Can Social Media Help the Mauritian Hospitality Industry?

Or to be precise…

Can Social Media salvage the Mauritian Hospitality Industry’s shattered competitive edge and reputation?

First the Facts

The Mauritian tourism sector suffered some casualties in 2009 and at the beginning of 2010, with the heavy international crises that rocked the entire world economy. At first sight, the sequels weren’t as bad as one could think then. We were still profiting from positive growth rates, with an industry average of +7.3% for the period extending from January to March 2010 compared to same frame in 2009. And yet, something is still wrong in paradise, even if we welcomed 249 971 visitors for the first three months of 2010. The luxury niche seems to have lost some of its glitter. Top local hotel groups look like going through rough tides. Naiade Resorts, for instance, declared losses of the order of MRU 50 million while they closed 2009, profiteering at MUR 11 million. Same for the Rogers Group, which encompasses high standard resorts like Heritage and Le Telfair Golf & Spa. Their profits shrank by 51%. Similar picture for NMH (New Mauritius Hotels), with a 25.3% profit downgrade. These figures might well explain the gloomy atmosphere at the top tip of the Mauritian Hotel Industry. This negative mood is understandable. While the luxury room park (4-star up) had grown up by 115% in 2009, the occupancy rates dropped to 40%. That was just enough to slow down the investment momentum of the sector and in 2011 the pickup is still very slow.

Was there a rescue plan on the line, or were we waiting for the storm to cool off and get back to normal?

According to the Minister Nando Bodha, in an interview given to Jean Da Luz in May 2010, Mauritius must withstand its position and not give in to mermaid songs about lowering our rates and downgrading from our actual Diamond Destination status. This stands for 2011 also. His immediate action plan talked about strengthening the Brand’s positioning as opposed to fast growing competition from countries like Sri Lanka or the Maldives. And the operators just had to go down that same line, towards the top. They have to try find out about this little something that would give them the lead or, at least, stabilize it, without excessive finance-intensive solutions. But the main question remains. What can Mauritian 4star-up hotels offer to their target markets apart from the same old promise of unrivaled hospitality and service quality? What more, especially with the Harte tragedy at the Legends, the 5-star flagship of the Naiade Group of luxurious hotels?

What about the Harte tragedy?

The murder of the newlywed daughter of prominent Irish Football Tycoon, in her hotel room at the Legends, adds to the Mauritian hospitality sector’s misery. Communication havoc, media bashing and all the mayhem caused by thousands of online comments have surely hindered the efforts of Mauritius’ second economic pillar into accelerating its recovery. Within one week, Mauritius lost most of all the glittering goodwill it built round years of relentless market upgrade. The anguish of losing even a microscopic market share is relevant and legit. At least now we know how fast and how deep it goes when negative buzzing starts its worldwide tour.

Enter Social Media, Community Management and e-reputation. Are they genuine solutions?

Can the social bubble help the real world into consolidating actual leads and generating new ones? Can the Social Media trend mend broken images? The answer is definitely yes. Not as THE absolute keys, but as the bases for the development of new user-centric solutions towards consolidation and upgrade of the acquired competitive edge. The tourism industry in itself generates behaviors that remind us of what is going on in cyberspace when it comes to social media and networking. At some point in time, when going on holiday to the Club Med, it felt really good to be part of a community, even if this would be only for a week or so. Once to Club Med, one was considered and felt like a lifetime member (the GM, Gentil Membre), with that only wish to be back year after year. To have a grasp of this ambiance, the French feature films “Les Bronzs” is the right example, but definitely not a reference for times and setups like ours today. Social Media and networking has become for millions of online users a lifestyle in its own. People without a Facebook account are more and more regarded as ‘homeless’, atypical or asocial. With the Social networking mode enabled, an individual will take his time to consult blogs, Facebook groups or his LinkedIn connections. He will be asking questions through tweets, comparing everything online and will make his decision out of a messy information intake. That’s the same pattern when choosing a hotel destination nowadays. The customer goes by the bloggers’ trend. This is where Social Networking fits, by basically offering a consolidated and relevant alternative to a user’s search process. Integrating Social Media to the hospitality sector is almost a natural procedure. The prominent place of relationship management in the day-to-day business with tourists, makes it easier for the tourism industry to analyze and understand the target’s behaviors, needs and expectations. Social Media management will just plug in to translate all these data into useful information for the development of relevant interactive platforms. The most complex part of the setting up of such a strategy, resides in the pre-operational routine which implies thorough research on the targeted segments. Investigating social behaviors and expectations are the fundamentals underlying the production of relevant toolsets. This part of the setup is time-consuming and requires proactive human resources.

