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January 18, 2018

5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210)

January 18, 2018 | By | No Comments

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5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210): Company employees reviewing top digital trends

5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210) – 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:

You might also enjoy these past posts:

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: 15m 38s

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

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January 12, 2018

9 Excellent Posts Predicting The Key E-commerce And Digital Strategy Trends For 2018: E-commerce Link Digest

January 12, 2018 | By | No Comments

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The Key E-commerce And Digital Strategy Trends For 2018: Young people browsing on mobile

Hey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’ve had a fantastic week. Before we get too deep into the New Year, let’s take a moment to explore these 9 excellent posts predicting the key e-commerce and digital strategy trends for 2018. Enjoy:

  1. There’s a great piece on Forbes, all about e-commerce In 2018 and what the experts are predicting. Really good stuff.
  2. Meanwhile, Retail Dive lays out their view of the 7 trends that will disrupt and define retail in 2018 for you.
  3. Chief Marketing Technologist outlines 5 Disruptions to Marketing, Part 4: Digital Everything. Long time readers may recognize that as another way of stating, “It’s all e-commerce.”
  4. Social Media Today outlines a great set of 18 digital strategy tips to consider for 2018 that you’ll want to review.
  5. And Fortune has a good look at the technology that will transform our world in 2018.
  6. Of course, it’s not just about the tech. Brand Quarterly quite rightly points out that the digital industry is neglecting soft skills, and it’s a problem, one we can’t continue to ignore.
  7. For starters, how about you take a moment to recognize the 25 women who rock at digital marketing, just like the fine folks at Top Rank Blog did.
  8. For other ways to win, don’t miss these 6 proven digital marketing trends that we recapped on a recent episode of our weekly e-commerce and digital strategy podcast, Thinks Out Loud.
  9. And, finally, if you’re looking for how can you succeed at digital marketing this year, these 17 great posts offer answers. Be sure to check out the whole list.

There you have it folks, 9 excellent posts predicting the key e-commerce and digital strategy trends for 2018. Now go and have a fantastic weekend, Big Thinkers. And we’ll catch you back here next week!

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:

Tim Peter

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January 11, 2018

7 Ways You Can Use AI in B2B Sales and Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 209)

January 11, 2018 | By | No Comments

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7 Ways You Can Use AI in B2B Sales and Marketing: AI in use

7 Ways You Can Use AI in B2B Sales and Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 209) – 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: 12m 32s

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

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January 9, 2018

Why AI Will Change Hospitality Marketing Forever

January 9, 2018 | By | No Comments

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Why AI Will Change Hospitality Marketing Forever: Representative image of AI

Bill Gates once wrote, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” And when it comes to new technologies, many folks ignore both sides of Gates’ statement, only to end up looking silly later. Having said that, let me be clear: artificial intelligence — AI — is going to radically reshape hospitality marketing and our industry at large. Forever. And the companies that use AI effectively are closer to two years away from success than ten.

But to understand why AI will change hospitality marketing forever, we need a bit of context in more detail.

For many of us, our first exposure to AI in the real-world came when IBM’s Watson won “Jeopardy.” That was all the way back in 2011 and the Watson-powered travel startup WayBlazer followed in 2014. That puts us at least three to six years along Bill Gates’ 2 to 10-year curve. And, as with most technology, things speed up the longer they’ve been around. AI isn’t the future. It’s happening all around you right now.

For example, an insurance-industry startup called Lemonade just used AI to set a record for customer service, resolving and paying a claim mere seconds after their customer submitted that claim for consideration. According to Airnguru, Singapore Airlines is already applying AI to its marketing and customer service campaigns to improve profitability and performance. And like Singapore Air, Priceline and Expedia have both announced they’re testing AI-driven solutions to improve their customer service offerings too.

None of this is science fiction. I’m not talking about the “Star Trek” computer or the ship’s android, Data, answering every possible question and solving every possible problem. Those types of AI are called “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), and are probably quite a long ways away, if they’re even possible at all. I’m talking about AI used to solve very specific problems, called “narrow” or “weak” AI. Narrow AI is real. It exists today. In addition to Lemonade and Singapore Airlines, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa represent real-world examples of narrow AI in practice.

More importantly, narrow AI represents to businesses today what the Internet represented in the late 1990’s: A green field of opportunity to reinvent how business works and how you’ll interact with customers in the coming years. As I see it, there are at least four categories where AI will impact your property in the next few years that you must watch:

  1. Search. Google has begun to use AI to determine the highest-quality pages within its search results and will increasingly depend on AI when choosing “the best page” to answer customer questions, especially on voice-driven searches where the search giant can only offer one or two responses.
  2. Analytics and measurement. Data is what makes artificial intelligence, um, intelligent. Machines can’t learn without a healthy diet of data to help them understand how to answer the questions their users pose. But AI’s natural affinity for data also makes it a powerful tool to interpret that information. As I once heard Ed St.Onge from Flip.to remark, “AI makes big data little.” Sophisticated technology players are using AI to comb through massive amounts of data and gain understanding about customers and their journeys that once simply would have been impossible to discover.
  3. Guest experience/personalization. Of course, that measurement then enables better, more personalized experiences to customers. That’s what WayBlazer is working to do, using AI to simplify complicated itineraries for guests. Priceline and Expedia have each announced they’re looking to use AI to improve customer experience. And since better customer experience usually drives greater revenues, that’s something we all should care about.
  4. Pricing. Finally, pricing information represents a very particular form of data that must account for seasonality, competitive pressures, macroeconomic effects, and guest preferences, among others. Today, ill-fitting algorithms may leave money on the table or sacrifice lifetime customer value in favor of a short-term perceived “win.” Over time, AI will enable smarter algorithms that account for all the variables – as well as those we don’t even recognize as factors today – and will present improved pricing alternatives to increase property revenues in both the short and longer-term.

Of course, most hoteliers aren’t going to run right out and start building their very own version of HAL. Instead, here’s what you can do to put AI to work for your property in the near-term:

  • Ensure you’re continuing to develop quality content for your property. One of the most common places you’ll encounter AI over the next few years is within search results on Google and others. As mentioned previously, Google is slowly introducing AI into its algorithm to determine the best answers in search. Over time, its AI won’t have to rely on links and keywords to determine the right answer to searchers’ questions; it will simply know. And, in this case, “the right answer” means a page with high-quality, highly-relevant content that answers guest questions effectively. Imagine asking Siri or Alexa where you should stay tonight, knowing it can only provide a single answer. Does your content help present you in the best possible light? Or does it leave your customers wanting more? If people can’t agree on the best possible answer, no machine ever will. Help make that machine’s job easier by providing all the information necessary to answer guest questions. Even better, this will help with how you perform in search today while also setting you up for the future.
  • Ask your vendors about their plans for using AI. Airbnb, Expedia, Priceline and others are already looking at how to use AI to improve customer experience and drive more business. Your vendors need to help you compete with those experiences and deliver on guest needs. While your vendors don’t need to have fully-baked solutions today, they must prepare for the future. If AI isn’t on their radar at all they’re creating problems for their business down the road – and for yours.
  • Stay on the lookout for potential threats from new entrants. Most hotel companies failed to recognize how new players would leverage the Internet fifteen years ago to attract, convert, and retain guests, an oversight whose effects we continue to feel today. AI represents a similar situation. While it’s far too soon to predict who will emerge as the dominant players – in the Internet era, Travelocity and Yahoo predated Expedia and Google for instance – it’s not too soon to keep an eye for who’s shaping the dialogue and direction AI will take. Pay attention to how AI continues to evolve to protect your property’s position in the longer-term.

Again, it’s easy to overestimate how much change we’ll see in the next two years here. But it’s far more dangerous for your business to underestimate changes over the next ten. AI isn’t science-fiction or fantasy. It’s reality. Companies have started to use AI to connect with customers and create memorable experiences. And, ultimately, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as hoteliers? The machines won’t win. But the people who use those machines most effectively will. And that’s a prediction that’s always been true.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

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

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January 7, 2018

8 Amazing Posts That Explore How AI Will Affect the Travel Industry: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

January 7, 2018 | By | No Comments

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How AI will affect the travel industry: Woman in self-driving car

Hey, Big Thinkers! So, with all the buzz around artificial intelligence in sales and marketing, you’re probably wondering AI will affect the travel industry this year — and beyond. To help you get your arms around the topic, we’ve put together this great list of 8 amazing posts that explore how AI will affect the travel industry for you. Enjoy:

  1. The Washington Post makes its Hospitality Marketing Link Digest debut with a list of travel industry trends in 2018 that you’ll want to know about.
  2. One of the biggest trends we’ll see this year is AI. And the fine folks at Koddi takes a good look at how AI is changing the travel industry. Don’t miss it.
  3. Datafloq also looks explores artificial intelligence in travel and has a great look at how AI will affect the travel industry that’s worth your time.
  4. Worried about how these changes will affect your team — or your job? A recent Skift post argues that the modern concierge is too skilled to be made redundant by technology. Maybe. But as our own Tim Peter talked about on our Thinks Out Loud podcast recently, AI won’t steal your job: smart people who put AI to work will. Make sure to give the whole episode a listen.
  5. Case in point, Tnooz reports that Air Canada is working to improve customer relationships via artificial intelligence. Expect a lot more of this to come.
  6. And if you’re worried that it’s too early — or too late — to get on-board, first, just remember that AI makes big data little and that we could all use more help there. Second, whether it’s AI, or whatever the next big thing may be, you really don’t want to wait to use emerging tech to market your hotel.
  7. Similarly, putting AI to work for your property is both critical for your long-term success and isn’t as hard as you might thing. As Tim points out in a recent Hotel News Now column, with preparation and foresight, the machines won’t win.
  8. Finally, it isn’t just AI that’s affecting the travel industry. That’s why you owe it to yourself to check out these 7 must-see posts highlighting how to market your hotel in the future. You’ll be glad you did.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

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January 5, 2018

AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will (Thinks Out Loud Episode 208)

January 5, 2018 | By | No Comments

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AI won't steal your job; smart people using AI will: Man interacting with artificial intelligence


AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will (Thinks Out Loud Episode 208) – 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 39s

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.

AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will – Transcription

AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will – Introduction

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 Thursday, January 4, 2018 and this is episode 208 of the big show. Thank you so much for tuning and again I really do appreciate it. I think we’ve got really really great show for you.

AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will – Overview

Just before I took a break for the holidays, I recorded an episode called “Will this be the year of AI in digital marketing?” and I got an email from Dave in Orlando — Hi Dave, thanks for emailing — who is the head of sales for company. And he said that AI might be fine for marketing, and it might be fine especially for digital marketing, but it really doesn’t play a big role in sales. Or he really doesn’t see how it plays a role in sales. Because so much of what he does, so much what his team does is, about relationships. It’s about getting to know customers. It’s about spending time with them, building this really, really great relationship that enables you to close the sale. And, obviously, in B2B, it’s very true that relationships play a huge role in this — and likely will for a long time to come. It’s not terribly likely that we just can, in a really complex B2B type sale, say just go put this in your shopping cart or just let the AI handle it. At least not right away.

So, Dave, I agree with you completely on that part. I also think we want to take a step back and talk about what is the threat to you. What is the thing that really might cause you some concern? Because the fact is AI probably isn’t going to steal your job; however, smart people who’re making use of AI and who know how to use AI probably will steal your job and probably will steal your customers.

How AI is Changing Your Job Right Now

Now I want to take a big step back for a moment before I explain why this is, because there are a lot of moving pieces to this. A few weeks back I did an episode that asked the question “Will AI kill your brand?” I did another episode over a year ago that talk about “Voice, VR, AR, and AI and whether they were hype or hope.” And one of the first things I want people to be aware is AI is real, it exists today, it’s something that people make use of every day. You can make use of it right now.

AI is an enormous part of the way Google’s algorithm works and it’s an enormous part of the way YouTube’s algorithm works and it’s an enormous part of the way Facebook’s algorithm works. And if you think that Google and Facebook, for instance are putting a lot of effort into this for no particular reason, I would encourage you to think about that just a little bit differently. Think about all the ways we try to anticipate and analyze and adapt on behalf of our customers every day. Think about how often you do. There’s a lot you need to know about your customer. And a lot of that, a lot of those items that you know really is about data. now you might remember from some past episodes we had one called “why data matters for marketers” and even more importantly the one that was called “AI for marketers: AI makes big data little.” So there are three for four different areas that I can think of off the top of my head where in the sales today — and in marketing and operations and lots of other areas — you rely upon data.

For starters, think about lead scoring models: How effective is your lead scoring today? How quickly are you able to adapt that lead scoring to the needs of customers as they change? Do you understand all the inputs? Do you have a good sense of what actually drives people to make a purchase decision or to engage with you as they go forward?

Think about your content marketing: When you provide content to a customer — and I want to be really clear about this — if you’re a salesperson and you’re sending an email to a customer, do you know that that email is effective? Do you know that that email works? And when you think about your CRM tools, how do you know when it’s most appropriate to contact the customer? How do you know when it’s the best time to reach them? Or actually get them at the moment of need?

Now today we’re relying a lot on data analytics, and when I say today I mean if we look back over the last 10 years or so, there’s been an immense amount of focus around the data and analytics to make your lead scoring work better, to understand how people are engaging with your content, to look at your CRM and see if it is in fact helping drive people down the path.

How AI Might Steal Your Job

But what we see again and again and again as I go in to work with companies, as people I talk to work with companies, etc. we see this problem of they don’t really have a good sense of what data matters or which touch points played a significant role in terms of moving the customer further down the purchase path. That’s a really, really tough problem to figure out. When I should talk to my customer. When I should reach out to them. And with what message. Now smart salespeople do this really well today. They kind of get it intuitively. But they’re not perfect. We all know that, right? There is not a salesperson out there has a close rate of a hundred percent. And if you have one that does, that salesperson is not charging enough. Fundamentally if everyone says “yes” to your product, you’re probably not pricing it correctly.

There’s an opportunity here to understand what’s really working and what’s really helping customers connect with us in a way that says, yeah, this actually solves the problem, this actually helps them make the decision to buy from you. Now that’s where AI is going to play a big role. We’re not suddenly going to turn over sales and marketing operations and everything else to machines. We’re going to have people who understand how to make use of those machines to achieve the right business outcomes, to move people further down the purchase path. To get them to pick up the phone and call you. Or get them to reply to your email. Or get them to text or reach out to one of your salespeople to schedule that next dialogue. And that’s really where the threat — if we can call it that — of AI comes into play for people who are on the sales side or on the operations side. Because worrying about AI instead of seeing it as an opportunity is probably a mistake. When I’m in board rooms talking to C-level folks, they’re all talking about, “what is our company’s AI strategy?” And so the question I have for you is what you is yours? There are tools out there right now. So IBM makes a tool that they called Tone Analyzer that you can test right now. You go out there — I’ll put a link to the show notes — that will allow you to put in a whole bunch of text and it will tell you here’s how people are likely to respond to you, here’s how they are likely to feel after they read that message.

If you think about it, that’s a really powerful powerful tool, because it helps us understand, “yes, this is how we can expect our customers to respond when we say something.” Are we going to inspire them? Are we going to cause them fear? Are we going to make them feel more passionate or joyful about how we might be able to help them? Any of those can be really powerful emotions to move a customer closer to sale. Obviously that’s just a demo. But where that gets really interesting is when you take the data that says, “Wow! We saw people open that email. We saw people return that voicemail. We saw people get in touch with us after we left him a message.” And we use that to feed into the AI from all of our salespeople and show, yeah, this is really working — and build that into the CRM — then you’re going to see immense change. And we’re all ready starting to see it. Because Dave is right in his question: AI isn’t going to steal your job, not by itself. That’s not, we’re not there yet. You’re absolutely right. Dave’s question is spot on. But smart salespeople who know how to use AI to identify prospects and tailor messages to where they are in their buyers journey might steal your job — and frankly probably will. Smart marketers who know how to use AI to make their marketing more effective and more engaging will steal your job. Smart leaders who know how to use AI to identify talent and trends will steal your job. That’s the reality of where we are today. So the reality is AI won’t steal your job; but, smart people who put AI to work will. But only if you let them.

AI Won’t Steal Your Job: Smart People Who Put AI to Work Will – Closing

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I would like to remind you that 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. Just look for episode 208. And while you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to you in your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music Store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or plain old Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those. And if you can provide a positive rating on iTunes for the Google Play Store while you’re there, I would really really appreciate it. You can also contact me by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates, on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or just like Dave did, by email by sending an email to podcast@TimPeter.com. Again that is podcast@TimPeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again to him, it is very very much appreciated. I hope you have a great weekend, a great week ahead, and I will look forward to catching up with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then, take care everybody.

Tim Peter

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December 21, 2017

Will This Be The Year of AI in Digital Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 207)

December 21, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Will This Be The Year of AI in Digital Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 207)

Will This Be The Year of AI in Digital Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 207) – 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 15s

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

December 20, 2017

10 Tremendous Insights Into the Trends Driving Hotel Digital Marketing in 2018: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

December 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Trends Driving Hotel Digital Marketing: Guest shopping on tablet for hotel direct booking

We’re coming up on the end of a big year, Big Thinkers, filled with fascinating news and insights affecting distribution, digital marketing, and the overall hospitality landscape. To help you make sense of it all, here are 10 tremendous insights into the trends driving hotel digital marketing in 2018. Enjoy:

  1. One of the top posts of the past year explored why Airbnb keeps winning at hospitality. In many ways it builds on a top post from last year that asked, what business is Airbnb in? Hotels? Or hospitality? Both posts are definitely worth your time as we continue to deal with Airbnb’s place in the hospitality ecosystem.
  2. It seems a bit weird to include a round-up post in… a round-up post, but these 9 popular hotel marketing and distribution posts for you from earlier this year were simply too, well, popular and important insights into the trends shaping next year to leave out.
  3. Artificial intelligence undoubtedly represents one of the key trends to watch as we head into the New Year. Which is why you need to check out this look at how to make AI work for successful hotel marketing and AI for marketing: AI makes big data little. Both are well worth your time.
  4. Of course, AI isn’t the only big trend coming in 2018. That’s why you owe it to yourself to review these 7 must-see posts highlighting how to market your hotel in the future.
  5. While it isn’t a new trend, these 8 posts highlighting the growth of mobile in travel marketing certainly call attention to one of the most important trends you’ll face in the New Year.
  6. And yet another “holdover” trend examines the single most effective way to improve your brand’s marketing. Simply must-see.
  7. With slowing growth due to market saturation, the OTA’s certainly aren’t sitting on the sidelines through all these changes. That’s why this report from Tnooz that Expedia has set its sights on legacy tech with ambitious ‘travel platform’ for hotels is so noteworthy. So is this post that examines Airbnb and Expedia, execs answering 10 pressing questions. Ultimately, it’s a key reminder of this Warning: OTA’s want to own your guests every step of the way.
  8. In the escalating war of words we’re seeing with OTA’s vs. brands, the fact that OTA’s say hotel companies are just as bad for consumers as… OTA’s(?!?) was definitely one of the weirder things we saw all year.
  9. While we’re on the topic, you might also want to check out these 8 insights into OTA’s, personalization, and your overall digital strategy. Seriously good stuff there.
  10. And, finally, with the rate of change, it’s understandable that when it comes to hospitality digital marketing and distribution, you might ask, “Is it time to give up?” We’d say, “No.” Now go check out the whole post to see why.

Well, there you have it, Big Thinkers. Another year in the books. 2017 has been an amazing year for us here at Tim Peter & Associates, and a great one overall for our clients. We’re incredibly grateful for all the good fortune that has come our way. Hope the same has been true for you too. And keep checking back all next year (or subscribe to receive updates here). There’s a lot more to come as we head into 2018.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

Finally, you will definitely want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your hotel, including:

Tim Peter

By

December 15, 2017

9 Amazing Posts Connecting AI And Marketing: E-commerce Link Digest

December 15, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Connecting AI and marketing: AI evaluating customers

Howdy, Big Thinkers! So, AI is kind of a big deal for marketers as we head into next year, right? How about we help you understand the role it will play in your marketing with this quick look at 9 amazing posts connecting AI and marketing? Enjoy:

  1. Starting things off, Brand Quarterly explains that AI is about to change what it means to be brand – here’s how to prepare.
  2. Changes are coming? But how bad will they be? A recent episode of Thinks Out Loud, our weekly e-commerce and digital strategy podcast asks, “Will AI Kill Your Brand?”
  3. While we’re on the topic of brands, another Thinks Out Loud episode looked at what digital means for the future of brands and is worth a listen too.
  4. Brand Quarterly has another great post called “Disruption Imminent: Artificial Intelligence In Business” that explores how AI will shape business more fully.
  5. Clearly, this topic is close to our hearts here at Thinks, and we’ve done couple of deeper dives in podcast episodes that asked, “Voice, VR, AR, and AI: Hype or Hope for Marketers?” and “What Digital Marketing Trends Matter?”
  6. The venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has an amazing video that explains what’s working and what’s not when it comes to AI that you have to see.
  7. On a highly-related note, the Wall Street Journal outlined the six laws of technology everyone should know.
  8. Yet another episode of Thinks Out Loud explained that when it comes to “AI For Marketers: AI Makes Big Data Little.” Be sure to check it out.
  9. Finally, I’d recommend you close out this look at 10 amazing posts connecting AI and marketing by reviewing “How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing Next Year? 17 Great Posts Offer Answers” and “6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud.” You’ll be glad you did.

Have a fantastic weekend, Big Thinkers. Catch you back here next week!

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:

Tim Peter

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December 14, 2017

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands (Thinks Out Loud Episode 206)

December 14, 2017 | By | No Comments

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What Digital Means for the Future of Brands (Thinks Out Loud Episode 206) – Headlines and Show Notes

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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: 15m 34s

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What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – Thinks Out Loud Episode 206 (December 14, 2017) Transcript

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – Introduction

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 Thursday, December 14, 2017 and this is episode 206 of the big show. Thank you so much for tuning in. I really do appreciate you hanging with me during the last handful of weeks. The show's been a little bit more irregular, but I will be back next week, then will be off the week after that — I’ll be taking a break for Christmas — and then starting up again full-time in the New Year with weekly episodes coming to you, so I appreciate you hanging around. I appreciate you coming back and listening to the show; I’m just really happy that you're here.

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – Overview

Now I think we’ve got a really interesting show this week. There's some really cool stuff to talk about. And I want to start by talking about a bunch of random companies that have something in common. You may not have realized it, maybe you did, but you know if you haven’t, just think this through for second. Think about companies like eBay or Etsy or Yelp or Uber or Airbnb. What they all share in common is that they’re all ratings platform. They allowed people to post ratings and reviews and the like that makes it clear whether you want to do business with the person on the other side of that market. And I think that's critically important to understand in terms of how you're going to market your brand and how you market your business as you go forward into 2018 and beyond because, fundamentally, what were seeing from people like eBay, Easy, Yelp, Uber, Airbnb, and others is that they're going to destroy brands, at least in the traditional sense. At their most basic they’re challenging what the purpose of the brand is, what brands do for customers. And that's really important understand.

Now you've probably heard David Ogilvy's famous quote, “a brand is a promise.” You may even have heard it here; it's one that I’ve referred to many times. It’s such a crucial insight about why brands exist. Brands served as a proxy for trust. If you go back to some idyllic, 1950’s holiday with the family driving along Route 66 wouldn’t know where to eat, sleep, or get gasoline once they ventured too far from home. They only knew the products and the services in their local area. But if you put a McDonald's or Ramada or a Phillips 66 along the highway, the family was quite literally good to go.

Today? Your brand is only as good as your last review.

Were those products or those services luxurious? No. But that wasn't the point. They were consistent. The brand provided a proxy for trust. You didn't need to care about the individual restaurant, or the individual hotel, or the individual gas station. You could trust the brand. Again in Ogilvy’s terms, “a brand is a promise.”

Today? Well your brand is only as good as your last review.

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – The Importance of Reviews

A generation ago, would you have willingly gotten into a stranger's car when he pulled up in front of you at the airport, or slept in someone else's home who you had never met, or — and credit where due to eBay here — bought someone’s used junk over the Internet? How could you be sure you’d receive the goods or the seller wouldn’t just take off of with your money or, God forbid, with the car or the house, something really terrible wouldn't have happened to you? If you think about things like classified ads or even Craigslist, they really just served a local area and depended on face-to-face interactions to complete the transaction.

Yes, you could get a lot of details, but once it was time to buy, you typically met with somebody face-to-face. And to be fair, things like vacation rentals have existed for years, but they really only represented a sliver of the market.

But now there are companies like Airbnb, companies like Uber, companies like Yelp and they’re becoming the dominant players in their respective industries. And if you think about the larger players the AGFAM folks (or, if you prefer, the “Frightful Five,”) Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, a lot of their success depends on that same thing.

If you think about Amazon, first as a bookstore and now as this complete e-commerce platform with independent sellers, fundamentally it depends on its ratings and reviews. eBay may have laid the groundwork but Amazon undoubtedly owns that space today. If you think about the Apple App Store or Google Play store, they serve very much the same function for apps or, oh I don't know, podcasts and things along those lines. You know, if you're like most people, if you're looking for a new utility to improve your productivity or or you're looking for something to provide you entertainment and information, I suspect you venture to the appropriate app store, you conduct a quick search, and then you choose the highest-rated app, or the highest-rated podcast, or the highest-rated movie or TV show that meets your needs. And we’re seeing this start to completely upend the traditional brand landscape that we've known for years.

For instance, take a look at McDonald’s. Now they’ve been having some troubles lately, and it's certainly true that healthier eating habits have taken a toll on the restaurant giant. But there's also no question that Yelp also did a number on Mickey D’s. Why would you choose the same old burger and fries when you have other healthier, tastier options and support some local business as well? To McDonald's credit they’re working really hard to revitalize their offerings and to make them more attractive to diners. And they’re starting to see some positive results. But there's little doubt in my mind that the local review scene has absolutely caused them some issues.

We talked about some of this a few weeks back in the episode “Customer Experience is Queen, What Does That Mean?” because it really impacts how people perceive your products and services and brings others to the fore who might have been seen as a competitor before.

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – Impacts to Business Models

It's also changing business models dramatically. Now I think most longtime listeners know I do a fair bit of work in the hospitality industry and there's a very stark example there. In the hospitality industry we’re seeing a lot of what are called soft brands, where hotel owners use the platform provided by major chains but not the brand itself.

So most of these hotels tend to be franchised and instead of opening a new Marriott Hotel a real estate investor would open an independent hotel, call it whatever they want — the New York City Excelsior, right? — but they receive some support from Marriott behind the scenes. Almost every major hotel hotel chain has launched one or more of these over the last few years. Hilton with its Curio Collection and The Tapestry Collection, and Marriott with the Autograph Collection, the Luxury Collection, and the Tribute Portfolio have five between the two of them. Why? Because hotel owners demanded the ability to create a distinct experience in their local markets while still having access to the rewards programs that are so prominent and so powerful within the hospitality and lodging industries.

The question is how long will it be before that's all Marriott, Hilton, and their competitors provide to hotel owners at all — or worse find that technology platforms like Expedia, Airbnb, and others have taken their place?

You know, years ago these two authors, Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, a couple of economists, wrote this wonderful and extraordinary book called Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy and they explained that digital only provides two avenues for success:

  1. You can either become the dominant firm in an industry or,
  2. You can become a differentiated product

But anything else is gonna hurt you. Ben Thompson at Stratechery calls it aggregation theory, it really leads to the dominant firm. They're all saying similar things and all the data that we've seen in the two decades since Shapiro and Varian wrote the book seriously suggests they were right. Though if you think about it that probably shouldn't come as a surprise. Shapiro holds an economics chair at Berkeley and Varian is the chief economist for a small firm you might've heard of called Google. So maybe these two guys were onto something.

But it comes back to something we've talked about in past episodes like “Customer Experience is Queen,” that you must differentiate yourself — especially if you're not in a position to be the dominant firm. And when we think about the folks who are the dominant firms, what they're doing is providing that platform that says these are the trusted reviews, these are the people you can trust, to say yes you can buy through us to get the product or the service that you're looking for. And that's why people like Amazon and Apple and Etsy and Yelp and Airbnb and Uber and Expedia and all the rest have positioned themselves so well. Because customers know they can trust the reviews there and then they can buy through those channels.

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – What You Can Do

For you to succeed you have to be the kind of place that people want to write reviews about. You have to differentiate yourself. You have to say why is it someone would choose you in the first place and why would they would choose to tell their friends and family and fans and followers on social. Because if you don't do that, you’ll fall into that gray area in the middle and let me tell you that gray area in the middle is not a good place to be.

So when we think about the future of brands, when we think about the future of your brand, it really can come down to are you remarkable? Are you a brand worth telling others about? If you are, you’re going to be fine regardless of who the dominant firms are because customers will see that in the ratings and reviews that they see. They may buy the first time through a third-party, but you can convert them to a direct customer on a subsequent purchase. But if you're not they're going to choose you in the first place and that's going to put you in a very very ugly position. So I can't say for hundred percent sure that these these platforms, these trust proxies will kill all brands. But if you don't provide your customers with an experience that is truly remarkable and truly differentiated, it's a real safe bet that they will kill yours.

What Digital Means for the Future of Brands – Conclusion

Now looking at the clock on the wall we are out of time for this week. I will remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast again that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for Episode 206. And while you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have this delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music Store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or plain old Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those. And especially given the topic we've been talking about today, if you could provide a positive rating on iTunes or the Google Play Store while you're there I would really really appreciate it. You can also contact me by going to Facebook.com/Tim PeterAssociates, on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or via email by emailing podcast@TimPeter.com, again that's podcast@TimPeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again for tuning in, I very, very much appreciate it. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, a great week ahead, and I look forward to catching up with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then, take care everybody.