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Tim Peter

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April 15, 2014

This Week’s Sign That Mobile Rules (Travel Tuesday)

April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

Woman traveler mobile phoneI wrote a post a couple weeks ago looking at on-property mobile experiences that seemed to strike a chord with many of you. So, you’ll probably want to check out Mobile Marketer’s roundup of how the 5 biggest online travel agencies are using mobile to expand beyond bookings.

This quote from Giorgos Zacharia, Kayak’s chief technology officer, struck me in particular:

“We see heavy usage at home, suggesting mobile devices are replacing desktops and laptops roles in booking and planning travel.”

Most of my clients see the same behavior, with Safari on iOS replacing IE or Chrome on Windows as the most common browser/OS combination. I know I’ve talked about this for a while, but you should check your numbers, too, to see where your guests come from — and start planning your response.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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April 8, 2014

Search? Metasearch? What’s the Difference? (Travel Tuesday)

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Google buys Room 77's metasearch technologyWell, this is something. Bloomberg reported yesterday that Google (essentially) bought Room 77′s metasearch and booking technology. Key quote:

“With Room 77, Google can cater to travelers looking to quickly book hotels, the most lucrative part of online travel, while on the move.”

Very, very interesting.

I’ve been telling clients and investors for the past few years that the biggest competitor to Expedia, Priceline, and TripAdvisor is none other than our good friend Google. The search giant’s entry into metasearch with maps was its opening shot in an increasingly less cold war.

You see, metasearch isn’t a product or category or business. It’s a feature. Google can include metasearch results into its search engine results pages without blinking an eye and undermine all the work done by Kayak, Trivago, and TripAdvisor on building differentiated metasearch offerings (To be fair, though, Priceline, Expedia, and TripAdvsior can do the same by incorporating metasearch into their regular search results, too).

More important from a distribution strategy perspective is that search results are only one click away from booking. Google — or its vertical search/metasearch competition — could easily add booking capabilities to tie search and reservations together. In Google’s case, though, its other, major revenue stream might prevent that. As the Bloomberg article notes:

“The deal also steps up [Google's] competition with Priceline Group Inc., which is one of Google’s biggest customers in buying search ads.” [Emphasis mine]

The key question for me, and for hospitality executives, is how Google plans to use its new toys. If Google wants to go toe-to-toe with those who buy its ads, we might witness a new “Cold War” between OTA’s and Big G — and I’d expect that cold war to get even hotter if Google routed reservations directly to hotels, instead of to the OTA’s.

Definitely interesting times for hotel marketers and distribution execs. Stay tuned to see where this leads.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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April 1, 2014

How Mobile Will Shape Guests’ On-Property Experience

April 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

Couple by pool mobile phoneTnooz has a look at 6 mobile trends to boost sales of travel products. And, one item in particular caught my eye. It builds on my thoughts last week about a balanced approach to direct and OTA business, but highlights an important distinction: OTA and direct business may increasingly be the same thing. Here’s the money quote:

The year of the in-trip experience: watch out for OTAs upping their game

Nick Longman, distribution and online director for mainstream tour operations at TUI Travel, expects to see more people booking via mobile, but also that it will be used more as an engagement tool [during their trip]…

Bob Rogers, co-founder of DealAngel, a firm acquired by the Russian online travel agent (OTA) OneTwoTrip, says they are currently working hard to build a lot more in-trip services. ‘This is an area that has been neglected by all OTAs,’ says Rogers, adding that, ‘once a person is travelling, there is virtually nothing going on’.

Citing an area for improvement, Rogers argues that with the amount of information OTAs have, customers could — and should — be pushed information about a flight at the right time. In fact, he even goes as far as to say OTAs could check a customer in (something that can be automated), find them the best seat and so on. They shouldn’t even have to ask for it.
‘You can offer so much value just by anticipating the inevitable,’ he says.”

One of the reasons that mobile really is a game-changer is that it removes the distinction we have long made between a guest booking a reservation and a guest consuming one. “Booking” may be an ongoing process, with offers and deals and discounts and value-adds presented throughout the stay to guests based on their location, interests, and preferences (both explicit and implied). While I continue to recommend hotel marketers evaluate OTA relationships based on the value they provide, it’s also worth paying attention to:

  1. OTA moves on the on-property front. The guest experience on-property remains a stronghold for hotels — for now. Obviously, OTA’s have the opportunity to invest heavily in the on-site experience through mobile for your guests. That’s a big deal, and a potential game-changer for ongoing relationships with your OTA partners.
  2. Your technology providers’ investments in on-property, mobile-enabled experiences. Much as the Tnooz article suggests, this area has been neglected, by intermediaries and hotels alike. It’s worth looking at providers offering tools and services to help you improve your guests’ experiences on-property. Otherwise, you risk ceding ground to the OTA’s here, too.

We’re still only in the first inning on this one; there’s a ways to go before we’re going to declare any winners or losers here. But, it’s clear that OTA’s have both the capital to invest in this area and the incentive to do so. The real question is what you’re prepared to do to serve your guests here as well.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 25, 2014

A Fair and Balanced Look at Balancing Direct and OTA Business (Travel Tuesday)

March 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

Hotel metasearch marketing exampleHow’s business these days? If you’re like many hoteliers, things are starting to get pretty good. Hoteliers I talk with are enjoying higher rates and occupancies, along with an overall improved business climate and increased optimism about the coming year. 

As tends to happen during good times, many of these hoteliers are taking this opportunity to evaluate their relationship with OTA partners — and to explore ways to drive more business through direct channels. 

While it’s popular these days to grab the torches and the pitchforks to “storm the castle,” that seems short-sighted to me. Instead, I prefer this balanced, measured approach. Yes, with increasing competition for high-performing search terms from OTA’s and metasearch, hoteliers are seeing their costs to acquire guests continue to rise. But the current business environment provides a perfect opportunity to evaluate each of your distribution options for its fit into your overall approach. 

Instead of assuming that this all about “good guys” and “bad guys,” take a new look at each of your channel partners with a clear eye and ask these questions: 

  • Can this OTA reach a guest you can’t? While the answer to this question is often yes, don’t assume OTA’s always reach new business. Look for channels that deliver first-time bookers and look for opportunities to convert these to loyal guests. 
  • Are the guests they reach the guests you want? One general manager I know once told me about his “cooler index.” He could accurately predict which booking channel his guests used by the number of beer coolers they dragged through the lobby at check-in; the more coolers, the lower rated the business – and the greater the effort needed to convert them into longer-term, higher-value customers.  
  • How much are you willing to pay to reach those guests? In other words, can the OTA reach those guests at a reasonable cost? Analyze your business to ensure an appropriate return on your cost of acquisition, whether paid as commission or as net rate margin.   

Of course, OTA’s represent only part of your overall distribution strategy. A balanced approach to distribution also puts significant focus on direct business, too. Research shows that guests spend significant time before booking, looking to answer two questions:

  1. Why should I choose your hotel for my next stay?
  2. Why should I book that stay through this channel?

Savvy hoteliers ensure guests can answer the first question across all channels — web, mobile, voice, metasearch, and OTA — while focusing their efforts and investments in answering the second question only on those channels delivering high-value guests.

Look to improve your guests’ shopping and booking experience on your own website, and in particular, pay attention to mobile. Many forward-looking hoteliers enjoy significant benefits from mobile, with Starwood, for example, noting that it’s seeing mobile booking growth five times greater than Internet booking in the Web’s early days. Mobile’s staggering growth rates continue to boggle the mind and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The distribution landscape continues to evolve, but also continues to represent a crucial element of a successful hospitality business. When managed well, OTA’s, Web, voice, mobile, and metasearch work together to deliver increased room nights and improved revenues. And when not managed well, you risk leaving money on the table.

Take advantage of the improving economy to think about the role you want OTA’s to play in helping you find and acquire the right guests for your property. Pay only for those guests you can’t reach yourself, then work to migrate those guests to higher-value channels. Invest in your direct presence, particularly for the increasing number of guests choosing mobile. 

Taking a balanced approach to your hotel’s overall distribution enables you to achieve the results you want from the channels you choose. And provides you a great answer for when you’re next asked, “how’s business these days?”

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

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

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March 21, 2014

5 E-commerce Trends Worth Watching This Week

March 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

E commerce tipsWell, folks, we’ve made it to another Friday. But if you’re looking for some light reading this weekend, check out these 5 articles that explore trends shaping e-commerce in the coming months and years:

  1. The Shop.org blog details five top trends from PSFK’s Future of Retail 2014 report. Definitely worth the read.
  2. This week’s Thinks Out Loud podcast dove into why the future of social and mobile marketing is happening right now — and what it means for your e-commerce business now and in the future.
  3. For those hotel marketers among you, check out this Hotel News Now article that I wrote about balancing direct and indirect business. And, even if you’re outside the hotel space, the general principles apply to any brand-direct vs. third-party e-commerce sites.
  4. Speaking of hotel marketing (and rules that apply across verticals), hospitality marketers, retailers, and other consumer brands can benefit from learning these 4 rules of social marketing. Given the rise of reviews and ratings leading to social influence of e-commerce decisions, it’s well worth the read.
  5. eMarketer offers a fascinating look at the growing trend of customers buying online and picking up those purchases in-store. Definitely a trend that highlights what I mean when I say “it’s all e-commerce.”

Hey, speaking of e-commerce, you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 18, 2014

The 4 Rules of Social Marketing for Hotel Marketers (Travel Tuesday)

March 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Couple by pool sharing their stayA hotel group recently invited me to talk about how they could use social media more effectively for marketing. Their key question was: “What rules exist in social media for hotel marketers?” I thought you might enjoy finding out some more about that, too.

Based on my experience, 4 rules exist when it comes to social marketing in the hospitality industry (and in most other industries, too). They are:

  1. Social is people. Your guests (or clients, customers, members, or whatever you prefer to call them), have individual needs and concerns. They’re busy folks on a mission to solve their problem, not spend a lot of time listening to you. “Social” isn’t a channel that you can use to simply shout about yourself. Well, you can. But you won’t see any positive results. Instead, you need to listen, understand, and engage with customers in social on their terms. That is, as human beings.
  2. All marketing is social. Broadly, the role of marketing is to connect customers with a solution. And since customers are social by definition, your marketing must be social, too. More specifically, you’ve probably noticed the increase in ratings and reviews in search results, and the way your competitors make it easy for their guests to share information with their friends and family and fans and followers on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and all the rest. Have you made it easy for your guests to do the same?
  3. Your brand = What you say + what guests experience. Every single guest in your hotel is now, effectively, a professional reviewer. And, as you’re likely aware, they’re more than happy to share their experiences with those friends and family and fans and followers I just mentioned. As I’ve noted before, working to increase the quality and quantity of your property’s reviews and ratings represents the single most effective way to improve your online marketing.
  4. There are no rules. As Barbossa memorably notes in Pirates of the Caribbean, these are “…more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” Social media continues to evolve. And your guests’ use of social evolves along with it. The “rules” that “everybody knows” today may turn out to be different tomorrow (in fact, I’d bet on it). So, instead, you’re best bet is to test and see what works for you to drive the results you need.

Anyway, that’s a quick look at what works today. When you get a moment, you can check out the whole presentation here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 11, 2014

You Won’t Believe How Many Guests Use Mobile to Make a Booking Decision (Travel Tuesday)

March 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

Woman traveler mobile phone70% of travelers use a hotel’s web site and/or its mobile app prior to making a booking decision, according to a report highlighted on Luxury Daily. That is, to put it mildly, a huge number.

Here’s the key quote from the report:

“More so than any other industry the travel sector comes with high expectations in mobile. Since consumers are inherently on-the-go when traveling, they tend to perform more activities on mobile devices, and they want hotels to match these expectations.” [Emphasis mine]

This underscores Starwood’s recent announcement that they’re seeing mobile bookings grow faster than Internet bookings did 10 years ago. Given that 97% of Americans have a cell phone within 3 feet at any given time, these numbers aren’t surprising.

What is surprising is how many hotel websites don’t accommodate mobile well, if at all.

But with the emergence of responsive design as a best practice for consumers and search engines, you really have no good reason to ignore mobile any longer. Today, if you’re not offering guests a responsive site, you’re driving up the cost of your bookings, either because:

  1. Your guests have to phone to make their reservation; or,
  2. They choose not to stay with you at all.

Happily, in addition to responsive design, a number of best practices exist to convert mobile guests, including improving the content you offer on your website and exploring upselling options on mobile, voice, and web.

Again, your guests expect you to help them while they’re on the go. And, ultimately, isn’t helping guests what hospitality is all about?

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

March 5, 2014

How to Use Emotion and Storytelling in Digital Marketing (Travel Tuesday)

March 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

Happy family shopping on tabletPicture this: An injured football player hobbles down the tunnel, leaving the field in obvious pain. A young boy steps forward, offers him a Coke… and history is made.

If you’ve never seen this commercial, you probably weren’t alive in the late ’70′s/early ’80′s. (And if you weren’t alive then… man, I’m getting old. But I digress).

If you were alive, you undoubtedly remember this ad. It was hugely popular, not only airing originally during a game in October, but several more times during the 1979 season and during that year’s Super Bowl.

Now, here’s a question for you: Why do you remember a 60-second spot from 35 years ago featuring a player and child actor who both retired not long after the spot first aired?

And, what in the world does this have to do with marketing a hotel, resort, or any other business online?

How about we answer those in order.

“Have a Coke and a Smile”

The reason you remember the Mean Joe Green commercial ties back to one of the lessons from last week’s HSMAI conference:

“Customers remember how you made them feel, not what you said.”

Coke’s classic ad demonstrates that message perfectly, fueling warm feelings towards the actors, the commercial, and, most importantly, the brand. Hell, they didn’t even disguise the intent: The whole ad campaign was called “Have a Coke and a Smile.” Subtle.

Of course, you do the same thing every day in the hospitality industry, helping your guests have a great day, no matter the circumstances. A restaurant owner I’ve worked with talks about “nailing the rolls and coffee,” suggesting that guests will remember their first interaction at the table (a server bringing rolls), and their last experience (a cup of coffee with/as dessert), more than the rest of the meal. The message for his employees is clear: Guests may forget a small error or two during the meal, but a bad first or last experience will stick with them — and will keep them from coming back.

It’s easy to overlook the emotional aspect of the guest experience online though, given how difficult it is to drive emotional engagement in popular digital channels. Search, for example—with its limited character count and “10 blue links” appearance—kind of sucks for serious story-telling designed to elicit emotion. Happily the increased use of images in search results may change this. And other channels, such as social, work brilliantly for story-telling and enhancing an emotional connection. Social, at its core, is people. And people are emotional beings.

More to the point, pretty much every purchase decision is an emotional choice. Even the most logical shoppers won’t reach for their credit card until they’re satisfied, emotionally, they’ve made the right choice. Even business customers want to be sure they’re aligning with corporate policies and, often more importantly, making their boss happy. Fear is a powerful motivator because it’s a powerful emotion.

Speaking of fear, a number of psychological models for emotions exist. Here are some of the most common emotions marketers seek to evoke, along with some examples of where you’ve seen them before:

  • Happy. Used all over the place. Very common in travel marketing (picture a couple on a romantic getaway, blissfully relaxed, or a happy family frolicking in a pool).
  • Excited. Frequently used for adventure tourism, skiing, that sort of thing. Laughter can elicit a similar response, which is why there’s so much humor in advertising.
  • Tender. Go ahead, watch that iPhone commercial with the kid making a video for his family at Christmas and tell me you’re not touched. No, I’m fine. That’s just something in my eye. Like a twig, or a branch.
  • Calm/Serene. The bread and butter emotion for many resorts and spas. When done well, it’s brilliant. However, can easily slide into self-parody or, worse, boredom (worse, because at least people will remember the unintentionally funny one).
  • Scared. Think about how most security companies promote their alarm systems, or those images of elderly relatives who’ve fallen and can’t get up. Not usually a great travel marketing play.
  • Sad. The go-to emotion for many charities. Picture Sarah McLaughlin singing a tear-jerking song while images of hungry children or animal shelters appear on your screen. Almost always the wrong choice for marketing your hotel or resort. (Rough rule of thumb: Sadness usually doesn’t lead to immediate action).
  • Angry. I can’t think of many examples from “traditional” marketing, but fairly common in political/cause marketing campaigns. Get your target audience pissed enough at your opponent and they’ll vote/march/rally/what-have-you to change the world.

Now, what does any of this have to do with digital or e-commerce? How can you use these emotions online?

Glad you asked.

Emotions + Digital = Successful Modern Marketing

Driving an emotional response — and one that leads to a booking — takes some doing. Here are four tips to get you started:

  1. Who do you think you’re talking to? Your customer data is a hugely important, strategic asset. Even if you can’t do “Big Data” yet, you know tons about your guests. Part of what makes digital marketing and tactics like behavioral targeting and email marketing so effective is that they allow you to put the right story in front of the guest most ready to listen. Use your guest data to segment your email list (low-rated vs. high-rated business, business travelers vs. leisure travelers, repeat vs. one-time guests, longer-stay guests vs. transients, and on and on and on). Test behavioral retargeting campaigns to recapture guests who’ve visited your site without booking. Then use those channels to tell a distinct, emotional story to engage each segment and drive more bookings.
  2. Align emotions with your brand story. As Josh Johnson says, “Stories are vehicles for values.” I’ve often talked about how your brand story is all about your values and the value you offer guests. Different types of properties (or non-hotel businesses, for that matter), have different stories to tell. A hip, four-star hotel in the city center’s hottest neighborhood is going to tell a vastly different story than a luxurious beach resort removed from the nightlife and neither will tell the same story as a family-owned ski resort that’s been part of its welcoming mountain community for generations. The emotions each property’s marketing team seeks to elicit among its guests should reflect the values of the property, brand, and community to attract the right type of guests and drive greater guest satisfaction overall (to say nothing of the reviews those highly satisfied guests will share with their friends, family, fans, and followers on social networks and review sites).
  3. Craft compelling copy. How many times have you seen website copy that states “…located in beautiful downtown…” and so on? Sure, it’s inoffensive. It’s also boring. Now, isn’t this better: “…The Wentworth Mansion embraces guests with warm, intuitive service. Like the greatest family traditions, it preserves its original intrigue and ensures that each guest is not a mere witness to the magic, but integral to it.” (Full disclosure: Wentworth Mansion is a client, but we used a local copywriter to capture the true spirit of the location). “Embraces… warm… family… traditions… intrigue… witness… magic… integral.” Lively, engaging, welcoming words. And ones that tell a clear story about the type of property its guests will enjoy. And, judging by the property’s TripAdvisor ranking, its guests do enjoy it.
  4. Use bold images. By bold, I don’t mean, “bright colors.” I mean images people give a damn about. If I see one more loosely cropped beach photo with a palm tree waving lazily in a gentle breeze, I might cry. Yes, sadness is an emotion. But not one that typically drive action. You have a pretty beach. Why should your guest care? Why not show people having fun on that beach? Or relaxing? Or dancing? Or something? Use images to tell a compelling story that lets your guest picture themselves achieving their goal—serenity, excitement, fun, family bonding, you get the idea.

It’s worth noting that Coke’s “Mean Joe Greene” and Apple’s “Misunderstood” spot hit all the right notes here, too. There’s a reason Coke and Apple get such high marks for their marketing. And such loyal business from their customers.

Speaking of storytelling, you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

February 25, 2014

10 Essential Lessons Learned From HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference (Travel Tuesday)

February 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

Tim Peter on stageI had the pleasure of moderating a panel, “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” which featured a wonderful collection of search marketers from the industry and from Google earlier today as part of HSMAI’s 2014 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, an annual event here in New York City.

In addition to my panel, I learned loads of useful information from the panelists and speakers at the event. Here were my favorites:

  1. Mobile’s bigger than you thought. I’ve said this before, but mobile is huge. some 97% of all Americans have a cell phone within three feet of them at any given time. Jeez.
  2. The growth of “PR engineers.” A number of brands have begun hiring digital analysts solely to measure the effectiveness of PR activities. Not a shock, really, but the first time I’d run into the term. Definitely worth watching.
  3. Customers remember how you made them feel, not what you said. I’ve talked before about how reputation management matters to improve your marketing, but this is such a brilliant, succinct way to underscore the point. Emotion powers memories. People will remember the feeling of a great experience — or a poor one — far longer than they’ll remember anything else. Emotion sells. Use it to your advantage.
  4. Responsive and adaptive design are increasingly important. As one panelist noted, responsive design (which I talked about yesterday), is more about reorganizing what you see, while adaptive design uses personalization to show different content to different people. Both bring value.
  5. Your company’s data represents a strategic competitive advantage. Internal data will always be more important than 3rd-party data, since your competitors use that data to.
  6. Big Data works well for actionable, real-time e-commerce decisions. Great examples of companies using big data to analyze e-commerce transactions and react in real-time to outliers (i.e., increased or falling demand to adjust prices in real-time).
  7. Mobile doesn’t have a conversion problem, it has a tracking problem. Maybe my favorite line of the conference. So, so true. I’ve already noted the growth in mobile but it’s not always possible to see the results. The problem isn’t with mobile. It’s with your attribution models.
  8. Use Foursquare tips in website content. Another great idea. I’ve used TripAdvisor content on sites plenty of times, but never thought about Foursquare tips. Great idea.
  9. Images sell. Again, not a new learning, but so worth noting. What’s interesting is the move towards “Retina-ready” images, high-resolution images optimized for high-resolution displays now offered by Apple and Google on their mobile devices and high-end computers. And, they’ll prep you we’ll as consumers move towards larger, 4K displays. Good thinking.
  10. Stories are vehicles for values. Again, not a new lesson, but incredibly valuable to say again. As Josh Johnson says, “No one wants to share your data. They want to share your story.” Great insights into the importance of brand story.

