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.


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 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!


A few statistics on how travel brands are using social media to boost ROI (infographic)

August 22, 2012

Thought you would enjoy this infographic on social media created by the travel experts at Simplifying and EyeforTravel.

Before we show it to you, here are a few statistics on social media Simpliflying didn’t want you to miss:

  • Travel marketers surveyed revealed that using social media reduced PR costs by at least 24%.
  • Most companies in the travel industry are spending over 25% of their marketing budget on social media.
  • 61% of companies surveyed will spend more money on social media efforts over the next quarter.
  • Interestingly, social media is being seen as a viable way to drive customer loyalty given that almost82% of frequent flyers use Facebook and place the most importance on great customer service.
  • Airlines are increasingly taking to performing customer service on social media as almost 86% of tweets to airlines are about customer service issues.
  • There’s an increasing investment in social media platforms to engage customers. About 191 airlinesnow have Twitter accounts and tweets sent out by airlines increased by over 51% from March 2011 to July 2011.

Credits: Simplifyling and EyeforTravel


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.


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?


Are you capitalizing on the latest travel marketing trend: The fake-ation?

August 13, 2012

 

A recent study confirms most Americans can’t escape their work–even on vacation.

8 in 10 Americans have trouble leaving their work behind when they go on vacation.  Could your travel brand be the solution?

A recent TripAdvisor travel trends survey uncovered a startling trend.

As a travel and hospitality marketing specialist , I don’t like to admit that I have trouble separating work from pleasure.

But the truth is I’m usually a day or two into a vacation before my wife gently reminds me to quit checking emails and voicemails.

The latest TripAdvisor Travel Trends survey reveals that I’m not the only American leisure traveler having trouble leaving their work at home.

The Fake-ation may be the biggest travel trend TripAdvisor uncovered this year.

According to Trip Advisor, American travelers are, in effect, taking vacations without getting a real vacation.

  • 8 in 10 Americans say they chose their destination at least partly because it is too remote to connect with work.
  • Yet 7 in 10 people admit to connecting with work on leisure trips.
  • 6 in 10 check their e-mail, while  1 in 10 call the office.

Why can’t Americans leave their work behind? If they’re like me, the internet and cell phones make connecting to work too easy.

If you’re a travel or leisure marketing specialist, there’s a big opportunity for you in this trend.

People like me want to escape. But we need help letting go.

Could your brand be the solution? Could you provide the real escape people are looking for?

Instead of making it easier for people to connect to work, could you cater to their desire to disconnect?

  • Could you remove the cell tower from the top of your building and provide a cell-free zone?
  • Instead of offering free wi-fi, maybe you offer no-fi.  Or if you want a little extra press coverage, $500 a day wi-fi.
  • Maybe you go lo-tech and require people to turn in their cell phones and lap tops upon arrival.
  • Or you set up cell-free and laptop free zones.
  • If you’re marketing camping equipment, scuba gear or even movie theaters, maybe you position your leisure brand as the only true escape from the office.

TripAdvisor has uncovered a truth most of us can’t deny:  We are looking for a way to get away from it all, but the internet and universal cell coverage have trapped us.

How you can your brand be our escape hatch?


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