Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Helping Owners Strike a Fair Deal: 5 Milestones Marking The Road To Success For Hotel Management Agreements

by Jim Butler and Robert Braun

In order to consummate any substantial business transaction, there are inevitably some “challenges” to overcome. Hotel management agreements are no exception: in part because of their complexity, and in part because hotel management agreements typically transfer effective control over valuable assets for several decades, and their terms can easily enhance — or diminish — the value of hotel by a staggering amount. We have often seen hotel values depressed by 50% or more from what the hotel would have been worth without the encumbrance of an onerous, long-term management agreement. In representing owners negotiating hundreds (or possibly thousands) of hotel management agreements over the past 15 years, the Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP has compiled a comprehensive list of many milestones that mark the road to successful negotiation of a hotel management agreements. As in all journeys with high stakes, advance preparation including mapping out the most advantageous route and hiring guides that know the terrain, is critical to success. In this instance, before you ever get to the negotiating table.

This is especially true for those new to the hospitality industry. Recently, many sophisticated developers and investors have identified the rich potential that hotels offer — particularly in hotel mixed-use projects — and they are bringing new vitality to the marketplace. While not new to real estate development, these players are new to the norms, customs, practices and business considerations of hotels. The intertwining of single purpose real estate with an operating business presents unique issues and opportunities — opportunities that we have seen the uninitiated leave on the table, simply because they were none the wiser. Developers and owners new to the hotel arena can avoid an expensive and painful learning curve by retaining experienced advisors that know the value of each component in the management agreement from both sides.

Here are our top five pre-negotiation milestones for helping owners achieve success and strike a fair deal on a hotel management agreement:

1. Get the “right brand” for your project

Every project is unique, and all appropriate brands, identities and market positionings should be considered — along with the appropriate operators who will enhance project value. The right operator to optimize value may not the branded management company that puts it name on your hotel. And it is important to note that in the past few years, we have seen the emergence of new “lifestyle brands” that can add great value to a project — “brands” that are not owned by traditional hotel companies and which many pundits fail to recognize for the value they can bring. Some of the new lifestyle brands are sponsored by the traditional hotel companies such as Aloft by Starwood, and Indigo by InterContinental, but there are some very exciting new entrants such as the Valencia Group with their Santana Row and San Antonio Riverwalk projects or Miraval with their Miraval Living and Miraval Resorts. And they provide some interesting alternatives to other great lifestyle or boutique hotels such as the Kimpton Group, Joie de Vivre or Morgans.

Selecting the best brand and operator requires a careful business and legal analysis of the owner’s needs, goals and resources — particularly for a hotel mixed-use project where the hotel is often the spark plug for the synergies of mixing uses. That’s why we like to bring our knowledge and resources to the owner’s team before the brand and operator candidates are even identified. We can help identify the right players, scope out areas of strength and weakness, and help our owner or developer client articulate and prioritize goals to be accomplished in a Request For Proposal (RFP) or a carefully-orchestrated interview process. This kind of preparation can enable an owner to better gauge the strengths and weaknesses of each potential brand, find the optimal terms that the brands and operators are willing to extend, and facilitate an informed decision and a smooth negotiation with reasonable expectations on all sides.

2. Look for common perspectives

Sometimes, we are brought in late on the hotel management agreement process — after the initial candidate consideration and selection and perhaps into the Letter of Intent or LOI stage. When this happens, we too often find that “the table has not been properly set.” As deal terms and drafts begin to exchange, it can appear that owners and operators are contemplating two different projects … because they are! The owner comes to the negotiating table with one set of financial projections and program elements, while the operator has its own. Set side by side, they would seem to describe different projects — different concepts for the hotel’s target market segment and customers, its sources of revenues, costs of construction and maintenance, integration of the hotel with other project elements, and even the project’s financial viability. If the owner believes the project is highly profitable and the operator does not, the natural (and reasonable) result will be for the operator to try to protect itself by demanding higher fees and incentives, which will create a chasm between the owner and the operator. If the operator believes that the project requires substantial amenities and the owner does not — or if they cannot agree on how hotel mixed-use project elements will be integrated — it is more likely that the owner and the operator will be unable to agree on key issues, such as the total cost of the project and owner's required investment. (Remember that selecting the "right” operator, based on objective data, makes a “meeting of the minds” more probable.) The operator and owner must agree as to what the project will look like and what will drive its success.

3. Address the “challenges” early

During negotiations, it may often make sense to defer certain tough issues for later resolution so that all the areas where agreement can be reached are understood, and the importance of the areas that require compromise are clear. However, there comes a time when the parties have to discuss “the elephant in the room that they have been ignoring.” Talking about the elephant sooner, and more directly, may allow both sides to create global resolutions. And of course there may be situations where owners and operators will not fully resolve certain issues, either intentionally or unintentionally. While it's true that parties cannot be expected to resolve each and every issue that might come up during the term of a management agreement — that would require the ability to predict the future — failing to address known issues can be an “expensive” way to reach “agreement” because it leaves potentially messy disputes for the future.

4. Know what’s “market” and how it fits your goals

While both owners and operators usually seek to negotiate agreements with "market" terms, every hotel property is unique. And, there is really is no simple metric or checklist of market terms. There are ranges of what are considered “market” terms for particular types of properties or projects and specific brands or operators. For example, the terms for branding or operating a 2,000-room convention hotel are quite different than a 200-room full service urban hotel or a 120-room extended stay. And “market” is also defined by the competition for a particular set of brands or operators, which will vary depending on how desirable a specific hotel project is, and how important that location or property may be for the strategic and business needs of a brand or operator (e.g. to fill in a critical “hole” in its distribution system, maintain a presence in a key market, etc.)

These factors make it very valuable for an owner to have an experienced team who may know better what market is than the brand or operator — and will at least know what the operator has done in 6 recent deals and what their 3 closest competitors are likely to offer on a sticky economic or business point. There are also a lot of trade offs that make up a “market” package. In other words, it is a little like going to a smorgasbord buffet with $100 worth of tickets, and you have to know the price of each item if you are going to get the meal you want. If you spend all your money on the caviar and dessert, you won't have any left for the main dish or the beverage. All items on the buffet are not of equal cost or value.

So, while there are some commonly accepted ranges for business and legal parameters for hotel management agreements, an owner needs to recognize that they can be broad and owners may need to be flexible to accomplish their goals in a particular situation.

5. Bring the right team to the table

Negotiations don't occur between companies; they transpire between the people representing those companies — and it is essential to have a team with the comprehensive set of experience and skills to negotiate and document a successful hotel management agreement. Hotel management companies usually have a strong bench of experienced lawyers, dealmakers, financial experts and others who understand fully their goals and needs, because they are actually in the business of sourcing and negotiating management contracts and franchise agreements. Owners typically have not experienced the frequency or volume of hotel management agreement negotiations that operators have, and should retain experienced lawyers and advisors in order to level the playing field. But more than just arming oneself in negotiations, retaining experienced professionals will make the negotiations more productive for both sides.

Owners will want to draw on professionals who have had direct experience with the operator, as well as broad-based experience in the industry. A hotel lawyer and consultant who knows what a particular operator has done in other deals as well as what that operator's competition has done (and is likely to do again) is able to bring great value to the owner’s side of the discussions.

Finally, it is essential that owners understand the critical importance of their own active participation in the hotel management agreement negotiations. While it may be expedient to leave the discussions to the professionals (and there are certainly portions of the discussions which can and should be handled by attorneys or consultants), there are always a lot of issues that will ultimately be won or lost by the passion and conviction of the owner. “I am just not going to do that,” goes a long way toward convincing the operator that an specific issue is too important to be compromised.

That is one of the reasons that we spend so much time with owners — particularly first time hotel owners and developers — to help them understand the real practical significance of management agreement provisions. It isn’t rocket science, but it is understanding the business implications of hotel management agreement terms on the owner’s goals and plans, and seeing what should be accomplishable that makes a difference.

Preparation to successfully negotiate a hotel management agreement starts early. It starts before you ever identify potential candidates and way before you ever start talking terms. The roadmap you establish — along with the practical experience of the professional team members you line up to structure and guide the process — can make a substantial difference in the outcome and long-term success of your entire project.


Golden Tulip Hospitality Celebrates the Official Opening of its First Newly-built Hotel in Hamburg

The Official Opening reception took place on Thursday March 1st at the Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation. With over 300 business partners, colleagues and special guests, Mr. Hans Kennedie, President & C.E.O. of Golden Tulip welcomed all the attendees and thanked all the business partners and staff involved in the hotel development.

Further speeches were delivered by: Mr. Bonz, Staatsrat for Economic Affairs of the City of Hamburg, Mr. Frank H. Albrecht, Chairman of Supervisory Board of AVW and Mr. Ulrich Krehan, Vice President Site Management Hamburg of Airbus Industries, all addressing the importance of the arrival of this hotel for the trade and business of Hamburg.

A symbolic key handover ceremony took place in which Mr. Albrecht handed over the keys of the hotel to Mr. Kees van Maaswaal, C.O.O. of Golden Tulip and Mr. Jan Patrick Kreuger, Hotel Manager of Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation.
Through this celebration Golden Tulip celebrated the opening of three unique brands that together form the Golden Tulip Hotel formula:

· Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation
· BRANCHE Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
· Let's Meet Again

Hans Kennedie, President & C.E.O. of Golden Tulip Hospitality, states: “it is with great excitement that we celebrated the official opening of this newly built hotel. Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation is symbolic for our company, to launch and operate all new concepts we developed over the past 24 months. The hotel is equipped with 170 ultra-modern facilities, a state of the art conference centre, called: “Let’s meet again” and a full BRANCHE Restaurant, Bar & Lounge."

Golden Tulip currently franchises and operates over 17 hotels with over 2000 rooms in Germany in prime locations among others Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich and Hamburg.

About Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation
The Golden Tulip Hamburg Aviation is located directly at the river Elbe in Hamburgs district Finkenwerder. The hotel is easily to reach via the motorway A7 or via public transport. The hotel has a most famous neighbor: Airbus Work Hamburg with its brand new Airbus A380 and highly interesting plant-tours.

The hotel is best equipped and offers 170 comfortable guestrooms. The hotel rooms are furnished in modern style and offer at least 24 square meters in area and offer an unforgettable view of the river Elbe. The hotel also provides 5 apartments with kitchenette as well as rooms with connecting doors for our long-staying guests. Five conference rooms are available - most of them are connectable in different sizes. All conference rooms have daylight and are equipped with state-of-the-art conference technology. Recreational area is at the guest disposal on the highest floor with the latest fitness-equipment, sauna and solarium. The surrounding area "Altes Land" Europs biggest fruit-growing area needs to be experienced by bike. Cities like Stade, Buxtehude of Jork are worth to visit and doubtless an unforgettable experience.

About the Golden Tulip Hospitality Group
Golden Tulip Hospitality Group, with its head offices in Amersfoort, The Netherlands and Lausanne, Switzerland, is a worldwide hospitality company with more than 630 hotels, 58.000 rooms in more than 49 countries. The Golden Tulip Hospitality Group franchises and manages hotels in Europe, the Middle East & Africa, the Asian Pacific Region and the Americas. In 2006, Hotels Magazine has ranked this company the 18th largest hotel chain.

As a multi-brand hospitality firm, the Golden Tulip Hospitality Group offers services in the two, three, four and five star categories. On the two-star side Golden Tulip has an alliance with the French B&B hotel chain. The three-star concept is the Tulip Inn for the limited-service first-class category, the four-star category falls under the Golden Tulip brand for the Superior First-Class business and Resort hotels and the recently introduced five-star concept Royal Tulip. In addition Golden Tulip offers its services through its commercial alliance with TOP International, a German based hotel consortium.


Price of gasoline related to future of the industry

What's the price of gasoline have to do with the future of the lodging industry? Some pretty interesting research tells us more than you might think!

In a recent posting on HotelLawBlog, I talked about the intimate relationship between the U.S. economy and the lodging industry. You may recall that cited studies of the past 30 years show that for more than 24 years there was a remarkable statistical correlation of 1.2 between U.S. Real GDP and the demand for hotel room nights at hotel in the United States.

That means that if the U.S. economy grew by 1%, then lodging demand (i.e. demand for hotel room nights) grew by 1.2%. And although the correlation is a little lower now (around .7), there is still a very strong correlation between the Real GDP and the lodging industry.. (For more details see, As goes the economy, so goes the hospitality industry — the ineluctable elasticity of demand!)

I was quite surprised by the number of HotelLawBlog.com readers who sent me emails commenting on that recent blog. It is always nice to know that so many of you actually read these postings. But several of you wondered out loud — or commented — that you thought the cost of petroleum or perhaps some other items might also have a strong correlation with the lodging industry.

As to the impact of petroleum prices, there is a strong correlation. As to other factors, there appears to be little or no correlation. So the price of gasoline actually does have a lot to do with the future of the lodging industry. How much impact? Let's take a look.

Correlations of economic factors with the hospitality industry

My expert for all these matters is Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D., principal and practice leader with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I regard Bjorn as an industry friend and colleague, and he was kind enough to share his graphics with me.

If you missed it, you really should see the prior posting on the "elasticity" of demand between the U.S. Real GDP and the lodging industry. (As goes the economy, so goes the hospitality industry — the ineluctable elasticity of demand!)
But today we want to go a bit further.

PwC notes that when gas prices were at $.98 per gallon, and other consumer price segments stayed stable, lodging demand decreased. So gas prices did not affect lodging.

However, in recent times, PwC has calculated that when real gasoline prices increase by 10 percent, lodging demand declines by 0.41 percent.

Translating this into real terms . . . If real gasoline prices had stayed at December 2005 levels through September 2006, U.S. lodging demand would have been higher by 12,000 occupied rooms, or 0.3 occupancy points

The following charts illustrate the significance of gasoline prices on lodging demand and the fact that virtually no other consumer segment had any seeming correlation with the lodging segment. In other words, other than changes in the supply of hotel rooms, or changes in the real GDP, gasoline prices may be the next most significant indicator of changes in the lodging industry’s fortunes.


So, it would seem that the practical answer to the original question poed, is that — at least today — gasoline prices have a significant impact on lodging industy demand, and have to be seriously considered in evaluating the future of the industry.

In the next few days, I will be reporting on the developments at the industry's leading hotel development conference — The Hotel Developers Conference™, in Rancho Mirage, California on March 7-8, 2007, where all of the industry leaders will be.

Walk in registration is available if you haven’t signed up yet. Stay tuned for the reports!

Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $40 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at jbutler@jmbm.com or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers andSo, it would seem that the practical answer to the original question poed, is that — at least today — gasoline prices have a significant impact on lodging industy demand, and have to be seriously considered in evaluating the future of the industry.

In the next few days, I will be reporting on the developments at the industry's leading hotel development conference — The Hotel Developers Conference™, in Rancho Mirage, California on March 7-8, 2007, where all of the industry leaders will be.

Walk in registration is available if you haven’t signed up yet. Stay tuned for the reports!

Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $40 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,000 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at jbutler@jmbm.com or 310.201.3526.

Jim Butler is one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.

Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers andlenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $40 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 1,000 properties located around the globe.

Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them. They are a major gateway of hotel finance, facilitating the flow of capital with their legal skill, hospitality industry knowledge and ability to find the right “fit” for all parts of the capital stack. Because they are part of the very fabric of the hotel industry, they are able to help clients identify key business goals, assemble the right team, strategize the approach to optimize value and then get the deal done.

Jim is frequently quoted as an expert on hotel issues by national and industry publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and Hotel Business. A frequent author and speaker, Jim’s books, articles and many expert panel presentations cover topics reflecting his practice, including hotel and hotel-mixed use investment and development, negotiating, re-negotiating or terminating hotel management agreements, acquisition and sale of hospitality properties, hotel finance, complex joint venture and entity structure matters, workouts, as well as many operating and strategic issues.

Jim Butler is a Founding Partner of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP and he is Chairman of the firm’s Global Hospitality Group®. If you would like to discuss any hospitality or condo hotel matters, Jim would like to hear from you. Contact him at jbutler@jmbm.com or 310.201.3526. For his views on current industry issues, visit www.HotelLawBlog.com.


Hospitality eBusiness Strategies to Present at Economy & Budget Hotels World 2007

Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS), a leading Internet marketing consulting firm for the hospitality industry, today announced the firm will present an Internet Marketing Workshop: “Economy Hotel Branding Strategies Online” at the Economy & Budget Hotels World 2007 Conference, May 22-24 at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel in London.

Max Starkov, HeBS’ Chief eBusiness Strategist and Jason Price, HeBS’ Executive Vice President will present a two-part workshop, focusing on building brand equity online in the economy hotel sector and the importance of brand awareness on the Web for increased direct bookings and increased competitiveness.

Some of the topics in the workshop include:

- The effect of the Internet on economy hotel brands and their customers
- Building brand awareness online
- Building emotional connections with customers
- Building positive customer perceptions of the economy hotel brand ethics
- Best practices in growing the brand online
- Defining a corporate and franchisee friendly branding strategy

- Building local brand value at the franchisee/property level:
o Local Brand Ambassadors program
o Build local customer relationships
- De-commoditization of the economy hotel product
- Value vs. Price Equation and brand building
- Methods to structure the budget and maintain control
- Tactics on putting the marketing budget to work
- Case studies

According to Starkov, “In 2006, all hotel brands including economy and budget brands far exceeded their own expectations in hotel bookings via the brand website. These brand website bookings are at the lowest cost point and highest ADRs, and branding online is essential and well within reach by large and smaller hotel brands and independents. This is especially important for the economy and budget hotel market because it is a particularly competitive, dynamic and a robust segment of the hospitality industry. Our goal at Economy & Budget Hotels World 2007 is to describe brand building best practices with a hands-on approach. We will describe the strategies and principles of online distribution and marketing methodologies and explore resources for building a strong connection with customers."

Building a robust online presence and brand equity within the framework of direct-to-consumer online distribution and creating interactive relationships with clients presents substantial opportunities to hoteliers. Developing brand equity can forestall price erosion, strengthen the brand for long term economic health, increase ROIs, and enable direct communication with a loyal customer base to promote the property and its services. As a result, hoteliers are increasingly committing resources to creating pro-active strategies that combine best Internet marketing practices with a comprehensive online brand building strategy and an aggressive direct web presence.

