Are You Overbooked?

I know I am, and I’m guessing you are, too.

But let’s suppose for a minute that we’re a hotel or restaurant that is filled to capacity.  Then the term ‘overbooked’ is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe not always.  At least that’s one chain of thought as presented in a book I’ve just finished reading titled, appropriately, “Overbooked – the Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism.”  Written by Elizabeth Becker, a former NY Times correspondent as well as a Senior Foreign Editor at NPR, the book puts forth a different vision of the industry that many – approximately one of every ten people around the world,  myself included – call home in terms of the job market.

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Orlando Tourism Continues to Move On

Well ‘it’ finally happened. Orlando, formerly known as both The City Beautiful and The Happiest Place on Earth was finally tested, and when I say tested I mean that in the worst possible scenario. While there’s no point or need to rehash what happened to OTown over the course of one crazy-sad mind blowing weekend full of shocking gun violence and a singular gator stunner, here in the Hospitality Hive we think what’s most important moving forward is exactly that.

Moving forward.

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Stop ‘Wine-ing’ – Drink More Beer!

And I know just the place to start doing that. Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill at the Rosen Centre Hotel is now hosting a series of beer-pairing dinners, Harry’s Brewmaster Series, that are both fun and incredibly educational, even after you’ve sipped and slurped and tasted your way through five complete meal courses and six exceptional beers. That’s right, I used the words ‘fun’ and ‘educational’ in the same sentence; but did you also notice that I’m talking about drinking beer? Kudos to the culinary braintrust at the Rosen Centre who concocted this unique event, which actually is an extension of their still very popular Vine and Dine at Rosen Centre which I’ve also written about here. Except that having attended one of each, I have to admit that the beer pairing seemed to hold the edge on the fun factor. Why? I don’t know, just trust me on this one. Maybe it was the combination of the more casual but chic, poolside location of Harry’s Bar & Grill. Maybe it was because when your first course is Steamed Pork Belly Buns and your last course is Beer Battered Granny Smith Apples (with a chocolate rum dipping sauce) it’s just more fun to talk about. And eat. Or, maybe, possibly it’s just because drinking beer itself tends to invite more colorful conversations (even without having a ball game blasting away in surround sound on ten different TV screens). Whatever the reason, the night was lively, and at only $50 per person it’s a steal of a dining out deal. Here’s the review in pictures and all photo credits go to professional photographer, Richard Pabis (what, like you thought I could be trusted with a camera while eating and drinking all this?):

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Human Trafficking in Orlando?

I know what most of you are thinking – not in my backyard, right?  Well think again, dear reader, because this topic keeps rearing its ugly head, even right here in our own beautiful city full of magic and make-believe.  In fact, as recently as January 22 of this very year the Orlando Sentinel featured […]

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Cooking Up a New Career

From time to time I like to write about different jobs in the hospitality industry because, well, there are tons of them.  So many, in fact, that I always tell people if you are unhappy with your current hospitality position you have no one to blame but yourself because all you need to do is look around and spread your wings – fly right,turn left, look up, then down. There is such a variety of jobs under this broad category that I could write about a different one every day of the week and you and I both would still be learning .  But, I’m not going to do that because, well, frankly that might get boring.  Plus, I’m not a headhunter (please don’t start sending me your resumes), so I’m going to spare you the details of Hospitality Jobs 101 and go straight to some of the more interesting ones.  Please consider this part of the advanced course.

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Faces of Hunger – Right in our Own Backyard

Many of us are already up to our turkey necks with food prep for the big holiday ahead, so reading another blog post about pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce might not seem too important right now. Go ahead and thank me for avoiding same because that’s not what this story is about. Instead, I want to focus on a different food issue. The one some people turn a blind eye to.

Hunger.

More specifically, hunger in our own neighborhoods, in people we meet and pass each day within our own communities.

If you’re reading this right now you probably aren’t worried about where your next meal is coming from. In fact, you might be hard pressed to even remember what it feels like to be hungry, and I’m not referring to that gap between your last Starbucks and the chicken salad you bought for lunch. I’m talking about to honest to goodness hunger pains that start to take over your stomach first, then your mental state of mind when you’ve only had one meal in the last two days. Or, maybe none at all.

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Bone Shaking Fun With Skeletons this Halloween

This is the week – Halloween is here! Have you heard enough about it yet, or can you stand a little more?

If you’re not into the whole HHN freak out at Universal, and yet Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party doesn’t quite do it for you either, here’s another option, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled! It’s ‘under the wheel’ at the Orlando Eye complex and for sure it’s the real deal with over 40 exhibits featuring more than 400 real animal skeletons in poses and dioramas that will give you a whole new perspective (dare we say, um, the actual inside scoop?) on our friends in the animal kingdom. Plus, the price of this one might not rattle your bones as much as those other options with current ticket prices at $19.99 per adult and $12.99 for kids ages 3-11.

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Ready to Get Halloweeny Yet?

This post is about vampires. . .and asylum. . .and James Bond. Oh my! October’s a long, busy month, so for sure it’s a slow build, but when you get to the crazy holiday climax at the end – aka Halloween – it just seems right to let loose then, doesn’t it?  Even if you don’t dress up […]

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Hotels and Hurricanes

As I finished up my work with another convention group here in Orlando today the client mentioned they were heading out to the airport early due to all the hurricane preparations.

“Huh?  Joaquin has already passed Florida and moving on up North” I replied. “Looks like this one is missing us.”

“We know, and now it’s expected to hit us back in New Jersey, so we need to get outta this place right away and get home!”

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What Do Women Want in Hospitality?

Last month I wrote a post about Chinese travelers – specifically about 1.4 billion of them that could be showing up very soon at a hotel or restaurant near you right here in Florida.  Today I’m “narrowing down” the discussion topic a bit more by talking about only 49.6% of the total world population, aka women, the single largest target market in the hospitality industry.  Specifically, the most recent stats show there are 3.52 billion women on this planet (roughly half the population).  And yes, I know that tittle you see up above is a loaded question but seriously, even though women are only about half of the world’s population, by some estimates we still account for 92% of the vacation decisions.  Using those numbers it’s destined to be a hot topic in this industry which in turn makes it super important to Orlando, so let’s just let those stats sink in for a minute.

You read that correctly – 92% of vacation purchases including airline decisions, hotel selections and restaurants as well as buying all those precious souvenir tchotchkes are made by women, and even I was shocked by the estimated dollar volume this accounts for because, are you ready for this? In some reports, women are shown to be responsible for a whopping expenditure of, drum roll please, $7 TRILLION dollars annually related to vacation purchases. Just in the USA. (Notice I didn’t print that in numericals because frankly I’m not really sure how many zeros to use.)

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Chinese Travel Trends

I recently wrote about Cuba being a hot destination topic, but now it’s time to recognize the emerging importance of China to not only travel but also just about everything on this planet including the recent downward spiral of the numbers coming from Wall Street.  And while I’m not attempting to solve the world financial crises here in the Hive (we have to leave something for politicians to do, right?), I do want to talk about the entrance of numerous Chinese travelers and investors into our own little corner of the planet right here in Central Florida.

And for those of you that think we are besieged by visitors from Brazil and the UK you are technically correct.  Numbers from Visit Orlando show that’s where the majority of foreign visitors to Central FL come from to the tune of 770,000 and 759,000 respectively in 2013 alone (last available statistics). But want to know who’s expected to be coming in record numbers in the future? HINT:  the answer is in this blog’s title.

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Have You Ever Been First?

I’m not talking about those lucky days when there’s no wait in the line at EPCOT for Soarin’ (once, on a dreary Thursday evening in September of 2013 when most of Florida was in a hurricane watch. . .) or on the teensy-weensy outside chance that the Starbucks drive-though is a zip (again once, in the pouring down rain in the middle of a weekday afternoon. . .).  Nope, those aren’t the firsts I’m referring to.  I’m talking about something really big and very important.

The employment line.

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Curious About Cuba? Part Two of two

Welcome to Cuba!

In my last post on Cuba, I introduced you to an industry professional that has already logged plenty of travel miles in her Cuban business endeavors, and Renee Radabaugh of Cultural Explorations Cuba has managed to confirm what the rest of us have only just begun to suspect – that there’s no sign of this being a passing fad in the travel and tourism market.  With multiple daily non-stop flights from both Miami and Orlando, and additional ones being constantly added from other locations around the United States, it’s becoming more convenient to get there and that’s the first measure of a good trip.  But don’t buy your ticket just yet, because we still have a bit of a learning curve before we can grab our passports and pack our bags.

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Curious about Cuba?

I know I am, and if you think you’ve already heard enough about that tropical island sitting a mere 100 miles [+-] due South of us here in Florida you need to get ready to hear more – lots more, because this new détente between our two countries is serious business.  Especially in the hospitality industry.

Why?  Well, let me illustrate what I mean:  imagine you’re an explorer discovering an island, unchartered territory if you will, that has built-in mystique and appeal to tourists who (because living here in Central Florida) we know absolutely positively will buy anything and go anywhere and endure any hardships whatsoever in the name of travel.

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Do You SunRail?

