Hospitality and the Service Industry

The term ‘hospitality’ refers to a broad category of segments or sectors within the service industry pertaining to different commercial aspects like cruise liners, event planning, lodging and hotels, restaurants, theme parks, transportation etc. The economics of the hospitality industry is directly proportionate to people’s ‘disposable incomes’ and available periods of ‘leisure time’.Units within the industryA broad hospitality unit has several sub-groups or division units like direct operations management, facility management, human resources, project management, sales & marketing management etc.The single most important concept that is shared across all segments of the hospitality industry is ‘customer service’. The level of success of a business is determined by how it (the operational staff) is geared to serve others (customers). The focus of a hospitality industry may be any one of many or multiples of service sectors. Although managing the economics i.e. the challenges of income and expenditure is crucial to the success of a business, the accomplishment of rising up to the challenges of ‘customer service’ will dictate how the business can hope to progress.Elements of hospitality involving customer serviceOne of the largest elements or the single most important of all elements in the hospitality sector is Food & Beverage (F&B). The F&B trade can function independently in the form of bars, catering establishments, eateries, pubs and restaurants, or as part of other service businesses such as the entertainment segment that includes bowling alleys, casinos, game parlors and movie houses. When the F&B outlet is a part of a larger hotel & lodging outfit, it enhances the chances of offering top-class customer service and providing an overall experience to the customer or guest.The next segment will be the Accommodations area, either Bed & Breakfast (B&B) places or lodging places that represent a large chunk of the hospitality industry. This area covers any place that provides accommodation from camping sites to wayside motels, high-end hotels & holiday resorts to luxury deluxe properties. The focus of providing lodging integrating attentive customer service along with comfort and efficiency is at the heart of a business service that is customer-oriented. More than the monetary aspect, most travelers value basic amenities that are provided with cleanliness, efficiency and caring and the more satisfied people using hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., the more the business can be successful.Another prime sector of the hospitality industry is to do with transportation and travel – from airlines to cruises to train travel, domestic to individual countries as well as global. This particular segment, as the others too, requires considerable knowledge and experience in customer service as well as modern trends in travel and transportation that define the services provided to customers in terms of efficiency, safety and enjoyment.

Projecting Your Business Image (or How a Virtual Office Allows You to Work Smarter)

So you have decided to establish an office for your business – congratulations! One of your biggest challenges will be to determine what kind of office best suits your business needs. A traditional office will take time and money to establish. A virtual office is inexpensive and very flexible, however, it is important that you understand the benefits and limitations a virtual office provides to you.Among the biggest benefits are the low cost options which are available. You can have a prestigious address and local telephone number, projecting the image of a traditional professional office, while dramatically reducing overhead. A virtual office can be up and running in one day, which is simply not possible with a traditional office. You can establish yourself as a local presence in a particular market, thus complying with government regulations.Most virtual offices do not act as your registered agent. However, while most corporations must have a registered agent, they do not need a physical business office.For many banks, a virtual office may not considered a legitimate physical address. For international companies especially, having a US bank account simplifies payments for US and Canadian customers. Your virtual office provider may be able to help you establish a local bank account.If you are “doing business” in a state, meaning selling products or making passive investments, you may be required to occupy a physical office. To establish a real local presence may also require obtaining an EIN or business license. Your virtual office provider may offer a package which meets US Postal requirements which define a physical office. (Section 508.1.8.4.b.2 of the US Postal Regulations state the written agreement must include (a) the use of a private office within the facility for at least 16 hours per month at market price for the location, (b) full-time receptionist service and live personal telephone answering service during normal business hours and voicemail service after hours, (c) a listing in the office directory in the building, and (d) use of conference rooms and other business services on demand.A virtual office can grow with you as your business model expands or contracts. You can add or delete services as needed. Some functions are optional and can be used on an as needed basis as well such as conference room usage.There are three main elements which constitute a virtual office.MAIL FORWARDING – The first thing you will be given is a professional business address with a unique a suite number so that mail can be delivered to your virtual office provider. Your provider, in turn, will forward your mail to your physical location. This can be done via US mail or courier service (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc). There can be limitations on packages being forwarded internationally or to certain countries. Frequently you will be required to complete Post Office form PS1583. This document may need to be notarized and you will need to provide two proofs of identification.TELEPHONE NUMBER – You may require a dedicated telephone number to allow your clients to contact you locally. This number can be answered by a receptionist. It can be call forwarded or the caller can be offered voicemail. Today’s voice messages frequently are routed to your email address. This makes retrieval and response a simple matter.PRIVATE OFFICE/ CONFERENCE ROOM USAGE – You will have the option to secure meeting space within the business center facility. This can be a private office or conference room space. It may include the option of video conferencing, high speed internet, wireless internet, copy services, and administrative support. Your package may include a set amount of time allotted per month or you may be able to reserve space on an as-needed basis.A virtual office gives any company the ability to level the playing field by projecting a big business image at an affordable cost. The flexibility offered is a tremendous asset in today’s business environment.

Grow Your Business by Using Online Appointment Software

Most small businesses are time poor and spend all their time working in the business instead of working on the business. This means little time is spent on promoting the business and finding new customers.The following 8 reasons will tell you how an online appointment software system can promote your business and get you more customers?1. Being found in more searches (greater Internet presence)Having an account with an online appointment software provider means your business gets greater exposure from search results from back links to your website and search engines finding your mini website when searching for services that you provide.2. Social media networksMost online appointment software providers will promote your business via social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter resulting in more business exposure3. Word of mouthYour current customers will promote your business. People love the convenience of booking online, satisfied customers inspires referrals to their friend and family about their online booking experience.4. Newsletter and promotionsWhen your customer’s book online they build database of their details for you and indicate if they wish to receive newsletter and promotions (Hot Deals or Last Minute Sales). You can then use this database to advertise any special or promotion that you wish to offer.5. Featured business (Free ads)Appearing as a featured business on your appointment software provider’s web site offers additional business exposure to clients that use this service to book other businesses. A customer uses the booking service to book a massage and sees your beauty salon.6. Boosts your green credentials to new customersUsing an online booking system is an environmentally friendly way to run your business. As e-marketing does not waste paper (saves trees) and booking online does not require customer visits to your location to make the bookings (less cars trips)7. Overflow opportunitiesOften customers will be looking for a service that they can book in the next day or so. Businesses offering similar service can feed off each over to cater for busy times.8. Free Directory advertisingThe online appointment software service provider will add your business to their free business directory so your business will be listed when someone searches for your business service offerings.