Commented Jennifer Pettinger, Economy and Budget Hotel World Project Manager, “The continued growth and success of this conference demonstrates the strength of the sector and the importance of maintaining a flow of current marketing, financial and business information. The conference brings together senior level managers from the major hotel brands, franchises and financial institutions across Europe, North America and Asia. Our ongoing strategy for this program is to ensure the conference provides an exchange of practical strategies and ideas that directly impact fundamental business concerns. Internet marketing is a critical component of that mix.”

About HeBS
Headquartered in New York City, Hospitality eBusiness Strategies (HeBS) is the industry’s leading Internet marketing strategy consulting firm for the hospitality vertical. HeBS has pioneered many of the "best practices" in hotel Internet marketing and direct online distribution. The firm specializes in helping hoteliers build their direct Internet marketing and distribution strategy, boost the hotel Internet marketing presence, establish interactive relationships with their customers, and significantly increase direct online bookings and ADRs. A diverse client portfolio of over 350 top tier major hotel brands, multinational hospitality corporations, hotel management and representation companies, franchisees and independents, resorts, casinos and CVBs worldwide has sought and successfully taken advantage of the firm hospitality Internet marketing expertise.

About Economy & Budget Hotels World
Organized by Terrapinn Ltd, a leading global business-to-business media company, delegates will have the chance to hear from over 35 top-level speakers representing operators, brands, franchises, financial and other related businesses from diverse geographies countries. A pre-conference half-day interactive workshop hosted by Hospitality eBusiness Strategies is designed to help organizations understand the importance of building their brand and build strategies for optimizing their online distribution and internet marketing in ways that contribute to building brand equity.


A Hot Career in Honolulu: Hospitality Management

It's no surprise that tourism is Hawaii's biggest industry. Over 650,000 people visited the island in December 2006, according to Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. As the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu receives thousands of tourists every day who want comfortable hotels and delicious restaurants with friendly and reliable staff. If the thought of living in this sun-filled, Polynesian paradise tempts you, consider studying hospitality management at one of Honolulu's accredited schools.

AAS in Hospitality Management
To succeed in hospitality management, you need great people skills and a knack for problem solving. An AAS in hospitality management will provide you with professional preparation for a hospitality career and develop your customer service and leadership skills. Coursework typically includes subjects such as:

* Customer service
* Computer technology and software
* Management

By studying hospitality management in Honolulu, you'll have exposure to Hawaii's robust travel industry. You'll gain a competitive advantage as you develop the necessary skills for many jobs in the tourism and travel industry. You might qualify for jobs such as:

* Dining room supervisor
* Banquet manager
* Management trainee
* Food service director

Honolulu has much to offer visitors and tourists alike. On weekends, you'll be able to relax as you study on the beach or take advantage of the many recreational activities available in the city, including opera, theater, nightclubs, or shopping. You can also visit the natural wonders of the island--its rain forests, mountains, and beaches.

With so many things to do in this thriving tourist town, you'll never be bored and likely never exhaust all of your career opportunities, especially with the credibility you'll gain with an AAS in hospitality management.

About the Author
Eneida P. Alcalde works in Washington, DC and has written several grants, educational manuals, and promotional material for development organizations. Eneida holds a B.A. in international politics and Spanish from The Pennsylvania State University.


Hospitality Training Schools

Hospitality Management Schools provide fulfillment for those who have dreamed of owning their own hotel or managing a restaurant in a hotel or other food service establishment.

Hospitality management schools give training and prepare students for careers in services link catering management, food and beverage management, hospitality management (communication and organization) and restaurant management.

Hotel and motel management schools generally cover the basics of degree programs in the hospitality industry, which includes restaurant management, beverage management, and commercial cooking, as well as accounting, finance, and business law regarding food service businesses.

Although hospitality management and restaurant management are both different terms but are both equally important for customer service and hence can go hand in hand for better customer service and customer satisfaction.

Some bachelor degree programs in hospitality management are also designed for students who looking for opportunities to advance their careers in hospitality fields.

Master level hospitality management may include areas of entrepreneurship, marketing management, information systems, operations management, and investment. Hospitality management positions may be found in large and small hotels, motels, and restaurants.

Now days an online certification or degree courses for Hospitality Management are also available. So now students can also study hospitality management without loosing current job. Best of all, online Hospitality Management courses require no educational prerequisites or experience to enroll. After completing the Associate degree in Hotel Management (AHM) course successfully, graduates can work with any large or small company around the world in an entry-level management post with hotels, motels, and restaurants.

A Bachelor of Hotel Management degree (BHM) can be ideal for those seeking advancement in their already established careers in hotel management. And a Master of Hotel and Motel Management degree (MHM), offers specialization in marketing, entrepreneurship, operations management, information systems management, and real estate and investment.


There Is No Such Thing As A “free Lunch” how To Optomize Your Advertising Dollars | By J. Ragsdale Hendrie

An Advertising Executive with a significant Destination area Newspaper declared recently, “Business is soft, and I do not think our advertisers would be interested in any new products to enhance their business”. Well, this is of course bunk, because this is exactly when you need to differentiate your business and apply marketing clout. She forgot that business is all about competition and the means to share with the Consumer our distinction and attract their business. Tight times, flush times – it does not matter. We need to get the message out to our potential Guests and Visitors and get them in our doors.

Some smart saloon keeper figured this out years ago. Come on in and have some bread, sausage, and pickled eggs on the house. Want a beer (or two) with that pal? That has translated into the “Happy Hour” and marginal hors d’oeuvres. Gaming emporiums love to pour drinks, gratis, for now you are relaxed, tend to lose track of time, and everyone is festive. Lodgings started with Enjoy our Pool, moved to Free HBO, Kids Free, complimentary breakfast, water beds and blue movies. Other Retail operations jumped on the wagon, from the Barker promoting the Bearded Lady, to the sleaze, trumpeting Naked Coeds, to the Billboard announcing the Sale of the Day. Take a peak, take a swim, take a chance, but by all means enter our establishment! It still works, but we can do better!

The essential expectations from the Customer perspective are straight forward. They want to know that the Product is good, that the Service is reasonable, that they will be safe in a clean establishment, where what they pay represents value. The Hospitality operator wants to engage that customer, respond positively to their expectations, gain their loyalty and market that success, thereby increasing traffic, and, of course, revenue.

The above formula is just like a see-saw. Hospitality operators aim for that equilibrium, but frequently the balance board is askew, based either upon poor delivery or expectations not met. The variables affecting delivery are numerous: condition of the Guest Room, food quality and presentation, standards of service, ambiance - the realities of operating our businesses run to head and heart ache. Every day has an imperfection, regarding product, service or facility. Our customers understand this; there is no perfection in any industry. But, it is the Experience we wish to tell people about, the distinction we usually represent, and specifically the performance expectation they should anticipate. The Consumer is eager to know.

Sadly, there are limited means to successfully project this message to our Customers - the Distinction of our establishment. They are bombarded by data, pummeled by sensory images, and numbed by incessant messages.

It is easier to retain existing customers rather than recruit new ones. Those loyal "fans" must be courted, made to feel special, and recognized for their "good taste" and support all the time - they are our "bread and butter", the very foundation for any success we enjoy. Yet, the business must grow! What avenues do we have to promote what our current "fans" already know? Hospitality operators are, how can I say this nicely, penurious. Even with such a sensory product and environment we represent, we will settle for the quickest most inexpensive marketing turn. The psychology of our attention is wrapped around the idea of “build and they will come” not even at the level of that Saloon keeper. But, although the Advertising Budget may be meager, there are a number of ways to create the “Buzz”, broadcast your distinction, and deliver the Experience.

Testimonials are a prime means to "pass the word" and gain prominence. This works by "word of mouth", referrals, and, more and more through the Internet. The power of a statement by a satisfied Customer is extraordinary, but even these Patron Reviews can be uneven, sometimes even "stacked". For the potential customer, though, they do provide a means to gather information and appreciate the "flavor" of a lodging or restaurant, through the senses and descriptive words of someone who has "lived" the Guest Experience. Visitors new to the area rely upon these sources, whether portals such as Expedia, Hotel.com, We8There, guidebooks like Zagat, or unofficial Bulletin Boards on the Internet. Otherwise, they may depend upon hotel concierges, business associates, or friends. Hmm, I like what they say.

Your local Newspaper is an extraordinary resource. They are all moving towards electronic rendering of the news, products and services, and in many markets their Web Site gets huge traffic, more “hits” than any localized Hospitality site, such as a CVB or even Chamber. They actively pursue unique programs and events through special inserts and Weekend Guides in print, in addition to having vast potential with Hospitality portals on their web sites, driving business to your door. But, you still need to be distinct to gain my business.

Marketing Associations also can be effective. They establish some bona fides, but typically, only informational: a brief description of the Business, type, amenities, menu, price and the like. They do not describe the Experience, and sadly, promote the “cream” as well as the “whey”. There are other means as well, such as a "Phantom Gourmet" local program, write-ups/local reviews in the newspaper and underground news, State and City Lodging and Restaurant Associations and service guides, and area Attraction magazines. In many cases you pay for that coverage - advertising dollars perhaps spent well. Your potential customer may review these sources, but they are hardly definitive. But, my interest has been piqued.

Then, there are Rating/Assessment companies, either serving as consumer advocates and setting the "taste and style" landscape, such as Michelin or sometimes Mobil, and, others, similar to AAA, which may review your establishment, but they are more interested in you signing up for their many services and programs. There are other companies you can retain for an Assessment; they benchmark your performance as to Hospitality Standards and provide recommendations for Continuous Improvement. All of these can be invaluable, depending upon the level of expertise and professionalism of their review team; however you have no control over the outcome of their evaluation. But, the Consumer does pay attention to ratings and Seals of Approval. I am feeling more secure, though.

Lastly, a Hospitality Business should present their own story, describe the uniqueness of their establishment and passionately relate to the potential customer why they should visit, stay, dine, recreate and enjoy the Experience through their own Web Site. This is the opportunity to market directly your Distinction! The site must relate to all the senses, where the “flavors” and Experience Mosaic speak through the eyes. Wow, fish jumping at dusk, a signature chef, WiFi in the bathroom!

The ideal means for successful promotion of a Hospitality Business should embrace four facets: testimonials from satisfied patrons; the advantages of a media company, which provides vast exposure; an operations review by a professional, objective third party, certifying a certain level of performance; and a spectacular Web Site presence. You can influence the outcomes with Management and a Team, who believe in their product and the highest level of service. Harnessing the promotional power of Customer Reviews, and Quality Assurance Certification and proper media usage provides confidence and reliability for your Customer, which makes that “Booking” Decision easy. You establish Distinction, traffic increases, and revenues flow!


Monday, March 19, 2007

"The Readers' Question from April'03 were

1. Do you believe Kyiv and Ukraine could support a significant resort and hospitality industry? Why?

2. What would you suggest? resorts? golf courses (hereto unknown); skiing; riverside developments in Kyiv and other river cities; sports; camping facilities; backpacking trails; marinas; festivals (music, historical, etc.); etc.

3. Other thoughts?

Responses to the question from April follow:

Ukraine and Kyiv in particular COULD support a significant hospitality industry IF, and only if, Ukrainian officials could make some substantial changes in the bureaucratic systems. Particularly bothersome are the Visas and high Visa fees. The concept of making 1 million times $20 rather than 100,000 at $100 still has not sunk in. Likewise the Customs and Immigration procedures at the airports and places of entry are overly burdensome. (They exude an aura of paranoia and totalitarianism). Ukraine certainly has a lot to offer and it is still perceived as an "exotic" destination which would attract many tourists. The industry (hospitality) itself needs a big make-over - better prices, better service, and better accommodations. The government should TOTALLY get out of trying to run the hospitality industry and leave it strictly to the professionals. Meanwhile, there is a big need for recreational facilities, particularly (my passion and life's work) golf resorts. Many hotel operators have indicated to me that if golf was available in Kyiv, the tourists and business travelers would extend their stay by at least 3-4 days. This is very substantial.

However other recreational facilities beg to be developed in Ukraine. Specifically: water parks and theme parks. I'm very surprised this has not happened yet considering how Ukrainians love to spend time and money on their children. This is an industry that would prove to be fantastic. Ukraine also has many other resort possibilities: SPA's in the Carpathians, Eco-tourism in almost every region, Summer resorts on the Black and Azov seas, fantastic Crimea, historical site such as the 7000 year old Trypilska culture and the various Greek ruins in southern Ukraine. Still, the biggest setback to the development of Ukraine's vast hospitality potential is the stagnation brought on by the unrelenting bureaucracy and their desire to make a few quick bucks rather than let the industry make millions.

Walter Prochorenko

Kyiv and Ukraine have the natural resources to support tourism; The Crimea, The Carpathians, The Dnipro River, The Black and Azov Seas to start with, then there is also; the architecture in many of the cities, the art and the performing arts.

However for this to develop there has to be a considerable change in the mindset, both collective and individual, of Ukrainians. Tourism to be successful requires a high standard of service which, with some exceptions, is absent in Ukraine. There also needs to be a change in the bureaucratic and self interest mentality that is strangling development in this country in tourism and many other fields.

And finally there needs to be a move away from the get rich quick, get rich now and not worry about the future because we will have made our fortune now and it is only the others who will suffer mentality that prevails in Ukraine. Tourism like agriculture, the other potential main stay of the economy that is also under performing, requires a rolling up of the sleeves and putting in a lot of hard work to reap the rewards over a long and sustained period of time in the future.

As to what, it better not be a golf course as that is why I left Kyiv!!!

Here is my curmudgeonly response to your EQOTM:

Kyiv and Ukraine truly have a great treasure trove of historical landmarks, natural beauty, and potential tourist sites that could host a significant hospitality industry. However, like many other sectors of this country potential means almost nothing when contrasted with the realities of this part of the world. There are a lot of wonderful aspects to the country and being here and living here has its own unique challenges, but for the tourism here to break out the niche market (historical buffs wanting to see famous locations, Slavic literature specialists who want to visit more of the famous poet Shevchenko's past, etc.), and attract the mainstream business some drastic changes would have to be made.

1) Ukraine would have to become user friendly. This means that the customs service would have to change out its carnivorous self and into some entity that promotes people visiting here rather than discouraging it. Probably the most disgusting episode of several was watching a customs officer telling a visiting American missionary that the bibles, cassettes, and other items he was to give away here at Ukrainian churches were worth more than a certain amount of Euros and he would have to pay duty on them. Another aspect that encourages tourism is the ability for the tourists to purchase goods at bargain prices, not at 25% higher than the highest price anywhere in Europe. Again, the customs duty makes sure that this place is uncompetitive.

2) Foreigners would have to be treated as people who are guests and accorded some level of hospitality and respect. Many people here treat foreigners in general - and Americans in particular - as some lower form of life. After all, none us could be as clever, educated and cultured as any Ukrainian. If we were civilised our fast food places would serve some revolting and indigestible low-grade kolbasa and shashlik that could not pass a health inspection in any modern nation instead of having been responsible for the creation of McDonald's. And it takes a crafty and shrewd businessman to know how to promise to deliver something next week and then still have produced nothing six months later. Only an American would think such people are babbling, disorganised buffoons.

3) Most places in the world that are super successful in the tourism area recognise that in order to encourage tourism you have to keep the criminals away from the tourists as much as possible. Tourists are commodities to be protected in places that have seen their hospitality industry boom, but here tourists are looked at as bags of money to be ripped off. Sure, you can find other places in the world where a trinket worth six cents goes for 20 dollars, but it is limited to selected locations. Everyone in this city has some scam going on - many of them laughably unbelievable. If you want to go a country where there is a con man on every corner there are plenty of other places that are more interesting and do not have the other problems of Kyiv.

So, when all this changes let me know and I will be glad to come in as an investor on that B&B you are planning.
Reuben Johnson


Ukraine and the "Hospitality" Business

The Ukrainian Observer's cover cartoon this month seems partially right to me. Tourism is on pretty shaky ground in the country.
The bus in the picture too, seems full, but is that really the case?

The country has just hosted a seemingly successful Eurovision. There were a lot of people that showed up to celebrate the event in Kyiv. I suppose a lot of those folks were from outside Ukraine. They were Europeans or others that were able to enter the country relatively hassle free due to the temporary easing of visa restrictions. Presumably many not only enjoyed the festivities, sights and sounds of Khreshchatyk but also visited its parks, museums and ancient churches, as well as the city's many other historic places. Indeed, Kyiv is both historic and beautiful - it can also be exciting.

But as a whole, what is the status of what has become known as the "Hospitality Industry" in this country?

The hospitality business is big business these days most everywhere. It's my fairly educated guess that in the country I come from, the United States, there is not one of its fifty states that does not have a governmental department with a fairly substantially budget to promote the grand adventures a visitor can obtain just by visiting that fair state. It seems I recall that there is hardly a state line, border if you will, that doesn't welcome visitors with a sign that says, "Welcome to Mississippi" (or Florida, Texas, etc.). As one passes the sign almost invariably there is a Welcome Center. The Welcome Center has a staff, exhibits, brochures and all manner of materials designed to entice the visitor to visit particular areas of that state. The object is to get those people who have come to that state (i.e. crossed their border) to stay somewhere, go somewhere, or do something to spend their money.

Ah, spend money. Why? Because it creates jobs. It benefits the state's economy. Makes their individual citizens more prosperous.

Now Mississippi or South Dakota may not have has much to offer as say California or Florida, for example, but all the states have reasonably large budgets for promoting all the benefits their state can offer. And surprisingly, maybe to some, the per capita spending by these individual states may not differ too much. And this is true in spite of the fact that Florida has many more places to visit, from DisneyWorld to its many beaches. Also, Florida has a better overall climate and thus longer season than most states. And Florida has a fairly wealthier per capita than many states. Yet all the states devote a lot of time, money and effort to promotion.

And again, why? Well, in addition to creating jobs and wealthier citizens and helping the state's budget, it does so fairly painlessly from an overall budgetary standpoint. One gets more "bang for the buck", so to speak, for the budget dollar spent on promoting the hospitality business than almost any other. The executives, the governors who run these states and their statehouse constituents and citizens know this.

My example has been the United States only for convenience of reference. It should be the world. For the executives, the presidents, the prime ministers who run most of the counties of the world are in on this gig too. Thus, for just one small example, I notice some great, beautiful advertising on my TV at home extolling the beaches and wonders of Croatia. Croatia? Yes, small, tiny little Croatia. Almost next door. But I've noticed that Turkey and Bulgaria too are in on this. Damn near everyone in fact... everywhere.

Which brings us to Ukraine.

Yes, Ukraine has a department set up for this. But it must be a very small budget. Also, somebody hasn't gotten the word out that we need to be welcoming people at the border. Okay, so we let a few people in for Eurovision. Why just till September?

Why does Ukraine want to keep people out? Are we afraid somebody is going to come here to steal something? Take away all our manufacturing jobs? Anyway, just who is it that has been banging on the door to rush in?
Most of the world does know that this thing called the "Hospitality Industry" is big business and it is worthwhile.

I submit two points I believe valid. First, Ukraine has a lot to offer visitors. From the Black Sea beaches to the Carpathian Mountains. From the many rivers to its historic cities. Kyiv alone. There is much, so much that I will not go on. An inventory of what Ukraine has to promote would be impressive.

My second valid point is that, contrary to what some might say, Ukraine doesn't have to spend a lot of money on infrastructure before it gets big time into the hospitality biz. It might be nice, however, if we could build a few nicer hotels, some better skiing digs, a few marinas, a golf course or two...heck a Six Flags Over..., or something like it, etc. But it's not necessary, and Ukraine's budget can't afford those things. Besides government would screw them up since those are the things private business does. This isn't a "build it and they will come" kind of deal. It's more a "invite the people in, and then the infrastructure will be added" deal. It will be by natural process... a profit motive. As an example I note that as automobiles have become affordable to more prosperous Ukrainians that we've now begun to see the beginnings of the development of restaurants and a few hotels along the highways of Ukraine.

What else to do? Well, I can sum up another big thing in one word. What? Hospitality. The word that now defines the industry. This involves education and a change in attitude. In order to be hospitable one has to provide... Service... with a capital S.

I ask that one compare the service and attitude at the beaches of Turkey or Bulgaria to the service and attitude one finds in Crimea. I think that may effectively demonstrate the problem. A huge change in attitude needs be made.

The subject of this article is one I've wanted to write on for some time. This is partly because I care very much for this country. I've visited and enjoyed most all parts of it. It's also partly due to a background in business that frequently has involved the hospitality business, primarily beach and mountain resort developments. Also, I spent a lot of time in two U.S. states that heavily promote the hospitality business, Georgia and Florida.

To sum things up.

Ukraine needs to create a hospitality industry in order to create jobs and add income to the budget. Ukraine cannot be said to have entered the hospitality business to date.

Ukraine then needs to aggressively promote that industry. It will not take a lot of money, at least comparatively and particular in relation to economic benefit.

Ukraine needs to employ some professional, trained and high-level people for this process to effectively begin. The job can't be handed to someone without extensive experience in the industry...and the people can't be professional politicians or friends or associates of same.


Downtown hospitality business gains on marketing efforts and weak dollar.

The hotel business in downtown Los Angeles has staged a strong comeback from the alarmingly low occupancy levels following the terrorist attacks of three years ago, far outpacing the region-wide rebound.

The occupancy rate at downtown hotels through the first nine months of the year averaged 59.9 percent, an 11-point increase from the year-earlier period. That 49.1 percent level for January-September 2003 was the lowest for the period on record, according to data from PKF Consulting, though it was still higher than the low-water mark: December 2002, which saw occupancy at 35.4 percent.

Countywide, occupancy during the first nine months of this year was 75.8 percent, 6.4 points higher than the year earlier.

A general rebound in the travel business, fed by a weakening dollar and a falloff in fears over terrorism and SARS, has had a positive effect

in all markets. But downtown hoteliers have built on those gains to outpace the rest of the region.

Their efforts range from taking advantage of the area's burgeoning cultural and residential renaissance to making more effective use of third-party reservation systems such as Hotels.com that reach more potential customers. This year's increase in convention activity, though expected to be short-lived, also played a role.

"Group convention business this year was 35 percent better than the previous year," said John Stoddard, general manager of the 900room Wilshire Grand Hotel. "That's not bookings for conventions at the Convention Center, but small conferences that just use our facility. This year through October, we had 34,000 room-nights, versus last year when we had 26,000. Until downtown gets a big convention center hotel, that's the business we're going to be going after next year."
Another positive sign: the gains have not come at the expense of room rates. Across the county, average rates in the first three quarters were $119.98, 5 percent higher than the like period a year earlier. Downtown's rate increased a more modest 3.6 percent, to $121.33 per night.

"Downtown hotel management has figured out how to better market to leisure and business travelers," said Wayne Williams, president of hotel asset management firm Williams & Associates. "There are shifting distribution channels. It's a combination of desperation and learning to use those tools. The Westside markets really don't rely as heavily on third-party Internet providers such as Hotels.com."

Downtown has the largest number of rooms in the region, and despite the gains it remains the sub-market with the most vacancies. That is unlikely to change for some time.
Inching back

More than any other submarket in the region, the fortunes of downtown hotels are tied to the success of the Convention Center, which in 2005 will host fewer conventions than it had this year.

There were actually fewer conventions held in L.A. this year, but the recovering economy boosted discretionary travel spend-lug, meaning more delegates were able to attend. The 15 conventions this year yielded 226,000 room nights, while the 16 last year generated 135,000 room nights.

"Next year, we're looking at 13 conventions. It's only two less, it doesn't sound bad. But the current room blocks reserved for next year are only 84,000. It's very discouraging," Stoddard said.
Supporters of a new convention center hotel point to the declining numbers as another reason to speed development, arguing the presence of another 1,000 beds next to the center would attract large conventions.

"We've done well to get to this point," said Bruce Baltin, a senior vice president at PKF Consulting. "But we still need a convention headquarters hotel to get over the hump, to get back to the approximately 70 percent occupancy level."

The "hump" is the 69.5 percent average occupancy downtown in 2000, a high-water mark reached with the help of the Democratic National Convention.

That year, revenue per available room reached a high of $85.77, about 9.8 percent higher than in 1999. Revenue per available room, calculated by dividing revenue from occupied rooms by a hotel's total stock, hit $59.43 downtown last year, a record low. This year
it is expected to rise to $74.19.

Absent the new convention center hotel, which optimistically won't be delivered until late 2007, the downtown market will have to rely on homegrown attractions and a wider economic recovery to maintain growth.

"Downtown has historically lost hotel business to other parts of L.A. because there was nothing to do at night," Baltin said. "Business travelers go to downtown because that's where the business was. In the past, they'd come to do business downtown but stay in hotels on the Westside or Pasadena."

Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group, a hotel brokerage and consulting firm, said various factors are lessening the importance of conventions. "You now have a changing, younger demographic downtown. If L.A. can capitalize on that and make it more of a destination, and if the Grand Avenue (revitalization) project and the Staples Center development all happen, then it looks very good for downtown hotels," he said.
The biggest factor in increasing occupancy and room rates may be the falling dollar, which has pumped up tourism by making international travel to the U.S. cheaper for Europeans and Japanese business travelers and tourists. Last week, the exchange rate fell to record lows against the Euro and the British pound.

"Especially with the absence of SARS, and other international crises, travel is coming back, the exchange rate has boosted travel and hotel occupancy," said Michael Collins, executive vice president of LA Inc., the convention and visitors bureau. "If you're British, it's fiscally irresponsible for you not to round up your family and go on a trip to the U.S. immediately."


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hotel Brokerage

Hotel Brokerage like any other firms, engages in buying and selling stocks for clients. It may also fall under Real Estate Industry, Marketing, Commercial, Hospitality and such.

Most firms provide investment opportunities for those interested in investing in lodging real estates that meet your specifications. Some has buyer representation services that are designed to assist in locating and acquiring suitable properties for investment. They have teams of highly experienced professionals that handle the full spectrum of hospitality real estate, from limited service to high profile properties, including urban, suburban and resort hotels. They handle distinct products such as conference centers, extended-stay hotels, condominium hotels, vacation ownership/fractional properties, and golf courses. They offer their clients immediate access to one of the world's largest hospitality practices dedicated to the hospitality industry. They help their clients to stay current with emerging trends in the global hospitality and tourism industry. They provide their clients with local, national and international access to hotel investment and financing opportunities and to strategic solutions designed to achieve optimum results.

One is a leader in Hotel Management Industry that aims to provide quality service, maintain ideal facilities, and revenues and expenses. They administer independent hotel sellers a customized detailed marketing program based on a thorough research on the property, a depth of market information, and ample marketing support commodities, aid assertive personal selling and thorough follow-up, conducts distinct property tours to qualified buyers, assists with debt and equity financing. Hotel brokerage helps buying and selling property simple and easy.

