Richard Branson Thinks Hospitality and Tourism Industry Can Tackle Global Water Crisis

The Hospitality and Tourism Industry is significant to our interests here at JNR. It is the field where we join other companies to deliver our incentive travel programs, meetings and events. Branson believes in this industry, driving change in environmental, health and economic issues is also good for business.

The issue the Hospitality and Tourism Industry is being called to address: providing the world access to safe and clean water. Through this transformation, the industry stands to benefit across its triple bottom-line: people, planet, and profits.

A recent article published by Richard Branson describes the severity of the global water crisis.

“Every year, more people die from water-related diseases than killed from all forms of violence, including war.”

One billion people lack access to safe water. Last year, one billion people traveled. Why not leverage the power of the Hospitality and Tourism Industry to solve the world water crisis?

Branson, no stranger to humanitarian projects himself, has formed a partnership with his company Virgin and WHOLE WORLD Water, an organization that is attempting to unite with the Hospitality and Tourism Industry to create solutions that drive change on water issues.

The company has been helping hotels, resorts restaurants and hospitality groups filter and bottle their own water and then use a percentage of the proceeds to support local water projects. Approximately 200,000 plastic bottles will be saved annually by implementing this program on Necker Island (Branson maintains a home there) alone.

Branson feels the hospitality industry plays a major role in fixing this problem and that it could set an example for other industries to follow:

“It is estimated that with scale, the hospitality and tourism industry can contribute $1 billion per year or more to help eradicate this problem. United, the industry has the opportunity to set a precedence for other sectors to follow.”

JNR is dedicated to helping our clients implement CSR programs in conjunction with our travel programs and events to preserve and improve our planet and the lives of those who inhabit it. Please send us an email at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com today to discuss how you can create a change within your programs.

Suggested Reading:

“From ‘Me’ to ‘We’: The Power of Corporate Social Responsibility in Incentive Programs”

JNR Program Participants Revamp a Mexican School

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sir Richard Branson” by Jarle Naustvik is licensed under CC By 2.0

Travel Tales from a Senior Account Executive

As a Senior Account Executive at JNR Incorporated, my task it to create unforgettable, unique experiences that “WOW” the audience of my clients. Typically I am helping my clients increase customer and advertiser loyalty by treating their most steadfast clientele to exquisitely planned trips in exotic locales. These trips are designed as both a reward for past business and an incentive to remain loyal in the future.

My job takes me to all corners of the world and I am often on the road for weeks at a time operating programs. I had a particularly busy month recently finding myself in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana for a client program and ending with a personal visit to Uganda. This vast excursion left me with amazing ideas and insights for future programs.

No program is ever perfect but the program in South Africa was as close as it gets.  A few small, unavoidable travel issues when the group checked in for their outbound flights, but everything was resolved painlessly. After that, it was smooth sailing all the way!  We had perfect weather in Cape Town for a helicopter tour and visits to Cape Point, the wine country and a variety of dining venues. Everyone noted that they had had a spectacular time.

Sabi Sabi Reserve was, as usual, utterly amazing and we had the best game sightings I have experienced in all of my travels there. We checked off Africa’s Big five game animals (lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) within the first two hours on our game drive and even saw a leopard drag its prey up to tree before consuming it. Gruesome and fascinating – the vehicle was covered in a curtain of awe. Dinner at the Bush Lodge was a divine highlight – a breathtaking setting that conveyed the essence of the program theme, “Capture the Magic.”  We certainly did that night!

Victoria Falls was fantastic. We enjoyed a game cruise in Botswana, swam in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the falls and peered over the precipice, walked with lions and had cocktails and dinner at sunset on a chartered luxury train over Victoria Falls bridge, which spans the Zambezi River and serves as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The final night was highlighted by spectacular drumming on the deck at sunset in sight of the falls and dinner on the lawn with monkeys and zebras strolling by. Clients left saying this was the best program they had ever experienced and the kudos are still rolling in!

