Travel marketing: 10 questions to ask yourself before writing your social media strategy.

October 24, 2011

Having trouble writing your social media plan?  Start by answering 10 simple questions:

  1. What audience do I want to communicate with?
  2. What is the compelling story of my brand that I want to share with them?
  3. What type of social content will I provide? (Conversational, Informational, Helpful, Promotional, Listening, Aggregate)
  4. Who will manage my social media marketing?
  5. How will the social workload be shared within my organization?
  6. Does my entire staff, including senior management, understand and use social media?
  7. Am I personally using or experimenting with any social channels?
  8. Have I developed a social media policy?
  9. How much effort am I planning on putting into my social media campaign? (Listen, Maintain, Engage)
  10. What goals or metrics am I considering to measure the effectiveness of my social media campaign?

Now that you’ve gotten the building blocks, use these  5 resources to help you write your social media strategy:

  1. How to write a social media proposal
  2. How to create a social media strategy
  3. How to write your social media plan in 8 steps
  4. How much should a social media strategy cost
  5. How to write a social media policy

Looking for more answers to your social media questions?  Check out our 10-part Social Media Safari Series:

  1. Does social media really work for marketing leisure brands?
  2. How much should I budget for social media?
  3. 10 social media campaigns that produced real results.
  4. 2 social media success stories utilizing limited budgets.
  5. What Coca Cola, Starbucks and Oreo can teach you about leisure marketing on Facebook.
  6. The Top 10 social media thought leaders.
  7. 11 ways businesses are using Twitter to promote their brands.
  8. If Twitter can save Conan, it can certainly revive your leisure brand.
  9. 15 valuable resources for social media novices.
  10. 20 ways to make sure your leisure marketing campaign goes viral.

Travel and hospitality marketing: Is Groupon a good deal for your brand?

August 17, 2011

Groupon is good for deal lovers. But is it good for business?

A new study found that  almost 7 in 10 businesses made money on their Groupon promotions. But only 6 in 10 said they would do it again.

My wife and I love daily deal websites like Groupon, Living Social and Eversave. But I’ve often wondered if these sites are really good for my clients’ travel and hospitality brands.

A recent study by Rice University found a mixed bag of results for businesses considering partnering with Groupon.

Your success depends on the industry you’re in and if you can avoid cannibalizing on current sales.

  • Among service businesses, salons and spas reported the highest number of successful promotions.
  • Restaurants reported the highest percentage of unprofitable promotions.
  • Businesses in which the promotion did not cannibalize sales to existing customers reported more successes.

1 in 3 businesses reported the promotion was not profitable. And 4 in 10 said they wouldn’t do it again.

  • 66% of businesses surveyed were profitable, 34% were not.
  • More than 40% said they would not run this kind of promotion again.
  • Satisfied employees were the most important factor in determining the success of the promotion.
  • The percentage of discount offered, number of Groupons sold, or percentage of Groupon users who purchased beyond the deal did not predict the deal’s profitability.

If you’re new to Groupon promotions follow these 3 guiding principles in developing your deal:

  • Do the math before you offer your deal.  Figure out your costs, including the additional labor. The rule of thumb is to discount your lowest-cost, highest-margin products and services first.
  • Make sure you prepare your staff, and yourself, for the influx of new and different customers.
  • Remember that Groupon shoppers are discount and value hunters. So be sure to display other products and services that appeal to them, so they’ll come back.
  • Develop a conversion strategy (like a bounce back offer) along with your Groupon offer, to encourage your Groupon customers to return.

Have you used Groupon for your travel or hospitality brand? If so, what did you learn from the experience?  If you decided against Groupon, why?

Leisure marketing: Will the rise of Kindle spell the end of our favorite leisure activity?

February 23, 2011

The Kindle may kill off the traditional book. But open up a whole new world for gadget freaks.

It’s official:  The leisure world as we know it is dying a very quick and painless death.

The evidence:  Amazon just reported that for every 100 paperbacks sold over the holiday season, they also sold 115 Kindle books.

In the words of the tech blog Dvice, “It looks like dead-tree books are going the way of the vinyl record.”

If you’re a leisure marketing specialist you may feel threatened.

Especially if you’re marketing a legacy brand like a chain of movie theaters or full-service restaurants, you might be wondering, “Are we next?”

I agree that the Kindle threatens our very way of relating to free time.

It may even alter the amount of time we spend on our most revered leisure activity.

I’m not talking about reading. I’m talking about watching TV.

In the latest American Time Use Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent 2 hours and 48 minutes each weekday watching TV.

And 14 minutes a day reading.

That’s the average.

If you’re 15-34 years old, you’re spending spends 10 minutes a day reading.

Now enter the Kindle.

Granted, it doesn’t look or feel or smell the same in your hands as a real book. But it has a few advantages.

It doesn’t kill any trees or require any inks or dyes to make. We don’t waste fossil fuels or paper products boxing and shipping it. So it’s cheaper to buy and easier on the environment.

It doesn’t take up any space on a bookshelf, so you can fit an extra chair in your study. It’s easier to hold on a crowded train or a bus.

But what I like best is it’s turned the book into a gadget.

You know who likes gadgets?  The same people who up until now didn’t read.

15-34 year olds.

Yeah, those same guys who would rather watch TV or play video games are now buying Kindles.

Last time I looked 1 in 3 Kindle owners were under 40.

That’s a good thing for the book industry.

And a good thing for 15-35 year olds who until now spent an average of 10 minutes a night reading.

Thank you Amazon. Got any more tricks up your sleeve?

Why your customers are spending more on other leisure brands and less on yours.

November 26, 2010


Two recent studies indicate that focusing more on customer service means you can focus less on discounting.

If you’re a leisure marketing specialist who has had to cut prices since the Great Recession, your problem may not be the economy.

Two recent studies demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay more if you focus on providing a great customer experience.

American Express found that great customer service experiences affect price, loyalty and repeat purchases.

  • Americans say they’re willing to spend an average of 9% more if the company provides great customer service.
  • 8 in 10 say they are far more likely to give a company repeat business after a good customer service experience.
  • 1 in 2 Americans say that it takes only 2 bad customer service experiences before they stop doing business with a company.
  • But almost 9 in 10 say they’re willing to give a company a second chance if they have historically given great customer service.

Right Now’s most recent Customer Experience Report found that 1 in 10 would pay a 25% premium for superior service.

  • 8 in 10 respondents say they have stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service.
  • 1 in 2 say they would pay 10% or more to ensure a superior customer experience.
  • 2 in 10 would pay 20% or more, and 1 in 10 would pay 25% or more for great customer service

When people have a good or bad experience with your brand, they tell their friends and families:

  • 55% of consumers say they recommend a company because of their superior customer service.
  • Consumers recommend companies based on great customer service more than even products (49%) or price (42%).
  • 8 in 10 respondents say when they have a bad experience, they tell others about it.

Right Now estimates that if leisure brands improved customer service, they could charge billions more:

  • The US airline industry could make an additional $10.6 billion.
  • The consumer electronics industry could increase revenues by $16.5 billion.
  • Consumers would have spent $87 million more last Cyber Monday for superior customer experiences.

If you’re a leisure marketing expert, let us know what you are doing to improve your customer experience both online and in your stores.

You can learn more about the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer here.  Download Right Now’s North American Customer Experience Report here.

Leisure marketing: 10 valuable resources for social media novices.

November 12, 2010

10 timely articles to help you plan a new social media program.

The Social Media Safari Question #7:

“My staff and I are starting a social media program from scratch. Can you direct me to some previous posts you have written that would help guide us?”

Gladly.  Here are 10 relevant posts to help leisure marketing specialists like yourself get up to speed on social media.

They’ll show you how to plan your social strategy, point you to some of the leading gurus, discuss budgeting and measurement, and outline some of the best social media success stories.

  1. 10 leading experts help you plan and execute your social media campaign
  2. What leisure marketers can learn from history’s greatest social media screw ups
  3. 20 tips for overcoming your fear of blogging
  4. Leisure marketing to the 57 million Americans who have tried social gaming
  5. 5 ways your leisure marketing could incorporate location-based services
  6. 33 simple ways to measure your social media campaigns
  7. Advanced social media tools for listening to your customers
  8. The most powerful online leisure marketing machine is not a machine at all. It’s Lady Gaga.
  9. The Star(bucks) of leisure marketing is also the (Star)bucks of social media
  10. Leisure marketing at its viral best: Hi-Tec Sports

Looking for more answers to your social media questions?  Check out these other posts in our 10-part Social Media Safari Series:

  1. Does social media really work for marketing leisure brands?
  2. How much should I budget for social media?
  3. 10 social media campaigns that produced real results.
  4. 2 social media success stories utilizing limited budgets.
  5. What Coca Cola, Starbucks and Oreo can teach you about leisure marketing on Facebook.
  6. The Top 10 social media thought leaders.
  7. 11 ways businesses are using Twitter to promote their brands.
  8. If Twitter can save Conan, it can certainly revive your leisure brand.
  9. 15 valuable resources for social media novices.
  10. 20 ways to make sure your leisure marketing campaign goes viral.

Leisure marketing: Two companies that represent the ying and yang of outdoor retail sales forecasting.

July 12, 2010

In outdoor retail sales forecasting, numbers don’t lie.  But people’s emotions can tell a larger truth. If you’re in leisure marketing, trust the data-driven forecasts of LTG’s RetailTRAK. And the emotional barometer readers at SNEWS.

RetailTRAK from Leisure Trends Group  (LTG) gives you a big-picture analysis of category sales.

When I want to see a financial analysis of how almost any category of outdoor retail is doing,  I turn to LTG’s RetailTrak.

They collect and analyze P.O.S. data on a broad range of merchandise.

The latest LTG RetailTRAK numbers on paddlesports sales looked promising.

The other day LTG released the latest numbers on paddlesports and I was excited to learn that  sales at specialty paddlesports stores were up 15%.

When I drilled down into the data, I could see that specialty boat dollar sales were up +13% and specialty boat paddle dollar sales were up +15%.

The sales data only revealed part of the picture.

But I knew that sales numbers only tell part of the story.  So I decided to balance that analysis with a view from ground level.

For a different take on the numbers, I turned to SNEWS.

This time, I turned to the opposite, but equally favorite source of industry intelligence: the field generals at SNEWS.

Marcus Woolf, an SNEWS editor and writer just published an in-depth analysis of the same numbers from a completely different perspective.

How SNEWS Senior editor Marcus Woolf made sense of LTG’s numbers.

Marcus based his analysis on interviews and observations of 5 or 6 specialty retailers around the country,  as well as conversations with two industry insiders.

His findings didn’t contradict the RetailTRAK numbers. They just made a little more sense of them.

Marcus confirmed through his sources in the field  that although sales have picked up in places, there are segments and geographic markets where sales are still soft.

Balancing the Ying and Yang of sales forecasting.

For instance, he found that the whitewater segment of the market was struggling from low participation levels, a glut of low-priced boats, and a lack of demand caused by high unemployment in places like Jacksonville, FL.

As you can see, using these two different perspectives deepened my understanding of the numbers. And gave me the ying and yang of the latest outdoor sales forecast.


Meetups: How leisure marketing pros can organize and sponsor them.

June 28, 2010

In my hometown, there are hundreds of meetups leisure enthusiast brands can sponsor.

Meetups are one of the most cost-efficent marketing strategies leisure brands can use to market to enthusiasts.

Meetups are social gatherings where people of like-minded interests gather to learn about a shared interest.

Right now they’re all the rage among outdoor enthusiasts in my home town of Denver. Currently, there are 86 meetups for hiking, 59 for camping, 50 for skiing or snowboarding, and 21 for cycling or mountainbiking,

If you’re interested in starting a meetup, Stephanie Marcus from Mashable recently wrote an excellent introduction for the American Express Small Business Open Forum.

Stephanie’s article outlined 10 tips to create a strong meetup:

1.  Ask yourself what you want to get out of your meetup.

Consider why you want to organize one. Find out how many similar meetup groups there are, and what yours could bring that’s different.

2. Create your meetup group.

The best website to do this on is They make it easy to get started and offer a database  of 6 million to market your meetup.

3. Grow your membership.

The Mashable article recommends you build your membership before you organize your first meetup.  And be sure to promote it well in advance.

4. Decide on a format for your meetup.

Some meetups have speakers. Others panel discussions.  Others just meet and talk.  The goal in all cases is to get the conversation flowing.

5. Decide on a venue.

If your event is small, meeting in a private room at a local bar or restaurant may be fine. But as you grow, plan on bigger venues, and require RSVPs.

6. Make final preparations on the day of the meetup.

Call the bar to remind them you’re coming. Bring sharpies, name tags and your RSVP list.

7. Consider bringing in a sponsor or acting as one yourself.

Sponsorships are great ways to give the event a more professional feel, and to limit costs. will help you find or become a sponsor.

8.  As soon as you organize your first meetup, start planning your second one.

Talk to your initial members to see what will bring them back. Come up with innovative ideas that will position you positively in your industry.

9.  Stay connected with members in between meetups.

Use your page and social networking tools like facebook to keep the conversation going between meetups.


Leisure marketing: How to get more facebook fans to “like” your brand.

June 22, 2010


Alan shows leisure brands how to use social media to attract fans.


Digital strategist Alan Wolk offers leisure marketing professionals 4 techniques to attract more fans to their social marketing sites.

Awhile back Alan Wolk, author of the The Toad Stool blog, spoke at the most recent KickApps conference on how brands that aren’t well-known can use social media to build a loyal customer base.

Alan outlined 4 social marketing techniques leisure brands can use to attract more fans:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Information
  3. Utility
  4. Incentive

Alan went on to define each technique, and give an example from Maxwell House Coffee’s social media strategy.


Maxwell House Coffee social pages use all four techniques Alan recommends.


1.Entertainment as defined by Alan would be:

  • Anything featuring celebrities or entertainment properties you have a deal with
  • Third party content that has a tie-in to your overall marketing strategy
  • Your own TV commercials (if they’re really good)
  • Maxwell House example:  Posted a 3 minute video clip of comedian Nancy Nevins, who has an endorsement deal with them, on their facebook page and blog, and broadcast a link on its twitter feed.

2.Information, in Alan’s words, is:

  • Facts or useful information (like reviews) that your audience would be interested in
  • Access to “behind-the-scenes” footage, exclusive clips, or advance notice from celebrity endorsers or properties you sponsor
  • News related to your product or category
  • Maxwell House example:  Hired celebrity chef Umberto Toscano, and links to behind-the-scenes footage from his show and website.

3. Utility, according to Alan, would be:

  • Anything that makes the consumer’s life easier, like recipes or how-to videos
  • Anything from a PDF to a website to a widget to an app
  • Maxwell House example:  Hired celebrity Chef Umberto Toscano to create recipes using their coffee, and posts those recipes on all their social sites.

4. Incentive, by Alan’s definition, would be:

  • Coupons or discount codes
  • Group discounts
  • Contests and promotions with financial incentives
  • Maxwell House  example:  Runs a contest through Twitter giving away a month’s supply of coffee to the 25th person who tweets the correct answer to their trivial questions.

Want to see Alan’s complete presentation?  You can watch a video of Alan and other KickApps presenters at the KickApps website.



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