Hotel Brokerage International is the world’s largest and oldest hospitality real estate organization, which has a rich heritage of experience and expertise in hotel real estate valuation, transactions and other essential services.

Optimum Hotel Brokerage, a full service hotel brokerage firm, is dedicated in representing hotel owners to structured finance and sale transactions.

Brokerage of hotels comes with researching, consulting, strategic planning, analysis, management, evaluation, financing, and development. It also deals with property disposition, screening of buyers, evaluation of offers, contract negotiation, and coordination of closing details. Alliances with banks, mortgage banks, and insurance companies enable hotel brokers assist clients in locating the required financing in fulfilling their transactions.

In addition, hotel brokerage may mean hotel asset sales, real estate brokerage, hotel valuation, and land sales. Hotels are hybrid investment.

Hotel brokerage should include resources such as database of active buyers, industry relationships, knowledge of valuation, market knowledge, advertising channels, lenders, franchise representatives, lawyers, appraisers, and inspectors that do the necessary work to guide the buyer and seller through a successful transaction process.

Article Source: http://www.articles4free.com

My Favorite Russian Food

As Lynn Visson's "Wedded Strangers" states:

“If you have been lucky enough to be invited to a Russian household, you will experience the famous Russian hospitality. The feast is kind of a war between host and guests. There has to be at least six appetizers including salads, smoked fish, pate, deli meats, cheese, meat and potatoes, soup, and something sweet, usually cake.”

“Hosts and guests play the game of forcing more portions, refusing, more pushing, okay just a little.”

Elena Petrova states on her website:

“It's considered rude if you leave something on your plate when eating at a private house and you can offend the hosts. If you do not drink alcohol, at least take a glass and have a sip. You are supposed to try every dish on the table so make room in your stomach.”

My wife is an excellent cook. We eat more or less in the Russian style on a daily basis.

Russians do not eat a special meal for breakfast as they do in America. To Russians, all meals are the same. You eat what is leftover from the last meal, plus anything new that is cooked to round out the choice of food.

Russian meals typically start with soup. All soups are home made. The most famous Russian soup is borscht. This is a beet soup. Ukrainian style borscht is vegetarian. Belarusians add bits of meat to the borscht and Russian style borscht usually adds sausage instead of meat.

A spoonful of Russian mayonnaise is added to the soup for flavor. The American equivalent to Russian mayonnaise is sour cream. Russians use sour cream like Americans use butter – they put it on almost everything.

Potato soup. Cabbage soup. Another soup is pickle soup, made from dill pickles. It’s delicious. Summer soup, made also from beets, is called that because it is served cold during the hot weather. There are more types of soup than I can remember. All of them are home made and delicious.

One of my favorite soups is Silonka. It has bits of just about everything cut up in small pieces and fried individually prior to cooking in the soup. Don’t pass up a chance to try Silonka.

Beets, cabbage, and potatoes grow well in the short Russian growing season, which is why much of their cuisine revolves around them.

Probably half of all Russians have a dachau, or a plot of land in the country, where they grow food. The growing season is from May to September. Food comprises about half of the monthly budget of Russians, so raising vegetables and fruit helps to cut a substantial portion of monthly expenses.

This is very labor-intensive work, as most of them do not have any mechanized equipment or irrigation systems. Water must be brought by bucket from the stream to irrigate crops. They can fruits and vegetables for the winter season.

Pork is the most common meat, followed by chicken and fish. Beef is not commonly served. They make homemade sausage called kielbasa.

Besides soup, the main staple of the Russian is thick brown bread, called ‘hleb.’ If you are on a tight budget, you can survive on soup, pronounced ‘zoup’ and ‘cleb.’ It’s surprising how much they fill up your belly.

Draniki is a Belarusian favorite that is best described as a potato pancake with meat inside. Polish peroshkis are similar to Draniki. A dab of Russian mayonnaise is added on top.

Ploff is a dish from Central Asia. It is a spicy, rich dish, similar to Spanish rice. Frequently bits of chicken or lamb are added for flavor, plus a dab of the ubiquitous Russian mayonnaise.

Galipsi is a meat dish of ground meat and rice that is stuffed inside cabbage leaves. The meatball is first browned, wrapped in a cabbage leaf, and then boiled in a pot in a delicious sauce. You can guess what is put on top when served.

Polmeni is best described as a pasta dish with a special filling. Frequently, that filling is meat. However, cheese and fruit fillings are also used. They are usually served in a soup bowl with a special broth.

Russian salads are mixed salads like potato salad or macaroni salad, but come in much more variety. They do not serve leafs of lettuce with dressing on top as in America. A Russian would be insulted with such a serving, as if you did not want to put more effort into preparing the food.

Each salad usually has the ubiquitous Russian mayonnaise as a base ingredient plus other spices.

Usually there is a choice of two or three salads on the table. They put together combinations that seem unusual to an American. For example, there is meat salad and fish salad that is mixed together with vegetables.

Russians love fish, especially smoked fish. You have obviously heard of caviar, which are roe eggs from sturgeon. Caviar is relatively cheap in Russia and is a good choice of a gift to bring back home. They serve roe eggs from a variety of fish.

Russians like strong, thick Russian beer with their smoked fish.

When you bring a Russian woman to America, one of the best things you can do for her is to find a Russian store selling the delicacies that she loves. Whether you like Russian food or not, she will be homesick for food from her homeland.

I live one hour south of San Jose and two hours south of San Francisco. Frequently, we make pilgrimages to these cities to load up on Russian delicacies.

If there are no Russian stores near you, you can frequently buy goods through catalog sales from Russian stores in New York or places where there is a large Russian population. Where there are Russians, there is Russian food.

If you are adaptable, it is best to learn to like what your wife cooks. She is cooking to please you. If you really like something, let her know. If not, let her know that as well.

Personally, I have learned to like Russian style cooking. I don’t want to do anything to discourage my wife from cooking for me. She is an excellent cook.

I know some American men, who are married to Russian women, that don’t like Russian food. They are pretty rigid in their food choices. Pizza. American salads. Hamburgers or barbecued steaks.

Their wives don’t cook for them nearly as much as my wife cooks for me. I eat like a king. Learn from our experiences.

Russians typically put small plates on the table, rather than large ones that Americans are used to. You are supposed to take a small portion of everything.

Leave lots of room in your stomach. Stop before you are full. Your hosts will insist that you eat at least one more serving of everything.

My mother in law stuffs me like a pig. If I don’t eat enough to feed a longshoreman, she gets insulted and complains that I don’t like her cooking.

I gain five to ten pounds every time I visit.

Article Source: http://www.articles4free.com

John has been married to a Russian women for over five years. He has travelled the path from finding her, to traveling to Russia, to bring his wife to America, and adjusting to married life. He will show you step by step how to do this yourself. Leave lots of room in your stomach. Stop before you are full. Your hosts will insist that you eat at least one more serving of everything. www.russian-luv.com/food.html

Sightseeing in Istanbul

For all those traveling to Istanbul, either on holiday or for business purposes, there are many accommodation opportunities available in this city. Any Istanbul hotel offers a wide range of hospitality services. Among the hotels in Istanbul, Hotel Troya provides its lodgers with a variety of services, including rooms with private bathrooms, central heating and air-conditioning or broadband Internet connection, including wireless. This Istanbul hotel has its own restaurant-bar where breakfast can be served every morning, before you set out on your sightseeing of Istanbul.

When choosing the Istanbul hotel you want to check in at, you should take into consideration your purpose for traveling to Istanbul. If you are a tourist in Istanbul, you will certainly want to visit the city, so you should choose an Istanbul hotel situated in a convenient location to have easy access to all the tourist sites you’d like to visit while in Istanbul. This major city of Turkey is a favored destination for a large number of tourists who are particularly keen on visiting the historical part of the city with its fascinating vestiges. Of particular interest are the mosques of the city as well as its picturesque bazaars where tourists can buy souvenirs for their friends or family back home.

Istanbul is an odd mixture of old and new, which most of its visitors find fascinating. This feature of Istanbul is in a way justified by its geographical position: situated on the Bosphorus Strait, the city is considered to belong both to Europe and Asia. Tourists who visit the city for the first time are usually interested in finding out relevant information about its history before deciding which sites to visit. Every Istanbul hotel normally offers its visitors a guide to the city which includes both descriptive and statistical data as well as tips as to which landmarks are worth seeing.

Those interested in both old and contemporary art will find inexhaustible resources in Istanbul. They can visit not only art galleries and museums, but also places of worship and representative buildings, with an architecture that combines the Eastern tradition with more modern elements. This touch of the local flavor is in fact present all over the city of Istanbul. The architecture of any Istanbul hotel (be it old or new) includes elements meant to catch the eye and to give tourists a feel of the place before they have actually visited it. Such an Istanbul hotel offers its lodgers not only comfort, but also an atmosphere to remember.

Another major attraction in Istanbul is the Golden Horn harbor at the Marmara Sea, a spectacular view for any tourist. If you check into an Istanbul hotel situated close to the beach, you will be able to enjoy the magnificent sunrises on the Marmara every morning, before setting out to tour the city. If you need special guidance for planning your visit in Istanbul, you can either resort to the services of a local tour guide or enquire about opportunities for sightseeing with the staff of the Istanbul hotel you are staying at.

