Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

A Destination That Does It Right

red inclusive card

You’ve read here about destinations that do it right – social media campaigns (Swedish Tourist Board), advertising concept (Amsterdam Tourist Board) and the UK does an especially good job of capitalizing on country milestones and cultural events. That these destinations are cutting edge probably isn’t very surprising. But would you believe The Black Forest Highlands in Southwestern Germany (Hochschwarzwald) is right up there with some innovative product offerings that show their understanding of what today’s travelers want: product with a sense of place, technology, superior value and experiences.

Let’s start with value. Travelers who stay for two nights or more at any one of over 300 holiday accommodations get a Red Inclusive Card free. Often destination value cards have a lot of features but most of them are of little interest. This is a notable exception. The card with a clever tag line of “experiences included” features not only the usual free admissions to numerous attractions and cultural offerings, but also, free local transportation anywhere in the region, guided electric bike tours, golf, spas, rental of cross country ski equipment, and, most impressive, use of a BMW i3 to discover the Black Forest landscape with climate neutral transportation. Besides the value appeal, the features encourage travelers to immerse themselves in the destination, making for a richer, more memorable holiday.

And then there are the unique accommodations, Black Forest Highland Design Apartments dubbed with the clever name of “cuckoosnests”. With their wood and rock faces, tree stumps for bedside tables and specially designed furniture, they appeal to the growing number of travelers who want to stay in lodging that offers a sense of place.

Is this all working? According to Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of the Black Forest Highlands,   the cards have increased tourism to the area from 2010 to 2014 by 27.5%. Each year about 245,000 cards are given out and since 2010, more than two million cards have been used registered. Especially valued and used are the free entrances to the various activities and highlights including Ski Tickets to the Feldberg, Spa Paradise Blackforest, boat trips on the Titisee. When the Black Forest Highlands Card started in 2010 there were 180 participating hotels and now there are 345. Sounds like a success by any measure.

Emojis and Icons, Future of Communication

Two billion smartphone users send over 6 billion emoticons or stickers each day around the world on mobile messaging apps according to Swyft Media. They offer the benefit of instantly understandable communication without the barriers of variable written  or spoken language. So it’s not hard to believe that this can be the future of communication.

Indeed, a few months ago I went to the opening of an exhibit by prominent Chinese artist Xu Bing at the Frost Art Museum in Miami. He did a series of works communicating a story entirely with icons, an idea which occurred to him while sitting in an airport and seeing the signs that were meant to communicate in a “global language”.

Getting back to emojis. They have already been discovered by select major brands as an opportunity to participate in a space that has been difficult to penetrate. Plus, as described by Evan Wray, co-founder of Swyft Media in a recent article in Adweek, they offer the benefit of not being viewed as advertising, but as self expression. Earlier this year Ikea launched 100 branded emoticons, or social stickers. Coca Cola in Puerto Rico created 30 they called “emoticoke” and GE, AT &T, Comedy Central and others are also on board.

How to do it? The emoji keyboard (emoticons are emojis expressing emotions), standard on many smartphones, has emojis approved by the Unicode Consortium which can be a difficult process to penetrate. Adweek suggested that brands who want to create their own emoticons and stickers need to make their own apps or partner with messaging apps like Kik, WhatsAPP and Facebook Messenger. Worth it? I definitely say so.

Are you getting on the bandwagon?

5 Not so Obvious Do’s and Don’ts with Bloggers

best-practices-300x276

Though I’ve had KWE Partners blog for many years, mostly a B2B audience, being on the consumer blogging side with MiamiCurated (69K+ UVM according to Cision media database) has opened my eyes to several Best Practices that are often overlooked by products and services. Here are 5 tips from my first hand experience:

 

  • Do not prohibit bloggers from taking photos or require them to get approvals from PR execs to take them. This might seem obvious in a social media world, but it isn’t in practice. Case in point. As a courtesy, I always introduce myself when I go to a place and want to take pictures. The other day I went to a men’s shoe store, spoke with the manager, introduced myself, and proceeded to take pictures. He said I wasn’t permitted without getting the PR department’s approval. No writeup for them.
  • Recently I learned of a blogger’s loyalty program to encourage purchases of the product. What a wonderful idea. Think of giving a discount to bloggers who sign up as a perk – you’ll earn their appreciation and more brand ambassadors for very little investment.
  • When you confirm attendance at an event, a press visit, whatever, send a press release and link to images as a matter of course even if it was sent with the initial pitch. If the blogger doesn’t need the info he/she can always delete. If it is needed, then this saves the person having to send an email request and would be much appreciated.
  • Want to build business on a slow night or off season? Consider inviting your favorite blogger friends to have an event for their readers. It introduces your shop, lounge, restaurant, hotel, whatever, to new people and at an investment that can be as little as paying for Prosecco and some light bites for two hours. The blogger might even be able to get the beverage donated.
  • Keep in mind partnering with bloggers on contests. Say it’s a travel sweepstakes, the hotel could give a two night stay and that’s all that it costs to get in front of the bloggers’ readers and get the participants’ contact info to build a mailing list. It’s a great way to build an opt-in list for eblasts.

And of course, there’s the cardinal rule of working with bloggers and any media – take the time to read it or see it (broadcast) before you pitch.. A pet peeve is always getting inappropriate mailings.

 

Real People

Dolce-And-Gabbana-Senior-Ads-Summer-2015

The rise of selfies, success of “Real Housewives”, interest in story telling: advertising and magazine covers with real people had to come. And so it has. This fall Redbook will be forgoing celebs and opting for “real” women on its cover. The women are winners of the magazine’s Real Women Style Awards sponsored by Dove. Said an exec in Adweek, “This is just a way to put our money where our mouths are and actually celebrate these women as being just as cool and exciting and inspiring as any celebrity out there”.

And how about advertising? Have you seen the ads for Dolce & Gabbana lately? A comely model next to  Italian grandmothers that could be off the farm or from some small country village (or without the young model as in the image above). There’s also the ad campaign for Celine with 93 year old Iris Apfel who’s stylish and chic, but not your usual demographic for a high fashion brand marketing campaign. So the age barrier is starting to break and how about weight? A major step forward is Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue this year which included plus size models. Plus size women are also more in evidence on national television, in the interview shows.

Interestingly enough, there’s another current, and that’s the recent backlash in France against anorexic models. A debate has been going on in the French Parliament that would set minimum weights for women and girls to work as models as a way to address the serious problem of anorexia. Modeling agencies and fashion houses that employ models whose body mass indexes (BMI) don’t meet certain standards could face criminal penalties. For example, in the index a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall would have to weigh at least 120 pounds. Israel already has legislation in place that prohibits the use of underweight and underage models.

And the travel industry? In many cases, it still hasn’t even embraced multi-culturalism and gender diversity in advertising and website images. Fashion almost always leads the way.

Gen Z and Media Habits

genz

 

They’re called Gen Z, the Centennials and the Homeland Generation (not sure why this name). They’re under 14 years old and their media habits and attitude toward content are the next logical steps in the world of digital media. Before reading an article on the topic by Scott Hess in Adweek, “Post Gen will Remake Our Media”, having seen the way this age group uses their phones and electronic toys, I anticipated some of these trends but was surprised by others. Here are the shifts:

 

  • With the ubiquitousness of advertising, one would think Gen Z would tune out, immune to their messages. Not necessarily so. They’re not immune if they’re not bored. They view advertising as another form of content. May the most interesting content win. The prize? Their attention.

 

  • Video, video, video. They’re highly visual and demand content be short.

 

  • In the competition for their attention, he who compels views now wins. The challenge is to motivate them to tune in, read, act right away or you’ve lost them. It’s all about urgency.

 

  • This one’s a surprise. They look to their Gen X parents to guide them in their content choices and consumption times. As Hess wrote, “Under 14 and under the tutelage of Gen X parents who themselves are massively adept at calendaring and multitasking, these Post Gen kids have given over the planning rei,ns entirely content to reside nose first in their devices until someone tells them otherwise.

 

  • It’s all about being real and being real means multicultural. “Post Gen won’t settle for a whitewashing”.

 

Photo courtesy of www.studenthousing.com

 

Foodie Crime

Cruffin

Cruffin

 

With the foodie craze on the consumer side commanding ever higher prices for restaurant meals especially in the form of tastings with wine pairings and on the other, the business side, opportunities for instant celebrity stardom, possible franchises or IPOs and the money that goes with it, foodie crime had to come.

And come it has. First, at Christmas 76 bottles of fine wine were stolen from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant north of San Francisco. The wine was valued at $300,000. And more recently all of the recipes were stolen from Mr.Holmes Bakery in San Francisco – recipes and nothing else. Why could this be? It turns out that Ry Stephen, a 28 year old pastry chef invented the cruffin, a muffin croissant hybrid that has created a frenzy in the city, much as the cronut did in New York. They sell out before the long line is gone. Selling at $4.50 each, the cruffin is said to take three days to make the ice cream cone shaped bakery item and comes filled with caramel, strawberry milkshake or Fluffernutter cream, among others.

Where will the foodie thieves strike next? Better put those recipes in a safe.

Photo courtesy of www.abc7news.com