Friday, September 27, 2013

Yappy Hour

One of my favorite topics to write about is pets, especially how people are pampering their little friends.  “Humanization” is a new market trend that is emerging where people want to travel extensively with their pets.  As a result, more hotels are becoming pet friendly complete with “Yappy Hours.”  

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According to a 2012 survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Association 61 percent of all properties permit pets compared to 52 percent in 2010.  Consequently, pet friendly properties are rolling out their red carpets, especially for dogs.  In addition to pet sitting, some hotels are offering special branded (e.g., Ritz Carlton) doggy beds, special room service menus, “pet-icures” and even doggy reiki as a marketing ploy.  

The hotel chain that is leading the pack is Kimpton.  They report that approximately 100,000 pets stayed at their hotels (60) last year; 99 percent were dogs.  At their NYC location, the Muse, four legged guests receive an amenity bag consisting of several items; a water bowl, organic treats and a squeaky toy to name a few.  Some of their properties offer a daily complimentary wine hour known as the “Yappy Hour” where dog owners (a.k.a. guests) and their furry friends can mingle.  Their grand “Yappy Hour” is their annual October Howl-o-Ween party held at the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco where they award numerous Halloween costume prizes with one stipulation: all dogs must be leashed and friendly toward other dogs, children and people of all ages.

Make your dog yappy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Global Currency


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Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel decisively won her third four-year term.   Under her leadership, Germany has become an economic powerhouse thanks to her policies despite the current euro crisis in the European Union which drags on.  Being a follower of geopolitics, I am also aware other currencies around the world are beginning to experience hard times.  India’s rupee is depreciating rapidly since they are experiencing a deficit.  India is importing more goods and services than they are exporting.  Indonesia’s rupiah is at risk.  Add the Brazilian real to the list.   

What currency is stable?  Food!  Unfortunately there are still too many pockets around the globe that experience food security issues, but when we do have food, we love to share.  We might not share our euros, rupees, etc., but if we have food, we are willing to share with our family, friends and neighbors making it our global currency despite the ebb and flow of our financial markets.

What is your favorite global currency?

Monday, September 16, 2013


One of my favorite weekly columns is Adam Bryant’s Corner Office in the International Herald Tribune.  He interviews leaders in business.  This past year when he explored the entrepreneurial roots of some of his guests, several indicated they once were magicians.  Is there a correlation between CEOs and magicians?

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Adam’s latest magician was Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of Kind Snacks, a natural foods company.  Daniel’s rationale of why some former magicians have achieved success in the corner office:

“First of all, magicians practice a lot.  It requires a lot of discipline.  Second, you can’t be afraid to be a leader, to go on stage, and learn to have presence.  You need to be able to visualize and connect and create.  Most important, you learn to think outside the box.

Are you prepared to perform a little magic this week?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sushi & Condoms “To Go”

Entrepreneurial adage: One door closes, another door opens.  How true!  Here in Philadelphia on the Northeast corner of Broad and Chestnut streets, Borders closed their doors; Walgreens just stepped in with a super store.  Smart move given the forecast for food purchased at retailers for at-home consumption through 2022. 

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Last week I made my first visit to the new Walgreens.  When entering the store positioned by the door is a refrigerated island merchandising “grab & go” sandwiches, salads, wraps, sushi, fruit cups, bags of produce, boxes of strawberries/blueberries, healthy/unhealthy snacks, etc.  There were additional foods in the back of the store on floor one, as well as on the second floor complete with seating.  Impressive, but if you really want to be knocked off your feet, check out their super store at 151 N. State St. in Chicago complete with a juice bar, a selection of more than 700 wines, artisan cheeses and an assortment of specialty meats. 

The NPD Group forecasts that prepared food purchased at retailers for at-home consumption will increase by 10 percent over the next decade.  That does not bode well for restaurants which they project will grow at 4 percent.  Each demographic group according to NPD has a different set of needs; consumers 35 years and older are more likely to buy prepared foods from retail compared to consumers 18-24 who prefer snacks or seniors (+65) who look for lunch items.  Pizza, chicken, macaroni & cheese and sandwiches continue to be popular items.  

It is time for restaurants to step up their game.  Candidly it might be too late to pull consumers out of their homes and back into restaurants since everyone is opting for their in-home technology cocoons (e.g., gaming, social networking, movie streaming, etc.).  One area of growth will be takeout and delivery thanks to technology.  Consumers now have more options to order and pay via their smartphones when it comes to pickup “grab & go” or delivery.  However, restaurants will still be challenged to deliver quality food in a speedy fashion compared to what a Walgreens superstore offers. 

Restaurant Marketing Opportunity: Leverage online order data and proactively sell/market to consumers based on their order patterns. Otherwise, restaurateurs will continue to lose their fair share of stomach to consumers that stop at retailers like Walgreens on their way home to conveniently shop for Sushi and Condoms “To Go.”