Please stop to say, that the market in Dubai is not mature enough.


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Just recently we have had a talk – a pitch to be precise with onestraw-man-31612_1280 investor / owner of a restaurant group. And when the topic came towards the market, this person mentioned, that the Dubai market isn’t mature enough.

While I have been quite diplomatic in this specific situation, a comment like this rather eats me up inside. I have heard this several times and it almost provedwrong:

  • The alcohol supplier said that the market is not mature enough, when I asked for craft beer. Now it is the fastest growing segment in their portfolio.
  • When I just started in Dubai in Vu’s Bar, some people have given me “good willed” advises, that Dubai is not mature enough, to offer premium (and more expensive) cocktails. Today – there are a lot of bars which do “mixology” and offer premium drinks – and a lot of guests are enjoying those.
  • I have heard the phrase anytime, when I was looking for some unique ingredients: produce, spirits, liqueurs, wine etc. a lot of those products are now here and are rather popular.

I find, that this is a lazy straw man argument. And the supporting arguments often don’t hold up, if you are checking them…

E.g. As I mentioned, I looked for craft beer about 6 or 7 years ago, but all supplier said, that they have nothing such. Then I found one outlet in Dubai serving Brewdog. Hence I went back to the suppliers to ask for it – and several times (within several weeks), both supplier assured me, that they would not have the respective brand in their portfolio – nor did they special imported it. But finally after consistent nagging, one supplier (which previously told me, that they don’t have Brewdog) confirmed, that they in fact have this beer brand available. Hence I ordered it. Without a lot of luck – because the logistics of the company didn’t new anything of the beer brand neither – and basically ignored my order. After I have followed up again with the account manager, they finally “found the product” – but their information was wrong – some of the SKU’s were not available (while others which were not listed were available). This all took several months to sort out – and I was quite happy, when I received finally my first craft beer in the UAE. I sold a couple of different craft beers of Brewdog rather successful – however after a few months, the beers were short expiration and finally discontinued by the supplier. The reason: craft beer doesn’t sell in in the UAE – and the drinkers are not mature enough.

I respectfully disagree – not only did the suppliers failed to advertise (or at least informed anyone of) the respective product, it hasn’t been listed and it seems, that everyone involved actively discouraged me (as client) to buy the product. To say then, that the market is not mature enough, is simply a lie.

Talking about bars, there are a lot of reasons, why a bars don’t work properly here. Inconsistency (quality, message, concept etc.) is one of the reasons. Sheer quality (or better said, the lack of it) is another reason. Leadership, vision, investment are all points as well. But honestly I don’t believe in one second that the market is not mature enough. Dubai is the hub for so many people, with so many diverse backgrounds – and a lot of them a well traveled. There are tourists, residence, business travelers. And the restaurant scene is also thriving… So – the market is mature enough, but often the entrepreneurs / restaurateurs / operators aren’t.


Are hotels in the UAE taking sustainability serious? What’s about brunch…


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You can browse any website of most major hotel (management) companies, you won’t fail to find a statement about a commitment to environmental sustainability. Today there is one new reality in business: don’t neglect the environment. And this is for Apple as important as for the next small hotel.

But how serious is it to the hospitality companies?

The issue here is, that most hotels and restaurants don’t serve as a great enemy stereotype for environmental protection groups. These companies are not traded and supported by big hedge fond banks, they don’t usually accrue billions of dollars cash and so on.

And at this point, they are still quite a (domestic) big job provider.

But for me it is particularly despicable, to claim to care for environment, but at the end, “you” just don’t!

There are few examples, but not one is s glaring (at least in Dubai) than the Friday brunch.

So what is it about?

Friday brunch is the Middle-East approximation of Sunday brunch. On the guest side, it is all about gluttonous indulgences. Eat and drink as much as you want for a more or less reasonable package price.

For the hotel it is already quite puzzling: due to the extreme competition, the hotels have to bring their A game. That means lobster, tenderloin, rib steaks, foie gras and sushi. The real issue is here: there is very little profitability. You might ask, why are the hotels doing it?
My answer is: I really don’t really know. There might be some misconceptions, that people who are visiting the hotel for brunch, are coming back – and that brunch is a great marketing vehicle. But if you have a glimpse of critical thinking, this is quickly debunked. Yes – maybe some guests are coming back, but those will hardly balance the expenses. Moreover due to the excessive competition in hospitality, people can choose very carefully, where to go. And brunch would be one of their least consideration.

