Couldn’t Get to IHMRS? Read Sunday’s Highlights

For those who couldn’t make it to New York’s Javits Center for this year’s International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show, Coyle offers blog recaps today and tomorrow, plus live twitter coverage each day.  Look for our expanded blog posts  on specific IHRMS seminars later this week, as well as a roundup of the top innovative products presented by show exhibitors.

Among the seminars presented at Sunday’s International Hotel, Motel & Restuarant Show were two panel discussions exploring the use of social media by restaurants and hotels.  Marketers warned operators of the perils and benefits involved in this emerging marketing platform. Social networking is not about pushing a slick message or logo, they said, but about developing a conversation, and a connection with guests.

  • In “So Everybody’s On Facebook & Linked In – Now What?”, Stephanie Faison, president of New Jersey-based Restaurant PR, warned restaurateurs not to use twitter for self-aggrandizement.  “It’s not all about you,” said Faison. “Talk to your audience.  Give them something of value and interest.  Social media is a tool for engagement.”
  • Said Brian Simpson, director of digital media for Vikram Chatwal Hotels, in the panel discussion, “From Clicks to Checked Bags”: “If you don’t have the time to invest in social media, it’s better not to do it.” Simpson said engagement is key, and if you can’t monitor, track and respond to social media messages, it may damage your brand more than help it.  And don’t shy away from negative comments. “Negative stuff happens,” said Simpson, “but it’s the indifference to it on social media that damages companies.”
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to learn about competitors through tracking what guests say about them on social media sites.
  • Don’t syndicate content across all social media channels. Your facebook and twitter audiences use these sites differently, so engage them in different ways.
  • Measure performance.  “Everyone should be watching and tracking analytics,” said Krista Parry, director of marketing and communications for Park City Mountain Resort and a panelist on “From Clicks to Packed Bags” panel.  You need to know what’s working and what’s not.
  • It was standing room only at the afternoon session “What the Hotel Industry Needs to Know About Bedbugs.”  The heavy traffic in evidence at exhibitor booths that focused on solutions to this issue also indicated a healthy concern among industry operators.
  • Outbound travel from China grew five-fold over the past 10 years, said Kevin Murphy, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Hospitality Committee during his presentation “China Travelers: Are You Ready?”  China generated 47.5 million outbound travelers in 2009; 525,000  of them traveled to the U.S., which is number 8 on the list of top 10 destinations for Chinese travelers.
  • Gastropubs may be the F&B solution for many mid-sized hotels, said Ned Barker, president of Grill Ventures Consulting, and a panelist on “F&B Reinvented.” For one, it meets the needs of today’s traveler for bar-centric, beer-centric, casual options with upmarket, eclectic food choices. For another, it can be a cost-effective way to use the lounge/bar space in many properties.
  • Hotel F&B Magazine’s top trends for 2011, presented during the “F&B Reinvented” panel include: Offering clients enhanced value in banquets and catering; local libations and regional beverage programs;  profitable concepts generated through customer feedback; the “greening of F&B”; and driving sales through lobby F&B.

For more trends and a full report on these seminars, see Coyle’s upcoming blog posts this week.

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