Day 4 1/11

As a way to wrap up the week of company meetings, lectures and a stronger understanding for business development and growth in Barcelona, King presented an excellent opportunity to see a large scale operation with specifications to fit the city. While we always hear about the work video game companies are doing and the massive increase in mobile device users, it was intriguing to get the inside scoop on how to market to prospective clients.

Starting as a company that appeared like it would fail, it is truly inspiring to see how it quickly turned around to become one of the top companies in mobile gaming in the world. Through games like Candy Crush, King prospered in targeted demographics by seeing what innovations would work, and presenting a new marketing strategy to help them prosper. Seeing the technical side of the business and the process it takes to design a game, I never understood the amount of detail that went into an application from inception and design to final products. Following the logistics of the applications themselves, it was great hearing from a marketing manager the digital strategies and analytics used to understand the customer base. Finding those target niches, using ad campaigns and understanding location based initiatives has helped King to thrive and innovate as the years pass. Being a marketing manager myself for a much smaller company, it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between how I conduct and plan for my business versus what they do for theirs.

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Day 3, 1/10

On a very busy day, it was interesting getting different viewpoints of business from three different companies. Visiting Activa, it was refreshing to see a dedication of tools and resources for those looking to start up a business, as well as currently unemployed. Using taxpayer dollars and a reliance on the community, Barcelona Activa has prospered with their collaborative spaces, inviting environment, and the fostering of growth among clients. Allowing access into funding and maintaining a large network of companies allows Activa to present a promising beginning to a start up, or can encourage individuals to plan for a different time to begin a company. As we heard, everyone has the potential to start a business at one point or another, but making sure that now is the right time is one of the most important decisions a person can make.

Following this, I was truly inspired by the work of Hutchinson, the Port of Barcelona. Often taking for granted the moving of freight, or just seeing boats coming to and from NY, I discount the amount of time and effort that goes into making sure the correct cargo is on board. Discovering the recent expansion to 24 terminals, construction of semiautonomous movers and newly designed entrance area to help the flow of traffic run smoothly easily shows Barcelona’s potential for growth and success. Operating 40 orders every hour provides efficiency standards which exceed competition, allowing prospective clients to understand the benefits with using Barcelona as a necessity along the travel route.

Last, KIC InnoEnergy provided me a stronger look into how a company with profits regulates business. Seeing the services provided at TechCity and Activa, it was interesting to see why one would choose to develop a business plan under a company lacking the free assets the other two have. After hearing from two representatives of the company, it was clear that start ups were interested because of the connections to the energy industry, and the funding to help a period of growth along the way. While the others have the initial tools to get off the ground, InnoEnergy walks with the companies step by step to ensure their success. Having multiple  programs and offices all over Europe, IE has continued to grow in Barcelona and throughout by the increasing need for renewable energy.

Day 2, 1/9

Today was a great hands on day, allowing us the capabilities to see firsthand how startups and freelancers have been given the ability to succeed in Barcelona. Through the walk through of tech city, the modern environment with colors and open spaces allowed creative genes to flow, and an opportunity for collaboration and growth. Too many times in NY, everyone is in their own world only focused on what they have, often not looking outside their own bubble. And while great ideas are never a problem, they may be problematic if you don’t have all the solutions and goals to accomplish such a task on your own. This is where TechCity stood out, as their goal was to provide a collaborative space for ideas to spread and find solutions.

Listening to the first speaker, I was inspired by the Mobile Congress, and the amount of work and effort it takes to put it on. Understanding that hundreds of thousands pour into the city for the few day event, and that Barcelona has maintained itself the location event for years, proves that internationally the city is respected for growth in technology and innovation.

Afterwards the second, unexpected speaker Alex ended up being my favorite thus far. Hearing from a marketing manager who has worked in different industries, had different budgets, and knows how an array of companies work provided a surplus of information into the world of marketing. One of the most interesting points he brought up revolved around the difference between his product and design at Tiendeo, and the competition’s. For his own, the goal of the company was based in the operations and development of the product, pouring the few resources into improving the customer experience. For the other, they had unlimited resources and chose to invest in a strong marketing initiative, with the idea that if they poured enough money into campaigns, they would soon enough turn a profit. Seeing that something is successful may give false hope to a company, which ended up being the case for the latter. Expanding too quickly into new markets, and applying resources in areas without significant research meant that they lost over 500,000 Euro in Sales this past year. On the contrary, the Tiendeo grew through intelligent resource allocation and investment in key operations.  As Alex mentioned, sometimes having 0 means that you must innovate in order to survive. By practicing a budget which strictly and carefully invests on only initiatives known to succeed, while growth is not exponential at this point, Tiendeo continues to grow. His knowledge and experience was greatly appreciated, and I hope to connect with him in the future to see where his company goes.

