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Ebola in America — Is It Safe To Travel?

Written by: Frank I. Wolfe, CAE

Somewhere on the globe, a door latch was just locked, pharmacies and grocery stores are probably a bit more busy, stock markets might be preparing for an unexpected downturn and some people may even cancel travel… All because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has just confirmed America’s first Ebola case.

Would I fly into Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Today? Absolutely! Would I visit Texas Presbyterian Hospital where the patient of the confirmed case of Ebola is being treated? Sure. Am I crazy? Sometimes, but not on this issue! WHY? Because in spite of the sensationalism of the press and the human nature tendency to panic when something unexpected happens, Ebola is VERY difficult to catch. It can only be spread through direct contact and it is not spread through the air, water or in general food. The only way that Ebola is spread is through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola (sex, excretion, vomit); direct contact with items (like needles or syringes) that are contaminated with the virus; direct contact with infected animals (apes, monkeys and gorillas are thought to be responsible for transmitting the disease to humans); and in Africa, as a result of handling bush meat.

It has been reported that the person in Dallas infected with the virus had returned from Liberia, an African country. Little details are known if the person was a rescue worker or volunteer helping fight the virus there. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia has a very weak health care system. But even travelers to Liberia are told by the U.S. Government that the risk of traveling there and contracting the disease is low and Americans have been traveling there since 1976 when the disease was first reported.

It will be easy over the next few days, weeks or maybe even months, to get caught up in all the media hoopla over Ebola. There might even be an additional case or cases which the media will talk about in every news break, ticker tape or tweet that they possibly can. While their goal is not necessarily to create hysteria, they do want to sell views and good news does not make the news.

Please forgive this former Health Educator for being a bit graphic in the ways to contract Ebola. But it is important that all of us in the hospitality industry and your guests understand that Ebola is not a contagious disease like the common cold.

Frank Wolfe, CAE, is the CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and an inductee into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame and a Paragon Award winner. He often speaks on hospitality and travel related issues. He is an author, speaker and an advocate of careers in hospitality technology or finance. E-mail: frank.wolfe@hftp.org Twitter @frankwolfe. Or Facebook: Frank I. Wolfe

Quite Interesting So Far

Written by: Samuel Ayisi

It is really exciting to be in Los Angeles for this year’s HITEC and so far so good. Monday evening’s opening party at the Belasco Theater was quite sensational. Good music, good food and drinks, and good conversations. Not to mention the elegance of the venue.

HITEC itself has been running quite smoothly. The registration and badge pick-up processes have been less cumbersome this year, thanks to the producers, HFTP. I was unable to attend Monday’s opening keynote. However, Tuesday’s keynote session on “The Collaborative Economy” presented by Rachel Botsman was very good. If you’ve never heard Rachel speak, you should check out her presentations on TedTalks and YouTube. You’ll not be disappointed. Read More »

ANOTHER Credit Card Breach — What Now?

Written by: Frank Wolfe, CAE

The recent data breaches at major retail outlets such as Target, Michaels Stores Inc. and Neiman Marcus brought this type of modern crime to the forefront in the minds of the consumer; and for us in the hospitality community, it really hit home when news surfaced of a breach at White Lodging properties throughout the United States. For those who were not able to keep up with the “screaming headlines’ about this incident, one thing that both consumers and credit card retailers were warned about is that there would be more to come … and obviously they have. I am going to also predict that there will be even more of these that we will hear about over the next few months from other types of businesses and organizations.  Regardless of the tens of millions of dollars industries spend to protect credit card data, criminals who try to steal this data are constantly attacking our information systems and eventually they get lucky — for a short time. As in these recent cases, they were shut down. Read More »

2014 Kicks Off With New Member Benefits

Written by: Danielle Chong

This past year, 2013, brought many changes to HFTP and the association hopes to grow even more in the new year. With growth comes new benefits for HFTP members. Recently, HFTP has partnered with other organizations to offer world class education, extended office hours for increased accessibility to staff, revamped CPE tracking capabilities, and continued savings programs to relevant businesses. Below are details on the great new benefits HFTP members were able to experience in 2014. Read More »

How Replying to TripAdvisor Reviews Keeps the Four Seasons No.1 in the City

Written by: Taylor Short

Ranking highly on TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index, a rating system based on quantity, quality and recency of customer reviews, is the best way to draw new customers to your hotel. Knowing that responding to reviews can entice others to write their own, the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin jumped 26 spots to become the highest rated hotel in the city. But how exactly did it happen? Read More »

Now Presenting — The HFTP Regional Mentor Program

Written by: Danielle Chong

HFTP is thrilled to announce the addition of a NEW member benefit. Starting in September, members have access to a Regional Mentor in their geographic area. The Regional Mentor program was designed to accommodate the needs and wants of the current membership, as well as to draw in additional prospective members. Regional Mentors are chosen representatives who exemplify leadership and the guiding principles of HFTP. Read More »

It’s Going to Change Bigtime

Written by: Warren Markwart

The REALLY Big Show

“The Rise of the Metamediaries” sounds like a science fiction horror show.

The “rise” occurred on Tuesday afternoon and It was a REALLY big show starring senior people from Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor and Room 77. The stage was groaning with all these heavyweights in one place. Cindy Estis-Green did a great job in getting each to discuss their strategies of:

  • Dreaming
  • Planning
  • Booking
  • Experience
  • Sharing

She had two pundits that started the Q&A into a frank and lively discussion. Read More »

Bringing Your Own Stuff

Written by: Brad More

As anticipated, one of the hot topics this year, both on the floor and in sessions, has been managing, planning for and otherwise dealing with the Bringing Your Own Stuff movement.

One of the really problematic “stuffs” that people bring is “content.” What’s content you ask? Good question. The answer is kind of interesting, because to date there’s only one type of content that really affects how hoteliers should think and plan. Certainly, guests can and do bring written word (books, Kindles), audio (iTunes, streaming services), but the killer content, the one that makes guest experience crumble and crushes hotel infrastructure is video. Read More »

Hotel Flash Sales: Beneficial or Detrimental?

Written by: By Katerina Berezina, MS, CHTP and Kelly Semrand, Ph.D.

There is debate whether flash sales web sites are a blessing or a curse for the lodging industry. Blessing because these web sites alleviated the depressed demand induced by the recession. A curse because these web sites have turned into a “pac-man” draining revenues away from the lodging industry. Flash sales in the lodging industry (e.g. Groupon Getaways, LivingSocial Escapes, Jetsetter, etc.) thrived as they gobbled up unused hotel room inventory. In its first year of operation, LivingSocial Escapes, for example, featured hotel deals from about 800 properties, sold about 500,000 room nights, which corresponds to about 45,000 room nights per month, and 1,500 travelers per night. These are impressive stats for any form of a distribution channel that helps to sell perishable inventory. But, what are flash sales web sites? How do they work? And, are they beneficial or detrimental to the U.S. lodging industry? Read More »

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