Is your travel and leisure marketing helping your customers bond with your brand?

July 24, 2012

Author William McEwen reviewed 60 years of Gallop studies on great brands and identified 4 keys to building strong relationships with customers.

Why do some leisure brands succeed with customers and some fail? It’s all about relationships.

Have you ever wondered why people are devoted to some travel+leisure brands, and couldn’t care less about others? Are you unsure of how to create a lasting relationship between your travel+leisure brand and your customer?

If this is a problem for your organization, I recommend reading Married to the Brand: Why  Consumers Bond with Some Brands for Life.

The book compiles 60 years of Gallop study to examine how and why consumers connect to the products they use and the brands they buy.  And the findings easily translate to the specialized world of leisure marketing.

Author William J. McEwen discovered four prerequisites to build a strong and lasting relationship with your customer.

  1. Confidence: Your customers must feel that your leisure brand is one they can always trust and one that will always deliver on whatever it promises.
  2. Integrity: Your customers must feel that your leisure brand treats them fairly. And they must believe that your company stands resolutely behind your leisure products and services. They must feel that if a problem ever arises, you will fix it.
  3. Pride: Your customers must feel proud to be associated with your leisure brand — proud to be known as a brand owner, shopper, or user. They must be convinced that the brand and your representatives will always treat them with respect.
  4. Passion: Your customers must feel that your leisure brand is irreplaceable in their lives and represents a perfect fit with their needs, whether those needs are tangible or intangible. In fact, they should feel that their world really wouldn’t be the same without it.

When I think of some of my favorite travel and leisure brands, from Royal Carribean to Disney to Hilton Hotels to Singapore Airlines, they are fulfilling most or all of these prerequisites.

How about you? Is your travel + leisure brand living up to these expectations?  If so, tell us how you’re doing it. If not, ask yourself how you can start building confidence, pride, integrity and passion back into your relationships with your customers.

And how you can use some of the exciting tools offered by new and emerging media to enhance those relationships.


Are you riding the latest trend in travel marketing?

July 10, 2012

The number of people traveling by bike has tripled since 1990.

A recent study shows Americans are hitting the streets by foot and on bikes in record numbers.

The Federal Highway Administration  released a study recently that confirms a trend we’ve been watching here on the streets and bike paths of Denver for the last decade:  More people are walking or riding their bikes than ever before.

The National Biking and Walking Study:  A 15-Year Status Report found that the number of people who are traveling by foot has doubled since 1990, and the number of people who travel by bike has tripled.  1 in 10 trips Americans take are now by foot or by bike.

1 in 10 trips are now taken by foot or bike.

A concerted effort by national, state and local governments.

The study is actually a progress report on how well the Federal Highway Department has done against goals set when the study was first released in 1994.  Here are the some of the findings:

  • Almost all states now include pedestrian and bicycle facilities in their highway projects or as independent projects.
  • More than half of state and municipal governments organize Bike to Work Days and similar events.
  • Almost all states have long-range plans for improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructures, or have incorporated them into their long-term transportation planning

Implications for travel marketing professionals

This study helps define a new target audience for CMOs marketing travel and destination brands.

But these are not the elite athletes I’ve written about in previous posts. These are people who walk or bike instead of drive because it’s better for their health, better for their budgets and better for the environment.

So if you want to market your travel or destination brand, you need to get to know them,  speak to their unique needs and motivations and make sure you’re spotlighting your bike paths and pedal-powered activities in your marketing materials.

Because this audience is taking a whole different path than the travelers you’re used to selling to.

Travel and hospitality marketing: Is Groupon a good deal for your brand?

August 17, 2011

Groupon is good for deal lovers. But is it good for business?

A new study found that  almost 7 in 10 businesses made money on their Groupon promotions. But only 6 in 10 said they would do it again.

My wife and I love daily deal websites like Groupon, Living Social and Eversave. But I’ve often wondered if these sites are really good for my clients’ travel and hospitality brands.

A recent study by Rice University found a mixed bag of results for businesses considering partnering with Groupon.

Your success depends on the industry you’re in and if you can avoid cannibalizing on current sales.

  • Among service businesses, salons and spas reported the highest number of successful promotions.
  • Restaurants reported the highest percentage of unprofitable promotions.
  • Businesses in which the promotion did not cannibalize sales to existing customers reported more successes.

1 in 3 businesses reported the promotion was not profitable. And 4 in 10 said they wouldn’t do it again.

  • 66% of businesses surveyed were profitable, 34% were not.
  • More than 40% said they would not run this kind of promotion again.
  • Satisfied employees were the most important factor in determining the success of the promotion.
  • The percentage of discount offered, number of Groupons sold, or percentage of Groupon users who purchased beyond the deal did not predict the deal’s profitability.

If you’re new to Groupon promotions follow these 3 guiding principles in developing your deal:

  • Do the math before you offer your deal.  Figure out your costs, including the additional labor. The rule of thumb is to discount your lowest-cost, highest-margin products and services first.
  • Make sure you prepare your staff, and yourself, for the influx of new and different customers.
  • Remember that Groupon shoppers are discount and value hunters. So be sure to display other products and services that appeal to them, so they’ll come back.
  • Develop a conversion strategy (like a bounce back offer) along with your Groupon offer, to encourage your Groupon customers to return.

Have you used Groupon for your travel or hospitality brand? If so, what did you learn from the experience?  If you decided against Groupon, why?

Travel and leisure marketing in a natural disaster: Orbitz and the Gulf Oil spill.

April 13, 2011

There are two ways a travel marketer can respond to a natural disaster. During the gulf oil crisis, Orbitz showed us the right way.

As crisis after crisis unfolds across the globe, many travel and leisure marketers are asking, “Is it appropriate to keep marketing during times like this?”

During the Gulf Oil Crisis, the Orbitz “Open Beach” guarantee helped save Florida’s Gulf Coast.

At that time, Florida hotel rooms were worth as much as the oil gushing out of the BP wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Just as everything seemed hopeless, a massive relief effort was announced to protect the state’s hotels and beaches.

But it wasn’t BP or the U.S. Government that came to the rescue.  It was the online travel booking site Orbitz.

In a matter of days, Orbitz put together a powerful “Open Beach Guarantee” with  123 hotels in 16 cities up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast.

This announcement appeared on Orbitz' website at the height of the crisis.

How the guarantee worked.

If you booked hotel reservations that weren’t part of a package deal in any of those hotels, and the government closed a beach within twenty miles of that hotel, you got a full refund.

On its website Orbitz listed the hotels offering this deal, the cities they were in, and even a daily visual forecast of the projected trajectory of the oil spill.

There was nothing pious or self-serving in this announcement.

In a press release that accompanied the announcement, Orbitz spokesman Brian Hoyt refused to get pious.

“It doesn’t really help us if we send someone to a beach with oil,” he said. “The travel industry has been dramatically impacted by this, and our role is to help our partner hotels.”

What leisure marketers can learn from Orbitz’ response to this crisis.

With this one simple act,  Orbitz demonstrated the kind of chutzpah that every marketer of a travel or leisure brand should strive to develop.

They showed us that there is a way for travel brands to protect their profitability and integrity during a crisis.

And they offered a clear path for hospitality brands around the globe who have been affected by natural disaster or crises.

Has your travel brand been affected by events that affected your very existence?

How have you continued to market during times like these? How did you get through your crisis?

Leisure marketing: What’s the best time of year to market to fitness fanatics?

March 9, 2011

Research confirms New Year’s resolutions do lead to an increase in exercise.  But more people get back into the habit of regular exercise later in the year.

According to the most recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the number of people getting regular exercise increased by about 4% from December to January.

But that number rises about 5% a month for the next few months until it reaches its peak in June and July.

Motivation seems to change with the seasons.

Every night for years, Gallup has called 1,000 American adults and asked them how many days in the past week they have exercised for  30 minutes or more.

Over the years, the results have remained fairly constant:  People’s motivation and exercise habits rise as the temperatures and hours of sunlight increase, and fall with the…well…the fall.

Percentage of Americans Who Exercise 5 Days a Week or More

1 in 5 people who exercise in the summer will stop in the fall.

In fact, 20% of all people who report exercising at least five days a week at the peak of summer will lose their motivation sometime during the fall.

Then, beginning in January, each month an additional 4-5% of Americans will join the ranks of people getting at least 5 days of exercise a week, until their numbers peak in the months of June and July.

The best months to market your brand depend on your target audience and their favorite sport.

So when is the best month to advertise a travel brand that appeals to people who are exercising frequently?  That depends.

If you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand that appeals to people who start and stop their regime every year, a holiday campaign reminding them of the sport they love makes sense.

But you might want to reserve some powder for a Q1 message that speaks to the rising numbers of people returning to a more regular regime.

On the other hand, if your brand is geared to the 80% of people who exercise regularly all year round, your strategy might be different.

Here in Colorado, those of us who are daily disciples of running, cycling, rock climbing and other various sports like to buy our new gear at one of two points in the year:

Either at the start of the season, when our resolve and our wallets are fatter; or at the end of the season, when our wallets and your prices are leaner.

Here’s some more information about theGallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index

Leisure marketing: What does Valentine’s Day spending say about men?

February 7, 2011


What are men trying achieve in their Valentine Day spending?

Men will spend twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day gifts this year.  What does that say about them?

February has two of the biggest spending holidays of the year:  The Super Bowl and the Super Bowl of Love, Valentine’s Day.


  • The average American will spend $116 on traditional Valentines Day merchandise this year.
  • That’s an 11% increase over last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2011 Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey.
  • Total spending is predicted to reach $15.7 billion, up from $14.1 billion last year.

But the real story of this holiday is the difference in spending between men and women.

  • The average man will spend $159 (up 17% from last year) compared to $69 for the average woman.
  • Men will buy more flowers (70% of them go to men) and the majority of the $3.5 billion spent on jewelry.
  • Women will buy more greeting cards (70%) than men.
  • Together, Americans will spend the most on jewelry ($3.5 billion), dining out ($3.4 billion), flowers ($1.7 billion), clothing ($1.6 billion), candy ($1.5 billion) and greeting cards ($1.1 billion).

What would make a man spend twice as much on gifts as a woman?

  • I know what you’re thinking.  And yes, that is a factor.
  • According to condom manufacturer Durex, prophylactic sales are 25% higher than usual on Valentine’s Day.
  • In the month following Valentine’s Day, sales of in-home pregnancy tests also reach their peak.

Could it be that men are more romantic than women?

According to Leil Lowndes, author of the book How to make Anyone Fall in Love with You, a number of university studies support this theory.

  • Men fall in love faster than women
  • Men are more idealistic about love
  • After a split, men felt lonelier, more depressed, unloved and less free.
  • Men love their wives more in comparison to their friends than women love men.

What do you think?  Are men more romantic than women?

What’s your personal and professional experience? What motivates men to spend more on Valentine’s Day? How can 5 to 9 brands like yours capitalize on these motivations?   Best answer wins a box of chocolates.

Leisure marketing: 5 lessons from the Apple Store on customer loyalty.

February 4, 2011


Customer service at the Apple Store has even wowed skeptics in the Big Apple.

The Apple Store proves that you build loyal customers in store by serving their needs, not your own.

This past Christmas I went all out, buying my wife a new iMac, my sons iPhone 4s and myself a Sony flat screen TV.

Needless to say I spent a good deal of time at my local Apple Store and Best Buy.

The style of these two stores is worlds apart, and explains at least in part why Apple sales went up last holiday season while Best Buy’s went down.

The people at the Apple Store were all about providing knowledge, recommendations and speed of service.

They had ready answers to most of my questions, knew where to look online when they didn’t know the answer and had strong recommendations when I asked for them.

Once I made my decision, it took them only a couple of minutes to run my credit card through their hand-held credit card processor, attach a carrying handle to my boxes, and send me on my way.

The guys at Best Buy were not so knowledgeable or helpful.

They didn’t know why the 32″ Sony flat screen TV I was looking at cost $200 more than the 32″ Samsung.

They weren’t sure when 32″ was enough screen and when it was time to move up to 37″.  To make matters worse, they sent me to a checkout line that had 20 people in it.

They did show a lot of knowledge and courage of conviction about one thing:  why I just had to have their extended service plan.

I left one store feeling completely satisfied, and the other feeling slightly frustrated.

The results of a recent poll sponsored by Motorola Solutions helped me understand why Apple has it right.

Motorola found that almost 6 in 10 retail sales people noticed that this holiday season shoppers were better connected to consumer information than in-store associates.

That confirmed my findings that the Apple Store sales associates had a better understanding of their products than the Best Buy sales people. And when they didn’t know the answer, they knew where to go find it.

The Motorola study also confirmed that I’m not the only shopper who wants more information in store.

More than 4 in 10 shoppers reported that working with a sales associate armed with a handheld mobile computer improved their shopping experience.

If you’re a leisure marketing specialist, this is important, so pay attention.

Here are five takeaways from my Christmas shopping experience at the Apple Store that leisure marketers can take to the bank:

  1. Train your sales associates to become experts in one department, and make them take a test on EVERY product in their department before you put them on the floor.
  2. Create an online repository of information on all your products, and encourage your sales associates to access this when they’re working with customers.
  3. Stop aggressively selling extended warranties through sales associates and put that information on in store displays and rack brochures.
  4. Teach your sales associates to know the differences between brands and price point breaks, and train them how to make recommendations.
  5. Use mobile credit card readers and other strategies to speed up the check out process.

That’s what my Christmas shopping taught me about improving the retail sales experience. If you’re a leisure marketing expert, what did your shoppers teach you last Christmas season?

%d bloggers like this: