Archive for February, 2008

Here’s the one you want to be on!

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Travel2.0, Web2.0 |

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the TravelersChoiceAwards2008 list of top hotels which I’m sure is full of hotels that not only deliver on their promise but very likely over deliver and are rewarded for it. They probably also are aware of how they are perceived in the marketplace by participating in the conversation that happens about them and take corrective action quickly if needed to avoid the fate of those who take things for granted and probably don’t care.

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TripAdvisor’s 2008 Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels

Posted on February 29, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Travel2.0, Web2.0 |

This is the list you definitely do not want to be on!

It’s a great – and for some scary! – example of the radical transparency businesses are facing today. There is no place to hide and anyone would be advised to manage their online brand reputation way before they end up on a list like this. I’m convinced that these establishments must have received negative feedback directly over a period of time that would have allowed them to improve the situation. More likely they just didn’t pay attention or care.

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Facebook fatigue?

Posted on February 28, 2008. Filed under: Social Media, Web2.0 |

Facebook Falling Off? asks Marketing Pilgrim and shows us a neat graph to visualize what might be the answer to the question

facebook-wms-02-23-08.png

and Kevin on Travolution asks if “the social networking boom is losing momentum

First off, I’m not blaming the messengers here for reporting about this and granted, the figures show some drop off in traffic but let’s remember, the first reports about the meteoric rise of Facebook outside the college crowd appeared less than about a year ago. For some of the other social networking sites it might be a bit longer, but by and large about one year. Then everyone was worried that without a Facebook application or even own social networking site their business would nosedive, now it’s “well, we don’t have to worry about all this social web thing after all”

This somehow reminds me of the much predicted total demise of travel agents when the web 1.0 wave hit the shore and then the recent opposite claim by Forrester about a travel agent resurgence.

I can’t help but think that we’re jumping on and off bandwagons far too quickly here and need to take a collective breath before embracing developments and proclaim them the latest and greatest thing on the web. It’s in the very nature of web developments that some are permanent and others short lived and that’s likely to continue to be the case in future.

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The Real World Marketing Value of Virtual Events

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: DMO, Marketing, Tourism, Web/Tech |

article in Chief Marketer caught my attention.

I’ve long been an advocate of using webinars qualified for lead generation, which in my opinion most DMOs are still not using anywhere near enough.

Virtual events could become an even more effective tool to show off a destination and presenting key suppliers to a much wider audience than in the physical world, with all the advantages the article describes.

Of course, I can already hear the critics proclaim that face to face meetings with personal interaction are too important to ever be replaced. I don’t deny that for one minute, however, the industry reality has been for quite some time the difficulty to attract enough qualified decision makers to attend all these real life shows and workshops.

Using virtual events to attract a wider initial audience more cost effectively and then select the most interested and qualified for a personal site inspection to meet with key suppliers, seems to me a much smarer use of not only marketing dollars, but more importantly everyones time.

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Visit Scotland.com to close shop

Posted on February 26, 2008. Filed under: DMO, Marketing, Tourism, Travel2.0, Web2.0 |

reports Hotelmarketing, based on an article on Scotsman.com with the headline of “Tourist website has to be worth a visit”, which sounds pretty much like a no-brainer to me. I have to admit that I’m not familiar with the details of their situation but apparently a number of local suppliers are claiming the failure of the site as a victory which seems at least somewhat odd to me. If structured and organized correctly, a site with a popular address for a well known, global brand should be a success for both the DMO and its suppliers.

At least that’s the case for Switzerland, a destination I know more about, which launched Switzerland Travel Centre, a commercial, industry owned venture that since its inception ten years ago has grown to become a well established and profitable company, not only as the accommodation booking engine for MySwitzerland.com but also for local and regional DMOs in the country as well as being the largest distributor for rail products.

According to Klaus Oegerli, the CEO of STC, the model is successful due to their relationships with the industry both as a technology provider and major distribution partner, including a merchant model for hotels with more than 300 properties being sold through tour operators and online travel portals.

The Swiss model is proof to me, that with the right set-up and industry cooperation a successful online distribution system can be built that provides a welcome and effective marketing tool for the destination and its supplier partners that makes economic sense and a profit for both.

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Look who starts paying attention!

Posted on February 25, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Search, Travel2.0, Web2.0 |

“Online comparison sites move beyond price”

reads the headline of Rob Lovitt’s column on msnbc.com about the travel meta-search companies that some of us industry bloggers have written about for over a year now.

I can only say – welcome to the party! and the earlier the main stream media start writing about the fact that online travel is not just used to go looking for the cheapest price the better.

This type of single issue media focus has been one of the main reasons travelers were trained to look only for bargains rather than value for money on online travel sites. The sooner this mindset is replaced by a different attitude the better.

The industry players, on the other hand, will then have to deliver a shopping experience that exceeds those higher, no longer only price focused expectations. That’s the challenge the industry needs to address while moving to the next level.

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Online Buyers Seek Out User Reviews

Posted on February 25, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Social Media, Travel2.0, Web2.0 |

according to eMarketer which presents a collection of studies that proof this point. Although not dealing specifically with travel, I would venture the guess that similar numbers apply.

This is further proof of the importance buyers place on comments by buyers/users of a particular product or service and as I’ve commented previously, if those comments are made by someone close, like a relative or friend or member of a social network they will have an even higher impact on purchasing decisions.

Ignore the conversation about you in social media at your peril!

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How Search Marketing Slays Seasonality in Travel

Posted on February 25, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Web/Tech |

explains Elisabeth Osmeloski in a very illuminating article in Search Engine Watch which puts the focus on the importance of search in travel and how it can be used effectively. The strategies explained are valid not only for suppliers and OTAs but also for DMOs, especially the many who are now selling their suppliers directly on their websites.

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Cluetrain at 10

Posted on February 21, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Web/Tech |

Unfortunately I missed this event but Josh Benoff of Forrester summarized some of key comments of Doc Searls which I quote below:

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1. Advertising as we know it will die.

2. Herding people into walled gardens and guessing about what makes them “social” will seem as absurd as it actually is. (Facebook is his example.)

3. We will realize that the most important producers are what we used to call consumers. (Yup.)

4. The value chain will be replaced by the value constellation. (Many connections.)

5. “What’s your business model?” will no longer be asked of everything. (What’s the business model for your kids?)

6. We will make money by maximizing “because effects”. (“Because effects” are what happen when you make more money because of something than with it.) E.g. search and blogging.

8. We will be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage us. (Agreements between companies and customers shouldn’t be skewed in favor of the companies.) At Harvard Law they call this VRM — vendor relationship management — which is what Searls is working on (projectvrm.org).

10. We’ll marry the live web to the value constellation. (The Live Web isn’t just about stars. Relationships of anybody to anybody.)

All this might not be readily accepted by marketers today, but let’s remember that most of what the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto loudly proclaimed ten years ago about how the web will change consumer behavior and marketing has come to pass. My take is that he’s right again.

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Online travel satisfaction continues to decline

Posted on February 20, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Travel, Travel2.0 |

this study, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released today by the University of Michigan with e-commerce partner ForeSee Results is a wake-up call mostly for the online travel agencies, but if I were a travel supplier I wouldn’t be too pleased about myself either.

It clearly shows that the low hanging fruit in selling travel online have by now all been picked. The pace is picking up as far as innovation and foremost improvement of the buying experience is concerned.

Consumer expectations have been raised by those other online categories, especially retail with companies like Amazon leading the way. The fact that it requires much more complex technology to sell a complete vacation online, especially one tailor made to customer requirements, than selling books, records, DVDs etc. is not relevant to the discussion, a the online shopper doesn’t know or care.

What needs to happen, is a step-up in technology that allows for more personalization and a combination of the various travel tools that are out there but only address part of the total chain in travel research, planning and buying. The whole process has to become seamless and performed on one site, as is the case with online retail. The customer expects no less in travel and as we all know, a successful business depends on satisfying customers.

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