Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From bankruptcy to thriving boutique hotel

When Lee Goossens purchased Wickwoods Country Club, Hotel & Spa in 2010 it was bankrupt and empty. It is now an idyllic weekend getaway for fitness enthusiasts, walkers and tennis players – and the hotel is also attracting both corporate and wedding guests. A new article in Hotel Business Review by Simon Hudson focuses on the advantages and the challenges facing boutique hotels in a market dominated by big brands – and highlights the interesting history of this unique English boutique hotel, showing how Goossens, with shrewd business acumen, an innovative investment plan, and a $2million renovation, has turned things around by responding to trends and focusing on quality and top-notch customer service. Read the full article at:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Teaching, working, exploring: Dr. David Cárdenas is keeping busy in Aruba

Dr. Cardenas facilitating an evening session with industry leaders in Aruba
Dr.  Cárdenas is spending two months in Aruba as part a student/teacher international  exchange collaborative between the University of South Carolina and the University of Aruba. This great opportunity allows Dr.  Cárdenas to share his expertise with young and promising hospitality students. Dr.  Cárdenas teaches class every day from 9am-4pm, Monday through Friday. Classes are going well. The students are working hard and currently working with four companies on the island, helping them improve their tourism product and hopefully making their products more sustainable. This week,  Dr.  Cárdenas began evening seminar sessions with the tourism industry and began collecting industry data on knowledge, trust and power for a research project.  He is also helping one student with her thesis  focused on  the importance-performance of the road signage on the island. While his schedule is extremely rigorous, he still has time to engage in outdoor activities such as snorkeling, swimming, biking, and cheering on the gamecocks!

Upcoming Publications

In the of world of ‘publish or perish’ it is always nice to be able to announce upcoming publications, and I have three coming out soon that are particularly important to me for different reasons. Firstly, I have just had a paper accepted in Tourism Management, one of our top journals. The paper examines the influence of social media on customer relationships at music festivals. I am particularly proud of this paper, as it was co-authored with my son Rupert, a recent graduate of the Moore School of Business, who is now working in the music industry in New York. In addition, the paper will serve as a tribute to Tom Madden (former Moore School of Business Professor of Marketing), another co-author on the paper, who sadly passed away a few months ago.

A second paper of mine that will be published shortly in Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research is a called ‘A Portrait to Brent Ritchie’. Brent was my Chair at the University of Calgary, and is undoubtedly one of tourism’s most eminent scholars. He retired this year, and so to be asked to write a portrait of Brent for a journal was a real honor, and is a small way of saying thank you to the best mentor a tourism academic could ever have. Brent has had a huge influence on my career.

Finally, I have just started writing a new book on the ski industry, nearly 15 year after publishing my first book on the subject called Snow Business. The industry has changed significantly in the last few decades: technology has had a huge impact on the sport and how it is enjoyed and marketed; demographic shifts have severely affected the customer profile; and climate change is impacting hills all over the world. Such dramatic changes require a fresh look at this exciting and dynamic industry, and I am really looking forward to working on this project over the next 12 months or so. The book, to be co-authored by my wife Louise, will be published by Goodfellow Publishers at the end of 2015.


Monday, September 8, 2014

‘Preying’ for tourists in the southeast? Not this year.

I was visiting Sea Island Resort in Georgia this weekend, where it has been a bumper summer for this classy resort that boasts four Forbes Five-Star experiences: The Cloister at Sea Island; The Lodge at Sea Island Golf Club; The Spa at Sea Island; and the Georgian Room restaurant. Service is really slick here, due in part to the charismatic leadership skills of James Gibson, a fellow Brit, and Director of Operations. Attention to detail is applied to every service encounter and even raptors are employed to enhance the dining experience for guests. Staff can often be seen (see picture above) walking around with a bird of prey on a gloved fist, the bird’s presence being a natural, and non-lethal means of disrupting the aggressive behavior of blackbirds who can be a nuisance while guest enjoy dining outside.

But Sea Island is not the only destination to enjoy record numbers of guests this year. Tourism has been buoyant elsewhere in the southeast, with hotel occupancy and average room rates up on last year in most resorts and hotels. A recovering economy and low gas prices have contributed to this increase, but of course we do offer excellent value for money and guaranteed sunshine! If you would like to hear more about tourism in this part of the world (from my point of view anyway), click on the Podcast link below:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The World Tourism Cities: Market and Cooperation

Dr. Fang Meng: World Tourism Summit in Beijing, China
Dr. Fang Meng, is among one of distinguished guests participating in the 2014 World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Beijing Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit being held in Beijing, China from September 4th and 5th, 2014. The focus of the summit is to promote cooperation between tourism cities and tourism operators around the world. These experts will exchange views and explore  challenges and opportunities for global tourism in the future. Dr. Meng is among one of the top leaders in this global tourism group and on the forefront of new and innovative ideas for the future of tourism!