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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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October 16, 2016

6 Crucial Insights Into the Future of Travel Marketing: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

October 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

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


6 Crucial Insights Into the Future of Travel Marketing

Hey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having a great week and that you won’t mind if we skip any setup this week in favor of taking you straight to this round-up of 6 crucial insights into the future of travel marketing. Enjoy:

  1. Duetto’s Ed Watkins talked with Cindy Estis Green, CEO and co-founder of Kalibri Labs, about “The Rise of Hotel Metasearch and Its Effect on Distribution.” I agree with a number of Cindy’s conclusions (though I think the focus on “metasearch” as it’s commonly defined is overblown). But in particular think this is the key quote that many hospitality marketers must listen to: “A lot of it has to do with consumer demand. Everybody wants things on their mobile devices.” As Bill Hunt has said, “Customers are the ultimate disruptors.”
  2. You can see one clear example of customers as the ultimate disruptors in the rise of Airbnb. As a new report from the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University shows, “Airbnb Guests Tend to Be Motivated by Low Cost and Use It as a Hotel Substitute.” That’s not driven by a specific Airbnb technology. It’s driven by customer behavior. And Airbnb gets it, “Rolling Out a New Homepage, Focused On Experiences” as All About Airbnb reports. I’ve mentioned before that independent hotels are safe from Airbnb but only as long as they compete on their terms, not Airbnb’s. Airbnb is undoubtedly entering the hospitality business. As long as hotel owners and operators continue to focus on experience, on trust, on hospitality, they’ll do just fine. Which makes this next news item particularly disturbing…
  3. Want to know how to lose in the coming world? Create “Hotels Without Humans,” which are coming. But as writer Arnie Weissmann notes, “…wouldn’t a key benefit of technology — consistency — commoditize service standards and erode loyalty?” Yep. Totally. The companies that win in the future will be those that best manage the integration of technology and human service.
  4. Does all this sound like science fiction to you? Well, according to Expedia, “The Future Of Travel Looks Like Science Fiction” with tools like bots, AI, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and wearables playing increasing roles in the overall travel experience. And it’s not over yet.
  5. All of these changes can certainly make you ask, “Is Travel Marketing More Frustrating Than Ever?” I strongly believe that the answer should be “no,” but fully understand at the same time why it’s not “absolutely not.” Two tips: One, remember that your mantra for digital should always be “we can figure this out;” and, two, plenty of resources exist to help you keep up with technology as a marketer — including our blog and newsletter.
  6. With that in mind, be sure to check out these “8 Outstanding Lessons from the 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference” and this set of “6 Quick Hotel Distribution and Digital Marketing Insights” from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series that demonstrate exactly what I’m talking about.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my 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

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September 16, 2016

10 Terrific E-commerce and Digital Customer Experience Insights: E-commerce Link Digest

September 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

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


10 Terrific E-commerce and Digital Customer Experience Insights: Woman checking out at store with mobile

Howdy, Big Thinkers! No fancy setup this week. Instead just a quick list of 10 terrific e-commerce and digital customer experience insights to carry you through the weekend. Enjoy:

  1. A recent episode of Thinks Out Loud, our weekly e-commerce and digital strategy podcast, looked at “What Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Can Teach You About Digital Marketing.” Which, to be fair, is mostly about disruption. As Bezos once famously said, “Your margin is my opportunity.” The key is to ensure he doesn’t disrupt you.
  2. While we’re talking about Amazon, Business Insider reported that “Amazon Plans to Open up to 100 Pop-Up Stores in US Shopping Malls by Next Year” to shorten the time it takes to put products in their customers’ hands. This is a really big deal, actually, as it helps Amazon solve for the “last mile” and same-day delivery problem.
  3. And, on a highly-related note, the Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article that shows “E-Commerce Is a Boon for Rural America, but It Comes With a Price.” Very interesting read.
  4. One last Amazon story from Bloomberg says that “Amazon Wants Live Sports Streaming Rights.” This is likely a sign of how important Amazon consider Prime membership to its business since, according to GeekWire, “members spend $1,500 a year on average, compared to non-members who spend about $625 a year.” I’d be investing like crazy in content too.
  5. Shifting gears ever so slightly, Econsultancy has a great piece that asks “How Can Retailers Create More Engaging Mobile Experiences In-Store?” Very well worth your time.
  6. Speaking of customer experience, McKinsey created “The CEO Guide to Customer Experience” that you’ll want to check out — and that you’ll want to share with your CEO.
  7. Continuing with this theme, another recent episode of Thinks Out Loud asked “Is Customer Experience the Future of E-commerce?” The quick answer is “yes,” but be sure to give a listen to the whole thing to see how it applies in your world.
  8. Of course, getting customer experience right takes some work. As CMS Wire just said “Digital Customer Experience Isn’t Child’s Play. Just Ask Lego.” Good stuff.
  9. Another Thinks Out Loud episode explained “How to Connect Customer Data and Customer Experience” in some detail. Be sure to give it a listen.
  10. Finally, let’s wrap up this list of 10 terrific e-commerce and digital customer experience insights with one last Thinks Out Loud entry on this same topic claimed “The Future of Digital Arrived Last Week.” Why not give it a listen to see what that means for you?

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

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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August 28, 2016

7 Surprising Hotel Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

August 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

Want to drive more direct bookings to your hotel? Click here to learn more


7 Surprising Hotel Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link DigestHey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having a fantastic late summer weekend, enjoying some quality time with friends and family. As you get ready for a big week ahead, be sure to check out these 7 surprising hotel marketing insights from the past week. Enjoy:

  1. Tnooz talks with the founders of ALICE, who think hotel operations could learn from innovation in other industries. (I’ve met with company founder Alex Shashou and agree they’re onto something here).This exchange highlights their point of view on why service matters brilliantly:

    “Alex: Have you ever given a TripAdvisor review?
    Tnooz: Yup.
    Alex: Did you write about your booking experience?
    Tnooz: No, I wrote about the service at the property.”

  2. Fox News makes its first appearance here in the Link Digest, asking “Are Travelers Losing the Hotel Booking Wars?” Um… yes. Yes, they are.
  3. Why are travelers losing the hotel booking wars? Well, for starters check out “OTA’s vs. Chain Brands: Expedia Comes Out Swinging.”
  4. If you want to help travelers win instead — to say nothing of your property — be sure to check out these “3 Myths About Hotel Direct Revenue You Must Stop Believing.”
  5. You’re not just competing with OTA’s anymore, of course. According to HotelMarketing.com, “Airbnb Is On Pace to Become World’s 4th Largest Online Travel Company.” That’s worth paying attention to as we go forward.
  6. Speaking of Airbnb, this recent post asks “What Business Is Airbnb In? Hotels? Or Hospitality?” Check it out when you get a chance to see why that matters for your property.
  7. Finally, don’t miss these “8 Outstanding Insights: the Top Travel Marketing Posts of Summer, 2016” and these “21 Can’t Miss Travel Marketing Insights: The Top Posts of 2016 (So Far)” for more insights to help you manage your business heading into fall.

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from my 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

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May 23, 2016

VR, AI, and UX: 7 Posts Highlighting Top Trends for 2016

May 23, 2016 | By | No Comments

VR, AI, and UX: 7 Posts Highlighting Top Trends for 2016

Hope you’re having a great start to your week, Big Thinkers. To make it even more successful, you might want to learn about VR, AI, and UX with these 7 posts highlighting top trends for 2016. Enjoy:

  1. Cnet talks with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai about his AI vision, summing up what Pichai expects AI to do as, “Hi. How can I help?” Google’s taking a huge step towards the next version of the Internet — or at least what one future might look like — where voice and VR replace keyboards and screens. They’re clearly stepping deeper into virtual reality and messaging (a subject I’m still bullish about), which signals how seriously the search giant takes this shift. One reason you ought to believe them? Well, Google says 20% of mobile queries are now voice searches. And that number’s only going to grow.
  2. A report from Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger quotes Google’s Diane Greene as saying both Google and Amazon Web Services can win in this new cloud-based version of computing and the Internet, further underscoring exactly how big this all might become.
  3. As Greene notes, Amazon’s hardly out of the game. In fact, Joshua Jamerson writes over at the Wall Street Journal that Amazon’s expanding its restaurant delivery to New York and Dallas, getting deeper into the overall customer experience. [Editor’s note: Copy and paste the title of the WSJ piece into Google if you get blocked by — and don’t want to deal with — the Journal’s paywall.]
  4. In fact, if we look at what’s holding mobile commerce back, it seems ever more likely that customer experience plays a critical role. Melissa Gonzalez offers some thoughts over at PSFK on how brands can build human connections that’s well worth reading.
  5. One way you can absolutely help your customers is with a deeper investment into content marketing since we’re all publishers now. You might also want to make room for mobile video to help tell your brand’s story and answer your customers’ key questions. However, be aware that some data shows there’s little consumer interest in paying for ad-free digital content (see my tip for bypassing the Journal’s paywall as just one example). But, again, I think the issue is more one of quality and experience than willingness to pay. Customers usually don’t mind opening their wallet for things they value. The key is giving them something to value in the first place.
  6. Another struggle you’ll want to watch out for is the increasing challenge and cost of finding the right resources for your digital marketing initiatives. Recent research from eMarketer highlights that marketers still struggle balancing marketing technology tools and talent. We’ve got some experience in this area here, so feel free to drop me a line if you’d like some help.
  7. Finally, you might find these 11 data-driven marketing insights from last week a great asset to build on these trends and start your week off right.

If you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, be sure and 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

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

By

March 23, 2016

Why Digital Demands Personalization and Customer Focus (Thinks Out Loud Episode 157)

March 23, 2016 | By | No Comments

Why Digital Demands Personalization and Customer Focus (Thinks Out Loud Episode 157)

Why Digital Demands Personalization and Customer Focus (Thinks Out Loud Episode 157) – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded at the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, using an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 53s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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January 20, 2016

Driving Seamless Experiences in 2016 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 149)

January 20, 2016 | By | No Comments

Driving Seamless Experiences in 2016 (Thinks Out Loud Podcast Episode 149)

Driving Seamless Experiences in 2016 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 149) – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 7s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

By

August 20, 2015

What Do Your Customers Really Know About You? – Thinks Out Loud Episode 134

August 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

What Do Your Customers Really Know About You? - Thinks Out Loud Episode 134

What Do Your Customers Really Know About You? – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about how to lead mobile-focused digital transformation within large organizations (a topic we’ve been talking about a fair bit lately). Here are the slides for your reference:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 47s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

By

July 20, 2015

5 Warning Signs That Your Website Sucks

July 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

Does your website suck? Does it meet your customers' needs?Does your website suck? I’m not asking to be mean. Really. Building a website that meets the needs of your business and your customers is a tricky balancing act. You want to project a robust, yet friendly brand. You want to make sure the site is usable, but also good looking. You want to promote your company without getting in your customers’ way. You need to represent the needs of disparate internal stakeholders, but you don’t want to drive the design and functionality based on your org chart. You want Google, Bing, and other search engines to find your site and boost its rankings in their results. You want your customers to like, link, and share your content with their friends, family, fans, and followers among their various social networks. And, of course, you want it to look world-class without breaking your budget.

Sounds simple, right?

Well… not really. While no one set of tips and tricks guarantees a perfect site designed to achieve an optimal balance among these disparate demands, a few best practices can ensure your site works well in most cases. If your site exhibits more than one of these common warning signs, it’s a pretty good indication your website sucks. Here’s what those warning signs are —and how you can prevent them.

Meager Images

Does your website offer clear, crisp images, designed to work well on “Retina-caliber” displays? Do those images show your product and services clearly? Or do your customers have to lean in close and reach for reading glasses every time they want to see a picture (even if they don’t wear glasses)? On the web today, a picture is worth a thousand words. Poor quality, low resolution images — or too few images overall — make it difficult for your customers to truly see what they’re buying when they buy from you. Invest in high-quality, high-resolution images that illustrate your offering clearly. Google’s recent emphasis on images in search, including Carousel and Business View underscore how seriously the search giant takes images as part of the overall consumer experience. And don’t forget the move towards image-sharing in social, including Instagram, Pinterest, and, yes, even Twitter (images are proven to make social posts more shareable). Your customers value images. Make sure your site does too.

Poor Mobile Experience

OK. Before you read any further, grab your mobile phone (or open a new tab if you’re reading this on mobile), and navigate to your website. What does it look like? Can you read the text? Do the images appear clearly? Can your customers find key calls-to-action like your address, phone number, or add-to-cart? No? Well, you’re not alone. Research from Foresee Results (highlighted here) shows that “…functionality on mobile apps and sites was the area for biggest improvement across… mobile retailers” and that “…mobile is affecting direct sales contribution and purchases in other channels, too.” Those effects can be negative, too, if your customers can’t find what they’re looking for when on their mobile device. Responsive sites rank better for SEO, usually cost less to maintain than a dedicated mobile site, and, as a general rule, work better across a wider range of devices. Oh, and they help your customers, too. What’s not to love?

