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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 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

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February 11, 2014

Will Review Sites Be the Death of Brands?

February 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

Do brands matter?James Surowiecki, writing for the New Yorker says that, in an age of social media and review sites (think Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and the like), brand loyalty is dead. He notes,

‘Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information,’ a new book by Itamar Simonson… and Emanuel Rosen… shows that, historically, the rise of brands was a response to an information-poor environment. When consumers had to rely on advertisements and their past experience with a company, brands served as proxies for quality; if a car was made by G.M., or a ketchup by Heinz, you assumed that it was pretty good… As recently as the nineteen-eighties, nearly four-fifths of American car buyers stayed loyal to a brand.”

Surowiecki continues,

“…what’s really weakened the power of brands is the Internet, which has given ordinary consumers easy access to expert reviews, user reviews, and detailed product data, in an array of categories. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make… As Simonson told me, ‘each product now has to prove itself on its own.’” [Emphasis mine]

The article (and book) also goes against the argument that brands become more important, not less, due to the sheer volume amount of information that exists, stating “…information overload is largely a myth;” that consumers are very capable at separating the wheat from the chaff, and finding the information they need to make an informed decision.

So, which is it? Are brands more important or less important going forward?

Well… it’s complicated.

I’ve talked for years about the P’s and Q’s model for hotel research, (and have the data to support it), that shows customers use a lot of interrelated information when making a purchase decision. And, yes, review sites play an increasingly large role in that purchase decision. In fact, I have long said that managing your reputation represents the single best investment you can make in your marketing.

However, none of that suggests that brands don’t also influence your customers’ decision. Don’t forget that brand terms are among the most profitable and successful search terms. Why? Because customers often search for brands they know, like, and trust. Apple, Coke, Pepsi, Fender, BMW, Marriott, and plenty of others spend tons in making sure that their brand continues to deliver… and that their products support their brand story. That’s not changing anytime soon.

Yes, in a world of online reviews even the best brand won’t help a terrible product succeed in the market. At least not for long. But, don’t discount the importance of a strong, consistent brand in attracting, converting, and retaining customers going forward.

My presentation, “The Truth: How the Social, Local, Mobile Web Affects Sales Online and Offline,” looks at how the web changes your customers’ behaviors—and how you can keep up with those changes:

And, if you’re interested in learning 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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January 28, 2014

What's the State of Hotel Reputation Management? (Travel Tuesday)

January 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

The State of Reputation ManagementMost of you know that I recommend focusing on your hotels’ ratings and reviews, and think reputation management represents the single most effective way to improve your digital marketing. Well, now travel reputation management firm TrustYou has some great data about the state of the reputation management landscape that’s well worth checking out.

In particular, three findings really jumped out at me:

  1. Review volumes are up — way up. Across the three market regions TrustYou studied (North America, EMEA, and APAC), guests are writing reviews at much higher rates. Given the number of people traveling with one or more devices and how easily travelers can post reviews from mobile devices these days (remember, there’s no such thing as an offline traveler), it’s no surprise that guests increasingly want to tell their friends, family, fans, and followers about their experience.
  2. Management responses have increased, but… This one’s a bit more complicated. The good news is that management responses to guest reviews has increased. The less good news is that management responses haven’t increased at the same rate. Now, to be fair, since overall satisfaction is up, it’s entirely possible most of the increased reviews don’t require a response. But, I’d still recommend most hoteliers continue to watch their reviews and respond where appropriate (Contact me if you’re interested in receiving my “Fast FAQ: Responding to Online Reviews.”
  3. Guest satisfaction is slightly higher, but Internet and price/value continue to lag. Again, this is a “good news/bad news” situation. The good: Guest satisfaction has improved. The bad: Guests complaints about the cost and/or quality of Internet, and of the overall price/value proposition continue to increase. The first step to improving the quality of your guest reviews is to address guests’ underlying concerns. Now, in no way am I suggesting that “addressing concerns” means simply making Internet access free or lowering your prices. (In fact, I wrote a whole white paper last year explaining how to increase revenues per guest). But it does mean working to demonstrate the value guests receive for the price they’re paying.

As I’ve said many times, the web provides complete transparency into your business. I’d argue many guests know as much about your hotel as some employees do. I’ve given a number of talks on this topic (see my slides below) and don’t see this reality changing anytime soon. If anything, I expect things to get more transparent, not less.

Given this reality, the right response is to understand what drives positive guest reviews, how to address negative/constructive reviews, and how to increase the frequency with which guests tell your brand story on your behalf.

Happily, TrustYou’s reports offer you some transparency into that process. I’d recommend downloading the report for your region directly from TrustYou 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 also might 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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December 5, 2013

Top 5 Social Media Trends for 2014

December 5, 2013 | By | No Comments

2014 social trendsEvery year, social media marketing becomes a more important component of online strategies. The biggest social networks are still the best and fastest ways for any business to spread marketing messages. But of course, as with every online strategy and the tech world as a whole, the rules keep changing.

What will 2014 bring to the social media table? Here are five trends for marketers to watch as we enter a new year of brand building and share-focused campaigns.

Companies Will Embrace User-Generated Content

By now, every marketer understands that the biggest key to successful social media campaigns is emphasizing the social aspect—the part that encourages participation and sharing. In 2014, more businesses will get on board with the idea of user-generated content.
This is already a popular strategy on a small scale. It’s been demonstrated that social media posts that ask a question receive better responses, more traction, and higher engagement. Now, many companies will take it a step further by inviting users to submit content related to their business—photos, videos, even personal stories or testimonials.

Inviting user-generated content not only increases engagement, but also lets companies measure ROI, a constant challenge for social media marketers.

Social Media Marketers Will Need to Diversify

In less than a decade, social media networks have exploded from just a few main players to a multitude of sites. While Facebook and Twitter still reign supreme, there are plenty of other networks producing results for businesses: Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumbler, Vine, and Instagram, to name a few.

Next year, more companies will experiment with multiple networks. It’s important to find the social media networks that work best for your type of business, but maintaining more than one will increase your cross-channel exposure and let you introduce different types of content into the mix.

Google+ Will Become a Must

Speaking of diversity, many social media marketers will discover that Google+ simply can’t be ignored any longer. The search engine giant’s social network is steadily invading more channels. For example, the Google-owned YouTube recently launched a comment section redesign that requires either a YouTube channel or a Google+ account in order to leave a comment.

More importantly, Google’s most recent statistics reflect more than 300 million active monthly users on the Google+ network. It’s a more visual platform than either Facebook or Twitter, and comes with greater opportunities for businesses to improve their SEO through an active Google+ account.

Businesses Will Get Better at Monetizing Social
Every business wants to turn a profit. In fact, an initial stumbling block for entering the arena of social media was the big question, “But how will it make money?” Since the answer seemed to be “it won’t,” a lot of companies avoided making social media a major part of their online marketing strategy.

Facebook and Twitter both failed to generate a profit in the beginning. However, Facebook has been consistently beating revenue expectations quarter after quarter, and Twitter isn’t far behind with the recent announcement that it’s filed the paperwork for an IPO. In 2014, expect more opportunities for revenue streams to begin surfacing among social platforms.

Marketers Will Spend More on Social Media

A survey from Decipher, conducted on behalf of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA), found that seven out of 10 marketers expect to increase social media spending in 2014.

That’s 70 percent of businesses putting more into social, compared to the 53 percent who will invest more in email marketing and the mere 16 percent who will increase print marketing spending.

Another report deals with the overall spending increase for this channel. ZenithOptimedia released a combined report and forecast that estimated social media advertising spending of $4.6 billion for 2013—up more than a billion from 2012’s $3.4 billion. And by 2015, the forecast estimates that social spending will reach around $8 billion.

Where do you see your company on the social media landscape for 2014? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing in a multiscreen world? Register to receive a special report Tim 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, if all that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the trends shaping the social, local, mobile web and what they mean for your business, including:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of falco.

Tim Peter

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November 6, 2013

Why Isn't Social Working? – Thinks Out Loud Episode 49

November 6, 2013 | By | No Comments

Content marketing and social success

Why Isn’t Social Working? Headlines and Show Notes

The Skype “Born Friends” video is here:

And, here are the slides from my “The Truth: How the Social, Local, Mobile Web Affects Sales Online and Offline” presentation:

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 31s

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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September 24, 2013

The Single Most Effective Way to Improve Your Brand's Digital Marketing (Travel Tuesday)

September 24, 2013 | By | No Comments

Ecommerce satisfaction cycleOK, Big Thinkers, it’s pop quiz time: If you’re a hotel, resort, or restaurant, what’s the single most effective way you can improve the value of your marketing? More to the point, what will kill your other marketing efforts if you don’t take care of it.

Now before those of you outside these industries run off— and before I answer the question— stick around for minute. For many industries, the same tactic matters just as much.

I’ll give you a few hints:

  • It’s not SEO.
  • It’s not paid search.
  • It’s not social media (at least not in the sense most people think of it).

So, what is this “magic” tactic?

It’s managing your online reviews.

Seriously.

Think about all the places your guests and customers encounter reviews and ratings for your business:

  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Traditional search engines, like Google and Bing
  • Map sites like Google Maps, Mapquest, Waze, and Apple Maps (you can read more about the business implications of the integration of search and maps here)
  • Online travel agencies like Expedia, Travelocity, and Hipmunk
  • Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — with many customers using the cameras and connectivity on their mobile phones to post pictures, ratings, and reviews while they’re in the middle of their stay
  • Travel and food blogs
  • Even brand websites for many hotel chains now feature ratings and reviews of their properties

In fact, just about every interaction a potential customer has with your brand online provides insights into what they can and should expect.

If you’re not a hotel, resort, or restaurant, don’t think you’re out of the woods. Plenty of dedicated sites exist across a variety of industries, while the non-industry specific sites (search engines, social networks, mapping tools and the like), often provide the same picture of your brand to customers.

So why are review sites such a big deal?

One word: Money.

Studies from Chris Anderson at the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research and Michael Luca at Harvard Business School [PDF link] show revenue gains of around 5% to 11% for each increase in star rating across popular review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp (this data supports the findings from my own research behind the P’s & Q’s model I talked about a couple of weeks ago).

Now, review sites aren’t perfect. For one thing, recent data from Maritz Research [PDF downloads of part 1 and part 2 here), suggests that roughly 45%-60% of users trust the data (it varies by site and demographic group) and that only a small percentage of users actually write any reviews at all. (H/T to Tnooz for the link to the study).

One of the main reasons for that lack of trust stems from the frequency of false reviews from businesses either trying to promote their own brand or, worse, downgrade their competition. Happily, states have begun to crack down, with New York recently charging some businesses with false advertising for trying to game review sites. While a small step, it undoubtably signals a positive direction for businesses overall.

Or at least those focused on improving their review scores.

Conclusion

Your brand is not some mystical, intangible thing; instead a brand is the sum of all the experiences your customers have with your business. Not just what you tell guests about yourselves, but what they experience, every step of the way. Your customers travel through myriad steps prior to making a purchase decision and each step informs them a bit more about who you are and what value you provide. And, increasingly, reviews communicate your brand more effectively and more efficiently than any other marketing activity you undertake—whether it’s the brand story you want your guests to hear or not.

Yes, fake reviews are a problem. But that’s beginning to work itself out.

And, yes, improving your ratings and reviews takes effort. But not working to improve your customers perception of your brand and business costs you money, every day. I didn’t say it’s the easiest way to improve your marketing’s value. I simply said that it’s the most effective way. So, before you start another marketing campaign, take a look at what your customers say about your business and your brand, then ask yourself, what can I do to improve what they say about me.

If you’re interested in learning 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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September 12, 2013

Building Connections/Happy Anniversary – Thinks Out Loud Episode 42

September 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Success celebration

Building Connections/Happy Anniversary Headlines

Most Popular Past Episodes

  1. Thinks Out Loud Episode 15: Are You Ready for Facebook’s Graph Search?s – January 25, 2013
  2. Thinks Out Loud Episode 28: Say “Hi” to Conversational Search – May 23, 2013
  3. Thinks Out Loud Episode 32: Vines, Videos, and Visuals in Marketing – June 21, 2013
  4. Thinks Out Loud Episode 11: Does Podcasting Make Sense? A Digital Marketing Case Study – December 20, 2012
  5. Thinks Out Loud Episode 9: Is Social Media a Waste of Time? – November 29, 2012
  6. Thinks Out Loud Episode 1: The Why’s of Mobile – September 14, 2012

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 56s

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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September 10, 2013

Mind Your "P's and Q's" (Travel Tuesday)

September 10, 2013 | By | No Comments

Kelly McGuire and Breffni Noone have a great piece over on Tnooz about the role of ratings and reviews for consumers making a decision of where to stay.

As you might imagine, they found that ratings play a pretty big role. But what might surprise you is that, in some cases, ratings and reviews matter more than price. This is very consistent with research I conducted a few years back and that I use as part of my “P’s & Q’s” model for evaluating hotel marketing activities.

The “P’s & Q’s” model illustrates guests’ focus on three areas when they’re making a reservation decision:

  • Price
  • Proximity
  • Quality

And I usually represent the model as a Pareto chart like this:

Price proximity quality ps and qs

I’ve spoken about this at length in the past:

But, to summarize, w hat guests really want when they’re making a reservation decision is value. Value, of course, is often overused and under defined. What the team and I do with the “P’s & Q’s” model is attempt to define value for different types of guests based on their needs for a given trip. What changes in each version of the model is how those three attributes overlap.

Some guests just want a room close to their business meeting within their per diem, in which case they’re driven by proximity and price. Some can only afford a certain rate and are willing to drive a little to get better quality. And, even in today’s economy, some want luxury regardless of price. You get the idea.

The point is that ratings and reviews play a huge role in helping guests determine the quality of the properties they’re evaluating—and as a result, play a huge role in determining the value those properties offer.

In any case, Kelly McGuire and Breffni Noone’s research offers an excellent overview on how ratings and reviews influence your guests’ view of your property’s quality and is well worth your time.

If you’d like to learn more about our “P’s & Q’s” model and how we use it to help hotels drive more business, give me a call at 201-305-0055.

And if you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going—as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries—register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes in the marketplace, including:

Tim Peter

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September 9, 2013

Facebook Etiquette: 4 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid by Megan Totka

September 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook marketing etiquetteFacebook marketing can be a tricky beast. As a business, you want Facebook engagement to translate to sales—but you don’t want to come off as pushy. There’s also the social aspect to consider, the need to be approachable and personal.

While there’s no magic formula for the right approach to Facebook marketing, remember two things:

  1. There are a number of mistakes you must avoid in any marketing channel
  2. Proper Facebook etiquette tips will help you boost engagement by not turning people off about your Facebook page, your message, or your entire brand

What is “proper Facebook etiquette”? Glad you asked.

Don’t Ask For “Likes” on Your Posts

The Facebook “Like” button has become something of a holy grail for some marketers. Get enough “likes” on your post, the idea seems to be, and you’ll magically go viral. Your fan base will explode. Money will start pouring in. That’s why you’ll find plenty of social media marketing advice out there telling you to ask for the like.

The problem with this strategy is that everyone knows it’s a strategy. There are massive numbers of posts on business Facebook pages out there starting with, “Like this post if you…” And while your likes may start to add up, those numbers aren’t going to convert to dollars.

It’s better to write fantastic content that people “Like” because… well, they actually like it. You may end up with smaller numbers next to your thumbs-up, but they’ll reflect a true, organic level of engagement that’s more likely to go viral because people are actually interested in what you have to say.

Don’t Clog Up Your Fans’ News Feeds

There’s a difference between actively posting and over-posting. You want to maintain a social media presence, but you don’t want to post so often that people see nothing but your company in their news feeds. That’s a fast way to get your page un-liked.

Instead, opt for quality posts over quantity. Make sure that when you post something to Facebook, it will add value for your followers in some way. The same advice applies for when you’re using hashtags on Facebook—post them strategically and sparingly.

Don’t Patronize Your Audience

Talking down to your Facebook followers is a sure path to disengagement. For some great examples on what not to do, check out the Condescending Corporate Brand Page, a parody Facebook business page that gathers, posts, and comments (sarcastically) on social media blunders from big corporations.

Along the same lines, avoid the appearance of capitalizing on national or global tragedies by not posting about your “sympathy” or “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook. It’s better to either completely avoid the mention on your business page (save it for your personal page), or instead of thin sentiments of sympathy, post a link that gives your audience a way to help, such as donations or official support websites.

Don’t Say “Thanks”

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t show gratitude to your audience for engaging with you. Rather, it means that when people take the time to offer thoughtful comments or suggestions, it’s dismissive and rude to respond with a single word. Just saying “thanks” makes it seem like you’re too important to bother thinking about their comment.

When you take the few extra seconds to offer a personal response to commenters on your Facebook page, you’re creating fans for life. So don’t simply go down the list and click “Like” next to your comments, or add “thanks, everyone” at the end—engage your audience, and keep them coming back for more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on 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:

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image credit: Image courtesy of birgerking via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.