Friday, January 23, 2015

Mobile Technology Floods Hotel Industry in Post-PC World

It’s not enough to just say anymore that your hotel needs to keep up on the latest technology to compete. Things have moved beyond that. We live in a post-PC world and those who don’t realize this will be behind the eight-ball when it comes to providing the best guest experience. Boston East India Hotels has made this an absolute priority at our hotels: The Daniel and The Stonehedge Inn & Spa.

First, it is important to understand just what it means to live in a post-PC world. Basically, we are talking about the decline in personal computers in favor of the growing variety of devices out there that can handle similar tasks — smartphones and tablet computers in particular. This has led to a massive focus on mobility and connectivity and increased the importance of cloud-based services and consumerization of the user experience.

The hotel industry is not alone in feeling the change. Almost every industry is going through a re-invention of how enterprise technology is used, how business processes are deployed and how customers are engaged.

Restaurants have been re-seasoned by tablet point-of-sale systems and OpenTable. The transportation industry has been rerouted by train apps and the success of Uber. The retail sector has been restocked by game-changers such as iBeacon. The list goes on.

At Boston East India Hotels, we recognize the importance of social media and understand the need to make sure that the requisite attention is paid to this realm in our hotel marketing strategy, but we also know that the evolution of technology-on-the-go calls for innovative thinking.

As such, let’s take a look at a few important mobile trends for the 2015.

First, hotels cannot afford to be slow to react to website design and content in regards to how it shifts to fit mobile devices of all makes and models.

Second, as mobile sites grow to handle better images and video, improving the user experience, hotels must keep up with the content that fits guests’ needs and online behavior.

Third, if third-party booking engines hope to continue to have a role in the hotel sector they must improve the unsatisfactory transition from mobile site content to booking.

Fourth, customer relationship management systems need to be tied in with mobile device activity for a more accurate guest profile.

Lastly, better analytics are needed to track mobile sessions from individuals across desktop, mobile and offline access points.

Hotel companies that struggle to adapt to growing mobile technology demands either suffer from some sort of denial of its importance altogether or overlook the importance of the last critical mobile trend listed in particular. Namely, that a mobile strategy without analytics to capture and reveal patterns does not allow hoteliers to understand what their guests want ahead of time.

Today, 90 percent of travel bookings are done online — this is up from 58 percent just four years ago! In addition, other studies have shown that travelers complete about 45 percent of their searches for hotels on mobile devices. And critically, studies have also shown that 75 percent of leisure travelers and 87 percent of business travelers switch between devices during the planning and booking process.

If you are in the hotel business these numbers had better not be a surprise to you. And if they are — check your pulse because you might already be dead.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Talking Travel Trends: The Holiday Season set for Record Numbers

With travel costs dropping, this holiday season is expected to be a landmark one for travel. AAA projects that 98.6 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, a four percent hike over last year. This represents the biggest year-on-year jump in travel and predicts the most travelers for a holiday period since the travel giant started keeping track of such things, all the way back to 2001.

While it is nothing new for travelers to use the holidays as a time to visit family and, this year, a number of factors have industry insiders forecasting big numbers. Notably:

  • Low gas prices are triggering more travel with the national average price of gasoline at the lowest level in five years and 69 cents lower than last year.
  • The rise in the average Americans’ disposable income 3.5 percent over last year’s levels is prompting more travel.
  • Low-cost airlines are driving down prices, with the average discounted round-trip airfares across 40 top domestic routes expected to fall seven percent this year, to $186.

“’Tis the season for holiday travel, and this year more Americans will join with friends and family to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year than ever before,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA president and chief operating officer. “While the economy continues to improve at an uneven pace, it seems more Americans are looking forward with increasing consumer confidence, rather than looking back at the recession. This is helping to drive expected travel volumes to the highest level we have seen for the year-end holidays.”

“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009,” added Doney. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”

This year the holiday calendar is also giving travel rates a boost, with both Christmas Day and New Year’s landing on a Thursday, creating an extra-long weekend for many workers. It also creates a holiday travel season that is one day longer than last year’s and the longest since 2008, which gives travelers more options for departures and return trips.

The added flexibility could be a key factor in the choice for many to travel.

TripCase reports that holiday travel trends this holiday season are also surprisingly headed south, with its flight arrival data showing that that the U.S. airports with the highest holiday change of pace actually are in warm weather climates. Hawaii (Kahului, Keohole and Honolulu), Florida (Palm Beach) and California (Palm Springs) all have a greater share of holiday traffic than off-season traffic this year.  JFK International airport, in New York City, is the only one of the top 10 airports in a typically cold weather climate, according to percent of annual traffic occurring during the holidays.

