Travel marketing: What the revitalized bus travel industry can teach you about reinventing your travel brand.

September 27, 2012
Photo of Megabus

New intracity bus lines like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing bus travel.

A new generation of express bus carriers are reinventing a once-dying industry, and rewriting the rules of travel marketing along the way.

Christine Whittemore of Simple Marketing Now recently wrote an insightful piece on the rise of the new bus travel industry that appeared in the blog Marketing Profs.

Some of her insights are worth repeating for marketers of travel and tourism brands in need of some serious reconstruction.

People stopped riding buses for a variety of reasons:

  • High prices compared to trains and planes.
  • Inconvenient schedules.
  • Discomfort.
  • Safety concerns.

But a new generation of brands like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing the way intracity bus service is delivered, and attracting daily riders by the tens of thousands.

To overcome the concerns that have kept people off buses for the past decade, these brands have also upgraded their service with:

  • Newer buses.
  • More professional drivers.
  • Pick up points that don’t scare off professional people.

These new brands are also going head-to-head with trains and planes to offer travelers services that meet or beat the standards of air and train travel, including:

  • Free wi-fi.
  • Power outlets for laptops.
  • Lower pricesRewards programs for frequent travelers.
  • More convenient schedules.
  • More leg room.
  • Reminders of how eco-friendly modern buses are.
  • Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to dialogue with their customers.

Are you the marketer of a travel or tourism brand in a segment of the industry that is stagnant or in decline?

If so, ask yourself what the revitalized bus travel industry could teach you about how to reinvent the way your customers view your travel or tourism brand.  Could you:

  • Make your product more cost-competitive?
  • Offer more choice and convenience?
  • Invest in newer technology and infrastructure?
  • Make your brand more directly competitive with newer categories?

That’s what the bus travel industry has taught us about brand revitalization. Tell us what you’ve learned from this or another industry. By the way, you’ll find Christine’s complete post here.


5 ways travel and tourism brands can market to the Hispanic traveler

September 25, 2012

Hispanics like to bring their families on business trips.

Travel Market Report recently interviewed Kelly McDonald, author of How to Market to People Not Like You on catering to the Hispanic traveler.

Although originally addressed to travel agents, Kelly’s recommendations are good advice for any travel and tourism marketer.

To understand why you should market to Hispanics, just look at the numbers

  • According to the 2010 census, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the U.S.
  • There are 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. and 1 in 4 of Americans under 18 are Hispanic.
  • The Hispanic population grew by 43% from 2000-2010, and accounted for 56% of the population growth in the U.S.

Here are 5 recommendations from Kelly on how travel and tourism marketers can help attract Hispanic travelers:

1. Make it operationally easy for Spanish-speaking guests to deal with your brand

  • Present a Spanish-language option for your website, even if it’s just FAQs.
  • Do the same for your phone answering system.
  • Many Hispanics are in service industries so they work late hours. Consider extending your hours to 8 pm on weekdays and opening on weekends.

2. Speak Spanish

  • This seems obvious, but what you may not know is that many English-speaking Hispanics prefer to speak in Spanish if the choice is given to them.
  • Make sure you have at least one Spanish-speaking reservations or information agent on staff. It’s important, too that they have good travel expertise and service skills.

3.  Develop expertise in what the Hispanic market wants and needs

  • Hispanics often bring family members on business trips, so cater to spouses and kid of the Hispanic business traveler.
  • Other trends in Hispanic travel include extended family and multigenerational travel and a love of shopping. Understand them and cater to them.
  • You can also cater your menu and service offerings to Hispanics. The Westin Hotel in San Antonio serves Mexican cookies in its afternoon tea time because American cookies are too sweet for their Mexican guests.

4. Market through social media

  • If your marketing budgets are limited, social media is an efficient way to reach Hispanics.
  • Hispanics spend a larger portion of their time on social sites than other ethnic groups.
  • They also trust what their friends say on social sites more than other groups.

5. Understand that Hispanics make decisions differently

  • Hispanics usually want to involve the whole family in the decision-making process. So your reservations and customer service reps need to be more patient and consultative.

Thanks to Nick Verrastro and the crew at Travel Market Report for this excellent advice.

How about you?  What are you doing to make your travel and tourism marketing more Hispanic-friendly?


