3 Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Peter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US. For every meeting the CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls and asked his secretary to handle the same which enabled him to pay undivided attention to Peter Drucker. When asked for the reason behind his time management strategy, the CEO replied, “Mr. Drucker, nothing significant happens if I do not devote a minimum of 90 minutes for an important task. However beyond 90 minutes, the grasping power of the mind reduces. Only two people are allowed to call me when I am in a meeting; the first is the President of USA and the second is my wife. The former will not call me and the latter dare not call me. I return all my calls once  the meeting is over.”

Discipline is the most important aspect for executives to attain optimum productivity.

Here are three productivity-killing habits you should avoid:

Impulsive Web Browsing: Since most of us have access to the Internet at work, it’s easy to get side-tracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head. That’s why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you’re not trying to get work done.

Suresh, a sales executive was making an important offer for his client. While on google search he gets digressed into social media and loses focus. There are two types of tasks a. What is right for me & b. What is right in-front of me. Quite often the latter takes over the former. Please refer the figure. When you are on facebook, twitter or a joke on Whatsapp (right in front of me) the activity  is going to take away your time in making that important offer or handling an angry customer (right for me). The more there is overlap in these two areas (the common green portion called as focus area) the better it will be for you in working effectively.

Putting off important tasks till later in the day: People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their difficult work for later. This is a bad idea and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. Let us go back to the case of Suresh who has to make a project report which needs a lot of technical understanding and calculations Such a task consumes a lot of intellectual and mental energy. If he does this in the morning when his energy levels are high, he will be able to do justice to his task. However he starts doing the mundane and routine things in the morning (like seeing all the cc/Bcc emails) due to which there is a mismatch between his energy levels and task complexity (refer figure below).

Checking emails throughout the day: Constant Internet access leads people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time one does this, you lose several minutes of work time. What’s more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber! Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of ‘deep-dive work’.

In his book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, Timothy Ferriss suggests to his readers that he looks at the mail only at 11 AM and then clears them all in a batch. We shall talk a great deal about that in my next update.

Rajan Parulekar – Director, Hospitality Paradigm

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The importance of Hotel P.R.

In a market as competitive as the hospitality industry, an effective PR strategy is essential and it must be creative, agile and adaptable. For smaller hotels without the benefit of a corporate engine, PR tactics are vital both in terms of positioning and creating valuable partnerships to help the hotel expand and grow.
PR as an art is about telling a story or creating a memory, and if word of mouth was always a valuable currency, social media platforms have made it more so, with customers sharing and interacting with one another and directly with the hotel as individual brands and hotel groups. The degree to which customers trust influences decisions has never been higher and is clearly rising. So whilst every brand behaviour is on public display, customer interaction and building trust is more important than ever.
To an extent, a brand’s story is now out of its control – the internet put paid to that – so we must recognize the customer as an author and fabulist exploring the possibilities of what they can give towards your overall PR effort, rather than take away from it and build outwards on that.
Hotels need to utilize as many platforms as possible and engage with as many of our customers as they can on a daily basis, developing conversations and points of view to enable a differentiated position in the market.
Hotels need to continually collaborate on ideas and innovations to keep their stories fresh and different, trying to stay a step ahead so they can be at the top end of any adoptive curve! You may not win the game by deploying PR, but you will definitely lose without it.

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Photography, social media and travel

According to a recent survey conducted by Schofields, more than 40 per cent of travellers under 33 prioritise ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing their next holiday spot. Across all markets, the travellers’ growing appetite for experiences that go deeper and farther beyond the established destinations are a unifying theme. The greater the lengths that travellers go to for the creation of these faux-spontaneous images, the more contrived and antithetical it feels to the spirit of travel.

Isn’t travel about staying, exploring and immersing yourself in the moment?

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The two concurrent challenges for hotels

The principle challenge faced by the industry is the availability of motivated associates. Hotels cannot deliver excellent hotel stays if they are understaffed or are experiencing disruptive associate turnover. To overcome this, they must start treating employees as critically involved members of communities. They need to be trained and supported as individuals.

The second challenge is how to adopt technology in a thoughtful and practical manner. The past decade has seen an unprecedented acceleration in consumer technology, and this pace is unlikely to slow. To this end, hotel brands must be careful to adopt proven technologies that enhance the stay experience rather than provide a flash in the pan. Technology solutions are expensive when rolled out across hundreds of rooms, so their impact must be measurable, experiential and centred on driving guest preferences.

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Mobile is still king

Global mobile commerce was up 40% and in 2019, experts predict that 70% of ecommerce sales will come from mobile transactions.
Search engines already favour mobile-friendly sites in their rankings, and search is a critical channel for the hotel sector. It’s increasingly important for brands to localize their mobile site content for specific regional audiences—from providing contact information of local properties in native languages, to offering payment options that reflect the preferences of regional customers.
Hoteliers must also create engaging, authentic in-language digital experiences that will satisfy the expectations of their guests in mobile-dominated markets.

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Hotels to capitalise on Immersive Technology – VR

Opportunities to leverage newer technologies like VR (Virtual Reality) in the hotel industry is the way to go forward. Imagine experiencing glimpses of your holiday experiences or stay at a resort or city hotel from the comfort of a VR room set up in a hotel lobby promoting experiences for different segments, for different hotels in the group and even for the same hotel itself. Locational experiences, adventure sports, relaxational therapies, entertainment and much more can be experienced by potential guests – thus making this a powerful marketing tool using immersive technology.

To understand this better, watch the Cannes 2017 award winning ad-film on how VR Vaccines (Brazil) battled childrens inherent fear of the injection shot.

 

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Vitual Reality for Hotels

Ever-increasing investments in virtual reality technologies have created an opportunity for consumer-focused brands—including hotels—to create distinctive virtual experiences for their guests.

Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba are already creating immersive VR shopping experiences for their customers, and hotels can (and should!) pay close attention to how consumers respond to the ability to experience brands and their products—and even complete transactions—in virtual environments.

But global brands have an additional challenge: how can they create immersive virtual experiences localized for any global language to serve their international audiences in authentic ways?

The same technologies that allow brands to provide in-language experiences for customers online may soon be capable of translating VR-based experiences, from product voiceovers to text and imagery displayed in virtual worlds. And content translated for central digital channels like websites may someday be easily repurposed for VR environments using the same technology.

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Forecasted Hospitality Trends ~ 2019

Travel Market Report has seen a trend toward more all-inclusive properties; Many resorts have ditched resort credit to bring guests a vacation experience that is truly all-inclusive, including deeply discounted experiences like golf, spa treatments, tours and excursions.

Luxury travellers will rely more on travel agents. Just as 2018 was the year of multigenerational travel, 2019 will be about couples and adults. More hotels are catering to adults in kid-free environments, either by opening adults-only properties or adults-only sections within one property.

Guests are looking for “Insta-worthy experiences” and hotels are delivering. In Antigua, for example, properties are “now including extras like Galley Bay, where you can take a hobie out to explore a shipwreck; or Blue Waters, where they offer a free trip out to the reef for snorkeling; or Curtain Bluff, where they include waterskiing and motorized water sports.”

The trend is toward the unique. Travellers want that local culturally immersive experience nowadays. Everyone has ‘been there, done that’ with the major attractions and sightseeing destinations; people want that true ‘what the locals do and go’ experience. Smaller boutique hotels and even bed-and-breakfasts have become more popular for clients who want that small town, local charm and experience.

Hotels are offering “tours that take guests to authentic and not commercial spots, where they can interact with the grower or the local fisherman. Experiences that are off-the-beaten-path, so that discovery becomes the whole point of the excursion.

Meetings too, are looking for the unique and unusual. Groups are stepping out from traditional setups and layouts to introduce new space distributions and designs. For example, instead of having a U shape or a classroom set-up, clients are looking for a mix of furniture to create different spaces within the same room, and also looking to incorporate healthy choices in coffee breaks.

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Bleisure & the Sharing Economy

Business travel within Asia is growing at twice the pace of the rest of the world, and looks set to overtake the top-spending Americas within the next 10 years. There is also a growing trend among corporate travellers to include local leisure activities as part of their working trips.

The rise of Bleisure – combining business and leisure activities into one travel experience – is accompanied by a concurrent growth in popularity for sharing services.

While most Corporate Travellers do not have to pay their business travel, they are just as cost conscious as their leisure travel counterparts, and are interested in getting suggestions that help them save money (34%).

The focus on cost has seen the sharing economy, specifically ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab and home-sharing services like Airbnb and Couch Surfing, being a large part of business travel, even more so than for leisure. The reasons for using sharing services are ease and convenience and better quality and service.

The rise of Bleisure means that business travel behaviours are becoming more aligned to leisure travel, including cost consciousness. Sharing economy providers benefit from this trend thanks to the competitive products, flexibility and convenience they are able to offer and deliver.

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China – The Emperor of outbound tourism

In only three decades, the Chinese have gone from easily stereotyped, rube, new tourists to conquerors of the industry. After hundreds of millions of visits and billions of dollars showered around the world, Chinese tourists now hail from the middle, rich and the very rich classes. Fewer travel in groups. Some still enrage destinations with their thoughtlessness. Others are welcomed for their enthusiasm and unique points of view. Above all, the Chinese are changing tourism around the world.

The travel numbers are astonishing. For the fourth year in a row, the Chinese are the world’s biggest group of international travellers, taking 142 million international trips in 2017. In the next decade, that number is projected to jump to 390 million, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

And Chinese tourists are the biggest international spenders: $258 billion last year. All this has been accomplished at a time when only 7% of Chinese citizens hold passports. On the inbound side of the equation, China is expected to become the No. 1 travel destination sometime in the next five years, knocking out France and solidifying its dominance over tourism.

Chinese tourists can lift economies seemingly overnight. Chinese visitors to Europe improved the Continent’s trade balance by $4 billion.

Wealthy Chinese shoppers among the haute couture shops of Avenue Montaigne in Paris are a common sight. There is so much money involved in Chinese tourism that Anna Wong of the U.S. Federal Reserve recently warned that what looks like tourist spending overseas might actually be money laundering to conceal asset investments from the Chinese government.

It’s hard to wrap one’s arms around this ever-growing Chinese tourism juggernaut, but its emergence is clearly the most important milestone for the industry since globalization kicked off the modern explosion.

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Pop-up Hotels

Permanence is passé. As any trend-conscious urbanite will attest, bars, restaurants and stores no longer require longevity in order to achieve success. In many cases, the shorter their shelf-life, the more popular they become.

Pop-up outlets have – with a certain irony – turned into one of the more durable trends of the past few years. Typically they give fledgling brands a showcase, maximise cheap rents and offer customers a sense of having bought into something unique. But can the world of short-lease fashion stores and week-long cocktail bars translate into the hotel sector?

Of course it can. The concept of pop-up hotels has become more prevalent in recent times. This is partly due to clever branding (temporary accommodation, after all, being far from a new phenomenon) and partly due to some highly creative advances on the part of providers. In an era when differentiation has become all-important, there’s value in being able to market an overnight stay that doesn’t fit the usual mould.

Pop-up ‘hotels’ tend to fall into one of a few categories. Many are essentially luxury tents, soft-shell spaces erected for a few days at a time in desirable locations and fitted with as many mod cons as can realistically be managed. The ever-more-popular notion of festival ‘glamping’ also fits here.

Other pop-up accommodations are more functional but no less viable, making use of existing structures that are currently empty. These might be anything from shipping containers to untenanted buildings.

The premise behind the idea is simple. When high-rise residential buildings are completed, it can take them up to two years to secure long-term tenants. WhyHotel, which recently secured almost US$4m in seed funding, makes the most of this period by selling as-yet-unfilled units in these new developments as hotel beds.

“We’re on site for guests 24/7,” explains President and Co-founder Bao Vuong. “We generally start by using around 50% of a building’s units, so early on we have by far the predominant number of people in the building. That percentage gradually falls as the months go by, and by about 20% we pull out.”

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The pangs of Over-Tourism

The term “overtourism” is a new one and denotes the phenomenon of a popular destination or sight becoming overrun with tourists in an unsustainable way. We have seen it occur across Asia for much longer than the word has been commonplace, and the reality of it looms large as tourism continues to grow on a global scale. But whose fault is it?

Having acknowledged the issue earlier than most, a British travel company has come up with a list of offenders that includes the expected as well as the unexpected. Those belonging to the former camp include: airlines, which have transformed countless holiday hotspots into honeypots by offering affordable flights without a thought to the environmental costs involved; cruise lines, which have been accused of not only polluting the atmosphere but also giving little – financially or otherwise – to the ports at which they call; tourist boards, which for too long have been concerned with volume over value; and, of course, travellers themselves.

Among the more unusual suspects, however, is the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, nominated for having stated that, “Tourism is not the enemy. Growth is not the enemy, numbers are not the enemy. It’s how we manage growth that matters,” in response to anti-tourism protests in Barcelona, Spain, last year. Arguably, in the case of overtourism, both tourism and growth are the enemy, something that a leading global institution would do well to admit.

The media is also singled out, “mainly because they are resistant to publishing negative stories on their travel pages.” The best beach articles declaring the top 10 Instagram spots are hackneyed, repetitive and guilty of funnelling travellers to the same tiring destinations. Travel publishers, editors and writers could also be pulled up for not acknowledging the issue of overtourism until it becomes impossible to ignore.

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Blockchain in Travel

Blockchain enables a community to formulate and implement its own economic rules, hence the rise of crypto currencies like bitcoin, which for the most part sidestep government regulations. This is done in part through the digital tokenization of a commodity, real or virtual, connected to a smart contract that defines when and how value is transferred or realized.

With crypto currencies, the commodity is a financial token whose value is typically measured against government-backed currencies. Hospitality technologies now want to create a token and smart contract linked to a specific room in a specific hotel on a specific date and a platform marketplace where rooms can be bought and sold using an interface similar to what is currently displayed by OTAs.

Although the value will float, it would likely do so with more stability than bitcoin because it is backed by something tangible: a reservation.

Once the room is purchased on the platform, it can be occupied by the buyer or resold, either by a prospective guest whose plans have changed or by a speculator hoping to resell the room at a profit. The speculator can be, as examples, an individual, a meetings or wedding planner, an online or offline travel agency, a tour operator or a festival organizer.

The benefit for hotels is that it frees them from dependency on OTAs and enables them to operate with the same benefits as a vacation club, with income guaranteed for a room that could later be traded, resold or even go unoccupied.

The platform will be enormously disruptive to OTAs and it will free hotels from the temptation to sell inventory at significant discounts to OTAs and will provide flexibility to travellers who might otherwise face losses from cancellation penalties.

This system will reduce the cost to hotel owners from as high as 25% of a room’s rate — an estimate of OTA costs — down to 2.5%.

This platform has the potential to disrupt the hotel brands themselves, and possibly even home-sharing companies like Airbnb, by providing a cheaper form of third-party distribution for owners of hotels and homes/apartments/spare rooms.

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Alexa for Hospitality

Alexa for Hospitality is designed to bring Amazon’s voice assistant technology to everything from chain hotels to vacation rentals.

The system can be customized to include key guest information, like checkout time or pool hours; allows guests to request services like housekeeping or room service; and can be configured to control “smart” hotel room functions, like adjusting the thermostat or raising the blinds.

Marriott is Amazon’s launch partner on the new platform, which is notable not only for the potential scale of this rollout, but also because the hotelier had been testing both Siri and Alexa devices ahead of today’s news.

According to Amazon, Marriott International will introduce the new Alexa experience at select properties in Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels starting this summer.

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Fake Hotel Websites Conning Holiday-Makers

The rise of fake hotels is a phenomenon that has left both consumers and OTAs frustrated and out of pocket.

In recent months, the travel industry has witnessed a tidal wave of fake chalet websites, with one website, Alps-stay.com, conning unsuspecting holiday-makers out of tens of thousands of euros.

It’s no wonder fraudsters are targeting consumers booking holidays – hotels in Europe saw an increase in bookings of 6% in 2017 compared to 2016. However, it’s not just consumers suffering the monetary blows, OTAs are too.

How? A fraudster will list a fake hotel and then use stolen credit cards to make a booking via the OTA’s website. The OTA will then receive chargebacks for bookings after making a payment to the fake hotel. By this point, the fraudster will have withdrawn all the funds paid by the OTA and won’t respond to any contact attempts, leaving the OTA with a financial loss.

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