2010 Queensnite (Koninginnenach) in The Hague – The Hague does party!

Rather than sitting behind my computer, I should go out and watch this girl, Laura Jansen…but this Hotelier has to look after his partying guests. Check out the official 2010 Koninginnenach site.

And they will close Queen’s Night (or Queensnite as a more vernacular translation of Koninginnenach) the free pop/dj/podium music party night before the official Queens Day celebration tomorrow with a real Pop band from The Hague: Di-Rect.

The Hague does party! At least once a year…

It started to rain and now I hear not one, but two police helicopters patrolling…a bit unusual, unless there is something rough going on…

DePhoCussing from ITB 2010 (2): About trying to Hit the Nail on the Head

This is a photo of a moving sculpture in Frankfurt of a hard working man, a smith, in front of the Frankfurter Messe in Germany. The movement of the sculpture suggests the smith hits maibe not a nail, but at least a piece of metal with his hammer. It inspired me for the title of this post. I took this photo almost 3 years ago when I visited some venue at the Frankfurter Messe.

The Marriott Connection
The hotel between the legs of the sculpture is the Frankfurter Marriott on a prime location….opposite the Franfurter Messe.

The association with this post is this: I do admire Bill Marriott who is still a hard working guy where others from his age are sitting “behind the geraniums” as we say in The Netherlands (i.e. are enjoying their retirement) while he rules his Hotel Empire. Moreover he dipped his toes into social media in January 2007 when he started his blog.

The Panel
At the March 2010 PhoCusWright@ITB conference I’ve been acting as a panelist. One of the questions we had to address was: What is the ROI of engaging in social media? I interpreted this question as how many reservations do your blog and your engagement in social media generate for your hotel? Usually I’m not very shy to act as a panelist or as a speaker, but this time I was a nervous wreck: I had said “yes” to act as a panelist and had to come up with a sensible answer and long time I was thinking Metrics Metrics Metrics. My problem is I don’t know the metrics. I had never looked at metrics. I had never thought about metrics. Even today I’m only faintly aware there are metrics available to see the conversions from tweets or from messages on your FaceBook page….but I do not know the details….
So I held to my rather professional camera with the ominous looking professional lens, marched to the floor with my fellow panelists and started taking photos from the audience… Despite the prior thorough briefing by Richard Zucker

I was totally unaware of the huge noise the clicking of my camera made. The whole bunch of techies that orchestrated the conference went berserk, because nobody else could be understood anymore. Kevin May, who moderated the panel made me graciously aware of my misbehavior. But while clicking away on stage the answer came to me and all of a sudden I was able to formulate it in a more or less comprehensible way. I would love to see the footage of that panel discussion back once.

My Answer to the ROI question:
“For me quality goes before quantity and I don’t know how to measure quality. I try to attract guests who when they know more of me and like what they see of me, also like to stay in my hotel, which is likely to enhance their experience……”

Pff saved by the bell. By the reactions of several people there and then and later when I discussed it over with several other people it stuck and they agreed and even got inspired by the idea. So I’m glad that by DePhoCussing I was able to focus on the answer that is really my answer to the question, maybe not the anticipated answer, but my answer. Another lesson was that by acting “out of the box” and taking photos of the audience instead of someone in the audience taking photos by me, I was able to attract their attention and I tend to believe my answer stuck better. I maybe even snooped away some attention from my fellow panelists. Sorry guys!

Who should be responsible for a company’s engagement in social media?
Another question at the panel was the very corporate question who should be responsible of social media in a hospitality company: The Ceo? The custom care department? The marketing or the PR types? and a whole lot more answers came along. My answer was very simple: “It should be the CEO, because In Real Life he is already the face of the company, so why not be same In Virtual Life? I pointed to Bill Marriott as an example who does a very good job at this. I then also stated that if the CEO would have not enough time to do all himself, because actually being engaged in social media means being 24/7 engaged in social media, he should delegate. My point is that if a CEO doesn’t trust his coworkers to engage in social media, then there is something wrong with his organization: “How can a hotelier trust his coworkers to receive a guest in his hotel and not trust them to engage with past, present or future guests via social media?”

What makes the circle round
And now comes the funny part. During a San Francisco EyeforTravel conference about Social Media in Travel there was a Marriott case made available which was put together by the Marriott Social media team… to my huge surprise they quoted this tweet of March 15, 20009 of me :


Which I posted in March 2009 about in What should Hotel Owners Know about Social Media
Lessons learned:
Even the big man (Bill Marriott) sometimes listens to the small guy (Happy Hotelier)…otherwise they would not have used this picture which they obviously pinched from this blog, because now the screen capture of the tweet shows date and time and another backgroung and not posted 13  minutes ago. Moreover, even the small guy can become a (small) authority on social media simply by blogging, engaging in social media and being part of conferences and sometimes giving a presentation which forces him to rethink his activities from time to time.
A big thank you to Graham Robertson (@Grayum_ian) of  Project: Wander who pointed me to the Marriott Case at Eyefortravel. If you’re interested in the case study, you can dowbload it for free at Eye For Travel. It’s really worthwhile a read about the blogger who doesn’t blog.