Travel and leisure marketing: Are you taking advantage of the rise in same-day mobile bookings?

September 20, 2012

The Hotel Tonight app has been downloaded by more than 800,000 iPhone users.

A variety of new mobile tools and apps cater to procrastinators and locals

If your hotel or resort property’s website isn’t optimized for mobile, you could be losing out on the growing market for same-day bookings.

According to a recent story in USA Today, online travel agencies are introducing a rising number of booking tools and features geared towards people who book a room on the day of their stay.

The statistics indicate this phenomenon is not just a passing trend

  • 60% of mobile bookings on Priceline are for the same day
  • 65% of Orbitz’ mobile bookings are same-day reservations versus 14% for desktop computers
  • Marriott recently reported that 50% of its same-day bookings came through the mobile channel
  • More than 800,000 iPhone users have downloaded Hotel Tonight an app featuring daily hotel deals

Who are these people and why do they wait until the last day to book?

They include:

  • travelers who don’t like to plan
  • long-distance commuters working late
  • homeowners without electricity
  • travelers whose flight are cancelled
  • suburban deal seekers
  • couples celebrating anniversaries

Should your travel brand take advantage of this new trend?

  • Hotel Tonight reports that participating hotels like their service because they don’t have to commit a minimum number of rooms
  • Given that an average of 40% of rooms go unbooked each night, why wouldn’t you explore this new opportunity?

How much of your bookings are coming through same-day mobile reservations?

Tell us how this new trend is affecting your business and what you’ve learned so far.


5 ways your travel and leisure marketing can earn back the trust of women.

September 18, 2012

A study of women in 22 countries identified 5 ways brands are failing women, and 5 strategies to earn back their trust.

A landmark study found that women control 73% of household spending, but feel neglected by many brands.

Authors Michael and Kate Sayre, partners atBoston Consulting Group recently published a book: Women Want More: How to capture your share of the world’s largest, fastest growing market .

The landmark study upon which the book is based traced the attitudes and purchasing habits of 12,000 women in twenty-two countries.

The study found that women control 73% of household spending, and $4.3 trillion in consumer spending in the U.S. alone.

But it found that women the world over are dissatisfied with the products and services they buy. The reason?

Many companies don’t take the time to understand the issues modern women face, and create products that fail to meet their needs.

The authors found that women are having difficulty balancing all the roles they are called to play at home and in their job. They’re time-starved and stressed out.

And they  struggle to balance what the authors call “the job at the job and the job at home.”

The book reports that companies fail to meet the needs of women in five key ways:

  1. They are not addressing women’s need for time-saving solutions.
  2. They have poor product design and customization for women.
  3. Their sales and marketing efforts are clumsy and often insulting to women.
  4. They fail to align with women’s values or develop community.
  5. They don’t ‘give back’ to society as well or as much as they could.

The authors offer five ways that travel & leisure brands can earn the loyalty of women:

  1. Take the time to understand and tailor your product to their needs and values.
  2. Create products and services that save women time.
  3. Demonstrate your own values and commitment to the community.
  4. Empower your sales force to be more responsive.
  5. Offer 24/7 access to customer service, and product information that’s simple and easy to find

According to the study, women place a premium on the following values:

  • Love
  • Health
  • Honesty
  • Emotional Wellbeing.

Women want the brands they buy to understand those values, and offer them services that honor them.

According to Ms. Sayer, “Take care of those core values,and companies can really connect with women.”

How is your travel & leisure brand connecting with women? What changes have you made to reach better connect to women’s wants and needs? Talk to us.


Travel marketing: Before you put a QR code in your next travel ad, read this.

September 13, 2012

According to Forrester, only 5% of Americans surveyed actually scanned a QR code.

QR codes are showing up in all sorts of travel ads, but are they effective?

According to a Forrester Research, only 14 million Americans scanned QR codes in a recent 3-month period.

Their research found that only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones actually used the 2-D codes in a recent 3-month period.

And the majority of those 14 million early adopters were young, affluent males.

Ad Age recently interviewed some experts in the field and reported three reasons that QR codes haven’t caught on:

  1. People are confused about how to use them.
  2. There’s little uniformity among the apps that read them.
  3. Many of the codes link to useless information or to the company’s website.

Melissa Parish, Forrester’s senior analyst-social and mobile marketing had this to say:

QR codes are “another instance of shiny-object syndrome.  Something becomes trendy or sexy, and marketers feel they have to jump onboard to position themselves as innovative and make sure they don’t fall behind.”

If you want to increase the likelihood of prospective guests scanning your QR code consider the following:

  • Make the content you link the QR code to rewarding and valuable.
  • Make sure your QR code is readable.
  • Don’t post codes on billboards in areas with no internet access or poor cell phone coverage like subways or in-flight magazines.

For examples of how not to use QR codes, check out QR Blaster’s list of the worst campaigns of the year using QR codes.

And while you’re’ at it, tell us how you’ve used QR codes effectively. Or if you’re really brave, tell us how they haven’t worked for you.


Travel & tourism marketing: How Virgin Air keeps brand buzz high when marketing dollars are low

September 11, 2012

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is a master of media buzz.

Virgin Air founder Richard Branson recently shared his secrets on creating marketing buzz with a shoestring budget.

As you know, Sir Richard Branson is a serial entrepreneur, having founded or acquired 400 companies that bear the Virgin name.

He’s also helped breathe new life into the travel and tourism industry with his novel efforts at branding and promotions.

Business Day recently published a column by Branson that highlighted some of those novel marketing efforts:

  • When they launched Virgin Atlantic, Branson created free publicity for the airlines by taking part in a series of extreme challenges like a speed boat crossing of the Atlantic and several around the world balloon trips.
  • When Virgin Atlantic did buy advertising for the airlines, they made sure their ads were cheeky, topical and newsworthy. Which often got them press in addition to the media space they paid for.
  • Expanding air service to other countries helped transport the Virgin brand name to countries which did not have their record stores.
  • This created awareness and trust for the broader Virgin brand name and allowed Branson to export Virgin mobile phone service, financial services and health clubs to those countries.
  • When they launched Virgin Air in emerging countries in Latin America and Asia,  there was virtually no recognition of the Virgin brand name.
  • So Branson’s team used a three-pronged approach featuring adventure, film and social media. This strategy has attracted a younger, more media-savvy audience to the brand in those countries.
  • Virgin’s space program, Virgin Galactic has given them lots of free worldwide media coverage. And reinforced that the brand is associated with groundbreaking adventure.
  • Virgin’s film production company Virgin Produced has successfully introduced several popular movies, including Limitless and Immortals.
  •  This has helped reinforce that the Virgin brand name is associated with cutting edge ideas and the best of pop culture.
  • Above all, Virgin uses Twitter, Facebook, the company’s blogs and Google+ to build a stronger following for the Virgin brand, especially in markets where they do not have a physical presence.
  • They do this by broadcasting Virgin news, opinions, image and causes to millions of people across the world.

How are you using your brand’s strategy, products, or your destination’s leading personality to bring media attention to your travel and tourism brand? Share your ideas with our readers.

Here’s a video of Virgin Galactic’s launch of their new “spaceport.”


Tell me again: Why should guests care about your travel brand?

September 6, 2012

When I moved to Denver 18 years ago, it seemed like a long way off from the work-obsessed, almost cult-like ad community I left behind in Minneapolis.

Then I started meeting a few of the natives. And saw what they were doing with their free time.

Up and down my street, and in office after office at work,  I met people who worked hard. And played even harder.

I met people who plotted and planned out every minute of their evenings, weekends and vacations like it just might be their last.

They mountain biked, kayaked, fly fished and tent camped in the summer.

They skied, went snowboarding,  ice climbed and went snowshoeing in the winter.

Somewhere in there, they found time to take vacations to exotic resorts, desolate beaches and undiscovered four and five-star hotels in Asian and Eastern European cities I had never heard of.

In between trips and treks, they talked my ear off about their passions, and the latest travel and outdoor recreational brands  that helped keep their adrenaline pumping.

And I began to understand the difference between a customer and a follower.

That brings us to your brand.

Have you created the kind of product or place that people can’t stop talking about? Is your brand worthy of someone’s full and undivided passion?

Do the people who follow your brand feel like you get them? Do you participate in their conversations enough to know what they love? And hate?

Do you wrap your brand in the same love that intoxicates your followers?

If so, I know 3 million people here in Colorado who can’t wait to meet and talk to you.

If you don’t, I know another 300 million Americans who can’t wait to ignore you.



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