July 2010

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2010.

Is your property in need of some targeted, early fall exposure? Check out two new low-cost marketing opportunities available through WH&LA.

Waukesha County/Lake Country Fall Fun Guide Co-op
Reach more than 39,000 households throughout Waukesha County, including: Brookfield, Elm Grove, Lake Country, Oconomowoc and Waukesha. The median household income in this target area is $72,000 with a median age of 38. This co-op opportunity is similar to other WH&LA co-ops like MPI and Midwest Outdoor, which includes a photo, up to 45 words of text and full contact information for your property. This is a glossy, 4 color special section insert into four different community newspapers throughout Waukesha County – Brookfield-Elm Grove Monthly, Oconomowoc Enterprise, Waukesha Freeman & Lake Country Post. The cost is $170. Download the sign-up form here. DEADLINE FOR SIGN-UP IS MONDAY, AUGUST 2.

WRMN 1410 Chicago’s Radio Travel Show Trade Out
WH&LA has organized a special campaign withthe Radio Travel Show on WRMN1410AM radio in the Chicago market to advertise September as “Wisconsin Getaway Month.” Your property will be promoted during this campaign by making a trade out with the station – it’s as simple as this: you trade room nights for radio commercials.

The radio station will provide you with advertising credits based on the number of rooms traded, based on your highest rack rate. Each 60 second radio spot is valued at $80. If your property trades 10 gift certificates valued at $160 each, you would receive a $1,600 credit – which is 20 radio spots! WH&LA will also get to run general ads to drive traffic to wisconsinlodging.org based on of the total number of room night trades from participants. Bonus: You will receive a free on-air interview during the Radio Travel Show if you trade 8 certificates or more! Online sign up form and additional details on this program can be found here.

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EPA Region 4 and ENERGY STAR ®  Present a FREE Webinar Series for Hospitality: Best Practices for Hotel Energy Management

Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Time: 11:00 am, CDT
Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
Description:
Learn about energy management strategies for the lodging industry, including best practices for operations, maintenance, and housekeeping; lighting upgrades and controls; the procurement of ENERGY STAR products; developing a highly efficient HVAC system; and more. Guest speakers will share the best practices that they have used to drive down energy consumption and costs.

After attending this session, you will be able to…
•    Identify and implement a number of low-cost opportunities to improve the energy performance of your hotel
•    Understand how a staged approach to energy improvements can be used to leverage early savings into more comprehensive measures

Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Time: 11:00 am, CDT
Length: 1 hour 30 minutes
Description:
Designing a green program for your hotel is just the first step in developing an environmentally-friendly property. After that, you must bring your owners, senior management, and staff on board, and communicate your achievements to your guests and potential customers.

Join us as we discuss new ideas to engage staff and guests in your green efforts. Learn how to develop a communications plan that demonstrates your hotel’s environmental commitment – helping to heighten public awareness and gain market share. Hear from your peers who are communicating their successful green efforts to internal and external audiences, and learn about helpful resources, including ENERGY STAR.

Click on each of the dates to register. The WH&LA does not endorse these seminars, materials, or information, and will not be held accountable for any such representations. The information above is simply provided as a courtesy to our members.

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From Focus on Energy:

Building Operator Certification (BOC©) is a hands-on training and certification program offering building operators, managers, and consultants an in-depth look at the best ways to manage a facility, from the latest technologies to tips, techniques, and best practices.

Attendees earn certification by attending a series of training sessions and completing project assignments at their facilities. BOC certification enables recipients to distinguish themselves to employers through improved job skills and a commitment to their profession.

BOC participants save an average of $12,000 per facility, per year, and more than 90 percent of participants and their supervisors say that BOC training has improved comfort, saved energy, or saved money in their facilities!

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Increase the safety, comfort, and air quality of their facilities
  • Reduce energy costs and unscheduled maintenance
  • Improve customer service to building occupants
  • Comply with environmental regulations in a timely manner

Industries which benefit from Building Operator Certification include the hospitality industry, property management, retail and more.  Classes meet in Brookfield over 8 days from September 15- December 15.  To learn more, see the Focus on Energy certification page here.
The WH&LA does not endorse these seminars, materials, or information, and will not be held accountable for any such representations. The information above is simply provided as a courtesy to our members.

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Direct from the AH&LA Web site:

Labor Department Targeting Hotels for Audits: Be Prepared
Wednesday, July 28
2:00-3:30 p.m. (EDT) [1:00-2:30 CDT]

Free for AH&LA members, $99 for non-members

Newly enacted regulatory strategies by the federal government are targeting hotels and their employees, which could lead to increased federal enforcement actions, class and collective action lawsuits, and union organizing should the industry not live up to these new standards.

Learn how to comply and make sense of the recently-announced “Plan/Prevent/Protect” regulatory and enforcement initiatives by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) during this practical Webinar.   Topics include new challenges and best practices around:

  • How your property will be impacted by increased enforcement
  • H-2B seasonal visa holders
  • Safety and health initiatives, including ergonomics
  • OFCCP audits
  • Wage and hour investigations, including exempt status and independent contractor classification

Presented by national law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, P.C., you’ll hear from a panel of labor attorneys who work with AH&LA members on an ongoing basis and can answer your toughest questions.

To protect your property and your employees, you need to know and play by the rules.

Register online or by downloading this form.  Please direct any questions to Tara Allen at tallen@ahla.com or (202) 289-3171.

This Webinar is free for AH&LA members and $99 for nonmembers.  To learn more about membership, click here.

Need help with your AH&LA member ID, or not sure if you’re an AH&LA member? Please contact Denise in the WH&LA office at service@wisconsinlodging.org or (262)782-2851.

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Publication 216, Filing Claims For Refund of Sales and Use Taxes, has been revised and is available for download here.

“This publication explains who may file a claim for refund of Wisconsin state, county, and stadium sales or use tax. It also includes information relating to forms, time limitations for filing, interest and penalties.”

For more information on sales and use tax for Hotels, Motels and Other Lodging Providers, please see the Dept of Revenue’s Publication 219, available here.

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Click on the image above for more information from the AH&LA Educational Institute.

Need help with your AH&LA ID Number or not sure if you’re an AH&LA Member? Contact Denise in the WH&LA office for assistance.

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On Friday, the state Department of Justice released an “Advisory Memorandum” on the new state of Wisconsin Smoking Ban, which went into effect yesterday, July 5.

While a number of components in this 9-page document are already covered in WH&LA’s Smoking Ban Guide for Lodging Properties, there are a few points with more guidance than we have previously found from the state. To read more, visit the WH&LA Legislative Archive and click the July 6 link to the full text of this Legislative Brief (password required).

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It seems like a host of scams and fraud schemes have resurfaced in the past month. According to this New York Times article (free registration required), 38% of credit card hacking cases last year involved the hotel industry:

“Why hotels? Well, to paraphrase the bank robber Willie Sutton, hackers hit hotels because that is where the richest vein of personal credit card data is. At hotels with inadequate data security, ‘the greatest amount of credit card information can be obtained using the most simplified methods,’ said Anthony C. Roman, a private security investigator with extensive experience in the hotel industry.

The sophistication of such systems can vary widely from one hotel to the next, even within the same corporate chain, making it an easy route for hackers.”

A June 29th report from the Columbus, WI Police Department tells of a new twist on the wire fraud scam. A person claiming to be a representative of the local sherrif’s department called two separate restaurants advised management that one of their restaurant employees was in custody for operating while intoxicated and needed to be bailed out. It was requested that the restaurant wire $800 to a bail bondsman in Georgia, and upon reciept of the money, the employee could be picked up from jail. The caller was even able to give the name of a restaurnat employee that was “in custody” and identified himself in one of the calls with the last name of Davis. One of the calls resulted in an $800 wire transfer and the scam was not detected until the restaurant attempted to locate their employee in jail. Heard of a similar phone scam in your area? Notify Lt. Dennis Weiner of the Columbus Police Department at 920/623-6046.

Have you encountered strange phone calls trying to scam you or your property out of money? Any that were particularly convincing? We want to hear about them – share your stories in the comments section. The more people who know about new or seemingly legitimate scams, the less who will fall victim to them.

Local reports of credit card fraud include a problem specific to properties that utilize satellite transponders to communicate credit card transactions. According to Tom Haase of SaleSynergy, only about 1% of lodging properties use transponders, so the threat isn’t huge – an overwhelming majority of  business utilize “hardline” processing, which transmits the data securely over a phone line.

Scammers will locate the transponder on the side of a building or mounted to the ground, cover it with aluminum foil and then enter the business and attempt to use fraudulent credit cards to make purchases. Since the aluminum foil has interrupted the satellite communication, the scammer may be able to make a purchase and exit the business before the business is able to determine that the credit card communicaiton system is down.

“Keep in mind this is not a scenario where we are talking about hacking into secur, PCI-compliant storage,” Haase said, “but rather stealing card numbers one or two at a time.”

The Wisconsin Division of Trade & Consumer Protection has identified additional electronic and telephone-related scams. In the “stranded friend online scam,” a Facebook friend may send you a message or leave you a note on your wall saying they are overseas and in need of quick cash. The FBI has seen numerous reports of social networking accounts being compromised and used to convince “friends” to wire money overseas. The amount of money scammed in this kind of online fraud doubled in 2009 to $560 million. Family of WH&LA staff has even been a target of this kind of scam perpetrated via telephone – someone calls claiming to be “your grandson” or “your nephew” and hopes you offer up some names – “Andy, is that you?” From there the scammer will relay a story about being overseas, in a car accident with a broken cell phone – and in really desperate need of money. The entire scenario can happen very quickly, and before you can think to call around and see if your nephew or godson or granddaughter is really overseas, you could be out hundreds of dollars.

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Congratulations to The Iron Horse Hotel, Milwaukee, for winning two national awards at the American Hotel & Lodging Association Summer Summit last month!

James Valona was named Outstanding Manager of the Year, while Graham Adams received the Outstanding Lodging Employee of the Year.

“We’re honored that not one, but two Iron Horse employees were recognized this year,” said owner Tim Dixon. “With only 12 awards given out, that’s pretty impressive.”

The Iron Horse put together a great old-time-style YouTube video highlighting a day in the life of Graham Adams, available here.

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Many members have been asking us how they get their property highlighted on our “Traveling in Wisconsin” Facebook page, as it is obviously bringing in reservations, as this example shows:

The answer is simple – there are two ways to get your property featured in a post!

First, you can be a Featured Property at our web site for a month – that comes with a free Facebook post. The cost is $115 for a top row spot, and $90 for a 2nd row spot. Download the Featured Properties reservation form here.

Second, you can order an ad in the 2011 Wisconsin Lodging Directory! Any property that orders a ¼ page or larger ad receives a free Facebook, Tweet and mention in our StayInWisconsin blog. The Lodging Directory Advertising Rate Card is available for download here (about 3 MB) and you can order your ad online here!

If you have any questions, contact Bill Elliott or call 262/782-2851.

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