The Urban Camouflage Project (Street Art 16)

On a bit lighter note than volcanic ash I like to share the Urban Camouflage Project with you. It is a project of Sabina Keric and Yvonne Bayer who started Urban Camouflage in 2007 during an exchange term at Konstfack – and continued in 2009. their website is built with indexhibit an easy and free way of presenting a portfolio in use by thousands of artists and maybe also a possibility for small hotel and B&B owners to present their accommodation.

Urban Camouflage deals with the question how to camouflage oneself and one’s identity in the commercial space. The costumes are inspired by «ghillie suits», the camouflage suits of snipers and hunters.

The commercial space is a clean and untouched area. Usually there are no artistic activities.

The customer expects nothing out of ordinary in a world of brands and price labels. Our project exeeds the limit and enters the world of commerce without any permission.

We chose the big superstores because of the extreme range of goods, the flashing monitors and the large salesrooms. The camouflaged person blends into the surrounding. He or she can dissapear for one moment and gets the possibility to merge with the supermarket to defend from the noise of commerce.

The costumes were made out of simple and cheap materials, the camouflage effect isn’t only about the colour, it’s also about the three-dimensional structure.

The reactions were different. As before mentioned, we didn’t ask for a permission. Most employees reacted humorously, but we had some trouble with the managment as well and had to quit some actions earlier than we wanted to.

The reactions of customers were also very different. Some were interested and tried to touch the costume, others reacted irritated and stayed in some distance. There were also customers who ignored us completely, it seemed like if they just didn’t want to get irritated by us.

Iceland Volcanic Ash Disrupts European Air Travel on an Unprecedented Scale

Hazardous volcanic ash
I captured the above photo from a series of three documentary videos on Youtube [That since publication have disappeared]. The picture and the videos show the dangers of volcanic ash for air travel best: It abrazes not only the paint, but also the aluminum of the aircraft heavily.

The dangers are:

  1. Pilots can’t notice it, because, apart from areas near an eruption, it is very fine. Even near an eruption pilots can’t notice it on on board flight radar, because there is not enough moist in a cloud of volcanic ash
  2. Volcanic ash is very abrasive as the above photo from the tail of flight BA 009 shows: Almost all paint was stripped from it.
  3. when sucked into a jet motor, it can cause immense damage and cause the motor to stop. On 1982 flight 009 over Indonesia all four jets stopped and luckily the pilots were able to restart the engines when they had flown out of the ash cloud and prevent a crash..

The beauty of the eruption that causes all the problems:
This is a fantastic photo of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland by Örvar-Atli that causes a huge cloud of volcanic ash to spread all over Europe that is bringing almost all air trafic to a stand still as of yesterday. It will continue today and it wouldn’t surprise me if it will continue for a couple of more days.

It is a very wise decision to ground almost all air traffic in view of the above indicated hazards.

Ash influences hotel stays
Guests from Canada are stuck in London and had to cancel their stay at my hotel last minute. Do I charge them a late cancellation fee? Off course not.

Commercially viable? Maybe, maybe not.

I could claim a late cancellation fee and have them claim their loss from their travel insurance company. However I wouldn’t like to add that as an extra burden to them while they are already burdened with all the uncertainties and changes of plan due to these extra ordinary circumstances

..and you know what? I expect my guests to be and think a bit like I do myself. I hate to claim something from an insurance company, because I believe I should only claim when there is an extraordinary cost I cannot reasonably bear myself. I was once bailed out by a travel insurance company when I was stuck with a car in a foreign country that could not be repaired that country. Not only did they repatriate my car to The Netherlands and paid for the car repair, they also let me continue our travels with a rented car that I delivered here in The Netherlands. Almost no loss of holiday pleasures.

And our guest wrote me: “Thank you so much! When we rebook our trip you will be our first choice to stay with. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kindness.”

High Five (10): Don’t Hack your son’s FB Account, Body functions, Unfavorable Blog Commenting and a Balloon Rescue Kit


High Five Time:

  1. A mum who hacked her son’s Face Book Account faces Harassment Charges according to AOL.
  2. As every blogger is facing flaming comments, this guest post on Problogger gives food for thought and/or action: The Day I Was Flamed At My Blog (And 7 Steps To Handle Flames With Grace).
  3. I had a post in mind titled “The Art of Breastfeeding”, because the photos at this post The Most Obscene Debate On the Internet seem too intruding into the mother’s (or the baby’s) privacy imho, but there are so many layers to that I refrained from it.
  4. At Quite Alone there is that debate about to pay or not to pay to pee or to store cabin luggage…Wee shall overcome. Airlines are getting cheap, Really!
  5. At Yanko design a Rescue Balloon Kit by Jaeseok Han was suggested to prevent you getting lost in a jungle trek.

You can find more high fives in my category High Five.

If you want to draw my attention to a post, please use the Contact Page or give me a message at Twitter

The Breastfeeding issue kept me thinking until I found this hilarious photo which was on auction recently at Phillips de Pury and Company: