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Tim Peter

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May 15, 2019

What Good is Social in An AI-Driven World? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 246)

May 15, 2019 | By | No Comments

What Good is Social in An AI-Driven World? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 246): Friends sharing media on mobileLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


What Good is Social in An AI-Driven World? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 246) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

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

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR40 Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 40s

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

Tim Peter

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May 10, 2019

The Hotel Marketing and Distribution Trend You Care About Most This Year

May 10, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Hotel marketing and distribution: Why Google matters

Let’s talk distribution for a minute. Yeah, I know, distribution is one of the least sexy aspects of the hotel industry. It’s also one of the most important, especially for hotel owners and independent hotel operators. Hotel owners, operators, and brands looking for ways to reduce costs and increase profitability need to continue thinking about how they’re going to acquire guests in a cost-effective manner. Also, hotel marketing and distribution are joined at the hip. And the whole topic is about about to get much, much more interesting.

Why? What’s going on here?

In a word, it’s Google. Google is what’s going on here.

The Beast That Scares the 800-lb. Gorillas in Hotel Marketing and Distribution

Google isn’t the 800-lb. gorilla of the hotel industry. No, Google is a much larger and more ferocious beast that has all the industry’s 800-lb. gorillas running for cover. Google is stealing mindshare — and potential margins — from OTA’s and other intermediaries every single day. No less an observer than Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom plainly stated that Google represents his company’s biggest competitor. In his words, “The internet has been littered with the bodies of companies put out of business by Google.” Okerstrom’s job is to make sure Expedia isn’t one of them.

Okerstrom is right. It’s no secret guests increasingly use Google as the first stop in their decision-making journey. And with recent integrations of Google’s artificial intelligence-powered, travel booking capable Assistant into Google Maps on Android and iPhones alike, expect even greater use of the search giant when guests plan their stay. There are over 3 million searches on Google every minute, with more than half of those on mobile and roughly 20% of those using voice. That’s at least 300,000 voices searches every minute, many of them targeted towards travel. Everyone’s scrambling for share, further driving up the cost of acquiring guests.

For example, Expedia, Booking.com, and others — OK, Expedia and Booking’s subsidiary brands and metasearch channels — recognize this shift, spending more on marketing and advertising with Google to drive more traffic to their direct channels. That’s a switch, huh? But it’s a fact. To drive traffic to its sites, Booking.com paid Google in Q3 alone last year somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion.

Nice neighborhood, eh?

At the same time, as Google increases the amount of metasearch and paid inventory in its search results page, it’s also driving up costs for individual hotel owners and operators. Worse, without solid connectivity solutions — which far too many independent hotels lack — hotels can be shut out of Google’s latest product offerings and miss out on direct revenue opportunities altogether.

How to Deal With Google’s Domination of Hotel Marketing and Distribution

So how can you ensure you earn your rightful place at the table and gain booking share without significantly increasing your cost of guest acquisition? Here’s how:

  • Develop a comprehensive distribution strategy that includes both search and metasearch. Search is a distribution channel. And the search landscape gets more and more challenging every day. SEO, paid search, voice search, metasearch, AI, schemas, and whatever else Google rolls out next can’t be considered in isolation. Each plays a role in driving guests towards your direct booking channels and in delivering flow-through — positive or negative — towards your bottom line. Similar thinking should shape your OTA agreements. Do your internal team, website development firm, and marketing agency understand how to best make these work together to deliver the lowest total cost of distribution for your property? This is critical question that your property must get right. Otherwise, you risk continuing to fund OTA’s bidding against you in search, driving up the costs of your hotel marketing and distribution, and further risking your property’s distinct value proposition.
  • Offer destination content to gain guests earlier in their decision-making journey. Data shows that guests who start their research on OTA’s book on OTA’s. I strongly suspect the same will be true for Google before long, most likely in the form of metasearch and partnerships. Already, Google displays a remarkable number of paid listings and metasearch results before getting to organic results. This is a huge problem for hotel marketers. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, guests who don’t come to your website never get the chance to book direct. It’s critical you use content about your destination to move deeper into the long tail of search, getting guests to your site early in the journey and for terms that aren’t flooded with paid/metasearch offerings already. Google’s AI-driven search results place significant value on quality content. Give them — and your guests — something worth finding.
  • Focus on increasing conversion rates on direct channels. Here’s a simple truth: It’s always going to cost you something to get guests to contact you. You’d damn well better make sure they convert when they do. It doesn’t matter whether guests come to your website or call your reservations line; every lost opportunity increases your cost. Take a close look at where your reservations come from, how effective your direct channels are at turning interest into action, and how to improve those results to get the best return on your spend.
  • Ensure your connectivity options support Google — and potential future competitors. Do your direct channels appear in Google’s metasearch results today? Or does your property only appear via intermediaries? The latter is a clear sign you’re paying more for reservations than you should — likely much more. Make sure your team is working towards placing your property’s direct channels front and center in metasearch on Google, as well as on other metasearch partners who offer the opportunity to challenge Google in the future. Or accept the fact that you’re always going to pay more for bookings than you should. But that doesn’t seem like a good long-term plan to me.

Conclusion

Distribution funnels through a limited number of chokepoints and gatekeepers. And, at least for the foreseeable future, the number of gatekeepers continues to shrink towards just one: Google. If Expedia worries about Google eating its lunch, you might want to given the search giant some thought too. And then you want to put those thoughts into action.

Google may be the beast that 800-lb. gorillas fear. That doesn’t mean it should scare you. Individual property owners and operators may not be 800-lb. gorillas. But unlike the big guys, they can run through the jungle much faster. Think about your hotel marketing and distribution strategically and you’ll be able to outrun the big guys for a long time to come.

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

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

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

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

A version of this article originally appeared on Hotel News Now as "The Distribution Trend You Care About Most in 2019"

Tim Peter

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April 23, 2019

Hey Marketers: Is 2019 Everything You’ve Hoped For? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 244)

April 23, 2019 | By | No Comments

Hey Marketers: Is 2019 Everything You've Hoped For? Marketer seeing success in annual resultsLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


So, here we are with almost a third of the year gone. And, for marketers, it’s time to ask, “Is 2019 everyhing you’ve hoped for?” If not, it’s even more important to ask what you plan to do about it.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look at how to evaluate your progress so far this year — and what to do if you’re not where you’d like to be.

Here are the show notes:

Hey Marketers: Is 2019 Everything You’ve Hoped For? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 244) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

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

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR40 Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 43s

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

Tim Peter

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April 15, 2019

What Digitally Native Companies Do Best (Thinks Out Loud Episode 245)

April 15, 2019 | By | No Comments

What digitally native companies do best: Workers brainstorming new services for customersLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.



Many businesses struggle to keep up with the changes brought about by digitally native companies in their industry. But why are they so successful? What is it that digitally native companies do best? This episode of Thinks Out Loud offers some insights. Here are the show notes for you:

What Digitally Native Companies Do Best (Thinks Out Loud Episode 245) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

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

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR40 Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 18m 33s

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

Tim Peter

By

March 19, 2019

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242)

March 19, 2019 | By | No Comments

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


Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? Woman reads online news on social network

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242) – Headlines and Show Notes

Online plays a big role in the ways we interact with one another. And, unfortunately, the ways we interact with one another is not always positive. What caused this? Did we break the internet? Or did the internet break us? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud offers some thoughts. Here are the show notes:

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

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

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

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

Running time: 13m 46s

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

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242) Transcript

Well, hi, everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud. My name is Tim Peter, today is Tuesday, March 19th, 2019. This is episode 242 of the big show, and as ever, I very much appreciate you tuning in.

So this is going to be a bit of a weird episode for me. But one that I hope is the start of a conversation. Obviously, there was a big tragedy this past week, these terrorist shootings in New Zealand. And while it’s a small part of the tragedy in real terms, obviously, given what I do, using digital and things like that, there’s the really important discussion that’s started, given the use of Facebook video by the shooter to livestream the shooting, a number of people are asking and I think they’re asking in good faith, whether social media specifically, and the internet more generally have caused or will cause more harm than good.

And I think their arguments are generally lucid, they’re well-reasoned, they’re well worth your time. I plan to link to another of some of the best ones I’ve seen in the show notes, and I’d really encourage you to take the time to engage with them. In effect, they’re asking if the internet has broken us, if the internet has broken who we are, as human beings?

It saddens me to say that there’s plenty of evidence to support those arguments. The thing about the internet is that it democratizes not only peoples’ access to information, but also peoples’ ability to distribute information. Anyone can post any content online, for anyone to read, hear, watch, experience. I tend to think that’s a good thing. I think history will show that it is a good thing.

Of course, one downside is that anyone can post content, no matter how vile or disturbing that content might be, which is what we saw this past week. Clearly, as I’ve described in a prior episode of the show, explaining why digital is like gravity, I would never argue that it’s an unlimited good thing. Clearly, peoples’ ability to distribute whatever content they want has its downsides.

I know I’ve referenced this before, but as the philosopher Paul Virilio said, “The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck.” I want to be clear, I want to go on the record right now. I don’t think we should abandon ship, simply because some people want to navigate that ship into rough waters, or because they want to run it aground.

The New Zealand shooter used the benefits of the internet to his advantage, as do lots of people who spread hate, incitement to violence, conspiracy theories, and frankly, all manner of trouble and trolling that you see on a daily basis, on social media. That’s a shame. It really is because people are using something that could be, and can be, and is a tool for great benefit, specifically to cause harm, specifically to cause pain, specifically to cause suffering, and specifically to spread and share that harm, and that pain, and that suffering with as many people as they can.

I think that’s twisted, I think it’s deranged, I think it’s wrong. I also think that blaming those actions on the internet is like blaming gravity when vandals throw bricks off bridges at cars. Yes, gravity plays a role, but it’s the vandals who are taking advantage of its inherent properties of gravity’s inherent use, its utility, who are to blame.

So this gets into a very, very difficult area of conversation because we need to think about the fact that, yes, other terrorists can use these tools, and these media to their advantage, that’s true. We also know that people who seek to divide us, are trying to do the same thing. They’re using these tools to drive wedges amongst people, between people, between groups of people, based on where they see fracture points.

And I think it’s fair to say, we have points of fracture, we have points of disagreement. It’s part of what makes us human. Nobody’s ever going to agree with everybody else about everything. I wish that that were true. And I think there are people who seek to divide us, who want to use those points of disagreement as a wedge, and to drive that wedge further between us, to make us dislike one another more, to make us ham one another more, whether with violence or whether simply with words.

So I don’t encourage that, obviously, and I understand completely how painful and awful a thing that can be. I also think it plays into the hands of the wrong people when we start to say, “How do we stop this?” I do. If you look at things like the Great Firewall of China, or a recent law that was passed in Russia, actually just signed yesterday by Vladimir Putin, that puts quote unquote, “Reasonable limits on content.” It allows authoritarians and people who seek to divide in other ways to restrict access to information that really would be beneficial to most of their population.

That’s not a good thing, I can’t see that as the right solution. And I think if you look at the internet more generally, you’ll see so many examples of where people have used the internet for good, for real good. I think about something like the Ice Bucket Challenge a couple of years ago, to raise awareness of ALS. We all remember it, it went completely viral. It cost the charity, the organization behind it very little money, and resulted in an enormous amount of publicity, and even better, an enormous amount of fundraising and attention to this awful disease, to try to do something to stop it. I’ve run into more stories than I can tell you over my years of working in digital, of times when people used the internet, learned that someone was thinking about killing themselves, thinking about suicide, and using that to help these people when they were in a time of crisis. And of course, it provides access to information for marginalized people all around the world. People who are struggling with their identity, people who are struggling with being oppressed in various communities around the world.

It is an enormous benefit. Yes, I clearly remain optimistic about this. I’m cautiously optimistic, and I share a number of concerns about the ways that digital and the internet can be used for harm. Despite that, I am optimistic all the same. And I recognize that that may sound foolish, after the horror of the past week. But I also think that trying to change the world for the better requires optimism. It requires us to hope, it requires us to think about where we want to be, and who we want to be, and envisioning ourselves into a better future.

Not a perfect future, not a future that won’t come with bumps and bruises, but a better place. I don’t think the internet has broken us, the internet is us. We still have a voice, and we still have influence, and we still have the opportunity to control, and shape the direction it takes. Yes, there are awful people, who want to take it in different directions. Yes, there are bad actors, who choose to use the internet for terrible ends. They also remain a minor share of total usage.

The shipwrecks might be real, but I strongly believe that this ship is worth saving. I’d encourage you to check out the show notes, you may feel different from me. I’d encourage you to take a look at the show notes, where I’ve linked to a number of posts, even those I disagree with so you can get a sense of other points of view on this. And after you’ve had a chance to check those out, I’d genuinely love to hear what you think about this. Maybe I’m wrong, this is supposed to be a dialogue.

Drop me a line on Twitter, using the handle @tcpeter, or an email at podcast@timpeter.com, or a message on Facebook at Facebook.com/timpeterassociates, and let me know what you think. Let’s use the internet in its best, most pure form, and I’ll be sure to share your thoughts in a future episode so that we can keep the conversation going. Because ultimately, I think that proves the strength, and the power, and the value that the internet provides, and the ability it helps us, the ability it offers us to steer the ship in a direction we want it to go. So I hope you’re willing to engage in this dialogue. I really look forward to continuing the discussion.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I do want to remind you, you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all of our episodes at timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcast. This is episode 241.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there, to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite pod catcher, every single episode. You can subscribe in iTunes, or the Google Play Music Store, or Stitcher Radio, or wherever your favorite pod catcher happens to be. Just do a search for “Tim Peter Thinks,” “Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud,” or “Thinks Out Loud,” we should show up for any of those.

With that, I want to wish you nothing but peace in your life. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, a fantastic weekend, and I do look forward to the ongoing discussion with you, here on Thinks Out Loud. Until then, please be well, be safe, and take care, everybody.