Archive for July, 2010

Summer Tourism Ideas

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

TOURISM & MORE “TOURISM TIDBITS” for July 2010

Summer Tourism Ideas

Many tourism locales see the summer months as high season. Prices rise, at times the service is a bit less, and many tourism attractions, hotels, restaurants or transportation systems know that the summer’s receipts will determine the success or failure of the entire year. Furthermore, many locales take the position that once spring has passed, marketing may be a waste of time, as summer vacation plans have already been made. Certainly some areas of the world are heavily dependent on the summer traffic patterns. For example, many beach communities (especially those located in cooler climates) may receive up to 90% of their gross revenues from summer sales. Even non-beach resort locations see the summer as a time of great opportunity. For example, urban areas may view the summer as a time when local residents flee to cooler climates, but may also benefit from visitors seeking a cultural experience (especially with their children) at a time when big city life may be a bit less scary. This summer may also be a challenging one for many locales. The economy is still shaky in many parts of the world, and some people may simply put off a summer vacation or skip this year’s vacation. To help you prepare for summer and turn the year into a great season here are a several ideas;
Tout Being Affordable. No matter where you are realize that people will be looking for bargains this summer. Push everything from summer coupon books to places where one can spend a bit less. Be careful not to push too hard, as that can drive down prices to the point that local tourism agencies cannot afford to stay in business. The trick is to give value mixed with good service. In fact in a down economy service becomes an all-important aspect. Our guests, many of whom are struggling to afford a vacation, do not want to feel that they are anything but honored guests.

Teach all front line people to smile! Closely related to good service is a sense of caring and an open friendly attitude. This is the year to remind all front line people that no job is ever guaranteed. We have to earn our jobs with each guest. All too often the tourism experience has been anything but joyous. There is no better advertising or marketing campaign than a friendly smile.

Do not be afraid of visitors from another country. Follow currency exchange rates, for example, if the euro is expensive against the dollar than Europeans tend to flock to the USA. If however, there is a rise in the value of the dollar, Americans may return to Europe. Remember foreign travelers tend to spend a lot more money in a locale than does the local population. The trick is to make their travel as easy as possible. Offer easy locations in which they can exchange money, print multi-lingual maps and guides and encourage restaurants to have menus in more than one language.

Do not be afraid to promote the long weekend. Not everyone may be able to afford in both time and money a two -four week vacation. These people may be looking for weekend get-aways that start on Friday and end on Monday evening. The other alternative is to have creative midweek special. A may prefer to sell its rooms at 50% or the rack rate than not at all. If the economy is shaky, then focus on attracting people from nearby states.

-Be creative in offering not only stress-free summer vacations but also de-stressing vacations. The current economic situation has placed a great deal of stress on lots of people. Think through how you can facilitate hotel check-in and out, help people to locate locations around the community, and not get lost. One of the reasons that people are often stressed out after a vacation is that travel is no longer fun; be it in a car, airplane, boat or railroad car. Develop ways to make your transportation terminals feel more “homey” and less stress inducing. Do not forget to watch gas prices. While gas prices traditionally rise in the summer months, watch for trends and if they become too expensive use this expense as a creative marketing device.

Market even in the summer months. Not everyone has made summer plans, and there are always those people who are seeking a last minute get-away. Remember that creative marketing this summer may provide you with a list of potential new customers for next summer. Remember that good service is the best form of marketing. Seek the time when media prices are lowest and then blitz selected markets that may become new niche marketing zones.
Create a summer marketing web campaign. The web is a great took especially for last minute travelers. Consider such things as:
– Special summer itineraries
– Special summer web specials
– Divide your attractions by style, location and price
– Directions from any place to any point in your locale
– Lists of what is near-by each attraction, from hotels to restaurants to clean rest rooms

Socialnomics: Four Vital Social Media Tips for the Travel Industry

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Socialnomics: Four vital social media tips for the travel industry
Posted by Special Nodes USA on 28 June 2010
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If you do things right in social media than one can capture 1.5 million loyal followers (JetBlue on Twitter).

Yet, companies can also stub their toe in the world of social media as evidenced by the YouTube success of United Breaks Guitars and Kevin Smith’s quarrel with Southwest Airlines.

Some items are beyond your control no matter how good you are at social media. However, there are a few to steps give you the best chance for success in the social media travel world and to increase sales.

social media escalator

As showcased in the diagram, the four steps are:

1. Listen – to your customer and conversations around your brand.
2. Interact – Join the conversation.
3. React – Adjust your services based on feedback.
4. Sell – If you Listen, Interact, React, this will happen with less effort.

Companies often enter the social media fray and jump straight to step four, selling. This is the worst thing you can do, and it won’t be effective.

You need to start with step one, which is listening. Without listening, the other three steps won’t achieve any degree of success. As many have said before me, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

After listening, then you have the appropriate baseline and credibility to join the conversation.

Imagine if you were at a housewarming party and walked up to a group of four people who were already engaged in a conversation and said, “I’m not sure what you are talking about, but here is what I want to talk about.”

You don’t want to be “that girl” at the housewarming party and you don’t want to be “that girl or company” in the socialsphere.

Many get the listening and interacting correct, but then they commit a terrible crime. They don’t do anything (react) based on the suggestions and information gathered?

If 90% of the people complain about a certain aspect of your hotel, airline, etc, it’s imperative that the issue is resolved, and resolved promptly.

If 90% of the conversation is centered around certain aspects of the hotel or customer service that people love, then it’s imperative that this information is placed in the appropriate hands (PR, production, sales, customer service, etc.) – let’s make sure we do more of this! Everyone loves it.

We won’t touch on selling too much, because if you do the first three steps well (Listen, Interact, React), then the selling will happen with a proper push here and a prod there.

Notice in the diagram that the steps for the customer then happen in the reverse order of the company. This is huge. It’s these steps that the customer takes within social media that give an exponential return (good or bad).

If it makes it easier to grasp, you can consider the following as steps 5, 6, 7, 8. This is where the magic can really happen.

* Listen: The customer books the reservation from the selling company. The customer’s first step is to listen for what to expect (important expectation setting here). What is the value that will be delivered? What experience can I expect?
* Interact: The customer will then travel.
* React: During or after this interaction, the customer will react according to his or her experience (good/neutral/bad).
* Sell: The consumer’s reaction to the experience will determine if they sell for or against (the company/airline/hotel/cruise line). Keep in mind if it’s a negative reaction, you still have a chance to correct the situation by interacting and reacting.

That’s the beauty of social media. As a company, if you appropriately engage in the four steps, then the stairs in the diagram act more like an escalator (pun intended) rather than a traditional stairway (ie. Social Media Escalator).

It will create a positively circular motion, which, with the appropriate greasing (effort), will continue to take your travel offerings to the top. And that is the true beauty of Socialnomics.

The best strategy in social media is a simple one. Always remind yourself of the fundamentals.

NB: This article is written by Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics. His book is available on Amazon.
as published in PAII Innfo Newsletter

Online Lodging Reservations through VisitNebraska.gov

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Nebraska Tourism Set to Launch Online Lodging
Reservation System at VisitNebraska.gov

Lodging facilities across Nebraska are encouraged to sign up
before the July 1 public launch of BookDirect

The Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism is set to integrate BookDirect™ online lodging search and reservation functionality into its VisitNebraska.gov website. The new technology—to be launched to the public July 1—will put a greater range of tools at the fingertips of travelers interested in scheduling a Nebraska vacation. It also provides lodging facilities of all sizes with an elegant, feature-rich online booking option.

Designed to work well for hoteliers of virtually any size or type, BookDirect offers options for facilities currently using an online reservation system as well as hoteliers just getting started with electronic reservations. Its direct interface with a number of top online reservation systems streamlines inventory management. For facilities without a current online reservation management system, BookDirect offers a standard online reservation system to subscribers free of charge.

A benefit of the BookDirect technology is the capability for travelers to search for available lodging statewide and then seamlessly book lodging online directly with the lodging sites, as opposed to making a reservation through a third-party vendor. This is an arrangement that has proved to produce a higher rate of completed online reservations.

The Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism has developed a BookDirect FAQ document with additional information and answers to a number of common questions about the BookDirect application, its implementation on VisitNebraska.gov and costs of participation. The BookDirect FAQ, which is included following this release, is also available on the VisitNebraska.gov Industry Site. Nebraska Tourism industry partners can view it and the BookDirect widget at http://industry.VisitNebraska.org/bookdirect.

Lodging facilities may also learn more about BookDirect during a free Webinar hosted by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism and BookDirect parent company, JackRabbit Systems. The Webinar will be held Tuesday, June 29, at 10 a.m. CDT. A link to online registration is available at http://industry.VisitNebraska.org/bookdirect.

The Division is asking facilities interested in participating to register their businesses before the July 1, 2010, public launch of BookDirect on VisitNebraska.gov to ensure their sites will be represented when promotion of the site begins and travelers start searching for accommodations for their next great Nebraska road trip.

Thanks for your participation. We’ll see you down the road.

Christian Hornbaker
Director, Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism

###

Nebraska Tourism – BookDirect™ FAQ
June 2010
What is BookDirect™?
BookDirect™ from JackRabbit Systems is a functional, useful online lodging reservation tool that gives travelers the ability to view immediate lodging availability and pricing information for destinations throughout the state with real-time results. JackRabbit Systems is a partner with tourism organizations worldwide.
How does BookDirect work?
The BookDirect technology works much like an online travel agent’s third-party booking engine (such as Hotwire.com, Travelocity.com and others) in that it allows visitors to enter their desired travel dates and displays immediate results for available lodging along with pricing information for the destination. While BookDirect gives travelers the ability to search statewide, they are able to book their stay directly with the lodging sites rather than with a third-party vendor. This arrangement has proved to deliver a higher rate of online reservation completions.
Why has Nebraska Tourism incorporated the BookDirect functionality into its website and made it available to Nebraska lodging facilities?
Nebraska Tourism has integrated BookDirect functionality into the home page of the VisitNebraska.gov website as a way to provide a greater range of travel tools to site visitors interested in scheduling a Nebraska vacation. The Division also wanted to offer Nebraska accommodations that currently don’t have an online reservation system a low-cost, high-quality online booking alternative.
Why is Book Direct better? What is the unique value to an independent lodging operator?
A level playing field for lodging facilities of all sizes – BookDirect allows lodging facilities of all sizes to offer visitors a way to reserve accommodations online. Even if a lodging facility does not currently use an online reservation system, BookDirect offers a reservation application that can quickly get accommodations up and available online.
Available standard online reservation system – Lodging facilities without an existing online reservation system can utilize a standard online reservation application BookDirect offers its partners free of charge. This makes BookDirect as universal as possible for a variety of different types of accommodations and reservation systems.
Direct interface with lodging reservation systems/no additional inventory management – For lodging facilities that have an existing online reservation system, the BookDirect technology pulls rates and availability from the reservation system on a daily basis, so there is no need to manage or feed additional inventory into the BookDirect engine.
Lower commission fees – Based on the BookDirect pricing model, commissions or fees charged by BookDirect for room reservations are 25–50 percent less on average than other third-party booking engines.
Proven results – BookDirect has proved to increase qualified referrals (clicks) to the lodging websites of its members. Because lodging properties receive more qualified referrals from BookDirect, this allows them to directly convert the visitors from VistNebraska.gov into bookings. It’s been shown that more qualified referrals combined with direct reservations increases the number of room nights!
How does a traveler book an accommodation through BookDirect?
