Thursday, July 25, 2013

Offer upsell opportunities, and provide a memorable and buzz-worthy experience by introducing a "Twitter Concierge"

Innovation and money-making ideas often don't require a big budget.  In fact, this blog will explore  "Big Ideas" that could cost $99, or less, to bring to market.  One such idea was introduced this week by Melia Hotels International, with the launch of #SocialWave, its Twitter concierge program, delivering guest requests exclusively via Twitter.  At a recent Social Media conference that I chaired, this concept was all the rage - and there was a lot of animated discussion about the Manhattan Hotel in Rotterdam's twittering concierge,  @conciergeRTM.  The hotel's concierge tweets advice, answers questions, and makes reservations at attractions and restaurants in Rotterdam.

Now, the Sol Wave House Hotel in Mallorca, Spain has taken this concept and turbocharged it. Guests register from the hotel's WiFi network, and this service enables them to engage in conversations, meet other guests, compete in contests, share photos, etc...

And there's an ancillary revenue piece to this initiative as well - the hotel has created #TwitterPartySuites, which includes champagne service, sports drinks on arrival, a 20% discount at all bars and restaurants, VIP hammocks, a customizable minibar, plus a free drink in the Friday #TwitterPoolParty.  A very clever way to upsell the hotel's suites and food and beverage! By leveraging the hotel's WiFi capabilities, Melia has glammed on to a fairly unique customer experience - one that is buzzable, and getting quite a lot of press in US and European "hipster" magazines.  Perfect for Sol Wave House Hotel's desired demographic.  So, how much does it cost to redeploy its two Twitter concierges? Nothing.  How much value in providing a differentiated, buzzable hotel experience, plus the opportunity to upsell? Quite a lot. How can your travel business benefit by introducing your hotel, cruise line, agency, tour operator, airline, or car rental Twitter concierges?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dramatically grow your customer database - from destination wedding/honeymoon to "babymoon"!

Social Media plays an important role for many travel sellers.  Engagement is key, and no-cost promotions can help you grow your customer database, attract new customers, and significantly increase your opt-in email database.

Here's one idea....partner with a key supplier to provide a "Honeymoon to Babymoon" vacation of a lifetime.  Any couple booking a honeymoon or destination wedding with you is automatically entered to win - as long as they "like" your Facebook page, and send you at least one photo from their destination wedding/honeymoon, giving you permission to publish on your Facebook page. In addition, ask if they would like to receive email notifications of special offers from you - particularly around "red letter" days, such as birthdays and anniversaries.  This is a great way to grow your opt-in newsletter database.

Partner with your supplier to provide you with 3-4 mini-trips (ask for this from your co-op budget, since you are marketing the promotion with their brand).  Award each "babymoon" trip quarterly, to those who email you about the exciting news of their new family arrival!  Post photos of the happy couple on their "babymoon" vacation. You can also post "before and after" photos - from honeymoon to babymoon!  Young couples love to share on social media, and what better photos to share than honeymoon and babymoon photos?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brick and Mortar Travel Agents - Start Cooking Up New Revenue!

Here's an interesting idea for creating a new revenue stream for your "brick and mortar" travel agency. Many agencies close their stores by 6PM. Earn increased revenue by extending your store hours and offering travel destination-inspired weekly cooking classes in your store.

Invite past customers and their friends to attend hands-on cooking classes focused on destinations, hotels or cruise lines that you sell.  Set a menu for each region, country or cruise line's best loved recipes, and conduct a hands-on cooking class.  Set-up is easy with hotplates...and tastings can be paired with regional wines. If you don't cook, find friends who do, and give them a discount on their next trip booked with you. You may even get a local cooking school to go in with you, as practice for their students!

Charge $49 per person, per session - complete with tastings - and apply the cooking lesson fee to any package booked with you to that destination within six months. You may also charge for a cooking "series" $249 for 6 cooking classes (one is free and one can be applied to a booking). You may even get regional cookbook authors to come in to do signings in your agency, once you've built a following, and sell their books too!

Tourist offices, cruise lines and hotels may also want to participate in your cooking class evenings - and you can charge them sponsorship fees, as well as receive exclusive travel benefits for your customers!  You can spread the word inexpensively through your local press, signage in your agency, and social media outlets (especially on your Facebook Timeline page - with gorgeous photography of the cuisine).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm Back - and Ready to Spot New Revenue Opportunities!

OK, OK - I know it's been sometime since I've added to this blog. Three years to be exact. But time flies when you're working with top travel companies. Since my last entry, I've joined a NY-based vacation packager to 200+ destinations and more than 2,100 resorts, hotels and luxury villas worldwide, and I lead eCommerce strategy for all of its travel agent and consumer global brands.

 And that means that I am more focused than ever to find new revenue streams - and discover ways to implement them in order to add to our company's bottom line, and delight the customer. Not an easy task. So...I will write about creative solutions that I read and hear, that may contribute to greater profitability for travel companies.

 So many new applications and technologies have bubbled up over the past few years. We have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. But choose, we must - as marketers - and I'll share as many exciting new revenue generating opportunities as I spot.

 Here's one that I particularly like, from Madrid. We’ve already seen mobile technology explode for travelers, and here's a great opportunity to enhance the travelers' entire stay when vacationing. Visitors to Madrid can now hire iPads from iPadInTheCity, a new company that is loading up the devices with useful apps designed to help sightseers explore.

 Customers begin by visiting the iPadInTheCity website and selecting the days on which they would like to hire an iPad. iPadInTheCity has preloaded the tablets with apps that empowers tourists to get the most out of their vacation, including Metro Madrid, Weather HD, City Maps 2Go, Emergency Numbers, iTranslate, and Prado Museum Audioguide, as well as the Angry Birds app to help travelers pass the time.

As well as catering for individuals and families, PadInTheCity offers rentals to hotels and corporate events organizers, who can implement their own branding and apps. The iPads can be delivered to any specified location, costing EUR 25 per day after a EUR 390 deposit.

 Currently the service only operates in Madrid. With that in mind, is this one to partner with to help expand to other cities?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Use Social Media to Grow Your E-mail List and Increase Sales...Here's How:

Want another good reason to participate in social media? How about growing your e-mail list by thousands of new, relevant and enthusiastic opt-ins. Integrating social media and e-mail is all the rage, as 46% of marketers plan to do so this year, up from 13% last year, according to a recent study by ExactTarget, the Email Marketer's Club and the Center for Media Design at Ball State University.

Once you develop a relationship with folks interested in what you have to say on social media sites, it is easier to get them to sign up for your e-mail, which will enable them to transact with your brand.

According to several surveys I've seen in DMNews, Facebook fans and Twitter followers, it seems, buy more from e-mail offers than others. Now that's a compelling reason to get involved with social networks!

So how can you grow your list? There are many ways, but here's one I like:

First launch a social media campaign through your existing e-mail list, with a link that allows recipients to post your engaging offer to their Facebook page and retweet it on Twitter. Anything relevant and free generally works. Free drinks at your hotel, free upgrades, free food on Tuesday nights, free travel widgets...anything appealing.

To take advantage of the offer, Facebook/Twitter respondents will then create a mini profile on your site in order to have their personalized promotion code delivered through e-mail. By using a triggered e-mail to deliver the code, you'll be able to collect e-mail addresses and permission for ongoing e-mail communications from your new Facebook fans and Twitter followers.

In retail examples I've seen, opt-ins run extremely high from social media campaigns. One marketer, Papa John's Pizza, reported 130,000 new Facebook fans, using this approach...converting a whopping 75% of them to their e-mail list!

So marketers, use social networks to attract thousands of engaged fans and followers...then close the loop by getting them to subscribe to your e-mail offers. Another good way to monetize your social media efforts!

Friday, May 22, 2009

19 Hotel/Airline Brands Share Tweets that Work! How to Get the Most Twitter Buzz for Your Buck...

This week, I posted how and why 32 travel brands use Twitter, and words of wisdom from 34 travel industry Gurus who tweet - and I couldn't help but wonder, what in the world gets "retweeted" the most? With that question in mind, I polled some of the leading travel hotel and airline brands that tweet daily, and asked them: "Which one of your posts enjoyed the most RTs/comments/activity?" I then asked them to send me the actual tweet.

The results were surprising. I had assumed that deal promotions would be of most interest, but instead it was the provocative tweet - something completely out of the norm, that garnered buzz and activity.

Out of the 19 travel brands that sent me their most popular tweets, only three promoted time-sensitive deals...and they were Twitter-exclusive rates and fares.

The most retweeted tweets: United Airlines' Twitter-only "Twares" and Southwest Airlines' shout-out from their Captain Kirk, during the release date of Star Trek. For hotels, the greatest number of retweets (ie, exposure) came from Secrets Resorts "swine flu vacation guarantee," and Starwood's provocative "Best in Bed" comment.

5 brands tweeted pics or events happening at their properties. One airline found that a tweeted survey prompted the greatest number of retweets and activity, and 2 hotels were successful launching Twitter sweepstakes/contests. Only one promoted last-minute deals. And check back here, the list of popular travel brand tweets continues to grow....

All of this indicates to travel suppliers that it's not the "deal" that gets Twitter folks excited - its creativity, spontaneity and uniqueness that grabs the spotlight. Want more quality followers? Want to get the most return on your time and social media investment? Want buzz? Take a look at the most retweeted/hits below...and then look at your own strategy. 'Nuf said?

Happy Memorial Day weekend to my US Twitter followers from @SusanTravels

1. @Kimpton: Sleep Rules! Late check-out at Kimpton hotels every Sunday in May in honor of Better Sleep Month
2. @PeabodyMemphis: Gavin MacLeod , Love Boat's Captain Stubing to be Honorary Duckmaster Sat 5PM. Come aboard...we're expecting you...
3. @ICEHOTEL_Sweden: Most RTs : The coolest drum solo ever! Watch the drummer from Hellacopters in action at the ICEHOTEL:
4. @hotel_max: ATTN: Book your room at Hotel Max w/ the special Twitter Follower Rate! 15% off the best avail. rate and comp WIFI! PLS RT
5. @affiniahotels: Want to perfect your grilling skills? Reserve a seat at our BBQ Bootcamp 5/16 for tips from masters Samuelsson and Burke
6. @Oceanisleinn: Versatility #oceanisle #beachgetaway
7. @HiltonAnaheim: Do you want to win a TWO night stay AND Dinner for TWO at Mix? Random drawing of first 2,000 followers! Spread the word!
8. @Fairmonthotels: Fairmont rolls out Mini-Moons for cost-conscious brides/grooms. Emerging travel trend?
9. @StarwoodBuzz: 10 years later Westin is still the best in bed. In the last decade more than 75 million people have tucked themselves into a heavenly bed!
10. @thebonaventure: Ok, here we are: "This is a major award!" Win the award! Follow the link, now! #LAPrimetime" 554 clicks!
11. @UnitedAirlines: Hurry and get your first-ever, time-sensitive Tware. $63 o/w Chicago to DC. + taxes. Addtl terms at Book soon!
12. @qatarairways: SURVEY: Will you be flying more or less in the next 3 months than you did the last 90 days? Also, what country are you from?
13. @MacdonaldHotels: Famous Industry Faces will be 'Posing in their Pants' ... Rgds SIR
14. @TabletHotels: Newsletter is out: Introducing Last Minute Tablet - Get away within the next 14 days at great prices
15. @RooseveltNYC: Check out our new blog !!
16. @TheSofiaHotel: Hi Susan! "Please go to and enter Twitterific Promo Code 25267 for a 20% Nightly Discount off Room & Tax!"
18. @SouthwestAir: From our Cpt. Kirk “Welcome aboard the Starship Enterprise. This is Cpt.Kirk along w/ my FO Spock"
19. @SecretsResorts: If a guest contracts A-H1N1 while staying with us, next 3 vacations will be free of charge

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Part II: Why 35 Travel Industry Gurus Love Twitter

If you read yesterday's blog post, you saw 32 leading Travel Brands' tweets on how and why they participate in Twitter.

They felt that this medium holds much promise, but for now, most are listening and engaging with their customers.

18 of the 32 brands used "communicate" or "dialog" in their 140 character message, while 11 brands included "offers", "promotions" or "sweepstakes" as part of their Twitter strategy.

The takeaway is there are three primary uses of Twitter, based on responses by these major travel brands - Engagement (listening/communicating/responding); Attracting passionate brand advocates as followers; and Selling at low marketing costs (promotions/deals/sweepstakes/offers).

It's not surprising that these three goals explain why travel brands tweet, my question is, how much does strategy play a role in their success? Are these companies measuring brand lift, increased customer satisfaction or sales through the Twitter channel, as a matter of course? Or, are they now merely getting their feet wet as they experiment with this new channel?

In order to rise to a level where management "gets it" and puts additional resources towards social media in general, you need to show what "good" looks like. Since brands are focused on communication, building a fan base and promoting offers, how is all of this measured and presented to senior management?

After looking at Travel Brands' current use of Twitter yesterday, I wanted to focus on the 35 bloggers, writers, and leading travel industry influencers, including analysts, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. I asked each to DM me on Twitter, @susantravels - in under 140 characters - how and why they tweet. Here are their posts:

1. @TravelEkspert: Having a Twitter/blog combination has fundamentally changed my methodology and timing for delivering my messages.
2. @travelingmamas: We use Twitter to form valuable partnerships with travel publishing companies (Uptake, Fodors, Fairmont Hotels, etc). They find us 
3. @tripwolf: I use twitter to meet other great travel bloggers - it's more personal, like sending a text rather than an email.
4. @elliottng: Best use of twitter: "Peripheral vision" on your topic of interest; your own personalized "presidential daily brief"!
5. @gbrockway: Invaluable for finding news related to niche topics, sharing info about my projects, esp TripIt, and sating my Narcissus (yes, I admit it)
6. @rickseaney: We think twitter is a perfect vehicle for timely air travel deal information, potentially better than email
7. @denschaal: I use Twitter 2 break & distribute travel news & analysis, & as vital tool to interact with & learn from industry braniacs.
8. @elliottdotorg: Thanks -- I'm here to help travelers, so that's what most of my twitter activity is about.
9. @karasw: I get the latest travel news/trends; troll for story sources; network with travel PR peeps/writers; learn from live-tweeted conferences.
10. @JohnnyJet: Drive traffic to my site.Create brand awareness.Stay on top of travel trends/news.Gives me a pers/prof connection w/readers in real time.
11. @wendyperrin: I share travel tips & deals, & answer readers' travel questions, in order to promote and I watch how travel companies use it as a customer-service tool, & then I use it myself as a journalistic & marketing tool.
12. @awtravelweekly: I use it to learn from a community I might not otherwise hear from, to pass along news and insights and keep up with travel friends.
13. @JEBworks: Sorry to be late-unswiss! Use it as an effective tool to enter the stream, observe and feed the conversation, express my opinions and share.
14. @HappyHotelier: Just show and be myself and sometimes spread the word about Haagsche Suites.
15. @TravelEditor: I use Twitter to get breaking travel news and story ideas, publicize our new articles, and meet and seek insight from other travel pros.
16. @hharteveldt: I use Twitter to share useful information, learn/share relevant industry news, & build Forrester's credibility & influence
17. @TravelSocial: Expand social media knowledge/skills; Share insights/info w/professional peers; Monitor competitors & innovations
18. @pappas: Niche discovery & distribution-relevant info exchange-vet ideas & gauge interest-realtime-Opps from twitter data are ridiculously, wonderful!
19. @barbdelollis: major#twitter fan. use it to convey news & insights from HotelCheck-In & other sources. also use to find ideas, inspiration
20. @JensThraenhart - To share interesting articles, and learn from innovators and influencers in the tourism marketing space, globally and in China
21. @EliteTravelGal Have 2k+ followers after 2 weeks & now they all know what I do. all potential clients. All luv 2 travel/need help
22. @Marilyn_Res: I work at NatGeo & there's a treasure trove of amazing stories & photos on our sites that people don't know abt, so I link 2 them on Twitter
23. @aschonland - Twitter is the network effect in real-time. I share info and get back at least double back. I announce a podcast and see listenership grow from Twitter links and leads. I have also linked with really smart people.
24. @stuartma: twitter provides human connections, dialogue & awareness that's instant, cheap & fun
25. Douglas_Quinby: Learn from industry thought-leaders, share insights from PhoCusWright research, engage with our customers, and have fun!
26. @ValynP : Twitter lets me keep up with interesting people, engage a certain audience, raise awareness of OpenTravel, plus it's fun!
27. @tweet2travel: We r launching a travel related biz in the summer & twitter is going 2 be a major component of how we work with our customers
28. @travelrants: I use twitter to raise awareness of my blog/brand and network with people from all over the world who enjoy discussing travel.
29. @SEKeener: Every staff member at BootsnAll, has a Twit acct. Community used 2b a "walled garden", now, it is everywhere, Twitter being 1 signif place.
30. @scotthyden: Single source for getting and giving industry knowledge/insight. Give custs inside look into how we think aboutour brand.
31. @brucerosard: I use Twitter as a search engine for relevant content, a way to build the PhoCusWright brand and to establish myself and my company as a thought leader
32. @AdamHealey: tx 4 thinking of me. I follow our company, industry visionaries like yourself, "hotel" + "hotels"
33. @HugoBurge twitter satisfies my curiosity for new stuff, people's activities, conversations, following sites I'm involved in & occasional propaganda ;)
34. @laurably: Keeps me on the pulse of travel industry developments; helps build awareness for USA Today travel brand; connects me w/new readers & sources
35. @HHotelConsult: Collaboration, networking, research, & "nownews", w/ topical & impacting conversation relevant to each individual's tastes,needs & interests