Joe Biden, the Traditionalist Who Ran as Himself

first_img“The joke was, if Joe stood next to a light pole, he’d strike up a conversation,” said Bob Markel, a childhood friend of Mr. Biden’s. “You were talking to him for 20 seconds, he’d put out his hand and say, ‘Joe Biden.’”He came from a line of politically engaged Pennsylvanians on his mother’s side, with a great-grandfather who served as a state senator. His father was a dignified man who had struggled financially, “a student of history with an unyielding sense of justice,” Mr. Biden said in his eulogy. Joseph R. Biden Sr., who moved the family from Scranton, Pa., to Delaware when Mr. Biden was 10, shaped his son’s moral compass and instilled in him a strong sense of identity; his story looms large in Mr. Biden’s efforts today to connect with working-class Americans.Mr. Biden enrolled at the University of Delaware, where he threw himself into politics as freshman class president. He participated in the occasional high jinks, though even then he was fairly conservative in his personal manner.- Advertisement – ‘He Didn’t Do Crazy Things’Mr. Biden was a mediocre student with big ambitions, a gregarious young football player from an Irish Catholic family who overcame a stutter and dreamed of running for president.In the meantime, he settled for school politics, serving as class president at his Catholic high school and adopting an approachable manner that he would deploy decades later on the campaign trail.- Advertisement – “It’s the same style that I think we’ve seen since he was a teenager,” Mr. Markel said. “That moderation can be seen when he was in his teens. He was a fun-loving guy, certainly outgoing, but he didn’t do crazy things.”For all of his political ambitions, he was at a remove from the antiwar activism taking hold among his peers in the caldron of the 1960s, and he was not one for protesting. After graduating from law school, he followed a path into institutional Democratic politics: young lawyer, part-time public defender and rising star within the Delaware party establishment.center_img – Advertisement –last_img read more

An Obama Restoration on Foreign Policy? Familiar Faces Could Fill Biden’s Team

first_imgWASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s national security team is likely to be largely staffed by former Obama Situation Room regulars prepared to restore foreign policy principles discarded by President Trump.An Obama redux would be a source of enormous relief to establishment insiders, who are desperate to see seasoned hands regain control of national security. But that likelihood is also causing disquiet among some younger, more liberal Democrats impatient with their party’s pre-Trump national security instincts, which they consider badly outdated.- Advertisement – Mr. Biden could also choose from a handful of career diplomats who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, bringing them bipartisan credibility. They include Bill Burns, a longtime senior State Department official who served as deputy secretary of state under Mr. Obama and now heads the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Nicholas Burns (no relation), another former longtime diplomat who held top posts in the Bush administration. Both men could be in line for other senior diplomatic jobs like ambassadorships.Ms. Haines is a likely choice to run the C.I.A. Some progressives complain that she was not a more active critic of the agency’s torture practices during the Bush era, but Obama officials say she supported reining in drone strikes against terrorists that were causing civilian casualties. Ms. Haines understands the agency without being a captive to its views, according to one of her admirers from the Obama White House. An alternative would be Michael Morell, a former deputy and acting C.I.A. director.Ms. Flournoy is the expected choice to run the Pentagon. Respected by Republicans, she would most likely encounter little confirmation resistance. But Mr. Biden may prefer someone with more political experience than the cerebral military strategist — particularly given potential battles with liberals who will demand big defense cuts that Ms. Flournoy would probably resist. Updated Nov. 9, 2020, 4:46 p.m. ET “I think virtually everybody who gets named will have served under Obama,” said James Mann, the author of books about foreign policy advisers to Mr. Obama and former President George W. Bush.- Advertisement – Mr. Obama’s second national security adviser, Tom Donilon, has known Mr. Biden since the 1980s and served as an adviser to his campaign. He has emerged as a China specialist, and one former Obama official wondered whether he might become the ambassador to Beijing or possibly assume a senior intelligence role. Some believe Mr. Donilon, whose brother Mike is Mr. Biden’s chief political strategist, would welcome being secretary of state.John Kerry, Mr. Obama’s second secretary of state, was a Senate contemporary of Mr. Biden, campaigned for him during the primaries and, even at age 76, is assumed to retain his inexhaustible hunger for the political fray. Some admirers envision him as a potential climate czar — global warming has become his signature cause — or perhaps a special envoy to some foreign trouble spot.One big question is what will become of Jake Sullivan, who was Mr. Biden’s national security adviser before becoming an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Long spoken of as a future national security adviser, Mr. Sullivan has a foreign policy background but has been coordinating domestic issues for the campaign since the March coronavirus outbreak. If he does not move into a domestically oriented job, Mr. Sullivan, 43, would be a natural for a senior national security post.Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Lara Jakes, David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt. Most of the people around Mr. Biden represent a risk-averse, center-left approach to foreign policy, Mr. Mearsheimer said, one that envisions a more active role for American economic, diplomatic and, in some cases, military power than many rank-and-file Democrats favor.Mr. Biden’s early national security appointments are likely to contrast with those of Mr. Obama, who took office after just a few years in Washington and with only a handful of foreign policy aides under his wing. For his national security adviser, Mr. Obama chose a retired Marine general, James L. Jones, whom he had met just once. The relationship never took and Mr. Jones was gone in less than two years.But Mr. Biden will be surrounded by very familiar faces, beginning with Mr. Blinken, 58, an aide who has worked for him since 2002, when he became the staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Mr. Biden was the chairman. Mr. Blinken, a wavy-haired rock and jazz music aficionado with smooth mannerisms in the classic diplomatic style, may aspire to become the secretary of state, though some predict Mr. Biden will want his confidant in the West Wing as the national security adviser. It is of course Mr. Biden who will direct policy: As a former vice president and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, he needs expert foreign policy advice far less than his recent predecessors. But he will also be consumed in his early months by the coronavirus and his economic agenda, potentially giving his top appointees unusual influence.They are almost certain to include Antony Blinken, a deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under Mr. Obama who previously worked for Mr. Biden in the Senate; Avril Haines, a deputy at Mr. Obama’s Central Intelligence Agency and on his National Security Council; Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s last national security adviser; and Michèle Flournoy, the Pentagon’s top policy official under Mr. Obama. Another contender for defense secretary or attorney general is Jeh C. Johnson, a former general counsel at the Defense Department who as homeland security secretary under Mr. Obama has run a cabinet department before. His old job could go to Lisa Monaco, who helped Mr. Biden vet his potential running mates during the campaign.Ambassador to the United Nations has often been a steppingstone for promising or rising figures, someone like Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who is said to be interested in the post and did not serve in the Obama administration. Though he has never practiced diplomacy, the multilingual Mr. Buttigieg served as a Navy officer in Afghanistan and spoke in more depth about foreign policy than most of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.Other senior posts are likely to go to Brian McKeon, who first worked for Mr. Biden when he was a senator in the 1980s and held a senior Pentagon role in the Obama administration, and Carlyn Reichel, who wrote foreign policy speeches for him when he was vice president and who coordinated his outside foreign policy advisers during the campaign. While their collective résumés are impeccable by the standards of the Council on Foreign Relations, some party insiders and analysts say Mr. Biden’s team-in-waiting may be too cautious and conventionally minded at a moment when party insurgents and activists are challenging Democratic orthodoxy on subjects like Israel, military spending and counterterrorism operations in the Middle East and North Africa.To some they are representative of what Mr. Obama’s former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes famously derided as “The Blob” — a Washington foreign policy establishment too confident in American hegemony and too willing to resort to force.They also grumble about their corporate connections, noting that Mr. Blinken and Ms. Flournoy in 2017 founded the Washington consulting firm WestExec, whose slogan has been “Bringing the Situation Room to the Board Room.” Its roster of current and former employees is a who’s-who of likely Biden appointees that includes Ms. Haines, a former principal.- Advertisement – Another top candidate to head the State Department has been Ms. Rice, with whom Mr. Biden spent countless hours in the Situation Room and nearly chose to be his running mate.But her prospects look dimmer now that Republicans may retain control of the Senate: Ms. Rice has been a special target of congressional Republicans, accused of dishonestly downplaying terrorism as the motive for the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. Their obsession with the episode — which some allies of Ms. Rice attribute to sexism and racism — persuaded Mr. Obama in 2013 to name her national security adviser, a job that does not require Senate confirmation, and not secretary of state as he had originally planned. “They’re bringing in the usual suspects. There are no new faces here,” said John Mearsheimer, a political-science professor at the University of Chicago and a frequent critic of Washington’s foreign policy elites. “And to the extent there are new faces and younger people, they sound just like the usual suspects.” An alternative is Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close ally of Mr. Biden who holds his former Senate seat and has been an active member of the Foreign Relations Committee. In temperament and ideology, Mr. Coons, a Democrat, is a relative moderate respected by his Republican colleagues and might be far easier to confirm. – Advertisement –last_img read more

A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. What Steered It?

first_imgOther times its stories have been inaccurate. Another Real Clear investigative piece from April misidentified the author of an anonymous New York Times Op-Ed article written by a member of the Trump administration who claimed to be one of many high-level officials working to thwart the president’s “worst inclinations.”The polling industry as a whole has taken a hit after the election, since most reputable organizations missed the mark with surveys showing a more dominant performance from Mr. Biden in key states. But in the lead up to Election Day, some of the country’s top political analysts raised questions about why the Real Clear averages often seemed skewed by polls that “have been a bit kinder to Trump” and didn’t adhere to best practices like person-to-person phone interviews, as Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report put it in August. – Advertisement – “One day we were all called in and told it was over,” said Alexis Simendinger, who was the White House correspondent for Real Clear Politics. “It was a very surprising thing.”They were never given much of an explanation why, the former employees said. But they were surprised to learn who was replacing them in some cases: writers who had worked in the conservative movement or for the Republican Party. One hire was the former chair of the Manhattan Republican Party and was married to a senior Trump administration official . – Advertisement –center_img Yet the polling averages and selection of political news and opinion pieces from across the internet were presented as they long had been: an authoritative curation of the best possible data and analysis on races around the country.The founders of Real Clear Politics, two self-described news junkies who became friends at Princeton and started the website in 2000, said over email that they “fully stand behind” the average and their editors’ decision to publish those pieces. “Our advertisers, sponsors, supporters, and readers represent an array of perspectives across the political spectrum,” wrote John McIntyre, the chief executive, and Tom Bevan, the president. “And they know we practice fiercely independent journalism that necessarily covers all relevant sides of our national political and policy debates.”Interviews with current and former Real Clear staff members, along with a review of its coverage and tax filings, point to a shift to the right within the organization in late 2017, when the bulk of its journalists who were responsible for straight-news reporting on Capitol Hill, the White House and national politics were suddenly laid off. Though the staff always knew the website’s founders were conservative and harbored strong views about liberal media bias, several said they never felt any pressure from above to slant their stories.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Myanmar, Afghanistan, Cameroon may join H5N1 list

first_imgMar 13, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Three new countries are reporting avian influenza in birds, although confirmation as H5N1 is awaited, according to news service reports today.Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has identified H5N1 in its own laboratories. A Reuters story indicates that UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Dr. Tang Zhengping says samples have been sent to labs in Australia and Thailand for confirmation.A flock of 780 chickens in the Aung Myae Thar Zan Township in the central region of Mandalay was sacrificed after the death of 112 birds. Samples were sent to government labs, where “they believe that they have identified H5N1,” according to Laurence Gleeson, an FAO official in Bangkok, as quoted by Reuters.Whether outside experts will be allowed into Mayanmar to evaluate the situation is uncertain, according to ABC News and other sources. The country is ruled by a military junta and has a reputation of being highly secretive. Because of its lack of infrastructure and unstable economy, some international health experts see the country as high risk in terms of the global fight against avian flu, according to Disease/Infection News and other sources.News from Cameroon is sketchy, but its government is reporting H5N1 in a duck from a farm near the border with Nigeria, which was the first African country with confirmed avian flu. If a Cameroon outbreak is verified, this will mark the fourth African country with the disease.In Afghanistan, tracheal swabs from wild and domestic birds in several locations were reported yesterday by the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Kabul as positive for H5 avian influenza, according to the FAO. Samples have been sent to a reference laboratory in Padua, Italy, for confirmation and subtyping.Elsewhere, H5N1 has been identified in a merganser, a type of wild duck, in Poland, according to Agence France-Presse. Earlier this month, the virus was confirmed in two swans in the country, and has recently been confirmed in a third.In Switzerland, two more cases of H5N1 have been confirmed, one in a duck and one in a coot. That country’s first case, in a goosander (wild duck), was reported earlier in March. AFP says that eight more suspected cases in birds are being tested in a British reference lab.last_img read more