Have you been on board yet? Yes, I’m talking to YOU out there. With an average daily passenger count of around 3700, that leaves roughly 2.1 million [+-] of you that don’t ride SunRail. Yet. And, before June 23rd, I was one of you, but now I’ve crossed over and am happy to report what a great experience it was.

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Hotels Offer Great Ideas for Unique and Special Date Nights

Well for sure there’s no argument about a shortage of things to do here in Orlando. But, what if you could peel away – guilt free – from the kids, pets, house projects, laundry, lawn mowing and other distractions that keep us adults from going out and having a little romantic grown up fun as a two-some? Where would you go? Pull up a barstool and let’s chat, because I’ve got some great ideas for you, some of which you’ve probably never even considered because they involve, well, going out into the tourist corridor. (ba-dump)

I know what you’re thinking. Mon Dieu! Is the Hive lady drinking too much butter beer? Well that would be no, because I would never, not ever, suggest to anyone who lives in Otown that they visit a theme park for a romantic date night, and in particular during summer months. (Well, technically, that would be a hot summer date, but again, not the path I’m leading you down today.) That said, let me share just a few of the date night gems I know about ‘out there’ and you can be the butter-beer judge.

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Gay Marriage Orlando Style, Part Deux

So once again, mom’s advice was spot on when she told me, “To stay relevant, keep learning something new every day of your life.” My last post, Gay Marriage Orlando Style, was two weeks ago but gosh, gee wiz, have I learned a lot about gay marriages in that short time span! (And don’t forget, there was a red, white, and blue holiday during that time when all this education was coming my way, so I’m sure there was an adult beverage or two involved with my classes. Ahem.)

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Gay Marriage Orlando Style

So what exactly does that mean? I wasn’t sure myself, so I checked with a few local wedding planners who have the matrimony event creed and years of experience to back up their comments, and one thing was made perfectly clear – a wedding is a wedding, and a nervous bride is a nervous bride, no matter the sexes involved.

If you are the type that wants a production for your wedding then this is your time because it seems that anything goes now in the world of wedding planning, and that’s NOT just due to the legalization of gay marriages. No sir, not at all. In fact, here in Orlando, gay wedding ceremonies have been taking place for quite some time now – legal or not – and in many cases they’re no different than a ‘normal/traditional’ wedding.

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Has Orlando Embraced “Brooklynization?”

What’s that you say? Never heard of that word? Well let me explain:

BROOKLYNIZATION= a city/entity (Brooklyn) wanting to go in exact opposite of, for example, New York City (think capitalism, corporate imperialism, unchecked corporate greed and you get the full picture here, right?). Turning instead to local artisans, hand-made/home-made anything, small batch [fill-in-the-blank], nurturing a successful environment for entrepreneurs, etc. IN PLAIN ENGLISH: empowering the creative class in your own area to help grow local identity.

Ah yes, now it makes sense!  But what’s the connection with the Hospitality Hive?  Glad you ask!

For some time now, we’ve all noticed an increase in the words or terms such as locally grown – locavores – farm to table – craft made and many more just like those.  These are all ways of referring to areas embracing it’s own local community by purchasing, using, and helping to spread awareness about products from your next door neighbors.  In the world of Orlando hospitality, the best example would be the plethora of hotels owned by Harris Rosen, which can only be found locally, as opposed to those hotels also found here but that are affiliated with a national chain such as Hyatt, Marriott and so forth.  It’s not rocket science to understand this concept, but circling back to our hospitality community at large, there are just so many wonderful examples of establishments that do go out of their way to connect with the local community and I find it pretty cool that it all started with the ‘Brooklynization’ concept that began as a

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Turn Up Your Crazy at Hyatt Regency Orlando on May 24th!

Let’s be honest: Orlando has more than your average amount of options when it comes to making plans for your weekend fun. With not one but three world class theme parks all vying for more and more of your time and attention (notice I didn’t mention $$$$, but they vie a lot for that, too, and usually they win), it can get downright confusing when trying to choose among countless opportunities that all offer endless hours of fun. And, if those expensively printed attraction brochures and advertisements don’t offer enough enticement, just pick up the Friday edition of the Orlando Sentinel and review the weekly calendar section to find even more choices – movies, plays, sports activities, lectures, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, tarot card readings, festivals, art shows, craft fairs, bike races, and well, you get the picture here. In fact there are usually so many options listed in that Calendar section that I’m exhausted when I finish reading it, which is, in my opinion, why they put the TV listings at the end because by the time you examine and review all those other activities it just makes you want to curl up with the remote control and a bowl of popcorn to stay put on your big comfy couch. Oh, and FYI, the dog prefers you do that, too, because Rambo’s been waiting all week for you to play with him. Plus, he loves the popcorn you drop.

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