Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hotels Getting Social to Compete With the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is having a disruptive influence on the lodging sector, with evidence that Airbnb's entry into some markets has had a quantifiable negative impact on local hotel revenues. Can hotels compete with this new phenomenon without compromising on price? I believe they can, and in a new article in Hotel Business Review, I have discussed how some hotels are beating the sharing economy at its own game by providing a more authentic, engaging, and social experience. The full article can be found at:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bumps for Boomers going from strength to strength

Six years ago I came to Aspen, Colorado and took part in a memorable ski program called Bumps for Boomers®. I was so inspired by the concept that I wrote a detailed case study for students called ‘Bumps for Boomers: Marketing Sport Tourism to the Aging Tourist’, and it has been used in our Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management classes ever since. So it was wonderful to come back to Aspen this year to find the program going from strength to strength. In fact, on my first night in Aspen, I ‘bumped’ in to Joe Nevin (on the right in the picture above), creator of the program, and was delighted to hear that Bumps for Boomers – with its tagline ‘Ski for Life’ - is now one of the most popular specialized instruction programs offered in Aspen, with skiers flying in from around the country – and the world, from the middle of December through March, to take part in the program. Throwing away all pre-conceived notions on how to teach off-piste skiing, Nevin makes older skiers feel safer in bumps and powder than on groomed slopes where 80% of skiers congregate and the chance of a collision is highest. When I wrote the case study, Nevin was ahead of his time, speaking knowledgeably on subjects such as search engine optimization, database management and anchor texting. And it seems all his efforts have come to fruition. If you would like a copy of the case study, send me an email ( or you can download the case study here.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Customer Service is Spot-On in Steamboat!

I am doing some research in Steamboat Colorado at the moment (yes, that is me above, hard at work), where it is no accident that everywhere you go, customer service is spot-on. That is because back in 2014, the town decided to train the whole community in customer service techniques. The innovative plan was hatched by management consultant, Ed Eppley in conjunction with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and also the Steamboat Ski and Resort Company (SSRC). Pivotal in planning and implementation were Jim Clark, Executive Director of the Chamber, and Rob Perlman, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing for SSRC.

Steamboat has long been known for its western, family-friendly atmosphere, so focusing on service isn’t new, according to Perlman. “The new part is how we approach service,” he says. According to Eppley, owner of Ohio-based company, ProspeX at the time, it was all about exceeding customers’ expectations. The idea of training the whole town as well as the ski resort was the brainchild of the Steamboat Chamber CEO and SSRC's COO, Chris Diamond, who was also on the Chamber Board of Directors. “They felt it was important that someone who comes to Steamboat have exceptional experiences, whether they were on the mountain or in the nearby town,” Eppley explains.

Eppley went on to custom design a pilot training program, initially involving four four-hour sessions over the space of a month, teaching the very latest in customer service culture and using many Disney examples of ‘going the extra mile’. His course included techniques such as the connection stack: finding common ground with customers and then using that more intimate relationship to gain their confidence and loyalty to the destination.  

And the result is excellent customer service everywhere you go in Steamboat!

You can read more about Steamboat’s service excellence program in my book Winter Sport Tourism