Travel marketing: What the revitalized bus travel industry can teach you about reinventing your travel brand.

September 27, 2012
Photo of Megabus

New intracity bus lines like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing bus travel.

A new generation of express bus carriers are reinventing a once-dying industry, and rewriting the rules of travel marketing along the way.

Christine Whittemore of Simple Marketing Now recently wrote an insightful piece on the rise of the new bus travel industry that appeared in the blog Marketing Profs.

Some of her insights are worth repeating for marketers of travel and tourism brands in need of some serious reconstruction.

People stopped riding buses for a variety of reasons:

  • High prices compared to trains and planes.
  • Inconvenient schedules.
  • Discomfort.
  • Safety concerns.

But a new generation of brands like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing the way intracity bus service is delivered, and attracting daily riders by the tens of thousands.

To overcome the concerns that have kept people off buses for the past decade, these brands have also upgraded their service with:

  • Newer buses.
  • More professional drivers.
  • Pick up points that don’t scare off professional people.

These new brands are also going head-to-head with trains and planes to offer travelers services that meet or beat the standards of air and train travel, including:

  • Free wi-fi.
  • Power outlets for laptops.
  • Lower pricesRewards programs for frequent travelers.
  • More convenient schedules.
  • More leg room.
  • Reminders of how eco-friendly modern buses are.
  • Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to dialogue with their customers.

Are you the marketer of a travel or tourism brand in a segment of the industry that is stagnant or in decline?

If so, ask yourself what the revitalized bus travel industry could teach you about how to reinvent the way your customers view your travel or tourism brand.  Could you:

  • Make your product more cost-competitive?
  • Offer more choice and convenience?
  • Invest in newer technology and infrastructure?
  • Make your brand more directly competitive with newer categories?

That’s what the bus travel industry has taught us about brand revitalization. Tell us what you’ve learned from this or another industry. By the way, you’ll find Christine’s complete post here.

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Travel and leisure marketing: Is it time to re-think your policy on single travelers?

September 4, 2012

 

Solo travelers now account for over $28 billion in travel spending.

There are a lot more single Americans than you realize.  It’s time travel and hospitality marketers started catering to them.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans are single, and over 50 million Americans have never been married.

  • 105 million adults in the U.S., nearly one-third of all Americans, are single.
  • Almost 40% of the single population are divorced, and 60% have never been married.
  • Marriage rates have declined from 72% in 1960 to just 52% in 2008.

Recently, Gary Leopold, CEO of ISM, one of the top travel and hospitality marketing firms in the U.S., explored the subject of solo travelers in a blog post for Media Post.

According to Gary, the statistics on singles travel spending are staggering.

  • Singles account for $2.2 trillion in annual buying power.
  • 1 in 4 Americans who travel domestically or abroad now do so alone.
  • 25 million singles age 42 or older spent over $28 billion on travel in 2008.

Women are more likely than men to travel alone.

  • According to Gary, women aged 42 or older are twice as likely as men to vacation alone.
  • More than 80% of Match.com users listed travel as one of their interests.

A few travel and hospitality markers are taking advantage of this trend.

  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched a ship, Epic, that has 128 “studio” suites and a private lounge designed for the single traveler.
  • Some of the all-inclusive resorts like Breezes have packages just for singles.
  • REI Adventures partners with Match.com to offer adventure travel trips to singles.

I did a Google search on the keywords “singles travel” and found dozens of  singles travel specialists.

They’re focused on a wide variety of singles travel niches, including:

  • Cruises
  • Adventure travel
  • Over 40s travelers
  • Luxury travel
  • Jewish Singles
  • Singles Travel Clubs

It’s harder to find restaurant chains and other hospitality brands that cater to singles.

That surprises me, since the mothers of newly graduated 20 somethings and recently divorced adult children will tell you they eat out more than their married brothers and sisters.

What you can do to attract singles to your travel or hospitality brand

  • You can start by developing packages and promotions just for singles.
  • If you’re a travel brand, experiment with eliminating your use of single supplements.
  • When marketing to singles, stop pricing on a per person/double occupancy basis.
  • If you’re a restaurant, consider a singles’ menu and options for people who don’t cook at home.

What are you doing to reach the single traveler or diner?

Have you tried special packages or offers? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Tell us about it.


Travel and leisure marketing: 15 twitter tips for tourism destinations

August 28, 2012

The Grand Junction, CO VCB drives visitors to local URLs.

These 15 twitter tips are designed to help tourism destinations develop a more effective twitter strategy. And ultimately to drive traffic to your website.

A Couple of Chicks, a savvy Canadian e-marketing agency whose mission is to take the fear out of web marketing, recently posted some practical twitter tips for tourism destinations.

1. Use Twitter to increase site visits. Google indexes twitter feeds and drives traffic to your website!

2. Strategize. Plan ahead with an editorial schedule to tie in with planned events, promotions, etc.

3. Be consistent with profile information i.e. using brand “http://www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks” or “http://twitter.com/HfxNovaScotia” as name, URL, descriptor.

4. Use your ‘brand’ as graphic background; see ex: http://twitter.com/BayOfFundy.

5. Use the 3&3 rule: Three tweets and three re-tweets per day.

6. Tweet smart: Tweet at different times throughout the day; use ‘pending tweets’ functionality to schedule tweets outside of your work day but in time zones relevant to potential target audiences.

7. Use auto-welcomes i.e. “Thank you for following Tourism Fredericton – your source for things to do in Fredericton, the Capital of New Brunswick. Want to find out what’s happening? Check out our other Twitter feeds….”

8. Tweet using your targeted keywords.

9. Use pics and website URL’s (remember to use URL shorteners like tinyurl.com).

10. Proper Twitter etiquette is to follow those who follow you, but be cautious of “cleaning” your list of who you follow regularly.

11. Follow your competitors and their followers.

12. Engage with your audience: Differentiate yourselves from broadcasters and be rich content providers.

13. Link to your Twitter feeds (& show them on your site) from all that you do online & offline; see: http://www.travelportland.com/visitors/twitter.html andhttp://www.halifaxsociable.com

14. Follow other DMO’s or destinations and don’t be afraid of some back and forth conversation.

15. Follow partners in your communities: Reach out and engage with hotels, attractions etc… that are already on twitter.

Those are the do’s of destination tourism tweeting.  Read about the don’ts in their original post. Thanks to a Couple of Chicks!


Travel and leisure marketing: Are Americans suffering from vacation deprivation?

August 20, 2012

Compared to adults in other countries, US citizens take a lot less vacation. Is there an opportunity for your travel or leisure brand?

It’s not news that since the start of the Great Recession,  Americans are taking shorter trips closer to home.

But did you know Americans take a lot less vacation than workers in other countries?

And they need their travel and leisure brands to pack more relaxation or excitement into less time.

Every year for the past decade, Expedia has surveyed employed adults in countries all over the world as part of its International Vacation Deprivation Survey.

The results of the latest survey tell a lot about why so many Americans are stressed out and in need of more leisure time.

Employed adults in the U.S. get less than half of the vacation time as workers in other Western countries.

  • Americans receive an average of 13 days of vacation a year.
  • By comparison, Canadians average 19 days per year.
  • Workers in Great Britain get 26 days a year.
  • Germans take 28 days a year.
  • But the biggest winners are French workers, who average 38 vacation days per year.

Not only do we get less vacation, we enjoy it less, too.

  • 4 in 10 Americans take only one week of vacation, and then use the rest here and there.
  • 3 in 10 employed adults usually do not take all of their vacation days each year.
  • A quarter of all respondents reported checking work email or voicemail while vacationing.
  • 4 in 10 report having trouble coping with stress at some point during their vacation.
  • 2 in 10 adults reported canceling or postponing a vacation because of work.

The funny thing is Americans see the benefits of taking time off.

  • In the study, 1 in 3 American adults reported feeling better about their job after a vacation.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back from vacation feeling rejuvenated.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back feeling reconnected with their families.

Men and women have different attitudes about work and vacation time.

  • Men are more likely to regularly work more than 40 hours a week (44% of men vs. 29% of women).
  • Men are also more likely to take a 2-week vacation then women (12% of men vs. 8% of women).
  • Women are more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (40% of women vs. 29% of men).

The only countries that leave more unused vacation days are the Japanese and Italians.

  • American workers average 3 unused vacation days a year.
  • By comparison, the British, French and Germans don’t use 1-2 days.
  • Italian workers leave an average of 6 vacation days (out of 27), while the Japanese leave 7 (out of 15).

Courtesy of Expedia Vacation Deprivation Survey

How can your travel or leisure brand can capitalize on this trend:

  • Can your brand offer people a better escape in less time?
  • Can your guests cram more activities into fewer days, or enjoy a more complete escape?
  • Should you put  together all-inclusive and short-term vacation packages?
  • Maybe you market your property as a cell-free or email free zone.

What are you doing to attract the vacation-starved American traveler?  Tell us about it.


Destination marketing: Higher taxes are no way to treat a guest.

August 17, 2012

Are travel taxes taking too big a bite out of your guests’ wallets?

A study by the U.S. Travel Association has raised new concerns that high travel taxes are affecting travel habits. 

Is it time to re-think your attitude on travel taxes?

In an era of declining tax revenues, travelers are considered an easy target by local, county and state governments.

But according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, public officials need to think of travelers as important contributors to local businesses and jobs.

According to Dow,”Few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy.”

To help, the USTA announced a study of consumer attitudes by its  Travel Tax Institute.

The research reveals that taxation has a clear impact on travel planning and spending decisions. Among the key findings:

  • High Taxes Alter Travel Plans: 49% of travelers say that high travel taxes have caused them to stay at less expensive hotels, spend less on shopping and entertainment, and visit during the off-season.
  • Taxes on Hotels, Airfare High: 68% of travelers rated hotel taxes as “very high” (35%) or “high” (33%); 66% rated taxes on airfare as “very high” (38%) or “high” (28%).
  • Rental Car Taxes Much Too High: Nearly two out of three travelers surveyed (64%) say that the total tax rate on rental cars is “much more” than they expected to pay.
  • Travelers See Taxes Rising: Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they expect to pay higher travel taxes in the year ahead; only two percent believe taxes will decrease.
  • Travel Taxes Should Fund Travel Infrastructure: 60% of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports.

Another 49% said “travel/tourism marketing and promotion” also would be an appropriate use of the revenues.

Only 14% cited “non-travel related expenditures” such as “contributions to government general funds” as an “appropriate” use of travel taxes

What do you think? Are high travel taxes affecting your guest’s decisions?

What are you doing about it? We’d love to hear your take on this important issue.

Are you capitalizing on the latest travel marketing trend: The fake-ation?

August 13, 2012

 

A recent study confirms most Americans can’t escape their work–even on vacation.

8 in 10 Americans have trouble leaving their work behind when they go on vacation.  Could your travel brand be the solution?

A recent TripAdvisor travel trends survey uncovered a startling trend.

As a travel and hospitality marketing specialist , I don’t like to admit that I have trouble separating work from pleasure.

But the truth is I’m usually a day or two into a vacation before my wife gently reminds me to quit checking emails and voicemails.

The latest TripAdvisor Travel Trends survey reveals that I’m not the only American leisure traveler having trouble leaving their work at home.

The Fake-ation may be the biggest travel trend TripAdvisor uncovered this year.

According to Trip Advisor, American travelers are, in effect, taking vacations without getting a real vacation.

  • 8 in 10 Americans say they chose their destination at least partly because it is too remote to connect with work.
  • Yet 7 in 10 people admit to connecting with work on leisure trips.
  • 6 in 10 check their e-mail, while  1 in 10 call the office.

Why can’t Americans leave their work behind? If they’re like me, the internet and cell phones make connecting to work too easy.

If you’re a travel or leisure marketing specialist, there’s a big opportunity for you in this trend.

People like me want to escape. But we need help letting go.

Could your brand be the solution? Could you provide the real escape people are looking for?

Instead of making it easier for people to connect to work, could you cater to their desire to disconnect?

  • Could you remove the cell tower from the top of your building and provide a cell-free zone?
  • Instead of offering free wi-fi, maybe you offer no-fi.  Or if you want a little extra press coverage, $500 a day wi-fi.
  • Maybe you go lo-tech and require people to turn in their cell phones and lap tops upon arrival.
  • Or you set up cell-free and laptop free zones.
  • If you’re marketing camping equipment, scuba gear or even movie theaters, maybe you position your leisure brand as the only true escape from the office.

TripAdvisor has uncovered a truth most of us can’t deny:  We are looking for a way to get away from it all, but the internet and universal cell coverage have trapped us.

How you can your brand be our escape hatch?


Travel and leisure marketing: And the best day to send your email blast is….

August 6, 2012

Many travel and leisure brands send out their email blasts on Mondays. But a leading expert in the field says Mondays rank 5th or 6th for open rates.

If you’re the CMO of a travel or leisure brand doing email marketing, the best time and day to send your emails may be a moving target.

Exact Target cites a study that stated the best day was Monday. But since that study appeared, Mondays have consistently ranked 5th or 6th for open rates.

Content sharing site Gather posted an excellent summary of the latest thinking on when to send your email blasts:

  • Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays are all optimal days to send emails because people have organized their work week and email inboxes.
  • Every day has its pros and cons. You should decide on the best time and day depending on your circumstances.
  • Monday pros and cons: Pro: After the weekend, many people make it a priority to organize their inboxes. Con: They erase many emails to get organized.
  • Best approach for Mondays: Late in the morning just before lunch, when people have time to check their inboxes and have already cleaned out their weekend dumps.
  • Tuesday pros and cons: Pro: People have organized their work week and have time to check their inboxes. Con: It’s too early to send campaigns geared to trigger action on the weekend.
  • Best approach for Tuesdays: Campaigns that aim for recipients to take action during the week.
  • Wednesday and Thursday pros and cons: Pros:  More time for emails.  Planning for the weekend. Cons:  Only 2 days left in the work week, and no time left for emails.
  • Best approach for Wednesday, Thursday: Keep your messages lighter and not as pushy.
  • Friday pros and cons: Pro:  There’s not as much email in their inbox. Con:  Many people are so busy they don’t check emails on Friday.
  • Weekends: Pros:  Very little email is sent on weekends, but people do read their emails. Cons:  Can look like you’re too pushy and intrusive.
  • Best approach for weekends: Don’t send any, unless your message will be most valued if received on weekends.

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