Archive for July, 2011

Is Groupon Hurting Small Business?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
1 comment  |  July 4, 2011  |  about: GRPN

By Vinicius Vacanti

If you watch the nightly news, you would assume there’s a murder on every block, and if you’ve been reading TechCrunch recently, you would assume Groupon (GRPN) is murdering a small business in every city.

Given the hundreds of thousands of merchants who have run daily deals in the past year, it is inevitable that a few will have had bad experiences. However, to assume that a handful of these anecdotes fully represent merchants’ experiences with daily deals is insufficient and irresponsible.

A series of guest blog posts by Rocky Agrawal criticize daily deals, advising small businesses to stay away based on examples of where the deals fail to turn a profit for the businesses. While Rocky’s posts are surely well-intentioned, his evidence is largely based on a few anecdotes and a basic misunderstanding of daily deal economics.

As we detail in Yipit’s Daily Deal Industry Report based on more than 100,000 past deals, 43% of offers in May involved merchants running a deal for at least their second time. Can so many merchants be delusional? Clearly some merchants have figured it out.

While I understand and applaud Rocky’s motivation to protect small businesses, can those businesses really afford to ignore a marketing channel that can deliver hundreds, if not thousands of new customers in a cost per acquisition model? Not only are most small businesses struggling, their standard marketing channels of yellow pages and newspapers are becoming less and less effective.

Instead of telling small businesses to avoid daily deals, how about trying to understand why some small businesses are having success?

With that understanding, we could then educate other small businesses on how they might be able to replicate that success themselves.

It’s a Numbers Game

Like most marketing options, daily deals comes down to the numbers. The good news is that most of the key variables that affect the success of a daily deal experience can be optimized by small businesses via daily deal structure and execution.

My co-founder, Jim Moran, wrote a post on the economics of a daily deal including a calculator. While this calculator bakes in a lot of assumptions, it’s the start of a handy tool for small businesses.

The two most important variables that small businesses can optimize are:

Overage: This metric represents how much more revenue the customer generates for the business than the value of the coupon. The larger the overage, the better for the small business. There are many things small businesses can do to increase overage including:

  • Strategically Price the Offer. If you are running a restaurant and the average per person bill is $30, provide a $15 for $30 certificate. The person is likely to bring someone else turning the meal into a $45 for $60 deal.
  • Up-sell the user. In a Hacker News post, this skydiving business does a great job of explaining how they up-sell sky divers into getting videos of their jump (60% of customers) and even a second jump that same day (40% of customers).

Return Rate: This metric represents what percentage of customers come back as a regular customer after using a daily deal. Improving this metric has the potential to deliver the most value for small businesses as indicated by the calculator referenced above. In a report authored by Rice University, often cited as a reason daily deals are challenging, small businesses reported that 20% of customers came back. That’s actually huge! If a company runs a deal that sells 1,000 vouchers, 200 customers will come back. As the calculator above implies, that’s a high enough return rate to make the deals very successful for most small businesses. To improve return rates even further, small businesses can:

  • Surprise and delight daily deal customers. Daily deal customers can be a bit embarrassed to be using a deal. Instead of acting disappointed, small businesses should do the opposite and make them feel welcome. They should thank the customers for coming, tell them the story of the business. It’s actually an easy opportunity to surprise the customer.
  • Offer an incentive for them to come back. With their bill, offer them a 20% discount or, if you’re a restaurant, a free appetizer to come back and try the business again.
  • Collect their contact information. Tell them you often send out notifications for special events and promotions
  • Discount just the first session. If you have a business that involves several sessions like class-based businesses, offer a discount on just the first session. If users like the session, they’ll come back for the rest of the sessions paying full price.

Other factors that improve the economics of a daily deal:

  • Breakage: Anywhere between 10% and 30% of deals aren’t redeemed. North American businesses get to keep the profits associated with those vouchers without incurring the cost.
  • Exposure: Small businesses gets emailed to tens of thousands and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of users. This exposure is often the entirety of the value provided by most other marketing channels for small businesses.

If small businesses focus on creating the right structure for their daily deal to increase overage and execute on the daily deal experience to increase return rates, daily deals can become a very attractive marketing option.

Not right for everyone

That being said, daily deals in their current form are not right for every business. The vast majority of deals are for spas, salons, restaurants, events, activities and other services. These merchants all have a large fixed cost base, perishable inventory and considerably lower variable costs. Accordingly, their marginal cost on an additional customer is low enough allowing them to discount aggressively. That’s why businesses have been offering discounts for hundreds of years.

On the other hand, traditional retail categories appear the least frequently across the Yipit database, representing less than 10% of all offers.

A powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored

Daily deals represent a powerful, scalable new cost-per-acquisition marketing channel that small businesses can optimize via strategic pricing and good execution.

If we really want to help small businesses, we should stop telling them to avoid daily deals. Instead, let’s focus our energy on educating small businesses on how they might be able to effectively take advantage of this new marketing channel. Or, I guess we can just keep directing them to yellow pages advertising.

Editor’s note: This post is a response to our guest series taking a critical look at the daily deals industry. It is written by Vinicius Vacanti, CEO of Yipit, a daily deal aggregator that collects deals from more than 300 daily deal sites.

Original post

Is Groupon Bad for Small Businesses?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
1 comment  |  July 4, 2011  |  about: GRPN

By Vinicius Vacanti

If you watch the nightly news, you would assume there’s a murder on every block, and if you’ve been reading TechCrunch recently, you would assume Groupon (GRPN) is murdering a small business in every city.

Given the hundreds of thousands of merchants who have run daily deals in the past year, it is inevitable that a few will have had bad experiences. However, to assume that a handful of these anecdotes fully represent merchants’ experiences with daily deals is insufficient and irresponsible.

A series of guest blog posts by Rocky Agrawal criticize daily deals, advising small businesses to stay away based on examples of where the deals fail to turn a profit for the businesses. While Rocky’s posts are surely well-intentioned, his evidence is largely based on a few anecdotes and a basic misunderstanding of daily deal economics.

As we detail in Yipit’s Daily Deal Industry Report based on more than 100,000 past deals, 43% of offers in May involved merchants running a deal for at least their second time. Can so many merchants be delusional? Clearly some merchants have figured it out.

While I understand and applaud Rocky’s motivation to protect small businesses, can those businesses really afford to ignore a marketing channel that can deliver hundreds, if not thousands of new customers in a cost per acquisition model? Not only are most small businesses struggling, their standard marketing channels of yellow pages and newspapers are becoming less and less effective.

Instead of telling small businesses to avoid daily deals, how about trying to understand why some small businesses are having success?

With that understanding, we could then educate other small businesses on how they might be able to replicate that success themselves.

It’s a Numbers Game

Like most marketing options, daily deals comes down to the numbers. The good news is that most of the key variables that affect the success of a daily deal experience can be optimized by small businesses via daily deal structure and execution.

My co-founder, Jim Moran, wrote a post on the economics of a daily deal including a calculator. While this calculator bakes in a lot of assumptions, it’s the start of a handy tool for small businesses.

The two most important variables that small businesses can optimize are:

Overage: This metric represents how much more revenue the customer generates for the business than the value of the coupon. The larger the overage, the better for the small business. There are many things small businesses can do to increase overage including:

  • Strategically Price the Offer. If you are running a restaurant and the average per person bill is $30, provide a $15 for $30 certificate. The person is likely to bring someone else turning the meal into a $45 for $60 deal.
  • Up-sell the user. In a Hacker News post, this skydiving business does a great job of explaining how they up-sell sky divers into getting videos of their jump (60% of customers) and even a second jump that same day (40% of customers).

Return Rate: This metric represents what percentage of customers come back as a regular customer after using a daily deal. Improving this metric has the potential to deliver the most value for small businesses as indicated by the calculator referenced above. In a report authored by Rice University, often cited as a reason daily deals are challenging, small businesses reported that 20% of customers came back. That’s actually huge! If a company runs a deal that sells 1,000 vouchers, 200 customers will come back. As the calculator above implies, that’s a high enough return rate to make the deals very successful for most small businesses. To improve return rates even further, small businesses can:

  • Surprise and delight daily deal customers. Daily deal customers can be a bit embarrassed to be using a deal. Instead of acting disappointed, small businesses should do the opposite and make them feel welcome. They should thank the customers for coming, tell them the story of the business. It’s actually an easy opportunity to surprise the customer.
  • Offer an incentive for them to come back. With their bill, offer them a 20% discount or, if you’re a restaurant, a free appetizer to come back and try the business again.
  • Collect their contact information. Tell them you often send out notifications for special events and promotions
  • Discount just the first session. If you have a business that involves several sessions like class-based businesses, offer a discount on just the first session. If users like the session, they’ll come back for the rest of the sessions paying full price.

Other factors that improve the economics of a daily deal:

  • Breakage: Anywhere between 10% and 30% of deals aren’t redeemed. North American businesses get to keep the profits associated with those vouchers without incurring the cost.
  • Exposure: Small businesses gets emailed to tens of thousands and, sometimes, hundreds of thousands of users. This exposure is often the entirety of the value provided by most other marketing channels for small businesses.

If small businesses focus on creating the right structure for their daily deal to increase overage and execute on the daily deal experience to increase return rates, daily deals can become a very attractive marketing option.

Not right for everyone

That being said, daily deals in their current form are not right for every business. The vast majority of deals are for spas, salons, restaurants, events, activities and other services. These merchants all have a large fixed cost base, perishable inventory and considerably lower variable costs. Accordingly, their marginal cost on an additional customer is low enough allowing them to discount aggressively. That’s why businesses have been offering discounts for hundreds of years.

On the other hand, traditional retail categories appear the least frequently across the Yipit database, representing less than 10% of all offers.

A powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored

Daily deals represent a powerful, scalable new cost-per-acquisition marketing channel that small businesses can optimize via strategic pricing and good execution.

If we really want to help small businesses, we should stop telling them to avoid daily deals. Instead, let’s focus our energy on educating small businesses on how they might be able to effectively take advantage of this new marketing channel. Or, I guess we can just keep directing them to yellow pages advertising.

Editor’s note: This post is a response to our guest series taking a critical look at the daily deals industry. It is written by Vinicius Vacanti, CEO of Yipit, a daily deal aggregator that collects deals from more than 300 daily deal sites.

Original post

Hotels turning to digital concierge services

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Hotels turning to digital concierge services

By Jane L. Levere

New York Times

Posted: 07/04/2011 04:46:56 AM PDT
Updated: 07/04/2011 04:47:03 AM PDT

 

Click photo to enlarge

Wes Landsfeld, from Ft. Worth, Texas, uses the GoBoard, a 55-inch… ( LIBRADO ROMERO )

Some hotels have begun to expand the definition of concierge to mean more than just a knowledgeable employee. It now can also mean smart digital devices. Software companies are creating programs that offer information like restaurant recommendations, flight arrivals and departures and driving directions via smartphones, touch-screen devices, iPads and other electronics to guests at mintier hotels that do not provide traditional concierge services.

Even more upscale brands that employ human concierges are joining in. They are offering location-specific information, developed by each hotel’s staff, accessible via the Internet, iPhone apps and even live chats. And all Hyatt hotels let guests send requests, via Twitter, to customer service agents who are on call 24 hours a day.

When it comes to concierge services, “we as an industry cannot operate in an analog way in a digital world,” said John Wallis, global head of marketing and brand strategy for Hyatt Hotels.

With the proliferation of misprice and limited-service brands, high-tech concierge services represent an effort by hotel companies “to differentiate themselves, to add a service that usually ranks among the highest for guest satisfaction and to achieve higher rates,” said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

He said


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these services could be more attractive to younger guests, “Gen-Xers and Millennials, the target segment for many of these brands, who typically require or even prefer less personal interaction, and desire quick answers, any time, day or night.” Older, more international guests, he said, “tend to prefer personal service.”Still, the question remains whether digital concierges can ever equal their human counterparts. Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst for Forrester Research, said he did not think they would. “Nothing will ever replace a face-to-face concierge,” he said. “A guest visiting a city for the first time will have a lot of questions and will need to have interaction with a concierge that technology won’t replace.”

But hotel chains are moving ahead with the digital version nonetheless. InterContinental Hotels has been among the most aggressive developers of high-tech concierge services, starting in 2007 with videos starring individual hotel concierges offering destination-specific advice. Today, 150 of the brand’s 171 hotels have created the videos, which are available on each hotel’s website and on YouTube and iTunes.

