was but she refused to tell him! Pursuing the matter Milimo queried her: “aren’t you too young to be in charge of the kitchen”? Shupiwe acidly replied “leadership has no age barrier”. And that shut him up! Stunning! The presenters, as usual, wanted to know if the girls had boyfriends. Ethel told listeners that she had, and also an 8 month old baby girl, Queen. Shupiwe replied that she was ‘very single’ which made the guys sit up and take notice.

The music for the show was excellent as usual. After our opening ‘Candy’ by Aggro Santos we spun Mohombi’s ‘Bumpy Ride’ back to back with Timati ft Diddy Dirty Money and ‘I’m On You’. George chose a Zone Fam number ‘It’s Alright’ as we’d been blogging about Zone Fam during the week. This he coupled with a latest track from Ty2 ft JK ‘Ubuchende’ – “what does that mean”? I asked. “You’ll be told off air”! Was the answer…and I was! Milli Jam featured Bruno Mars with Damian Marley ‘Liquor Store Blues’ coupled with David Archuleta’s ‘The Other Side’. ‘Drop Down’ Akon ft Ludacris and Katy Perry’s ‘Part Of Me’ wound up a good play list.

“What kind of music are you into”? The girls were asked. Ethel replied that she liked Zambian music and Gospel, Shupiwe slow tracks, with her favourite artists Monica and Whitney Houston. “Stuck in the 90’s with Milli Jam” was my comment on that one! Asked about their ambitions both girls said they’d love to own their own businesses one day involving food production.

After we’d given away the usual dinner for two with drinks, I made the point that one of the least expected positive results of hosting a weekly radio show on Zambezi Radio 107.7 fm was the morale boost it gave the staff at the lodge. Ethel and Shupiwe confessed that when it wasn’t busy at work and the show was on, the Chanters Girls back at the lodge danced. “I don’t mind” I said, “I love the big smiles we get when we come back from the studio”! And I do!

In other news one of these girls said she supported Manchester United, the other Chelsea.


Hands On Hotel Management

I enjoyed this from thonline

People like to complain: the weather, the economy and that old standby, the boss. But at downtown Portland’s Hotel Monaco things are different. Craig Thompson (above), the general manager of the 221-room property, is rarely in his office enjoying the perks that come with being a big shot. At 60, Thompson hustles like an intern striving to impress. If need be, Thompson checks in guests, parks cars, inspects rooms, hauls bags, delivers room service, works in the laundry and helps make wake-up calls. When guests offer a tip, he politely declines. But if the guest presses a few bucks into his palm, Thompson gives it to his employees, many who have worked with him for years.

He arrived in Portland nearly 20 years ago to be general manager at the Vintage Plaza. Five years into the job, leaders at the Kimpton Hotels chain, which runs Vintage Plaza, asked Thompson to walk a few blocks to 506 SW Washington St. to take control of what is now called the Hotel Monaco, another company property. He has a cluttered and unpretentious office — exposed telephone lines snake out of one wall — in a room behind the front desk. But unless Thompson is making calls, checking something on the computer or finishing paperwork, he’s out helping the bellhop, the clerks, the waiters and anyone else who makes the hotel run smoothly.

“He’s amazing,” said Hannah Sloan, who works the front desk. “I used to be in housekeeping, and he’d step in and clean rooms. The first time I saw him, I was shocked. We’re talking about the general manager.” Thompson has a simple philosophy: “Being a good boss isn’t about writing great reports,” he said. “It’s not about how fast I respond to corporate. It’s not about having a rule book or trying to control everyone. It’s about people. If you understand people, you’ll be a good boss. If you don’t, you may have power, but you’ll never be a great boss.”

He would make a poor candidate for “Undercover Boss,” the TV show that puts bosses to work among their lowest-ranking employees. Thompson is already there. “A good boss works side by side with the employees,” Thompson said. “It keeps me young.” In addition to managing the hotel, Thompson checks in guests, parks cars and helps make wake-up calls, among other tasks. Raydell Denton, the room service manager, says Thompson helps her crew when it’s busy. “You see the head boss here, and it means something,” she says.

Thompson was raised in Spokane and got his start in the hotel business at 16, when he was hired at a local hotel as a busboy, bellhop and room service waiter. He eventually earned a hotel management degree from Washington State University. “My first job was when I was hired for a hotel bar,” he said. “I thought I was going to be the bar manager. I was the bar back. I ended up hauling bags of ice, setting up glasses and mopping the floors at 2 in the morning. I learned the hotel business from the ground up.”



I loved this from Seth Godin – he didn’t mention Twitter or Facebook though…

Where do ideas come from?

1. Ideas don’t come from watching television
2. Ideas sometimes come from listening to a lecture
3. Ideas often come while reading a book
4. Good ideas come from bad ideas, but only if there are enough of them
5. Ideas hate conference rooms, particularly conference rooms where there is a history of criticism, personal attacks or boredom
6. Ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide
7. Ideas often strive to meet expectations. If people expect them to appear, they do
8. Ideas fear experts, but they adore beginner’s mind. A little awareness is a good thing
9. Ideas come in spurts, until you get frightened. Willie Nelson wrote three of his biggest hits in one week
10. Ideas come from trouble
11. Ideas come from our ego, and they do their best when they’re generous and selfless
12. Ideas come from nature
13. Sometimes ideas come from fear (usually in movies) but often they come from confidence
14. Useful ideas come from being awake, alert enough to actually notice
15. Though sometimes ideas sneak in when we’re asleep and too numb to be afraid
16. Ideas come out of the corner of the eye, or in the shower, when we’re not trying
17. Mediocre ideas enjoy copying what happens to be working right this minute
18. Bigger ideas leapfrog the mediocre ones
19. Ideas don’t need a passport, and often cross borders (of all kinds) with impunity
20. An idea must come from somewhere, because if it merely stays where it is and doesn’t join us here, it’s hidden. And hidden ideas don’t ship, have no influence, no intersection with the market. They die, alone.



Thanks to Louisa for this one!

The boss wondered why one of his most valued employees was absent but had not phoned in sick one day. Needing to have an urgent problem with one of the main computers resolved, he dialed the employee’s home phone number and was greeted with a child’s whisper.

‘Hello ?’

‘Is your daddy home?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ whispered the small voice.

May I talk with him?’

The child whispered, ‘No .’

Surprised and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, ‘Is your Mommy there?’


‘May I talk with her?’

Again the small voice whispered, ‘No’

Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, ‘Is anybody else there?’

‘Yes,’ whispered the child, ‘a policeman.’

Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee’s home, the boss asked, ‘May I speak with the policeman?’

‘No, he’s busy,’ whispered the child.

‘Busy doing what?’

‘Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman,’ came the whispered answer.

Growing more worried as he heard a loud noise in the background through the earpiece on the phone, the boss asked, ‘What is that noise?’

‘A helicopter’ answered the whispering voice.

‘What is going on there?’ demanded the boss, now truly apprehensive.

Again, whispering, the child answered, ‘The search team just landed a helicopter’

Alarmed, concerned and a little frustrated the boss asked, ‘What are they searching for?’

Still whispering, the young voice replied with a muffled giggle… ‘ME.’


You Can’t Please Everyone All The Time!

As you probably know by now I’m a great fan of Seth Godin’s blog. Usually short and right to the point, this is Seth’s take on not being able to please everyone all the time.

“When a popular rock group comes to town, some of their fans won’t get great tickets. Not enough room in the front row. Now they’re annoyed. 2% of them are angry enough to speak up or badmouth or write an angry letter. When Disney changes a policy and offers a great new feature or benefit to the most dedicated fans, 2% of them won’t be able to use it… timing or transport or resources or whatever. They’re angry and they let the brand know it.

Do the math. Every time Apple delights 10,000 people, they hear from 200 angry customers, people who don’t like the change or the opportunity or the risk it represents. If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you’ll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you’ll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.

It seems as though there are only two ways to deal with this: Stop innovating, just stagnate. Or go ahead and delight the vast majority. Sure, you can try to minimize the cost of change, and you might even get the number to 1%. But if you try to delight everyone, all the time, you’ll just make yourself crazy. Or become boring.

Couldn’t have said it better myself! The photo? Flying Fox 120m or so above the Zambezi! Put me in the 2%!


How To Say Sorry

I liked this from the ever inspirational Inc – mistakes happen in this business. Saying sorry is incredibly important and meaning it, and compensating the offended Client, and saying sorry more than once. This is what Clarissa Cruz had to say on the subject in Inc.

“Attentive service. Romantic candlelight. Scallops and foie and a glass of delicious wine. It’s the perfect dining experience, the one that every restaurateur wants to create for his or her clientele. And then a cockroach creeps across your table with the insouciance of a Billyburg hipster. It’s enough to turn any diner’s stomach. And in this age of instantaneous Yelp reviews and vociferous food bloggers, lapses in cleanliness, service or food quality can quickly sicken a restaurant owner as well. (Add TripAdvisor to that -ed)

So how to remedy an unappetizing situation? When a bug was recently discovered on a table at the Michelin-starred Jean Georges in New York City, management promptly moved the affected customers to another table and comped them drinks, dessert, and an additional course. The pastry chef at Gordon Ramsey at The London in New York City responds to mishaps by sending the kitchen’s signature salted caramel truffles to disgruntled guests at the adjoining hotel. And pretty much any restaurant worth its Maldon salt figures in the cost of saying “I’m sorry” in its operating budget.

“Comps are built in to our QSA [Quality Service Assurance] budget,” says Rajat Parr, wine director at Michael Mina in San Francisco, and author of the just-out Secrets of the Sommeliers. “It makes up about one percent of the budget.” And what does that entail? “It depends on how serious the mistake is,” he says, recalling a time years ago—at a non-Mina establishment, he stresses—when a server mistakenly poured a $5,000 bottle of wine that a customer brought in for another table. (The restaurant managed to track down another bottle.) “You replace the dish, give them a gift certificate for another dinner, some dessert,” Parr says. “The policy is to make sure the guest is happy.”

“It’s the cost of doing business,” adds Michael Madrigale, the head sommelier at Bar Boulud in New York City, who says mistakes are usually tempered with a free glass of wine or dessert. “You need to show the customer that you acknowledge the problem and are doing something about it immediately.”

But the mea culpas only go so far. “If a guest doesn’t like a $2,000 bottle of wine, we take it back no questions asked,” says Parr. “But if someone sits and drinks the whole bottle and at the last sip says ‘I don’t like it,’ that’s a different issue.”

What’s the worst flub you’ve seen at a restaurant? And how did the management say “I’m sorry,” if at all?”


Page 7 of 13 «...56789...»