A multitude of US cancellations all over Africa were in place due to the Ebola scare which was actually centered thousands of miles from our program. The Europeans were all chuckling about fear and media coverage present in America and enjoying the lack of crowds. The most amusing part of this was when we crossed back over from Botswana to Zambia after the river game cruise, we were pulled aside and health screened because the US is now considered an “Ebola risk country” with the cases in Dallas and NY! The participants really got a kick out of us being considered a “problem country” from the African perspective.  While we take the health of our participants very seriously, this was a reminder of how situations are presented differently through various worldview perspectives.

After the program was complete, I chose to stay on in Africa and made my way North to Uganda.  What a revelation that was! It is a stunningly beautiful country to say the least.  Entebbe sits on a peninsula surrounded by Lake Victoria (2nd largest lake in the world) and the area is absolutely gorgeous. It is home to the largest United Nations community in Africa and the staging point for most of the African UN missions, both military and humanitarian. It was fascinating to see that the operation and the town is quite diverse and filled with people of all nationalities. Next, I flew up to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the magnificent mountain gorillas. The flight was beautiful. Uganda looks like a cross between Ireland and Bali, Indonesia. The landscape boasted a million shades of green, and every inch was terraced and cultivated for farming. They grow mostly tea, but also coffee, corn, potatoes and many other crops in this region.  The soil is very fertile due to ample rain and it is considered the “grocery store” of East Africa. Ugandans are wonderfully friendly and very proud of their country – they could not have been nicer or more genuinely welcoming.

The gorillas – WOW! There are only 800 of these primates left in the world and they are found nowhere else but this small triangle of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  I stayed at the Gorilla Sanctuary Lodge which is a spectacular “glamping” (glamorous camping) spot. The whole place includes just nine high-end tents and can accommodate 18 people at capacity. This lodge offers incredible views of the mountains and forests and every luxury amenity you could ask for. They even used furry hot water bottles to pre-warm your bed at night – a ritual I may take home with me. When you get back from trekking drenched from rain and caked in mud, they hand you a drink and remove your dirty clothes and boots, then return them spotless, pressed and dry two hours later. This paired with outstanding gourmet food and perfect service in the most incredible setting imaginable; I absolutely loved it!

The actual trek to see the gorilla troops was a very tough hike and I am glad I was ready after weeks of preparation with extra gym workouts. There are a number of different gorilla troops and those who are not as fit can choose to visit a troop that is only an hour hike away. For an extra fee, they even carry disabled people up to the closest troop. We went for the tougher three hour hike each way – and did it twice!

Each troop is habituated for three years by the rangers and trackers before they take people up to view them. Once a troop is familiar with humans, only eight people per day can visit that troop and for a maximum of just one hour. I was so impressed with how everyone involved is EXTREMELY dedicated to keeping the gorillas safe and healthy and keeping the experience exclusive and authentic for those who visit.  A team of six people brings you up the mountain- two trackers that locate the troop, two rangers with AK-47s who guard against wild mountain elephants (they shoot into the air to scare them off if they get too close), a guide and a porter who carries water, food and emergency supplies. The trek was steep, muddy and the last hour was spent hacking, slipping and stumbling our way through the densest rain forest brush. Then, all of a sudden…there they are! The troops range from twelve to nineteen gorillas, and each has a dominant male silverback, plus four to six females, a number of juveniles and a number of babies as well. There simply are no words that adequately describe how magnificent they are. Their DNA is 98.5% human and their behavior is incredibly people-like. You see them eating, playing, grooming, socializing and taking part in a variety of other activities so familiar to us. The silverback is the vigilant, protective dad and the moms are attentive to the babies. Watching the babies wrestle and play with each other and the juveniles was pure magic. Every aching muscle is a distant memory when you are immersed in this rare and exceptional experience. After we left the gorillas, the adrenaline and excitement carried us back down the mountain much faster than the time it took to get there. They say there are those who do the trek on multiple days and those who wish they had. I was immensely glad that I chose to do hikes on multiple days because the two experiences were completely different, yet equally amazing.

I also spent time hiking to waterfalls, visiting local villages and seeing what the “gorilla income” does for the surrounding communities. It is truly inspirational and the village children welcome visitors with the most genuine smiles.

I then went back to Entebbe for a night before flying home, the end to a fabulous program and a special trip I will never forget.

I am always looking forward to future travel programs and am excited to be working on potential future programs in the most exotic of locales.  Next up (I hope!) is Borneo as well as other “off the beaten track” type trips. 2015 and 2016 look to be very good years in the incentive world and there is no better way to bond with clients than to treat them to an unforgettable shared adventure.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kim Hester, Senior Account Executive

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo courtesy of Donna Rohmer

Meetings, Events and Hospitality Industry Spotlight: Staying Current with Technology

It was earlier this month that Starwood announced that they were introducing smart locks, known as the SPG Keyless program, to some of their key properties. This will allow guests with the corresponding SPG app on their Smartphone to gain access to their hotel room without stopping by the front desk to check in and get a physical key. This new technology was spurred by the loss rate of the current plastic room keys and to accommodate the demands of time deprived individuals.

Starwood has completed pilot testing of this program and these Bluetooth locks will be available in ten of its hotels this year, before rolling out to more in early 2015. Starwood has stated that this program is “the hospitality industry’s first truly mobile and keyless entry system”.

Over the past few years, the meetings, events and hospitality industries have seen key players adopting innovative technologies to stay current. Last month we shared an article highlighting the large number of participants and planners that see a need for social media and event apps to have a presence in meetings and events. Examples of these innovations include apps that connect the audience members’ smartphones to the room’s sound system.  This tool allows each person to have a microphone in his or her phone for a more engaged Q&A session.  Additions to the Google Calendar app that allows you to track events, flights and dinner reservations in real time and meeting manager apps that allow documents to be shared with all connected devices are a few of the more popular trends.

Along with these innovations, we have seen these industries adopting mainstream technologies that have been previously used elsewhere and now adjusted specifically to enhance attendee and guest experiences.

It is not uncommon for planners to source gifts for attendees that reflect the latest and greatest gadget. These include items such as the Selfie Stick that give people the added length in their arm to capture the perfect selfie. While participants are generally excited to receive these fun gifts, they can also enhance event and help with the “viral” effect. A gift that encourages a guest to take, share and tag photos of themselves while in attendance results in free, or relatively free, publicity. This item and these photos can then go a step further by becoming interactive with the event on a continuously updating Social Wall.

Finally, by embracing technology Meeting Planners open up the opportunity to collect data. This trend is useful to planners if they know how to turn the information into insights through analysis and partnership with their Marketing departments to enhance their programs year after year. The bigger the data set, the longer and more expensive it can be to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to participant behavior and interactions. The payoff can be extremely beneficial however and make the cost for the learnings worthwhile.

While we are coming towards the tail end of 2014, we are sure that we will see the meetings, events and hospitality industries continue towards technologies and innovations that enhance the experience for attendees and guests but also allow for the planners to receive the benefits of its “shareability” and the insights that can be gained through big data.

To learn more about the changes to expect from these industries and expected trends of 2015, please call us at 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

JNR Incorporated Named “Top 50 Event Company” by Special Events Magazine

We are extremely honored to announce that JNR Incorporated has been selected as a Special Events Magazine Top 50 Event Company for the 2nd consecutive year!

Our spike in international events and authentic experiences to destinations such as South Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brazil were cited as some of reasons for our inclusion on this exclusive list.

Here’s to hoping for a third consecutive selection next year.

http://specialevents.com/septemberoctober-2014#12

The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel – Part One

JNR has planned and operated thousands of programs throughout our three decades of being in this industry and although hundreds of hours go into planning every aspect of an event, meeting or travel program, we would not have had the unmatched level of success that we have had if it was not for our talented and experienced on-site team. We are committed to creating breathtaking and memorable business meetings, corporate events and incentive trips that best meet our client’s goals and needs. We understand that you can create the perfect company event on paper, but if things go wrong on-site, none of that matters. That is why we are proud to release our three-part series on The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel.

