The Benefits of Upselling

Want to make more money from your customers? Here’s a frequently overlooked tip: Ask them for more. That’s the essential premise behind a new white paper I’ve written in conjunction with HSMAI and Nor1 called, “When More is More: Upselling as a Sales and Marketing Tactic.”

Upselling involves more than just asking, of course. The real keys involve understanding the value of your offering to customers and making the right offer at the right time. While technology plays a key role in executing most effectively, so does having the right people, culture, and insights about your customers. Check out the write-up over on Thinks, if you get a moment.

And if you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going — as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World” here.

And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes, including:

Why Meta-search, Search, Social, Local, and Mobile Conspire to Kill Conversion Rates

What's happening to your conversion rate?Paid search. Organic search. Metasearch. Email marketing. Daily deals sites. Ratings and reviews. Social and local and mobile. How in the world is a poor travel marketer to navigate the myriad choices facing your customers today?

For that matter, how is your poor customer supposed to navigate that landscape?

Anyone familiar with “The Paradox of Choice” understands why this creates a challenging environment in which to try and sell travel.

It’s not all bad news, of course. Savvy travel marketers are using these very tools to engage their guests and get customers to tell stories on their behalf. But, there’s little doubt this “paradox of choice” environment will affect one part of your online marketing: your conversion rate. I explain why in more detail in my latest Travel Tuesday post on Tim Peter Thinks: “Kiss Your Current Conversion Rate Goodbye.”

And if you’re interested in learning more, egister to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Oh, and, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of growing your conversions (and your conversion rate), including:

The Future of Travel Search and Mobile (Travel Tuesday)

Android smartphoneI posted my regular Travel Tuesday piece over on Thinks this week, highlighting remarkable comments made by Google’s UK head of travel about the where the growth in search volume is coming from. You can read all about it in this post The Future of Travel Search and Mobile.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that this shift will affect what you must do to reach customers going forward. If you want to learn more about how you can adapt to the changing realities of customer behavior, you can register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here.

The Key to Social Media Success

Social media successFew businesses have faced as much competitive pressure over the last decade as travel agents. Those who’ve survived have done so by connecting effectively with their customers, addressing real needs, and providing excellent service.

But the growth of social media has introduced a new variable to travel agents’ relationships with their clients, one that many struggle to navigate. The latest issue of Travel Agent Magazine features a cover story, “Social Media Tips From the Experts,” all about how travel agents — and anyone in the travel space, really — can use social media to connect with their clients in ever more effective ways. The piece features tips from a number of leading social media marketing experts, including our own Tim Peter.

Among the tips Tim shared with the magazine was this advice:

“Think about what’s of value to your customers,” Peter says. “Travel agents should be better at this than a lot of other people because you talk to customers every day. What are the things your clients ask you all the time? That’s great info to share.”

Content marketing — itself core to any social media marketing efforts — challenges marketers to continually generate new content. But any business person, travel agent or otherwise, who talks to customers regularly knows what really matters to those customers. Or should.

Creating deep relationships with customers depends on first listening to what your customers say and working to understand what customers actually need. Of course, the understanding is as important as the listening. Henry Ford famously said, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Ford translated “faster horses” into serving a real need: providing reliable, inexpensive, and, yes, faster transportation.

Your social media efforts should aim for the same goal. First, listen to what your customers and clients say, on social channels as well as offline. Then understand what those customers need. Then, finally, engage with customers to address those needs.

By the way, the article as a whole is filled with a ton of tips you can use, regardless of your industry or occupation. Check it out if you get the chance.

And, if you’re interested in more, sign up for our free newsletter to get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of social, including:

What Are Your Customers Actually Buying?

Customer satisfactionWhy do airlines suck? That’s the question raised by the just-released Airline Quality Rating Report for 2012 [PDF link]. The report suggests that airlines increasingly get the operational details right. But, despite these successes, customer complaints also continue to grow.

Why?

Well, as NBC News notes,

“…rising customer dissatisfaction with the airlines goes beyond the basics of operational performance. While the AQR analyzes quantitative measures, there are obviously qualitative difference between the various carriers. After all, an airline can be on time, lose few bags and not bump a soul — and still provide a miserable flying experience thanks to cramped seats, lousy food and fees for everything beyond a seat belt and oxygen mask.

“The air transportation experience is suffering from issues that are not measured in the DOT [Department of Transportation] or AQR [Airline Quality Rating],” said Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. For Leocha, other issues, such as proliferating fees, confusing code-share rules and policies that make it difficult for families to sit together without paying extra, add fuel to the flames of passenger frustration.”

This is top of mind for me right now, as I’m talking to a group of travel executives next week about customer experience and the high cost of ignoring value (a topic I’ve addressed before).

Travel is an unusual product, in that, for the most part, there’s no tangible good. Someone buying a cashmere sweater at Saks or Target, a book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or a mobile phone from Best Buy or Verizon takes home a physical object, some thing they can touch and live with again and again, day after day.

Travel doesn’t work that way. You get one shot to get it right. The experience is everything. One bad experience might mean a lost future sale — or worse if they write an online review trashing your product/service and let the rest of the world know exactly how bad you treated them (whether justified or not).

Marketers offering hotels, airlines, rental cars, cruise lines, and rail — or packaging the whole shebang — to their customers have to continually look for ways to improve the experience. This isn’t about going above and beyond customer expectations; for many components of the travel experience, just meeting the customer expectation would be a step in the right direction. Sad, but true. As AQR author Dean Headley notes in the NBC piece, “The sad part is that when I get back from a trip and people ask me how my flight was, the best I can say is it was uneventful.”

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. And, if you’ve got a minute, you might enjoy some past coverage of customer experience in marketing, including:

And, don’t forget, you can have me speak at your next event, too.

Tuesday Travel: Weekly Marketing Roundup

Online marketingLooking to improve your hotel’s marketing going into 2013? Here’s a quick round-up of this week’s best hotel marketing and distribution tips and techniques:

Don’t forget to check back here regularly for additional hotel marketing tips and techniques. And take a look at my main blog for additional online marketing and e-commerce news and info.

IAB Study on Travel and Media

The IAB has an interesting study outlining trends among travelers and their media use. Some of the key findings?

  • Travel is their top “big ticket” purchase. 23% of Americans are planning vacation travel in the next six months, making the category the top “big ticket” item they plan to purchase in the period
  • Internet use almost equal with TV. On weekdays, internet weekly reach among intended travelers approaches parity with TV (91% internet vs. 95% TV)
  • Media use grows when they’re ready to travel. Soon-to-be travelers are more likely to surf the internet (91% vs. 82%), listen to radio (77% vs. 69%), and read magazines (61% vs. 51%) and newspapers (58% vs. 50%) than the general population
  • Heavy use of email. They are far more likely to send and read emails than the average American (94% vs. 83%)
  • And of mobile phone apps. Their rates of app usage is much greater than the average American The six most popular categories more than those in the general population:
    • Games (70% travel intenders vs. 66% general population)
    • Weather (69% travel intenders vs. 57% general population)
    • Entertainment (60% travel intenders vs. 54% general population)
    • Social Networking (58% travel intenders vs. 52% general population)
    • Radio (45% travel intenders vs. 39% general population)
    • Travel (53% travel intenders vs. 38% general population)

You can retrieve the whole study from the IAB here [PDF link].