Blogs For Hotels

I’ve been blogging from Chanters Lodge for more than 3 years, but have only recently discovered the marketing possibilities of sites like Twitter and Facebook. This piece from Caryn Eve Murray on HotelInteractive interested me as it seems opposite from the way I’ve been going! Anyway, this is what she says:

“It is no longer sufficient for hotels to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, three popular but somewhat different means of social networking. Now some hospitality scribes have begun making dutiful entries online, “Dear Diary” style. But in this case their diary is not just an open book but – in keeping with the computer age – an open blog.

Formerly viewed largely as a vehicle for individuals’ indulgent self-absorption or revelations, blogs are now maturing as the next big marketing tool in the social networking portfolio.The call to blog was so strong, in fact, for Embassy Suites that earlier this year the Hilton brand took its pre-existing Web site,, and gave it a makeover. debuted in blog format this past spring, harnessing the talents of freelance bloggers who, each in their own way, address work-life issues that often challenge Embassy Suites’ business travelers: fitness and health, food, family life, managing stress and travel strategies.

“The perception has been in the past, and rightly so, 20 percent of the people on blogs account for 80 percent of the content”, said John Lee, vice president of marketing for Embassy Suites. “They were always talking about themselves and there wasn’t much real content folks could really use. We see that changing. And if it is managed correctly, we can see a lot of benefit.” Having third-party experts “gives the brand a little credibility, some third-party endorsement. It is not that Embassy Suites is saying you should be doing this. It is people like Jane and Michael Stern [the authors of ‘Roadfood’] who are updating the content for us.”

Most importantly, said Lee, “we don’t try to sell anyone anything. They are smarter than that. If they have a relationship with the brand because of this cool Web site, the bookings will take care of themselves. If we can grow share of heart, share of wallet will follow.” Blogs are, for the most part, still uncharted territory in the hospitality industry, even though they predate the now-well-trod other social media now crammed with hotels and motels among their ranks. Unlike the realtime interactivity of Twitter, blogs can offer shelf (or screen) life, with the posts archiving for reference again later.

“There are more or less only a handful of blogs from hotels,” said Kent Lewis, whose Anvil Media is the marketing consultant for the Provenance group of boutique hotels. Marriott International’s chairman and CEO Bill Marriott was something of a pioneer when he launched his interactive blog about two years ago, said Lewis, “and then only the big guys were the ones doing it.” But Provenance was already getting its blog act together offline with the goal of establishing a blog foothold for three of the brand’s five properties.

In Nashville, the Hotel Preston has been blogging its heart out since the autumn of 2007. “The Sounding Board” is a music-centric collection of posts. “It is what is unique to the vibe of the Preston,” said Lewis. The blog embraces the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival and the Country Music Hall of Fame, and mixes its posts with specifics about the Preston, a hotel in the center of that music mix. “You’re talking about adding value to the community,” said Lewis. “We treat it like a publication, somewhere between news stories and anecdotes, fun things, interesting things.”

Good writing has a particularly long history at the Newagen Seaside Inn near Maine’s Boothbay Harbor. Jason Schlosser, innkeeper, is quick to point out that writer and ecologist Rachel Carson was a summer guest there in the 1960s, and wrote portions of her landmark works, “Silent Spring” and “The Edge of the Sea”, while seeking respite and inspiration on the Maine coast. “We are committed to this process,” said Schlosser, who said the blog went online 18 months ago. It now boasts videos and photos (some sent in by guests) and lots of tips about vacation-planning, wedding-planning and sightseeing, in Maine and in general.

The inn, then, is a starting point for the blog, rather than an endpoint. “And it is continuing to evolve. I don’t know if we have arrived yet.”

Here here! The picture? Nashville, Tennessee


Soccer Tournament in South Africa

Just a day after Spanish football star Xabi Alonso called on FIFA to ban vuvuzela horns, Spanish fans have called on the football body to ban Africans. “They are just so black,” said fan Enrique de Torquemada. “And there are so many of them here in Africa. It is very upsetting.” Meanwhile
South Africans have asked the Spanish to stop lisping.

Alonso was widely quoted this week referring to vuvuzelas as an “annoyance” that should be banned. However, FIFA godfather Sepp Blatter has defended the horns. “South African football is all about noise, excitement, shouting and enjoyment,” he said. “And sometimes goals. But mostly just noise.”

Alonso’s South African hosts say they are taking the star’s complaints seriously, despite “Xabi” meaning “doos” in the ancient San language. “Obviously as a footballer Mr Alonso is a very unique person,” said Confederations Cup local organizer Sonnyboy Laduma. “I mean, it’s not everyone who has a Grade 9 education, is unemployable after 35, and who spends hours every day training to kick an inflated sack in to a net, who then tries to dictate the culture of another continent.”

However, Laduma confirmed that Alonso was not alone in feeling that Africa needed to change to suit Spanish tastes. He said that thousands of Spanish supporters had signed a petition asking
FIFA to ban not only vuvuzelas but Africans as well. “Apparently when they bought their airline tickets nobody told them that Africa is full of Africans,” explained Laduma.

According to fan Ignacio Tortilla, the Confederations Cup has been an “ordeal”. “Wherever you look it’s just Africans,” he said. “Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not a racist, but do they really have to be so aggressive with all the singing and smiling and hand-shaking?” Florida de Porpoise, from Barcelona, said he would have no problem with Africans “if they only tried to be more European”.

“We’re not asking for a lot,” said de Porpoise. “Just perhaps a little hair relaxant, some cigarettes, and an overwhelming sense of the futility of hope.” Meanwhile, a delegation of South Africans has asked visiting Spaniards to stop lisping. “For God’s sake, English is our sixth language and we can still say ‘s’,”said Jumpstart Moloi, who led the delegation to the Spanish embassy this morning.

“It’s not Nelthon Mandela, okay? It’s Nelson. Nelssssson.” He also appealed to Spaniards to “think long and hard” before asking locals for directions to Thanton Thquare and the thocker thtadium at Thocker Thity. b”Spanish is just such a freaking ugly language,” said Moloi. “It’s all just ‘eth eth eth eth’. FIFA should do something.”



More about Twitter – this from Twittown (really!)

“Every day there are more and more “get followers” quick schemes floating around Twitter. We see them tweeted in our friends’ feeds, we see them on Twitter-based websites; in fact, we see them just about anywhere that there’s a place to advertise them. The thing is, as the more astute of you may already have guessed, those “get followers fast” schemes tend to work out about as well as those “get rich quick” schemes do – because at their core, they’re really not very different.

Ask yourself a very basic, simple, common-sense question. If get-rich quick schemes worked, why would the person selling them be selling them, instead of just using them him/herself? The same principle applies to Twitter followers. If there’s a quick way to get lots of high-quality followers, why would anyone share it, instead of just using it themselves? There’s no profit in sharing the technique – unless, of course, they’re selling it, which should make you realize that the followers they’re selling aren’t likely to be high-quality.

Just what is a “high quality” Twitter follower anyway? In a word: organic. High-quality Twitter users put their eyeballs directly on your status updates, which means that they don’t have an outrageous number of people they’re following. High-quality Twitter users click the links that you post and pay attention to the content on the pages that you lead them to. High-quality Twitter users write @replies and DM to their friends, indicating that they’re engaged. High-quality Twitter users give #followfriday recommendations.

Now ask yourself if you think you’re likely to find those kinds of users by clicking a “get followers fast” scheme. You see, on a certain level, those followers have to come from somewhere. I’m sure you don’t think that there’s a bunch of Twitter users out there, waiting for a service to tell them which people to follow. That means that most of these “get followers fast” schemes are scanning Twitter for people using auto-refollow features, meaning that if you follow them, they’ll follow you back. The schemers are sending those users to you in the hopes that you’ll follow them, and get a reciprocal re-follow back.

Don’t buy into it. Want good, high quality followers? Here’s my formula: set your Twitter client to display all tweets for a particular search topic that interests you (multiple topics are good too but don’t overdo it or you’ll run out your API calls). When you see an interesting post on a topic, give an @reply. Be nice. Be funny. You’ll probably end up with a follower. Follow them back – that’ll strengthen the relationship and ensure that you know what your followers are talking about. Take part in #followfriday. Most importantly, don’t spam your Twitter feed with endless URL’s – that’s guaranteed to drive high-quality twitter users away.

Don’t believe me? Try it.”

Great advice I think! Wish I really understood #followfriday but I guess I will eventually!


Are You Taking Twitter Too Seriously?

I loved this from Paul Colligan:

“Are you wondering if you might be taking Twitter a bit too seriously?” Says Paul “I offer these 7 tell-tale signs that, well, yeah, you are taking Twitter too seriously.”

* You just Twittered “Where did I leave my keys?” and are really hoping someone responds.

* You’re about to make a business decision based on 140 characters from @nopictureandnojobbutitweetalot.

* You don’t eat until the Twitter Taco Truck tells you to.

* You think “the babes” will take you more seriously once you get your account verified.

* You know deep in your heart that @oprah wants to respond to you but can’t, cause of all that “legal stuff” she has to deal with.

* You have an entire page of iPhone apps dedicated to Twitter.

* You find this article funny enough to Tweet about.

Have a good one!


Teresa Sensada & Willy Bynens

Meet Willi Bynens and Teresa Sensada, pictured above, who kindly agreed to appear as Guests on the most recent edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient, our sponsored show which airs at 20.00 hrs every Sunday, on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm Livingstone’s popular local radio station.

Willy and Teresa were staying in Livingstone at accommodation provided by Chanters Lodge. “How did you choose Chanters?” Milli Jam wanted to know. “We arrived in Livingstone by coach” explained Willy “and a taxi driver took us to the lodges near the Zambezi but we found them very expensive! After we’d explained to him what we were really looking for, he took us to Chanters Lodge.” “Has it proved to be what you wanted?” Continued Milimo. “Absolutely!” This nice couple agreed. (“Big up to that taxi driver” said I!)

“What made you choose to come to Livingstone in the first place?” We asked. Teresa and Willy explained that they’d been on a project in Katanga Province in the DRC (Congo) around Mbemba National Park, installing lap top computers in village situations. They’d needed a holiday on completion of the project, so they chose to come and see the mighty Victoria Falls.

We asked them to tell us more about their project. Willy explained that he’s an economist and computer science lecturer at CVORivierenland in Antwerp. Louis Daerden, a missionary friend of his, whom he’d met on a previous visit to DRC, had instigated a charitable project to install lap top computers in remote regions there, and asked Willy for help. Willy volunteered but didn’t want to travel alone, so he invited Teresa, an expert teacher and old friend, to accompany him on their 3000 km trip around that vast and rather unstable country. They had 100 computers and 7 satellite dishes with them and successfully installed them into 7 mission stations. Fantastic!

“How did you feel” we wanted to know “installing computers into villages that barely have electricity and running water?” “Strange” they said but expressed the hope that “perhaps the computers will help lead to further developement.” They explained that most of the mission stations had stand-by generators and said the local population were desperate to learn about computers and to get on line. (Using Vodacom modem sticks, apparently – why don’t we have Vodacom in Zambia I wonder).