But the real casualty is the environment. See – the original brunch was pretty good, for the environment, as chefs used the preparations/“leftovers” from the week and sold it all on the weekend – hence they didn’t needed to waste food. But nowadays it is exactly the opposite: Chefs are preparing a huge amount of food solely for brunch. And after brunch a lot of great food goes into the garbage bin.

Food waste is pretty bad in several ways: it fills (unnecessarily) landfills around the world. It also increases the food production, basically for nothing – which uses up more resources (water, soil, use of more fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides etc). And especially in Dubai it is increases additionally massively the carbon footprint (as most produce has to be imported from long distance production areas).

In my eyes it looks like that: only because owners and senior management teams think  that there is a hidden benefit of offering brunch, each hotel wasting using tons of carbon dioxide emissions, hundred thousand of liters of water, thousand of liters of fossil fuels and thousands of tons of waste (which is also often not even recycled or separated)!

I do understand, how difficult it is sometimes to act environmentally responsible; and often the resistance to change and the inconvenience can be so big, that it is a tough sell, to do something serious for more sustainability. However in this case, hotels going through great lengths and effort to offer “a promotion” which actively makes a lot of things worse (at least for the environment).

The frustrating part is, that there is an alternative, which might be more profitable, more sustainable and might become even more popular: offering an a la carte brunch (or late breakfast). Let people decide, what they would like to eat, and for good value for money prices charge, what they are ordering. As everything is made to order, there is far less wastage, the guest might even spend less money – it might be not as lavish and gluttonous, but it is more sustainable, better for the environment and especially better for the health of the guests.

A holistic approach to F&B venues


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I have just received and read an interesting article:

Serving up a great restaurant customer experience

To be honest, I do mostly agree with the article. Yes – a friendly, engaging, enabling atmosphere and approach to guests is important. However there is one big issue: Nowadays people (managers / directors) assume, that if you are good with guest engagement as well as complaint handling, you do have a winner venue.

I am sure, that you are not surprised, that I have got a very different opinion.

The issue here is, that guest engagement supposed to be part of the experience – not the only part of the experience. Guests/customers are dining out, to eat and drink; the quality of residential F&B is (or at least should) be a huge difference of what we F&B professionals should be able to offer.

But due to the very different focus I experienced, that <good> employees and job applicants are often very good “with guests”, but it is almost impossible to find staff, which is very good at the core-skills of their job.

I am for the moment in the process of hiring Head Bartenders. If I would have only guest engagement in mind, I would have found a couple of really great candidates. But as soon as I talk about bar, about beverage knowledge, these candidates are disappointing. I have to chose not the best one, but the least worst one in their job.

These candidates were working years (in average 4.5 years) as bartenders – at times they worked as bar supervisors, head bartenders, even as assistant bar managers (…) and yet they don’t sport a solid knowledge.
This isn’t solely the fault of the candidates. It is an issue, what we do have nowadays in hospitality.

My very own job is a result of this issue: when I was bar manager, I have trained my bartenders, I have negotiated with suppliers, I have amassed and used my beverage knowledge to improve my respective outlet.  If I evaluate my fellow outlet manager and assistant outlet manager colleagues now as beverage manager, I do see, that there is an obvious lack of technical prowess.

If the outlet manager doesn’t know, he/she won’t have an understanding about the qualification of his supervisors and bartenders (…). And if he/she does an interview, he/she doesn’t know, how to acknowledge these specific talents. Let’s not talk about training and setting training as priority!

To bring in a beverage manager doesn’t completely solve the issue, because it is about setting priorities and understanding weaknesses.

If you are buying a table of a carpenter, and this table doesn’t meet your expectations due to the lack of the skills of this very carpenter, you would not be completely satisfied, if the carpenter is engaging, very friendly and knows how to handle a complaint. You probably want to have a table, which meets your expectations!

We have to ensure, that we are not only focusing on the “soft targets” – the guest engagement, but that we are putting the craft first! My experience shows, that if you are knowledgeable and skillful (but still down to earth), the guest experience will follow almost automatically.



The connection between telomere (DNA) deterioration and bad venues


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There is a very interesting theory around – since we seen (The Old Man) Logan in the last movie. Check this out…

Telomere are the ends of  is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes…

When I seen the video about Wolverine and his issues with his “disappearing telomere”, I thought directly about F&B venues.

There are nowadays a lot of similar concepts of outlets. Usually the first “copies” of some outlets are “going strong” – are well functioning interesting concepts – even though they are based on other “originals”.
However there is a “dilution” taking place, which becomes apparent in a lot of restaurant and bars. Owner representatives and operators of restaurant groups and hotels see specific concepts thriving, and try to jump on the bandwagon; often copying not the original (which might be not “on-site” but copying the copy.

Hence the telomere of the original venues are “cancelled out” and essential “sequences of the DNA” of the original concept are corrupted.

The question is, if it is possible to counter-steer this effect. 

For sure, there are some points:

  • If you must copy a concept (…), try to find the original and not the copy of the copy – and try to understand the “essential DNA” of the specific venue.
  • If there is one specific trend/concept you want to follow, try to find the right chef – not a celebrity chef, but a upcoming talent, who either way worked in some of the original venues, or has a real connection to the specific concept.
  • Try to be authentic in yourself – and try to understand the essence of specific concepts.

The last point is quite interesting – because you see this often going very wrong. An example is Peruvian cuisine – since years you hear that this becomes the next big trend – and indeed Peruvian restaurants in Peru are thriving. However most people tend to oversee, that “authentic” South American cuisine is all about the produce – all about the ingredients. Hence it is possible to replicate Nikkei cuisine – but it is almost impossible to create the “new” Peruvian cuisine abroad (if you don’t want to stay with ceviche and few other genuine Peruvian dishes). 

At the end the restaurants becomes a type of Peruvian-Mexican-Latin fusion, which isn’t that exiting.

I think the best way is to find a chef who has respective roots and you give him widespread control over the respective concept. 

Screw caps on wine



More and more wines are sold in bottles with screw caps – and since wine is sold with screw caps, there is a lot of controversy about this topic.

If you are pragmatic, you would know, that a screw cap is far more advantageous. It is easy to use and opens without an additional tool. It closes the bottle air tight. It is has less impact in the environment – and the wine will less likely have a cork taint (the wine could still has contact with TCA, while it is produced – but most of the time, the cork is the offender).

Cork is more romantic. More natural. Some people argue, that wine in cork ages better (it has at least a long history of being “ok” in aged wines).

I have had a quite interesting conversation with Thibaut of Mouton Rothschild – as they are also changing some of their lower wines to screw caps. And this discussion just fueled my imagination.

Why are screw caps so controversial?

There are three important points. One is traditionalism – corks were used through hundred of years – maybe even millennia. People are quite resistant to change – even though there are objective reasons for a change. Corks are also relatively cheap – maybe this is the reason for the whole TCA dilemma… some innovations like glass corks (I think these are really cool) were just dismissed, because they were substantially more expensive.
Hence screw caps are the underdog. But I do think the real issue is, that they “feel cheap”.

We are in an era, where there are amazing glass bottles and closures – especially the liquor industry is constantly innovating this area. However the wine makers are using usually very cheap screw caps. The result is, that a certain sensual thing in the opening process get lost.
For a cheap bottle of wine, this is ok. However if you have a more expensive product, you like to be “soothed” by a sensual experience.

All is not lost!

There are different options, to improve the “look and feel” of screw caps. I would first of all change the thread: more “travel” and a noticeable point, which can be felt, when he bottle is closed or opened. Second: a coating on the thread. There is nothing worse than a “grainy” feeling, when you open a bottle – a coating on the bottle thread or the cap thread would ensure that the opening is smooth and enjoyable. Three: heavier cap – this for sure would increase the cost (probably only marginal), but having a less flimsy, maybe longer cap, would also just improve the experience.
There could be also the option, of using a small disc of cork instead of the usual rubber seal. These small discs would be far cheaper to produce and sterilize than corks, but would also ensure connoisseurs, that only natural materials are touching the wine (on the other hand, you would built in a chance for fail – this would though be an interesting compromise).

I am sure, that there are many further ways, to improve the screw cap.

What do you think dear Reader? Do you have any further ideas? Or do you hate screw caps and only buy wines with corks? Please feel free to comment your thoughts.

