Creating a sustainable business strategy is not just a good thing to do for the planet and its residents — it also makes excellent business sense. Building and implementing a strategic plan can grow your company, increase ROI and hike near- and long-term profitability. 

It is so key, in fact, that 44 percent of respondents to Grant Thornton LLP’s State of Sustainability in the Food and Beverage Industry Survey rated sustainability as being extremely important or important in their company’s business strategy.

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If you want to stay at a hotel with a brewery, record player or vintage typewriter for rental, you have a taste for boutique accommodations. But if you want these eccentricities and hotel reward points, you may have a problem. 

Unlike the mega hotel chains that partner with airlines and credit card companies to offer reward programs, most boutiques do not offer or accept points.

As a result, they struggle to win market share in the business world, where frequent travelers want points, perks and privileges in exchange for loyalty. However, boutique networks can not copy the big hotel chains and expect the same results. Boutique reward programs must be as distinct as the experiences they offer.

Whether consumers are traveling for business or leisure, the travel process itself can often be an added inconvenience. In fact, when it comes to family vacation planning, 89 percent of Americans say they become more stressed. Although travel can often come with its typical frustrations, travelers should be anything but stressed once arriving at the final destination, which is why language should never be a barrier. 

With an increasing expectation of superb customer experiences today, travel and hospitality brands need to step up their game.  We are seeing this with innovations like digital concierges and mobile check-ins. Yet, many brands are still missing the mark when it comes to a fundamental, yet critical aspect of customer experience: language. There is only one language that matters: the customers’.  With this in mind, businesses must understand that language lies at the heart of an excellent customer experience. 

Consumers are changing the way they use restaurants and a night out does not always mean a typical full-service, casual dining experience anymore. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. is responding to the new way restaurants are being used not only with its menu, but also with the look of its restaurants. 

“We are the evening out versus part of the evening out,” CEO Rick Frederico says. “Guests can order a couple small plates and a glass of wine and maybe sit at the counter, community tables or in the dining room. A lot of work and focus has gone into crafting our menus to give guests other opportunities to use the restaurant other than for just full-service, casual dining.”

P.F. Chang’s has spent the past year taking a hard look at its core menu and developing the types of dishes its guests want. “We will start to offer things we haven’t been able to in the past,” Frederico notes. “We have added equipment that allows us to do different things with the menu and be more aggressive on the creative side.” 

Hotel lobbies are no longer used as just waiting areas for travelers to move on to their next destination. The new hotel lobby provides a plethora of ways to power electronics and stay connected to the outside world or socialize over drinks and meet friends for lunch if you dare to look away from those devices.

At the debut earlier this year of the Virgin Hotels Chicago – the first-ever hotel for the brand – it was clear Virgin had done its homework on creating a new modern-day lobby that includes a social club with exclusivity for everyone. The Commons Club is at the heart of the hotel and is a dynamic space where guests can dine, drink, work and mingle, as well as attend the nightly hosted Social Hour. 

“The vibe is one of a private members club, without the fees, where guests and locals alike are welcome,” the company says. “The two-story space it occupies was the original bank floor with its beautiful coffered plaster ceiling.” 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released two final rules for menu and vending machine labeling on Nov. 25. Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments, significantly expands FDA’s regulatory reach into restaurants and beyond. The long-awaited rule stems from the Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health care reform law of 2010, and comes more than three years after the proposed rule was issued in April 2011. Because the final rule differs in many respects from the proposed rule and includes potentially burdensome requirements, including certification of nutritional content, covered businesses should begin preparing now for the Dec. 1 compliance date. 

In a significant departure from the earlier proposed rule, FDA’s final rule expands the categories of covered establishments to potentially include not just restaurants, but also movie theaters, amusement parks, concession stands, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues, convenience stores, coffee shops, bakeries, delis, grocery stores, supercenters and fitness clubs.  Schools and businesses that sell food but do not have a fixed location, such as trains, airplanes and food trucks, are excluded.

At an estimated 76 million strong, and comprising of approximately 33 percent of the United States workforce, millennial workers are experiencing some less-than-desirable labels and stereotypes from their more senior counterparts. However, much of this hype may not necessarily be accurate, and many of the issues cited may simply be “stage-of-life” issues versus characteristics indicative of this generation.  

Also referred to as Generation Y or the Net Generation, the earliest cited year of birth for millennials is 1976 and the oldest is cited being 2004. Although this incorporates quite a large span of ages, many think of Millennial workers as being those in their 20s and 30s – an age at which many are still accumulating the life experiences that their older co-workers have already had time to amass and learn from. It is certainly not uncommon for older generations to display less tolerance towards the younger generations during this “learning stage of life,” nor is it unique for older generations to “forget” what they were really like at that age. 

Search any travel site for a higher-end or luxury hotel and you’d be hard-pressed not to see some mention of “wellness” or “health” in their descriptions. In the age of CrossFit, hot yoga, and the need to mix activity with relaxation, this trend is likely going to continue. Even the land of buffets and excess is getting in on the trend. Yes, Las Vegas hotels are offering fitness-centered activities such as yoga (with live dolphins of course), Pilates and boxing classes. In 2015, expect to see further growth of the wellness trend and an increase in travel to top wellness destinations.

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