No Web Analytics

An old consulting saw states, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Time and again I see companies running their websites without any web analytics in place. Which means, of course, that they’re not really managing their sites. They’re just guessing what customers care about — or don’t. If your site lacks analytics, take a few minutes and have your administrator at least place tags for Google Analytics on your site. Today. Once you’re able to measure, you’ll be able to manage your site so much more effectively. And you’ll begin to put your site to work for your business more effectively too. What should you measure? Well, I’m glad you asked… High Bounce Rate Bounce rate is what happens when customers view a single page on your site without drilling deeper into your information. A high bounce rate is the kiss of death for most businesses, as it means your website wasn’t good enough to answer your customers’ questions without leaving them looking for a better answer — especially if they look to a competitor. Even worse, you might have paid — with money, time, or resources — to bring those folks to your site. That’s pretty much the definition of “sucks” in my book. Identify pages on your site that have both lots of traffic and a high bounce rate, then set to work on improving those pages (look to copy, headlines, images, and calls-to-action first). Getting these pages to not suck should be your web team’s #1 priority, even ahead of SEO, PPC, or email marketing. Driving traffic to a page that’s just going to cause customers to bounce is a waste of customer goodwill. So don’t do that.

Limited Traffic Sources

I once worked on a site that got almost 80% of its traffic from organic search and a big chunk of that organic search traffic from a relatively small set of keywords. Guess what happened. Search traffic fell during the economic downturn (it was a luxury products company), and the overall business suffered. As one company executive put it after I showed them the issue, “Google sneezed and we caught a cold.” You’ve all heard the adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Well, the same holds true for your website. Look at the sources driving traffic to your site, then build a plan to grow each of the following categories:

  • Natural search
  • Referrals
  • Direct navigation
  • Email
  • And, if you’ve got the budget, paid search.

You’re looking for both quantity and quality here, so don’t just jump on spammy link-building techniques or wasteful spend solely to get additional traffic. Instead, focus on quality partners and proven tactics to increase across and within each of these key categories. While it can’t guarantee you won’t “catch a cold” when someone upstream sneezes, it will help you spread the risk and improve your “immunity” to any changes in the marketplace.

Conclusion

You’ll notice I didn’t talk about conversion rate or returning visitors or more detailed metrics for your site. It’s not that those are unimportant; they are. Very important, in fact. But it’s more important that you get the basics right first. Focus on these five areas to start with, then look at building a more detailed picture of your customers’ online behavior. Building a high-quality, customer-focused website is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and clear goals. Look at where your customers come from, what they’re trying to accomplish, and how well your pages support their goals at each step along the way. It won’t guarantee you’ll win every sale, every day. But it will help you attract and retain more customers in the long run. And that surely doesn’t suck.

Do you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing? 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Biznology, where Tim Peter writes a monthly column.
Tim Peter

By

February 26, 2015

How Customer Data Drives Satisfaction and Increased Revenues

February 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Customer data leads to customer satisfaction and increased conversionOver the last few days, we’ve spent a bunch of time looking at who owns your customer, how great hotels use customer data to own their guests’ experience, and why you need to own the data to own the customer, too. Here’s even more good news: eMarketer research shows that collecting customer data can seriously help drive satisfaction and, ultimately, increased revenue for you. Money quote:

“October 2014 research by Forbes Insights, in association with Turn, identified something else retailers could do on their end to boost customer satisfaction: data collection. Among US retail marketing executives, 50% said data-driven marketing had helped them achieve a competitive advantage in customer satisfaction.”

Sadly, it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows:

“On the flipside, while half had seen success with data-driven marketing, this means that the other half of retailers still had to improve—or begin—their efforts… Few online retailers actually track customer satisfaction, though, based on Retention Science polling conducted in July 2014, indicating another area for improvement. Just 31.7% of US online retailers studied said they actively tracked customer satisfaction rate—the second-lowest response.”

What are they doing?

“…respondents were more focused on sales-related data, such as conversion rate (88.5%) and average order value (71.2%). While increased consumer shopping and spending is great, making sure shoppers are happy is also important—otherwise retailers risk losing them and their business.”

Now that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. Hell, recent studies show far too many marketing leaders don’t use analytics near enough—or at all. There’s way too much “gut instinct” out there and not enough “cold, hard facts.” So, that’s good, I guess.

But, if you’re only measuring data about conversion and AOV, without understanding more about why your customers choose you, you run a very high risk of them not choosing you.

Ultimately, you can never truly “own” your customers. The decision to buy—or not—rests solely in their hands, their heads, and their hearts. All you can do is help them decide you’re the best choice. And any data that helps you interpret what “the best choice” means for them is a very, very good thing. Collecting customer data drives satisfaction among your customers—and can help drive revenues for you.

If you want to learn even more about how changing customer behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter

By

February 25, 2015

Want to Own the Customer? Own the Data – Thinks Out Loud Episode 112

February 25, 2015 | By | No Comments

Own the data to own the customer

Want to Own the Customer? Own the Data – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 29s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below: