Brand – Tell Them Who You Are

Often times, companies get caught up in the branding of themselves, their products and their services. It is important to remember what exactly branding is, and where we actually want to focus our branding efforts. As a visitor destination, how do you brand yourself? For some, the answer might include things like logos, websites, and slogans. But is that really the brand of your destination?

When you tackle the branding or re-branding of your property this year, consider the customer. The brand should be the feelings, connections and emotions that the customer experiences  when they look at your website, visit your property or hear your slogan. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you take on the brand of your destination in 2013:

1. Look Out the Window – Your brand is your chance to separate yourself from the crowd. Own this opportunity. Look all around you and record what you see…oceans, beaches, forests, whatever it is, use it to your advantage. Take the elements available to you and flip them to impact the emotions of your customer.

2. Don’t Hold Onto the Past – Consider how you view your destination versus how your customer does. Are they the same? Perhaps they are, but if not, do not be afraid to change. Just because you were a beach resort last year does not mean you have to be known for that this year.

3. Use Your Brand Everywhere – Once you have a brand that us uniquely your own, use it. Use it everywhere, across all platforms: websites, mail pieces, slogans, logos, telephone calls, etc. You get the idea. Consistency is the key.

Original Article found on MediaPost. To read the full article, click here.

Banner Ads – The Ripple Effect

Nobody clicks on banner ads anymore. Independent research shows that a decent banner ad will yield only 1 click per 1,000 impressions. That means if you blow through your marketing budget buying 1 Million impressions, you are still only going to get 1,000 clicks to your site. So banner ads are a waste of time, resources and money, right? Not so fast. Say hello to View Thru Booking.

The concept behind a view thru booking is simple: just because someone does not click on you banner, does not mean they did not see it. View thru booking then, is the measurement of bookings that come from an online shopper simply seeing your banner.

How it Works: Let’s say company A runs a banner ad on website 123. A user in turn views this ad but does not click on it. Two weeks later, that same user returns to book a flight, hotel stay, etc. Using view through tracking, company A would know that the booking was made by a traveler from website 123.

How to Set It Up: Start by asking your advertising partners to track view thru bookings for you. From here, simply place their tracking code from their ad server on your confirmation page before the campaign goes live. Scatter your banner ads across various sites (staying in the guardrails of your demographic) and monitor your ROI.

To read the full article, click here.

Connect – The Must Haves of Todays Traveler

Hotels.com has released its latest market research, highlighting the goods necessary to keep global travelers happy when on the go. The results reflect a “home away from home” mentality, not foreign to prior knowledge. Aside from luxuries such as high end coffee makers, remote controlled rooms, and therapudic beds, more than half of business travelers said one element trumps the rest when choosing a hotel: Free Wi-Fi.

This should not come as much of surprise to anyone. After all, recent surveys conducted by StrongMail indicate that (mobile) and web-based marketing and online activity are at an all time high, with companies across the world expanding their budget in 2013 for a more web-centered approach to business.

So, free internet is a must…but what else do travelers want when they stay at your hotel? Here are some of the top amenities guests are after:

1. High End Coffee Makers – 23% of tech-savvy business travelers called this a must have. No confusion there.

2. Free Bottled Water – Listed under the “Simple Amenities” category, 43% of those surveyed chose free H20 as the number one must have.

3. Complimentary Breakfast – Surveyed on the “Non-Tech” side of things, 31% of those surveyed said that a free meal in the morning is something that they would like to see become standard in all hotels in 2013.

4. Workout Facilities – Weary travelers often times need to boost their energy before an outing, meeting, or call. Sometimes it feels good to just flat out move after hours on a plane. For these reasons, 26% of those surveyed said that their favorite amenity in any hotel is a high-end fitness center/spa.

5. Happy Hours, Wine Tastings and Cocktails – 42% of global travelers said that their favorite new addition to hotels is in the lounge. Unwinding, relaxing and enjoying a drink with friends after a long day of travel can be the best remedy to an overwhelmed guest.

Original article found on hotelmarketing.com. To read the full article, click here.

Loyalty Programs – A Stream of Consumer Information

The value of belonging to something special has not diminished in today’s consumer world. What is often times thought of as a past mentality of consumers, is in fact the exact opposite. This holds especially true in the hospitality industry. According to independent research, more than 77% of travelers belong to at least one hotel loyalty or rewards program. This is excellent news…on the hospitality side of things.

With loyalty programs sprouting left and right, comes the flood of consumer information associated with belonging: demographics, personal interests, favorite restaraunts, properties and stores, customer satisfaction surveys and more. Essentially, marketing departments are left with a goldmine of information to specifically target customers with…why wouldn’t you use it?

If a loyalty program is in your plan for 2013, keep in mind some of the key elements that keep a customer coming back for more:

1. No Blackout Dates – Let the customer choose when they want to use their rewards. Less pressure means a happier customer.

2. Easy to Use – Travelers have enough on their plate as it is. Don’t add to the headache with difficult terms and navigation. Make it simple and to the point. Give them what they signed up for, nothing more and nothing less.

3. Offer Variety – Not all customers have the same interests. Use this to your advantage by covering a variety of options in your rewards program: airline miles, car rentals, free night-stays, golf outings…the sky is the limit. Mold your rewards to your demographic, sit back, and watch your customer loyalty take off.

Be Different in 2013

In the ultra competitive, evolving and often times predictable place of hospitality marketing/advertising, hotel marketers are despearte for solutions that separate them from the competition. Really, what sets one hotel ad apart from another? Separating yourself from the property down the street, while challenging, is not as daunting as it may seem.

The colossal changes in how hotels market in 2013, from blog posts to responsive website designs, can seem like a lot to take on. So, when examining your marketing strategy this year, keep in mind these 7 simple tips to one-up the competition and ease the panic:

1. Invest in Specialized Channels

2. Showcase Your Hotel Online

3. Customize the Experience

4. Differentiate on Booking Packages

5. Reward Loyalty

6. Market Directly to Customers

7. Leverage Social Media

Original article found on hotelmarketing.com. Content credited to Guestcentric. To read the full article, click here.

Florida, Mexico, California Round Out Popular 2012-2013 Winter Travel Destinations

All-Inclusive travel continues to shine with more than 250,000 trips planned on ResortsandLodges.com between Thanksgiving and January 31st.

Resortsandlodges.com, a leading leisure travel website is releasing its Top North America travel trends for Winter 2012-2013. 1.3 Million travelers used the popular website to plan winter escapes over this time period.  Resortsandlodges.com has analyzed this data to determine the most popular All Inclusive Winter travel destinations in North America.

“The changes we have seen year over year in the All Inclusive market are somewhat shocking. Requests for all inclusive packages are down 30% in the U.S. and Canada, but have jumped 40% in Mexico. This gives us some indication that the All Inclusive market is underserved in the States.  As we dug deeper into that data we found there are currently only 7 properties in Florida with an “All Inclusive” tag attached to their offers, compare that to the 69,000 specific searches for this type of travel in the region, and what you are left with is an indication that travelers are choosing to explore Mexico and elsehwere where Resorts and Hotels offer these packages.” said Ryan Bailey, President of ResortsandLodges.com

Each year, Resortsandlodges.com helps millions of travelers plan their winter get-aways with a variety of both expert and user-generated content, including: Top 10’s, Travel Guides, Consumer Reviews, Photos, Trip Plans and Property and Destination Videos.

Beat the Cold: Top 5 Most Popular Winter All Inclusive Destination Searches on  ResortsandLodges.com

1. Florida All Inclusive

- 69,071 Searches

2. Mexico All Inclusive

- 41,218 Searches

3. California All Inclusive

- 33,433 Searches

4. Texas

- 26,200 Searches

5. North Carolina All Inclusive

- 21,540 Searches

Marketers Budget More For Email, Mobile, and Social in 2013

Fire up the cell phones, 2013 is headed in an “on the go” direction according to recent independent research. A study conducted by StrongMail yielded what we all already know to be true: Mobile marketing and social media are on the rise. In fact, of the one-thousand companies surveyed, 56% said they plan to increase the budget for email and mobile-based marketing, while 52% of companies are planning on investing more into the outreach of social media.

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Content Discovery at Heart of the Latest Update to ResortsandLodges.com

ResortsandLodges.com, an industry leader in resort and lodge destination travel, is releasing its final major product update of 2012.  The updates are aimed towards improved user experience, content discovery and a better, more personal shopping experience.

ResortsandLodges.com provides detailed destination content, property information, photos, videos, consumer reviews, social feeds, pricing and more to travelers via robust property profile pages.  What do you get with the updates? The updates create a personal effect, throwing you into the property with additional content discovery, and location based recommendations.

“Our core value is to deliver memorable experiences.  What we’ve accomplished with this innovation, we feel, is created the most extensive, informational and media rich guide to properties in leisure travel destinations,” said Ryan Bailey, President of ResortsandLodges.com.

In addition to enhanced content discovery and property profiles, you can now filter your search results using keywords, sort photos by category and view deals and packages specific to your request, all creating a faster, more efficient user experience.

To learn more about these features, click the link below.

Focus on Conversion
Property contact details have been moved to the center of the viewer heat map t0 increase direct web-site visits, phone calls and inquiries.

Quick Request Form
Group and transient email request form brought to front of property page to enhance user experience and increase inbound leads.

Sell Your Experience
Provide potential guests with relevant content based on travel preference, i.e. deals, packages, articles, top 10’s, photos, videos and reviews, all in one dynamic property profile.

Enhanced Photo and Video Player

With a focus on user experience, the photo and video player has been recreated to show relevant media based on user preference. The new player also increases site performance and encourages social collaboration.

Increasing Your Reach
Based on user demand, featured properties will now be seen on locational lodging widgets within a 25 mile radius, increasing your exposure to thousands of additional and potential customers.