Intercontinental has given, on a trial basis, iPads to concierges at 10 hotels to offer guests advice. It has also developed an iPad app with the same information for use by guests. In addition, the company is now testing live chats between guests and concierges through Skype and FaceTime, by Apple (AAPL). Hotel employees meet weekly to update destination information. And guests receive an email from the chief concierge five days before arrival offering suggestions and maps.

Last year, Marriott International’s Renaissance hotels — there are more than 150 in 34 countries — introduced a program called Navigator that offers suggestions for dining, drinks, shopping and sightseeing. This information, generated by Wcities, an online destination content provider, and by hotel employees, can be found on each hotel’s Web page and on an iPhone app. Guests can also ask Renaissance’s human concierges for help.

Hyatt’s high-tech concierge service, offered to guests at all of its hotels, luxury or mintier, is Twitter-based. Introduced two years ago, it lets guests send requests to HyattConcierge. Customer service agents in Omaha; Mainz, Germany; and Melbourne, Australia, must respond to messages in 15 minutes or less. If requests require more than a 140-character response, the agent will email or call the guest. One recent message came from a guest at the Andaz Wall Street, who, rather than calling hotel workers directly, requested a hangover remedy that included two extra-strength Advil and wheat toast with butter.

Marriott International’s Courtyard, a mintier brand, has gone in a different digital direction. Its GoBoard, a 55-inch touch-screen device in the hotel lobby uses software, from Four Winds Interactive, to provide weather information, news headlines and employee recommendations for restaurants and other local attractions. Marriott plans to upgrade the information provided through the devices this summer, and will offer them brandwide by 2013, said Janis Milham, vice president of Courtyard.

Intelity, another software provider, is working with Wyndham’s Wingate hotels, Starwood’s Aloft hotels and others to give guests airline information as well as customized dining, shopping and recreation recommendations through laptops, iPads, touch-screen devices, televisions and mobile phones.

Wyndham Worldwide will give owners of hotels in its 15 brands the option of offering the Intelity service to guests, said Paul Davis, senior vice president for strategic sourcing. He said some of the recommendations of service providers are paid listings by the providers.

Aloft is testing Intelity’s program on iPads in hotel lobbies. Brian McGuinness, Aloft’s global brand leader, said much information offered to guests was generated by hotel employees and none is the result of advertising.

Boost Your Immune System with Lemon Water

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

When our B&B guests stay, their sleep patterns are different than when they sleep in their own beds. This is a proven phenomenon of travelers. It is during our sleep that our immune systems get replenished.

I add 6 drops of the highest therapeutic grade of lemon oil to one gallon of filtered water for extra value and experience in my B&B.

I use it every day to keep my immune system in balance and it proves to quench my thirst better than anything else I’ve tried.

Suella Hanlon

The Hanlon House B&B in Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Egg Whites

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Good tip in case of emergency
 

BURNS
A young man sprinkling his lawn and bushes with pesticides wanted to check the contents of the barrel to see how much pesticide remained in it.  He raised the cover and lit his lighter; the vapors inflamed and engulfed him.  He jumped from his truck, screaming.  His neighbor came out of her house with a dozen eggs, yelling: “bring me some eggs!”  She broke them, separating the whites from the yolks.  The neighbor woman helped her to apply the whites on the young man’s face.  When the ambulance arrived and when the EMTs saw the young man, they asked who had done this.  Everyone pointed to the lady in charge.  They congratulated her and said: “You have saved his face.”  By the end of the summer, the young man brought the lady a bouquet of roses to thank her.  His face was like a baby’s skin.
Healing Miracle for burns:
Keep in mind this treatment of burns which is included in teaching beginner fireman this method.  First aid consists to spraying cold water on the affected area until the heat is reduced and stops burning the layers of skin.  Then, spread egg whites on the affected are.
One woman burned a large part of her hand with boiling water.  In spite of the pain, she ran cold faucet water on her hand, separated 2 egg white from the yolks, beat them slightly and dipped her hand in the solution.  The whites then dried and formed a protective layer.
She later learned that the egg white is a natural collagen and continued during at least one hour to apply layer upon layer of beaten egg white.  By afternoon she no longer felt any pain and the next day there was hardly a trace of the burn.  10 days later, no trace was left at all and her skin had regained its normal color.  The burned area was totally regenerated thanks to the collagen in the egg whites, a placenta full of vitamins.
This information could be helpful to everyone: Please pass it on.

Safe Tourism Produces More than Merely Safe Communities. It Produces a Whole new World of Marketing Opportunities

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
TOURISM & MORE’S “TOURISM TIDBITS”
for July 2011

Safe Tourism Produces More than Merely Safe Communities.  It Produces a Whole new World of Marketing Opportunities

Often the tourism industry hears the complaint that tourists do not deserve special treatment. Even some Police departments will make the false claim that they treat everyone the same, and therefore special attention provided to visitors is not only wrong but also goes beyond the parameters of community security.  Finally it is not uncommon to hear that as local citizens pay taxes they deserve better police protection.  Tourism safety ought to be everyone’s business. Tourism is a major economic generator, and tourists pay taxes both directly to places of lodging and indirectly through sales taxes or value added taxes.  Additionally, a safe tourism community is the foundation for a safe community.  This may be the reason that many in marketing are now using the term “Security Marketing”.  For too long marketing experts believed that their efforts were meant merely for television and magazine ads, catch phrases and new branding.  All of these are an important part of marketing, but the savvy marketer now knows that tourism security marketing is also an essential part not only of the product’s overall quality but also as a way that outsiders judge the product’s viability.  Tourism security is more than mere closed circuit cameras, it is the way that we watch over the person’s health concerns, the food that the visitor consumes, the lessening of risks, the development of safe and clean streets and our ability to sell a product that satisfies not only our guests but also our residents.

Below are just a few of the ways that tourism security and safety spill over into the community at large and help to better the entire community’s quality of life.

Many people outside of the of tourism and visitor industry either are unaware of or have forgotten the many benefits that tourism brings to a community’s citizens.   Among these are economic benefits such as increased job opportunities, additional sources of customers and thus increased spending, multiple- economic diversification sources with a guarantee that a community’s tourism business cannot be outsourced or moved away.  Tourism also acts a way to showcase a community and its local products and tourism requires an infrastructure of good roads, airports, and good service.  All of these serve to benefit both the visitor and local citizen alike.  From a social perspective tourism not only generates local pride but a positive sense of community.  The fact that tourism thrives best in an environmentally favorable environment means that successful tourism industry is also the key to good economic development.

To help tourism professionals  and marketers explain the importance of tourism security then to both their local government officials and to local police departments here are a few pointers that may help.

-Locals also frequent their community’s tourism districts.   Tourism districts are often the places in a community with the highest concentration of restaurants and nightlife establishments.  The local citizenry also uses and frequents these same locations.  Robbers do not know the difference between a local and a visitor, and if visitors are not safe in these districts then neither are the locals who visit these same tourism zones.


-Almost anyone visiting a community for purposes of economic development begins as a visitor.   Communities seek economic development and those people scout new locations in which to open businesses first start out as visitors.  If they do not feel safe, then the odds are that they will not come.  Protecting visitors is another way to assure economic growth and vitality.
-Most criminals are equal opportunity thieves.  It is very rare for a criminal to know or care about whom he or she is robbing.  Criminals are as prepared to steal or rob a local as well as a visitor.  On the other hand, visitors are often easier targets than are locals and criminals know that there is a lower possibility that visitors will report the crime or return to prosecute the criminal.  A community that is uninviting for criminals to prey on tourists is even less inviting for criminals to prey on the local population.
-Training restaurateurs, hoteliers, cab drivers and other tourism providers in basic tourism security provides them with the necessary tools in case some one from the local population is also attacked. Learning such key safety rules as: When we train people when to call or not to call emergency police numbers such as 911 in the United States then both members of the community and visitors are safer.  When an incident does occur the police are more likely to solve the crime if they receive an accurate and brief description of where the incident occurred, about what time it occurred and if the perpetrator is still at the scene of the crime or has fled.  Teaching locals how to describe a suspect’s race, height, weight, hair color and any other distinctive characteristics improves both local and tourism security
-Good tourism safety implies safe shopping experiences. Shopping is the number one “tourism sport.”  That means that good tourism safety demands that shoppers are able to spend money in local malls and business districts that form the commercial heart of any community. Good tourism security means that both locals and visitors alike can frequent stores and not have to worry about purse-snatchers, parking lot theft and muggers who often frequent these districts. It also means that both citizens and visitors alike need not be bothered by people harassing them or by issues of prostitution.
-Many of the basic rules of tourism security are often applicable to community security.   For example when we teach visitors tourism security principles such as: they should always park in areas that are well lit and well-traveled, not to carry and show large amounts of cash, or to be vigilant around cash machines, then we are also setting the stage for a local community’s safety.  Locals, as much as tourists, often leave valuables in their vehicles, may be harassed or even robbed by street “salesmen” or con artists, and are subject to crimes of distraction such as pickpockets.
-Both visitors and local citizens need good, safe, and well-lit streets.   Tourism security demands streets with good signage, proper lighting and streets that are pothole free.  These same basic qualities are essential for local citizens as well and not only help to prevent crime but also assure car safety.

-Private tourism security and even bouncers add to a community’s overall sense of safety.  Some communities have developed private-public partnerships so that the media, private security firms and police work together to assure that places of assembly such as bars, hotels and restaurants not only remain safe but also add to the economic vitality of a community.

Some Hotels Still Not Using Social Media to Boost Occupancy and Revenue

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Some Hotels Still Not Using Social Media to Boost Occupancy and Revenue

Poll: Consumers still price sensitive despite improving economy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Related Companies
Travelclick

Over the past five years, social media has revolutionized the global economy and become one of the most attractive and cost effective platforms to promote brands and stay competitive in the market. Yet according to a recent poll conducted by TravelClick (www.travelclick.com), the leading provider of revenue generating solutions for hoteliers across the globe, almost a quarter of hotels are not utilizing social media to increase occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR).

Only 20 percent of the poll’s respondents cited using Twitter, 10 percent cited using Groupon or other forms of online couponing, and eight percent utilize FourSquare promotions. Facebook was by far the most preferred social media channel for hoteliers, with 65 percent of respondents using it to increase bookings and revenue.

“Instead of running cost-efficient promotions on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, hotels are electing to increase their advertising spend through online advertisements (57 percent) and paid search advertising (20 percent),” said Jonathan Cherins, chief marketing officer of TravelClick, “It’s important that hotels don’t rely solely on advertising to increase bookings. Hoteliers should be incorporating a mix of online marketing, GDS media as well as social media in order touch their key audiences.”

The poll, which was conducted during the TravelClick webinar titled: “2011 First Quarter Hotel Industry Update: Adapting to the Changing Revenue Management and Marketing Landscape,” also showed that despite the improving economy, hotels are still seeing rate driven guests. Two-thirds (66 percent) of the webinar attendees, which includes hoteliers from around the globe, agreed that although they are seeing less price sensitivity from their guests, rate is still a key factor in bookings. Only four percent believe rate is no longer the driving issue for hotel guests.

“The data from this poll shows that while rate is often a key factor in consumer booking rates, ultimately smart hoteliers need to have better data in order to optimize channel mix, set competitive prices and forecast revenue,” said Cherins.

Another way hotels are looking to boost occupancy is through added room amenities. When asked what amenity their hotels are adding, two-thirds of hoteliers cited “free WiFi” as the number one amenity change. Hotels are also introducing better televisions (42 percent) and iPod docking stations (20 percent) to help stay ahead of competitors.

About TravelClick, Inc.
TravelClick (www.TravelClick.com) is a leading provider of profitable revenue generating solutions for hoteliers worldwide. TravelClick offers hotels world-class reservation solutions, business intelligence products and comprehensive media and marketing solutions to help hotels grow their business. With local experts around the globe, we help more than 30,000 hotel clients in over 140 countries drive profitable room reservations through better revenue management decisions, proven reservation technology and innovative marketing. Since 1999, TravelClick has helped hotels leverage the web to effectively navigate the complex global distribution landscape. TravelClick has offices in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Barcelona, London, Dubai, Houston, Melbourne, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Follow us on www.twitter.com/TravelClick and www.facebook.com/TravelClick.

Golf Nebraska Contest Offers $1,000 Gift Card

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Golf Nebraska Contest Offers $1,000 Gift Card

Entrants Must Play Three Golf Courses in Nebraska

 

LINCOLN, Neb. (July 18, 2011) — You don’t have to be a pro to win big in Nebraska. Golfers who play their own mini tour of Nebraska golf courses could win $1,000 to spend on golf equipment.

 

To be eligible to win, golfers must play three public or semiprivate golf courses in three different Nebraska towns. One of those courses must be at least 60 miles from the entrant’s home address. Scorecards from each course, signed by a course employee, must be submitted with each entry.

 

Contestants can submit entries by mail or electronically. Complete rules and instructions are available at GolfNebraska2011.com, and the deadline for entries is Oct. 17, 2011.

 

Qualified contestants can earn one additional chance to win by sharing comments about their Nebraska golf experiences on the Golf Nebraska Facebook page (facebook.com/GolfNebraska). The winner of the drawing will be announced on Nov. 1, 2011.

 

Nebraska is home to more than 200 public and semiprivate golf courses. A list of golf courses in Nebraska and links to articles and videos about Nebraska golf are available at VisitNebraska.gov/golf. Reviews of several Nebraska golf courses, including photos and videos, can be found at GolfNebraskaBlog.com.

 

What little things could we be doing better to serve guests?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

What little things could we be doing better to serve guests?

Written by Jay Karen on June 28, 2011 – 4:04 pm

It’s a simple picture of a simple item found in my closet at the Lookout Point Lakeside Inn in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where I stayed last week.  This is a plastic laundry bag, and its presence in my closet made me smile.  Why?

I smiled because I rarely see such a thing at B&Bs and inns, and I see a lot of B&Bs and inns.  A generic, plastic laundry bag hanging in a closet can be seen at just about any hotel, but it is a rarity at B&Bs.

I suppose I am a typical traveler, in that I bring more clothes than I end up actually wearing on a trip.  This creates a little problem, because I now have dirty laundry and clean laundry, all of which needs to go back into my luggage.  Sometimes I remember to bring a plastic shopping bag that I saved from a trip to my local grocery store, in which I can put my dirty clothes.  But if I forget my own bag, the bag provided by the hotel or inn is a great thing to see.

 

I’m sure restocking those bags after each stay is a pain in the butt for housekeeping, and maybe that’s why a lot of innkeepers don’t have the bags – many of you ARE the housekeepers and can’t delegate the task.  Maybe you never really thought about it.  The expense can’t be too great, can it?  Why don’t most of you do this?  It’s a little thing that can mean a lot to a traveler.

What else have you seen at inns, or what else are you doing at your inn, that is little, but can make a big difference to a road warrior or leisure guest?  I look forward to your responses below.

Jay

Golf Nebraska Campaign in Full Swing

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Golf Nebraska Campaign in Full Swing

 

LINCOLN, NEB. (July 12, 2011) — Nebraskans know their state is home to great golf courses. The Golf Nebraska campaign is taking that message beyond the state’s boundaries to attract more golfers from around the region to play — and stay — in Nebraska. It’s a project of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Travel and Tourism Division.

 

“Nebraska is among Golf Digest’s top 10 golf states,” said Christian Hornbaker, director of the Travel and Tourism Division. “And golf is already a $260 million business in Nebraska. We want to grow that part of our state’s economy by attracting more visitors to play our outstanding and affordable public and semiprivate courses.”

 

Television commercials and website advertising are targeting golfers in surrounding states, encouraging them to “Get Driving” to Nebraska for a golf vacation. The campaign also includes emails sent to golfers throughout the region and an expanded Web page at VisitNebraska.gov/golf. A mobile Web page includes a list of courses and possible trip itineraries at VisitNebraska.gov/golfers.

 

Social media sites also offer golfers new ways to learn about Nebraska golf courses and engage other golfers. GolfNebraskaBlog.com provides course reviews through the eyes of avid golfers who share their impressions of the courses they play and the people they meet. Blog postings with photos and videos will be added throughout the summer.

 

The GolfNebraska Facebook page is a place to connect with golfers who play Nebraska courses or want to travel to Nebraska for a golf getaway. Visitors will find news, photos and videos about Nebraska golf at facebook.com/GolfNebraska. Anyone who plays Nebraska courses or is considering a golf trip to the state is welcome to share their thoughts, experiences and questions about golf in Nebraska.

 

Nebraska has more than 200 public and semiprivate golf courses. Several have been recognized by national golf publications for their design, scenery and value.



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