New anthrax vaccine for US stockpile to be delayed

first_img The Brisbane, Calif., company cited new government-imposed requirements as factors in the delay. The announcement came a few weeks after a newspaper report that testing last year had shown the vaccine was unstable, slowing the project. The company said at the time the problem had already been corrected. The announcement also came a day after the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm, said the government’s contract with VaxGen is too rigid and imposes a heavy financial burden on the company. The VaxGen vaccine, which is not yet licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, uses a recombinant form of an anthrax protein called protective antigen (rPA) as its active ingredient. An older, licensed vaccine, called Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA), is made from whole anthrax microbes and thus contains a mixture of things besides protective antigen. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded VaxGen an $877.5 million contract in November 2004 to make 75 million doses of anthrax vaccine for the civilian stockpile. The company was supposed to deliver the first 25 million doses within 2 years. The contract was the first awarded under Project BioShield, the $5.6 billion program to develop medical defenses against chemical, biological, and radiological weapons. He said the company has asked HHS to reconsider the contract changes or pay compensation for them. The firm is also pursuing compensation under federal regulations and studying possible legal action, he added. May 11, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – VaxGen Inc., maker of a new anthrax vaccine for the US civilian stockpile, announced yesterday that delivery of the first doses will be delayed at least a year beyond the original target date of November 2006. In March, the Washington Post reported that a human trial of the new vaccine last year had revealed a problem with its potency. The company eventually determined that the vaccine was unstable and lost its strength within a few months. “Financing an increased scope of work and delays imposed without compensation is the greatest challenge we have faced” in the 4-year project, VaxGen President Lance K. Gordon, PhD, said in the news release. In a statement to the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, the GAO’s Keith Rhodes said, “While developing vaccine is known to be difficult and highly likely to encounter testing and production issues, . . . early development work to ensure the safety of the vaccine and a solid large-scale manufacturing capability had not been completed before awarding the full procurement contract.” AVA is used in the US military, and HHS has bought 10 million doses for civilians. It has caused controversy in the military because of concern about side effects. The expectation is that the new vaccine will cause fewer side effects and will yield full protection in three doses, instead of the six doses required for the older vaccine. Nov 4, 2004, CIDRAP News story on awarding of VaxGen contract The company will not be paid until the vaccine is delivered. The firm said the contract changes will increase its costs, and the time needed for the additional studies means the company will have to wait longer to get paid. VaxGen announced yesterday that HHS had extended the contract deadlines while requiring more testing of the vaccine before it can be shipped. “The company estimates that meeting the new requirements will delay the initiation of deliveries to the stockpile to the end of 2007 at best and more likely into 2008,” VaxGen stated in a news release. It said the modified contract requires the first deliveries no later than November 2008. He added that the contract leaves little or no room for schedule “slippage” and provides no financial cushion for the contractor in case of delays. Contractors that lack the resources to weather such difficulties “will not be able to meet the contract requirements, thus limiting the pool of companies” that will pursue similar biodefense projects. In a Mar 17 news release, VaxGen officials said the problem was that the active ingredient, rPA, reacted with aluminum hydroxide, an adjuvant (immune-boosting substance) in the vaccine. They said they had experimented with some different formulations and believed they had the problem fixed. Earlier this week, the GAO raised concerns about the VaxGen contract and suggested that if the company can’t fulfill it, other biotechnology companies will be less likely to pursue Project BioShield contracts. May 9 GAO testimony on anthrax program (full text) The additional studies that HHS wants VaxGen to conduct include an animal test of the vaccine’s efficacy against inhalational anthrax and a phase 2 clinical trial, according to the company. Both trials must use vaccine produced in a way that meets FDA standards for licensed vaccines. Such trials have been done before, but not with a “validated final product,” the company said. A summary of the Rhodes’s testimony concludes, “The biotechnology industry is watching to see if government and industry can make this partnership work.” The Post report raised questions about VaxGen’s ability to survive long enough to fulfill the vaccine contract, given the company’s relatively small size, the structure of the contract, and the problems that can arise in producing new biotechnology products. See also:last_img read more

New global disease-control rules take effect

first_imgJun 15, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The revised International Health Regulations, substantially updated for the first time since 1969, take effect today, aiming to help protect the world from a host of emerging diseases and health threats such as pandemic influenza and bioterrorism.The revised rules, approved by World Health Organization (WHO) member countries at the World Health Assembly in May 2005, spell out the commitments and responsibilities of countries and the WHO for limiting the global impact of epidemics and other public health emergencies, according to a press release yesterday from the WHO.WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was a wake-up call concerning the world’s vulnerability to the quick spread of new diseases.”Today, the greatest threat to international public health security would be an influenza pandemic,” Chan said in the WHO statement. “The threat of a pandemic has not receded, but implementation of the IHR will help the world to be better prepared for the possibility of a pandemic.”The new rules say that smallpox, polio, SARS, and new human influenza strains must be reported immediately to the WHO. In addition, the rules call for reporting several other diseases, including cholera, pneumonic plague, yellow fever, and viral hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola and Marburg), if they cause a serious public health impact or pose a risk of international spread. Under the old rules, only cholera, plague, and yellow fever had to be reported.The revised IHR also require countries to report natural, accidental, or deliberate use of biological or chemical agents or radionuclear material.To encourage more openness about health threats and to speed the international response, the new rules require member countries to:Notify international officials of a public health emergency within 24 hours of assessmentDesignate a national IHR focal point to stay in constant communication with the WHODevelop and maintain core public health capacities for monitoring and responding to emerging threats, including those related to chemicals, radiologics, and foodReport health measures, such as border screening and quarantine, implemented in response to disease outbreaks, with a focus on measures that could impair international trade or travelThe WHO will assist countries that have difficulty complying with the new rules, said David Heymann, WHO assistant director-general for communicable diseases. “This is our responsibility and we expect that the entire international community is committed to the same goal of improving international public health security,” he stated.For the first time, the IHR set forth human rights provisions for international travelers who need medical interventions to prevent the global spread of disease.Because of the evolving threat of a flu pandemic, countries that attended the 2006 World Health Assembly voted for early invocation of some IHR provisions that address avian influenza. The IHR call on countries to provide WHO collaborating centers, in a timely manner, with information and biological materials related to highly pathogenic avian influenza and other novel flu strains.US approach to the rulesIn December 2006, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt announced that the United States had formally accepted the revised IHR and would immediately implement the new rules, rather than waiting for them to take effect in June 2007, according to an HHS press release.The measures described in the IHR are voluntary. HHS said countries that adopt the IHR can submit reservations and understandings about the implementation of the regulations.The United States accepted the IHR with the reservation that it would implement them according to US federalism principles, HHS said. Also, the government submitted three understandings, which emphasize that (1) natural, accidental, or deliberate releases of chemical, biological, or radiological materials are notifiable under the IHR; (2) countries that accept the IHR are obligated to report, whenever possible, potential public health events that occur outside their borders; and (3) the IHR don’t create a private right to legal action against the federal government.In January HHS convened a working group of all government agencies affected by the new IHR, according to Katrin Kohl, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. She told CIDRAP News that the agency has held biweekly conference calls to ensure that all departments were making good progress on compliance.Start dates for the IHR vary by country, and some are delayed somewhat because of the reservations they had when they accepted the new rules, according to Kohl. For the United States, the IHR take effect on Jul 17. “Almost everything is in place,” she said. “In the United States, we’re fortunate to have a robust public health system.”Kohl said the HHS secretary’s operations center has been designated as the US focal point for communicating with the WHO. “That office also has the capacity to reach out to all US agencies,” she said.See also:Jun 14 WHO press release text of regulations (60 pages) MG, Fidler DP. Global public health surveillance under new International Health Regulations. Emerg Infect Dis 2007 Jul;12(7):1058-65 [Full text]Dec 13, 2006, HHS news release 24, 2005, CIDRAP News story “WHO updates rules to prevent spread of disease”last_img read more

NEWS SCAN: H5N1 outbreaks, lab workers cleared, pan flu vaccine, veterinarian shortage, Salmonella update, MRSA in ICUs

first_imgEditor’s note: The item on the Salmonella outbreak was revised Feb 19 to correct information on case numbers for specific states.Feb 18, 2009H5N1 outbreaks in Vietnam, IndiaVeterinary officials in Vietnam today announced that the H5N1 virus infected ducks in two more provinces, Bac Lieu in the Mekong Delta and Kahnh Hoa in the south-central part of the country, according to Xinhua, China’s state news agency. The new outbreaks raise the number of Vietnamese provinces with recent H5N1 outbreaks to nine. Elsewhere, officials in India reported a new H5N1 outbreak in the South Dinjapur district of West Bengal state, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported today.[Feb 18 Xinhua story][Feb 18 IANS story]Czech lab workers free of H5N1 infectionNone of the Czech lab workers who were recently exposed to the H5N1 virus were infected, representatives from BioTest, their employer, said yesterday, according to a report from Ceske Noviny, a news service in the Czech Republic. The employees had been working with ferrets and handled a flu vaccine made by Baxter that had been contaminated with the H5N1 virus.[Feb 17 Ceske Noviny story]WHO confirms Vietnamese man’s H5N1 illnessThe World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed Vietnam’s latest human H5N1 case, in a 32-year-old man from Ninh Binh province who got sick on Feb 5, was hospitalized on Feb 13, and is in serious condition. A probe into the source of his illness suggests he had recent contact with sick poultry, but officials are continuing their investigation.[Feb 13 WHO statement]Novavax reports good results in H5N1 vaccine trialNovavax Inc. reported favorable results in a phase 1/2a clinical trial of its virus-like particle vaccine against H5N1 influenza. At the highest dose, 90 micrograms, about 64% of volunteers showed strong antibody responses to the vaccine, which is based on a 2005 H5N1 strain from Indonesia, the company reported in a news release.[Novavax release]Shortage of veterinarians hampers federal agenciesA shortage of federal veterinarians is hampering government agencies’ ability to perform some of their food safety tasks and respond quickly to zoonotic disease outbreaks, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Many agencies haven’t met staffing goals over the past several years, and the government faces wage competition from the private sector. However, the Office of Personnel Management on Feb 12 granted federal agencies permission to expedite hiring of more veterinarians, according to a report yesterday by Government Executive.[Feb 18 GAO report][Feb 17 Government Executive story]CDC counts 642 cases in Salmonella outbreakThe latest count in the Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products is 642 cases in 44 states, plus one case in Canada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number is six more than in the CDC’s last report on Feb 12. Ohio has the most confirmed cases, with 94, followed by California with 76.[Feb 17 CDC outbreak update]Some MRSA infections in ICUs declineThe incidence of certain methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in US intensive care units dropped almost 50% from 1997 to 2007, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). CDC researchers analyzed hospital data on bloodstream infections associated with catheters in large blood vessels (central lines) in ICU patients and found that infections caused by MRSA and all other pathogens declined, for reasons that were not immediately clear.[Full JAMA report][News release about study]last_img read more

Oracle Hotel 2025: Research on consumer attitudes about new technologies and their impact on future hospitality experience

first_imgOracle has released the results of two surveys aimed at recognizing consumer attitudes toward new technologies and how their implementation will shape consumer behavior in the years to come. According to research through Oracle Hotel 2025 and Oracle Restaurant 2025, it was pointed out that consumers approve of the application of new technologies and encourage hoteliers to introduce them, but to the extent that they feel they control their experience. Also, a big warning was sent to the hotel industry that they should pay attention to the application of automation without personal service.The Hotel 2025 and Restaurant 2025 surveys were based on a sample of 250 restaurant operators, 150 hotel operators and 702 consumers in February 2017 about their reactions to the role of technology in the guest experience over the next 8 years.“S obzirom na baštinu usluge u cijeloj ugostiteljskoj industriji, ne iznenađuje nas da gosti žele nastavak ljudske povezanosti s hranom i pićem i hotelskim brandovima izbora, unatoč nastanku novih tehnologija”, rekao je Mike Webster, viši potpredsjednik i Generalni direktor Oracle Hospitality.Some of the trends recorded through the research are:Recognition and personalization will be the driver of future technologiesConsumers are interested in technology that is activated through sound, ie voice commandsVirtual reality will enhance the booking and hotel experienceRobots will not replace staff hospitality anytime soonInvestments in load-bearing technology66% of consumers said a virtual reality tour of the property would improve their experience70% of hoteliers believe that ordering rooms or hotel services through voice recognition software will be widespread in the industry by 2025.59% of consumers want to control room lighting and temperature with a voice-activated device such as Alexa or Google HomeAmong the topics that marked the Hotel 2025 research: artificial intelligence, biometrics / face recognition, robotics, voice activation, wearable technology, virtual reality, driverless transport and smart hotel design.See the full Oracle Hotel 2025 survey herelast_img read more

Michael Heyward, Glion Institute: When my colleagues complain about problems with a lack of qualified people, I ask them what and how much they have invested in them

first_imgThe second day of the largest investment conference in Southeast Europe Adria Hotel Forum, began with a lecture on the topic Are you ready for GDPR? (Regulation on the protection of personal data in the tourism sector).Marija Zrno (Law Office Bardek, Lisac, Mušec, Skoko) i Gregor Famira (CMS Croatia) warned the participants that the EU-wide Regulation on Personal Data Protection will enter into force on 25 May. The hotel industry, which otherwise frequently uses information about its guests, will need to prepare well and make sure that their associates comply with GDPR regulations. “The problem is not in collecting data but in the way you do it and with whom you share it. Don’t just copy the privacy policy from your colleagues because each agreement is specific. Penalties for violating this Regulation are large, amounting to five percent of your annual income”Warned Zrno.A panel on the currently most current global topic of the industry followed – Lack of skilled labor, led by a famous host Mislav Togonal. They participated in the panel Haris Neofytidis (Metropol Palace), Lachezar Nikolaev Todorov (Terra Tour Service), Michael Heyward (Glion Institute of Higher Education), Peter Ryrvik (Talent solutions AB) i Gordana Kolenko (BHV consulting), which in the introductory part of the panel presented the benchmark study Valamar Riviere, which uses sophisticated technology to define the formula for the success of its employees.Neofytidis, whose company operates in several SEE countries, made a comparison of the waiters ’salaries at a 5-star hotel. In Greece, for older and more experienced waiters, it costs 700 to 800 euros, in Bulgaria 400 euros, and in Serbia 250 euros. “Greece is a very mature tourist country, a million people work in the sector, however even there it is difficult to find a workforce to work in the resorts because a lot of people have their own private business in tourism. “Serbia has only taken tourism more seriously, employing only 75 people, while Bulgaria is somewhere in the middle.” said Neofytidis.Kolenko believes that the exodus can only be fought with a healthy economy. ” Whenever we talk about investments, we talk about new keys and real estate, never about investing in people and their development”Says Kolenko.Photo: AHFLachezar Nikolaev Todorov said Bulgaria’s labor problem began when the country joined the EU, as is the case with Croatia today. The profession has lobbied for practical classes to enter the educational programs of high schools and faculties, and today practical trainings are very popular. “Bulgaria has made a shift from a higher education system to a vocational education system in tourism. We don’t need so many managers but people with high school to serve breakfast to guests”Todorov explained, adding that Bulgaria has also turned to importing labor. His company last year hired 150 people from Ukraine and Moldova who saved its season.Michael Heyward of the Glion Institute, which creates leaders in business, insists on the practical experience of students who have to go through all the stairs (making the bed, working in the kitchen, etc.). “Practical experience still gives the best results and it is crucial for professional career development. When my colleagues complain about problems with a lack of qualified people, I ask them what and how much they have invested in them. They tell me that it is not worth investing because they can go to another job in a couple of months. I answer that then it is certainly best not to invest anything in your worker so that they have an unskilled worker with them forever. If you get back half the people you invested in last season, you’ve done a great job because you’re starting next season with a much better positionHeyward explained.Peter Ryrvik, since he comes from Sweden, spoke from a slightly different position because a lot of workers from SE Europe come to work in his country. His company uses sophisticated technology to introduce the mentioned benchmark studies and formulas into hotel companies. He referred to the problem of lack of middle management, believing that employers do not help potential managers enough to gain self-awareness. If they don’t understand themselves, they won’t understand others either.Another panel called Hotel companies in the capital market he led Andrej Erjavec (InterCapital Securities), and they participated in it Frank Reul (Accor hotels / Orbis), Krešimir Huljev (Sun Concern), Milena Perkovic (Arena Hospitality Group) i Marko Čižmek (Valamar Riviera). In the introductory presentation of the topic, Erjavec stated the fact that no country in the world has as many tourist companies on the capital market as Croatia. In total, 23 of them are listed on the Zagreb Stock Exchange and they make up 10 percent of the total stock exchange capital. The Sunce Group joined last year, and Arena Hospitality Group embarked on an IPO.Frank Reul believes that so many tourism companies on the stock market means that the sector is transparent and that it is good for more small investors to participate in the capital market because it reduces the risk and danger of a large company collapsing, which could be a blow to the economy and employment. . Krešimir Huljev explained that with the listing of the Sunce Group on the Zagreb Stock Exchange, the company received better conditions for access to capital and debt refinancing, and thus increased competitiveness and its own value in the long run.Milena Perković explained that her company decided to enter Arenaturist, recognizing a good opportunity among several projects in SE Europe, and that all shareholders, including Park Plaza, jointly decided to keep the company on the Zagreb Stock Exchange. “We currently have 10 more potential projects on the table in SE Europe, but patience is key at the moment. Our shareholders know that they cannot expect high dividends in the short term, but they expect a long-term increase in the value of investments”Pointed out Perković.Photo: AHFMarko Čižmek explained in general the reasons for the growth in the value of shares of hotel companies in the last few years. “The entire industry has experienced rapid growth in investment in both hotel and private accommodation, tourism is of great importance in GDP, we finally have liquidity in the market, and investors’ perception of Croatia has changed in the last five years. Today, all funds know the investment opportunities in Croatia”Pointed out Čižmek.The third panel, moderated by Branko Bogunović (Hotel & Destination Consulting), discussed whether hotel companies should fight against the influx of private accommodation or ‘flirt’ with it. They spoke on the panel Bernardo Retana (Otium Residences), Pawel Rek (Amadeus), Ivan Milotić (, Jeroen A. Oskam (Hotelschool the Hague), Takuya Aoyama (Hyatt International).Oskam’s company conducted a survey of Airbnab’s business, which showed that the number of overnight stays of tourists through that platform in some European markets increased by more than 100 percent, but he added that this growth slowed down last year. Last year, 258 thousand overnight stays were recorded in Zagreb through Airbnb, which is a 73 percent increase compared to 2016. Airbnb had a turnover of 13 million euros in Zagreb, which is small and means that a large part of that market ended up in the gray zone. , Oskam points out.Bernardo Retana said his company in Spain works closely with private accommodation owners. It offers them capacity management, marketing and operations services. “We do a very similar job as hotel management does, only on a smaller scale. The business with private accommodation must be legally regulated, but also professional. Airbnb is just one of 60 similar sales channels and if people are smart they will work with them. ” Retana concluded.Pawel Rek says that Airbnb’s business increasingly resembles typical OTA agencies (online travel agencies) and that the platform is increasingly expanding its services. He announced that the latest version of the Airbnb platform will be released next week, which is said to be the biggest change for the company in the last 10 years. Ivan Milotić, co-owner of the portal that rents exclusively villas to guests, invited hoteliers to cooperate with the cluster of quality villas, by offering villas hotel services. Takuya Aoyama does not consider either platforms or private accommodation a real threat because according to him, they, unlike hotels, have nothing concrete in their ownership. But that’s why they’re a competition in marketing that sells the experience and hotel loyalty programs. In Florida, he says, Hyatt works with luxury private accommodation owners.“Whenever we talk about investments, we talk about new keys and real estate, never about investing in people and their development”Gordana Kolenko, BHV consultingThe last panel called New products and their successful expansion gathered very interesting examples of new product concepts. Evgenia Jenkins from Netizen presented a concept from Russia, the so-called hostel, a hybrid of a hotel and a hostel, in which the facilities have the basic hotel infrastructure (reception, bar, lobby), but the rooms are adapted to all types of travelers. In addition to two hotels in Russia, it will soon open a 250-room facility in Budapest. Wolfgang Gold (easyHotel) explained the concept of his super-budget brand which offers guests very small rooms, only with a bed and a bathroom, and all other services are paid for. That this concept works is shown by easyHotel’s plans to expand to the Far East, Africa, Iran and Nepal.Jason Wischhoff (Dream Hotel Group) said his company is looking for facilities in public spaces that investors otherwise consider ‘dead capital’. As an example, he cited the recent opening of a hotel in Birmingham, which was once a church and then a disco.This year’s Adria Hotel Forum ended with a presentation of the best management schools for the tourism industry in Switzerland.last_img read more

The first Congress of family and small hotels was held

first_imgHotel owners, representatives of tourism institutions, scientists and experts from Croatia and the world who monitor the economy and tourism, brand managers, investors and representatives of the banking sector, gathered today at the Westin Hotel in Zagreb for the first Congress of Family and Small Hotels.Through year-round business, they strengthen the destination and prolong the season, attract guests with higher purchasing power with a wealth of content, and in addition to traditional emitting markets, guests from the USA and distant markets are in favor – family and small hotels are one of the key segments of Croatian tourism. should be. “Behind family and small hotels is a good tourist year. We have recorded an increase in traffic, better occupancy in the pre- and post-season and these are trends that make us happy and encouraging. Despite good results in recent years, operating costs have risen. In order to maintain the existing profitability it is saved and rationalized in all ways”, Said Šime Klarić, president of the National Association of Family and Small Hotels, which has about two hundred members.”Family and small hotels have an extremely important role because they promote the autochthonous and authentic, initiate changes and improve the entire hotel industry, and I really believe that investing in them is one of the foundations of sustainable development of Croatian tourism. Tourists are increasingly looking for a holiday tailored to their specific wishes and needs. That is why small and family hotels are gaining in importance because they offer a specific tourist product and are very important for attracting an additional segment of tourists to our country, throughout the year. As most small and family hotels are of a high category, strengthening this segment of the offer is extremely important for strengthening the competitiveness of Croatian tourism.”, Said the Minister of Tourism Gary Cappelli at the first Congress of family and small hotels and those who will become it in the Westin Hotel in Zagreb.Šime Klarić, President of the National Association of Family and Small Hotels / Photo: Tomislav Smoljanović:And the fact that there are over ten thousand small family hotels in Austria and not even 400 in Croatia speaks volumes about the fact that this is a successful and sustainable business model. Although they make up only ten percent of the total hotel capacity – unlike, for example, Austria, Italy and Greece, where  80 percent – family and small hotels have long surpassed the competition in terms of offer, facilities and quality. Today, Croatia has about 400 small family hotels, while Italy has 23, and Greece and Austria have XNUMX each. More than 50 percent of members have four- and five-star hotels, and 40 percent have three-star hotels. As many as 33 percent of the members of the National Association are located in the Split-Dalmatia County, 16 percent in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, 13 percent in the Istria County, followed by the Šibenik-Knin County with 11 percent… “In order to maintain quality, competitiveness and ensure growth in the National Association, institutional action should be taken quickly and efficiently in four directions – reducing business costs through deregulation of the legislative framework, establishing systematic promotion and branding especially through the CNTB system, systematic education, ensuring better availability of more favorable financial resources from, among other things, EU funds and refinancing adapted to small hotels with special attention to hotels in underdeveloped destinations at sea and on the continent”, Concluded Klarić. Small family hotels should be one of the main backbones of our tourism. That we need higher category hotels is not in question at all, but our tourism should be based on small family hotels, and not exclusively on large hotel systems. It is sustainable and authentic, encourages local development and employment, they work all year round and are ambassadors of our tourism through a personal and direct approach to each guest.RELATED NEWS:last_img read more