Speaking of storytelling, you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

By

February 18, 2014

Holy Crap! Mobile’s Even Bigger Than You Thought (Travel Tuesday)

February 18, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile travel is everywhereJeez, did you see this? eMarketer highlights am unbelievable PhoCusWright study, saying,

“While US mobile travel bookings sat at $6.15 billion in 2012, PhoCusWright forecast this would rise to $39.50 billion by 2015.” [Emphasis mine.]

If you’re not doing the math at home, that’s an 86% increase per year, every year, for three straight years.

Seem unlikely?

Well… maybe not.

Mobile Commerce Daily today had a piece that claims:

“Starwood Hotels & Resorts has seen a surge in mobile this past quarter with mobile bookings growing five times faster than Web bookings did ten years ago.” [Emphasis very much mine. If I could emphasize it more, I would.]

By the way, Starwood touted that number during its quarterly earnings call. So, yeah, I think we can take that as pretty legitimate.

Anyone who remembers the original dot-com boom as I do will tell you “five times faster than Web [growth] ten years ago,” is a big, honkin’ number. Real big.

Now, are these growth numbers driven in part from a small base? Of course they are. Is 86% growth a year sustainable for a long period? Nuh-uh.

But, even if these numbers taper off to a growth rate comparable with early e-commerce of “only” 25-30%%, you’re still looking at a doubling in revenues every 2-3 years. And that doesn’t include bookings through voice or other channels driven by the 42% of visits to its websites Starwood now receives from mobile customers. (Very likely, as difficulty in booking on mobile remains among guests’ top complaints in the PhoCusWright study mentioned earlier and a key brake on the growth of mobile commerce.)

Starwood CEO Frits van Paaschen stated during the earnings call,

““This is changing the way consumers interact with brands and what they expect from the companies behind those brands… The challenge is to keep pace with these changes, as today’s novelties become tomorrow’s table stakes. Put simply, we see connectivity, especially through mobile, as the great opportunity for dialogue with travels.” [Yes, again, emphasis mine]

This sounds a lot like the advice I gave a few weeks ago when looking at why it’s time to take mobile seriously:

  • Ensure your website meets mobile guests’ needs. Prioritize content that matters to your guests in a mobile context. When you view your site on a mobile phone, can you find the phone number? The address? A link to directions or a map? If they’re going to call anyway, make it easy for them to do so.
  • Improve your voice conversion rate. The more calls you turn into sales, the more profitable a channel voice becomes. Also, look to upselling to increase your revenue per call and improve overall profitability.
  • Explore improved mobile booking solutions. Or pressure your existing vendor to improve its mobile capabilities. Guests won’t book if it’s hard to do so. Focus on making it easy.
  • Finally, develop your hotel’s overall mobile strategy. Think about how and where your guests use their mobile devices and seek to answer the questions important in those contexts. Real hospitality means helping your guests every step of the way, especially when they’re on the go.

This is no longer a “coming trend.” It’s, as Mr. van Paaschen put it, “table stakes.” You want to play the game? It’s time to ante up.

Interested in more trends shaping travel e-commerce and Internet marketing in 2014? Check out my 2014 Digital Marketing Directions Presentation (featured below), and don’t forget to apply the 4 New Year’s Resolutions for Hotel Marketers I talked about a few weeks back.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including: