Innovate or miss your “Target”

Innovate or miss the mark. Change is not only good, but necessary.

Target is the perfect example of failure to innovate. I am certain that the Target Corporation had the best of intentions bringing its promise of quality retail at low prices to Canada – only two short years ago.

The popular US retail giant had successfully positioned itself in the US as an upper-end discount store, and all indications were that Canadian’s were ready for it.

Why did Target fail to hit their target in Canada? Lack of innovation.

The Target brand launch in Canada was big and splashy. Colourful (note the Canadian spelling) Ads, with messaging that showed Target understood Canadians.  The creative and messaging almost invited the country to welcome the big kid from next door. I dare say that the Ads were even “Tim-Horton-esque

targetcomestocanada_ideahatching.com

The ads and fanfare brought excitement and a promise that the Target cache, products, and pricing model could be replicated for Canadian’s, who loved to shop at Target when across the border.

When Canadian discount retailer “Zeller’s”, succumbed to the competition in 2011, Target swooped in to save the day. Surely it was just that Zeller’s, the Canadian retail staple founded in 1931, and acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1978, failed to keep up with new superstore discount retailers like Wallmart. The Zeller’s stores that failed provided much of the initial space for the first Target stores to open in Canada.

Obviously Target had all the right stuff to make it right?

 

Innovate.Def

Wrong. Target failed to innovate.

 

Whether it was that Target did not understand retail in Canada, how to work in Canadian communities, or the government policies that may have impacted how they delivered on their brand promises, Target failed to meet the requirements to thrive in Canada. They rested on the success they had in the US, and did not recognize the need for change.

Target was not the first, and it won’t be the last brand that has failed to innovate while pushing forward into a new market, sustaining profitability, or attempting growth.  Even brands that have a unique offering, and strong brand have failed due to lack of focus on systems and process that may have worked at one time.

Think Blockbuster.

 

Had Blockbuster Video innovated by providing something like the new “Red Box” that now sits at the front of supermarkets – perhaps Blockbuster’s fate may have been different?

Or consider Netflix. Netflix launched in Canada in September of 2010 This is a brand that saw the opportunity in streaming video that came with increased access to high speed WIFI and mobile devices that could handle streaming media.  Netflix took the lead in delivering streaming content, and then showed innovation in producing the content as part of their offering.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.12.16 AM

 

Netflix took a queue from HBO and Showtime – traditional content producers, and added what worked for them into their mix. They changed what they offered their customers, and provided more value.  More importantly, they innovated at a time where the competition could have left Netflix lost in cyberspace.

The Netflix model is now being replicated by others including Amazon with “Amazon Studios” and Yahoo!. Both are producing their own content, and adapting tactics that have worked in other mediums.

It was only in November 2014 that Canadian streaming media competitor “Shomi” – a joint venture between Rogers Media and Shaw entered the market as an alternative to Cable and Netflix.  Shomi came out of the gates as an alternative to the streaming service that Netflix offered in 2010 – in November 2014!

Bell Media’s “Crave TV” launched only a month later in December 2014, one month after Shomi. Need I say more?

Perhaps if Target had spent additional time and dollars in preparing to enter Canada, and more importantly considered how to manage products, services, people, and pricing that may be different in a new market – we would not have 17,000 Canadian’s unemployed as of last week’s announcement.

The moral of this story?

 

Innovation might be the next buzzword or hot catch phrase, but those who are actually putting it into practice will hit their targets.  Of this, I am convinced.

###

 

About:

Alicia Whalen is a process innovator, social media influencer, digital media evangelist, and Co-founder of the successful digital marketing conference – Online Revealed Canada – now in its 10th year. A Blogger at ideahatching.com, speaker, trainer, and lover of ah-ha moments. Tweet me @acoupleofchicks or connect with me on LinkedIn

PredictandPromote_ORC2015

 

Online Revealed Canada Conference:  Join us March 31-April 2 2015 in Toronto for the 10th annual Online Revealed Conference for digital marketing in tourism and travel.  After a decade of challenging the “old ways” of marketing online, and with a theme of “Predicting and Promoting A Look at The Future of Travel Marketing.” my partner and co-founder Patricia Brusha and I are excited to deliver a special 10th anniversary edition event with a new format, exciting venue and top speakers in the industry CONFERENCE REGISTRATION is now open.

I look forward to seeing friends and colleagues to share in where we have come and where we are going in digital marketing for tourism. What a ride it has been so far!

 

Article references:

  1. Financial Post: 2015/01/15 
  2. Financial Post: 2015/01/19
  3. Toronto Star: 2015/01/25

Online Revealed Digital Marketing Conference returns to Toronto for its 9th year

It is almost that time again!  Next week will mark our 9th Online Revealed Canada Digital Marketing Conference!

Since 2005, A Couple of Chicks™ have produced the Online Revealed Conference to ensure that the travel industry in Canada stays ahead of the digital trends. Much has changed in the world of digital marketing, but it is still all about distribution!

With tourism spending in Canada approaching $90 billion annually (according to the Conference Board of Canada), the impact on the economy is far-reaching.  Tourism marketers need to be ahead of the fast-paced digital curve to ensure Canadian destinations, hotels, attractions and other tourism related products and services are reaching digitally connected consumers.

The right content, at the right price, to the right consumer.

Now more than ever before, marketers need to be innovative, creative and strategic in their marketing and communications.  In producing the annual learning conference for those charged with digital and social media marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry, we have always maintained a focus on providing content that will ensure that the travel industry in Canada stays ahead of the digital curve.

My partner Patricia Brusha and I have, and will continue to push the envelope to ensure that the Online Revealed Conference brings NEW, innovative, cutting-edge digital, social and mobile marketing technologies and tactics, as well as real-world practical application learning’s to ensure our attendees have the tools needed to succeed online.

Again this year, we will be hearing from experts from Google, TripAdvisor, BING, and Travelzoo, as well as from from leading tourism marketing professionals from across the country who are succeeding in driving traffic and conversions online through social media marketing, mobile marketing, and other digital marketing strategies aimed at attracting travel consumers.

These are real stories of tourism marketers from destination marketing organizations, hotels, hotel brands, attractions and other suppliers who have made the digital shift and are sharing their successes.

This year’s Toronto 2014 #ORC2014 agenda is packed with 2-full days of digital marketing and social media workshops, case studies, networking opportunities, keynotes, as well as the Canadian eTourism awards showcasing excellence in digital and social media marketing for the Canadian travel and tourism industry, and the Destination Benchmarking study highlighting best in practice digital marketing tactics for marketing destinations, as well as key learnings from performance benchmarking of DMO web assets in Canada. 

>  Big Data and how to use it to increase marketing efficiency

>  Mobile technologies for consumers who are multi-device users

>  Social media community management, monitoring, measuring ROI and best practices

>  Game changing trends in Meta Search and what it means to travel

>  Measuring digital marketing success

These are only a few of the topics that will be addressed over the two-day event.  The value in attendance is unmatched within the travel and industry with over 30-expert speakers,18-digital marketing workshops, panel discussions, digital and social media marketing case studies, 3- Keynote Speakers, as well as various networking events to continue the conversation after the main program.

This year we will revive  the post-networking reception “after hours” ORC with the “Lay-Z-Boy Lounge with Peller Estates wine and Xbox” – always an Online Revealed highlight event!

Online Revealed Conference highlights include:

–  Game Changer student mentoring event (NEW) for the tourism and hospitality industry, with participation from Hilton Canada, IHG, Tripadvisor as well as students and faculty from various post-secondary graduate programs from Ryerson University, Humber College and more: April 7, 2014

–  Jon Montgomery, Gold Medal Olympian | Host, The Amazing Race Canada Opening keynote: April 8, 2014

–  Annual Canadian eTourism Awards celebrating excellence in digital tourism marketing in Canada: April 9, 2014 from 12:30-2:00 pm

–  Canadian DMO Benchmarking Study: Key learning’s from the 3rd annual Canadian Destination Benchmarking report program, benchmarking the online performance of destinations across Canada.  Key learning’s presented.

–  Special Event and Receptions hosted by Aloft Vaughn Mills, and A Couple of Chicks™ featuring a performance by pop group 4Count, managed by industry giant Nick Cannon and the La-Z-Boy Lounge with Peller Estates wine and Xbox: April 8, 2014

–  Digital and social media marketing workshops and case studies presented by Tripadvisor, BING/Microsoft, Google, Travelzoo, Expedia, Sojern, InterContinental Hotels Group and more.

–  Executive Conversation with Philip Wolf travel innovator and founder of the global travel research company and conference PhocusWright

Drew Patterson CEO & Co-Founder of CheckMate former founding team for travel giant KAYAK, and current CEO of Room 77, discussing the Mobile application that is revolutionizing mobile check-in: April 9, 2014 Closing address

There is still time to register!  We are welcoming back many ORC Alums, as well as new attendees from all across Canada. For conference registration and additional information about Online Revealed Canada and related events, visit www.onlinerevealed.com.  

We hope to see you at #ORC2014 next week!

 

 

2014 Canadian eTourism Digital Marketing Award Winners Announced

The 2014 Canadian eTourism Award Winners—including Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, TravelZoo, Newfoundland and Labrador, and more will once again be honoured as part of the annual Online Revealed Digital Marketing Conference for tourism stakeholders in Canada from April 7-9, 2014 in Toronto.

 

The current digitally connected world of consumers expects content to be delivered at the right time, to the right channel, at the right price. Consumers demand personalization and immediacy while also expecting advertising to be entertaining and engaging. It’s no wonder that driving consumers to buy has never been more challenging for marketers—especially in the travel industry.

The 5th annual awards, presented in association with the Online Revealed Conference April 7-9, 2014 in Toronto, will honor the Canadian travel brands that have successfully met the digital challenge, producing effective and creative digital and social media marketing campaigns for the contemporary online travel consumer.

The Awards are judged by a volunteer group of tourism marketing professionals, and led by the Canadian eTourism Council, a national forum of Canadian tourism marketing executives specializing in online communications.

With a mandate to collaborate and leverage emerging digital media channels in order to successfully promote Canada as a travel destination, the Canadian eTourism awards showcases some of the most successful digital marketing campaigns, websites, Mobile apps and social media marketing campaigns in the travel industry. The annual Online Revealed digital marketing conference for tourism has been home to the awards since its inception.

“We continue to be amazed at digital media excellence and innovation coming from the travel industry in Canada.” said Carol Alderdice, Manager of Web Technologies, Tourism New Brunswick, and Canadian e-Tourism Awards Chair. “The eTourism awards give us the opportunity to recognize star performers and share best practices in marketing Canadian tourism.”

Council members include representatives from Travel Alberta, Travel British Columbia, Travel Manitoba, Tourism New Brunswick, Newfoundland Labrador, Nova Scotia Tourism, Travel Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Tourism Saskatchewan, and Tourism Yukon.

 Winners of the 2014 Canadian eTourism Awards Include:

  • Best Innovative Use of Technology = Tourism Tofino
  • Best Mobile App = TravelZoo
  • Best Online Campaign = Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
  • Best Social Media Campaign = WestJet
  • Best User Generated Content = Nova Scotia Tourism Agency
  • Best Website = White Oaks Resort & Spa

 

Title sponsor BING along with eTourism award sponsors TrustYou, Miles Marketing Destinations and T4G will be presenting the awards at a luncheon April 9th as part of the annual Online Revealed Digital Marketing Conference, being held at the Hilton Toronto Airport hotel.

The Canadian eTourism Awards recognize the evolution and marketing power of the digital space, including social media and traditional consumer websites. Entries are eligible from all over the world, though they must market, sell, or portray Canadian destinations, products, attractions, or experiences.

For more information about the 2014 award winners, or to purchase tickets to the eTourism Awards luncheon or Online Revealed Conference registration visit www.onlinerevealed.com

About Online Revealed:

The Online Revealed digital tourism marketing conference provides travel and tourism professionals with unique and innovative online marketing education, with an agenda that includes educational workshops, keynotes and panel discussions, all driven by the industry, for the industry. The event, now in its 9th year is produced by leading digital marketing firm, A Couple of Chicks™. Online Revealed Canada is supported by industry partners from Bing, TripAdvisor, Travelzoo, Marriott Canada, IHG and the over 350 annual attendees from across Canada who attend each year.

Congratulations to the 2014 eTourism award winners!

There is still time to register for Online Revealed 2014 – April 7-9th at the Toronto Hilton Airport Hotel.

 

 

Facebook – You don’t know me like you think you do

Super Bowl is the only time anyone cares about Ads.  It seems like only yesterday I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed to keep in touch (stalk, creep, lurk…) with my Facebook friends.  Oh the early days of Social Media

Enter Facebook promoted stories and posts and other fancy ad products.  Oh yes my fine facebook friends, those posts showing Ellen’s face miracle secret (don’t pretend you didn’t see that one), and articles touting the benefits of the newest Dr. Oz trick to detoxing in 30 days are planted there for us to comment like and share.  Ok those were planted on my newsfeed just for me, but I digress.

Remember when a status update meant something?

Understandably Facebook needs to create revenue streams. According to a recent article in the Business Insider, Facebook does not have much to worry about there.  But perhaps ad products such as “sponsored stories” are just making an already cluttered newsfeed cluttered to the point of frustrating its users.

From an marketer’s perspective, this is equally frustrating.

When Faceboook was primarily an organic and viral community of chatter, it was fairly simple for a digital marketer to create a brand voice that could be part of a dialogue with users.  Within the last two years, Facebook’s algorithms have changed to try to service advertisers and generate revenue, while remaining relevant to users.

We are on to you Facebook.

Brands must now pay to be part of that dialogue through Facebook Ad products such as promoted pages, offer claims, and the list goes on.   These PAID opportunities are now necessary for advertisers to reach user newsfeeds – even if the user has already LIKED the brand.

Reaching Facebook users has now become a delicate balance of paid and organic content working together to keep Fans engaged. And so it should be!  Hopefully Facebook will continue to weed out the Ad products like sponsored stories that confuse and annoy us.  Scrolling endlessly through content that Facebook thinks is relevant to me is really starting to interrupt my attempts to quietly listen to my Friend’s mood swings, victories, struggles and Grammy award rants. #Madonnastillrocks

The only time we really want to see Ads is when we ask for them.  I am prepping a pot of Chili already for this weekends Super Bowl commercials…I mean game.

 

 

Facebook – You don't know me like you think you do

Super Bowl is the only time anyone cares about Ads.  It seems like only yesterday I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed to keep in touch (stalk, creep, lurk…) with my Facebook friends.  Oh the early days of Social Media

Enter Facebook promoted stories and posts and other fancy ad products.  Oh yes my fine facebook friends, those posts showing Ellen’s face miracle secret (don’t pretend you didn’t see that one), and articles touting the benefits of the newest Dr. Oz trick to detoxing in 30 days are planted there for us to comment like and share.  Ok those were planted on my newsfeed just for me, but I digress.

Remember when a status update meant something?

Understandably Facebook needs to create revenue streams. According to a recent article in the Business Insider, Facebook does not have much to worry about there.  But perhaps ad products such as “sponsored stories” are just making an already cluttered newsfeed cluttered to the point of frustrating its users.

From an marketer’s perspective, this is equally frustrating.

When Faceboook was primarily an organic and viral community of chatter, it was fairly simple for a digital marketer to create a brand voice that could be part of a dialogue with users.  Within the last two years, Facebook’s algorithms have changed to try to service advertisers and generate revenue, while remaining relevant to users.

We are on to you Facebook.

Brands must now pay to be part of that dialogue through Facebook Ad products such as promoted pages, offer claims, and the list goes on.   These PAID opportunities are now necessary for advertisers to reach user newsfeeds – even if the user has already LIKED the brand.

Reaching Facebook users has now become a delicate balance of paid and organic content working together to keep Fans engaged. And so it should be!  Hopefully Facebook will continue to weed out the Ad products like sponsored stories that confuse and annoy us.  Scrolling endlessly through content that Facebook thinks is relevant to me is really starting to interrupt my attempts to quietly listen to my Friend’s mood swings, victories, struggles and Grammy award rants. #Madonnastillrocks

The only time we really want to see Ads is when we ask for them.  I am prepping a pot of Chili already for this weekends Super Bowl commercials…I mean game.

 

 

social media: getting past the first date

Social media is the first date; it is how you continue to build the relationship after this first encounter that is the key to turning LIKES into CUSTOMERS.

You have a Facebook page, but do you know how to use it?  I will use Facebook as the social media channel of discussion for this post, but similar strategy should be deployed against any social media community that represents your business.

 

Building Customers out of Facebook: Tips on building good content

1. Clearly communicate unique attributes in your social media activity.

Narrower, more clearly defined posts cut through over a wide range of different content. Short, snackable posts are typically far more engaging for users.

2. Photos and Video content is key.

The Facebook newsfeed is cluttered with paid ads and other shared content making it even harder to stand out. Use images and video wherever possible to highlight your message.

[Insert cute cat photo post here.  Yes that is two chicks with a cat.  Very on-brand]

 

3. Collect & share compelling content from other users 

Sharing content from like-minded social media communities is a great way to reach additional audiences.

4. Use hashtag’s to tag content and cross-pollinate your messages.

On Facebook and on other social media channels such as Twitter and Pinterest. #hashtagswork

5. Once a strong Facebook community has been built, consider a campaign, contest or app be created to expand reach, with a website landing page as a call to action and as part of an overall digital media strategy.

6. You don’t own your customer on Facebook.

A good Facebook community should be used as a means to interact with your customer, and hopefully at some point to encourage a transaction.

7. Paid Social Media is a must:

While organic posts, curating good content, and conversation remain central to your social media activity, paid media buys now are key in boosting Facebook engagement. Remember, brands are renting the space on Facebook, and the platform needs to generate revenue.

Unfortunately brands that have organically built up strong engaged communities on Facebook over the past few years now need to invest in some of Facebook’s Ad products to ensure reach continues as it once did.

The organic impact of Facebook activity has been diluted.

We have seen this in the stabilization of growth in NEW page LIKES in the past year, the drop off of referral traffic to websites from Facebook in 2013 over 2012 in many of our clients. You are not alone – but don’t panic.

Facebook advertising products are highly targeted, relatively cost effective, and should be used to heighten reach and encourage fan engagement and reach. Facebook ads, promoted posts and sponsored stories are all options that should be considered as part of an overall media and campaign budget.

Measuring ROI in social media

The goal with all social media, once the customer is engaged, should be to convert them to become a customer.  All Social media initiatives should be built with an end-goal in mind for the brand.

Social media can be used to do the following:

1. Drive buzz and awareness for new product launches, or as a means of communicating with niche target audiences.

ROI Measured by: Content shares, overall reach of posts, number of interactions.

2. Referring traffic back to the website – the transaction point.

ROI Measured by:

Referral traffic sources in Google analytics or other website analytics tools. If you are investing resources in social media channels like Facebook, there should be a good amount of referral traffic back to the website as an indication of success.

3. Solidifying the Customer/Brand relationship.

ROI Measured by:

Converting Fans to sign up for eNewsletter’s for future promotion, special offers.

Consider adding a tab on the Facebook page to encourage eNewsletter sign ups, driving traffic back to the brand website to solidify the customer/brand relationship.

4. Increase Customer Communications. Social media as a CRM tool.

ROI Measured by:

Number of consumer interactions, media reach etc. Social media channels such as Twitter have become critical in crisis communications management. The brand must show it is listening to its customers.

KPI’s (key performance indicators) such as reach of posts, increases in fan engagement, and consumer question or complaint resolution, with social media acting as the connection between brand and customer are all measures of success.

Build the strategy for social media. Create good content. Engage with your fans and understand what they want to hear from your brand. Measure ROI [see above] and repeat.

Most importantly – understand how to get your FANS to share their love for your brand, and make it easy for them to buy your services or widget, or to reach out and communicate with your brand.  Successful marketers are using social media channels such as Facebook to listen and interact with their customers. This is key in the age of social media and an expectation of most consumers today.

Like any good relationship, the first date is only the beginning.

Join us April 7-9, 2013 for the annual Online Revealed Conference for more in-depth workshops and social media case studies on building and growing successful communities on Facebook and other social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.  We look forward to getting to know you better on Facebook, Pinterest ,LinkedIn, and Twitter too!

 

Online Revealed Conference Highlights: Expedia's Hari Nair presents the Latest in Canadian Travel trends

There is so much to cover in reviewing the content that was expertly delivered at the 8th annual Online Revealed Conference held earlier this month.  Speakers from Expedia, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn + many other leaders in the digital tourism space brought unique perspectives, digital and social media case study’s, key learnings, and most important, tips on innovation, integration, and the importance of digital marketing strategy.

 

Online Revealed brings together the best and the brightest in the travel industry together from across Canada and into the US to share best practices, case studies and experiences in digital and social media marketing, with speakers hand picked to provide the best in online marketing education.

I will endeavour in posts to follow to provide some key insights, content from the 15 digital and social media marketing workshops that were presented, and trends and tips shared with delegates of the 8th annual event.

The first of our recaps outlines the Canadian Travel Trends that were presented by Expedia’s Vice President of Market Management for North America, Hari Nair.  The detailed report of Hari’s presentation can be found on the Online Revealed Blog, with some of the key insights outlined below.

Also, I would be remiss not to point to the reviews of the event by Hotelier Magazine, Restaurants and Hotels and Travelweek, who were among the delegates at the conference.

Expedia’s Hari Nair Presents Expedia’s latest research on Canadian travel trends.

Some key highlights included:

  1. Year-over-year hotel revenue by geographical source shows bookings on Expedia (for travel in Canada) are 32% from Canada, 25% from the USA, and 11% International.
  2. Rates are dropping closer to booking, but Canadians are shifting down from preferring luxury priced travel, to a value brand price points – where the International traveler has showed an increase of 182% in 4-star luxury bookings across Expedia travel sites.
  3. Consumers have increased same day booking by over 30% (noting the increase of mobile access as well as a caveat to this trend).
  4. Expedia’s data indicates that Canadians book travel packages, but Canadian hoteliers need to continue to package travel throughout the year (even in peak seasons) as consumers are willing to spend more, as long as there is perceived value overall.

The full article is available on the Online Revealed Blog with additional statistics and trends covered in the opening keynote presentation.

Hotelier Magazine also covered the event, and provided this recap of the conference.

“Experts at the conference agreed that when it came to travel marketing online, content was king. Travel Marketers need to optimize content on their online properties by utilizing a mix of tools, such as photos, reviews, blogs and social media that’s right for them. In addition, mobile was picked as the fastest growing trend with Expedia’s Nair pointing out that “You don’t want to just look into mobile, you want to invest into mobile.”              – Hotelier Magazine

Restaurants and Hotels.ca also provided some key takeaways with a 2-part conference recap:

“Marketers are spending 88% of digital marketing budget on PPC (pay per click), which yeilds 6% CTR (click thru rates), while 12%  (on average) or budgets are invested in SEO (search engine optimization), which yields 94% CTR”     –  Restaurants and Hotels Magazine

My next posts will cover some of the other speakers and takeaways from the 15 workshops, highlights from the annual Google eTourism Awards, closing keynote Mitch Joel, and key insights from the 2012 Destination Benchmarking program, which compared Canadian destinations in online performance to each other, and to International peers in NewZealand and the US.

Online Revealed Conference Highlights: Expedia’s Hari Nair presents the Latest in Canadian Travel trends

There is so much to cover in reviewing the content that was expertly delivered at the 8th annual Online Revealed Conference held earlier this month.  Speakers from Expedia, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn + many other leaders in the digital tourism space brought unique perspectives, digital and social media case study’s, key learnings, and most important, tips on innovation, integration, and the importance of digital marketing strategy.

 

Online Revealed brings together the best and the brightest in the travel industry together from across Canada and into the US to share best practices, case studies and experiences in digital and social media marketing, with speakers hand picked to provide the best in online marketing education.

I will endeavour in posts to follow to provide some key insights, content from the 15 digital and social media marketing workshops that were presented, and trends and tips shared with delegates of the 8th annual event.

The first of our recaps outlines the Canadian Travel Trends that were presented by Expedia’s Vice President of Market Management for North America, Hari Nair.  The detailed report of Hari’s presentation can be found on the Online Revealed Blog, with some of the key insights outlined below.

Also, I would be remiss not to point to the reviews of the event by Hotelier Magazine, Restaurants and Hotels and Travelweek, who were among the delegates at the conference.

Expedia’s Hari Nair Presents Expedia’s latest research on Canadian travel trends.

Some key highlights included:

  1. Year-over-year hotel revenue by geographical source shows bookings on Expedia (for travel in Canada) are 32% from Canada, 25% from the USA, and 11% International.
  2. Rates are dropping closer to booking, but Canadians are shifting down from preferring luxury priced travel, to a value brand price points – where the International traveler has showed an increase of 182% in 4-star luxury bookings across Expedia travel sites.
  3. Consumers have increased same day booking by over 30% (noting the increase of mobile access as well as a caveat to this trend).
  4. Expedia’s data indicates that Canadians book travel packages, but Canadian hoteliers need to continue to package travel throughout the year (even in peak seasons) as consumers are willing to spend more, as long as there is perceived value overall.

The full article is available on the Online Revealed Blog with additional statistics and trends covered in the opening keynote presentation.

Hotelier Magazine also covered the event, and provided this recap of the conference.

“Experts at the conference agreed that when it came to travel marketing online, content was king. Travel Marketers need to optimize content on their online properties by utilizing a mix of tools, such as photos, reviews, blogs and social media that’s right for them. In addition, mobile was picked as the fastest growing trend with Expedia’s Nair pointing out that “You don’t want to just look into mobile, you want to invest into mobile.”              – Hotelier Magazine

Restaurants and Hotels.ca also provided some key takeaways with a 2-part conference recap:

“Marketers are spending 88% of digital marketing budget on PPC (pay per click), which yeilds 6% CTR (click thru rates), while 12%  (on average) or budgets are invested in SEO (search engine optimization), which yields 94% CTR”     –  Restaurants and Hotels Magazine

My next posts will cover some of the other speakers and takeaways from the 15 workshops, highlights from the annual Google eTourism Awards, closing keynote Mitch Joel, and key insights from the 2012 Destination Benchmarking program, which compared Canadian destinations in online performance to each other, and to International peers in NewZealand and the US.

A Canadian online travel marketing conference turns 8 and goes back to its travel roots

Patricia and I launched the first Online Revealed Canada travel marketing conference over 7 years ago, with an idea to educate Canadian Tourism professionals about how to market travel online.  At the time, we were all new to concepts such as Search Engine Optimization, writing content for the web, website usability, website analytics, and why we even needed to know about all of this as tourism marketers.

Looking back, we are amazed at both how the conference has grown, and how the tourism industry has changed to keep ahead of such a fast evolving new media world.

The first conference held in Ottawa in 2006 (in association with the Canadian Tourism Commission) drew more than 180 attendees, and had a focus on educating travel marketing professionals about ecommerce, and how the web was evolving as a key marketing and distribution channel for hotels, attractions and in destination marketing.  The inaugural event opened with a keynote presentation from eMarketer founder Geoff Ramsey, who once again made a guest appearance at our 5th anniversary event in Montreal.

Coming off of the success in Ottawa, we moved Online Revealed in May of 2007 to Toronto to reach further into the market. Over 200 attendees spent two-days learning about concepts from Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Syndication, Web 2.0, Revenue Management and more, with 15 workshop rotations and numerous keynote speeches and panels, with annual networking receptions, including the Travelzoo party becoming a must attend event, and the now annual Google eTourism awards.

2008 brought us to Calgary, Alberta where we hosted over 230 of Canada’s leading tourism professionals including Destination Marketing Organizations, Hotel Brands, Tourism Associations, Search Engines, Technology Companies and Tourism Marketing experts.  Yahoo! Canada was the premier sponsor, and the two-day event brought 16 workshops, 3 panel discussions and 3 keynote presentations addressing the critical issues influencing tourism in Canada.

2009 saw Online Revealed hosted in Niagara Falls with over 300 attendees, and high profile internet marketing experts from Google and TripAdvisor elevating the conference to new heights, as well as a keynote by well-known TV personality Arlene Dickinson of the Dragon’s Den.

In 2010, we celebrated the 5th anniversary in Montreal with over 250 industry Professionals attending, and Online Revealed 2011 in Toronto (the first year that the conference was co-located with the Canadian Hotel Association Conference).  The conference exceeded expectations with over 500 attendees, and incredible content including a keynote by the mastermind behind Google Maps; Michael T. Jones, Chief Technology Advocate, Google.

ORC 2012 Speakers2012 was the conference’s 7th anniversary, with record attendance and once again, held in Toronto, and co-located with the Hotel Association Conference.  2012 saw the launch of the Destination Marketing Online Benchmarking report with 16 participating Canadian DMO’s.  The report will continue to evolve moving forward to build a research-based approach to benchmarking online marketing successes against Canadian Destination marketing organizations, and against international tourism destinations such as New Zealand and the USA.

Conference content has expanded with innovative topics including; mobile marketing, social media marketing, and keynotes from both Nikki Germany, head of Industry Travel, Google Canada as well as Steve Irvine, Director of Facebook Canada.

The inaugural conference in 2006 produced by “a couple of chicks who knew what they were doing online, and thought they could show the rest of the industry,” has since evolved to become the go-to event for the travel and tourism industry in Canada to learn, connect and be informed about the ever evolving world of digital marketing.

Our focus from the start was to provide hands-on education, and actionable tactics for marketing tourism online, and a community of shared resources and support.

8th Annual Online Revealed Canada conference logoPatricia and I are excited to be back on the road, and back to our “travel roots” for the 8th annual Online Revealed Conference, which will be held this April 2-4th, 2013 in Windsor, Ontario at Caesars Hotel and Casino, with an anticipated attendance of 450, who will once again come together to connect, learn and share with industry experts and peers – successes, opportunities and strategies in marketing tourism and travel online.

In just 7 years, Online Revealed Canada and A Couple of Chicks™ eMarketing have produced 7 Conferences and 6 road shows educating over 1,600 industry professionals by providing over 100 workshops and presentations.

We would like to thank Tony Pollard, and the Hotel Association of Canada Conference, for co-locating our events during the past two years in Toronto.   We would also like to thank all of our past attendees, sponsors, partners, clients, colleagues and friends who have participated in shaping what this event is today.

Moving into our 8th year, we are busy preparing for our best event yet!  As we look forward to the next Online Revealed chapters, I wonder where the next seven years will bring us?  Mark your calendars for April 2-4th for Online Revealed 2013 and we will see you in Windsor!

Join the Online Revealed Community:  Online Revealed on Facebook

Online Revealed on Twitter                         Online Revealed Blog


7th Annual Online Revealed Canada Conference Preview: March 5-7 Toronto Sheraton Centre

The 7th annual Online Revealed Canada conference is just days away.  This two-day event is comprised of workshops, case studies around marketing tourism online; with keynote presentations including Steve Irvine from Facebook Canada, followed by Nikki Germany from Google Canada and Tom Gierasimczuk, Editor-in-Chief for MARKETING MAGAZINE in a candid and insightful interview with Nikki Germany.

In true Online Revealed form, the event will also include workshops presented by industry experts from Tripadvisor, Miles Media, Google, A Couple of Chicks eMarketing, and T4G to name a few, and of course Online Revealed will be host to an abundance of networking opportunities – as well as the famous Travelzoo Reception (where the conference comes alive) !

Online Revealed is also proud to host the 2nd annual Canadian eTourism Awards, presented by Google – with awards sponsored by Miles Media, VIA Rail, and T4G. We are excited to be a part of highlighting the excellence in marketing tourism online in Canada. The awards will be presented during the Online Revealed Conference on March 6th.

For those not Registered to attend, there is still time. For those on route to Toronto here are a few other highlights:

Have questions you want Tom Gierasimczuk to ask Google? Ask us on Facebook or tweet them with #ORC2012.

Follow the Conference Highlights and contribute to the conversation using the official Conference Hashtag #ORC2012

In addition to an abundance of opportunities to network with speakers, sponsors, industry experts and colleagues, we have two new initiatives for ORC 2012 participants we want to share with you:

Online Revealed Canada announces a limited Online benchmarking / measurement project for DMOs / PMOs / CVBs to registered attendees:

We are excited to announce that 16 Canadian DMO’s, PMO’s and VCB’s have opted in to participated in this groundbreaking study that will benchmark Online Performance of Canadian destinationsin comparison to other participating Canadian DMOs, PMOs & CVBs of similar size and reach, as well as other US & International Destinations. Miles Media and A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing (in conjunction with TripAdvisor) will be offering the free benchmarking report to PARTICIPATING ‘Online Revealed’ DMO conference attendees, and presented some of the results at the “Benchmarking Canadian Destinations to each other and around the world” session of the conference.

NEW! Join your peers at Online Revealed Canada and put your social media skills to the test when you play Social Scale:

Tweet using the #ORC2012, post TwitPics, scan QR codes and answer Polls to see if you have what it takes to make it to the top of the Social Scale. Sharing is something we do every day. It’s about time you get rewarded for it. Attendees will be “getting social” for a chance to be named the official Mayor of Online Revealed! Presented by WebCanada and A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing. Look for details on registering for the game as you check in to the conference.

I will be sure to post highlights of the event and look forward to welcoming over 350 registrants next week!

 

Benchmarking ROI of Social Marketing in Travel: Part One Destination Marketing Organizations

Social Media has changed forever how consumers buy travel.  The traditional marketing mix has been turned on its head with marketing tactics moving far beyond printed travel guides, display media, traditional print, radio and television – pushing travel marketers to become transparent participators in consumer conversation, and more importantly, pushing them to account for the ROI in allocating resources to social media marketing.

Whether we are talking about a travel related service such as an airline, hotel room, or attraction, social media channels have been a game changer in both marketing, as well as in distribution, sales, public relations and CRM.

How do we measure success or specifically ROI in using channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to sell travel related products, services and experiences?  Specifically, how does a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO or VCB) tackle the measurement and communication of success of social media programs to stakeholders?

Before we can accurately measure the success or ROI of social media marketing tactics, it is important to take a step back and first establish the point of conversion.  It seems simple enough, but it is a step that many marketers are missing as new buzz generating digital tactics enter the picture every day.  As well, a traditional DMO or CVB may not necessarily have a transaction point, which further complicates benchmarking of the DMO role in marketing the destination.

1.    The first step is to determine which social media channels are key to the success in selling the product, service or experience.

Consumers spend time in search engines, websites, blogs, review sites, and social communities on their journey to the point of conversion.  Resources must be focused towards those social media communities where the majority of consumers are spending their time during travel research.

2.    Identify the point of end conversion.

The conversion may be a reservation or a sale, a coupon download, or an email sign up.  Each campaign, whether the tactic is social media in isolation, or in combination with other media channels, should be measured against the same key metrics for marketers to begin to see trends and properly benchmark successes.

It is almost a necessity for a Destination (DMO or CVB) to be on both Facebook and Twitter at this stage in the game.  The question then becomes what role does the DMO play in the online conversation, how does this role support the consumer buying process, and most importantly; how does the DMO communicate the value of these programs to its stakeholders?

It is important to keep in mind that the transaction point is not necessarily a booking or a sale, and therefore the key performance indicators may be tied instead to reach, share of voice in comparison to other destinations, traffic to stakeholder websites, or social media chatter or buzz related to core destination products and services – or any combination of key metrics that are important to the DMO in achieving its mandate.

3.    Determine Key Performance Indicators and metrics of campaign success.

Once the conversion point is determined in a social media campaign, and goals defined, metrics can be put in place.  Some key metrics that may be measured to benchmark the success of a DMO or VCB social marketing campaign or overall social media marketing efforts include:

  • Facebook posts, comments and likes (usins Facebook Insights or other measurement tools in combination)
  • # of Post views and Post feedback (posts to social channels like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and beyond)
  • Average interaction per post
  • Number of new fans in relation to fans prior to campaign
  • # of broadcasted messages via Twitter
  • # of RT’s (retweets)
  • # of @replies
  • Contest entries
  • Hashtag trending and reach (on Twitter)

Points of measurement that will become even more important as we go forward include; Number of App downloads and Mobile location.

App downloads will be a critical point of measurement of performance moving forward, but also mobile location as we are now able to pinpoint further the success in reaching target markets (geographically), as well as to gain metrics on how close to the sale or transaction that the DMO really is based on where an app download or location tag was used.

In most cases the DMO or VCB takes the role of influencer of a travel transaction, and when a DMO can successfully measure the impact on buying behaviour close to the point of sale, and is able to tie that back to a specific campaign on Facebook and Twitter through key performance measurables we have a #WINNING benchmark for measurement. [yes I inserted a hashtag reference #Cheesy]

4.    Determine free and paid tools available to properly measure campaign success and overall reach.

There are numerous measurement tools currently available to assist destination marketing organizations in measuring the success of social media campaign tactics.  At this time, there is no one best solution or silver bullet social media measurement tool, but putting key performance measurables in place and consistently measuring social media initiatives against goals and defined KPI’s is the way to begin.

Once KPI’s are established, there are many tools that can assist in tracking to determine success.  Social monitoring or measurement tools are available in every price range, and with varying levels of service and support.

There are however Social media monitoring and measurement tools, both free and paid, that can and should be used to assist in measuring KPI’s of social media campaigns for Destination Marketing organizations.

At the basic level, social monitoring tools such as HootSuite, and free tools like Tweetreach and Facebook Insights that can be used to measure reach and engagement at the campaign level.  Tools such as these also assist in managing campaigns allowing community managers to track buzz and topics related to their destination, and then contribute to the conversation.

