Article | July 24, 2023
The September 11th attacks. The Great Recession. The COVID-19 pandemic.
All three of these seismic and tragic events have resulted in heartbreak to humanity, including loss of life and our emotional well-being both individually and collectively. Of course, accompanying these global crises were monetary meltdowns reminiscent of the Great Depression that commenced in 1929 and lingered until the late 1930s.
After a “relatively” calm 70 years, the United States economy has suffered three devastating developments inside the last two decades, alone. There have been wars fought throughout the world and inflation escalations along the way, to be sure, but the start to the 21st century has suffered escalating and unusually concentrated economic calamities some that have profoundly altered the very fabric of our lives, both personally and professionally.
Indeed, on the business front, such periods have been among the most perhaps the unequivocal most trying of times. Amid current circumstances as the coronavirus rages on around the globe, I recently connected with internationally-renowned business restructuring executive James “Jim” Martin, founder of ACM Capital Partners with offices in Charlotte, Denver and Miami. Having spent the last three decades leading international middle-market companies through periods of distress and transition to actualize stability and growth, Martin is uniquely well-positioned to share insights on how business can rally to best assure a “COVID comeback.” Here’s what he had to say.
MK: First, before addressing the current coronavirus situation, what can you tell us about how you’ve helped companies navigate previous “rough waters”?
JM: Relative to the September 11th attacks back in 2001, I’ll share a representative example of a strategic pivot that didn’t just help a company survive, but actually drove profit. After that horrendous event, I stepped in to assist a large aviation maintenance repair-and-overhaul facility whose revenue had been cut fully in half immediately following the attacks the result of many carriers permanently parking older aircraft (including the 727 fleet). The sizable challenge presented was to maintain a 1000-person labor force while allowing the industry the necessary time to recover. To do so, we created a captive subcontracting company to which we transferred one-third of our labor force. During our troughs, we contracted this labor to our competitors and, during peak periods, we utilized this labor for ourselves. Thus, not only were we able to retain our skilled, well-oriented labor force during the recovery, but that very staff actually provided additional, supplemental profit. The end result was that we sold the business for $138 million, which provided our new investors with a 33 percent internal rate of return (IRR).
Less than a decade after 9/11, amid The Great Recession in 2008, I entered another industry that proved to be among the most brutalized by a global economic downturn: automotive supply. My client was a key supplier to the “Big 3” U.S. auto manufacturers.
At the start of 2008, the industry forecast was the production of 18 million vehicles in North America. Come summer, however, it was clear the automakers would not come near reaching that forecast due to the financial crisis. This did not come as a complete surprise to us, though, because amid our firm’s protocols we had had already fully immersed ourselves in our client’s industry and employed forecasting tools alerting us of trends ... this one in the wrong direction. So, we were privy to the situation well before management and others within the industry. By late June 2008, we instituted cost-cutting maneuvers and furloughs that enabled the company to withstand the industry’s brutal second half of ’08 that would result in two of the “Big 3” automakers filing for Chapter 11. Despite the industry producing less than half—as much as eight million—of its original vehicle-production forecast, our client not only survived, but ultimately grew and prospered.
MK: Turning attentions to COVID-19, what do you feel is integral for businesses to survive and recover?
JM: For businesses to recover from the coronavirus shutdown, it’s going to take a two-pronged approach: both financial and human capital. Starting with the financial, it will be a “loan-ly” world for those not well-versed in the intricacies of SBA, PPP and other “economic disaster” lending. Consider how expeditiously those programs were rolled out. Then consider how even more quickly they were scooped up. Did anyone really read those loan documents in full, or even halfway through, initially or even to this day?
My guess is at least half of the companies receiving COVID-related loans took a very “CliffsNotes” approach to these agreements. The result is there’s a solid chance funds were used incorrectly, which is going to make a lot of the loans, shall we say, less “forgivable.” For example, if your company’s payroll roster is shorter today than it was pre-virus, the portion of the loans forgiven is likely to be less.