Dealing with e-reputation.

The Harte tragedy has brought into the limelight, at least for the Mauritian tourism sector, the extent of damages that can be caused by uncontrolled and untapped worldwide buzz. In less than a week it looked like this first and isolated episode had bitten up the competitive edge our Diamond destination had. Felt like a bad mouthed Tsunami had overwhelmed the country’s white shores and modified them forever. This is where and when e-reputation goes astray. Not dealing with it, equals letting open doors to further havoc. When a Hotel Group, which has got more than regional ambitions has its name brought into a negative turmoil, it needs to react in real-time, at least to defend its brands at the very heart of the battle. If the Naiade Group has managed well to preserve the group’s global image, it has by the same time allowed the downgrade of its 5-star flagship’s image, consequently due to total absence on the Social Network scene. They simply did not monitor what was being said on the Net while exercising high level damage control on the physical scene. Nowadays both the physical and cyber scenes must be treated the same way, because they both feed each other. A bad online publicity ruins the brand image and reflects immediately on the day-to-day business in the real world. And this can be as silly as a benign allegation on a z-series blog, like:

I loved it there, but there were not enough shrimps in my seafood cocktail!

or

I loved the material mix of their rooms but why do they have to put those old-fashion copper taps in the bathroom?

These may well look silly but that’s enough to up-dig similar resentment, trigger an endless blog thread and end up as a long-going negative buzz, if nothing is done to give minimum explanations or to talk about taking relevant actions through Social Media. That’s obvious now! A successful brand, group, company and even an individual have the obligation of seeing to it that their names are not being mentioned noisily without any control or monitoring. A business’ goodwill is never like before at the mercy of its virtual reputation, its e-reputation. This e-reputation needs to be monitored on a 24/7 basis with a rapid turnaround at tactful commentaries and replies.

Bottom line

When built the proper way, Social Media toolsets allow smooth, seamless integration with the ongoing traditional communication and marketing philosophy. Resourceful Social Media management and its satellite activities can effectively help hotel groups into acquiring, widening, nurturing new target markets by developing community-based content and events, via effective interactive platforms. This ensemble, when geared within a proper strategic frame, will aim at giving a more social and sociable global image to the hotel group and to its brands.

Biking With Vintage Upcycled Charicycles in Dubai

We can all relate to the amazing feeling of riding a bicycle… The breeze against your face while feeling the movement of all of your muscles, a sentiment that makes you appreciate the freedom of being on one.

Since the 1800’s many different versions of the bicycle have been created, deriving from the french word bicyclette, German Baron Karl von Drais, a civil servant to the Grand Duke of Baden in Germany, was the one that created what was considered to be the first verifiable bicycle.

He patented his design in 1818, which was known as the first two wheeled, steerable, human machine, called the ‘velocipedes, hobby-horse or dandy horse.

In the beginning, bicycles were seen more so for the elite, as it was an expensive hobby so to speak, but as soon they were becoming more and more popular and production started to increase, they became a practical asset. Women were soon riding bicycles, and with that came the change in fashion with bloomers in and corsets out!

And while evolution may have changed the frame and wheels of the bicycle, today we can still see traces of the first bicycle made, although ours just carry a little more pzaz.

While some of you may think that Dubai is still not so friendly on biking, things are starting to change! A new initiative was recently launched #cycletoworkuae that’s encouraging everyone to start cycling, there are some cool spots to check out, if you haven’t already done so that we highly recommend.

“In the heart of Dubai, the Nadd Al Sheba Cycle Path offers 8km, 6km and 4km loops that are just for cyclists. These are floodlit at night and have amenities like showers to use afterwards. Further out of town, the Al Qudra cycle path is an 86km cycle route through the desert. The UAE’s burgeoning cycling community has found ways to make this a civilised affair: their regular Saturday morning ride to Bab Al Shams resort beside the cycle path.”

With Dubai investing a lot in building more cycling paths, it seems our life of bicycling in Dubai is just beginning! Lucky us!

Now imagine being able to ride a bike that you were able to customize?!

With Charicycles, you can do just that. Like a tailor, you tailor make your bike. A bike with a basket, one that you could paint whatever color you want- from cotton candy blue, to macaroon mint ice cream.

Descending from a historic lineage of the Japanese bicycle, they find bicycle frames that have been forgotten about or put aside and restore them into the beautiful bikes they once were with an added vintage twist. The beauty of up-cycling… An art in itself. Why add waste to the environment when you can make something old perfectly new again?!

Embedded in their culture is the mere simplistic thought that every child deserves to feel that sense of freedom we all feel when riding a bike.

To add to that culture, as much as we think breakfast is important for a child’s brain to function, the way a child gets to school is just as important. The factor of exercising the brain. A research recently done, found that children who walked or rode their bicycle to school did much better on tests than their peers who rode the school bus or got a lift.

A child can learn both balance and coordination skills when riding a bicycle, while increasing stamina. Starting to build your muscles at a young age, moving your hip and knee joints only helps you later on as an adult. Especially if you continue riding. For both children and adults going for a bike ride can do wonders for the mind. It is also considered to be one of the sports that causes less injury and strain to the body even while working all your muscles.

With that being said and the weather being perfect in Dubai, now’s the time to head out to the corniche, where you can cycle from Jumeirah beach hotel to Sunset beach. A gorgeous view that will have you smiling the whole ride.

You can also use the dedicated track that’s approximately 1.5 km, riding up to Jumeirah Open Beach at the top of Jumeirah Beach Road, right next to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa.

There are many cycling groups out there and some specifically tailored for women. For example, @uaecyclingforgirls on Instagram, meets on weekends for recreational cycling around downtown Dubai, Emaar boulevard, Dubai Cycling Course and Dubai parks. The Extempore Abu Dhabi Ladies Bicycle Group in Abu Dhabi meet on Fridays, to bike, have coffee, and enjoy a beautiful day of cycling in the capital.

With over a half billion bicycles in China and approximately 100 million bicycles manufactured worldwide each year, it’s time we in the UAE step up our cycling game!

You are on en route to a gorgeous up-cycled vintage bicycle that you had a hand in making and more importantly, had a hand in making a child smile.

Happy Cycling!

69 Places For Passion – Lusty Locations to Make Love

When looking to spice up your love life, many couples look for adventurous or novel places to make love. There are certain locations that enable sensual love making while others demand quicker acts of passion. A bedroom is a comfortable place to make love but there are so many exciting and lusty locations to have passionate sex. Whether spontaneous and urgent or planned for fun, sex in new locations can be extremely thrilling.

Creative lovers are always on the look out for opportunities to get wild and frisky. With the right inspiration, every day sex can be transformed into an unforgettable experience. You may have seen other lovemaking location lists but let’s push the envelope and go for at least 69 — always a good number for sex ideas. Remember that for some locations, there are pleasurable sex activities other than intercourse. Oral and manual stimulation can be just as satisfying and more practical in some situations.

  1. Fooling around as passengers in a moving car (back seat while a friend drives, discreetly in a taxi, in a limousine with a privacy screen).
  2. In a parked car during a romantic or exciting event (watching fireworks, admiring a sunrise/sunset, sheltering from a thunderous rain storm).
  3. In a honeymoon suite but not during your Honeymoon. Elegant and fancy or themed for fun, recreate your honeymoon or practice what it would be like.
  4. In a seedy motel. Arrive separately and roleplay an office coworker affair or a prostitute fantasy.
  5. In a high class hotel suite with a panoramic window view — keep the curtains open if you dare.
  6. In a room with at least one hundred candles casting a soft glowing light over your naked bodies while you enjoy sensual pleasuring.
  7. Frosty fornication in a snow fort or igloo you made together is great fun. You can even fashion a special mound to mount on.
  8. On a boat in the open air (not below deck). Consider a canoe, row boat or rubber raft if you don’t have access to a yacht, sail or speed boat with a large deck.
  9. Slick with massage oil wresting on a plastic sheet or in a blowup pool.
  10. In the shower enjoying the sensual, slippery suds and a hand held water massager. Intimate bathing and bonding or hot steamy sex — what ever suits your mood.
  11. In an English garden surrounded by fragrant blossoms. Make it more fun by dressing elegantly and indulge in a sense of aristocratic debauchery.
  12. In a gazebo under the stars, moonlight or noon day sun. Semi outdoor sex as secluded as you dare.
  13. On a king size water bed fitted with satin sheets and lots of fluffy pillows.
  14. In a cool, fast moving stream or small creek. A swirling pool under a water fall is an amazing location if you can find one.
  15. On a swing strong enough for two. Actually swinging together with penetration is tricky, however there are many other fun activities you can do involving a swing.
  16. In a hammock between two palm trees on a secluded ocean front beach.
  17. In a lookout tower or observatory. Finding one that provides a scenic view and opportune privacy will be its own adventure.
  18. Rear entry on a bridge while overlooking the depth below. Even more intense on a swaying rope bridge for added adrenaline rush.
  19. In the stairwell of an apartment or office building — better exercise than taking the elevator. (or on the stairs in you own house)
  20. On the top of a large hill or small mountain under the stars or full moon. Take in the view with a bottle of wine then enjoy each other.
  21. On a train. Either in a rare, vacant car or a private cabin, “playing on the tracks” is a temptation to be tried.
  22. In a van, the back of a pickup truck or on the hood of a sports car.
  23. While skinny dipping at night in a pool, river, lake or ocean. Note that cool water tends to make some bits firmer while others shrink.
  24. In a bath, hot tub or spa. Soak, soothe and sensually stroking each other or stimulate wet and wild sex with invigorating water jets.
  25. On a roof. Outside on the flat top of tall building or (carefully) on a low, slightly sloped roof can be thrilling.
  26. In a field of tall grass or flowers. A secluded, lush green meadow next to a small stream is ideal.
  27. Under a cherry, apple or other fruit tree in full bloom. Enjoy the sensual sights, sounds and smells of Spring whenever you can.
  28. On a pile of pillows. An assortment of shapes, sizes, colors and textures all piled for pleasure. Have a playful pillow fight. Try new positions.
  29. In a barn. A horse stable may bring out the animal in you. The hayloft (on soft straw) can be extremely fun. Roleplay cowboy, stable hand or farmer’s daughter.
  30. Deep in a forest up against a large tree. Agile couples can even try various positions in the tree if the branches are just right.
  31. Outside in the refreshing, cool rain during a hot day or night. Thunder and lightning add to the thrill.
  32. Safely under a sheet metal roof during a hail storm or torrential down pour.
  33. Anywhere under the hot sun with an ice dildo. Make one by freezing a plastic water/pop bottle filled with water and cutting the plastic off.
  34. In a sleeping bag in the open air under a clear sky bright with stars. Go as far away from city lights as possible. Aurora lights will make it even more special.
  35. On a tiny island. Revel in quiet seclusion or spice it up with roleplay. Pretend to be castaways or, for a historic setting, a scout meeting a native first time.
  36. On a beach on the hot, dry sand or right on the shore with the waves lapping up around you. Anywhere you can see and hear huge crashing waves.
  37. In the middle of a sports field or stadium (golf course, soccer, football, rugby, race track, etc.). Most likely best during off season or at night.
  38. In a cave, tunnel or under a bridge. The echoes of your ecstasy or the sounds of traffic overhead can be exciting.
  39. On a trampoline or blowup bouncer. Standing intercourse while jumping may be tricky. An exercise ball will give a similar bouncy feeling for other positions.
  40. In a small clothes or coat closet with the doors closed so it is completely dark. Will someone open it and catch you in the act? Fun at parties.
  41. On a billiard table as a forfeit for losing a few games of Dirty Pool or Six Nine Ball.
  42. On a fur rug/coat in front of a warm, glowing fireplace at night.
  43. In every room of your home and your lover’s home if you live separately.
  44. Creatively on or using stable pieces of furniture. On the kitchen counter, dining table, sofa, foot stool, etc. On the floor and up against the wall too.
  45. In front of a mirror or beneath one attached to the ceiling. Get a revealing new perspective of your love making from new angles.
  46. In front of a tripod mounted video camera or webcam. Record for later, view live or stream to an internet audience if you are an exhibitionist.
  47. In a small log cabin, thatch hut, mud hut or teepee. Include the possibility when planning vacations.
  48. In a garage, boat house or storage shed. Surreptitiously meet while others are outside unaware of your naughty behavior.
  49. In a tree house or fort (either a chance discovery, your own or a neighbors). Pretend you are teenagers fooling around for the first time.
  50. Next to an open fire while camping. A roaring fire stimulates passion while softly glowing embers at night instill romance and intimacy.
  51. On or against a clothes washing machine especially during the spin cycle.
  52. At a sex club or fetish party in a private cubicle or on display for others to see.
  53. On exercise equipment at a private gym. You will definitely enjoy your workout.
  54. In a dark corner of a dance club with a pulsing, pounding beat to grind to. A skirt and no panties/underwear makes this a much easier to perform.
  55. In a parking lot between parked cars/vans. Try underground and above ground parking lots but take care for security systems and surveillance cameras.
  56. Snuggling together in a sleeping bag in a small tent. Weather conditions, wilderness sounds or scary stories can set the mood.
  57. On a designated border line between two countries, states or provinces — one person in each territory engaging in diplomatic relations.
  58. In or near a cemetery at midnight during a full moon if you dare. Standing sex will have both your legs shaking with the thrill.
  59. In a public restroom, change room or even a friends bathroom. Novelty and the risk of getting caught coming out together make this exciting.
  60. On a plush lawn at night or early morning while it is still wet with dew.
  61. In a theatre during an arousing show or to make it more interesting. Remember to bring some wet wipes to clean your fingers.
  62. In a pile of fallen leaves or freshly cut grass.
  63. In a bed covered with rose petals or lots of money.
  64. On a private patio, porch or deck (poolside even better). A sturdy lawn chair or table, air mattress or a few seat cushions may come in handy.
  65. In an elevator (late at night on a weekday might be a good time and dress for a quickie).
  66. At a costume party. Dress the part for a sexy roleplaying scenario. Flirt and play act until you can secretly meet to fulfill your fantasy.
  67. Out on a high rise apartment balcony or next to a large window near the top floor. Try standing rear entry while looking down below.
  68. In a private adult playroom stocked with a wide variety of pleasuring implements. Bondage devices, costumes, toys and other playthings will whet your desire.
  69. Inside a walk in vault (it has happened but tends to require an employee or owner to facilitate). A walk in fridge or supply room is a quick alternative.

Some lovemaking locations may actually be a little tricky, costly, too exotic or even slightly dangerous depending upon your circumstances. However, if an idea intrigues you, you can always setup a scenario and roleplay a situation in a pretend location. With a little imagination and a few props, you can create a fantasy setting to fulfill your desires. You can even recreate historical, fanciful or alien space settings.