Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mountain Travel Forum 2013: Sessions I & II

General Session I
Wednesday, April 10th 8:30AM - 10:15AM
The World of Travel According to Google & Facebook
  • First came search. Then mobile and video. And now travel. Google’s Rob Torres, Managing Director for Travel, explained the "now and next" for Google, travel, and us. A fresh, fast track.
  • Facebook has a juiced-up focus on travel. Erik Hawkins, Industry Manager for Travel, North America, explained how Facebook plans to unleash the power of more than a billion users on the world’s third largest industry and what’s in it for you.

"Word of mouth is still a marketer’s best friend, and it’s now being delivered by social media. Travel experts from Google and Facebook described the exponential growth in their involvement in travel; showcased new technology like Google Glass, which incorporate a small voice-activated point-of-view camera; and provided advice on how to connect with customers through current and future tools. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, video speaks volumes: it’s becoming an important piece of the decision process for travelers" (SAM April, 2013).
General Session II
Wednesday, April 10th 10:45AM - 12:25PM
Leveraging Bloggers for Profit
  • Engaging in meaningful conversations and campaigns with influential bloggers is the key to any successful communications strategy and growing sales in 2013 and beyond. Expedia Vice President Hari Nair explained how his company’s strategy with bloggers has led to phenomenal success. How it works, why, and even a look at the ROI.
  • A panel with Krista Parry, Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Powdr Enterprises and founder of Snowmamas blog, and Anne Taylor Hartzell, founder and creator of Hip Travel Mama, talked about how they used their passion for travel and blogging to help travel brands drive engagement and bookings with fellow travelers.
"Bloggers provide another source of trusted word-of-mouth. Hari Nair of Expedia said that 50 percent of Gen Xers look to bloggers for advice; overall, a 25 percent of travelers do.
Bloggers, of course, have independent voices, and as such may not be completely in tune with the marketing message. But that’s part of the point: they have their own unique voice, and that authenticity makes them believable and trustworthy. Their organic advocacy can help you increase engagement and strengthen relationships.
That’s the value of bloggers such as Park City’s Snowmamas, as Krista Parry of Powdr Enterprises pointed out. Blogs are a fine way to reach a targeted audience, like moms. Millennials, the future core customers, are always engaged. Yes, marketers can’t control the message and interaction, she said, but then, that control was lost years ago. The best you can do now is go with the flow and be involved" (SAM April, 2013).

Mobile Is NOW

  • HotelTonight is providing innovative solutions for mobile bookings. With more than $37 million in venture capital, they have big growth plans. Founder and CEO Sam Shank explained the larger societal trend towards last-minute, on-demand consumption, and how consumers expect everything to be at their fingertips more than ever before. Shank talked about how mobile will impact all aspects of mountain travel - before and especially during the guest's visit.
"That’s equally true for mobile communications, which can usher in a suite of new services and, if handled correctly, new revenue streams. Sam Shank of HotelTonight, a last-minute booking app (2,500 hotels, 90 cities, 12 countries), described how a suite of apps on a location-enabled smartphone could serve as a sort of on-mountain remote control, Think of an app as a button on the remote, he said.
How would this improve the experience? For starters, resorts could sell tickets without a ticket window (or waiting line). Guide guests to the best parking places, most suitable trails, and shortest liftlines. Push lunch menus to guests shortly before noon, say, direct them to nearby restaurants (thank you, location services), and allow them to order ahead and reserve a table. The app could also alert the kitchen when guests are approaching the restaurant, so that food could be ready the moment guests arrive. That’s efficient for both guest and resort, he noted. And why not offer line-cutting privileges on a busy day, or private lessons tailored to the terrain a guest has been on? Prices for both could be adjusted as supply and demand changes, minute by minute
"(SAM April, 2013).

His five rules for apps:

do just one thing, really well
• complete tasks quickly, efficiently
• offer limited selection (make choices easy)
• personalize the choices (based on previous purchases or choices)
• anticipate needs—know where customers are, and send reminders.

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