American Express released two different travel lists — one for Christmas and one for New Year’s — that back up TripCase’s assertions.

The Christmas list found that travelers are traveling to mostly warm destinations such as Fort Lauderdale, Kahului and Los Angeles. Florida has five destinations in the top-10 and only New York and Denver are in cold weather climes.

For New Year’s, Fort Lauderdale is at the top with Orlando and Kahului, following. Other destinations include: Salt Lake City, Miami, Los Angeles and Denver.

Hospitality executives are sure going to be happy with the overall numbers for holiday travel:

  • Holiday travel is expected to total 98.6 million, an increase of four percent from the 94.8 million who traveled last year.
  • Nearly 91 percent of all travelers (89.5 million) will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, an increase of 4.2 percent from 2013.
  • Air travel is forecast to grow one percent from 2013, with 5.7 million travelers taking to the skies.

Better still for industry business, AAA is predicting that most hotels are increasing prices and could be on track for record revenue for the holiday season.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase four percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $143 per night compared to $138 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen five percent with an average cost of $108 per night.

The holidays are always the gift-giving time of year, but the booming travel predications are giving hospitality companies the best gift of all — the most travel business in years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

President & CEO Beej Das Elected to Massachusetts Lodging Association Board

Boston East India Hotels is pleased to announce that President and CEO Beej Das has been elected to the Massachusetts Lodging Association Board of Directors.

Das will serve as North of Boston Director and will begin his two-year term on Jan. 1, 2015.

“I look forward to working with the Massachusetts Lodging Association, which represents the interests of a wide range of hospitality properties in Massachusetts, as Boston East India Hotels continues to grow our business in the region and globally,” Das said.

MLA is a trade association representing and promoting the lodging industry in Massachusetts.

It has more than 400 active property members, which include hotels, motels, resorts, inns and bed and breakfasts, comprising more than 35,000 rooms. Membership also includes more than 200 companies that supply products and services to the lodging industry. In addition, more than 15 colleges and universities that have hospitality programs are members, as well as a number of corporate members that represent companies which own or manage properties.

MLA’s first commitment is to create and implement an aggressive program to develop the business and leisure travel industry in Massachusetts. Its second commitment is to create a better business environment through legislative efforts and networking with related associations.

The association is also a member state association partner with the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which represents the lodging industry on a national level.

Das was elected to the MLA board at the association’s 2014 Annual Business Meeting on Dec. 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Travel Trends and a New Tradition at The Daniel

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family, friends and all those around you who make life better and fill up your days with the pleasure of their acquaintance. Nothing beats that decadent Thanksgiving dinner spread filled with both the traditional fare that harkens back to this country’s early days and also family favorites that have made the holiday meal special over the years.

While thoughts of Thanksgiving past may conjure up warm memories of a crowded table at grandparents’ house, the increasing trend now is for Thanksgiving dinner out or for families to take the holiday on the road for an extra-long weekend vacation. AAA Travel is predicting that 46.3 million Americans will travel this Thanksgiving holiday — the most since 2007.

At Boston East India Hotels, we are ever aware of the changing desires of our guests and customers. But we also wanted to jump at the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family and friends that fill up our days and for whom we are very grateful. That is why our Maine property The Daniel is offering a Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 27 at Coast Bar + Bistro. 

Our culinary experts are in the holiday mood and they created a very special menu for a family feast as good as grandmother used to make it, but updated to bring a special feel to Thanksgiving dinner this year!

Coast Bar + Bistro has set up a fixed-price menu for $36 per person, $18 for children 10 and under, and kids under 3 eat for free. More details HERE.

Here’s what Coast Bar + Bistro can offer you for Thanksgiving eats — a mouthwatering experience that will allow you to enjoy the conversation and company of family and friends, but let your mouth savor same seriously good food, prepared 100 percent in the spirit of the holiday.

First dig in to some Butternut Apple Bisque with Nutmeg Crème Fraiche or Salad of Seasonal Greens, Roasted Beets, Herbed Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

Then loosen up those chops for three tremendous options.

Go for the traditional Thanksgiving bird with a Cider Brined Roast Turkey with Cranberry Apple Stuffing, Candied Carrots, Sautéed Green Beans, Home-style Gravy and Cranberry Compote.

Feeling in a pork mood? Try Maple Mustard Glazed Ham with Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Or finally, get the flavor of fall in a wonderful pasta package with Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Cream Sauce.

And don’t forget to make some room at the end to top off the meal with a dessert of Traditional Pumpkin Pie or Dark Chocolate Layer Cake.

In honor of Thanksgiving, Boston East India Hotels has compiled a list of some of the most popular Thanksgiving trends over the last several decades:
  • In 2013, led by advice from food gurus such as Martha Stewart and magazines such as Bon Appetit and Saveur, bruleed pumpkin pies were all the rage.
  • In 2012, the kale craze pushed many traditional greens off the plate, with creamed kale being the most popular dish served.
  • Turkey glazes dominated in 2010, with everything from molasses, pomegranate, maple, cider, soy sauce and even malt beer dousing everyone’s favorite holiday bird.
  • Sudden reports of the dangers of undercooked stuffing inside turkeys around Thanksgiving in 2006 had cooks across America taking the stuffing out of the bird and going with pan-roasted dressing.
  • Thanksgiving 2005 was the year that the pig tried to take over and as a result bacon-draped turkey was popular, with recipes such as maple-roasted turkey with smoked bacon.
  • The year 2002 has the distinction of owning the most outrageous Thanksgiving trend in the last 20 years with the “turducken,” a boneless monstrosity composed of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey.
  • Riding a late 1990s’ wave, balsamic vinegar took over 2001 Thanksgiving, with the dark liquid a popular glaze for everything on the table from carrots to sweet potatoes to squash to the turkey, itself.
  • Right before the turn of the century the hip Thanksgiving trends might have gone a little too far. The result — truffle mashed potatoes, which rendered a timeless classic unrecognizable with copious truffle oil.
  • In the mid-1990s, deep-fried turkey was all the rage, with the Food Network pushing the high-fat trend out across America.
  • In 1995, the most recent Thanksgiving trends hit kicked off with an interesting note — faux turkey — as Tofurky, a vegan rendition of a roast turkey, stuffing included, was devised by an Oregon company.

We hope you will make your 2014 Thanksgiving trend to eat with us at Coast Bar + Bistro!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Daniel Invokes the Halloween Spirit

At Boston East India Hotels property The Daniel we love Halloween and enjoy nothing more than getting in the spirit of the spooky fall holiday. On Oct. 29, we are welcoming all to join us in the Halloween festivities for an evening of tales of the local Brunswick community at Coast Bar + Bistro from 6 p.m. onwards.

Aside from great friends, food and drink, the evening will feature spooky or historical stories about the Town of Brunswick, as well as the historical property of The Daniel, which was previously the Captain Daniel Stone Inn.

We will also have a best costume contest so don’t forget to wear you Halloween costume!

Read all about the event HERE 

The Daniel and its past as the Captain Daniel Stone Inn may not be The Overlook Hotel from The Shining but it certain has a rich and interesting history — and we know that many in the community can regal listeners with some interesting tales of yore.

The Daniel is based on a historic building that was erected in 1809 and sits on nearly two acres of land near the Androscoggin River.

The property and site both have a rich history. The site housed a log cabin built in 1628 by Thomas Purchase, the first European settler in Brunswick. Originally called by its Native American name, Pejepscot, meaning a river with long rocky rapids, Brunswick became a trading post between the Native Americans, Thomas Purchase and other English settlers. The property itself was originally built in Federal style in 1819 and has served in many roles during its nearly two hundred year history. It became a full-service hotel in the 1980s and operated as the Captain Daniel Stone Inn until 2013. 

The Federal-style home attached to The Daniel was built for Captain Daniel Stone and his family in 1819. Captain Daniel Stone became a successful merchant after he retired from the U.S. Navy in the early 1800s. He and his wife, Nancy Hinckley, had two children, Narcissa and Daniel. The captain also served as a Brunswick Representative to the State Legislature.

Captain Daniel Stone’s daughter, Miss Narcissa Stone, became a prominent figure in the community after she inherited considerable land and property from her father upon his death in 1825. She held on to her inheritance tenaciously, improving the land and developing nearby property. The Stone Family Estate, on which The Daniel now stands, was known as Narcissa’s Hill to the townspeople for the better part of the 19th century. Narcissa passed away at the age of 76, in 1877, after having led a full life and becoming an important part of Brunswick’s history.

Any historic building in an old part of the country, such as Brunswick, will surely have a few spooky stories and The Daniel is no different.

Prior owners of the Captain Daniel Stone Inn liked to intrigue guests with tales of possible ghost sightings and haunting. And rumor has it there was even a whispered about ghost journal to compile tales of the unexplained.

The most popular spooky tale was sightings of a young man — dressed in historical attire from centuries gone by and looking similar to old paintings once displayed in the hotel — suddenly appearing to guests and then vanishing into thin air.

Another hushed-tone legend has it that when the property was excavated for hotel construction at least one gravestone was found and sections of the hotel and parking lot sit on top of an ancient burial ground. Some say the gravestone was used as part of historical-themed displays in Captain Daniel Stone Inn, inviting a link to the netherworld.

It has also been whispered behind non-believers backs that there are rooms in the hotel that former staff would never dare enter and only the bravest and unknowing guests ever set foot in.

The property’s tales are not unique in the area.

Around Brunswick there are a number of ghost stories that chill locals and give goose bumps to listeners.

The Daniel’s favorites:

  • The old high school in Brunswick is said to be haunted by a former student who died while rehearsing a play on the balcony during school hours.
  • There are five stone markers on River Road in Brunswick that are rumored to be associated with ancient Native Americans but are of unknown origin and haunted with sounds of voices and unrecognizable singing.

Check out some of the supposed haunted places and legends from Brunswick on Haunted Places or Ghosts of America.

Are these spooky tales of The Daniel, The Captain Daniel Stone Inn and other haunting myths around Brunswick true or not? Come on out to Coast Bar + Bistro on Oct. 29 and you be the judge!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Partnership with Clean the World at the Heart of Boston East India Hotel's Mission

At Boston East India Hotels, we care first and foremost about our guests and providing a curated hospitality experience that is second to none. However, we are also dedicated to sustainability and the world we live in. We do not toss around words like green, eco-friendly and sustainability lightly, nor do we half-heartedly attempt to make a difference in the world today — case in point, our partnership with Clean the World at The Daniel.

Clean the World is a nonprofit organization that is committed to reducing the waste created by discarded soap and shampoo products, as well as helping to prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses around the world.

The organization does this by collecting, recycling and distributing discarded soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels from hotels. The guest room hygiene items are recycled by Clean the World’s recycling operations centers in Orlando, Las Vegas and Toronto, and distributed, for humanitarian purposes, to children and families in communities around the globe.

Clean the World partners with some of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations and NGO’s, including World Vision, World Food Program and Harvest Time International, as well as numerous U.S. partners to help distribute soap and shampoo.

As simple as it might sound, soap saves lives and we are proud to be part of Clean the World’s Bed and Breakfast Partners and help the organization save lives around the globe.

Medical research has shown that hand washing with soap significantly reduces the impact of two fatal diseases: acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease. These are the top two killers of children less than 5-years-old. By distributing recycled soap to those who need it the most Clean the World’s efforts can have a massive impact in the global hygiene revolution.

We also love that Clean the World has a tremendous track record of success.

Started in 2009, Clean the World has collected and distributed more than 18 million bars of soap to more than 65 countries worldwide including Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Swaziland, Mali, Mongolia, Uganda, Honduras and Romania. The organization has operations in 50 states across the United States and 10 provinces in Canada. Its main recycling operations center in Orlando has the capacity to produce over 80,000 bars a day.

Clean the World’s recycled soap has been tested by TriTech Laboratories, a Florida state-certified testing facility, and given a 100 percent clean bill of health. TriTech infects soap to run through the standard Clean the World recycling process and checks to see what happens. The tests have found that all pathogens are successfully removed by the organization’s recycling process.

Clean the World has also become a natural disaster first responder — in January 2010, as part of our Haiti Earthquake relief efforts, it collected and distributed over 150 tons of hygiene products, medical supplies, water and other essentials to Haiti.

The green and eco-friendly benefits of working with Clean the World are also substantial. Since it was founded, the organization has eliminated more than 1.4 million pounds of hotel waste from polluting local landfills.

At The Daniel, partnering with Clean the World will help produce an estimated 250 pounds of recycle bars of soap annually, which equates to about 1,400 recycled soap bars distributed to children and families in need. The efforts will produce an estimated 200 pounds of recycled bottled amenities, which equals about 1,400 recycle bottled amenities distributed to children and families and need.

Annually, about 275 people are provided with soap from materials that are recycled from The Daniel.

Clean the World estimates that since the organization began its efforts more than 17 million children have died of diseases preventable with proper hygiene. With 18 million bars of soap distributed over that same time, it is clear that the organization’s mission to wipeout hygiene-related fatalities is an achievable goal — as a doubling of its efforts over the same time period moving forward could do it.

While The Daniel is just one of Clean the World’s 1,600 hospitality partners through North America — including giants such as The Walt Disney World Resorts, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, IHG, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Best Western International, Joie de Vivre Hotels, Hilton and Hyatt — we are glad to play our part in the massive impact this effort is having.

