Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

This week millions of people on the East coast are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Instead of taking the usual hurricane route into the Gulf of Mexico, the category one storm took an unusual turn last week and is now headed directly for the Northeast. Major cities are taking extra precautions to stay safe these next few days. New York City, Atlantic City & Washington DC are among the countless cities being affected by Sandy. Residents have been urged to move inland to higher ground and some coastal cities are also implementing mandatory evacuations for the safety of their residents.
In New Jersey, the governor has declared a state of emergency and ordered all schools and state offices to be closed on Monday 10/29.  It is unusual for a hurricane with category one strength to reach the Northeast, but it has happened before. Last year Hurricane Irene plagued the northeast with buckets of rain and heavy winds. This year in preparation for Sandy, New York City has practically been shut down. All mass transit into and out of the city is out of service until further notice.  Thousands of flights have already been cancelled and the busiest airports in the Tri State area are closed until Sandy passes, with each of the three big NYC airports having over 1000 cancellations each just today.
Pieces of the historic Atlantic City boardwalk floating in the Atlantic
 With some of our clients residing in the Northeast, we urge you all to stay smart and stay safe!

Worlds Most Colorful Destinations

If I had to choose a word to describe wintertime in Chicago, I would say gray. After being here for just over four years, my memories of the winters leave me with gray momories. Not to say I didn't have a good time during the gray months, but even the colorful Christmas lights and holiday cheer was masked by a gray shadow that arrives in mid-November and leaves when it pleases, sometimes hanging around until February, other times just chilling (literally) until April. With the gray months just around the corner, I wanted to explore some of the worlds most colorful destinations.
First stop- Old San Juan, PR
Colorful Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
With the warmth of the ocean and the most colorful houses on the island, Old San Juan boasts colorful streets, perfect for someone looking to take a stroll during a sunny afternoon.
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
With an even brighter exterior than those of Old San Juan, the buildings in Bo-Kaap are reminiscent of something like a carnival. Coupled with cobblestone streets, the bright and vivid building colors make for a phenomenal photo op!
 The Poppy Fields of Holland
Multicolored Poppy Fields in Holland
Who said only buildings can be colorful? These poppy fields in Holland offer an exceptionally beautiful and colorful view of the land if seen from an aerial perspective.
Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy
Colorful houses create a picturesque community at Cinque Terre
 Part of a rugged section of the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre is home to some of the most colorfully beautiful areas in all of Italy. The stacked multi-colored houses and apartments hang on the edge of cliffs, hovering over the ultramarine waters of the Ligurian Sea.

Hello From Orlando!

This week Percipia is in Orlando at the HFTP Annual Convention & Tradeshow. This year the show is being held by our friends over at Rosen Shingle Creek. We all get incredibly excited for trade shows because it is an opportunity to meet so many great and interesting people and learn more about their businesses all while promoting our own products and services. This year, our CEO Michael Velasquez, Director of Business Development Katherine Lang and our Global Director of Sales Kevin Yarnell all flew down to Orlando to network and promote our company. Next month we have another trade show in San Diego to attend, but we’ll talk more about that when it gets closer. In the meantime, take a look at some of these pictures from the HFTP Convention!
Welcome to HFTP!
Our booth at HFTP
Nice to see our phone in the guest rooms!
A Rosen Shingle Creek demo now on the iPad
The beautiful view from one of our guest rooms
And finally a special congratulations to Kevin Yarnell and the Last Vegas team for winning an award at this years HFTP Leadership Conference! Way to go!

Airlines and iPads

With the popularity of the iPad on the rise, American Airlines is the first major airline to implement Apple's tablet in its flight plan. In mid-September, American Airlines received the OK from the FAA to use the iPad on planes in the Boeing 777 fleet "during all phases of flight". This means that pilots can use the device for pre-flight preparations as well as during and post-flight operations. The program has been named the "Electronic Flight Bag Program", and the overall goal is to move away from relying simply on paper manuals.
From the moment they arrive to work to the moment they leave the plane, pilots have an immense amount of paperwork not only to complete but also to refer to. Using the iPad to replace such items will provide a  more convenient way for pilots and crew to access all their necessary documentation. This new initiative will also save American Airlines an estimated 1.3 million dollars a year in fuel costs previously caused by the weight of these paper manuals. Typically, a pilot's flight bag weighs around 35 pounds. With the iPad now allowed in the cockpit, the flight bag may become obsolete.
American Airlines is in the process of testing the use if tablets by crew members by supplying iPads to all pilots within the 777 fleet.  These tablets will be preloaded with the proper software - serving as the first step AA is taking towards becoming a fully "paper-free" airline. Additional plans include phasing out all paper flight manuals in 2013 as well as using iPads for flight attendants. With the 777's becoming the first fleet within American Airlines to make use of the iPad, we're left to wonder how long it will be until every fleet within American is equipped with the tablets.

Mobile Booking

Nowadays, practically anything can be done via cell phone. From booking hotels to making restaurant reservations to game playing even to shopping- it literally is a hand held computer. Within the hospitality realm, mobile reservation making is becoming more and more popular. Mobile booking apps are making some serious headway and more and more travelers find themselves booking their hotels and flights from their phones.  Check out this website to gaze an an awesome travel infographic about how mobile phones are taking the travel industry by storm! Here's a an idea...
Have you ever booked a hotel or flight from your phone?

Atlantic City or Sin City?

Las Vegas and Atlantic City - two cities known for their casinos. Each year (especially in the summertime) both cities become populated with tourists from all over the country, both gambling and non-gambling alike. In some cases, Atlantic City is considered the "little sister of Las Vegas". If you're stricken for which city to visit in order to get tour gambling fix, look no further. Here are a few things to consider when deciding to hit Sin City or Atlantic City:
Size: First things first- Las Vegas is huge. There are more casinos than you can count along the strip, so if you're looking for unlimited options, LV is the place to be. If you want a more intimate and not so crazy experience, Atlantic City wins. It has many of the gambling options LV has, just turned down a notch.
Weather: Las Vegas is an oven in the summertime. Temps reach the 100's daily, and although there is obviously air conditioning indoors, one step outside for heat-haters might be the end. The wintertime months bring pleasant warmth to the strip, so it's a perfect winter vacation. As for AC, summertime temperatures do get up there but thankfully there is a nice ocean breeze to cool you off if the heat becomes too much. If you're really feeling adventurous, the ocean is readily available for your swimming pleasure. The wintertime is COLD. Snow and rain generally plague the Jersey coastline, so it's probably not too desirable unless you're into that sort of thing.
Sights: Without gambling, there is still a lot to do and see in Vegas. Just walking the strip at night can be interesting in itself- you can have a grand ole time without emptying your wallet onto the craps table. There are countless restaurants, clubs, museums and sights to mull over. And the lights! The lights alone will make your trip worthwhile. On the other hand, Atlantic City is more low-key. Without the casinos there is a beach and a boardwalk, but nothing that even compares to the flashiness of LV. It all depends on what you want in a vacation.
Speaking of AC & LV, a quick shout out to both Eastside Cannery Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City. These Percipia clients are big names in their hometowns.
Eastside Cannery’s unique exterior lures in tourists from all sorts of places. Located on Boulder Highway in Las Vegas, these luxurious rooms offer unique views of the city and the resort has a casino that boasts variety. With countless bars and restaurant recommendations, Eastside Cannery is certainly a worthwhile place to visit when in Las Vegas.
The Borgata in Atlantic City offers top notch hospitality service, dining, gaming and entertainment. Located right on the beach with views of the Atlantic Ocean, Borgata has become famous for its luxury and class. The casino has over 3,000 slot machines and 25o table games, perfect for any gambler that doesn’t want the craziness of Las Vegas.
These are just a few comparisons between LV and AC. Do you want a crazy, unforgettable trip to the Nevada desert? Or would you prefer a more laid back quiet trip to the eastern seaboard? Then again it is completely what you make of it. The choice is yours. Which do you prefer?

Top Halloween Destinations

Halloween is quickly approaching, and it's definitely time to take out those costume boxes. With the influx of jack-o-lanterns and haunted houses that are about to appear around every corner, it seems appropriate to take a gander at some of America's most famous spooky cities.
Salem, MA
Home of the Salem Witch Trials, this eccentric little town holds a lot of scary history. Beginning in 1692 and lasting only a year, quite a handful of individuals were accused of practicing witchcraft. They were stoned, hanged and executed in a variety of ways. Salem now remembers the Witch Trials history by holding an annual Halloween festival every year. The streets crowd with ghosts and ghouls alike, making it a top destination for anyone looking for a scary good time.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is one of the greatest cities in the country, and also one of the scariest during Halloween season. Alcatraz in particular offers tours of the famous military prison called "Alcatraz After Dark". Patrons get a guided tour of the jail, and experience the  creepy and unsettling feeling of the shady jail cells in addition to other rooms in the building.
New Orleans, LA
If you're looking for a not-so-frightening getaway this Halloween season, take a trip to New Orleans. With its yearly Halloween parade, the city celebrates by filling Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny. People decorated in all sorts of Halloween gear celebrate by singing and dancing and showing off their outlandish costumes. The architecture of some of the old buildings throughout the city create a spooky vibe bound to be enjoyed by visitors from all over.
Savannah, GA
Dubbed America's most haunted city, Savannah has the history to scare anyone. From world famous murder trials to bloody Civil War memories, Savannah is the place to be if you're looking for a scare. There are countless ghost walks, all looking for any unsettling inkling of Civil War soldier souls still walking the streets.
Chicago, IL
And just to throw in our hometown pride, Chicago is bound to thrill, scare and entertain you! Aside from Halloween parades and the annual Haunted Hotel Ball, Chicago is also home to the murder castle of H.H. Holmes, a haunted house based on America's first serial killer who terrorized the city during the World's Fair in the late 1800's.
There you have it, just a few of the countless cities celebrating the Halloween season. What are you going to dress up as this year?

Mobile Evolution - A Closer Look

The first cell phone came out for commercial retail in 1983. Cell phone technology has come a long way in 29 years. Phones have become progressively smaller, faster, lighter, and sleeker.What is next? Really, think about it. What more can technology moguls come up with to woo the everyday consumer, us connoisseurs of the tech industry? We truly have a mobile computer at our fingertips. We carry around a gateway of information on literally almost any subject you can think of in our back pockets. We are walking encyclopedias, calculators, event planners, scrabble players, horoscope readers - oh yeah and in the event that we don't want to text we can call each other too. In honor of the iPhone's newest family member, let's take a look at a rough evolution of the cell phone, beginning in 1985.
The cell phones of 1987. These phones are HUGE. Forget about texting, these bad boys were strictly for one on one conversation.
1989- This Motorola is slimmed down a little, but still rather brick-like.
1996- Jumping ahead a few years, the Motorola "flip phone" has arrived and is here to stay for quite a while.
1998- This Nokia is still known as one of the most durable phones ever.
2000- A sleeker design for mobile phones begins here.
2007- Fast forward seven years and arrive at Blackberry. This was the first huge craze I remember, probably because of its full keyboard and internet browsing capabilities. This was the beginning of the smart phone empire.
Touch screen phones like the iPhone and Android operated phones are all the rage right now. They truly make life easier, more convenient, and offer the most up to date news, weather, trends, and nearly everything else you can imagine. Who knows what will come next- what more do we need? What is the next big thing you'll wait in line for? Happy birthday iPhone5 - we can't wait to meet your smaller and better younger brother in a few months!

Corporate Dress- Required or retired?

These days, it is a common sight to find business professionals heading to their 9-5 in jeans and a t- shirt. When we get down to it, are there really any benefits to enforcing a business casual dress code? Does work performance improve when employees are allowed to dress down everyday rather than just on "casual Friday"? It's hard to tell without any hard data on the subject, but lets take a look at the pros and cons of the rule.
Some Pros
Creative freedom- I suppose this pro is limited if you work in a place like a law office or an accountant's office, but countless creative agencies claim that ingenuity & creativity grow exponentially when employees aren't tied down by strict dress codes.
Promotes diversity- Doesn't every company try to highlight how diverse they are? Freedom of dress fosters office diversity for sure - you can really get a sense of different personalities based simply on outward appearance. A dress code stifles this kind of freedom.
Enables comfort- Business professional clothing can become restricting and uncomfortable, especially of the employee is sitting all day. Why not let them wear something comfortable which in turn will most likely make them more productive as well!
Employees are already restricted by all sorts of rules from the moment they get into the office. Why not let them have control over what they wear?
Some Cons
Productivity- On the other side of the productivity coin, employees might get too comfortable and productivity may fall, especially later in the day.
In some cases the term "unprofessional" may arise in regards to the company look as a whole, but there are ways to still enforce a professional dress code while still keeping it relaxed and casual.
Overall I think that the relaxed dress code we have at Percipia Networks is a pretty big perk of the job!

Take a look at this article for a different opinion about relaxed dress code. What do you think about it all?