In these instances I also do see, that I might look for an opportunity in the consulting industry…


Government Simulation


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I do agree, that this hasn’t got anything to do with my job. However in the age of Brexit and Trump as presidential candidate (and probably upcoming: Dwayne Johnson vs. Kanye West in the next elections), but also chaotic governing in other countries, everybody should ask him & herself – what we can do besides of the rather passive voting? In the first world countries a revolution or putsch seems quite improbable. In the age of science, maybe the same can help us to resolve some issues?

In modern democratic politics there are basically two theories, which are competing against each other: the conservative idea: reducing the tax of the rich and the enterprises and deregulation of the trade, in the hope, that this will create more jobs (due to higher profits), more spending – and the liberal or rather social-democratic idea: protecting the worker, regulating (and controlling) the trade and nowadays: reducing the national dept.

Especially in the US, the democrats though changed from a party which stood for more social equality to a party which is “centre” – basically a relatively balanced governing (however the worker get less and less a representation in this politics).

These are two theories (obviously there is also the more progressive left-democratic side – though usually they aren’t very successful in elections – but it is nonetheless important to mention…) – but which is right? Or even more importantly, is an elected party or leader able to implement his political promises? And which implication would those action have?

Let’s just look for a moment in job fields, which are rather dangerous or complicated: a pilot, usually learns to fly on a simulator. Big parts of nuclear science or bio science is also done on simulators and simulated concepts. Even military strategies are simulated.

I do think, that politics has also a big impact on the safety of the citizen – often it is even a matter of life and death (think about war, crime or citizen unrests). So why shouldn’t potential political leader do a government simulation?

I am sure, that it cannot all be done with a software – but most of the scenario could be virtual – with real politicians and political scientists interacting. Obviously it also has to be a hybrid several disciplines society, economics, military, ecological, media (…).

Not only can the candidate and his team show, that he can successfully govern a country, you could see, how active or passive a candidate is, but every citizen could see, the results of respective actions.
For example, a lot of problems are far more complex, as a lot of people would like to see: let’s review one “solution” Trump has: He would like to ban Muslims and he things, that this would lead to more safety. But much more likely, it would have the opposite effect: If there is someone who literally target every Muslim, there is a far higher rate of radicalisation, support(er) for the radicals, as well as actions. Even with far higher spends into the police force, it is unlikely, that this could be kept under control. It further would have a very negative effect on the relations with other 1st world democratic countries, which would have a negative effect on trade. International (Islamic) partners, would also purchase their goods (mostly weapons) – in other countries than the US (Saudi Arabia is investing billions of dollars in American weapons, as well as the UAE, Oman and further Arabic countries). America would become “really” the bad guy. There might be even embargoes… Similar reactions could be expected for Trumps “ethnic cleansing” of latinos.

It doesn’t need a lot of intellect and intelligence to understand this cause and effect – but apparently about 50% of all Americans (*cough* Republicans) simply don’t even own this mental resources. In a simulation, people could see the effects on their virtual lives – hence it would be rather easy for them to agree or not agree.

A simulation would take out the guess work out of politics.

I think, that this would be a brilliant idea – and instead of voting for the candidate which has the most campaign funds, or the candidate which tries to get the votes through fear and anger (fascists’ traits), a candidate could be preferred, which really would have the ability to change things to the better.

I don’t say, that “building” this simulation would be easy. I believe that faculties for computer science and political science could join forces and for once (especially for latter) do something with a real practical and positive outcome.

Do I miss something? Why did nobody yet had this idea? Let’s discuss!




Pokemon Go – 5 points what does it tells us.


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There is a good chance, that some conspiracy theorists connecting the dots: Pokemon Go, Trump & Brexit (besides of other big “news” this year). I am not one of those – I don’t believe in non-existing conspiracies.

But even if you don’t believe in a “big brother watching you”, it moves us – it is not far away from our daily lives. Let’s focus on Pokemon Go…

You might think, why does this crazy grown up guy talks about a game for teenagers? Because grown up guys are playing it (in fact, I don’t play it). Because it has a very real impact in the live of “grown ups”. For example the stock market (at the point when this article was written, Nintendo just overtook Sony on the stock markets).

So let us do some bullet points, shall we? These are the points, which Pokemon Go tells us:

  • The market mechanics are broken!
    Yes Pokemon Go is a mass phenomenon, but the basic app is free, Nintendo is also not earning 100% of the revenue and the trend might just be short-lived. Does Nintendo deserve to raise their stock market? Yes! But their games and consoles were lower than average successful, hence to rate a company just on one successful game, is insane.
  • As entrepreneur of a physical business you have to be very naïve not to invest, into the different payed participation models.
    Businesses need footfall and Pokemon Go is creating footfall, like nothing else beforehand. In these not so rosy times, the Pokemon “Lures” look laughable cheap – businesses should be really think hard before rejecting this.
  • Augmented reality is a winner, when it comes to future trends/technologies!
    Yes, Googles Ingress didn’t faired very well – but maybe because augmented reality just needed a well known “vehicle” like Pokemon to be embraced by the masses. I would be surprised, if Ingress wouldn’t also become far more successful (the company which developed Pokemon Go is Niantic, the same company which developed Ingress and the engine Pokemon is programmed on is basically Ingress).
    And further – if other good applications come out for AR, the market will further expand – obviously AR has to be developed further, which will definitely have a direct impact into the development of mobile device hardware!
  • Sometimes “we” are all wrong, when it comes to, what people really want!
    I have said it so often – that very often people don’t really know, what they want (and usually I refer to the TED video of Malcolm Gladwell). Those readers who thought, that a game about Pokemon can interest adults, please raise your hands… now please only those should keep their hands risen, who don’t lie…! Even “current world’s most progressive chef” René Redzepi tweeted, that one guest of Noma played Pokemon Go throughout his/her complete dinner…
    I am often quite in touch with trends, but even me I never seen it coming!
    This isn’t bad at all – but it teaches us, that we should watch out, by making assumptions. Your customers just might need/want/desire something completely different, than what your objective thinking or (flawed) research is telling you!
  • Pokemon Go is a battery drainer.
    This point might wonder some people even more than previous points. However how do you attract people, which are playing battery draining (and data package diminishing) mobile games? By offering them free charging and WIFI.
    While I don’t really like signs, that “Pokemon are for paying guests only” (frequently seen globally), you can easily reserve your WIFI connection and your chargers to paying guests.

As you can see, there is a nation-economical side, a psychological – society side and a very real business sides of Pokemon Go. You might not be able to tackle the first two points – but for sure, you could benefit out of the last one!

Cash Margin Approach for Beverage Pricing


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calculator1-300x262Since quite a while, the two beverage suppliers in Dubai (or “the few” in the UAE) are approaching the hotels for a so called “cash margin approach” when it comes to wine pricing. There are few reasons, why I am not a fan of their approach (not the approach overall).

  1. Both suppliers have quite high prices. One reason off course is the pretty high taxation of alcohol (as well as the method of taxation, as it takes the price of the beverage as basis) – but another reason is simply, that Dubai has a duopol and you simply don’t have options to buy your alcohol commercially anywhere else. Talking then about pricing seems just a bit… hypocrite.
  2. In their presentations, they are comparing several “pairs” of restaurants – their pricing and their sales – however even though the restaurants might have similar stats, you simply cannot compare individual restaurants. If it comes to statistics, the bigger the sample size, the more accurate – the smaller, the more inaccurate (or the creator can choose, what the statistic should proof – which isn’t an objective proof, due to obvious reasons).
  3. No analytical support or base. This is a bit more difficult to explain – but when I asked my contacts of the respective liquor company, if they could give me a function / formula to calculate the prices, they told me, that this is exactly the point, not to just blindly calculate it.
    I respectfully (but also full-heartedly) disagree! If you cannot solve a problem analytically, it is probably not based on an adequate business model! Off course I wouldn’t blindly follow a certain formula, but use it as a rough guideline.
    Rest assured that it is really a tough thing, to create a formula, I am not a math geek, and found out, that really nobody in my surrounding is. On the other hand I feel, that if a supplier support this approach, that they should also invest into a proper analytical approach.
  4. It is a risky business: owners and owning companies are looking at the bottom line as well as the cost. It is not necessary, that they are tightly controlling every figure, but in case, that this approach doesn’t work (basically wine sales stay stagnant at lower prices – that means lower revenue and far higher cost), they won’t be very happy (rather the opposite). This is a high risk to take.

So – as said, it is not so much the concept I am against – it is an approach, you do have in a lot of countries and hotels. It is rather the execution, which leaves too many questions unanswered. When I was in hotel school, we learned to use a “mixed calculation” for beverage items (cheaper products will have a higher margin = a lower cost and more expensive items will have a lower margin = higher cost), which is similar to the cash margin approach – only that it is rather understated and doesn’t take “its mouth too full”.
Unfortunately we used “ranges” of prices and not a more complex (but more accurate) formula.

Because if it is the said cash margin, which should improve sales, you would also need to analyze the benefits and should have an analytical base – an app would be really cool!

What do you think? Would you agree? Do you have a formula for a mixed-calculation?
Please comment below!


Overused Excel Spread-Sheets?


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database_800I am working now give or take 20 years in the hospitality business. I worked in “normal” operations in different positions, updated concepts or changed them entirely, I did also openings.

When it comes to admin two applications are really widely used: Word and Excel.
I don’t question here the use of Word (well, I believe, that Word isn’t often exactly the perfect solution; often it is also underused, when it comes to its potential) – but the use of Excel.

MS Excel (or other spreadsheet applications) is great for what it is made for – “to do numbers” and calculations. But, funny enough in a hotel most of the department don’t use Excel for what it is made for – but they are using Excel as a simple (and lackluster) database.

The problem is, that Excel isn’t a database application. And this shows…

While I can understand, that in the day to day operation, database apps seem like an overkill (a database has to be “developed” which takes definitely longer than starting to type into Excel; however on the long run, it would be a far more convenient – and definitely far better tool – which is easier to use day to day – and also has other advantages as reporting etc.).

Though I am surprised, when it comes to openings – that the development team of venues, still use Excel.

Imagine the OS&E list for a new opening. Equipment often isn’t so straight forward – so pictures are often included. There is a lot of information which is needed. Let’s face it: a) Excel is pretty much the worst application, handling pictures; and b) The table becomes very confusing.
This is overall the problem with excel spreadsheets (besides of the lack of reporting features): it becomes unclear.

Databases are different. You can have a reduced list, which doesn’t look any different than an Excel spreadsheet (in fact, good databases can export their data into .xls) – for the same data, you can also add fields for pictures, for videos, for sound (not often needed in a hotel) and so on. This is then displayed in a form, in which you can see one or several sets of entries. You can also export this into pdf so other people without the database have access to it (suppliers, etc).

Another example, where a database would be great is a Masterwine list. I have one in Excel, and it is bothering me every day. I created it – but I have added all necessary information – however this makes it very difficult to work with! A database would be so much easier.

So why isn’t a database used more widespread?

I believe this has several reasons:

1) MS Access. It is just a nightmare – Microsoft did really a bad job in making this application accessible (to pun intended). The result was, that people just overlooked the whole category and cross-used Excel, which is maybe not as suitable- but it is far easier to learn and understand.
2) Other applications were not much easier to use than Excel. MySQL is one which comes to my mind, and I feel, as I would need to be a hacker (or programmer), to be able to pull a proper database of.
3) Costs and Filemaker…filemaker-icon
Filemaker is definitely my favorite database application by far. In the current version (14th iteration!), it is WYSIWYG, it works as a modern application, you can use templates, and you can just make it as easy or as complex as you like or need. But there is a hook. Like other “killer” application (looking at you Adobe), Filemaker has a cost, which isn’t really as accessible as it gets (Microsoft applications are established and come often preinstalled on computers, so are no factor) – we are talking about 330 to 550 US dollars per individual license! Obviously there are discounts for 5 and more licenses etc. – but let’s face it, a normal company usually doesn’t spend that money in an application, which they (GM’s, Directors etc) don’t understand.

In my company Filemaker isn’t even endorsed by the corporate IT – that means, it can’t even “legally” installed on company computers!

This is a pity, really. Because “corporate life” could become so much easier, if you could use a database. Think about Facebook, or Outlook (or any other mail application), or warehouse programs, or even iTunes… these application, we all like, we all feel comfortable with are databases. Yes, they are developed and all… but an application like Filemaker, makes it extremely easy for the user, to create simple databases.

Filemaker is not even only great, because of its simplicity and WYSIWYG features – but they also offer a free iOS app, in which you can insert (and delete) records and even use advanced features like QR or barcode readers and so on (or adding pictures to the database directly from the camera of the phone/tablet).

This is my very own opinion about Filemaker. I really searched for free or less expensive database solutions (Filemaker had for a time a more domestic targeted application called Bento- but took it from the market) – but really never found one. Hence I don’t need to be paid (nobody sponsored me), to voice my opinion here.

If you would know a different solution, which is as flexible, modern, easy to use (…) please let me know.

To Filemaker Inc.- if you would like to sponsor me a couple of licenses, please feel free to contact me 🙂




The Concept behind the People


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The position now at the Ritz-Carlton hotel is my 9th (or so) major position in a “super-luxury” hotel. And what most companies don’t really want to know (or want to say) is, that at least their projected people focus, their vision & hallmarks are very similar.

Every hotel company would like to employ great staff – which looks perfectly after their customer – with the focus on great engagement and great friendliness.

Yes – the execution is widely different, as well as the operational priority of these goals (and I have to admit, that The Ritz-Carlton in my eyes have to most serious attempt to keep the guest focus consistently on a high level).

This is has following consequences:

  1. The industry becomes more guest oriented & the overall standard rises.
  2. It becomes difficult to differentiate one brand from the other – after looking behind the “hotel crest”.
  3. Guests are expecting the best service – anywhere, anytime.

There are definitely further issues – e.g. that attitude not necessary translates into great skills. But this I will keep for now for a future post.

The main issue from my perspective is the perception and expectations of a guest, when he has the first time contact with the hotel. If the person would have just heard of The Ritz-Carlton and would have booked a room, he or she would expect a “regal” hotel. Very luxurious, very polite staff – but maybe ever so slightly distanced & proud on the verge to slightly arrogant.

However the guest finds very personal, very warm staff, very “close” – almost like extended family members.
Don’t get me wrong here – this are great news for guests, which are regulars and staying again and again in the hotel! But it is also a dissonance between brand (and brand reputation) and reality.

We need some brands to be elevated, “not for the common”, “not easily accessible”. Brands like Ferrari or Zenith watches, aren’t the most accessible and “friendliest” brands.

It seems to be unexpected, but I sense that there are guests, which are not “fully engaged” not because we are too friendly, but because their expectations are not met due to our approach.

Think, that you wanted to buy a Ferrari but you sit in a Bentley – the interior is equally good (if not better), it is beautiful, there is nothing where you can point your finger on, which doesn’t meet your objective expectations (even the performance is more than what is needed in the real life usage), but just the arrogance and madness is missing. I know – this example isn’t really the best one could imagine…

It comes down to the guest psychology. There are brands out, which target casual luxury – and the guests would be happy. The challenge here is, that The Ritz-Carlton doesn’t really target with its brand to this market.

If I think about it, it is the moment, when an employee which seem to be very “regal” (excuse the repetitive use of the word- but there are few words which can describe this “attitude”) interacts with a guest and let his/her guard fall and become personal. This would be really “magical” moment.

In history the most “impressive” personalities were in positions, which gave them a sense of royalty, but they countered with warmth and friendliness (Princess Diana is coming to my mind). Yet, you cannot be “Barney” in a top-luxury hotel uniform… There has to be a transformation happening, which creates this “magic”.

The challenge would be, how to manage to have this different “feel” at the hotel.
At The Ritz-Carlton I do feel, that the corporate, but also the top management does a lot to instil the Ritz-Carlton culture as well  as that we are a very special hotel company. However truth to be told, that at times this got lost in the day to day operations. Hence yes – it will be a challenge to implement this even more complex philosophy.

I guess uniforms is one thing, which can visibly do a change. I am thinking of a mixture of the past and the present… traditional formats hotel uniforms with contemporary cuts & details.

Maybe the name batches would be another thing, which could make a difference – instead of Dominik or Dominik Schachtsiek, Mr. Schachtsiek or Mr. Dominik S. would make a statement (eventually our credo is “We are ladies & gentlemen, serving ladies & gentlemen).
Using the good name makes us very casual in our environment – maybe at times too casual; – hence changing this, could “raise awareness”.

Having elegant events (like a GM’s cocktail), with a bit more of conventions, would also give the guests the sense of dealing with a “royal” hotel.


This is my personal opinion! I don’t meant to say, that there is something substantial wrong in our overall strategy… but I think, that there is definitely an opportunity to build the brand stronger. Maybe this would result in a decline of growth of the brand. But this could be countered with the creation of a brand, which is less regal and  more accessible, yet as luxurious as the Ritz-Carlton. And I took only The Ritz-Carlton as example, because I am working here and have experienced the culture. I am sure, that you could say the same for FourSeasons or Mandarin Oriental…

What do you think? Am I maybe totally wrong – or is there truth in my opinion?