And while your mind may rush to claiming ignorance and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the government to which you already pay taxes, realize that third-party capital is likely to participate in this market through securitization. This means that thousands of SBA loans could be bought, then packaged to be sold to the secondary market, at a discounted rate, no less. If this happens, understand that the purchasers will have the full intention of holding their borrowers (i.e. small business owners) to paying back 100 cents on the dollar.
So, those companies who received loans and are required, but unable, to pay them back in full may be exposed to either foreclosure or, worse, a “loan to own” scenario. In other words, much like the agreement that comes with your big-tech user agreements, like those prompting users to “click agree,” the fine print matters.
What this means to recovery is that, once again, cash is king: gather it; preserve it; cease lines of credit; liquidate what you can; negotiate costs down with suppliers. And if your company had a healthy bottom line pre-COVID, than a professional familiar with these trenches can help you look to refinance or bring in equity.
With all of that said, the key to a COVID-19 recovery is going to be adhering to the rules of a lender’s road, as well as the ability to navigate the red tape when you veer off that road. If you have read all the fine print and properly managed your loan, congratulations! You’ve acquired some really cheap capital. For those who didn’t do their research, however, this road to recovery likely will need some paving.
MK: What about the human capital you mentioned?
JM: Yes, and then we arrive at the human capital. Lots of companies today are excessively top-heavy. Remember the part about removing emotions from this process? Companies that quickly recognize cuts need to be made will be better positioned to recover than those who dawdle. Again, compiling and preserving cash is going to best position a business for recovery.
This is an instance where it’s especially beneficial to know when to pull triggers (best if earlier than others) and to make decisions that are not based on emotions a tall order for many CEOs, which is why many turn to turnaround experts. However it’s undertaken, what’s certain is that reducing human capital is painful, but it is also often necessary and almost always beneficial.
The upside is that, when the virus no longer exits, businesses can already be well-positioned for a fairly quick recovery. Maybe not v-shaped sans a vaccine, but quick relatively speaking due to the downturn having been so specific to one singular causing factor.
MK: Tell us a bit about your role as and general value of a turnaround expert when turmoil strikes a business.
JM: During times of difficulty, owners and executives can greatly benefit from specialized knowledge that’ll help them best navigate those unchartered waters that are often entangled in a lot of red tape. So, turnaround experts bring to the table a litany of tried-and-true “been there, weathered that” experience and expertise. There’s simply no substitute for engaging with a partner whose entire mandate is ensuring your company’s survival and success during some of the most grim and challenging times it might experience those professionals who are willing to spend sleepless nights figuring out how to ensure the company meets payroll; who’ll work around the clock to keep the company’s doors open; and who can tackle challenges without being hindered by emotions that understandably weigh on a business owner or manager. It takes this kind of specialized expertise, experience and grit to lead companies through periods of distress and transition, to stability and growth.
No stranger to corporate chaos, during Martin’s own three decades as a globally-regarded turnaround expert, he has reportedly created and restored nearly $1.5 billion in value to lower middle-market companies; raised an additional $1 billion in capital; and managed mergers and acquisitions in excess of $500 million all collectively representing his company restructuring portfolio valuation in excess of $3 billion.
Today, as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on business operations far and wide, take heed that there are various key strategic and creative tactics that can help businesses not only weather the storm, but even emerge stronger and more financially secure on the other side.
Article | August 28, 2023
Technological advancements and the paradigm shift in the travel industry post COVID have altered the way we travel. Businesses have elevated their operations to a whole new level due to technological advances. The digital age has facilitated the travel industry's rapid recovery from the COVID crisis. Additionally, travel firms are embracing automation to save time and reallocate resources.
Business travel is resuming as restrictions ease. Companies spend a huge amount of money on travel. According to the York Journal, business travel has increased year after year and is expected to grow to be worth $1.7 trillion in 2022. It further states that businesses allocate around 10% of their revenue on business travel expenditure. So, now is the time for businesses to deploy travel software applications to automate some tasks.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) corporate travel costs is expected to climb by 26% in 2021 and 34% in 2022, despite the slow recovery.
The Nelson Research suggests that travel industry experts anticipate that the global digital travel market will grow at a 3.8% annual rate to reach $11.4 trillion. With these rising numbers in mind, travel agencies must step up their efforts to make the most of the situation.
