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Industry News - June 10th 2011



Marriott Facebook Game Aims to Attract Potential Employees

With as many as 50,000 jobs to fill worldwide by the end of the year, Marriott International, Inc. is tapping into the popularity of social media gaming to help generate interest in hospitality careers. At My Marriott Hotel on Facebook, gamers will first manage a “virtual” hotel restaurant kitchen before moving on to other areas of hotel operations. The game will be available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Mandarin.
My Marriott Hotel is similar in concept to the highly popular Farmville and Cityville games, which have grown to a combined 135 million monthly active users. Gamers can create their own restaurant, where they’ll buy equipment and ingredients on a budget, hire and train employees, and serve guests. They’ll earn points for happy customers and lose points for poor service. Ultimately, they’ll be rewarded when their operation turns a profit.
“As Marriott expands in growth markets outside the U.S., and as we seek to attract more Millennials – those between the ages 18 and 27 – to our workforce, we must find new ways to interest them in hospitality careers,” says David Rodriguez, executive vice president of global human resources, Marriott International. “This game allows us to showcase the world of opportunities and the growth potential attainable in hospitality careers, especially in cultures where the service industry might be less established or prestigious.”
Launched just a month ago, Marriott’s Jobs & Careers page on Facebook already has more than 12,000 active users and more than 270,000 page views. So far, most active users are from the United States, Egypt and India.


Hotels Cite Advantages of Upgrading to RFID Locks

The 910-room Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch and the Comfort Inn Shady Grove in Gaithersburg, Maryland have upgraded their door locking systems to the Saflok System 6000 RFID door locks. The properties, which previously utilized Saflok mag stripe solutions, cited the technological advantages of RFID locks, the system’s affordable price, and Saflok’s customer service as the basis for their decision.
“We have more than 900 locks and we chose Saflok’s RFID system because it was the best investment in current and ongoing technology,” says Rick Creviston, chief engineer for Hyatt Regency St. Louis. “We think RFID is the future.” He also cited the durability of Saflok RFID’s system. “RFID key readers are sealed and incur less wear because they do not pick up the dust from key use. Also, RFID keys have such a long service life and we’ve instituted a ‘green’ program to recycle keys and boost their return rate as guests check out.”
Additionally, RFID key codes are not subject to erasure by cell phones and magnets, which creates a major value in guest satisfaction. “Guests need a positive first impression. RFID keys always work, and guests like the way the new keys open their doors by just passing the key near the reader,” Creviston adds.
“Saflok is a good technology partner and their RFID offering is a very attractive system that impresses our corporate guests,” says Vira Safi, managing partner of Comfort Inn Shady Grove. Comfort Inn Shady Grove upgraded to Saflok RFID after using Saflok mag stripe keys for 14 years. “We created custom images of nearby Washington D.C. on our RFID keys which add to our cachet of being near the nation’s capital. It makes a difference in the look of my hotel and the impression it leaves with guests.”


Do Daily Online Deals Really Influence Restaurant Guests?

Technomic has found that online daily deals are attracting new and infrequent customers to participating restaurants. The Chicago-based food industry research firm also found that a high percentage of these customers claim they have returned to the restaurant without a daily deal and/or recommended it to family and friends. Furthermore, many write about their specific experience on social media sites such as Yelp and/or Facebook.
Key findings from Technomic's recently completed Online Daily Deals Report on restaurant goers' attitudes and usage of couponing sites include:
  • 48 percent of deal buyers used the coupon at a restaurant they have not yet visited, and 25 percent used it at a restaurant they have only visited once before.
  • 67 percent later returned to the restaurant without a daily deal.
  • 83 percent recommended the restaurant to family and/or friends.
  • 34 percent posted a review of the restaurant on a site such as Yelp or Zagat, and 25 percent wrote about the restaurant on their Facebook page.
"Consumers at all income levels appear to be very engaged in and satisfied with online daily restaurant deals," notes Bob Goldin, executive vice president. "They are subscribing to multiple services and purchasing multiple deals. The fact that 85 percent of consumers plan to continue to purchase online restaurant deals and 79 percent look forward to receiving them is a strong indication of the impact the online daily deal business is having and of its potential within the restaurant space."


Merchants Beat Bankers in Senate Debit Card Vote

Alan Fram of the Associated Press reports: Merchants triumphed over bankers in a battle for billions Wednesday as the Senate voted to let the Federal Reserve curb the fees that stores pay financial institutions when a customer swipes a debit card. It was murkier, however, whether the nation's consumers were winners or losers.
As a result of the roll call, the Fed will be allowed to issue final rules on July 21 trimming the average 44 cents that banks charge for each debit card transaction. That fee, typically 1 to 2 percent of each purchase, produces $16 billion in annual revenue for banks and credit card companies, the Fed estimates.
The central bank has proposed capping the so-called interchange fee at 12 cents, though the final plan could change slightly.
Victorious merchants said the lowered fees should let them drop prices, banks said they could be forced to boost charges for things like checking accounts to make up for lost earnings and each side challenged the other's claims. Consumer groups were not a united front, either: While the consumer group U.S. PIRG said consumers would benefit, the Consumer Federation of America took no formal stance but said it was concerned about what both industries might do.


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