Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Key Takeaways from Travel Blogger Exchange ’15

tbex

Key takeaways from the recent TBEX(Travel Blogger Exchange) North America 2015 Conference in Fort Lauderdale. Attracting an international group of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media savvy travel industry professionals, TBEX  is the world’s largest conference and networking event for online travel journalists and travel industry companies. Facts, figures, and tips to keep in mind:

Key Takeaways

  • Why Travel Brands Must Embrace Visual Storytelling
    • Data shows that 71% of travelers search for a destination on YouTube before booking to see the visual appeal
    • Good examples of brands using the tools of video and photography to their advantage:
      • Marriott created a GoPro rental package and encouraged guests to videotape their trip
      • The 1888 Hotel in Sydney allowed for anyone with over 50,000 Instagram followers to have a free night (because they have such a large visual following.)
  • Have brand hashtags readily available for guests to access (no longer than 15 characters)
  • Less than 10% of travel brands have videos on their Facebook – this is a huge opportunity for brands to expand upon
  • Platforms to utilize social media:
    • Socialbakers monitors how the competition promotes their content, how it performs, and start reaching bigger audience on social
    • Periscope is an emerging video social platform brands should begin utilizing

 

Working with Travel Bloggers from a Company Perspective

  • Pin articles to a brand’s Pinterest account to expand their reach
  • Airlines will very rarely comp flights because of the margin
  • Bloggers want evergreen content that will continue to generate impressions (a win/win for a company because they will generate sales)
  • Blogs are the third most influential digital resources (31%) when making overall purchases, behind retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%) according to Technorati
  • “Nearly half of travelers have changed or decided upon a trip because of what they read on social media” – WTTC

 

Travel Reviews

  • Everything is based on a review in this day and age
  • We live in a review culture (i.e. someone looks to their favorite travel blog for hotel recommendations)
  • Credibility is the number one factor of bloggers gaining readers, developing their voice and showing their professionalism
  • As part of a blogger’s editing checklist, they want to be a correct resource (i.e. it’s OK as a brand/PR representative to ask them to correct a story if the information is out of date)

Photo courtesy of www.fathomaway.com

Emotional Marketing and Music

You can’t help reading these days about emotional marketing —  forging an emotional connection with potential buyers or clients as a key to sales success. Story telling and appealing to the senses are touted as  effective ways (and I concur as you’ve read). In the case of the latter,  incorporating aromatherapy and visual candy (design, art, fashion) into the product and marketing are becoming a “given” with many hotels and lifestyle products. But what about the hearing sense? Some interesting information and data recently crossed my desk . Rightune makes music for websites, 1000 of them right now that are active, as well as online ads and applications. They claim this has increased business by 15 to 20%, the highside being in the hotel, travel and lifestyle industries. Here’s an example of what CEO Erez Perlmuter says is one of the more successful of the sites (click on the name to hear the music):

Europa Hotel 

How does this work?  They customize the music based on branding values, target audience, mood to be created and business goal (e.g.lead generation, purchase, staying time). The client then gets a code snippet to embed on their website which will give a user a playlist. The user’s behavior is tracked and music updated as needed. Clients get a dashboard where they can see what was played and its impact on website business performance. What kind of music works? Not surprisingly, soothing tunes in the morning and more upbeat works in the afternoon.

I asked the obvious question, how do they know how many people to the site don’t like the music? They said on average 4% of visitors mute or lower the volume and 96% stayed longer.  I have to say, I found the music on the Europa Hotel relaxing (he said the music increased their business by 50%). What do you think?

Images for Blogs: Branding and Photography

images for blogs

Just as all employees need to be trained on the importance of how to deal with online reviews, an equal amount of attention needs to be paid to training them on catering to bloggers’ photography needs. As we all know, images affect branding – especially in luxury. But the fact is, we can try to direct, but cannot control, bloggers’ output. And the best way to maximize your visual coverage is to train staff in effective ways to deal with bloggers’ photography and video needs.

Here are four tips:

1. Don’t ban photography.

By doing that, you risk having media decide not to feature you and/or it will create a bad impression. Case in point – I saw a handbag in a Madison Avenue storefront that I wanted to feature on my personal blog. Since images without glass photograph better, I walked inside the store and asked to see the handbag to photograph it. They said corporate policy prohibits photography in the store and that I’d have to call the PR department to waive the policy. The upshot of this? I used the photo taken through the window, not the best quality, so I could post it immediately. This inconveniences a reporter who is  probably on deadline and used to taking pictures — and sharing them with friends — whenever they want.

Besides taking the risk of not being featured in a publication, you also run the risk of missing a captivating image that you hadn’t thought to take. A case in point: as she recently told me, when former USA TODAY hotels reporter Barbara DeLollis took a hard-hat tour of the Capella Washington D.C. with Capella CEO Horst Shulze a year ago, she looked at the large, circular bathtub in the luxury boutique hotel’s premier suite and asked its size so she could tell readers about it. Before someone could respond, she stepped inside the tub and asked GM Alex Obertop to take her picture sitting inside it – in, of course, her suit and heels.

“The tub was so sumptuous that simply stating its dimensions wouldn’t give readers the whole story,” said DeLollis (soon to launch the travel site barbdelollis.com). “Showing them a photo of someone they know sitting inside it was worth 10,000 words. That picture, by the way, generated a lot of comments on social media.”

2. Make it quick and easy for bloggers to obtain images.

Have the staff know where to retrieve images for blogs (ideally online without a password) or, better yet, have them offer to get a particular image the blogger wants sent to him/her. If you know that a writer is on deadline, it would be wise to ask them if they would like you to email them a particular image to save them time. Or, at the least, have business cards for the PR contact/agency ready to be handed out by staff/employees or the list of contacts available at easy access to give to bloggers on the spot.

3. Create USB memory sticks with property or product images for blogs.

If they like the images, they’ll tend to use them rather than take their own. One caveat: Others will insist on taking their own images as they’ll want to express their own voice or take their own pictures because they’re more “real” than generic, touched up images.

4. Plan ahead.

When a press visit is confirmed, be sure that the person – before they arrive – receives a few relevant images (spa, food and beverage, sports, etc., depending on their interests) along with the link to the image gallery. Ideally they’ll have a look before their trip.

Is Instagram the new most powerful social platform?

instagram social media

According to reports by L2’s Intelligence and GlobalWebIndex it is. Both studies account that Instagram is growing faster than any other social media sites worldwide, with an active user base increase of 23 percent over the last six months.

L2, a retail analytics company based in New York, released a new data-driven research that offers insight into influential brands’ investments on Instagram and the platform’s e-commerce potential. GlobalWebIndex’s report, published in January, was based on responses from some 170,000 users across 32 countries.

Due to its extremely high user engagement, Instagram is becoming an important tool for brand marketers. As noted by survey performed by Pew Research – based on data from telephone interviews conducted on August and September last year – over half of users use the app daily, while 35 percent do so multiple times a day.

Instagram users are even interacting with brands that do not have an official presence on the platform. One example is Chanel, which has about 5 million photos posted by users with the hashtag #chanel.

The photo-sharing network’s revenue potential is being explored by many of the world’s top brands. Both luxury brands and mass-market retailers have been taking advantage of the app to generate interest and potential growth in sales. L2 predicts that it will generate $250 million to $400 million in revenue only this year.

Pau Sabria of Oliapic, a New York company that helps brands solicit and publish photos of their products taken by ordinary Instagram users, told the New York Times that by adding user-generated photos to a retail site the number of visitors who turn into buyers increased by 5 to 7 percent and the average order value rose by 2 percent. One of the reasons for the increase, according to him, is that clients can explore how a product looks “in real life” by Instagram users. He affirms that the platform is already generating real revenue for brands, such as some of his clients: American Eagle Outfitters, Lancôme, Coach and West Elm.

One of the reasons for the great success of Instagram might be thanks to the extensive use of mobile handsets for social networking services. Cellphones are now the most popular for access, with an average of 66 percent users compared to 64 percent for PCs and tablets.

Another advantage of Instagram, when compared to platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, is its visual appeal. While text can be a little harder to absorb, a short video or a photo say it all in a few seconds.

Guest post by Bruna Indalecio

Managing Your Personal Reputation Online

 

Newsle.com Home Page

Newsle.com Home Page

The other day I was reading a sad tale of woe in the New York Times about a college student who was charged with a felony but not convicted, and how his mug shot ended up on numerous for-profit internet sites such as Busted Mugshots, Just Mugshots, and Mugshots. The sites obtain photos from public record and keep them online until people pay anywhere from $30 to $400 to have them removed (or in a few cases, sites will allow people to prove they were judged not guilty and the photo is removed).  As you’ve probably heard often, the internet can be your best friend or your worst enemy if you’re not careful. One of the better articles out there which had a solid list of tips was “Tending your Image in an Age of Online Permanence”. The main point of the article was how to push the “good stuff’ about you to the top of Google search.  Here are the highlights:

  • Get on as many online platforms as possible and links as well. Articles, videos on lectures, anything that says “authority” is the best. All this helps your ranking and if there is something negative, pushes down the negative.
  • Buy your name. That includes not just buy yourfirstnamelastname.com, but also .net and .org, and populate each with different content. On .net include your academic history and extracurricular activities and on .org your writings on business or career related subjects.
  • Sent up two accounts to monitor your name: Google Alerts, and  Newsle.com . They’re both free.
  • And once you’ve done this, take the next step to proactively build your reputation by populating these profile sites with the latest information and activities you’re proud of — i.e. a new job, professional accomplishments, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc. This will help you professionally in everything from getting a job offer and engagements as an industry panelist to being called upon to be quoted as an authority or source.

For more tips, on getting known as an industry authority, check out our article .

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist

Easy/Low Cost Idea for Social Media #1

Effective example of discreetly promoting twitter use

Effective example of discreetly promoting twitter use

So easy to do, and low cost, too. Surprising more shops, hotels, spas don’t do it for events, tastings, openings, etc. Include the twitter handle discreetly placed in the invitation so readers will help you spread the message (see photo of a perfect example of the way to do it). Then, at the event, have a sign that’s prominently displayed that shows your twitter handle. Twitter luxury?  You may say that it’s too commercial for a luxury establishment, and maybe even pushy. To the contrary, to anyone who tweets, and there are millions of us — many affluent, we view it as a service. And it enables you to reach a younger demographic. The other day I was at a  tony membership event for a leading performing arts group that teamed up with a big name luxury retailer in Bal Harbour Shops. We had a performance by members of the troupe (perfect for a short video) and fashion show. Content perfect for twitter (and You Tube). I had to ask what the twitter handle was. Much better if the shop had posted a discreet sign with the information. Plus, the sign would have served as a suggestion for people to tweet what they saw and heard. Easy and effective.

 

By Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist

How Social Media Will Change Your Job

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, a major social media management system for brand management (over 4.5 million users),predicted thought provoking trends in how social media will change the total business environment in an article in Forbes. Here are some of the highlights with with my comments in parenthesis:

  • SM will emerge as an office productivity tool in everything from human resources to sales. Look for job seekers to connect with potential employers and clients announcing RFPs (in an earlier post we wrote about how Aloft Hotels announced their search for a PR agency through a tweet). Sales departments will use social media to generate leads and track clients and the competition. (some of this is already happening, but expect it to become more widespread). R & D departments will brainstorm on product development.
  • Email will start to decline in importance, giving way to instant messaging and Wikis. Look for internal business networks like Yammer and Chatter, virtual work groups to exchange ideas.
  • Command centers will be set up to monitor and respond to social media and be able to monitor everything on one screen or even on a smartphone (this is good news as all too often SM is handled in different departments of marketing resulting in effforts that are uncoordinated and, as a result, less effective).
  • New major players will emerge much as Instagram has. “They’ll have a deeper functionality with lower technical barriers to entry”, said James Murray of Experian. (When these new channels emerge, this could be a major opportunity to more fully engage baby boomers in SM who are less comfortable with SM now)
  • Promoted tweets and sponsored stories will replace traditional banner and interruption ads. “These so called ‘native” ads let brands reach clients on their own terms”, said Holmes. (And they’re viewed as valuable content as opposed to something intrusive)

Mixologists – new marketing influencers

Marketers have long mined data from social networks for “influencers,” people whose favorable tweets and posts can boost product sales. Likewise, sprits companies are consulting the experts – focus groups of influential bartenders on their opinions, especially those spirits that are consumed as cocktails, not shots or neat. All the big liquor brands like Bacardi and Pernod Ricard are collaborating with bartenders in creating new spirits because at the end of the day, bartenders make the sale for them.

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The most social Olympics ever

Olympic hype generated millions of stories, not on what records Olympians are breaking, but what tweets they are posting. News media have taken to reporting on the top athletes to follow, not in their events, but online. There were a lot of “firsts” in social media and social TV that weren’t possible four years ago. From President Obama congratulating Team USA like Michael Phelps on Twitter, to athletes being thrown out of competition for posting offensive messages, London 2012 was undoubtedly the most social Olympics so far.

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Relatability: Consumers influencing purchasing decisions

As consumers become the marketers, expect to see more people like you and me: friends, fans and followers greatly influencing purchasing decisions. Consumers are increasingly tapping into their networks of friends, fans, and followers to discover, discuss and purchase goods and services.

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