We also want our guests to know that when they visit any Boston East India Hotels property they are also part of this effort to impact the health and well-being of so many around the globe. We know many of our guest do their part at home to contribute to the sustainability of our planet and improve the health of all in it, but when they stay with us they are continuing to do their part even when they are on the road!

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Daniel at the Heart of Maine's Foliage Season

Camden Harbor, Maine (Photo by Cornexo)
Fall in New England is famous for many things, but above all else, is the yearly pilgrimage of the “leaf peepers” as they are known by some. It is the time of year when the color and beauty of New England foliage draws travelers from all over to see nature in its most vibrant state.

Mid-Coast Maine has its fair share of options to see colorful foliage and at our hotel The Daniel the staff is more than happy to help any fall enthusiasts find their way to visions of New England at its fall finest.

The foliage traditionally peaks around mid-October in the Mid-Coast region so you still have time to plan that perfect trip.

Maine’s state parks are some of the best places to target for leaf peeping.

Camden Hills State Park provides spectacular views of fall foliage and travelers can do so from the road to the top Mt. Battie, as well as from hiking trails on Mt. Megunticook and Bald Rock Mountain. 

The Donnell Pond Public Reserved Land in Hancock County near Sullivan and Franklin offers ambitious foliage enthusiasts hiking trails up Schoodic Mountain and Black Mountain that provide vistas on surrounding woodland, lakes and Acadia National Park across Frenchman's Bay.

For most, foliage viewing is traditionally an activity on the road and viewed through the auto window and Mid-Coast Maine has no shortage of options for a scenic foliage highway.

The Daniel recommends:
  • Tourism Driving Tour: Windjammers & Water Views
    Start in Brunswick and head north along the coast to Camden, then inland to Unity and south through Union and Damariscotta State Park.
  • Tourism Driving Tour: Acadia Harbors & Heights
    Begins in Bangor and then travel along the coast from Acadia National Park south, with many scenic lighthouse, water and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Million Dollar View (Route 1)
    This stretch of U. S. Route 1 offers travelers unsurpassed views of the Chiputneticook chain of lakes including East Grand, Brackett and Deering.
  • The Bold Coast Scenic Byway
    The 125-miles long Bold Coast route extends from the coastal fishing community of Milbridge eastward along the coast to Lubec, the easternmost town in the United States, and then scoops around Cobscook Bay to Eastport.
  • Blackwoods Byway
    The towns of Cherryfield and Franklin, which serve as gateways to this byway, offer many good examples of 18th century and 19th century architecture, as well as the chance to experience rural small town life. 
  • Schoodic National Scenic Byway
    This route passes through the only mainland section of Acadia National Park and beautiful Schoodic Point.
  • Acadia Byway All-American Road
    Following Route 3, this byway follows Route 3 into Bar Harbor, and then follows the park loop road thereafter.
If leaves aren’t your thing there are plenty of other things to do as well.

The Coast Bar +Bistro has a killer lineup of music throughout October.

On Oct. 3 is James Good Eye offering up a unique blend of alternative and rock, inspired by Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Emmylou Harris, among others.

On Oct. 9, is Aaron Nadeau, a rising young artists from Maine who combines masterful guitar with his own blend of poetic lyrics.

On Oct., 10 is Andrew Yankowsky, a singer/songwriter from Portland, Maine, who specializes in a unique vocal style and a mix of folk, rock, reggae and jam music.

What we do expect at The Daniel is a busy fall season and the numbers back us up.

According to a recent consumer survey by AAA, the fall is a popular time to travel and that — depending on the region — as many as three of four people plan to take at least one, overnight trip of more than 50 miles in the next three months. AAA has also reported that as many as 45 percent of the public reports they prefer “off-season” based on the potential for savings versus peak travel periods.

Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA, said that people like to travel in the fall because they can find great deals, a lot of this stemming to school being back in session, allowing for hotels and other attractions not being as crowded and lower rates. He added that fall travel prices can be at some of the lowest rates you can find all year.

New research from Enterprise Rent-A-Car suggests that brief road trips and long weekends — of which the fall is a popular time for — may actually be the most desired vacations of all, even more than the traditional vacation of summer weeks at the beach. Enterprise found that two-thirds of Americans prefer to take a one-day or weekend-road trip as opposed to the one-third who prefer to take a least a week-long trip.

Whatever your fancy, Boston East India Hotels and The Daniel are ready to be the center of your fall getaway!