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Archive for October, 2009

In today’s economic climate, marketers are being asked to do more with fewer dollars. Marketers would be wise to try a new approach to marketing – not the traditional advertising approach, but a new, more efficient approach:  “influence marketing.”

Marketers have known for decades that a small group of people have a disproportionate degree of influence on others. For resort operators, meeting planners would definitely fall into this group, and if you are a resort operator, I’m sure you are spending a great deal of money courting their business.

But there is another group of influencers that are determining the fate of your business that you may not be managing. This group may have a far greater reach than meeting planners. Yet, few companies are investing in programs to influence this growing force in the resort industry. What is it? Social media.

Tripadvisor has over 25 million traveler reviews and opinions. Not to mention other prominent websites that host travel reviews such as:  Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Yahoo Travel, Priceline, Kayak/Travelpost, Hotelicopter, IGOUGO, Travbuddy, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Hotelicopter has a new feature that allows you to automatically view reviews that Facebook friends have written, and publish reviews to your Facebook wall for your friends to see.

If you are still unconvinced of the power of social media, I encourage you to watch this PowerPoint presentation that two travelers prepared expressing their dissatisfaction with a hotel in Houston: http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/DoubleTreeShow_files/frame.html.

This presentation was published seven years ago and has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of travelers. It has been mentioned in the USA Today and NBC. Yet these travelers are still impacting potential customers based on the actions of one employee. That was seven years ago. Today the reach of customers is even greater. In a previous post, I mentioned Dave Carroll’s video “United Breaks Guitars.” In case you missed the video, you can view it here: https://voiceofcustomerguru.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/how-to-lose-50-million-dollars-in-5-days/

When I wrote this post, 1.5 million customers had viewed his video. Today that number has grown to 5.7 million.

My take is this:  Stop spending money on the ad in golf publications or television and start investing in your customers. The returns on traditional media are very poor, but resort operators stay with that strategy because they understand it, and they have always done it that way.

The cheese has moved, and times have changed.

What if, you could get 10 times the return on investment of your traditional media buy, at one-tenth of the cost? Would you be ready to change the way you market?

Since we can recognize the power of influencers, the next steps are thanking your influencers and engaging them. Most people have no idea who their influencers are, let alone have a strategy to engage them.

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