Marketers should also be using GoogleAlerts to monitor content related to their brand, and measurement tools such as Google Analytics also have social and mobile tracking capabilities.

Depending on goals, more robust monitoring and measurement tools are available  There are Social measurement tools that have been developed to work specifically for tracking social activity for hotels, resorts and hotel groups; these include solutions such as Review Analyst, and Revinate to name a few.  As of yet, there are no tools that I have reviewed that specifically work for Destination marketers.

Some well known social measurment tools include; Radian6, SproutSocial, Heartbeat (a solution by Marketwire), Awareness Social Monitoring software, Ubervu social media dashboard and more.  There is no one size fits all solution for measuring social media.  The medium is still new and evolving at a rapid pace.  What we do know is that consumers want to talk about their buying experiences, they want to hear from brands, and they are buying online across multiple channels.

Next in this series on social media measurement and monitoring, I will look at benchmarking social media ROI for hotels, resorts and hotel brands.  Until then, I will set up some KPI’s to determine the reach of this Blog post.  I hope to be reporting hundreds of Retweets, Facebook likes, new Fans, Shares, Comments, Replies, Google+’s, tags and recommendations.  Maybe I will even get a high five or a woot woot!  I will keep you “posted”.

Online Revealed Canada,March 5-7 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel presents an opportunity to participate in a limited benchmarking / measurement project for DMOs / PMOs / CVBs. Participants in this groundbreaking study will be able to benchmark Online Performance in comparison to other participating Canadian DMOs, PMOs & CVBs, as well as other US & International Destinations. Miles Media and A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing (in conjunction with TripAdvisor) will be offering the free benchmarking report to PARTICIPATING ‘Online Revealed’ DMO conference attendees.  Visit our website for details.

References used in this article include:

Slideshare presentation by Altimeter Social media marketing analytics report

Createwanderlust.com article on Social Media Integrated Campaign

Hotelmarketing.com: mixed results for travel sites on Facebook

Thank you also to our valued clients, and colleagues in this industry for always pushing us forward in ensuring we are at the head of the curve in providing ROI driven digital marketing programs.  We are looking forward to seeing you all next week at the annual Online Revealed Conference where we will once again dive into what is new and now in marketing tourism online.

Can the internet get full?

ORC2011A valid question posed at the most recent Online Revealed Canada Conference, held March 8-9 in Toronto.  From an opening keynote delivered by the inventor of Google maps, Michael T. Jones, who spoke about everything from how he and his colleges invented Google Maps at his dining room table, now used by more than 1,000,000,000 worldwide, to an interactive workshop presented by Alfredo Tan from Facebook Canada, which allowed for an intimate discussion about the inner workings of Facebook – this year’s Online Revealed Canada Conference hit a new level.

When I was preparing conference recap “sound bites,” which are traditionally delivered by myself, and conference co-chairs Patricia Brusha and Edward Perry at the end of the 2 day event, I was overwhelmed by the concepts and success stories that were shared, and the amount of information that we had to summarize.

This year, Online Revealed was presented in association with the Hotel Investment Conference and the new Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit.  The three events brought together the who’s who in the hospitality industry in Canada and beyond, culminating with the Google e-Tourism awards presented at a special luncheon, which featured such digital marketing success stories as….Newfoundland Labrador and National Capital Commission – Mosaika – what really stood out to me more than anything was the pride we had in our industry, and in each other for the work we have done in marketing Canada, and Canadian destinations, to a very global audience online.

Six years ago, the first Online Revealed Conference was held in Ottawa, where a group of 150 attendees gathered to share and learn about how to market ourselves in an new online world.  This year in Toronto a packed house of over 550 attendees gathered to learn, collaborate and share the many successes in digital marketing we have had in this industry over the past 6 years.

Back then, we were just starting to discuss the impact of the internet on selling tourism online, with concepts such as  search engine optimization, and building quality website content. Now, we are discussing concepts (then unheard of) such as mobile marketing and managing online reputation in a saturated online review-osphere that extends beyond Tripadvisor to include Blogs, OTA reviews, and niche social websites, where consumers are spending more time interacting online than actually viewing websites or even searching in search engines.

Who could imagine six years ago that in 2011 we would be discussing concepts like Google maps, a technology that is literally mapping out our planet?!

Our marketing reality is now a complex online ecosystem consisting of search engines, online intermediaries, review sites, social networks, news portals, niche discount sites, destination portals, brand portals – all of which are now being consumed on various platforms including mobile smart phones, tablets, laptops and beyond.  This digital evolution represents the largest shift in media consumption that we have seen since Television, and it does not seem to be slowing down.

In addition to the pride I felt in being part of an industry that has grown together and learned together to master this ever-changing online medium, and through the various highs and lows of the past six years including SARS, a world-wide recession and a Canadian Olympics to name only a few, it was overwhelming to once again see how coming together at an event like this, with a community of people willing to share and learn from each other makes a difference in how brave the new media world moving forward.

Thank you to all that shared in this year’s Online Revealed Canada, and those who have contributed to doing innovative things to market Canadian tourism.  As an industry we are doing amazing things, we are reaching our consumers in new ways and interacting with them in the digital places where they are living.  We are also doing what we have always done, and that is to tell stories and to share with the world the Canadian experience.

By the way, the answer to “can the internet get full” (according to Google’s Michael T. Jones) is No.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
alicia.whalen@gmail.com
905-401-2249

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