Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2011

Good Examples of Cutting Operation Costs

Julie Jargon at The Wall Street Journal reported that restaurants are facing two threats --- “sharply rising food prices and looming changes in the healthy-care law that will mandate expanded employee coverage.” Restaurants are already in the business of low profit margins. If food costs and labor costs go up, profits will definitely suffer. To help restaurant owners cut operation costs, Julie Jargon listed some good examples in the case of Chili’s Restaurants. Tactics Used in the Kitchen Replace the skillet and the smoker with a new combination oven, which can smoke ribs and cook bacon three times faster. Introduce the conveyor-belt-like oven that was used in fast-food restaurants in the kitchen. Cooks no longer need to turn over burgers or quesadillas to cook both sides. Prep cooks wash and chop vegetables in the morning while line cooks only need to focus on cooking.   HR Tactics Used in the Front of the House Eliminate bussers so that the restaurants do not need to

A Better Way to Pour Beer: Filling a Cup from the Bottom Up

This ABC News video shows us a new and definitely-better way to poor beer --- filling a cup from the bottom up. Yes, I am saying “from the bottom up.” It works because of an innovative technology. The secret comes from the cup, which has a tiny hole on the bottom and works with a magnet. When the cup is filled with beer, the magnet will move back to its place (and stops the leak). What does this new beer-pouring method mean to business? With this technology, beer is poured nine (9) times faster than using a tap. This technology ensures “perfect” portion and quality control, even the beer foam looks the same in every cup. This technology also makes managing beer inventory much easier when everything is perfectly controlled. What a cool technology! I wonder how much the start-up and variable costs are. What other new innovations are currently used in the hospitality industry? How do these innovations impact the bottom line of a business operation?

A Man Got Fired Because Of His Random Thoughts Posted on Social Networking Sites

There are more than 500 million social media users. Social networking sites have become a great platform for people to share information and express opinions. If used appropriately, social media can be very effective in job search and business . A survey indicates that 66% employers monitor their employees’ Internet connections. Many people are well aware that they will get fired for bad-mouthing their bosses or companies on social networking sites , no matter if they keep a private setting or not . This MSNBC news video reports that a man got fired because of his opinions on Tulsa tragedy. One direct quote from his employer who fired him includes: “… it is essential that we not become involve in public controversy either in support or in opposition of an issue …” Afterwards, the victim’s job was reinstated. What makes the employer change the decision is out of the question. I wonder what thoughts you may have on this case. Will “no comments” seem better than “in support” or “

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: A Chic Hotel that Offers Total Guest Experience

This ABC News video takes us to a tour of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a mega hotel and casino that was just opened in a wave when Las Vegas is trying to re-position or re-define itself as a tourist destination. In many ways, The Cosmopolitan affirms several trends of the hospitality industry. First and for most, The Cosmopolitan shows that the boutique-design concept can also work in a mega hotel. The post-modern gallery-like lobby, the glamorous chandelier lighting, and those designer boutique stores put a big fashion statement on this hotel. Second, The Cosmopolitan targets those “curious class” travelers, which compose of 59 million Americans. This group “enjoys travel.” They are “open-minded.” They “like adventures.” They like to “explore.” They “enjoy foreign food.” And they “like interesting hotel concepts.” Third, F&B (food and beverage) are very important in hotels because they contribute a big portion of a hotel’s revenues. As a high-end hotel, The Cosmopol

Let's Hope for a Better Year in 2011

The Lunar New Year starts on February 3 in 2011. Many Chinese are hoping this year, which is the Year of Rabbit, will bring them better fortune and help them recover from the recession. According to some Feng Shui masters, the Year of Rabbit means somewhat conservative prospective. Usually, a rabbit makes a move, then stops and looks round the surroundings (to make sure everything around him/her is safe), and finally makes another move. Similarly, the market is predicted to move upward, and then pause for a while before the market moves to an even upper level. Is that truth? Honestly, I don’t know, but I can tell you what the survey says. It is reported in this MSNBC News video that 2011 will be a better year for the travel and tourism industry. Both business and leisure travelers are expected to travel more often and spend more in the upcoming year than in 2010. Since the first quarter of 2010, I personally have heard quite a few hotel managers telling me that their business was doi

Using Cell Phones to Make Payments

According to today’s embedded ABC News video, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are working together on a project that turns cell phones into a method of payment. People will soon be able to make a payment by scanning their cell phones at a cash register, as what they would have sliced their credit cards. How cool it is! Another update comes from Starbucks and Target. Customers can make a payment with a mobile payment app on their smart phones in Starbucks and Target Stores. To use this app in Starbucks, for example, customers need to download the Starbucks Card mobile app and load money on it with a credit card. A payment is made when a cashier scans the bar code shown on a smart phone’s screen. As expected, 50% cell phone users in the U.S. will use smart phones by the end of 2011 . Today’s news updates confirm the importance of mobile devices in business . Very soon, we may not need to carry anything but cell phones when we go out because cell phones can now be used as  hotel room

