Category Archives: News

3 Websites Hotel Pros Should Check Daily

Sites a hotel's director of sales and marketing should check daily
Don’t open Pandora’s box with this search term, read our list instead!

Searching the web is a great way to stay caught up with the news and trends of your industry, but sometimes  frequently it can be overwhelming. Like anyone else, hoteliers need to be able to find great online sources that cut through the clutter.  Here are three  sites hospitality professionals should be checking daily to stay informed!

Hotel Chatter.com

Hotel Chatter’s main strength is it’s quantity of content. It has a ton of stories and is updated frequently by its army of content creators. You will find no shortage of news and information on this site. Hotel Chatter is an exceptional tool for trying to determined the overall pulse of the industry. It’s a great resource for hard news, which includes a master list of hotel openings, as well as the occasional  exclusive look inside of a new property.

HC also offers plenty of editorial content like Where to Buy your Own Hotel Bed and 5 Things Everyone Should do before Checking out of a Hotel. 

Hotel Chatter is our go-to for industry news and is perfect for anyone who wants to become  an instant expert on what’s happening in the world of hospitality

Hotel Marketing.com 

Hotel Marketing.com, as its name implies, gives a much more marketing centered approach to hotel news. Unlike Hotel Chatter this site doesn’t create content but rather curates information from a variety of sources.

The nice thing about Hotel Marketing is that while it does supply news, like Trends that could Shape Hotel Distribution in 2014. It also has plenty of practical information that a hotel marketer or GM could actually apply. The Benefits of Configuring part of your Hotel as ‘Third Space’ and How Hotels can be less Dependent on OTAs in 2014 are a few examples.

Hotel Marketing is a great way to stay up-to-date with marketing specific news and information.

Google Alerts

Okay, while not a website per-se, Google Alerts is too useful to leave off a list like this.

Google Alerts allows users to set up alerts for whenever specific search terms come up in new online content. It’s a great way to monitor what people are saying about your brand or property online.

An especially nice feature of Google Alerts is its high level of customization. Users are able to adjust variables like type of content, from blog posts to news articles, as well as number of results Google gives you.

Google Alerts can be set up to automatically send notifications to an email address on daily, weekly and monthly basis,

Hotel professionals of the world, what sites do you use to stay informed?  Let us know in our comment section below! 

Take Part in a One-Project Build at IHMRS

ONEProject_verticons

Our friends at Clean The World are hosting a One-Project build at the International Hotel Motel and Restaurant Show  this year. CTW along with Cisco Guest Supply will be trying to assemble 10,000 kits. If you’re headed to the show be sure to stop by and help out!

One Kit. One Team. One Project. One Life. 

Clean The World’s One Project is a unique opportunity for individuals to make a big difference in their communities. The basic concept of the project is to assemble and then distribute hygiene kits to those who don’t have access to basic amenities such as soap and toothpaste.

If you’ve ever had to skip brushing your teeth for a day, you know how valuable basic hygiene items can be to simply feeling human. It’s easy to take soap,shampoo and a toothbrush for granted until you don’t have them. Unfortunately the reality of not having these items is not just an issue of comfort for the less fortunate, it’s also a vital health concern. The One Project focuses on the fact that one kit can make a huge difference in someone’s quality of life.

Who is Clean the World

Millions of deaths each year are a result of poor hygiene, due to lack of basic necessities such as soap. Clean The World’s mission is to help prevent these deaths by collecting and recycling discarded amenities from hotels.

IHMRS Build 

Last year the McConnell Marketing team had a great experience doing a One-Project build. This year Megan and Katie will get a chance to help out once again as they hit the conference.

The Clean the World ONE project build will be at Booth 2582, please stop by and help out!

 

 

Why Flat Design is Spreading Faster than a Zombie Plague.

Flat is the new 3D

The latest update to Apple’s iOS software brought the biggest graphical change to their user interface in years! Apple went Flat. The move towards flat has been a growing trend in the mobile computing world recently(Android and Windows Phone both use the concept extensively),and it has also become prevalent as a general graphic design concept as well.  Even Google has recently rolled out a flatter version of their iconic logo.

iOS6 is on the left and the new iteration, iOS7 is on the right.

photo courtesy of extremetech.com
photo courtesy of extremetech.com

If you aren’t familiar already, you can probably guess what flat design is. Flat, in a basic sense, refers to a design style that gets rid of attempts to create the illusion of depth and perspective.

These pictures of the Windows Phone home screen are a stereotypical example of flat design.

windowsph8-start-screens_2 2
photo courtesy of winbeta.org

As you can see, no beveled edges, no drop shadows, no attempts at creating the feel of depth at all.  A clean, simple interface that is … Flat!

 

Why Flat?

Skeuomorphism: what it is and why we’ve outgrown it. 

One of the major reasons that flat design has become popular is because it seems fresh compared to the tacky, and obsolete skeuomorphic designs of the past. Though you’ve probably never heard of it , you’ve interacted with skeuomorphic design at one point or another in your life.

Skeuomorphic design is the idea of designing something digitally to imitate the appearance of a real world object.  For example, Apple has been a huge proponent of this style. The iPhone alone, at least before this latest update, includes many examples. The notes app looks like  a legal pad, the games app features a green felt background, even the fact that the keyboard keys appear to have depth is an example of skeuomorphism.

photo from macrumors.com
photo from macrumors.com

Skeuomorphism was a popular design aesthetic for Apple and many other technology companies because it served as a transition from the real world to the virtual one. In the early days of computing it was nice for people to have digital analogies of the real world. The desktop, folders,  and recycle bin were easy concepts to grasp. Even though skeuomorphism was not functionally necessary, it added a layer of comfort to the experience of working with a virtual interface.

Today, when most of the world interacts with some type of computer on a regular basis, skeuomorphic design only serves to add clutter. Flat design looks clean because it is. It cuts out unnecessary clutter.

 

Back to Basics

Another reason for flat design’s popularity was that it was a “back to basics”  response to over complexity in design. As our tools became more powerful, designers felt like they had to use them. Pretty soon everyone was using drop-shadows, gradients, beveled edges, reflections and so on… Though these tools were effective, they were certainly overused.

Take Skype’s old logo for example. Notice the 3D beveled edges, use of gradient (blue goes from lighter to dark) as well as a drop shadow.

skype-logo-placeholder

 

 

 

 

In contrast, Skype’s new, flatter logo gets rid of all that. The result being a clean, flat logo.

logo_skype_web

 

 

 

 

Another example of a formerly overused technique is reflection. The effect of a company’s logo appearing like it was sitting on a plane of reflective glass was one of the hallmarks of “Web 2.0” and was used by every tech company. Today however, it just looks cliche.

LinkedIn-Logo-Reflection

 

 

 

 

Here is Linked-in’s new logo.It’s much easier on the eyes, and fits in well with website copy.

linkedin_logo_11

 

 

 

Another reason for flat design’s popularity that we can’t ignore is that it looks much better on mobile displays. Simple looks better when it’s compressed into a small space! Detailed logos lose a lot of their appeal when those details are crammed into a small display and are difficult to discern.

 

Is Flat here to Stay?

Flat is not a major innovation in design that will change the way we look at graphics and user interfaces forever. It is simply a trend. Flat design was around long before  beveled edges, reflections and drop shadows. Like all design trends eventually flat too will become overused, boring, and out of style. 

Before its inevitable demised however, flat will evolve.  It’s likely that designers will settle on a middle ground, an “almost flat” design. The key to success for this style, will be for designers and companies to utilize the unique advantages that both 3D design and flat have to offer.

Apple actually did a great job in their OS redesign by hitting this compromise. Using a featured called “parallax” to make their flat icons appear to float over the background, Apple used the benefits of advanced rendering technology to compliment the beauty of minimal flat design. Not to sound too Apple biased, but Windows Phone on the other hand may have gone too far in the opposite direction, just compare their home screen and iPhone’s!

Moral of the story, like most things in design, and life for that matter it’s hard to go wrong with the motto: All things in Moderation.

 

But who cares what we think? What do you think about the future of graphic design? Leave us a comment and give us your thoughts as to why Windows Phone is prettier than iOS!

Should Your Hotel Be Juicing?

Juicing

 

The move towards natural and organic foods is a growing trend in the United States, and L.A. hotels are capitalizing by focusing on the juicing fad.

In their article, “Need to Detox from Cocktail Week? These Hotels are Now Juicing” HotelChatter.com points out the prevalence of the pricey trend of Southern California hotels offering fresh pressed juices.

One juice sold by the Beverly Hills Hotel features Spinach, Romaine, Parsley, Cucumber, Celery, Apple and Lemon for $12.

Weather or not the purported health benefits are worth the price is up to consumers, but these juices can definitely help you at least meet your fruit and veggie quota for the day.

It will be interesting to see if there is enough demand for this trend to expand. Obviously the high price will limit the drinks in certain markets, but its worth keeping an eye on none-the-less.

 

If you are planning a trip to L.A., Hotel Chatter lists the following as Juicing hotels:

– Beverly Hills Hotel

– Mondrian West Hollywood

– Four Seasons Los Angeles

– Chateau Marmont

 

Is juicing a high priority amenity to you? Give us your feedback in the comments section below!

Strike a Boutique Hotel Deal with Stayful.com

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 10.48.30 AMThere are plenty of sites like Priceline, Expedia, Hotels.com, Luxury Link and Hotel Tonight to score the ultimate hotel deal. Well, we have a new (yet unique) hotel booking site for you to add to your list—Stayful.com.

Just launched this month, Stayful.com is a new booking site for independent boutique hotels, eliminating hotel chain brands that you might see on other sites.

“The mission is simple,” Nikki Ekstein of Travel and Leisure wrote. “Help trendy boutique hotels move unsold inventory by putting rooms up for bidding.” With its unique Bid or Book It Now feature, you can search hotel rooms and (1) bid a lower price than what is listed or (2) book the room and get the best available rate. Not sure what to bid? According to Hotel Chatter, Stayful provides users “recommended bids,” which are rates that the site’s algorithm believes the hotel is most likely to accept. Guests will find out within 24 hours if the hotel has accepted or not.

“Should you want to suggest a bid to a hotel that’s not already on Stayful’s list, the site allows you to do so inviting the hotel of your choice to participate with them if they’re ready and willing,” Ekstein said. Hotel Chatter noted that you can only enter one bid per hotel every 24 hours.

According to Stayful, the boutique hotel industry loses $13.9 billion in revenue due to unsold hotel rooms. Co-founder and CEO of Stayful, Cheryl Rosen, said, “There are thousands of independent boutique hotels around the world and they’ve struggled to find new customers for their unsold inventory. On the other side, travelers often don’t realize that they aren’t getting the best prices through existing sites. With Stayful, they’ll choose their own unique hotel experience and choose exactly the price they want to pay.”

Looking to book your trendy, boutique getaway through Stayful? Currently, the site is only offering hotels in San Francisco and New York, so you may have to sit tight. And while the site is still in beta, Stayful is invite-only basis (for now).

We are a group of travelers who want to share our passion for independent, boutique hotels. Independent, boutique hotel experiences are unique; they can transform an ordinary trip into an amazing story of discovery. Imagine a place where you discover all the best independent, boutique hotels, get a great price and have fun doing it. –Stayful.com

What is Luxury Travelers’ Number One Hotel Amenity? Internet.

Let’s say you’re going on a vacation. Since this is more of a hypothetical situation, there’s no budget in site and you decide to stay at a luxury hotel. Out of all the hotel amenities, what’s the one you have to have? The Resonance Report on Affluent Travel and Leisure surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. households with incomes of $150k+ and discovered to the top ten hotel amenities when choosing a hotel/resort for vacation:

  1. Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 10.05.39 AMInternet Access
  2. Beach
  3. Cuisine
  4. Privacy
  5. Close to Shopping and Restaurants
  6. Unique Activities/Experiences
  7. All-Inclusive Packages
  8. Fitness Center
  9. Online Reviews
  10. Walking Trails

Internet access was the most desired amenity above all by affluent U.S. travelers! According to the survey, 54% of affluents both under and over the age of 55 rated internet access number one. High Net Worth (HNW) households, or those with a net worth of $1MM+, rated internet access even higher at 57%. While affluents over 55 ranked privacy as the second most prized amenity, HNWs rated the beach as theirs.

While some people like to take a vacation from the internet, others have to stay connected at all times. Resonance Consultancy President, Chris Fair said, “It’s clear that American luxury travelers want the option to connect as they please, whether to bring their friends up to speed on their activities on social media or to touch base with the office.”

Fair also said that in order to meet the demands of luxury travelers, “the luxury hotels and resorts of the suture will not only have to provide free internet access throughout their property…but also create mobile applications and a digital visitor experience that will become an integrated part of the hospitality offering.”

Would you rank internet access that high on your top amenities list? Let us know! To download a copy of the Resonance Report 2013, visit www.resonancereport.com. And click here to see the original article from Luxury Travel Magazine!

Whole Foods…Hotels?

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 10.08.38 AMWhole Foods. We all know and love the brand—we do at the McConnell office, at least. When the first store opened in 1980 in Austin, Texas, “it took the grocery world by storm, cultivating a culture of health-conscious eating,” HotelManagement.net writer David Eisen said. And now, according to reports, the brand is looking to bring that same feeling to hotels!

Eisen reported that Whole Foods is planning to open what it calls a health resort in or near downtown Austin, right near the company’s headquarters.

John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods, told USA Today that the company has the “perfect vehicle” for their new getaway. “Think of it as a center where people would go for a day, a weekend or a week for healthy lifestyle education.”

USA Today says that the health resort idea came from an in-house program to improve the eating and lifestyle habits of Whole Foods’ employees—focused on weight loss and reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol. Mackey said, “I’ve seen it improve the lives of our team members.”

Brand expert Robert Passikoff says that the health resort could possibly pay off in their favor in a major way. He told USA Today, “…to move from natural foods to natural spa works. Whole Foods is really a category unto itself.”

Whole Foods is currently negotiating on real estate and is seeking a hotel brand to operate their resort. They hope to have it open within the next three years.

Personally, we would love to stay at a Whole Foods-related resort. Would you? Comment and let us know.