In Part One, we will cover the basics of why expert on-site staff are needed to ensure flawless execution of any event. In Part Two, we will go into detail about how on-site staff can best be utilized in each aspects of a program. In Part Three, we will go over the qualities to look for in a capable on-site staff member and how JNR meticulously screens for only the best.

Meetings, events and incentive travel programs are all implemented and designed to help companies reach business objectives and must add value to deliver maximum return on investment (ROI). At JNR, we listen to the client and ask the right questions to completely understand your company’s objectives and attain measurable goals. From the start, we work within your budget, reinforce your goals to participants and then conduct a comprehensive post event survey in order to measure ROI, allowing you to invest in continuous improvements for future events. This process relies on thorough planning right from the word “go” and impeccable execution when on the field.

So, how does the JNR on-site team achieve this impeccable execution on-site?

1)    Experience

Professional on-site team members work thousands of hours of events every year. They have seen and overcome it all. They have firsthand experience at managing the most intricate of on-site details, are committed and passionate about their jobs and are thoroughly cross-trained with superb attention to detail.

The experience they gain from every program they work increases their dedication to customer care and builds on their understanding of what participants are looking for in an exceptional program.

Travel Directors add value and directly impact the bottom line for a client by driving efficiencies, managing the budget and being the company’s advocate with the venue, vendors and service providers.

Experienced on-site team members reduce the cost to clients by eliminating the use of inexperienced internal staff and ensuring the entire meeting, event or program goes as planned. Unlike corporate administrative staff, JNR’s on-site team, specializes in executing meeting plans and use their knowledge and experience to keep participants and especially the client happy.

2)    Destination Knowledge

Our on-site professionals go to great lengths to know every aspect of the event which includes advanced preparation for the chosen destination. This preparation allows them to stand out to participants as a visible resource to answer questions and help the program stay on track. They are a critical pillar of knowledge for participants in what can sometimes be an unfamiliar situation.

3)    Early Arrival

There are many elements that need to be organized before participants arrive. This is achieved through the Travel Director(s) early arrival. In the days and hours before participants and even the client arrives, the travel director(s) has many crucial jobs including:

  • Setting up the headquarters office
  • Reviewing the meeting manual
  • Receiving and doing a quality control check of supplies
  • Walk-through of venues, restaurants and other sites

Once these jobs have been completed, it is essential that the onsite team collaborate with all contracted suppliers to make sure expectations for a successful execution are understood. It is then that participants will begin to arrive, blissfully unaware of the background workings that have taken place to achieve the amazing event they are about to experience.

4)    They Seamlessly Work Together

Each member of the on-site team may have different areas of responsibility, but ultimately they work together as a team moving towards the big picture of a flawless event.

Lead Travel Directors are usually assigned to specific areas of responsibility including:

  • VIP Service
  • Rooms
  • Food and Beverage
  • Transportation
  • Meetings
  • Activities
  • Hospitality Desk
  • Amenities

The other members of the on-site team report to the lead Travel Directors for the duration of the event.

Although responsibilities are usually assigned to specific team members, all on-site team members are empowered to jump in whenever they are needed, guaranteeing that every aspect of the program runs smoothly, on time and on budget.

They have real-world experience of industry best practices and can anticipate, plan and react to any issues without missing a beat.

Every organization has important internal and external stakeholders at their meetings, events and travel programs and so it is imperative that the months of impeccable planning turns into a reality when finally operated. Professional on-site teams are an insurance policy for your investment to ensure each meeting, event and travel program runs as smoothly as planned, keeping costs in check and sending participants home happy.

If you would like more information on how JNR can not only plan an amazing event, meeting or travel program for you but also deliver on the execution with our trusted on-site team, please call us at 949.476.2788 or email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com. Check back next week for Part Two of our series on The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel where we will expand on how on-site staff can best be utilized in each aspects of an event, meeting or program. Part Three will be released the following week and will explain the qualities to look for when hiring a capable on-site staff member and how JNR meticulously screens for only the best.

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas with insights from LuAnn Jalet, Chief Operating Officer at JNR.

 

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.