Although Willy felt we hadn’t played enough local music on the show, for me the music and the presentation of the show were very good. “Battlefield” the latest Jordin Sparks. “Mama Do” by Pixie Lott (no 1 in UK) were followed by “We Are The People” by Empire Of The Sun and “Please Don’t Leave Me” by Pink – both current hits. “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas is a great dance number and “Right Round” by Flo Rida is a retake of the old Dead or Alive hit – (‘you spin me right round like a record baby’) Aah! Tell me about “Lost Inside Your Love” by Enrique Iglesias ft Johnta Austin and “Overtime” by Ace Hood ft Akon and T Pain, and I’ll tell you we were ‘overtime’ on this show before we knew where we were! We played ‘Chintelelwe’ by Dandy Crazy (his girlfriend is ‘his shelter’), and yes we probably should have featured more local talent! Never mind! The music was hot!

Teresa explained to listeners that she has a regular spot on Radio Sabadell a Catalan radio station, telling her Spanish audience about life for Spanish people living abroad – Teresa lives in Belgium, speaks five languages and is by all reports a great teacher! Milli Jam and I were both on good form in this show. Me? Because of David Abel‘s great write up of his Livingstone trip, Chanters Lodge and Richard Chanter in that days’s Boston Globe! (Still can’t quite get over it). Milimo for once seemed cheerful, well rested and apparently enjoyed presenting and doing the technical side of the show by himself too. Where was George Soulchild? I wondered, but knew better than to ask!

How long are you staying in Livingstone, Milli Jam wanted to know. “We’re leaving tomorrow” Willy and Teresa explained. Milli Jam laughed. Why? He’s convinced I only bring Guests on the show who are leaving the next day! Not true! To end the show we gave away a dinner for two with drinks at Chanters Lodge to the first person to send us an sms telling us where this nice couple came from, and the response was a lot better than the week before. Belgium of course! A certain Emason won. “What do you know about Belgium” Willy asked me. “Trapiste Beer and chips” I replied. “What about chocolate!” he yelled. My God, how could I forget, I’m an addict! Milli Jam pointed out that Arsenal had just signed a Belgian player Thomas Vermaelen!

We closed with ‘Believe It Or Not’ as usual.


Tourism & Zambia’s Economy

Here’s something possibly more interesting than your normal Monday morning inbox – it’s my Thursday by the way, as my half day will be on Wednesday this week…

This from AFP.

“Zambia’s dependence on copper has tethered its economy to every swing in the metal’s price for decades, but President Rupiah Banda told AFP heavy new government spending will help break that cycle. Zambia’s troubles mirror those of many African countries whose economies depend heavily on exports of a handful of raw materials, leaving them vulnerable to swings in commodities prices, like the dramatic drops seen last year.

Zambia’s case is particularly severe, with 80 percent of its exports earnings coming from copper. The 65 percent drop in the metal’s price last year sparked thousands of layoffs and a 73 percent fall in the value of its kwacha currency. The country’s leaders have long promised to diversify the economy away from copper, but in an interview with AFP, Banda said he is confident his government will make progress by pouring money into long-term investments in manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.

“What we have done at least, we have put a lot of emphasis and a lot of money in our budget on those sectors we want to concentrate on in addition to mining,” Banda told AFP on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. “We want to keep the mines that are open open, but we also want to start factories, we want to start more agricultural projects.”

When Zambia won independence from Britain in 1964, it was considered a middle-income country. But a fall in copper prices in the 1970s and failed exercises in socialism left it among the world’s poorest today. Banda was elected president in October 2008, in the middle of a new downturn that saw copper prices fall from 8,000 US dollars per metric tonne to 2,800 dollars in about six months. But he inherited a better situation than the country has seen in past downturns. Zambia’s economy grew at an average of 6.2 percent in the last three years, and is forecast to slow to four percent growth in 2009.

The government used the good times to build up more than one billion dollars in foreign reserves, giving Banda a cushion to spend even during a downturn. He is putting a major emphasis on agriculture, increasing spending by 37 percent this year in hopes of improving food production and creating new export crops. Zambia, which is among the few African countries that has never experienced major civil strife, boasts large tracts of land with potential for game ranching and adventure holiday tours.

The country is also looking to new markets for its goods. Mining minister Maxwell Mwale told AFP that resurgent demand in China and India has helped stabilise copper prices around 4,500 dollars, with output up more than 13 percent in the first four months of the year. Energy minister Kenneth Konga said the country had the capacity to produce an additional 8,000 megawatts of power and export it to its neighbours such as South Africa, which suffers steep energy deficiencies.”

Make of this what you will – in my opinion Zambia talks tourism but doesn’t ‘do’ tourism! Some examples? Immigration, infrastructure, tax, and foreign investment. That bit about increased electricity exports? That’s a bit of a joke with Zesco in the state it’s in….

The picture? Fishing for ‘yellow bellies’ on Lake Tanganyika, Northern Zambia.
I wish…………



I’m really interested in stuff about leadership and management and found this from via Fresh Inc very useful. Incidentally did you see Fresh Inc’s fabulous ideas for Father’s Day gifts? With 5+2 ‘children’ do you think I might get lucky one of these years? Highly doubtful but there’s nothing like dropping big hints. (Today’s Father’s Day actually). Anyway, here’s about leadership:

“Becoming a great leader in 101 easy steps. Vincent Van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Along those lines, Digg links to the business site,, which has compiled a list of 101 Common Sense Rules for Leaders. The list covers all aspects of a good manager’s toolbox, including tips for getting along with employees, boosting productivity, and managing finances and resources. Also included are pointers on maintaining body language that’s appropriate for a leader: sit up straight, face the person you’re talking to, and take your hands out of your pockets. To be fair, those last few tips have been in use for decades by mothers of pesky third-graders everywhere.”

There you are then, get reading and leading!


Setting Out

Finally, we’re setting out the foundations for the new 2 rooomed poolside extension at
Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, and now fully intend to go ahead with the project to increase our accomodation capacity as quickly as possible. The picture shows Mr Albert Chikuta and his team undertaking the expert work. Mr Chikuta is a full time Livingstone City Council worker kindly helping us on his day off. “Is there enough space Mr Chikuta” I asked. “Touch and go…” the answer!

As you’ll see, the weather is bright, sunny and warm even though tomorrow is our shortest day June 21st and technically ‘mid-winter’.

Q. How long will the project take and how much will it cost?
A. How long’s a piece of string, and probably more than I’ve estimated!

Have a nice weekend!


HotelBlogs on Twitter

Guillaume Thevenot (pictured above), who hosts the much respected site HotelBlogs, is always on the ball especially when it comes to the internet. This is what he has to say about the future of Twitter. (As usual I think he’s probably spot on):

“I know a large number of people are still wondering what Twitter is for and why so much noise is behind it recently. Anyway, I let you judge for yourself whether Twitter is of good use for you. While I was browsing the Web to find out who is on Twitter, I discovered that the Design Style Online Magazine for Paris hotels Hoosta has a Twitter account and so does the hotel chain Tiara Hotels (2 hotels in France and 2 hotels in Portugal). And what do they do on Twitter? Hoosta asks Tiara Hotels if they can provide some pictures of their new hotel opening soon in Cannes.

Could it be that Twitter will become more efficient than emails for such a request? Looks like it, since Hoosta published a nice article about the hotel 3 days later (note also the quality of pictures and how fast they are displayed on the site…) So getting more and more proficient with Twitter, I have to say I tend to believe we have seen just the beginning of how people could efficiently use this new social media tool.”

I envy his ‘getting more and more proficient’ – I wish I was! Anyway find me on Twitter @livilodge. In a recent Twitter post Guillaume on Twitter @hotelblogs speculated that Twitter may be addictive – you try to stop and can’t! He might well be right about that too. I don’t think Chanters Lodge would have joined Best Of Zambia (at some cost…) on Twitter @thebestofzambia if they hadn’t been so active on Twitter. Certainly Twitter’s played an interesting role in the current political situation in Iran.

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