Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

August 10, 2018

Who Owns the Customer? Marketing or Digital? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 226)

August 10, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Who Owns the Customer? Marketing or Digital? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 226)

Who Owns the Customer? Marketing or Digital? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 226) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 8s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Who Owns the Customer? Marketing or Digital? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 226) – Transcript

Well, hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. Today is Friday, August 10th and this is Episode 226 of the big show.

As I mentioned last week, we have a new sponsor for thinks out loud and that sponsor is SoloSegment. I'd like to thank them very much for their support. SoloSegment is all about site search analytics and on AI-driven content discovery and improving search results in customer satisfaction. You can check out solosegment@solosegment.com and once again I thank them for their support. I think we've got a really, really cool show for you. There's a lot going on this week. It started out when I shared a post on Linkedin by Christopher S. Penn and what Christopher was talking about is how the end of digital marketing is near.

Basically, his point is that digital is so integral to our lives now that it's not separate from marketing, it's just, you know, it's just out there. It's just regular marketing in and of itself. Now, this obviously resonated with me very well. I've been talking for a long, long time about how it's all e-commerce— and I'll get back to that point in a minute — but clearly this has resonated with folks. The piece itself has more than 227 shares and just my brief mention of it on LinkedIn has almost 1700 views and a bunch of comments in just a few days. Now, many of the comments really resonated with me. Steve Cummins had a great point where he said, "This is true. Naturally we start off by segmenting things that are new and then they come back to the center. Over time it helps them to get traction and helps people to focus where to hone their skills," which I think is exactly right. I think that's very smart.

And there were two other comments that really jumped out at me as well. Max Starkov, who I've known for years, Max is from a company called HeBS, said "The days of distinction between traditional and digital marketing are long gone, exclamation point in hospitality. It has been digital first for at least 15 years and digital only for at least eight years now." Barry Cunningham was even more since succinct. He said, "That's over a year old. Not sure it's still relevant. It's like a lifetime in internet time."

So I replied to Barry. I said, "Unfortunately it's all too relevant for many businesses and industries who don't see that as reality yet. You'd be amazed the number of product-focused or sales-led organizations who still tell me, yeah, but my customers don't really use the Internet to buy my products.

They talked to our sales people, reps, etc. instead." Barry's response: "That's nuts. Dinosaurs!" Exclamation point.

Now this is amazing to me. Obviously just last week I asked whether you should abandon digital the way it looks like GE is, and as I noted in my reply to Barry, at least three times this week I spoke with groups of executives, marketing executives, among them who basically talked about digital as being somehow separate from marketing. That these are two distinct disciplines with nothing to do with one another, no relationship at all, which blows my mind that this is still a conversation that we're having. You know, this isn't new. In 2013, I wrote a piece for the Biznology blog that asked is paid search part of marketing. Even further back in 2009, I wrote a piece as part of a point/counterpoint debate that asked is digital marketing a core skill for today's marketers?

By the way, I'm going to link to all of these in the show notes. The question I would have is, how is it possible 10 years later, we're still having this debate? How are we still having this debate, especially when some folks like Max and Barry think the debate is long since settled? Now, as I mentioned a moment ago, I'm pretty in line with Max and Barry. I wouldn't go so far as to call people who hold the opposite view dinosaurs, but it's definitely not something that there's this core distinction between digital and marketing any longer. Just the other day I wrote another piece that asked why are marketers still afraid of data and at least as far back as 2011, I've been talking about how it's all e-commerce — and I know for sure that I was using the phrase long before I wrote piece. So how are we still having this debate?

Well, I think there's a reason for it and I think digital marketers specifically and marketers more generally are to blame and the reason is because too often when we talk about what we do, we get really excited about the tech and not the people. To me that's no wonder that "traditional marketers" — and I'm very much using air quotes for traditional marketers — but that's no wonder that traditional marketers don't get us, that they don't think we're part of their tribe.

The bigger problem though is the traditional marketers are just as guilty. As I pointed out in my Biznology piece the other day, they're using data too. And as Max and Barry and I believe, there's plenty of leakage between the various marketing disciplines already. It's not black and white, but we get hung up on the data and we get hung up on targeting and we get hung up on devices and we get so hung up on all the tools and the techniques that we get trapped into thinking about what we can do instead of thinking about the customer, instead of thinking about the person. You know, I'm always reminded of that scene in Jurassic Park where Dr. Ian Malcolm is taking the owner of the park to task. You know, he says "We're so busy wondering if we could, we haven't always stopped to think if we should." Think about all the times that we've said, you know, mobile first. Well, as I've asked a couple of times, it's not mobile first, why isn't it customer first? Is it the device that matters or is it the person that's using the device that matters?

And by doing this we've sort of decoupled people's humanity here. We've decoupled the people from the situation and we're only now starting to see implications of this. In a way, GDPR has come about because many marketers, many digital marketers, many traditional marketers, et cetera, grabbed all the data they could — all the data available — without thinking about the human implications. I've mentioned many times before here that digital is like gravity, you know. It becomes this thing that can be a real problem because, yes, it can absolutely be a useful tool, It can absolutely be beneficial to you, but also you can fall off a cliff if you do it wrong. You know, as the phrase I've used before a goes, when you invent the ship, you invent the shipwreck

And I think it's only going to get worse if we don't get our hands around it. Now you know, we're about to start incorporating AI into what we do and we have to think about the implicit biases we're introducing into those AI's as we look to understand our customers more deeply, as we look to pull apart our customer segments more. You know, there was a fascinating book by Cathy O'Neil a couple of years ago called "Weapons of Math Destruction" and no, I did not slur or list it is math, M-A-T-H destruction, but O'Neil, you know, outlines the many ways we can hurt customers, we can hurt citizens, by deploying algorithms and AI without thinking through the biases inherent in those programs. Now, I read the book for the first time a couple of years ago and I dismissed O'Neil's wildest fears as a slippery slope argument, unlikely to occur regularly in the real world. Fast forward a couple years now. I'm not so sure.

Think about all the things we've seen over the past year or so with data problems on Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica things and all of these, you know, mini-scandals and mini-crises and some not-so-mini-scandals and not-so-mini-crises that have come about because of how we're using data about customers. There was a really fascinating and thought-provoking piece for Quartz a week ago that explained quote, "everything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason" unquote. And it's really about how they've not looked at the human being. They've not looked at the person. Now, I don't know that I completely agree with, uh, Sonnad's piece. But I do think it's worth thinking about in detail as we go forward.

When we talk about marketing, when we talk about digital, we often talk about who owns the customer. And that's starting to concern me the more I think about it because nobody owns the customer, the customer owns themselves. I think a more important question that we need to start taking a look at is who looks out for the customer? Whose job is it to look after your customer? Whose job is it to think through the implications of what we do in digital and with data? That's true whether you're a quote-unquote digital marketer, whether you're a quote-unquote tradItional marketer or whether, you know, you're just a marketer because really they're the same thing. We need to start thinking about how are we looking out for our customer? How are we taking care of our customer?

I want to be clear. I don't claim to have all the answers here. I think this is a big, huge question that we need to start getting our arms around and I do know that I'm through having a debate about quote-unquote digital versus marketing.

Instead, I think it's time that we start asking the core questions about who serves our customers, who helps them, who looks out for them. That's what's really important. Because ultimately, if we don't take care of our customers, it won't matter if we're in traditional marketing or digital marketing or anything. Because ultimately if we don't take care of our customers, we won't have any customers.

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you, you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that's timpeter.com/podcast, and while you're there, simply click on the links you find to subscribe to us in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. You can also find us on Spotify. And while you're there, please feel free to provide us a rating that tells all your friends and family and fans and followers how much you enjoy Thinks Out Loud every single week. You can also find us on facebook at facebook.com/timpeterassociates on twitter using the twitter handle @tcpeter or on email using the email address podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com. Once again, I'd like to thank our sponsors SoloSegment, that's SoloSegment, who provides site search analytics and AI-driven content discovery to unlock revenue. You can find them solosegment.com.

And with that I want to thank you, especially, for tuning in. I hope you have a really wonderful weekend, an amazing week ahead and I will look forward to speaking with you again here on Thinks Out Loud next week. Until then, take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

August 3, 2018

GE Abandons Digital: Is it Time For You to Give Up Too? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 225)

August 3, 2018 | By | No Comments

GE Abandons Digital: Is it Time For You to Give Up TooLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


GE Abandons Digital: Is it Time For You to Give Up Too? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 225) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 07s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

July 31, 2018

There Are Two Ways To Grow Hotel Direct Business. One Of Them Has A Future

July 31, 2018 | By | No Comments

Grow Hotel Direct Business: Guest searching for hotel reservations Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Here where are in mid-2018, gearing up for our 2019 budget season, and once again everyone’s talking about how important it is to grow hotel direct business and get guests to book direct. Brands are putting increased emphasis on loyalty — or at least on offering heavily discounted rates to guests willing to sign up for their loyalty program. Individual hotels are touting their best rate guarantees — or offering heavily discounted rates… Are you sensing a theme here?

In truth, all this is great. Seriously. I’m absolutely in favor of driving direct business. But too often it’s focused on the booking. And on discounting. We’re spending money to buy the booking. Why aren’t we willing to invest to buy interest earlier in the process? We’ve become so focused on the booking, we sometimes forget how to talk to guests before they’re ready to book.

It’s time to change that reality.

Why OTA’s are Winning

One study shows that guests who start their booking journey on an OTA reserve through OTA’s around 93% of the time. Meaning that guests who start on an OTA will choose to book direct only about 7 times out of 100. By contrast, guests who start on a branded website book direct about 60% of the time (though, admittedly, they may not always choose your property to book direct).

To put it more plainly, guests can’t book direct, ever, if they don’t come to your property or brand website at some point while shopping for travel. Period.

So where’s the investment in attracting guests to visit early in their decision-making process — the dream and plan phases, not just when they’re ready to book.

Think of it this way. A 150-room property selling for $130/night and running at 64% occupancy with an 18% OTA margin — all roughly average in the current market — typically surrenders about $100,000 in topline revenue to OTA’s. How many have demonstrated the willingness to invest a healthy share of that amount in content creation to attract guests early in their browsing, shopping, buying activity? We’ve said for years that content is king; shouldn’t we be more willing to invest in it?

By contrast, that same representative property will generate roughly $900,000 in revenue through its website (assuming industry-average 20% website revenue and giving no credit to web for voice or walk-in). If you include voice and property-direct, those numbers roughly double. How much are you willing to invest to drive that number higher? Would $50k sound too expensive? Remember, that’s still half what you’re already paying OTA’s.

Content Marketing Matters for Hotels

Does this sound crazy to you? Well, here’s a crazy idea for you: Google has announced a new program that brings a professional video director to your business to shoot a video advertisement. The price tag? $350 in YouTube advertising. That’s it. The search giant clearly understands what customers want; those customers literally tell Google what’s important to them millions of times every single day. Do you think Google might know something useful here about customer behavior?

Guests are starved for content about your property, your destination — the attractions, events, shops, festivals, concerts, entertainment and businesses near to you. And the first rule of selling travel to consumers remains “sell the destination first.” Research from Google shows that travelers tend to start their travel planning by searching destination-related terms. This is a huge opportunity to attract guests to you early in their planning, place your property at the center of their consideration set, and then turn them into reservations. But only if you’re willing to make the investment.

Growing Direct Business — Conclusion

Budget season is right around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about where to put your money, where to invest to grow your business next year. This isn’t about building a new website or finding a new booking engine or — heaven help us — planning for a new “closed user group” you can sell your property to more cheaply. This is about investing in “the painting” — your property’s content — not just “the frame.” It’s about telling a story designed to attract and capture interest from potential guests. It’s about getting them to start their journey with your hotel in mind.

Or you could just continue to pay “loyalty” programs and OTA’s and intermediaries to do that for you — to you — again. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Hotel News Now, where Tim Peter writes a regular column for the magazine’s Digital Tech Impact Report.

Tim Peter

By

July 30, 2018

The End of Millennials (Thinks Out Loud Episode 224)

July 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

The End of Millennials (Thinks Out Loud Episode 224)Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


The End of Millennials (Thinks Out Loud Episode 224) – Headlines and Show Notes

Have we reached the end of Millennials as a marketing demographic? No. But if you think about them as adults under forty, you might have a better sense of what they mean to your business. Today’s episode of Thinks Out Loud explores that in detail. And here are the show notes to help you learn even more.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 46s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

July 24, 2018

6 Insights Into How Technology is Changing the Hotel Industry: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

July 24, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


How is technology changing the hotel industry? Abstract view of hotel and tech

Late last year, we took a look at 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018. An overarching theme of the piece was the critical role that technology plays in driving changes in guest behaviors and hotel revenues, especially revenues of the direct booking kind. I suspect that’s a topic still near and dear to your heart and especially important as you start gearing up for next year. Given that, it seems fair to ask, how is technology changing the hotel industry? And how can you use those changes to benefit your hotel?

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at these questions in detail. But here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  1. Key Hotel Technology Stats Worth Watching. Obviously, there’s lots of change going on. How much change? Well, this set of 15 mind-blowing stats about digital trends in travel and hospitality from CMO.com offers critical insights. Among the most interesting?
    • Some 43% of guests use smartphones to research their hotel/accommodations — underscoring why it’s time to stop calling mobile a trend. To be fair, only 25% use their smartphone to book, which signals that the guest experience during booking still needs help. But let’s not forget: With most guests carrying one or more smartphones, tablets, and laptops during their journey, you host more devices each night than guests — and that’s shaping the way they plan, book and experience travel every single day
    • J.D. Power says that hotel mobile apps don’t get downloaded very often, and get used even less for check-ins/checkouts; but guests that use those apps are more satisfied — and more loyal
    • Data from Adobe suggests that half “…of travel and hospitality companies today are gathering and using real-time data”
    • Another Adobe stat says that fewer than one in five “…executives at travel and hospitality brands said they believe their company is a digitally mature organization.” That’s a huge benefit, because it suggests you’ve got plenty of runway to improve relative to your competition — at least if you choose to take advantage of it.
  2. It Ain’t Just About Technology. Sure, technology is important. But it’s secondary. It shouldn’t be a secret that great marketing technology won’t save you from a bad hotel marketing strategy. Your success depends not only on having the right tech, but on having an excellent strategy and effectively executing that strategy. It’s fair to ask, “how important is technology to hospitality marketing?” but if you’re focused solely on the tech, you’ve got your carts and horses the wrong way ’round.
  3. Guests Continue to Take Ownership of their Experience. PhocusWire put together a must-read piece that explains why hotel rooms belong to guests, not hoteliers . As you might imagine, guests have clear expectations of the experience they’re looking for each time they step into “their” room. The technology that they encounter — whether hands-on or through a front-desk agent or concierge — influences their overall guest experience. Guest will remember waiting to check-in, order room service, or schedule a spa treatment because your system is too slow. Similarly, Amazon launched a version of its Alexa system for hotels at HITEC this year, which is particularly interesting given that Booking.com says business travelers are ‘warming’ to chatbots. Your guests are getting accustomed to technology serving their needs. Is your service growing along with them?
  4. Want to Get There Fast? Plenty of Potential Partners Exist. Does all this talk of tech leave you terrified? Well, you don’t have to go it alone. For starters, Skift put together a great round-up of its top travel startups to watch, which can help you figure out the tools and tech to help you excel. While some aren’t yet ready for prime-time, entrants like the (somewhat) more mature Fornova, Journera, and MisterFly might fit nicely into your overall strategy and help your properties get ahead of the curve next year. And, of course, there are plenty of exceptional hotel marketing/distribution consultants and agencies out there who can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together to grow your business.
  5. Troubling Trend: Too Many Hotels Continue to Sit on the Sidelines. You’d think given the facts outlined above that hotel marketers would be racing to assemble that puzzle for themselves. But SiteMinder offers a very thoughtful report showing many hoteliers remain in a ‘holding stage’ assessing the best tech trends. That’s a shame, given how important technology is to your overall hotel marketing and distribution strategy. What are you waiting for? Don’t forget, the OTA’s surely aren’t in a holding pattern. Booking.com went shopping for more metasearch capabilities and landed HotelsCombined to go along with its earlier pickup of Momondo, Cheapflights, and Mundi last year, as well as FareHarbor this April. And Expedia has made a huge move into packages in just the past few weeks with its Add-On Advantage offering. This isn’t about the future. This is about what your guests experience — and expect — right now.
  6. Even More Change is Coming. Finally, don’t forget that the changes in hotel technology we’re all dealing with are just the beginning. Whether it’s virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, AI or something else altogether, the next major disruption is right around the corner. For instance, there are all kinds of reasons why AI will change hospitality marketing forever and why voice, VR, and AR might be more hope than hype in the next few years. Keeping on top of these trends matters. What’s most important is for hoteliers to stay focused on the benefits of digital marketing for their property, and to stay in touch with how digital changes guest expectations and behaviors. Because no matter how much technology changes the hotel industry, your guests will continue to expect a great experience. And that will never change.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success: