Category: Uncategorized

Why Online Reviews Are Important in The Hotel and Restaurant Industry

As a service-oriented business, the hotel and restaurant industry, heavily rely on reviews and recommendations to attract new clients. New players, particularly, need positive reviews and word of mouth so as to attract potential clients.

Online reviews of past clients therefore, are very critical when it comes to attracting new clientele. These reviews are usually posted on social media pages of the hotel company itself, third-party review websites, or travel websites that aggregate information on hotel and travel deals.

Why Online Reviews Are Important in The Hotel and Restaurant Industry
The hotel and restaurant industry has benefitted a lot from the digital age. But there are also downsides to it. (Photo Credits)

A Study published in the Online Journal of Information Management has revealed that the social media sphere, as well as online reviews have somehow revolutionized the hotel industry.

“Social Media and user-generated reviews are transforming competition in the hospitality industry. On-line ratings of user-generated reviews on TripAdvisor have a positive effect on hotel revenues that is outweighed by a negative effect on gross profit margins. Hotels placed outside popular destinations get more advantages from their online visibility on their gross and net profitability than hotels placed in popular destinations.”

Read the whole study here.

Hotel Online Reputation

Berlin-Based Customer Alliance explained that a hotel’s online reputation largely impacts how travelers and potential customers view the establishment. Reputation Management For Hotels

“In the competitive environment of the hospitality industry, online reputation directly affects sales volume. Effective hotel reputation management helps you secure a competitive advantage. Conversely, a poor online reputation could potentially lead to serious losses. Disregarding negative comments and reviews that appear on page one of Google will cost much more in lost revenue than putting sufficient resources into effective hotel reputation management. In many cases, business owners spend years building up a positive image of their brand and are surprised by how quickly their hard-won reputation takes a hit. The key to success is being proactive. As we outlined in a recent whitepaper on hotel revenue management, you can take advantage of the possibilities arising from the explosion of review portals.”

Read the whole article here.

Expert Opinion

Hospitality.net meanwhile published an opinion piece on Why Online Reviews Are Important in the Hotel and Restaurant Industry. It insisted that managers and business owners should indeed pay attention to these reviews because it can directly affect their sales. Restaurant reputation management

“With dozens of review sites like TripAdvisor and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia, vacationers are placing their trust in hotel reviews while booking accommodation. They are relying on them rather than advertising and marketing efforts from your side. The fact that a staggering 97.7% consumers read online reviews from other travelers brings attention to the surge of OTAs and review sites.”

Check out the whole write-up here.

Online reputation needs to be carefully managed in order to attract potential clients, which are very important in growing a business.

Top Mold Removal Companies in San Diego, And how to decide on which one

What to Look for in a Mold Removal Company

In the age of the internet and social media, it can be easy to choose among the many companies that offer mold removal services. But any industry or government authority will caution homeowners against randomly choosing a contractor off a list from the World Wide Web without doing a background check on the company.

Top Mold Removal Companies in San Diego, And how to decide on which one
Mold needs to be removed immediately, hire the right company that can do the job efficiently. (Photo Credits)

Doing so could aggravate the already stressful problem that is mold presence, because dealing with the wrong company means wasted time, money, and effort. Super Dry San Diego Flood Restoration – Insurance Claim Assistance

The Better Business Bureau came up with a guide on the top mold removal companies in San Diego, and how to decide on which one.

“Look for the BBB Accredited Business Seal. BBB Accredited businesses meet BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to build trust, advertise honestly, tell the truth, be transparent, honor their promises, be responsive to their customers, safeguard privacy and embody integrity. Track Record. Before you hire check out the contractor at bbb.org. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints. Select a business with a track record worthy of your support. Also search the contractor online adding the word “Complaint”, “Reviews” or “Scam” after their name for different search results. Also, check to see if they are a member of professional organizations such as the Restoration Industry Association.”

Read the rest of their guidelines here.

Guide in Hiring a Mold Restoration Contractor

House Logic also came up with its version of guide on how to hire one of the top mold removal contractors. In its article, they came up with a list of what to look for or what attributes to watch out in a prospective mold removal company. Mold Remediation San Diego

“When you need professional mold remediation, look for an independent consultant with credentials in mold remediation and investigation. Such professionals should: Demonstrate completion of industry-approved coursework in mold investigation given by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the American Council for Accredited Certification (formerly the American Indoor Air Quality Council). Provide a written report that includes lab results of air and surface samples.”

Print a copy of their whole guide here.

What to Ask Before Signing

The website Surviving Mold Ill ness meantime came up with a list of questions to ask from the prospective mold removal companies that made it to the homeowner’s shortlist.

“Do you guarantee your work? You must be sure that the company will stand behind their work and guarantee the results of their remediation. The thoroughness of the remediation can be tested by doing post-remediation testing through a certified mold inspector. If this testing does not show adequate resolution of the problem, then further remediation and/or cleaning should be done with subsequent testing to ensure that the environment will be safe for you.”

Read more here.

Hiring a mold removal contractor should be done cautiously to ensure that the home project will be worked on by competent professionals.

Quick Cornbread Waffles

It’s no secret that baking is not my forte. Shall we recall the number of mishaps with the oven I’ve had? Or perhaps the great chocolate chip cookie debacle?

cccookie_thumb

I don’t particularly enjoy activities at which I don’t excel (just ask Seth about the onetime we went bowling). Nonetheless, I keep crawling back, hoping that I’ll create a decent baked good.

Today’s attempt: cornbread. I’m planning on making vegetarian chili for dinner tonight, and I wanted to bake some sort of corn-based item to accompany it (cornbread, corn muffins, etc.). This time, however, I decided to skip the oven altogether. Instead, I relied on my trusty waffle maker.

Quick Cornbread Waffles

1_thumb24

Makes 5 full-sized waffles, or 20 quarter-waffles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1-1/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • non-stick cooking spray

2_thumb22

1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3_thumb24

2. Add eggs, skim milk, and honey (if using), and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overmix.

4_thumb22

3. Coat waffle iron with cooking spray, and allow it to heat up. (I chose between levels 3 and 4 on my Cuisinart model).

5_thumb13

4. Once waffle iron has reached desired temperature, pour enough batter to cover all the “nubbers.”

6_thumb9

5. Close iron and cook until golden brown.

7_thumb6

8_thumb5

9_thumb3

Nutrition per full-size waffle: 213 Calories, 2.6g fat, 34mg cholesterol, 481mg sodium, 40.9g carbohydrate, 5.1g fiber, 3.2g sugars, 9.4g protein

Nutrition per quarter-waffle: 53 Calories, 0.6g fat, 8mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 10.2g carbohydrate, 1.3g fiber, 0.8g sugars, 2.3g protein

Beware of dogs hoping to sneak a bite!

img_3671_thumb

Check out these articles:

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

If you bring up the topic of pasta salad with anyone in my family, I guarantee they will start to laugh. Why? Because I once had an infamous collision with an extra-large batch of the stuff, right before we were about to take it to a Fourth of July picnic.

I was about five years old , and I guess I lost control of one of my limbs (not an uncommon occurrence), which brought the pasta salad crashing to the floor. I remember screaming, “DON’T TELL MOM!!!” as my sister Lea laughed hysterically and I tried to scoop the dog hair-covered pasta back into the bowl.

Ah, fond memories.

Anyway, despite that experience, I still really love my mom’s pasta salad recipe. Her recipe included a few ingredients that I like to avoid (e.g., white pasta), so I decided to put a little Caroline-twist on the original. And by that, I don’t mean adding dog hair.

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

img_4300_thumb

Makes 4 entree-sized portions

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 4 oz dry whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 2 ounces light sharp cheddar (such as Cabot)

img_4274_thumb

For the Dressing:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

img_4281_thumb

Method

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions. The brand I used required about 7 minutes to cook.

img_4276_thumb

2. Meanwhile, chop veggies and assemble the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Once pasta has cooked, drain and cool with ice cubes.

4. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, then add dressing and stir to coat. Chill for 1-2 hours prior to serving.

img_4284_thumb

img_4288_thumb

img_4290_thumb

Nutrition per 1/4 recipe (~240 grams): 304 Calories, 9.9g fat, 1.7g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 321mg sodium, 45.0g carbohydrate, 8.2g fiber, 3.2g sugars, 13.4g protein

img_4299_thumb

img_4294_thumb

Have you ever re-invented one of your favorite family recipes?

img_4292_thumb

Check out these articles:

Smoky BBQ Hummus

Smoky BBQ Hummus

img_1521_thumb

Makes about 2/3 cup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas/garbanzos
  • 2 T. of your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Stubb’s)
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • a couple shakes liquid smoke
  • 1/4 t. ground red pepper
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. child powder
  • salt, to taste

1. Mince garlic before processing, especially if you are using an immersion blender. Otherwise, the clove does not break down and distribute evenly throughout the dip. Biting into hunks of raw garlic is not pleasant, in my experience.

2. Place everything in food processor and pulse or combine with immersion blender.

img_1524_thumb

Nutrition per 2 tablespoons (1/5 recipe): 54 Calories, 2.0g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 134mg sodium, 7.9g carbohydrate, 1.4g fiber, 1.0g sugars, 1.8g protein

img_1530_thumb

Check out these articles:

Spicy Cilantro Popcorn

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to discover a study that provided perfect justification for eating copious amounts of one of my favorite snack foods—popcorn. According to Dr. Joe Vinson, popcorn is not only a good source of whole grain fiber but also an extremely concentrated source of polyphenols. Indeed, popcorn contains comparatively higher amounts of these antioxidant compounds than fruits and vegetables. While Dr. Vinson’s findings are encouraging, they’re not an excuse to skip your greens in favor of cartons of movie theater popcorn. Those fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals not found in popcorn.

Nonetheless, the surprising antioxidant content of popcorn does indicate that it can be a nutritious snack option. The key is to prepare it without smothering these “nutritional gold nuggets” with hundreds of Calories’ worth of butter or oil. Seth and I happen to love making our own air-popped popcorn for our movie nights, so this study provided the perfect excuse to get creative with our favorite snack.

Spicy Cilantro Popcorn

img_1100_thumb

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • cooking spray*
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste

img_1085_thumb

img_1088_thumb
(Farm fresh cilantro, picked yesterday!)

You’ll also need a paper bag for cooking the kernels.

Method

1. Pour kernels into a brown paper bag, and fold the top closed. You can tape it closed if you like, but it’s not necessary.

img_1089_thumb

img_1090_thumb

img_1091_thumb

2. Place in the microwave and use the “popcorn” button if available. If your microwave doesn’t have that feature, try cooking for about 1 minute on high, or until there are 2-3 seconds between pops.

img_1092_thumb
(Can you see my reflection?)

3. Transfer popped kernels to a large bowl and spray generously with cooking spray. Sprinkle lime juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and cilantro over the top and toss to combine.

Note:

*If you happen to have one of those handy Misto sprayers for your oil of choice, by all means use that! I used an olive oil-based cooking spray.

img_1095_thumb

Dig in!

img_1104_thumb

Nutrition per entire recipe: 165 Calories, 2.1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 291mg sodium, 33.4g carbohydrate, 6.8g fiber, 0.3g sugar, 5.5g protein

img_1097_thumb

Check out these articles:

A New Look

Good evening, everyone! What do you think of the new look? (If you’re reading this in Google Reader, click on over to see the changes!). Many thanks to Zesty for all his hard work on the new header and site overhaul–the Broccoli Hut is now even more broccoli-tastic.

I have plenty of pictures to share tonight, so I’ll let the food do the talking:

Friday
Just a standard choco-berry shake to get my weekend kicked off right.

img_1452

Saturday
Since school started in August, I have been having to re-create the goodness of Rachel’s flavored cottage cheese on my own–the Durham Whole Foods now longer carries them. Don’t they know how magically delicious cucumber dill cottage cheese is?

img_1454

img_1458

img_1455

Once I was all showered, I set to work on my paper about fresh vs. frozen fruits and vegetables. I took a short breather half-way through in order to re-fuel myself. That offensively unattractive gray goop is actually white bean-artichoke dip flavored with garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes.

img_1460 img_1464 img_1466

Several hours later, my paper was complete and I was more than ready for more food. Funny how thinking feverishly while sitting in a computer chair all day can work up an appetite. I used up the rest of my leftover hummus from Elmo’s on Friday night to make an amazing sandwich.

img_1467 img_1471  img_1469

This shake was like a delectable peach cloud. Yummy.

img_1482

Sunday
My breakfast this morning featured not one but two of my recent foodie obsessions: pumpkin and raw almond butter.

img_1485 img_1489

Lunch was another batch of Ginger-Peanut Tofu Salad from Everyday Dish.

img_1495 img_1500-1 img_1501-1

Before heading out to chapter this evening, I made a quick bean salad along with some tasty sides to round out the meal.

img_1506 img_1508

Alright, off to prepare for the week!

Check out these articles:

img_89798x6

Growth

Once again, our pediatrician appointment isn’t for a few more days, so we don’t have the specifics on his weight and length these days. At his last appointment, he was 9 lbs, 3.4 oz and 21 and 3/4 inches long, both of which put him at about the 50th percentile. I would venture to say that he has since passed the 10-pound threshold, based on how heavy he feels when I lug him around in his car seat. He has also graduated to the 0-3 months size clothing.

Likes & Dislikes

Caleb continues to love looking at lights, although mirrors are pretty fascinating too. He quite enjoys admiring his own reflection! Peek-a-boo is now a favorite pastime as well; that’s my go-to strategy to snap him out of a cranky mood. As far as dislikes, Caleb generally doesn’t like not being held, which makes simple things like making lunch a tad difficult. He also puts up a fuss when he’s bored, so I’ve taken to talking to him all day long to keep him occupied. Just yesterday, I gave him a lecture on my smoothie ingredients and their nutrition benefits. #nerdalert

Eating & Sleeping

We’re still going strong on the breastfeeding front. I give him about one bottle of pumped breast milk per day to which I add probiotics drops (prescribed by the pediatrician to help with gastrointestinal issues). Caleb sleeps like a champ, which makes Seth and me very happy. It’s pretty typical for him to sleep from about 10:30PM to 7AM. Occasionally, he’ll wake up for a 3AM feeding, but for the most part, he has adapted to his parents’ sleeping schedule quite nicely! (I know I’m jinxing myself by typing that out).

Other Quirks

-Caleb gets the hiccups all the time. That in itself wouldn’t be so bad, but they prevent him from napping, which makes him pretty crabby!

-We bought an Ergo carrier with some gift card money, and Caleb seems to like it most of the time. I just have to remember not to wear nice shirts while wearing him–he tends to drool/snot/spit-up all over my chest. Mmm.

-Our little dude continues to look exactly like Seth. So I guess that’s why I think he’s so darn cute.

6 weeks in

This morning I had my postpartum check-up–it’s hard to believe it has already been 6 weeks since our little muchacho arrived. My appointment went smoothly–my blood pressure, BMI, and lady parts are all back to normal.

This milestone has gotten me motivated to get my pre-baby body back. I’m within about 4-5 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight, but I’d like to regain some muscle tone and make sure my body is adequately fueled for breastfeeding. Accordingly, I’ve put together a meal plan and exercise plan for the week. Hopefully, this will help me achieve my goals!

MEAL PLAN

Su: lentil burgers + sriracha roasted cauliflower

M: orange sesame salmon (similar to this recipe) + cauliflower rice

Tu: zoodles w. pesto + feta

W: butternut squash hash + eggs

Th: peanut butter chili

F: take-out (?)

Sa: goddess garbanzo pitas + salad

EXERCISE PLAN

M: elliptical + abs

Tu: run + arms

W: elliptical + legs

Th: run + chest/back

F: elliptical + abs

Sa: run

Su: rest

Not the most exciting of fitness routines, but, with a colicky baby, my options right now are limited to what I can do in the house or with him in the stroller.

To any of you moms out there: any tips for sticking to a healthy eating and fitness routine?

caleb at 1 month

Somehow, our little boy is already 1 month old today!

Growth

We haven’t had our 1 month check-up at the pediatrician just yet, but based on our rudimentary at-home measurement, Caleb is currently about 9.5 pounds. He’s still wearing mostly newborn size clothing, although he’s too long for a few sets of pajamas.

Likes & Dislikes

Caleb has been completely fascinated by lights since day 1–Christmas trees were quite entertaining during the first few weeks of his life! He doesn’t like bedtime very much, but lullabies make it a bit more tolerable. We have a few that we play every night to soothe him to sleep. In terms of dislikes, Caleb is not a big fan of diaper changes or having his nails trimmed. Thank goodness Auntie Katie is a pro at baby manicures–otherwise, he might have some dangerous claws at this point!

Eating & Sleeping

Breastfeeding has gone relatively smoothly. I did get to meet with a lactation consultant in the hospital who was incredibly helpful–she gave me so many great tips for positioning and making sure Caleb stays awake long enough to feed (he tends to doze off about 5 minutes in…). Speaking of sleeping, Caleb can now last about 5-6 hours at a time at night. He hasn’t started sleeping in his crib just yet, although he does spend some of his waking hours there–hopefully that will ease the transition when the time comes.

Other Quirks

-When hungry, he makes a distinctive “oy oy oy” sound.

-He’s not perturbed by dogs at all–he sleeps right through all their barking, and he doesn’t mind when they lick his face.

-Caleb is a very “handsy” baby–if he’s not sucking on them, he is gesturing with them or yanking on my shirt.

———————————————————————————————————————

Although I want him to stay little forever, I’m excited to see what milestones month 2 may bring!