Day 1, 1/8

For the first day of hands on learning, it was quite an experience to see the Esade School of Business. Walking onto the campus appeared like something out of the future, with technology booming, windows and open spaces galore, and a sense of connectivity. What made the day great however were the speakers and points of view we heard from today. The first speaker was very lively, touching on several different aspects of ensuring that you maintain satisfaction when looking at how to market a product or good. Keeping this in mind, along with ensuring a mindset that always places the individuals needs ahead allows a company to thrive.

The next speaker touched on some of this, but went more into depth on his own experiences, which I found very interesting. Having started, run and maintained businesses for nearly the past 20 years, Javier based his lecture around the successes and failures he had while trying to build up a company. Seeing his successes reinvigorated my hope to some day run my own business, and allowed me to logically understand how to go about challenges. Reflecting on the failures and analyzing why they failed prompted me to not only avoid things like hiring your friend’s son, but being right once early on, rather than right several times later. Touching on location and staffing, he stressed key components in hiring and the selection process to then understand how and where to delegate business. With dreams of owning and running my own hotel someday, this not only taught me some of the skills I would need, but if I am missing them to reach out to others. Rather than trying to tackle everything at once when you aren’t experienced, it is better to have assistance from those with a greater knowledge and be able to delegate. Looking forward, I feel I now have stronger tools to market myself as a person, and then use these to drive a successful business.

Doing Business and Investing in Barcelona

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When looking into foreign markets, it is always important to get a feel for the potential success if you wish to become established. For the United States, countries all over the world look to trade and invest with us through the amount of resources we offer, the strength of the dollar, and our importance on the world stage. Therefore, when we from the United States are looking to further expand and invest in foreign opportunities, research must be established in order to maintain the same quality and protocol are taken into account. This is the standard set for looking at Business in Barcelona.

In first logging onto the website given, the question pops up, “Why Barcelona?” A viable question at the very least, but also an intriguing offer to discover what helps the Second Most Populous City in Spain stand out. The list I have compiled analyzes all of the tools given, and has looked to see what would present the strongest reasoning for an individual in the US to invest or partake in business.

Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Barcelona

  1. Location – Barcelona is the southern gateway to Europe, the centre of an emerging economic Eurozone, the Mediterranean capital, a bridge to the Maghreb and a platform for links to Latin America.
  2. Well Connected – Barcelona is the only city in southern Europe that combines one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean with a high-speed train station, an international airport, motorways that connect to the European network, the second biggest amusement park in Europe, and one of the most important logistical areas in the southern continent.
  3. Previous Successful Foreign Investment – Ninety per cent of the 5,000 foreign companies in Catalonia are in the Barcelona area and more than half of the companies in Spain are in Catalonia. These companies are mainly Japanese, Italian, North American, French, Austrian and Swiss.
  4. Top Quality of Life – According to the 2011 European Cities Monitor, Barcelona is the European city with the best quality of life for employees, a position it has held for the last 14 years.
  5. Numbers – Barcelona has a population of more than 1.5 million, and 5 million people live in the metropolitan area. There are over 400,000 companies in the Barcelona region and an average of 7 million tourists visit the city each year.
  6. Innovation – Barcelona is the Mobile World Capital, the global benchmark city for innovation and talent in the field of mobile phones, and each year it organises the GSMA Mobile World Congress, which brings together over 70,000 professionals in the sector.
  7. Center for Research – Barcelona is a leading city in the study of clinical and human health, home to 90 research centres with more than 400 established working groups in the life sciences and excelling in areas such as oncology, bio-nanomedicine and cardiovascular diseases.
  8. Equality – Fostering of diversity and inclusion, through initiatives like The School for Women Entrepreneurs, with over twenty years of experience in supporting women entrepreneurs, offering advice, professional training and networking opportunities.
  9. City Promotion – strategic guidance to the project to align it with the city’s overall strategy and supports the search for the most appropriate internal and external stakeholders for connecting to the project.
  10. Magnet for Talent – Barcelona has well-trained human capital that fosters innovation and creativity. 48% of the city’s labour force works in knowledge-intensive services with an array of specialists in different fields.

Looking at these benefits allows a possible investor to discover the reasons so many other countries and partnerships have developed in Barcelona. Promoting a modernizing city with strategic goals, in a prime location, has kept the city ahead of others inland and further from the Mediterranean. However, when analyzing this data it is important to understand this is only one website, which spends money to promote the best parts of Barcelona. While statistics may be impressive and there are several aspects rightfully attributed to the city, it is important to understand both the Pros and Cons when evaluating whether or not to invest in a new, foreign territory. Unknown-1

For starters, the recent upheaval between the governments of Catalonia and Spain have not  been an encouraging matter. When entering into a new territory, one of the most important aspects is understanding the political governance, and whether or not it is in a current state of unrest. As Forbes points out in their Oct 2 Article, “The net effect on the euro is negative” and when looking at a larger market perspective, “if the rejected referendum emboldens people in favor of it to continue with generalized strikes in one of Spain’s most important cities — Barcelona — it could very easily hurt sentiment.” This could detract not only additional investors, but large amounts of tourists and citizens fleeing to safer locations. Referring to recent sanctions between the “separate governances,” Neil McKinnon, a senior economist in London, points out that “Brexit might actually now be the least of the European Union’s problems now.”

In another article by CNBC, writer Sofia Bosch points out that “As the most prosperous of Spain’s 17 regions, Catalonia houses roughly 19 percent of Spain’s economy, benefiting from tourism, exports, manufacturing, and industry.” If the country were to declare independence, short-term outcomes would result in “a loss of jobs, income and wealth for everybody, whether they live in Catalonia or in the rest of Spain,” according to Alain Cuenca, an economics professor at the University of Zaragoza. Looking closer towards direct effects on Barcelona, Catalans supply approximately 20% of the GDP for Spain, but also rely on Spain for 35.5% of their exports. Not only would Catalonia need to make up in production exported, but also need to institute a new pay structure, which carry a large price tag. In addition, Barcelona and Catalonia would then have to look outside the EU for assistance, as “independence from Spain means independence from the EU.” Therefore, the possibility of risk may outweigh the potential benefit, and the US would decide its smarter to remain outside.

Executive Summary – BELFOR

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Over the past 10 years, the United States has seen unprecedented weather changes like never before. Hurricanes which blew out entire cities, floods which keep rising higher and expanding further, and even local instances which devastate small communities. FEMA has often had the backs of many of these individuals, but when the federal spending runs out or an event appears too catastrophic, it can be a while before relief is given. Belfor, a disaster and property recovery company positions itself to “respond to almost any disaster – large or small – coast to coast.” The brand prides itself on a “proven track record of superior response and unmatched resources has made BELFOR the contractor of choice for damages caused by fire, water, wind or other catastrophes.” While the company is beginning to expand internationally, it has maintained a steady basis within North America. Looking at Barcelona being a port city and susceptible to flooding and other natural disasters, Belfor could potentially succeed in Barcelona.

Barcelona, located on the Mediterranean, enjoys mild winters and warm summers throughout the year. The near 5 Million citizens in the urban area compromise the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs. The city has approximately 55 days of precipitation each year, with occasional thunderstorms, fog and wind. Therefore, since there doesn’t appear an imminent threat, how would Belfor succeed? Location, location, location. With ocean levels rising approximately 3-4 mm every year, and continuing due to climate change and rising temperatures, it is only a matter of time before a flood could destroy large parts of the city. Looking to a city struck by rising sea level nearby, Venice has suffered immensely in recent years to relive itself after years of flooding.

High water may not appear an imminent threat now, but a storm can come in at any time, and there is no way to avoid it. Belfor, seeing such a succesptible environment may be able to assist in maintaining calm after the storm. With such high City Promotion and Innovation, Belfor could even expand some of its current databases and establish new technology. With Barcelona being a high center for research and development, new engineering and technological tools could assist the city in preparing for such an event, and keep damage as minimal as possible.

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Furthermore, the area has previously experienced flash flooding, amounting to widespread states of emergency. Being that there are millions who would be affected from such an event, Belfor could serve as an aid where many similar services have overlooked. Establishing a base now would allow Belfor to become acquainted within the area, prepare for changes in climate, and adjust their research in specific parts of the city. In addition, with such a high Quality of Life among citizens, Belfor could ensure that despite such an event occurring at anytime to anyone, relief will be there and help citizens get back to their lives.

 

Works Cited:

Belfor Property Restoration. http://www.belfor.com/en/us/red-alert-program-old.

Bosch, Sofia. “Spain’s Economy Losing Catalonia Would Be like the US Losing California and Florida Combined.” CNBC, CNBC, 2 Oct. 2017, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/heres-how-bad-economically-a-spain-catalonia-split-could-really-be.html.

“Climate Science Glossary.” Skeptical Science, skepticalscience.com/sea-level-rise-intermediate.htm.

Rapoza, Kenneth. “What Investors May Be Missing From Spain’s Catalonia Problem.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Oct. 2017, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2017/10/02/what-investors-may-be-missing-from-weekend-in-spain/#537b7e5832de.

 

 

Service Design Cultural Change

Living in New York means a few things; barely being able to afford rent, walking more than you ever thought possible, and becoming reliant on public transportation. Over the years, the MTA has serviced millions of riders each day, but often fails to meet the expectation of timeliness and exceptional service. Instead, the legacy has involved overcrowded trains, track fires on the regular, and signal malfunctions leading to angry New Yorkers. Therefore, I bothered to ask the question, is it the same elsewhere? Having recently travelled to 7 cities in Eastern Europe, I tried to pay attention to how significant the role public transportation played in the daily life of locals. I noticed the cleanliness of stations, frequency of trains and lack of delays to name a few, which unfortunately didn’t surprise me.

Therefore, when deciding on a service for Barcelona, I figured Public Transportation and the city’s TMB system would be a great topic when trying to become more affiliated with the metro area and culture. My question for the service is “How efficiently and effectively does Barcelona’s TMB transport riders from one place to another?”

While there is always the option to drive, take a cab or sometimes even walk, thousands of metropolitan residents rely on public transportation everyday. Whether it be train, light rail, bus or even ferry, each system helps to move groups of residents from one place to another for a lower price than if individually traveling. Looking at Barcelona’s public transportation in this case, I wish to see how far the transportation system reaches out to areas of the city, how reliable and easy the system is to use, and what the general consensus is from those who use the system everyday. Coming from a New Yorker who rides the MTA everyday, I want to understand what we are doing better or worse than Barcelona, and how locals feel about the services being offered. While it would be great to sit down and interview citizens of Barcelona, for now I believe relying on surveys and media, daily ridership statistics, and news articles will suffice for information. In addition, it will also be important to understand the viewpoint of the stakeholders, and reports taken from the inside of the company.

logo-vector-tmbThe Metro de Barcelona represents the largest, and most widely used public transportation system in Barcelona, boasting over 572 Million Riders each year (2015 Metropolitan Transport Authority study). TMB holds 144 km of track, and services 180 stations. In comparison to a major US city, Chicago, which is home to the second largest transit system in the US, has an annual ridership of 238 Million, with a similar length (165km) and number of stations (146).The network of lines are typically identified by their color, and service riders from 5AM until at least midnight (weekends have extended hours). In addition, the system is currently expanding 2 of their lines, and when finished will bring the number of stations to 209.

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Looking over the 2015 Management Report (issued in August 2016) Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona mission is to “provide a quality public transport network which also contributes to the sustainable development of the metropolitan area, ensuring that customers receive the best service and implementing socially responsible policies as part of an operation which is efficient and financially viable.” In addition, TMB aims to be one of Europe’s leading public transport companies, emphasizing its international profile and competitiveness. Highlights of the year included bus improvement services increasing the network capacity by 7%, shorter waiting times, fleet replacement and smart bus stops, and refurbishment of trains.

While the plans and ideas on behalf of the TMB sound progressive and helping out the rider, it is important to take a look about how real customers actually feel. One thing I found very interesting was the Profit for the Year in the Income Statement of 2015, and 2014. Both years amount to zero, and have the Revenue equal to the Expenses to back it up. This means that instead of turning a profit, the system utilizes the fees charged to the customer to completely cover expenses with little to no excess. The charge for a one way ride is 2,15 Euro, and a 5 Day Unlimited is 33,70 Euro. Travel_Cards

A decent price is always key to maintaining consistent riders who don’t look for alternatives, but another is reliability. In a study taken by the Transportation Research Forum, Nine European Cities were chosen to identify perceived satisfaction based on reliability. Out of all of the 9 cities involved, including Stockholm, Berlin and Oslo, Barcelona ranked the highest in reliability, with a percentage of at least 72% on any given day(In comparison to NY, our reliability is approximately 53%). This involved a combination of waiting time, traveling time, transfers and comfort all integrated into the study, and looked over each city’s transportation on weekdays, weekends and holidays for different scheduling.

In a study from the Centre for Public Impact, it was found that the bus and metro systems were rated relatively highly by users (from a sample of 4,000), with an average rating from a 1 to 10 at a 7.5. With timeliness and efficiency being a concern for most riders, TMB has started to develop a mobile platform giving customers arrival information in real time. This, along with the transparency of the company in their spending and expansion practices has allowed a positive outlook on the TMB among many commuters.

Now, I look back to my original question which was, “How efficiently and effectively does Barcelona’s TMB transport riders from one place to another?” And the answer would be pretty well, but there is always room for improvement. Looking over the information I have gathered, there are a few important aspects that stand out to me. First, the lack of profit but rather efforts towards reinvestment boast a society which can rely on getting the most bang for their buck. Here in NY, where our fares have typically increased by a quarter every year with worse and worse service as the years pass, it is refreshing to see a system looking more to benefit the rider. After all, the company values the customer at the core of its operations, and wishes to be their one stop for any transportation.

It also struck me that in comparison to 8 other similar sized cities, Barcelona stood out as the top in reliability at 72%. With this being said, and while no system will ever reach 100, there is always the potential to increase that number. Currently, the TMB is expanding their operations and lines to new stations, while developing mobile technology to adapt to the booming number of consumers with smartphones. Additionally, in the coming years they wish to increase the freight of busses to limit waiting times, expand routes, and institute smart bus stops. Once these various projects are completed over the course of the next 5 years, I believe the reliability (if all else remains in tact) will increase to 75-80%.

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Lastly, with a 7.5 rating among everyday riders, TMB is a good method of transportation in the eye of commuters, but not a great one. When looking over the service Barcelona’s Public Transit plays in the life of over 500 Million annual riders, the experience could be slightly improved. One way they could do this which has proved successful in other markets, is adapting charging stations and wifi throughout platforms during waiting times. While a great solution would always be to increase more and more lines of trains and service, the expense behind it outweighs the potential benefit. By instituting these, the customer’s experience is made easier and allows the customer to utilize their waiting time to the best ability. The new smart bus stops are one way of helping out with this, but expanding this towards the 180 train stations would help increase the 7.5 rating.

 

Sources:

http://www.rocasalvatella.com/sites/default/files/tmb_eng3_2.pdf

https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/case-study/transport-metropolitans-de-barcelona-digital-services/#legitimacySubtitle3

https://www.intelligenttransport.com/transport-articles/18116/redesigning-surface-transport-system-barcelona/

https://www.tmb.cat/documents/20182/111197/Informe+anual+2015_en_acc/e26a6686-4067-4c98-9f03-8409a579a816

Assignment 1

Product vs. Service

When trying to decide what to use as a product and what to have as a service, I looked around my new room that I just moved into. While only moving a couple blocks, there were several items that I purchased to prepare for the move, with one of them being a brand new mattress. My old bed was nice but fairly small, and I wanted to utilize the space in my now larger apartment. Therefore, my product that I will use is a mattress.