Before you travel to Istanbul, you should consider booking a room in an Istanbul hotel in advance, to make sure you have no difficulties finding a suitable Istanbul hotel when you arrive. There are numerous travel agencies offering their services for those who want to travel to Turkey, so you can browse their websites and book online, once you have decided on the Istanbul hotel you’d like to stay at. When booking accommodation, you should bear in mind not only comfort, but also the location and price range of the Istanbul hotel you choose.

Most tourists who like to travel and choose Istanbul as their target - especially those on their first visit - prefer to stay at an Istanbul hotel located as close to the city center as possible. Such an option gives them easy access to all the areas they are interested in visiting, as well as the certainty of comfort. The central district of the city is where the most important tourist landmarks are located. It is also the location of Hotel Troya, so make sure you check out the availability of rooms and suites at this Istanbul hotel in advance of your journey to Istanbul.

Article Source: http://www.articles4free.com

Novelty for tourists is never an issue in Istanbul and nor is choosing an Istanbul hotel that can offer comfort in a specific for this part of the world, exotic manner. So, if this city answers all your requirements, why not visit?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Articles of Interest

I remind my clients, who are involved in the running of businesses, of the importance of complying with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
Fines imposed by the Courts for breaches of this legislation have steadily increased. It is quite clear that a failure to provide and implement adequate safety measures is a duty which has to be taken seriously by every employer.

"All Practicable Steps"

Every employer is required to take "all practicable steps" to ensure the safety of employees while at work, and in particular to provide and maintain a safe working environment;provide and maintain facilities for their safety and health of employees while at work;ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged designed, made and maintained so that it is safe to use;ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the use of things in the place of work, or near their place of work, and under the employer'' control;where there is a significant hazard to employees at work to take all practicable steps to eliminate it; and if there are no practicable steps that may be taken to eliminate it, or all practicable steps have been taken but it is not eliminated, then to take all practicable steps to isolate it from the employees.

Applies to Office Workers

It is important to remember that the Act applies to all employers, not just those running farms or factories or building sites. Therefore, it applies to employers of staff working in offices or at computers.

Following recent technological advances in office equipment there have been significant increases in the number of reported cases of Occupational Overuse Syndrome, particularly from people working on word processing and computing operations. There has been a determined effort by the Labour Department to ensure that the provisions of the Act are applied to persons working in offices and some prosecutions have taken place.

Occupational Overuse Syndrome, or Repetitive Strain Injury as it was called, is a serious complaint and one which can disable an employee for very long periods. As well as a risk of prosecution under the Health and Safety in Employment Act there is obviously a risk of premium loadings under the ACC legislation as well.

I would urge all employers who are employing office staff, particularlyl in word processing and computer operations, to seek the appropriate professional advice and guidance as to safe work practices and equipment which should be in place in their offices.

It may well be that in some cases older style desks, chairs and other equipment have to be changed in order to achieve compliance. I suggest that this will be a much cheaper alternative to the costs of a prosecution.


Limited Companies Using The Company Name

I frequently advise my clients who have their own businesses that for their protection they should form a limited company and run the business in the name of that limited company.
The principal reason for this advice is the limitation that is afforded against the liabilities of the business having to be met personally. The formation of a limited company with which to carry on a business is a well recognised practice and can give enormously valuable personal protection against unexpected claims or losses.

It may well be that the banker to the business will require a personal guarantee before a loan or overdraft is made available to the limited company. The landlords of the business premises may well require a personal guarantee before agreeing that they will accept a limited company as a tenant. However, if the trading of your business is carried on by and in the name of the limited company it is probable that, in the event of business failure, the ordinary creditors of that business will not be able to make claims against you personally.

Show the Company Name

If you have formed your business into a limited company then it is required by the Companies Act 1993 that the company's name is clearly stated in every written communication sent by or on behalf of the company and every document issued or signed by the company which creates any legal obligation on the company.

Clearly this must include all such things as your letterhead, invoices, estimates, cheques, etc. If the business is carried on using some name other than the official name of your limited company, you should ensure that the full company name appears on all your documentation in order to comply with this provision of the Companies Act.

Make it clear at every opportunity that your business is owned and operated by the limited company. If you commonly use a vehicle for business purposes, have the name of the company and the word "Limited painted on the vehicle as well as being sure that it appears on all your quotations and other business documents.

Personal Protection

This point becomes of particular importance if your business runs into financial difficulties. If a creditor thinks that there may be difficulties recovering a debt from your limited company that creditor will almost certainly consider whether the debt can be recovered from you personally. If, for instance, that creditor has received business order forms which make no reference to your trading as a limited company he may well be able to succeed in a claim against you personally and the advantages of you having a limited company will have been lost.

A case in point, decided about 5 years ago, involved the proprietor of a company which entered into a contract to give advice to a horticultural enterprise. The advice given involved the spraying of a crop. The advice turned out to be bad advice and the crop died. The Court of Appeal decided that the contract that had been made was clearly made by the horticultural enterprise with the limited company. Therefore, the proprietor of that company who had given the advice was not personally responsible for the losses that had been suffered by the horticultural enterprise.

I would be happy to discuss with you in more detail, in relation to your business or business proposal, the advantages of forming a company and the costs of setting it up.


Employees Holiday Rights and Holiday Pay

Recent Court of Appeal decisions affect an employee's rights to holidays and the way in which holiday pay can be made. I summarise the position below.
Every employee is entitled to a minimum of 3 weeks paid leave per year no matter whether the employee is part time or full time;

The right to take leave arises only when an employee has worked for the same employer for a period of one full year (unless varied by contract);

Holiday pay accures and any holiday not taken during the term of employment must be paid out in cash at the end of the employment (unless varied by the employment contract);

If an employee leaves the employment before the end of a full year's work a payment of holiday pay at the rate of 6% of total earnings must be paid at termination and cannot be set off against moneys owed by the employee without that employee's prior written consent;

For temporary and casual employees it is legal for employers to make an arrangement on the basis that the holiday pay is paid on a "pay as you go" basis rather than in a lump sum at the end of the employment. (This reverses a decision of the Employment Court which suggested that this practise was illegal);

Permanent and long term employees must still receive their holiday entitlements as actual paid holidays and not as regular payments at other times during the year;

Statutory holidays the amount to be paid for a statutory holiday which is taken on a day that would otherwise be a working day for that employee must be the same as the ordinary pay for an ordinary working day;

Rates of payment for holidays overtime bonuses and allowances such as productivity or incentive payments which are based on actual working results are not to be included as part of holiday pay;

Employment contracts may include a composite flat rate of pay that includes ordinary time rates, overtime rates and bonuses, and that then becomes the rate for calculating holiday pay.

Each employment contract must be looked at in order to determine how to treat the amount payable under it;

Other special rates and statutory holiday pay the Holidays Act does not allow the parties to contract for a lesser rate for the purposes of holiday pay.

Unless there is a contractual agreement to that effect an employee cannot be required to work on a statutory holiday.

The contractual provision to be enforceable must also provide for an alternative day off. If the alternative day off is not so specified then the employee can choose which day to take.

Holiday rights and the way holidays are to be paid can be a contentious and confusing issue. I would be happy to advise in any particular case.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Skilled Workers Needed By Auto Industry

An auto dealership job may put you on the road to a rewarding career-particularly if you're a veteran. Military veterans have the skills and work ethic needed for many careers.

A new study by Harris Interactive estimates there are more than 100,000 career jobs currently available at auto dealerships across the country. The report also found that auto dealers hired more than 15,000 veterans since January 2004.

The study shows that a significant number of opportunities exist in sales, service, administrative/ clerical and management positions. Regions of the U.S. experiencing the greatest employment needs include the South Atlantic with over 25,000 job openings, the Midwest with over 15,000 and the Pacific states with over 15,000 openings.

"The pool of recent military veterans includes technologically savvy, motivated workers whose skills and military training and certifications are easily adaptable to a variety of dealership positions," said Alan Starling, chairman of Auto Retailing Today.


A Variety of Rewarding Careers in the Food Service Industry

Employment growth in the food service industry will be spurred by increases in population, household income, and leisure time that will allow people to more often dine out and take vacations. In addition, the large number of two-income households will lead more families to opt for the convenience of dining out.

Chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers prepare, season, and cook a wide range of foods - from soups, snacks, and salads to entrees, side dishes, and desserts - in a variety of restaurants and other food services establishments. Chefs and cooks create recipes and prepare meals, while food preparation workers peel and cut vegetables, trim meat, prepare poultry, and perform other duties such as keeping work areas clean and monitoring temperatures of ovens and stovetops.

Chefs and head cooks also are responsible for directing the work of other kitchen workers, estimating food requirements, and ordering food supplies.

Executive chefs and head cooks coordinate the work of the kitchen staff and direct the preparation of meals. Chefs tend to be more highly skilled and better trained than cooks.

The specific responsibilities of most cooks are determined by a number of factors, including the type of restaurant in which they work.

