The Magnolia Story

Joanna and Chip Gaines, who have become household names thanks to their massive hit show "Fixer Upper" on  HGTV, will release their first book, The Magnolia Story (ISBN# 9780718079185) on October 18, 2016.

The book, on PreOrder now, is Amazon's #1 New Release in their "Home Improvement & Design Book" category.  

Written with New York Times bestselling collaborator Mark Dagostino, the book details their courtship, first collaborations to their early successes and the big building project that almost cost them everything.

Why Magnolia? After they got married in 2003, Joanna opened up a local boutique called Magnolia Market. She closed it down to spend more time with the kids while Chip continued working in real estate by buying, renovating, and selling homes to the Baylor market. Joanna's flair for design, however, couldn't lie latent. A few years and four children later, the main branches of their business comprise Magnolia Realty, Magnolia Market, Magnolia Homes and Magnolia Villas.

“I knew when I married Chip in 2003 that this life would be an adventure,” said Joanna Gaines.
“Through all the ups and downs, I never would have imagined we'd land here. What I do know is
that I couldn't have asked for a better partner to share it with.”

An audiobook version will be released along with the book.

Their quarterly magazine is scheduled to debut at the same time as their first book.

The Magnolia Story will be followed by a design book from Joanna to be published by Thomas Nelson Gift Books in early 2017.

The timeless appeal of their signature designs has gained them a tremendous following worldwide.

Clients whose homes have been featured in HGTV's "Fixer Upper" shows are using sites like VRBO and AirBNB to rent out their homes, due to popular demand from tourists who flock to Waco,Texas after the shows.

Visitors could also choose to "Come And Stay The Magnolia Way" at The Magnolia House for US$695 per night. It is booked solid for 2016, but there remains opening for 2017 if you book now.

Waco, Texas for your next vacation, anyone?

Revenue Strategy Forum

Date: 22 September 2016
Venue: Hotel ICON, Hong Kong, SAR China
Organizers: Duetto

This full-day conference brings together industry thought leaders and practitioners to examine the distribution forces reshaping the hospitality industry, while providing an afternoon of hands-on revenue management instruction.

Attendees will also have plenty of time to network with peers in a relaxed and beautiful setting.

Revenue Strategy Forum

08:30 - 09:00 – Registration and networking with light breakfast
09:00 - 09:15 – Welcome and opening remarks from Hotel Icon
09:15 - 09:25 - Welcome from Patrick Bosworth, CEO of Duetto
09:25 - 09:45 - Overview of Asia Travel Market — Daniel J Voellm, 
                         Managing Director, HVS Asia Pacific
09:45 - 10:15 – Keynote address: 
                          Break the Cycle and Win the Next Downturn with Revenue Strategy 
                          — Patrick Bosworth, CEO, Duetto
10:15 - 10:45 – Coffee break
10:45 - 11:45 - General Session: 
                         Digital Disruption and the Intensified Battle for Bookings

Moderator:  Yeoh Siew Hoon, WIT

Richard Hatter, General Manager, Hotel Icon
Boon Sian Chai, Senior Director, Market Management Asia Pacific, Expedia
Althaf Mohamed Ali, VP Sales & Marketing, Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Ltd
Janice Chan, Senior Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific

11:45 - 13:00 – Lunch
13:00 - 16:00 – Breakout sessions: Revenue Management or Marketing Tracks
13:00 - 14:15 Mastering Revenue Management Workshop, Part I  
                          —  Marco Benvenuti,  Co-Founder, Duetto
How Digital Marketing Aligns With Your Revenue Strategy

Moderator: Martyn Tan, Founder & Design Director, Method Media

Tim Alpe, General Manager, OVOLO Southside & Director of Sales & Revenue, OVOLO Hotels
Patrick Sin, Director of Sales, Marketing, & Revenue, Hotel ICON
Owen Xia, Director of Performance, Happy Marketer

14:15 - 14:45 – Break
14:45 - 16:00 - Mastering Revenue Management Workshop, Part II  
                          —  Marco Benvenuti,  Co-Founder, Duetto
Get Personal: The New Rules for Hotel Marketing

Moderator:  Bernard Quek, CEO, Global Hospitality Solutions

Philip Schaetz, VP Sales and Marketing, Marco Polo Hong Kong 
Wayne Hu, VP Strategic Marketing, Regal Hotels International
Chris Yahng, Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy, Method Media
Michelle Wu, General Manager, marketing, OVOLO Hotels
16:00 - 17:30 – Poolside reception for all


KEYNOTE: Break the Cycle and Win the Next Downturn
With RevPAR and occupancy beginning to decelerate in some markets around the world, the industry is beginning to see the first signs of a slow down. Smart hotel owners and operators understand this is a cyclical business and are now implementing revenue strategies that will sustain their success through not only the good times, but also the bad. In the last recession, we learned cutting rate and turning to the OTAs for more help isn’t a winning strategy. In a declining market, the only way to win is by beating the competition. This panel will explore the economic factors that could lead to an industry downturn and how hoteliers can use better data, pricing and distribution strategies to own their street corner.

GENERAL SESSION: Digital Disruption and the Intensified Battle for Bookings
The distribution landscape isn’t getting any easier to navigate. In the last year, we’ve seen Airbnb and peer-to-players grow exponentially, Expedia and expand through acquisition and new offerings, and the hotel industry has begun to fight back. Many brands have rolled out new loyalty initiatives to give consumers better prices and more reason to book direct. Is the next generation of travelers as brand conscious? Are efforts to provide more personalized offers the way of the future? A panel of senior executives addresses these questions and the overall state of the digital marketplace.


Mastering Revenue Management (2 parts)
In this hands-on workshop, Marco Benvenuti, co-founder of Duetto and a leading revenue strategist, will take attendees through an intensive course in revenue management that combines theoretical principals with practical examples using Hong Kong and Hotel Icon as a case study. During this three-hour interactive workshop, attendees will learn the fundamentals of revenue management and advanced concepts they can begin applying at their hotels immediately to better manage distribution and increase profitability. Don’t miss the class that has been taught by Benvenuti at leading hospitality schools throughout the world.
Assisted by Philip Niemann, Director of Customer Success, Asia, Duetto

I What is Revenue Management?
  • The concept
  • Necessary conditions
  • Supply, demand and capacity
  • The three cores: segmenting, forecasting, pricing
II Market Analysis
  • • Your value proposition
  • • Compset analysis
  • • Positioning within market
III Segmentation
  • • Understanding Your business mix and booking behavior
  • • The different channels (Direct, Opaque and Merchant OTAs, GDS, etc.)
  • • Yielding vs. Market segmentation
  • • Strategic segmentation: Transient, Corporate, OTA, Consortia, Group, Wholesale
IV Forecasting
  • • Length of stay and unconstrained demand
  • • Forecasting methods (natïve, pickup, velocity, regression)
  • • Booking curves for inventory and revenue
  • • Future looking data: Tracking lost business
  • • Calculating forecast error and the importance of it
V Pricing and Optimization
  • • Right way to calculate capacity
  • • Overbooking vs. overselling
  • • Moving beyond BAR: Pricing by segment, channel and room type
  • • How to stimulate demand
  • • Acquisition costs and optimizing by profit
  • • Loyalty pricing
Marketing Track
How Digital Marketing Aligns with Your Revenue Strategy In the digital space, keeping tabs on the various marketing channels — pay per click, display advertising, commission-based sales, retargeting, search engine optimization and marketing — can be downright confusing. Learn how to make them work together seamlessly to drive revenues throughout the entire customer journey, as well as how to adopt an emotional and rational approach at each step along the way, so that every digital marketing asset not only appeals to prospects but also boosts profitability.

Get Personal: The New Rules for Hotel Marketing
Attract the right customers and drive more direct and profitable bookings through improved online, search engine, mobile and social media marketing. Package these efforts with a more personalized and dynamic loyalty strategy to entice consumers and keep them coming back for more.

Identifying & Eliminating Waste

Date: 08 September 2016
Venue: SICCI Building, Singapore
Organizers: SME (Small and medium enterprise) Centre@SICCI
Business Advisors: Ms Shona Khoo & Mr Phua Shi Jiang
Speaker: Mr George Wong
                Managing Director & Principal Consultant 
                Hoclink Systems & Services Pte Ltd
                Consulting company specialising in Productivity, Business Excellence, 
                Benchmarking, Total Quality Management and Service Excellence

TopicLean Management (Identifying & Eliminating Waste)
         (Productivity Series)
Highlights: • Overview to productivity
                    • Importance of productivity
                    • How SMEs can identify and eliminate waste
                    • 3-step approach to improve productivity through concept of 7 waste
                    • Sharing session with productivity expert
Learning Outcomes: • Understanding 7-waste Concept
                                    • How SMEs can reduce wastage
                                    • Understand and apply productivity concepts
                                    • Insights to common productivity issues in the region

The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognise.”- Shigeo Shingo

Productivity consists of two parts – 
“Doing things right”, and
“Doing the right things.” 

The first step to productivity is for one to reduce the amount of time and energy in completing a task. 

The second crucial point would be to ensure minimum “wastage” in the process of delivering the task. 

Wastage is indicative of unnecessary use of resources. 

The concept of waste is explained in a framework which classifies it into 7 categories. 

Knowledge on such wastage will allow SMEs to prevent its occurrence, resulting in savings. 

Consultant George Wong will take the target audience of directors, retailers and start-up founders through the 3 step approach for SMEs to improve their productivity through an understanding of the 7 waste concept. 

Mystery Shopper

Every so often, we receive requests to enroll as mystery shoppers, as a means to measure service quality.

The company pays for the mystery shopper's time, but the return of investment for the company using this tool will depend on how service gaps are handled.

For the mystery shopping results to impact favorably on the sales performance, ultimately, it still boils down to how much the company is willing to let go of certain entrenched culture that irritates the general consumer.

And irritations are aplenty, many of which the company management in the service industry are aware, and still perpetuate it.

A few examples.


At an award-winning restaurant that has branches in Tokyo and New York, I walked in with an acquaintance during off-peak hours.  Despite it being a big restaurant, they had closed up many zones to squeeze all customers into one tiny corner.  Some staff were occupying a zone of tables, resting.

We were ushered to a table for two, with a table top that small in size and with the space to the next table just sufficient to squeeze in. Even if you talk in a whisper, the next table can't help but join in the conversation.

Seeing the off-peak environs, and with someone coughing away, we request to sit at a table that accommodates four people rather than the table for two. Our request was outright rejected on account that the management's instructions takes precedence.

Out march my acquaintance without a word, in swift, bold strides, and as we traverse the floor to head for the exit, suddenly a supervisor leading a trail of waitresses came in pursuit, shouting in mandarin: "I'll give you what you want! I'll give you what you want!" much to the amusement of the tiny corner's worth of customers and myself.

A second time, at the same restaurant's branch at Suntec City, I entered at a time which sees only a lovey-dovey couple deep in conversation.  True to form, the waitress had to sit me no where but right next to them.  I asked her if she expects me to join in the love talk. Again, it was only when I make a move to leave that she gave in and allow me to sit a few tables away.

Retail Outlets

One key factor why Ikea is so successful is that they are aware that customers like to browse in peace without a sales personnel hounding them.

Not so for many of the mega IT retail stores and even health stores.  The sales promoters survive on commission and all too often, we have to tell them to back off as they didn't even allow us to lay eyes on the product, much less to think.

For big-ticket items like TV, the sales pitch can turn into harassment.

And it isn't just the notorious Sim Lim square we are talking about.  If anything, it seems the sales promoters there have set up roots elsewhere.  At HarbourFront, where cruise ships checks in, many Sim Lim square type salesmen have appeared. If you so much as browse and not buy, sarcastic remarks are passed.

At some furniture stores (other than Ikea), for the sake of commission, the sales person followed so closely we felt we had grown a tail.  So the common trajectory through this kind of outlet is enter >> get tailed >> go one round towards the exit till you >> lose the tail.

These management have no inclination towards change as long as they are not making a loss.

Service standards will remain poor no matter how they pay lip service towards feedback.