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October 2006

Time for a Smile

These are from a website called Overheard in the Office. Perhaps one of the reasons you went into business for yourself?

Person 1: He said he had a stomach ache, so I gave him some Aflac—you know, Rolodex?
Person 2: Antacids? Rolaids?
Austin, TX

Techie, answering the phone: Hello this is Brenda…No, I wasn’t just speaking to someone on the phone…I’m positive; I work in IT so I rarely talk to anyone.
Woburn, MA

Co-worker: I spilled my milk this morning and my husband was like, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” He’s always saying funny things like that.
Carmel, IN

Boss: We never decided to postpone this issue. We just agreed that we would deal with other issues first.
Brouwersvliet, Belgium

Manager to himself: I am a ball of fire. I am a BALL OF FIRE.
Eugene, OR

Manager #1: So did you have a nice birthday party?
Manager #2: Not yet. My older brother’s birthday is two weeks after mine, so we always just have one big party that weekend.
Manager #1: Oh, wait, wouldn’t that make you the older brother?
Toledo, OH

Girl: Excuse me, do you carry tonic water?
Stock boy: Yeah, I think so. I mean, if we have it, it’s probably somewhere in the store.
Girl: Uh, thanks.
Memphis, TN

Guy: I put the tutu on, and that’s as far as I got.
Brooklyn, OH

Employee #1: Yeah, so PETA has helped me understand the cruelty animals are subjected to by humans.
Employee # 2: I’ve seen some of the videos. Heinous.
Employee #1: Like that shirt you’re wearing, it’s made of cotton, right? You shouldn’t be wearing it.
Employee # 2: Huh? Why not?
Employee #1: It really hurts the sheep when they are shorn.
Cape Cod, MA

Twenty-something new hire: Why is there a Harry Potter picture in our lobby?
Forty-something manager: Actually, that’s a painting of John Lennon.
Silicon Valley, CA

Maintenance tech #1: Animal Control is on the way to remove the dead skunk carcass. I’ll let you know when they get here.
Maintenance tech #2: Uh, go ahead and call them back and tell them not to come. We checked it out, and it’s a used banana peel.
Maintenance tech #1: Ten-four.
Plano, TX

Receptionist: Thank you for calling Widgets Inc. How may I help you?
Customer: I got a letter from my insurance company telling me to fill out a paper with my social security number on it and send it to you. Who are you?
Receptionist: We work with the government to help you with your appeal.
Customer: Oh, so you won’t be selling my social security number to anybody in Nigeria?
Receptionist: No, sir. Not today.
Rochester, NY

Customer: They’re three for $0.99.
Cashier: We don’t sell them at that price. They’re $0.33 each.
Henderson, NV

Customer: What’s this called?
Sales associate: A duvet cover.
Customer: No, no… what’s inside it?
Sales associate: A duvet.
Costa Mesa, CA

Boss: I don’t need to see everything before it goes out the door. Just send me a final, final, rough draft.
New York, NY

Something humorous you've overheard in the inn? Send anecdotes to sstiles@bedandbreakfast.com.

Travel Trends

Hotels are finally catching on: Westin Hotels recently prohibited smoking in all its 77 North American hotels. Even though the company’s research found that 92% of customers already requested nonsmoking rooms, hotel executives worried about the risk of potentially losing 8% of its customers.

More than eight months after the Starwood Hotels and Resorts brand enacted the rule, “it hasn’t seen much falloff -- in fact, it gained some business--by the move and has also saved money on room refurbishment. And now others are following suit. Since Westin’s Feb. 1 implementation, 40 individual U.S. hotels have banned smoking in rooms and public areas, while this month the entire 2,800-property Marriott chain went go smoke-free in the United States.”

The J.D. Power & Associates 2006 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released during the summer of 2006 found that 79% of hotel guests prefer a smoke-free environment that exceeds the boundaries of their rooms. Some 44.5 million people—15% of the U.S. population—still smoke.
 
No smoking in Europe: “As hotel brands in other parts of the world adopt smoke-free environments as their latest marketing strategy, a vast majority of European guests prefer a smoke-free hotel environment, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 European Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study SM released in October 2006.

“The study finds that nearly 70% of hotel guests in Europe prefer a smoke-free environment that exceeds the boundaries of their room, which is slightly less than hotel guests in North America (79%). The desire for a smoke-free environment ranges from 57% of guests who reside in Spain, to a high of 76% of guests who reside in Sweden and the United Kingdom.

“Among 37 possible amenities and services, complimentary breakfast is the single most important amenity for hotel guests in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. In the United Kingdom, complimentary breakfast follows the coffee/tea maker as the most important amenity. High-speed Internet access is also considered a “must have” for European hotel guests.

“The study also finds that nearly 50% of guests book their hotel reservations online-up from 34% in 2005. Independent websites--such Expedia and hotels.com--are continuously ceding market share to hotel brand websites, as hotel guests are twice as likely to book reservations through hotel brand website.
 
People read restaurant emails: According to the Harte-Hanks Postfuture Index of comparative e-mail metrics for January-June 2006, restaurants enjoyed the best open rates at 167.7% (open rates exceeding 100% occur by way of pass-alongs, and reopened e-mail) as well as the best click-through rates at 57.5%. Retail had the lowest open rate (35.3%), while the automotive sector had the lowest click-through rate (5.7%). The top five industries mentioned in the study (in order of descending click-through rates) are:

  • Restaurants (57.5%)
  • Publishing (55.6%)
  • Pharmaceutical (23.8%)
  • Travel and hospitality (23.4%)
  • Conference events (14.2%)

Among all sectors for all purposes of e-mail combined, the average delivered rate stands at 91.2% -- with an average open rate of 78.8% of those e-mail delivered, click-through rate of 18.4% of all e-mail delivered, and an opt-out rate of 0.4% of all e-mail delivered. E-mail sent to consumers received the higher click-through rates of 19.9% and open rates of 78.9%, while business-to-business e-mail had rates of 11.2% and 67.7%, respectively.
 
Spa trend:Spas are popping up in numerous big-city hotels. Business travelers, seeking relief from the stress of travel, love every minute of it. Hotels are taking out guest and meeting rooms and putting in spas, says Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. ‘If you don’t have one, you’re not competitive.’

“Staffed by fitness and yoga instructors and other trained personnel, the spas often contain whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and relaxation or treatment rooms. Services include massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, and yoga and exercise instruction.

“Susie Ellis, president of spa marketing company Spa Finder, says a regular massage is, ‘by far,’ the top-selling treatment at U.S. spas.”
 
Hotels spruce up bathrooms: “After spending billions revamping bedding, bars and lobbies, U.S. hotels are starting to tackle guest bathrooms.

“The bathroom upgrades come as hotels enjoy record rates and occupancy levels. In the past two years, rates jumped on average 11%,” says lodging consultant Bjorn Hanson of PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Spiffier bathrooms can justify or speed up rate increases. They also can distinguish a hotel from rivals and please guests accustomed to showcase bathrooms at home.”

“Many luxury hotels are making bathrooms bigger, replacing bathtubs with tiled, walk-in showers, adding body spray fixtures and providing double vanities. Less-expensive hotels are replacing man-made countertops with granite, installing curved shower rods and upgrading showerheads in existing bathtub showers.”
 
Hitting the spam button: Return Path recently surveyed more than 2,000 consumers to get information on email habits. One finding was that 37% report using the “This is spam” button to unsubscribe from e-mails they previously asked for.

Why? Return Path reports that nearly 31% don’t trust unsubscribe links. Many people indicate that they used unsubscribe links conditionally. If they trust the sender, they trust the unsubscribe link. Other respondents don’t believe the unsubscribe link will work, or that it won’t work quickly enough. The spam button is more efficient. Microsoft soon will include a trusted unsubscribe button for senders who maintain a good reputation.
 
A different kind of poverty: Time poverty is something many successful and affluent U.S. citizens complain about. Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell said: “Active Internet users report their work day in America has increased their length of work day by one hour. Cell phones have reduced weekends and have taken away Saturdays and night-outs. Work weeks in the United States average over 48 hours.”

Yesawich also said, “We have surpassed the Japanese work week since about four years ago. Unfortunately today, Americans work nine weeks more than the Germans, four more than the British; and spend the least number of days on vacation – only 13 days compared to the Italians who enjoy 42 days, French with 37, Germans with 35, British with 28 and Canadians with 26. Thus, 76% of U.S. citizens seek relief, with twice the adult population looking forward today to a spa vacation rather than a round of golf.”
 
Confidence is up: “According to BIGresearch’s September Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey (CIA), the impact of gas prices is down, confidence is up, and consumers are feeling better about increasing their spending this holiday season. 42% reported that they plan to spend about the same if not more than last year.

“People are also more willing to abandon their “sales-only” shopping habits this year, with 16% saying sales are not important compared to 13% in 2005. In 2005, 23% said they would buy only on sale. That number dropped significantly to 16% in 2006.”
 
Remember when…? A recent survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests that transformation is well underway in an industry that this year is spending $5 billion on upgrades.

“Of 9,300 U.S. hotels in the survey, 69% had upgraded their bedding in the last year; 72% were offering voice mail; 82% were offering wireless Internet; and virtually all were wired to offer cable or satellite television. Gone are the floral, synthetic bedspreads, the sanitizer bands around toilet seats, ashtrays and wake-up calls from real people.”

USA TODAY asked hoteliers, professors and travelers to recall amenities or services that have disappeared or are on the way out. Some that were mentioned:

  • Wake-up calls from an actual person
  • Vibrating beds
  • Brass room keys
  • Sanitizer bands around toilet seats
  • Postcards and stationery
  • Four-inch-thick foam mattresses
  • Windows that open
  • Logo towels
  • Wall-mounted hair dryers
  • Shoehorns

 
What vacationers want: “The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. recently commissioned Harris Interactive to perform a travel-related Futures Study identifying what attributes travelers seek when picking a vacation destination as well as what benefits they hope to receive from their vacation.

“The study revealed that the top things that people without children are looking for when planning a vacation are a destination that offers great value, a destination that is easy to explore and a destination that offers a wide variety of accommodations to meet the needs of various travel parties.

“The study also confirmed the top benefits travelers want to take home with them after their vacation: they want to feel happy when they return home, they want to feel less stress in their lives while feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, and they want to feel personally satisfied that it was a vacation well spent.”
 
Business travelers are loyal: “A recent TripAdvisor™ survey of more than 2,100 travelers from around the world reveals that 68% of travelers regularly stay at the same hotel chain when on business trips. Marriott was selected as the top hotel choice when traveling for work. Thirty-four percent of respondents plan to take one to three business trips this year, and nearly 10% will take 10 or more trips for work this year.

“The most appealing part of traveling for work, according to respondents, is seeing new places (35%). Favorite luxuries of business travel include luxury sheets and fancy bath products (34%) and having a room to themselves (22). The most important hotel feature when traveling on business is a hotel’s location and proximity to meetings or the airport (32%), followed closely by having a high-speed Internet connection (30%).”

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