Most fast-food or short-order cooks and food preparation workers require little education or training; most skills are learned on the job. Training generally starts with basic sanitation and workplace safety subjects and continues with instruction on food handling, preparation, and cooking procedures.

Large corporations in the food services and hospitality industries also offer paid internships and summer jobs to those just starting out in the field. Internships provide valuable experience and can lead to placement in more formal chef training programs.

Some chefs and cooks may start their training in high school or post-high school vocational programs. Others may receive formal training through independent cooking schools, professional culinary institutes, or 2 or 4 year college degree programs in hospitality or culinary arts. In addition, some large hotels and restaurants operate their own training and job-placement programs for chefs and cooks. People who have had courses in commercial food preparation may start in a cook or chef job without spending a lot of time in lower-skilled kitchen jobs.

Important characteristics for chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers include working well as part of a team, having a keen sense of taste and smell, and working efficiently to turn out meals rapidly. Personal cleanliness is essential because most States require health certificates indicating that workers are free from communicable diseases. Knowledge of a foreign language can be an asset because it may improve communication with other restaurant staff, vendors, and the restaurant's clientele.

Workers who perform tasks similar to those of chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers include food processing occupations, such as butchers and meat cutters, and bakers. Others who work closely with these workers include food service managers and food and beverage serving and related workers.

Waiters and waitresses, the largest group of these workers, take customers' orders, serve food and beverages, prepare itemized checks, and sometimes accept payment. In coffee shops serving routine, straightforward fare, such as salads, soups, and sandwiches, servers are expected to provide fast, efficient, and courteous service. In fine dining restaurants, where more complicated meals are prepared and often served over several courses, waiters and waitresses provide more formal service emphasizing personal, attentive treatment and a more leisurely pace.

Bartenders fill drink orders either taken directly from patrons at the bar or through waiters and waitresses who place drink orders for dining room customers. They prepare mixed drinks, serve bottled or draught beer, and pour wine or other beverages. Bartenders must know a wide range of drink recipes and be able to mix drinks accurately, quickly, and without waste. Bartenders should be friendly and enjoy talking with customers.

Hosts and hostesses welcome guests and maintain reservation or waiting lists. They may direct patrons to coatrooms, restrooms, or to a place to wait until their table is ready.

Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers assist waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by cleaning tables, removing dirty dishes, and keeping serving areas stocked with supplies.

Counter attendants take orders and serve food in cafeterias, coffee shops, and carryout eateries.

Food processing occupations include many different types of workers who process raw food products into the finished goods sold by grocers or wholesalers, restaurants, or institutional food services.

Butchers as well as meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers are employed at different stages in the process by which animal carcasses are converted into manageable pieces of meat, known as boxed meat, that are suitable for sale to wholesalers and retailers.

In animal slaughtering and processing plants, slaughterers and meatpackers slaughter cattle, hogs, goats, and sheep and cut the carcasses into large wholesale cuts, such as rounds, loins, ribs, and chucks, to facilitate the handling, distribution, and marketing of meat.

Bakers mix and bake ingredients in accordance with recipes to produce varying quantities of breads, pastries, and other baked goods.

Other food processing workers - such as food batchmakers; food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders; and food cooking machine operators and tenders - typically work in production areas that are specially designed for food preservation or processing.

With the extent of growth in the industry of food service, managers are going to be in high demand. Management positions in the food service industry are diverse. Succeeding in the industry takes drive, ambition, and the desire to please people as the food service industry is about customer service. It also requires a lot of energy, an outgoing personality, and the ability to be comfortable working with a variety of people from a variety of backgrounds. You also need to be a risk taker and have the ability to solve problems quickly.

The college degree gives the foundation on which to build the management career. And, if your course work included financial and management classes it's even better. Your degree will enable you to start as an assistant manager instead of an hourly employee.

Employers will be looking for evidence that you are interested in the field and understand its demands; experience is your evidence. Ideally, you've served an internship or apprenticeship for a food service employer, but summer and part-time jobs as a waiter, hostess, or cafeteria worker will also show employers that you understand the industry.

Article Source: http://www.articles2k.com

Opportunities in a Resort Management Career the Billion Dollar Tourism Industry

Tourism and commercial recreation is over an $800 billion industry in the United States. Globally, tourism accounts for approximately 12% of the Gross Domestic Product, employing 10% of the worldwide labor force. It is estimated that by the year 2020, more than half of all employed people in the world will be involved directly or indirectly with the tourism industry. In the United States, travel-related tourism is the first, second or third largest employer in 32 states.

Resort hotels and motels offer luxurious surroundings with a variety of recreational facilities, such as swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, game rooms, and health spas, as well as planned social activities and entertainment. Resorts typically are located in vacation destinations or near natural settings, such as mountains, the seashore, theme parks, or other attractions. As a result, the business of many resorts fluctuates with the season. Some resort hotels and motels provide additional convention and conference facilities to encourage customers to combine business with pleasure. During the off season, many of these establishments solicit conventions, sales meetings, and incentive tours to fill their otherwise empty rooms; some resorts even close for the off-season.

A hospitality management career is high-energy and social. You'll meet interesting people and work in some of the most beautiful places on earth - anywhere there is a need for resort or hotel management.

The skills and knowledge developed in this field of study are leadership, marketing, qualitative skills, research and evaluation, programming (recreation, leisure and meetings), planning and policy, legal aspects, and communications.

Most hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks receive orientation and training on the job. Orientation may include an explanation of the job duties and information about the establishment, such as the arrangement of sleeping rooms, availability of additional services, such as a business or fitness center, and location of guest facilities, such as ice and vending machines, restaurants and other nearby retail stores. New employees learn job tasks through on-the-job training under the guidance of a supervisor or an experienced desk clerk. They often receive additional training on interpersonal or customer service skills and on how to use the computerized reservation, room assignment, and billing systems and equipment. Desk clerks typically continue to receive instruction on new procedures and on company policies after their initial training ends.

Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks deal directly with the public, so a professional appearance and a pleasant personality are important. A clear speaking voice and fluency in English also are essential, because these employees talk directly with hotel guests and the public and frequently use the telephone or public-address systems. Good spelling and computer literacy are needed, because most of the work involves use of a computer. In addition, speaking a foreign language fluently is increasingly helpful, because of the growing international clientele of many properties.

Resort managers experience the pressures of coordinating a wide range of activities. At larger hotels, they also carry the burden of managing a large staff and finding a way to satisfy guest needs while maintaining positive attitudes and employee morale. Conventions and large groups of tourists may present unusual problems or require extended work hours.

The recreation department's major in tourism management prepares students to work in such diverse sectors of the travel and tourism industry as tour operations, resort management, convention management, meeting planning, and commercial recreation management. It includes courses in management of park and recreation facilities, tourism, tourism systems planning, resource tourism, convention management, meeting planning, marketing of leisure services, and the legal aspects of recreation and tourism. The program requires both field experience and a professional internship.

Careers Specific to the Bachelor's Degree are convention and visitors bureau management, convention services manager, special event coordinator, meeting/conference planner, tour operations management, on-site meeting manager, travel agent trainee, cruise hospitality, hotel management trainee, resort recreation management, tour coordinator, natural or cultural tour guide, and park manager.

With preparation in tourism management, individuals have skills related to management and leadership which would contribute to any type of position sought in the tourism industry. The tourism industry is within the top three industries of most countries in the world and provides numerous career opportunities at a variety of levels of service, production and management.

After finding employment, proving oneself capable and making contacts in the industry, a person finds that a wide variety of advanced career opportunities present themselves.

The Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management requires a minimum of 120 units for graduation. This interdisciplinary program prepares students for careers in the hospitality industry and includes basic core courses and an area of concentration. The areas of concentration are Commercial Recreation and Resort Management from the College of Health and Human Services; Hotel Management from the College of Business; and Restaurant and Institutional Foodservice Management from the College of Health and Human Services. The core curriculum is housed in the Department of Hospitality Management, College of Business.

The Concentration in Commercial Recreation and Resort Management prepares graduates to be entrepreneurs, managers, planners, and program supervisors in the commercial recreation, travel tourism, and resort management career areas. The goals are to assist students to acquire knowledge, skills, practical experience, and job placement in leisure and travel related businesses.

Students learn about the travel and tourism system, economic and social impacts of tourism, resort development and marketing, tourist motivations, special events management, theme parks, transportation used by travelers, ecotourism, incentive travel, tour company operations and sales, spas, conference and meeting planning, destination marketing, and cultural tourism.

The Concentration in Hotel Management prepares students to manage and operate hotels, motels, and other lodging business. Major management functions include various aspects of accounting and cost controls, sales and marketing, property management, and use of hospitality management information systems. Emphasis is placed on problem solving situations and case studies to support the didactic approach to instruction.

The Concentration in Restaurant and Institutional Foodservice Management prepares students for management positions in various branches of the food service industry. The goal is to develop restaurant and institutional foodservice managers who combine knowledge and skills in business, food production, and services in the foodservice industry.

Completion of the core and concentration courses provides students with theoretical knowledge for successful attainment of top-level management positions in the professions of hotel management, restaurant and institutional foodservice management, or commercial recreation and resort management. The curriculum combines strengths in management with technical skills and internship opportunities in each area.