Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Swinburn

John Swinburn

Executive Director, Mystery Shopping Providers Association

John Swinburn is Executive Director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), a position he has held for eleven years. In this role, he has developed a keen understanding of the crucial importance to a company's image, and to its bottom line, of regularly measuring and successfully managing the customer experience. Several of the association's member companies specialize in hospitality industry customer experience measurement and management, giving him the opportunity to learn about industry-specific issues related to hotels' customer experience. That access, coupled with a career in association management spanning more than thirty years—many of which have been spent in various components of the hospitality industry—has given him a unique perspective on the ways in which both organizations and individuals perceive and respond to hotel brands. During his tenure with MSPA, Mr. Swinburn was instrumental in launching an annual industry operating ratio survey, the results of which member companies can use as benchmarks for their own financial and operational performance. "I am a firm believer in the concept that 'what gets measured gets done' and it just makes sense that the mystery shopping industry, which is all about measurement, should have its own internal measures to ensure good performance," he says. Mr. Swinburn was involved in the process which transformed MSPA from what had been a primarily North American association into a global organization with four distinct and largely autonomous geographic regions serving the North American, European, Asia-Pacific, and Latin American markets. Prior to forming his own association management company, Challenge Management, Inc. (which includes MSPA as a client), he served as executive director of what is now the International Association of Venue Managers and as senior vice president and chief operating officer of what is now the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Earlier in his career, while employed by two Chicago-based association management companies, he served as executive director of several trade associations and professional societies. Mr. Swinburn graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of arts degree. He took graduate level courses at Sam Houston State University.

Mr. Swinburn can be contacted at 972-406-1104 or info@mysteryshop.org

Coming up in August 2020...

Food & Beverage: New Technological Innovations

In the past few years, hotel food and beverage departments have experienced significant growth. Managers are realizing just how much revenue potential this sector holds, both in terms of additional revenue and as a means to enhance the guest experience. As a result, substantial investments are being made in F&B operations as a way to satisfy hotel guests but also to keep pace with the competition. Though it has been a trend for many years, the Farm-to-Table movement shows no signs of abating. Hotel chains are abandoning corporate restaurants and are instead partnering with local chefs to create locally-influenced dining options. Local, farm-sourced ingredients paired with specialty beverages or local wine also satisfies the increasing demand from Millennial travelers who are eager to travel sustainably and contribute to a positive impact. A farm-to-table F&B program also helps to support the local economy, which builds community goodwill. Also popular are "Self-Serv" and "Grab & Go" options. These concepts stem from an awareness that a guest's time is limited and if a hotel can supply them with fast, fresh, food and beverage choices, then so much the better for them. Plus, by placing these specialty kiosks in areas that might be traditionally under-utilized (the lobby, for instance), they can become popular destination locations. Of course, there are new technological innovations as well. In-room, on-screen menus allow guests to order from any restaurant on the property, and some hotels are partnering with delivery companies that make it possible for guests to order food from any restaurant in the area. Also, many hotels are implementing in-room, voice-activated devices, so ordering food via an AI-powered assistant will soon become mainstream as well. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these developments and document what some leading hotels are doing to expand this area of their business.