The First Diet: An Entrepreneur that Leverages the Healthy Food Trend

In addition to going-green , healthy diet is absolutely another food trend. This Fox News video shows us an example of how an entrepreneur adopts the healthy food trend and becomes the 6th fastest growing food company. As featured in this video, The First Diet, a foodservice company that delivers healthy meals to customers every day, takes up a portion of the 1.5 billion per year diet-delivery industry. There seems to be two reasons that contribute to this company’s success: (a) The First Diet follows the 40-30-30 formula* and home-delivers fresh-made meals to customers every day and (b) technology allows the company to receive orders online, minimize waste (just-in-time inventory), and design an efficient method to deliver meals. What a good business model! Are there other examples that restaurants leverage the going-green and healthy food trends in business? How important is it for a hospitality company to follow the industry trends? * 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, and 30% fa

How Important Is LinkedIn in Employee Recruitment? How Much Value Would Employers Place On Multilingual Employees?

Joe Light reported two employee recruitment trends in The Wall Street Journal. First, companies rely less on online job boards because job boards also attract unqualified candidates. Instead, they would rather “hunt for candidates” in professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. I agree that LinkedIn could be very effective. For example, I shared a job opening that was posted by one of my LinkedIn connections (a hospitality recruiter) in a LinkedIn Group, on my Facebook page and Tweeter. Within minutes, a 2008 Texas Tech graduate in Hospitality Management thanked me for the information and told me she would apply for the job. A hospitality recruiter and a hospitality graduate, what a good match! What is your experience of using social networking sites for job hunts or employee recruitment? The second trend is about multilingual employees. Joe Light suggested that proficiency in a foreign language will become more important in the workforce. In particular, Spanish, Chine

Carry-On Luggage: The ONLY Thing that a Job Candidate Should Carry during an On-Site Job Interview

If a candidate passes the first or second interview, s/he may receive an invitation from a potential employer to conduct an on-site job interview in a corporate location. This interview is crucial because the candidate will meet with all decision makers in an organization and often, a hiring decision will be made after this on-site interview. Then, what should a job candidate prepare for this on-site job interview? The very basic rule is: never check in any luggage for this trip! Yes, a candidate must minimize the possibility of losing a check-in luggage on a trip for job interviews --- imagine what a nervous job candidate would react after s/he finds out the luggage was lost in some airports. Even if the check-in luggage arrives safely at the final destination on time, what first impression does a candidate make to the hiring manager by checking in luggage? Does the hiring manager want to wait with a job candidate in the airport for check-in luggage? What would the hiring manager th

Burger and Wine: A Meal with a $5000 Tag

A restaurant on Las Vegas Strip is selling a meal with burger and wine for $5000. I am sure the burger and wine are exceptionally good. The bottle is the 1995 Château Pétrus Vintage Merlot, which is considered one of the finest Merlots ever produced. The retail price for the same bottle at Google is around $2500. My questions are: What do you think of idea of pairing a burger with such a high quality Merlot? How much tip is appropriate for this meal? I will not expect a lot of interactions and service for a meal with burger and a bottle of wine, but will you tip $1000 (20%), $750 (15%), or other amount? Interested in the topics about tipping, please visit: Tips on Holiday Tipping Tips for Takeout Orders No Tipping in a Luxury Hotel in Chicargo

Renaissance Hotels Replaced Concierge with “Navigator”

According to Barbara De Lollis at USA Today, guests will no longer find a Concierge Desk in Marriott’s 140 Renaissance properties. Instead, guests may sit down on a comfortable chair and chat with the hotel’s Navigators. Similar to Concierge staff, a Navigator is supposed to know the inside-out of a city and make recommendations based on his/her “personal experience, knowledge and research.”A Navigator could be the hotel’s former concierge, a Front Desk agent, or a restaurant manager. Then, how is a Navigator different from a Concierge? The location and settings are different. A Navigator at the Renaissance’s Time Square location, for example, is located on the second floor near the restaurant entrance. Around the Navigator Desk are some “comfortable couches, TVs, chairs and chess boards.” Renaissance also has a Navigator app for mobile devices, including smart phones and tablet computers (free if using the code “intheknow” before February or for a cost of $4.99). Another differe

Solar Powered Gadgets: Future Reality

Today’s CNN News video shares a piece of exciting news about Apple’s new technology of using solar power for mobile devices. Even though this solar-power technology is not in Apple’s supply chain yet at this point, I am already looking forward to using solar powered gadgets in the near future. Considering that there are five billion cell phones users and one billion computer users in the world, the results of using solar powered devices will be incredible to the environments. With a little optimism, I can easily see the potential of applying this solar power technology to almost everything that people use every day. Then, tremendous energy can be saved, and most of all, people do not need to rely on their chargers of tens of gadgets at home or at work anymore. How amazing! Within the hospitality industry, “Going Green” is for sure a definite trend. We emphasize this trend by discussing the history of lodging products , green practices in the hospitality industry , the hottest restaur

How Much Time Do Americans Spend on Social Networking Sites?

If you follow my blog, you may have known really well about the significance of Facebook . Americans spent more than 41 million minutes on Facebook in August 2010, which made Facebook the No. 1 website where Americans spend the most time. Then, do you know how much time do Americans spend on social networking sites in general? According to Elizabeth Bernstein at The Wall Street Journal (a Nielson study), Americans spent 63.5 billion minutes on social networks/blogs (23.8% of online time), 26.1 billion minutes on online games (9.8%), 19.9 billion minutes on e-mails (7.5%), 10.9 billion minutes on portals (4.1%), and 10.7 billion minutes on videos/movies (4.0%). Another Nielson study (published in Mashable ) indicates that an average Internet user spends 68 hours on the Internet per month, about 2 hours and 6 minutes per day. It seems that we cannot live without our social networks, doesn’t it? How important do social networking sites mean to you as a person? Furthermore, how imp

Trends on Mobile Devices: An Observation at the 16th Graduate Conference in Hospitality and Tourism

Last June, I discussed the importance of cell phones in business after I attended the 62nd Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition. On Jan 6th and 7th, I attended this year’s Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference (Graduate Conference) in Hospitality and Tourism. I was glad to find two research studies about mobile phones: one proposal discusses mobile apps and their effects on brand awareness and brand loyalty; the other study examines the role of mobile apps in addressing tourists’ information needs. I actually feel mobile devices deserve more research attention from the academia because I expect that mobile devices will become the next wave of business trends . For this Graduate Conference, I flew Continental and used the IAH Airport. I was surprised to find out that I can now fly with paperless boarding passes at IAH. Not long ago, Continental introduced “mobile boarding passes” that allows travelers to check in at the security checkpoint and board a flight at

Smart TVs in Hotels: A Future Reality?

3-D TVs did not make a big hit last year. Manufacturers are turning their hopes to smart TVs. As reported by Evan Ramstad at The Wall Street Journal, TV makers predict that “Smart TV” is the trend. At least, they are attempting to make TVs as “smart” as tablet PCs or smart phones. Smart TVs will also be able to navigate and use a variety of applications that are similar to those of tablet PCs and smart phones. Last year, 210 million TV sets were sold, among which 21% had an Internet connection. By 2014, more than 50% of the TV sets sold will have Internet connections. A while ago, Google also introduced a Google TV. It may seem that consumers may soon touch a real “Smart TV.” Many hotels have already allowed guests to check-out or make orders with the TV sets in guestrooms. Some of them also start using iPads and smart phones in guest services and/or operations. Will smart TVs become the next hit for the hospitality industry? References: Ramstad, E. (January 4, 2010)


According to this CNN News video, a Canadian school is introducing e-textbooks to students. The school believes that e-textbooks will help the school cut spending on real textbooks for the long term and give students easy access to available resources with a computer or a mobile device. Most of all, administrators can update an e-textbook at any time as needed. When people rely more on mobile and handheld devices for reading, those tactics of “ No Texting, Tweeting, or Facebooking ” or “ Tough Cell Phone Policies ” may not work anymore. If that is the case, other than establishing a good social media policy and a cell phone policy , what else can a manager or educator do? Do you think they need to get ready to interact with trainees or students more often in the virtual environments? How so?

Technology Trends of 2011

Are you curious of what new technology will bring us in 2011? This MSNBC news video shows us several technology trends with regard to consumer behaviors, social networking, health care, urban farming , advertising, and luxury products/services. It is expected that consumers will continuously involve more in product design and marketing campaign. From this video, it seems that these trends will have direct impacts to retail operations, health care, food operations, marketing, and airlines. We have actually seen some of these trends in 2010 (e.g. urban farming , social media and its business implications). Let’s see if these trends will become reality in 2011. Are you ready for these new trends? How do you prepare yourself and your company for changes?   Visit for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy