Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why WeChat is not a "real" social media app

Social media allows mass communications, but WeChat does not.  When people post something on a social media website, such as Facebook, people can interact with their friends' friends even thought they may not connect with their friends' friends on Facebook. They can also search and participate in trending conversations with the aids of hashtags. Can people do that on WeChat?

People can only interact with the friends with direct connections on WeChat. Let's say two people, Tom and Amy are "friends" on WeChat. I happen to know both of them in person but I am only connected with Tom on WeChat. When Tom posts an update, Amy and I can both respond to Tom's update, but I will not be able to see the conversation between Amy and Tom. Likewise, Amy will not able to see my conversation with Tom because Amy and I are not connected. The hashtags do not work on WeChat either.

Therefore, I don't think WeChat is a real social media tool. And because most social media tools are blocked in Mainland China, people living there really don't have a voice on social media.

The fact that people don't have access to social media in Mainland China does not surprise me, however. Things have always been well controlled for decades. What shocks me the most is people's choice when they are presented with options.

I met a nice lady last week, who told me she originally came from Shanghai and had been working at Cal Poly Pomona for over 10 years. We briefly talked about the firewall issues in Mainland China. Her response was: "I only want one-to-one conversation like what WeChat offers. I don't want Facebook or any other social media tools. They are just too much! Why bother?" When she said "I,"  her attitude and body language suggested that she was referring to the people living in China. All of a sudden, she became very offensive.

I was shocked. It is fine for people not to use the real social media tools. And yes, they may choose to have one-to-one conversation via SMS, WeChat, e-mails, or phone calls, but the question is: Do we want people to have the option of carrying on one-to-many or many-to-many conversations besides one-to-one conversation?

I certainly respected her choice, and I stopped the conversation. Yet, her comments keep me wonder what Mainland Chinese really want. Unfortunately, they cannot answer my question as they are not allowed on  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Academic conferences: Can it be fun too?

I attended the annual  conference of iCHRIE (International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education) Summer Conference in Orlando, FL in July/August. It was an annual event where a group of hospitality professors and graduate students get together to showcase their research and network with one another. 

It was nice catching up with other scholars and friends in the conference, but honestly, I don't feel people are very excited about the conference. Reasons may include: 

  • Most researchers receive no incentives for conference proceedings. 
  • Not all presentations are interesting; some are very boring. 
  • Too much emphasis is put on theoretical contributions rather than meaningful practical impacts. 
  • Networking events only take place within the conference hotel and lack of opportunities to explore the destination. 
I then wonder what will be the remedies. Will it help by providing more training in public speaking to the presenters? How about offering a variety of networking events in different venues? Can we ask our own hospitality professionals or the experts in event management to help us plan some fun activities? What do you think?

#Academic #Conference #EventManagement #EventPlanning #MultiBriefs #Blog #Hospitality #Tourism #CHRIE

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Follow-up Discussion about Hostels - Additional Insights from the Staff

Last week, we reviewed some reasons why hostels are becoming more popular among travelers and investors, but that alone, is not a complete story because we are still missing one important piece of the puzzle – i.e., additional insights from the staff who is actually working in a hostel. As a result, I especially invited Joanne Lam to share her experience of working in a hostel with us, who is currently working in the Green Tortoise San Francisco Hostel and a master’s student at the Collins College of Hospitality Management (Cal Poly Pomona)

Picture of @Jo_Lam
Here are some highlights of what she shared: 

Joanne’s Work Experience in Hostels

“I’ve been working in a hostel for a total of about two years. ..." 

Who Stays in Hostels

"... Many of them are backpackers, solo travelers, or simply with a few friends traveling for a long period of time; anywhere between two weeks to six months. Our guests all have very unique personalities. They seek connections everywhere they go. They are flexible and welcoming to new adventures on a daily basis..."

Why People Choose to Stay in Hostels

“... Our guests choose to stay in a hostel over other hotels because of the vibe, the community, the activities and being able to be themselves in any given situation. Many choose us because their friends have had great experiences with us, and they want to experience the Green Tortoise experience themselves..."

How Hostels Keep Everyone Engaged

“The free breakfast and free dinners are a huge part of how we engage the travelers. Free dinners are similar to a family meal, where we encourage travelers to help with the preparation of the meals. Our nightly social events range from pub-crawls, live music, to dinner outings in the area. We also create a list of activities happening in and around San Francisco on a weekly basis for our guests, especially events that are more local than touristic..." 

Who is Working in Hostels

“Our associates working for the Green Tortoise San Francisco are quite unique and yet at the same time, very much alike. We have staff from all over the world such as Australia, New Zealand, as well as Italy..." 

The Relationship between the Management Team and the Staff

“This may sound cheesy, but we’re a family. It’s the Green Tortoise family. The relationship between the associates and travelers are very friendly, comfortable and incredibly interactive..." 

The Work Environment in Hostels

"... Every day is an adventure to meet different travelers and hear their stories..."

Trends Affecting Hostels

"... The health and wellness travel trend booming in recent years have also made an impact on the hostel business. Travelers can cook in hostel kitchens, and not have to go out to eat as much whether it’s for health or economic reasons..."
Note that Every Hostel is Unique

“I believe one very unique aspect of hostels currently is that each hostel, and or organization of hostels offer different activities and environment..." 

About the Author - Joanne Lam

Joanne Lam is a master’s student in The Collins College of Hospitality Management at California Polytechnic University Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). She is currently investigating how hostels can be used to build a more culturally intelligent world. Having lived in Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Boston - where she received her BA degree in Communication Studies from Emerson College - she is an avid traveler of the world who is always seeking for new adventures, new stories to tell, and new ways to build a utopian society. Her blog, Stuck Like A Pincushion, is a compilation of photographs, stories, and thoughts of her daily interactions. Joanne’s perspectives on travel and the hospitality industry is largely influenced by her own experiences. There is only one way to describe what she’s all about- as the tagline on her blog writes: “live to exist outside our bodies in the lives and thoughts of others.” To stay tune with Joanne’s daily musings, follow Joanne Lam on Instagram and Twitter.

Want to know more hostels? Visit or leave Joanne or me a note. 

#Q&A #Hostels #Travel #Tourism #Trends