Travel agencies often require different types of travel agency software, each serving a unique purpose supporting efficient and seamless operation. However, businesses must strategically incorporate automation into your travel system.
B2B Travel System - Automate Intelligently
A holistic travel agency software solution includes a travel system that automates real-time operations and streamlines the travel process in less than an hour.
Consider the nature of your firm while deciding on a software package and determining which business procedures should or should not be automated. Automated travel industry software, for example, accelerates sales, increases staff productivity, centralizes information, improves accuracy, streamlines booking systems, and coordinates and explores customer data.
An automated travel software is mobile and tablet friendly, allowing travel agencies to book hotels, tours, transfers, and other related activities through mobile devices and websites. It improves efficiency and enables the agency to save money and time.
Businesses Now Prefer Adoption of Technology Drivers for Smoother Customer Experience (CX)
The travel industry is highly dependent on customer experience. Therefore, enhanced customer experience is the new loyalty currency for the travel and hospitality industry.
Travel agents and tour operators utilize travel agency software to automate their regular processes. Many predict that emerging technologies, ranging from AI-driven personal assistants to connected devices, will increase opportunities to serve travelers better.
33% of tourists use a virtual travel assistant to plan their trips, says hotelMize.
In a survey conducted by DMA, about 59% of participants stated that they choose a travel company based on its value for money, and 58% prefer a travel company based on customer service.
Software for travel agencies simplifies the process of online booking, inventory management, package customization, back-office administration, itinerary design, facilitating business leads, and accounting to assist travel agencies in increasing bookings and lowering costs.
Consumers demand a seamless experience that is personalized to their specific travel requirements. With cutting-edge technology in place, travel and hotel businesses can significantly enhances customer experience (CX) and foster loyalty that inspires future visits and recommendations. In addition, the travel experience will be driven forward by technology, as customers will rely on AI and other customer experience technologies to assist them in managing the obstacles associated with modern travel.
List of Travel Agency Software That Can Transform Your Travel Business
Travel agent software enables travel agencies and associated organizations to boost revenue and simplify reporting. Choose travel agency software that can be customized to meet your specific requirements. Here are some travel agency software options that can be considered.
“When I promote my services to my clients, Travefy itineraries are one of my selling points.”
Lene Minyard, Owner - Perfectly Planned Journeys
Travefy lets travel consultants, tour operators, and other travel professionals save time, provide good deals to consumers, and increase sales by utilizing simple tools. This software generates visually appealing client itineraries or proposals.
Over 100 supplier integrations over 625 city guides
Live flight database
ClientBase is a travel agent-specific customer relationship management (CRM) program. Its advanced and enriching features make it a standout in tour and travel operator software, providing solutions for enterprises and travel agencies. A marketing database, a travel planner, and a contact manager are all rolled into one. ClientBase also integrates with remote information systems and booking engines.
The core ClientBase features are listed below:
Travenza is a cloud-based travel booking software for travel companies, tour operators, agents, and consultants. The suite includes reservation administration, quota management, payment processing, and marketing functionality.
Rezdy is a cloud-based business-to-business technology that enables tour operators to sell their products online and through different distribution channels. The open platform enables customers to connect their internal systems and online apps to a supplied booking engine. In addition, it assists distribution channels such as online travel agencies, marketplaces, and hotel chains locate and acquiring additional clients' items.
According to Zippia, the business travel sector is expected to experience a CAGR of 13.2% between 2021 and 2028.Therefore, travel companies must integrate new and immersive technology to expedite the process and provide a seamless travel experience for tech-savvy travelers. Technology has the ability to act as a generational catalyst for customer loyalty.
What are the benefits of automation in the travel industry?
Data and documents can be centralized in an organization
Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty
What is B2B travel software?
B2B travel software streamlines various travel operations. It helps travel agents and agencies access real-time data.
What system do travel agents use?
Travel agencies use airline inventory from multiple GDS (Global Distribution Systems) to find seat fares and book tickets.
Article | July 4, 2023
Over the past few days, I've looked at a few dozen travel industry predictor graphs, from a number of very credible sources. Below, I've compiled them all onto one graph to create the last predictor you need to understand for the next few weeks. I can say with almost certainty that one, or a combination of these is going to be quite accurate. What’s the point here? The point here is that there is no point. Nobody knows what will happen next week, never mind three years from now.
Article | June 20, 2023
Elevate your expertise with these must-read hospitality management books offering a comprehensive guide to enhance your skills, providing industry trends-related insights and live cases & examples.
In the constantly evolving hospitality industry, professionals must stay abreast of the latest trends and insights. Whether you are an industry veteran, an aspiring hospitality worker, or a student pursuing a degree in hospitality management, the right books can provide you with valuable knowledge and direction. The growth of the hospitality industry on a global scale has led to the emergence of a wide range of exceptional books that cover various topics. These include digital marketing strategy, e-commerce tourism, personal experiences, practical advice, and in-depth industry analysis. This curated selection of ten top books on hospitality management offers valuable insights into the industry, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve and enhance your expertise in the field.
1. Unreasonable Hospitality
Author Name: Will Guidara
For professionals in the hospitality and tourism sector looking to advance their knowledge of hospitality management, the book Unreasonable Hospitality: The Extraordinary Power of Giving People More Than They Expect is a must-read. One of the books on hospitality management written by Will Guidara, a former co-owner of the famous eatery Eleven Madison Park, it imparts essential lessons and insights from his journey to turn the struggling business into the world's best restaurant. Guidara emphasizes the transformative power of going above and beyond anticipation through extreme alterations, a strong collaboration between the kitchen and dining room, and remarkable, personalized kindness experiences. This national bestseller book encourages readers to discover the wonder in their work and produce incredible experiences for others with its captivating anecdotes and industry experts' wisdom.
2. Be Our Guest: Revised and Updated Edition
Author Name: Theodore B. Kinni
Be Our Guest: Revised and Updated Edition: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (The Disney Institute Leadership Series) is one of the essential hospitality management books for industry professionals seeking to improve their customer service skills. Based on the renowned Disney methodology, this book emphasizes exceeding customer expectations beyond mere satisfaction. The book reveals exceptional business strategies that underpin the enchantment of quality service, using insights not typically found in conventional workplaces. Whether one works in hotels, restaurants, or any other hospitality-related industry, reading this book on hospitality management will help envision new opportunities and provide techniques for exceptional customer experiences. In addition, Kinni has published twenty books on topics covering sales, marketing and leadership, targeting hospitality management as the focused audience.
3. First Class Travel on a Budget: How to Hack Your Credit Cards to Book Incredible Trips for Less
Author Name: Zachary Abel
Discover the secrets for five-star vacation on a specific back pocket budget with "First Class Travel on a Budget: How to Hack Your Credit Cards to Book Incredible Trips for Less." In this insightful guide, Zachary Burr Abel shares his expertise in navigating airline loyalty programs, credit card promotions, and hidden travel fees. With actionable advice and humorous anecdotes, reading this hospitality and tourism management book will help professionals learn how to fly first class, find deals on rental cars and hotels, earn airline points, and maximize credit card rewards. This invaluable resource is a must-read for anyone in the hospitality industry looking to elevate their expertise in managing travel and providing exceptional guest experiences.
4. Hospitality Management People Skills and Manners On and Off the Job
Author Name: Lyn Pont PhD
For professionals seeking to start their career or improve their career in hospitality, one of the must-reads hotel management books by Pont is Hospitality Management: People Skills and Manners On and Off the Job. This hospitality book covers various topics, including service, relationships, integrity, communication, personal image, and creativity. Focusing on soft skills and the cultural expectations of guests, Pont provides practical advice and industry insights to help readers excel in their careers. Whether you're a seasoned executive or new to the industry, this treasure trove of information will equip you with the necessary tools to deliver exceptional customer care, represent your organization with professionalism and confidence as well as help you to stand out in the competitive hospitality industry.
5. Strategic Management for Tourism, Hospitality and Events
Author Name: Nigel G. Evans
Strategic Management for Tourism, Hospitality and Events is a comprehensive guide designed to equip students in the hospitality industry with essential strategic management principles. This exceptional book bridges the gap between theory and practical through industry-based case studies and examples, offering a deeper understanding of strategic management in the context of tourism, hospitality, and events. The third edition of this book features updated international case studies covering SMEs and large-scale businesses integrated throughout to show the various applications of strategic management theory, big data, artificial intelligence, sustainability, and innovation. With accessible language and helpful features, this resource is a valuable tool for students seeking to enhance their knowledge and excel in the dynamic field of tourism, hospitality, and events management.
6. Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business
Author Name: Danny Meyer
One of the bestselling hospitality and tourism management books, Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, is a book by Danny Meyer, an acclaimed restaurateur behind successful ventures like Union Square Cafe and Shake Shack. Meyer shares his invaluable insights on developing a dynamic philosophy called Enlightened Hospitality, which focuses on fostering strong relationships within the organization and delivering exceptional customer satisfaction. It is one of the influential hospitality management books that draws from real-life experiences and teachings applicable to anyone in the hospitality industry or any business sector. This motivational work, considered a landmark in the field, provides valuable lessons for managers, executives, and staff, enhancing their effectiveness and deepening their appreciation for achieving excellence in their work to improve hospitality experience.
7. Operations Management in the Hospitality Industry
Editor Name: Peter Szende, Alec N. Dalton (Editor), Michelle (Myongjee) Yoo
To improve operations and enhance hospitality management expertise, the book titled ‘Operations Management in the Hospitality Industry’ is an essential resource for the tourism and hospitality experts. This book covers various topics crucial to operational success in restaurants, resorts, and other hospitality establishments, as well as equips readers with fundamental techniques and tools for analyzing and improving operational capabilities. With its comprehensive approach, incorporating key theories, frameworks, and industry examples, the book offers valuable knowledge for students preparing for their careers and working professionals.
8. Event Management for the Tourism and Hospitality
Author Name: Bonita M. Kolb
If you are looking for a comprehensive guide, Event Management for the Tourism and Hospitality Industries is a book designed to equip readers and practitioners in the hospitality industry with the essential knowledge and skills for planning, managing, and evaluating events. This book covers various topics, including visitor segmentation, budgeting, promotion, and post-event assessment, while addressing contemporary issues such as environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, technology, and community engagement. Through international case studies, readers will gain real-world insights and learn how to connect events with local heritage and culture, delivering personalized experiences to visitors. It is one of the best hospitality management books that includes a practical approach and detailed event plan outline.
9. Tourism Management
Author Name: Stephen J. Page
One of the best books for hospitality management and tourism by Stephen Page, Tourism Management provides a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles of tourism. Currently in the 6th edition the book offers a global perspective on the industry, and will not only benefit students pursuing a degree, diploma, or simply studying the subject, but it will also help professionals in the tourism industry. This book includes content on contemporary issues affecting businesses, enhanced sustainable development strategies to overcome climate change challenges, and a section with different perspectives from China and South America on using taxation to limit travel air behaviour. Furthermore, it combines textual content and features case studies with diagrams, and images, offering valuable insights into the evolving landscape of tourism management.
10. Hospitality Management: A Brief Introduction
Author Name: Roy C Wood
An easy-to-operate introduction for students of hotel and hospitality management and hospitality studies, Hospitality Management: A Brief Introduction offers a concise and comprehensive overview of the hospitality industry, making it an essential read for students new to the industry. Authored by Roy Wood, an expert in academia and practice, this book covers key areas such as employee relations, accommodation and food management, marketing and sales, industry strategy, management roles, education, and future trends. By drawing on a range of established research and incorporating the perspective of the hospitality consumer, Wood provides readers with a well-rounded understanding of the industry's realities and challenges. This book is a valuable resource for anyone studying or working in hospitality management.
The hospitality industry is transforming rapidly, driven by technological advancements, changing consumer expectations, and emerging trends. As we look to the future, hospitality professionals must proactively stay ahead of the curve and elevate their expertise. These hospitality industry books empower readers to navigate the evolving landscape, embracing innovative practices and sustainability and delivering exceptional guest experiences. By advancing their knowledge and embracing essential insights and strategies, hospitality professionals can position themselves for success in the dynamic world of hospitality management operations.