Using the BookDirect application at VisitNebraska.gov, travelers use the search tools to find the location and accommodation they are interested in. Then they click the BookDirect link next to the accommodation listing, which takes them to the accommodation website to complete the transaction. It’s a great experience for travelers because they actually book directly with the accommodation instead of with a third party. For accommodations without a website, travelers are directed to the BookDirect booking engine. How to set up a BookDirect booking engine is outlined below.
What if my lodging facility doesn’t have an existing online reservation system?
For those lodging properties without an online reservation system, BookDirect provides a reservation system (also called a BookDirect booking engine) that can be set up and utilized at no cost. Lodging properties interested in utilizing the BookDirect booking engine can click on this link to sign up for this self-service system – http://www.jackrabbitreservations.com/hotels/new. After the sign-up process, instructions will be emailed outlining the setup and ongoing inventory management to receive online reservations.
How do Nebraska Tourism lodging partners participate in BookDirect?
For accommodations that are a part of the following listed chains, BookDirect has established corporate agreements with each, and all lodging properties will automatically be participating: IHG, La Quinta, Hilton Hotels, Carlson Hotels, Starwood Hotels & Resort, Drury, Best Western, Motel 6, Wyndham, Marriott, Choice, Magnuson Hotels, and Red Lion.
Accommodations that are not part of a chain listed above, but that are listed with Nebraska Tourism will appear in the BookDirect search functionality through July 15. However, travelers will not be able to book an accommodation with a lodging property until the property has signed up with BookDirect using one of the following methods:
Independent (non-chain) properties that currently utilize an online reservation system and wish to participate should use the following link, which takes them to the lodging sign-up form – http://jackrabbitsystems.com/signup/. All details regarding pricing and the process are outlined in detail on this page.
For independent (non-chain) properties that currently do not utilize online reservations, please refer to the previous question.
Any properties that have not signed up with BookDirect by July 15 will be removed from the search database. They will still be welcome to sign up with BookDirect at a later date, at which time they will receive the full BookDirect functionality.
What are the costs of participation in BookDirect?
Independent Lodging Properties (non-chain) – Each independent lodging property signs up individually and pays either 12% for each reservation through BookDirect or a pay-per-click fee of $0.45. Lodging properties can choose which pricing model they prefer to use on the lodging sign-up form at http://jackrabbitsystems.com/signup/.
Hotel Chain Properties – BookDirect has a corporate agreement with each chain listed in number 14 on the lodging sign-up form at http://jackrabbitsystems.com/signup/. All lodging properties associated with each chain automatically participate in the BookDirect network, and payments for reservations are paid by the corporate parent chain.
How are payments to lodging facilities handled for accommodations booked through BookDirect?
The BookDirect engine will redirect travelers from VisitNebraska.gov to the individual lodging properties (either their website or their BookDirect booking engine) for the purpose of making reservations. Because of this, all payments are handled directly between the consumer and the lodging property.
If a visitor has issues using BookDirect, how is it handled?
Because visitors book directly with each lodging property, all customer service issues are with the lodging property. If lodging operators learn that the BookDirect link is broken or is not functioning properly, they should contact BookDirect customer service at customerservice@jackrabbitsystems.com.
If a lodging facility has an issue or needs to update photos or database information with BookDirect, who is the point of contact?
Questions regarding sign-up or updates to photos or information on the BookDirect site, and resolution of issues after sign-up can be directed to Dee Lang at BookDirect, 505-982-2521 or customerservice@jackrabbitsystems.com.
Please note: BookDirect information is not automatically updated when database updates are sent to Nebraska Tourism. While there will be regular updates between BookDirect and Nebraska Tourism, they will occur on an annual basis, so to ensure your information is as current as possible, be sure to send updates to Dee at BookDirect at the same time they are sent to Heather at Nebraska Tourism.
Can Nebraska lodging facilities add the BookDirect functionality to their own websites, or is it accessible only through VisitNebraska.gov?
For lodging entities that have their own online reservation system, including a link to BookDirect on their site would be redundant, as it essentially provides the same service. However, if a lodging entity is using the booking engine provided by BookDirect as its reservation system, a link to the BookDirect site is necessary.

