Thursday, April 30, 2009

Step up Partnerships for Added Revenue

I just received an email from Wyndham Rewards today, urging me to buy any BlackBerry® smartphone from between now and July 31, 2009 and I'll receive 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points – enough for up to 2 Free Night Stays.

Partnership marketing isn't new, but I always wonder why more travel suppliers don't take full advantage of the additional revenue? In this case, I am in the market for a new Blackberry, and the price is why not? The key is to partner with a brand whose customers look like yours. The Blackberry partnership is a national campaign - but for local hoteliers, why not do a monthly partnership with local or online retailers? In addition to emails, you could tweet about the partnerships and grow your followers - even give away partners' products to turbo-charge retweets and other mentions.

So go ahead - find some good partners...and happy merchandising!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Best unpublished hotel rates for Twitter followers only! Here's how:

Best rate guarantees on hotel websites? Bah, humbug. The best promotions, rates and last-minute deals are not showing up on the OTAs, hotel websites or even Metasearch sites any longer. The best rates and promotions are found on Twitter. Yup, you read that right. I’ve been doing a little poking around on selected hotel sites and found the following:

The Charles Hotel, Boston: “Another deal for our loyal followers - breakfast for two w/ any reservation booked now for 4/26-4/29.Mention TWI”. 719 followers
The Iron Horse Hotel, Milwaukee, WI: “Threadless t-shirts! Book by June 20, get 25% off our regular rate & $25 to spend at “1,201 followers
The Westin Bonaventure, LA: “Last chance! First person wins 1 room night + dinner this Fri. or Sat. #LAprimetime” (only through Twitter link) 100 retweets and mentions some from industry bloggers with followings of nearly 200,000 people.
Lancaster Arts Hotel, Lancaster, PA: “Stay this weekend at the ARTS, 3/20 and 21 and get 20% off your stay! Just mention this tweet! See for details!” 1,151 followers
Hotel deLuxe, Portland, OR “Yes, a fantastic 25% off for our loyal Twitter followers. DM me if you'd like to book a room.” 733 followers
Broadway Hotel, NYC: “Hip NYC hotel without the hefty price tag. For your next trip, use discount code "Twitter" to take 10% off a 3 night stay at Broadway!” 455 followers
Courtyard Marriott, Boston: “Book us online at using promo code "ZS7" and get a "twitter" discount!!” 272 followers

Granted, some of these are promotions – but the best and cleverest are getting retweets in the tens of thousands…and website traffic is considerably up, according to Compete and Hitwise. Upstream traffic is coming from Twitter.

So the next time I hear a travel supplier saying “Bah, humbug” to Twitter…let me remind them of the hotels who “get it”… and are getting additional bookings!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Give "Targeted Gifts" - Make Guests Happy and Earn More Money...Here's How:

Product placements or “tryvertising” (trying out a product before you buy), is growing at remarkable rates. Hotels, spas, resorts, timeshares and cruise lines have been actively placing product in guest rooms and cabins for several years. A leader in this space is Brand Connections agency,, founded in 2001.

What it does: Provides direct and experiential marketing for large companies such as Mercedes-Benz and Proctor & Gamble.
Why it's growing: A broad range of services: Brand Connections places video segments on JetBlue flights, distributes client toiletry brands at hotels, and controls in-room TV airtime at popular spring-break destinations to promote clients targeting the college crowd.
What's noteworthy: The company recently patented a process for placing laminated advertisements on airplane-seat tray tables.

But…what if suppliers marry customer preferences with product samples? For example, if you ask your guest to fill out a few questions, before their stay, in order to receive a “customized gift” from you? Marketing execs from hotels, airlines, cruise lines, even car rental agencies could ask “profile questions” of their customers on the confirmation email, in exchange for a “selected gift”. Customers could then choose from a list of Brand Connections products. Marketers could get: 1. A differentiated customer experience, even before the guest arrives; 2. Permission-based relevant profile information from your guest. 3. An additional revenue stream for product placements and perhaps a higher $$ amount because it is targeted and requested.

Now, think what’s next…once you have this information, and permission to “gift” your customers, you may send relevant products to them at home as a “thank you” for their stays. And who doesn’t want relevant freebies? Another revenue stream, after the stay, for you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How hotels can earn thousands in incremental revenue: Free "rock star" faculty!

How many of us would have loved to have taken courses from leading scholars at Universities such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Stanford or MIT? Now hotels can promote weekly courses to hotel guests and the local market, free of charge. Imagine broadcasting on your big-screen TV lectures by Stanford’s Guy Kawasaki “The Career Path to Becoming a Venture Capitalist or an Entrepreneur”; or JetBlue’s former CEO, David Neeleman, discussing “Seeing Failure as an Opportunity?” The dizzying myriad of courses and rock-star lecturers include Carly Fiorina, addressing “The Dynamics of Change and Fear,” Michael Dell, explaining “Overcoming Some of the Early Mistakes of Dell, Inc.”, or hearing about “Financial Markets” at Yale, by financier Carl Icahn.

Academic Earth offers 1,500 video lectures from hundreds of the world’s top scholars covering economics, entrepreneurship, history, law, medicine, religion and the sciences, among many other topics. And they’re all free.

So think about how you can get local groups to participate in weekly “courses” of mutual interest – and spend money in your bars and restaurants, while attending these educational forums. If this takes off, you could end up hosting a different group every night of the week! Now that’s incremental revenue!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Targeted ads on airline seatback screens - millions in ad revenue for airlines.

Two blogs today, The Shearwater Blog, which focuses on airline ancillary revenue, Dennis Schaal’s blog just reported a new technology player, JETERA which will enable targeted ads to be served on passengers’ seatback screens.

Jeff McChesney, JETERA’s CEO explained in a press release issued today, "This production software forms the basis of our 'secret sauce' and allows us to quickly and easily repurpose and customize the engine for each individual airline's particular needs. It also revolutionizes the way ads are inserted into IFE systems by replacing the traditional, long and labor-intensive methodology with a dynamic, digital and highly responsive ad network.”

So, as I understand this, you’ll be watching your favorite TV shows onboard your next transcontinental flight, and WHAM – the commercials you see will be tailored just for you. Wowza – that’s targeting a captive audience. No TIVO and nowhere to run.

The press release goes on to say that “It provides digital, multimedia ads personalized to each individual passenger at their interactive seatback screen. In particular, the core engine includes an ad delivery system, an ad targeting system, associated logic with a software configurable, business rules system and robust logging routines for metrics and analysis. As a result, JETERA will deliver ads that are timely, relevant and actionable to each passenger, based on when, where and how they are traveling.”

So…they know I’m traveling to NY, they know that I’ll be there for a week, they may know that I like Broadway shows, and they may have an offer for me for the shows that have availability during my NY stay. Oh – and the “how” I’m travelling. I’m a business-class traveler, so perhaps I’ve got an expense account. Broadway show and dinner!

I haven’t spoken with the folks at JETERA yet, so I’m just supposin’….but this makes sense to me. Here’s a great example of how airlines can get beyond checked baggage and seat assignments into generating some interesting incremental income. And there’s more advertising opportunities for travel suppliers to come…

Monday, April 6, 2009

Make Millions By Offering "Alternative Advertising"...Here's How:

Alternative advertising is all the rage, and hotels, car rentals, cruise lines and airlines can all take advantage of their spaces to engage audiences. But how does a buyer of this type of media find suppliers willing to “rent out” their spaces? Aiming to make it easier for brands to find such opportunities, DOmedia is an online marketplace and community designed specifically to support the alternative advertising industry. Ohio-based DOmedia, which launched in late 2007, bills itself as a matchmaking service for media buyers and sellers. Listed in its media database, for example, are opportunities to advertise on hotel wallscapes, sidewalk graphics, hotel column wraps, digital screens in elevators, door hanger place-based advertising, escalator handrail ad media, key card ads, and billboards and seatback tray tables aboard planes and trains. DOmedia boasts more than 20,000 individual media offerings from 400 vendors representing as much as $20 billion in potential advertising, according to Ad Age. DOmedia serves as a clearinghouse, but is not a broker – and travel suppliers can post ad inventory, that will then be listed by venue, geography and ad category.

Bookings and occupancy may be down, but alternative media may prove to be a very good source of alternative revenue!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Beyond Baggage and Seats

I participated at three sessions focused on ancillary revenue during the past two days at TravelCom in Atlanta. Most striking was the inability to agree on what "Ancillary Revenue" actually means among travel distributors! For the GDS, it means selling unbundled products and services. An hour on monetizing checked baggage and seat selection. Sheesh! NOT remarkable. Another hour was spent listening the airline innovators talk about....monetizing checked baggage and seat selection. Hoo boy! Finally, at the last session on the last day (!) four execs spoke about add-ons like customized insurance (think Hyundai's creative marketing - if you lose your job, we'll take the car about travel insurance that guarantees that for upcoming trips!); publishing opportunties to leverage eCommerce audience (gee, isn't that what the OTAs are doing? Listen up, Suppliers); product/service add-ons in the buying path; and perhaps even "car-vertising" using travel product to cross-sell other product. (Worked for W Hotels). Partnering with the right folks who can execute on the product/service is key. And there are plenty of success stories out there. I'll be publishing links to many of them in the coming days, and feel free to share successful (or disastrous) ancillary revenue stories with this blog.