Bed & Breakfasts

Have you ever stayed in a bed and breakfast? What really makes them so attractive? Is it the charming interior? Is it the fact that breakfast is always included and is always delicious? There are so many factors that go in to making a bed and breakfast a personal experience for the guest, and generally a more enjoyable one. Let's travel down the beaten path and take a gander at some of bedandbreakfast.com's award winners and what makes them so incredibly awesome.
Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast- Orange, VA
This bed and breakfst rose to the top and won bedandbreakfast.com's Travelers Choice Award AND Best of the Mid Atlantic award. Because if its "picturesque breakfasts" and elegant accommodations, Chestnut Hill B&B has quickly gained popularity over the last few years and is appropriate for any occasion. Whether you need a weekend getaway or a quaint honeymoon, Chestnut Hill offers all the amenities you could ever ask for including plush beds, personal bathrooms and a Victorian decor throughout. http://www.chestnuthillbnb.com/
Candlelite Inn Bed & Breakfast- Ludington, MI
The thing that makes this bed & breakfast so great is the fact that you can bring your dog with you! It's hard enough to find an apartment these days that allow dogs, so to find a B&B that allows your prized pooch can be considered somewhat of a miracle. Open all year round, this dog friendly place offers seven cozy rooms and lies in close proximity to the beach. In addition to complimentary breakfast, the owner also provides nightly dessert! So for all you sweet-toothed, dog-loving guests, this is the place for you. In other words, you can have your cake and eat it too! http://www.candleliteinnludington.com/home.html
1900 Inn on Montford- Ashville, NC
And the award for best bathroom goes to 1900 inn on Montford. Besides having an enchanting old-world exterior, it is what lies within that make this an exceptional bB&B. The bathrooms of each guestroom sparkle with marble and tile. The lighting reflects off the bathroom interior, creating a warm and cozy environment. Oversized bathrubs and overhead shower heads form an ambiance that is simply unmatched. http://www.innonmontford.com/
Bed and Breakfast Barangay- Amsterdam, Netherlands
We've looked at a few B&Bs that are set apart from the hustle and bustle of the big city. While that is usually the case, the B&B Barangay is just the opposite. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, this won the award for best urban B&B by bedandbreakfast.com. Its spacious and tropical interior lies less than five minutes form the city's most popular and exciting tourist destinations. While it is definitely not a quiet and quaint getaway, it is perfect for the adventure loving B&B patrons. http://www.barangay.nl/ 
There you have it. These four winners are just a small taste of the many bed and breakfasts out there. Whether dog friendly, rural or urban, romantic of just for kicks, they all offer the same thing; award winning hospitality. What's a notable bed and breakfast that you've been to? We want to know!

A New Wave in Tourism

Now that the most travel heavy time of the year is sadly coming to a close, it's time to take a look at the trend in tourism that is expected to slowly but surely take the travel industry by storm. Over the past couple of years, the public has been inundated with prompts to live a "go-green" lifestyle. Fuel efficient cars & airplanes are becoming more readily available to tourists. Reusing hotel towels has become an option at almost every hotel, and things like air hand dryers are replacing paper towel dispensers at lightning speed. Whether traveling or living locally, going green is becoming a way of life. Businesses are also making the eco friendly switch. This wave of what is called sustainable tourism goes hand in hand with the idea of ecotourism. These words and concepts are thrown around quite a but and have somehow become accepted as one in the same. Is there really a difference between the two? What do these words really mean?
Sustainable tourism is the ongoing effort to make tourism as low impact on the environment as possible. The main goal of sustainable tourism is to ensure that both locals and tourists are having a positive experience. One awesome organization striving to get the word out is the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, or GSTC. Their website, found here, offers countless tidbits about their organization, interesting blog posts, what they do, and how YOU can get involved. It truly is tourism of the future.
On the other hand, ecotourism is often viewed as specifically for you nature loving beatniks of the world. Ecotourism is not just living in the environment, but living with the environment. Visiting worldly destinations with only the basic amenities and having an extremely low impact on a particular place is a staple in the meaning of ecotourism.  Some may argue that sustainable tourism and ecotourism are the same, while others choose to believe they strive for two different goals.
Whether definitively different or not, both ideas strive to foster the same fantastic purpose; to help save & preserve our environment, the local community in which it resides in, all while basking in the glory and beauty of mothe r nature. What do you think? Do you think these two ideas are different?

A Boeing Beauty

There are a lot of factors that go into the amount of "enjoyment" one can have on an airplane, for lack of a better word. For the most part, flying is usually a drag unless you're scared of it in which case makes for a generally uncomfortable experience. I suppose no one really enjoys hopping on-board a floating germ chamber, but the airline industry has been working hard to make some big changes that will affect travelers in the future (for the better, of course). The airline industry literally puts billions of dollars each year into improving in flight satisfaction. For example, Boeing has just unveiled its long awaited "super-efficient"  787 Dreamliner. As airplane moguls gawk at this engineering marvel just as any techy would relish in the sight of a brand new iPhone model, let's take a look at some improvements that this engineering wonder has.
Composite materials- The materials these planes are made out of make the aircraft much lighter than traditional ones, making for a faster journey.
Better fuel efficiency- Built primarily as a long haul aircraft, it uses 20% less fuel than even the biggest of commercial jetliners, appeasing the go-green hippie in us all.
Bigger and auto dimming windows- This is something I am particularly excited about. When do you ever get a chance to see the world with that kind of view? Forget about the Skydeck in Willis Tower, check out the view from the Dreamliner. These windows let more light in the cabin so now you can read your SkyMall without straining your eyes. Not to mention auto dimming windows? Take my money now!
Quieter cabin- With quieter engines and air conditioning systems, you can now have some sweet dreams aboard this Dreamliner.
If you want to get on board one of these skybirds in the US, United Airlines will be the first American based airline to get its hands on one. Based out of the Houston hub and starting in November, these Dreamliners will be initially making short domestic trips mostly to allow pilots and passengers to get a feel for and hopefully gain an appreciation for the new birds.
These are just a few of the improvements. For a complete list of upgrades, click here and revel in the joy of this aviation beauty. So, while I'm a big fan - what's your stance? Leave it in a comment!

"Attention All Passengers: Please DO NOT turn off your Cellular Devices"

The announcement comes over the speaker, just as you are putting away your tray table and making sure your seat is in an upright and locked position. And then the dreadful request, “cellular phones must be turned off and remain off for the duration of the flight.” You begin sweating, panicking, and thoughts of being unconnected to the rest of the world begin to fill your head – how will you make it without your cell phone? Will you survive through this 1 hour and 45 minute flight?
Worry not – a new resolution and wave of technology may soon be available to you on your favorite airline provider. Airline carriers such as Virgin Atlantic and Malaysian Airlines recently announced that 1,000 of their aircrafts will allow for use of cell phones including in-flight mobile calling within the next three years. And these may not be the only in the industry to follow suit – experts suggest that the use of cell phones and in-flight connectivity will become standard for most airlines moving forward.
So how will this affect your flight experience as well as the experiences of leisure travelers? While many individuals may value the connectivity provided on flights – those non-business travelers may feel the negative effects en route. Mary Kirby, editor of Airline Passenger Experience magazine, went as far as stating that Americans seem to be against allowing access in-flight due to the disruption they may cause. Despite this perspective, some passengers may just be out of luck – it seems that the more important our cell phones become the more likely they will become a part of our day to day lives – whether on ground or in the air.
For more information on the in-flight cellular debate visit http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/travel/flight-mobile-business-traveller/index.html?hpt=tr_c2.
Or to learn more about telephony solutions for guest rooms please visit www.percipianetworks.com.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet - That is the Hotel Guest's Question

With the surge in social media it is hard to find someone these days who doesn't know what “tweeting” is.  From celebrities posting pictures of their latest house to activists plugging their latest effort, Twitter has become highly utilized by mass media.  But what does that do for the hospitality industry?  And even more so how do hotel travelers and guests use this outlet as part of their hotel experience?
New research indicates that while guests may not “tweet” or send messages to the hotel property directly, guests do use Twitter as an outlet to relay information about the property, both positive and negative.  So what does this mean for hotel properties?  On the positive side of things hotel properties may have free advertising outlets as guests who enjoy their stay may be more apt to post information focusing on the good aspects of their stay.  In the same sense hotels should also be weary of the influence of social media – one bad picture, tweet, etc. could lead to negative press and even effect the overall hotel image.
So what about those guests’s who do tweet directly to the hotel property?  Recent findings show that these guests actually do so to get the attention of the hotel property.  Even more interesting guests who use social media to relay information to hotel properties actually find that this type of communication is faster and more effective.  And why wouldn’t it be – one poor image or example of bad service could lead to a whole slew of off-putting press.
Maybe it’s time for all of us to step up our game – guests tweet away and encourage positive service and hotels - your great service could lead to higher revenue and free press.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little extra attention these days!
For more information on how Percipia Networks can help increase your guest’s experience please visit: www.percipianteworks.com or email sales@percipianetworks.com