Responsible Travel Report

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Responsible Travel Report
The Sustainable Tourism e-Newsletter

A Message From STI

Dear Fellow Traveler,

You shop for food, clothes, cars, energy, and maybe even your job with a conscience, but how about your travel? If you’re planning summer travel, how does sustainability factor in to your booking decisions?

More travelers than ever are making choices based on how green their travel provider is. From flights to hotels to overland excursions, consumers care about the impacts of their vacations. With so many options out there to reduce these impacts—choosing certified hotels and resorts, supporting local providers, artisans and communities, etc.—the question today might be more along the lines of “How on Earth do you ever choose?”

It wasn’t so long ago that green travel options were few and far between. STI is proud to be on the forefront of the responsible travel movement. To say that it is rewarding to see the distance covered, the gaps bridged and the ground gained would be an understatement; there are so many achievements that have exceeded everyone’s expectations. To say that we’ve arrived to a point where we can feel totally sure our work here is done—well, that won’t do either, because we still have a ways to go.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing some landmark achievements, and the honor of reporting them to you as STI’s Director of Communications and Editor. From forming partnerships with major airlines, cruise lines, hotel and rental car chains, working to reduce carbon emissions and provide options for consumers to offset the unavoidable impacts of their travel, to the first Eco-certified luxury hotels through our Luxury Eco-Certification Standard (LECS), I consider myself lucky to have seen what a difference a relatively small group of dedicated people can do to affect change. Add the galvanizing power of Social Media to the equation, and we’ve got a force to be reckoned with.

That said, it’s bittersweet to report that this will be my last issue as Editor of the Responsible Travel Report. I am passing the torch to Matt Kareus, whose talents I admire, and who will keep you informed and inspire you to continue to make sustainable travel history. I’ll be joining you, on the other side, as a tour operator, and once again, as a fellow traveler as my new venture unfolds.

A warm welcome to Matt, and with it, he and I jointly bring you this June issue of the Responsible Travel Report. Read on to learn how to join our FREE Tourism Certification Webinar, do your part to save the Serengeti, and see how luxury hotels are joining the ranks of green travel crusaders.

Happy reading, and a heartfelt farewell,

Val Vanderpool, Editor
valv@sustainabletravel.com

Clorox Versus Peroxide

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

CLOROX VERSUS PEROXIDE

Clorox vs. Peroxide VERY interesting and inexpensive. This was
written by Becky Ransey of Indiana (a doctor’s wife), and I want to share it
with you. She was over recently for coffee and smelled the bleach I was using
to clean my toilet and counter tops. This is what she told me. ‘I would like
to tell you of the benefits of that Plain little ole bottle of 3% peroxide
you can get for under $1.00 at any drug store. What does bleach cost? My
husband has been in the medical field for over 36 years, and most doctors don’t
tell you about peroxide. Have you ever smelled bleach in a doctor’s office?
NO!!!

Why? Because it smells, and it is not healthy! Ask the nurses who
work in the doctor’s offices, and ask them if they use bleach at home. They
are wiser and know better!

Did you also know bleach was invented in the late 40’s? It’s chlorine,
folks! And it was used to kill our Troops. Peroxide was invented
during WWI in the 20’s. It was used to save and help cleanse the needs of our
troops and hospitals.

Please think about this:

1. Take one capful (the little white cap that comes with the bottle)
and hold in your mouth for 10 minutes daily, then spit it out. (I do it
when I bathe.) No more canker sores, and your teeth will be whiter without
expensive pastes. Use it instead of mouthwash.

2. Let your toothbrushes soak in a cup of peroxide to keep them free
of germs.

3. Clean your counters and table tops with peroxide to kill germs and
leave a fresh smell. Simply put a little on your dishrag when you wipe, or
spray it on the counters.

4. After rinsing off your wooden cutting board, pour peroxide on it
to kill salmonella and other bacteria.

5. I had fungus on my feet for years until I sprayed a 50/50 mixture
of peroxide and water on them (especially the toes) every night and let
dry.

6. Soak any infections or cuts in 3% peroxide for five to ten minutes
several times a day. My husband has seen gangrene that would not heal
with any medicine but was healed by soaking in peroxide.

7. Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of peroxide and water and
keep it in every bathroom to disinfect without harming your septic system
like bleach or most other Disinfectants will.

8. Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture
whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to
kill the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes, and then blow your nose into a
tissue.

9. If you have a terrible toothache and cannot get to a dentist right
away, put a capful of 3% peroxide into your mouth and hold it for ten
minutes several times a day. The pain will lessen greatly.

10. And of course, if you like a natural look to your hair, spray the
50/50 solution on your wet hair after a shower and comb it through. You
will not have the peroxide-burnt blonde hair like the hair dye packages but
more natural highlights if your hair is a light brown, reddish, or dirty
blonde. It also lightens gradually, so it’s not a drastic change.

11. Put half a bottle of peroxide in your bath to help get rid of
boils, fungus, or other skin infections.

12. You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of
whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour it
directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and
rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

13. I use peroxide to clean my mirrors. There is no smearing, which
is why I love it so much for this.

14. Another place it’s great is in the bathroom, if someone has been
careless & has peed on the floor around the toilet & it’s begun to
smell of urine. Just put some peroxide in a spray bottle & spray. In the blink
of any eye all the smell will be gone & the bacteria eliminated!

I could go on and on. It is a little brown bottle no home should be
without! With prices of most necessities rising, I’m glad there’s a way to
save tons of money in such a simple, healthy manner!

This information really woke me up. I hope you gain something from
it, too.

Val Kilmer Wins Right to Turn Pecos River Ranch into a B&B

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Val Kilmer Wins Right To Turn Pecos River Ranch Into A Bed and Breakfast

by Deidre Woollard (RSS feed) Jun 24th 2010 at 10:45AM

A couple of days ago we wrote about Val Kilmer’s fight to get his Pecos River Ranch in New Mexico approved as a bed and breakfast, now it seems an apology has turned the tide. His neighbors originally fought the proposal because of some unfavorable comments he made about life in New Mexico including a quote in Rolling Stone magazine about how he lived in “the homicide capital of the Southwest.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a place that Kilmer wants to draw tourists to even though Kilmer has said he was misquoted.

The San Miguel County Commission has suggested to Kilmer that he step forward and set the record straight and that’s what he did showing up at the hearing on June 23. He presented his case to the crowd, explaining that he loves his home in New Mexico. After a mea culpa in which Kilmer said he understood why people were so upset, New Mexico’s San Miguel County decided the nearly 6,000 acre Pecos River Ranch can operate as a bed-and-breakfast retreat.

The ranch is located approximately 22 miles northeast of Santa Fe and has ample wildlife and a trail system that snakes throughout the property. It is located along a seven-mile stretch of the Pecos River which offers great opportunities for fishing. Last year in a video interview with KOB-TV Kilmer said that when he put the ranch up for sale he was not planning to leave the state. Kilmer said that he only listed the whole ranch to “try and attract a business partner for an idea I have about a sustainable, off-the-grid community.” Back in 2006 he had also offered an 1,800 acre parcel of the ranch for $18 million. Earlier this year the Pecos River Ranch website listed one-bedroom casitas renting at $200 per night.

Kilmer joins a long line of celebrity hotel and inn owners including Richard Gere, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert DeNiro and Robert Redford.

Gallery: Val Kilmer’s Pecos River Ranch
as published in PAII Innfo Newsletter

Two Nebraska Attractions Mentioned in Maxim Magazine

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Two popular Nebraska attractions have gained national fame in the July 2010 issue of Maxim magazine. Check out page 63 where Bryson’s Airboat Tours in Fremont and Carhenge in Alliance were listed as the number 2 and number 3 coolest places to stop while visiting the state.
This summer go to www.VisitNebraska.gov for more information on these and other awesome Nebraska vacation spots!


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