A mattress is all well and great to have when you’re at home, but what happens when you leave for a few days? Sure, you may have friends out of town or people who you can crash with, but odds are, you are going to stay at a hotel. And while the hotel offers many amenities and products, the stay itself could be considered a service. As someone who has worked in the industry, and at both full and partial service hotels, the stay is not all about the one physical product. Yes, the mattress is an ample part to the reason you stay at a hotel, but you also pay for a specific experience. It is why a person would stay at a Super 8 vs The Waldorf, based on the needs and recommendations of an individual. Therefore for a service, I would like to look at the industry of hotels, and the part they play in providing a service for their customer.

When looking at each of these items individually, we must ask ourselves to look not only at the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), but also the Eight Components of Integrated Service Management. The Components will help us to better analyze certain factors not included in the 4 P’s (time, strategic elements), while drawing up a better understanding as to though associated, the difference between Products and Services in the scenario of a mattress and a hotel.

The first component, Product Elements, states that Managers must select the features of both the core product(either a good or service)and the bundle of supplementary service elements surrounding it. In the case of the mattress, there will be an emphasis placed on what physical attributes a company can use to make the comfort and durability higher. As for the Hotel, the features are dependent on the type of service they wish to offer their guests. If the importance is on a budget, amenities like free breakfast and little shampoos go a long way, whereas a luxury brand will place emphasis on taking care of all your requests from the time you walk in until you leave.

The second, Place and Time, involves decisions on the place and time of delivery, as well as the methods and channels employed. In this sense, a mattress should have a sense of security from the moment that you purchase it, until you have gotten years of great sleep with it. Comfort, durability and quality should remain consistent throughout the time you own the product. For hotels, the time of delivery could be that moment from when you walk into the hotel until you checkout after your stay. During your stay, you expect your requests be completed in a timely manner, that you can come and go as you please without hassle, and that when necessary you have an employee able and willing to help you.

The third,foruth and fifth, Product, Productivity and Quality, and People, though seemingly different amount to the same idea of doing the most to the highest caliber with what you have. For a mattress, the product relies on having a durable quality and enjoyable sleep experience, while at the same time easily mass produced to lower upfront costs. The people who sell the product must be aware of how the mattress stands out, what differences you can expect from it, and to not be too pushy when making a sale. On the contrary, Hotels place emphasis on the quality of several different departments including the number of on site restaurants, to whether or not there is a pool and gym. The productivity comes from the staff, and the ability to help the guest as quickly as possible, and the finished product is the building itself with all of the goods offered inside. A long process of training and structure is placed on the staff to maintain high standards of excellence and the best possible experience at all times.

Promotion, Education and Physical Evidence enable both a product and service to “show what they’ve got.” While in many cases, “Never Judge a Book by its Cover” is a very true statement, this isn’t the case when dealing with either of this. If you saw a lumpy mattress or one that was promoted as a budget model, odds are even the cheapest person wouldn’t pick it. Why? The buyer has been educated on what is out there, is not satisfied with the physical appearance, and knows that other promotions for better mattresses are right around the corner. For Hotels, you wouldn’t dare sleep in a room known to have dirty sheets, let alone bed bugs. In this sense, through word of mouth just as well as many marketing campaigns, guests become educated on what to expect. The hotel’s website may read one way, but TripAdvisor maintains a different belief.

Price and other Costs of Service address the costs incurred by customers in obtaining benefits from the service product. For a mattress, it is an upfront cost of a specific amount, with the value of a good night’s rest maintaining the highest importance. For Hotels, the pricing is not as black and white, as you may choose to pay for a higher room with a view, 2 beds, or a luxury golden shower. Whatever the situation may be, the price reflects what like minded people feel the experience is worth, and attempt to give the customer their highest value potential.

Turning towards the importance of value, values and ethics, I agree that the fundamental nature of the three have a prominence in services rather than products. In the case of a Mattress and Hotels, a Mattress has an upfront cost and maintains usage through years. By looking at this, there’s a perceived value originally, but typically fades throughout the lifespan of the product. As for Hotels, value is extremely important, as a person renting a room for a duration of hours or a few short days wants the most for what they spend. A guest is paying for the experience, rather than the products inside the room or the lobby in the hotel. Not only this, but the staffing and environment must present itself as a welcoming experience, enabling the guest to relax and enjoy their time. The Value and Ethics of the staff, and the brand the hotel is promoting will determine if the reputation will keep the place in business for decades, or if it will shut down within months.