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.



Travel and leisure marketing: Is it time to re-think your policy on single travelers?

September 4, 2012

 

Solo travelers now account for over $28 billion in travel spending.

There are a lot more single Americans than you realize.  It’s time travel and hospitality marketers started catering to them.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans are single, and over 50 million Americans have never been married.

  • 105 million adults in the U.S., nearly one-third of all Americans, are single.
  • Almost 40% of the single population are divorced, and 60% have never been married.
  • Marriage rates have declined from 72% in 1960 to just 52% in 2008.

Recently, Gary Leopold, CEO of ISM, one of the top travel and hospitality marketing firms in the U.S., explored the subject of solo travelers in a blog post for Media Post.

According to Gary, the statistics on singles travel spending are staggering.

  • Singles account for $2.2 trillion in annual buying power.
  • 1 in 4 Americans who travel domestically or abroad now do so alone.
  • 25 million singles age 42 or older spent over $28 billion on travel in 2008.

Women are more likely than men to travel alone.

  • According to Gary, women aged 42 or older are twice as likely as men to vacation alone.
  • More than 80% of Match.com users listed travel as one of their interests.

A few travel and hospitality markers are taking advantage of this trend.

  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched a ship, Epic, that has 128 “studio” suites and a private lounge designed for the single traveler.
  • Some of the all-inclusive resorts like Breezes have packages just for singles.
  • REI Adventures partners with Match.com to offer adventure travel trips to singles.

I did a Google search on the keywords “singles travel” and found dozens of  singles travel specialists.

They’re focused on a wide variety of singles travel niches, including:

  • Cruises
  • Adventure travel
  • Over 40s travelers
  • Luxury travel
  • Jewish Singles
  • Singles Travel Clubs

It’s harder to find restaurant chains and other hospitality brands that cater to singles.

That surprises me, since the mothers of newly graduated 20 somethings and recently divorced adult children will tell you they eat out more than their married brothers and sisters.

What you can do to attract singles to your travel or hospitality brand

  • You can start by developing packages and promotions just for singles.
  • If you’re a travel brand, experiment with eliminating your use of single supplements.
  • When marketing to singles, stop pricing on a per person/double occupancy basis.
  • If you’re a restaurant, consider a singles’ menu and options for people who don’t cook at home.

What are you doing to reach the single traveler or diner?

Have you tried special packages or offers? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Tell us about it.


Travel and leisure marketing: 5 sites that are changing the way travelers shop.

August 30, 2012

Several websites and apps are helping reinvent the travel space.

If you’re a travel marketer, it’s important to understand how these sites are changing the travel game, and how you can use them to attract new guests and gather competitive intelligence.

Here are five fast-growing concepts leading travel experts say are leading us into the future.

1. HotelTonight is an iPhone and Android app that delivers day of booking hotel discounts.

The app gives consumers the ability to book a hotel the same day they need it, at a steeply discounted rate.

The site partners with hotels with too much inventory to fill open rooms with last-minute guests, and save them up to 70% off the hotel price.

Implication for travel marketers: If you’re a hotelier, consider partnering with HotelTonight to sell out your remaining day-of inventory.

2. Backbid allows travelers with a flexible hotel reservation to solicit other hoteliers for better deals.

They post their reservation on the site and wait to see if other hotels will offer them a lower rate or incentives to move a booking over to the second hotel.

Implication for travel marketers: This site gives you an opportunity to see the rates your competitors are offering in real-time, and decide if you want to beat them.

3. Room 77 is built on the philosophy that you should be able to choose a room in a hotel like a seat on an airplane.

Room 77 offers you the chance to see what rooms look like in a hotel and instructs visitors on how to book that exact room. So far, they have well over half a million room sin their database.

Implication for travel marketers: This is one more site to showcase your property and market your inventory to savvy travelers. 

4. Hipmunk is a new flight metasearch site that takes travel planning to the granular level.

In their own words, the site”takes the agony out of travel planning” by giving you more information on your flight.

For instance, if you like to sleep on the airplane, you can find out which ones will be “dark flights.” It also displays in as simple a format as you can get, the flights that are cheapest, quickest, and have the shortest stopovers.

Implications for travel marketers: This is just one more example of how much detail travelers now want in their searches. Look for ways to provide more detailed searches on your site.

5. Gogobot  is built on the belief that people want travel advice from people they trust.

So it offers travelers tips and advice from a member’s network of family, friends and business colleagues.

Implications for travel marketers:  The Gogobot phenomenon proves that people are using social media to make more and more of their travel decisions.

Make sure you’re monitoring social sites like this and responding to both positive and negative comments.

Thanks to EyeforTravel for identifying these sites for their North American Innovation Award. By the way, HotelTonight won, and Hipmunk was the runner up!


Travel and leisure marketing: 15 twitter tips for tourism destinations

August 28, 2012

The Grand Junction, CO VCB drives visitors to local URLs.

These 15 twitter tips are designed to help tourism destinations develop a more effective twitter strategy. And ultimately to drive traffic to your website.

A Couple of Chicks, a savvy Canadian e-marketing agency whose mission is to take the fear out of web marketing, recently posted some practical twitter tips for tourism destinations.

1. Use Twitter to increase site visits. Google indexes twitter feeds and drives traffic to your website!

2. Strategize. Plan ahead with an editorial schedule to tie in with planned events, promotions, etc.

3. Be consistent with profile information i.e. using brand “http://www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks” or “http://twitter.com/HfxNovaScotia” as name, URL, descriptor.

4. Use your ‘brand’ as graphic background; see ex: http://twitter.com/BayOfFundy.

5. Use the 3&3 rule: Three tweets and three re-tweets per day.

6. Tweet smart: Tweet at different times throughout the day; use ‘pending tweets’ functionality to schedule tweets outside of your work day but in time zones relevant to potential target audiences.

7. Use auto-welcomes i.e. “Thank you for following Tourism Fredericton – your source for things to do in Fredericton, the Capital of New Brunswick. Want to find out what’s happening? Check out our other Twitter feeds….”

8. Tweet using your targeted keywords.

9. Use pics and website URL’s (remember to use URL shorteners like tinyurl.com).

10. Proper Twitter etiquette is to follow those who follow you, but be cautious of “cleaning” your list of who you follow regularly.

11. Follow your competitors and their followers.

12. Engage with your audience: Differentiate yourselves from broadcasters and be rich content providers.

13. Link to your Twitter feeds (& show them on your site) from all that you do online & offline; see: http://www.travelportland.com/visitors/twitter.html andhttp://www.halifaxsociable.com

14. Follow other DMO’s or destinations and don’t be afraid of some back and forth conversation.

15. Follow partners in your communities: Reach out and engage with hotels, attractions etc… that are already on twitter.

Those are the do’s of destination tourism tweeting.  Read about the don’ts in their original post. Thanks to a Couple of Chicks!


Travel and leisure marketing: Are Americans suffering from vacation deprivation?

August 20, 2012

Compared to adults in other countries, US citizens take a lot less vacation. Is there an opportunity for your travel or leisure brand?

It’s not news that since the start of the Great Recession,  Americans are taking shorter trips closer to home.

But did you know Americans take a lot less vacation than workers in other countries?

And they need their travel and leisure brands to pack more relaxation or excitement into less time.

Every year for the past decade, Expedia has surveyed employed adults in countries all over the world as part of its International Vacation Deprivation Survey.

The results of the latest survey tell a lot about why so many Americans are stressed out and in need of more leisure time.

Employed adults in the U.S. get less than half of the vacation time as workers in other Western countries.

  • Americans receive an average of 13 days of vacation a year.
  • By comparison, Canadians average 19 days per year.
  • Workers in Great Britain get 26 days a year.
  • Germans take 28 days a year.
  • But the biggest winners are French workers, who average 38 vacation days per year.

Not only do we get less vacation, we enjoy it less, too.

  • 4 in 10 Americans take only one week of vacation, and then use the rest here and there.
  • 3 in 10 employed adults usually do not take all of their vacation days each year.
  • A quarter of all respondents reported checking work email or voicemail while vacationing.
  • 4 in 10 report having trouble coping with stress at some point during their vacation.
  • 2 in 10 adults reported canceling or postponing a vacation because of work.

The funny thing is Americans see the benefits of taking time off.

  • In the study, 1 in 3 American adults reported feeling better about their job after a vacation.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back from vacation feeling rejuvenated.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back feeling reconnected with their families.

Men and women have different attitudes about work and vacation time.

  • Men are more likely to regularly work more than 40 hours a week (44% of men vs. 29% of women).
  • Men are also more likely to take a 2-week vacation then women (12% of men vs. 8% of women).
  • Women are more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (40% of women vs. 29% of men).

The only countries that leave more unused vacation days are the Japanese and Italians.

  • American workers average 3 unused vacation days a year.
  • By comparison, the British, French and Germans don’t use 1-2 days.
  • Italian workers leave an average of 6 vacation days (out of 27), while the Japanese leave 7 (out of 15).

Courtesy of Expedia Vacation Deprivation Survey

How can your travel or leisure brand can capitalize on this trend:

  • Can your brand offer people a better escape in less time?
  • Can your guests cram more activities into fewer days, or enjoy a more complete escape?
  • Should you put  together all-inclusive and short-term vacation packages?
  • Maybe you market your property as a cell-free or email free zone.

What are you doing to attract the vacation-starved American traveler?  Tell us about it.


Destination marketing: Higher taxes are no way to treat a guest.

August 17, 2012

Are travel taxes taking too big a bite out of your guests’ wallets?

A study by the U.S. Travel Association has raised new concerns that high travel taxes are affecting travel habits. 

Is it time to re-think your attitude on travel taxes?

In an era of declining tax revenues, travelers are considered an easy target by local, county and state governments.

But according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, public officials need to think of travelers as important contributors to local businesses and jobs.

According to Dow,”Few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy.”

To help, the USTA announced a study of consumer attitudes by its  Travel Tax Institute.

The research reveals that taxation has a clear impact on travel planning and spending decisions. Among the key findings:

  • High Taxes Alter Travel Plans: 49% of travelers say that high travel taxes have caused them to stay at less expensive hotels, spend less on shopping and entertainment, and visit during the off-season.
  • Taxes on Hotels, Airfare High: 68% of travelers rated hotel taxes as “very high” (35%) or “high” (33%); 66% rated taxes on airfare as “very high” (38%) or “high” (28%).
  • Rental Car Taxes Much Too High: Nearly two out of three travelers surveyed (64%) say that the total tax rate on rental cars is “much more” than they expected to pay.
  • Travelers See Taxes Rising: Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they expect to pay higher travel taxes in the year ahead; only two percent believe taxes will decrease.
  • Travel Taxes Should Fund Travel Infrastructure: 60% of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports.

Another 49% said “travel/tourism marketing and promotion” also would be an appropriate use of the revenues.

Only 14% cited “non-travel related expenditures” such as “contributions to government general funds” as an “appropriate” use of travel taxes

What do you think? Are high travel taxes affecting your guest’s decisions?

What are you doing about it? We’d love to hear your take on this important issue.

Travel marketing: What are you doing to capitalize on America’s fastest growing leisure sport?

August 15, 2012
picture of old suitcase filled with tennis balls

18 million Americans now spend part of their free time playing tennis.

Tennis is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. as Americans look for a cheaper past time in a tough economy. Here are a few ideas to attract the tennis set.

One of our jobs here at 5 to 9 Branding is to report on where Americans are spending their free time.

A recent Reuter’s report found that more and more of us are spending our free time playing tennis.

If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand, you’ll be interested to learn how the tennis industry orchestrated some of this growth.

First the statistics on the growth of tennis.  According to Reuters:

  • From 2000-2009, the number of Americans playing tennis grew 43% to 18.5 million.
  • By comparison, the number of golfers declined 5% in 2009 to 27 million players.
  • Tennis has become the fastest growing traditional sport in America.
  • Unlike the last tennis boom in the 1970′s, there are no American tennis stars to fuel the growth.

Experts say the current growth of tennis partly the result of the slowing economy and partly the result of an orchestrated effort by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

  • After a 1994  cover story in Sports Illustrated titled Is Tennis Dead? the USTA committed $36 million annually to a multi-year marketing and promotional campaign to boost tennis at a local level.
  • Tennis manufacturers like Wilson and Prince also put up millions for public parks to offer free tennis lessons to introduce Americans to tennis.
  • Compared to golf, tennis is relatively easy to learn and inexpensive to play.
  • Many public parks offer free use of tennis courts, and a top tennis racket costs a fraction of a good set of golf clubs.

If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand, ask yourself what the tennis industry can teach you about marketing your brand.

  • Can you reposition your brand to take advantage of the changing tastes of the post-recession consumer?
  • Can you offer customers a low-cost or no-cost introduction to your brand?
  • Could you combine efforts with a trade association to promote awareness of a sport or pastime your brand supports?
  • Can you appeal to a new generation of users?

Is your travel or leisure brand capitalizing on this leisure phenomenon?

  • If you market a destination travel brand, do you highlight your tennis facilities in your marketing materials?
  • Could you put together a stay and play tennis package?
  • How about throwing in lessons from your tennis pro?
  • Could you provide free group classes or free use of racquets for travelers who forgot to pack theirs?

That’s what the tennis industry’s turnaround has us thinking about. How about you? What  are you doing to capitalize on the growth of this popular sport?



What travel and leisure marketers can learn from history’s greatest social media screw ups.

August 8, 2012

6 of my favorite history lessons from the biggest social media screw ups of the still-young century.

1.  April 2004:  A blogger picks a Kriptonite lock using a Bic pen.

Social Learning:  Kriptonite (and the rest of us) learned that news travels a lot faster on the internet, and failing to respond can be costly.  By the way, Kriptonite ended up spending $15 million on a product recall.

2. June 2006: Dell’s reputation goes up in smoke when Gizmodo publishes a photo of an exploding laptop.

Social Learning:  Dell learned the power of a single incriminating photo spread across the internet, and the importance of responding quickly to negative news spread virally.

Dell was forced to recall more than 4 million laptop batteries. And quickly got its social act together.

3. January 2007:  Jet Blue passengers who are stranded on the runway for 8 hours film (and post) their ordeal.

Social Learning:  Jet Blue got the significance of these actions right away, and CEO David Neelman immediately crafted and posted an apology on YouTube.

And taught the rest of corporate America how to own up to a screwup online, in real-time.

4. August 2008:  In one of the first documented cases of Twitter-squatting, “Janet from ExxonMobil” creates a fake corporate Twitter account.

Social Learning:   This incident taught giants of industry across many categories that you ignore social media at your own peril.

5. A Twitter army of angry  moms swarms a sassy Motrin commercial aimed at moms, and forces Johnson and Johnson to apologize.

Social Learning:  A small group of influential Tweeters can use the megaphone of social media to get a giant company’s attention.

6.   United ignores passenger Dave Carroll’s pleas to fix a guitar the airline damaged in transit, and becomes the butt of Dave’s popular protest video.

Social Learning:  United learned that it’s a lot cheaper to fix a disgruntled passenger’s broken guitar than a reputation damaged by 9 million views of a viral video.

There are 31 more social mistakes of monumental consequence documented in a recent SMI presentation. You can view the entire presentation on Slideshare.


Travel and leisure marketing: Are you budgeting enough for your social media program?

July 20, 2012

Social media costs less, but takes more time.

Our research indicates most travel and leisure brands are spending between 10-15% of their total online budget on social media.

How much should you budget for your social media program?”

  • The good news: a robust social media program can cost just 11-14% of your digital budget. That’s a fraction of the average cost of a TV campaign produced in LA or New York.
  • The not so good news: Social media takes a lot of time, whether you’re paying an in-house person or an outside agency to do it.

Cost of In-House Resources Versus Outside Contractors

  • If you’re relying on existing in-house resources to get your social media program off the ground, the general rule of thumb is to start by budgeting for one full-time employee.
  • That person will be responsible for creating content and overseeing the design of your blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed as well as write any e-books and online presentations.

Salary Ranges for Social Media Managers

  • The salary range for this in-house position can run from $32,500-$55,000 for a social media manager or community manager, although a Director or VP can earn 3 times that.

Components of Your Social Media Budget

Your budget should account for three phases of social media spending:

1. Strategy and Planning

  • In this phase, budget for time to research tools, identify outside contractors who can help you develop your social media strategy and tactics, and staff time to interact with your contractors.
  • Don’t forget to account for the time and expenses necessary to promote your new social sites through your existing media campaign.

2. Campaign Launch

  • Budget for in-house staff hours and outside contractors to design and develop your blog, design a skin for your Twitter page, and populate your Facebook page with content.
  • You’ll also want to account for the cost of implementing tools for listening to and growing your fan base and Twitter followers.

3. Ongoing Support

  • After you launch, you’ll want to budget for staff and contractor time for creating ongoing content and promotions, and refreshing the design of your blog and Twitter skin.
  • In addition, you’ll want to keep up with the ever evolving technology tools to monitor your audience and to keep adding friends and followers.
  • Because social media is moving so fast, you may also want to budget for your staff to attend at least one annual conference on the latest tools and tips.

Total Costs for Your Social Media Strategy

  • A recent Marketing Sherpa study found that on average, participants spend 11% of their total online/digital marketing budgets on social media.
  • The IT Services Marketing Association polled its members and found that B to B marketers are spending 14% of their online/digital marketing budgets on social.
  • An e-Marketer survey broke those numbers down further and found that 60% of social spending is for in-house salaries, while 40% goes to outside agencies, consultants and service providers.

That’s what we’ve learned about budgeting for social media in leisure marketing.  How does that compare to what you’re doing?

 


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