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June 2016
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July 2016

Why hotels have started attracting and supporting locals

Not many of us think about hanging out in a hotel in our hometown. Often the food is just okay, and the decor very corporate. Hyatt, Westin and Marriott have recently instituted programs and rewards to attract local residents. Travelers are reassured by seeing locals, and their experience becomes more memorable. Have you thought about rewarding the best hotel in your neighborhood? 

NY Times: Why your local hotel is trying to hook you, 2016-Jul-25 by Martha C. White

Hotels are always eager to get people in the door, of course, whether to spend the night or their money at the bar. And catering wedding parties and banquets has long been central to the hospitality industry. But the newer trend is to focus on getting repeat business from a local following. So the innkeepers are sponsoring running clubs or organizing other attractions like author readings, art shows or musical performances.

“You’re trying to look for incremental revenue anywhere you can,” said Bobby Bowers, senior vice president for operations at the travel research firm STR.

The effort includes making lobbies and lounges more inviting hangouts, rather than simply places to stare at your smartphone while awaiting a car to the airport. The theory is that a vibrant group of local patrons can make the hotel more attractive to out-of-town lodgers.

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Why we have to always keep an ear open for the customers' words

We want to provide the very best solutions for our customers. So we study the competition carefully, committed to staying on top of the latest trends. We study the research, hoping to be the first to unearth an important new insight. 

Unfortunately, those honorable activities often cause us to disconnect with the customers. We overwhelm them with new options. We talk in cryptic jargon designed to differentiate the most recent insight. We overwhelm them with informational riches. 

To balance our approach we have to reconnect with our customers concerns. We have to speak to them often so we are familiar with their language. We have to answer their questions and solve their problems at the level of sophistication that make sense to them. 

Conversioner: How to Leverage Trust to Increase Landing Page Conversions, 2016-March by Shuki Mann

You need to know your audience better, speak their language, create value and show it to them, as well as design and incorporate elements that make the visitor feel that you are the best choice for him.

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Brand imaging, KIND example of acting it out

When we build an image for our brands, we have to consider so much more than "marketing communications." Our actions and our interests convey so much more than tweets and advertisements could ever communicate. On of our role models in 'acting out the brand' is KIND Snacks. 

Prophet: The Not-Only-for Profit KIND, 2016-Jun-29 by David Aaker

KIND is driven by a clear vision to be a healthy, tasty snack in a sea of snacks that look and feel very different. ...

The vision is incorporated into the brand, all the way down to the clear packaging that allows customers to see the ingredients. The tagline “ingredients you can see and pronounce” reinforces the message, and the message is emphasized by its transparent packaging that other brands can only admire. The presence of healthy snack options directly helps fight the obesity epidemic, driven in some part by processed, sugar-laden snack foods.

A Higher Purpose—Acts of Kindness

The Kind Movement stimulates acts of kindness throughout the community. There are #kindawesomeness cards that are handed out to someone doing a kind act for someone else. The card has a website and code and leads to the card holder to be sent a packet of KIND bars from the company. The bars are also sent with another card for the customer to give to someone they spot doing an act of kindness. As of today, there have been 1.2 million documented acts of kindness as a result. 

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Analyzing loyal behavior and moving beyond personas

As we try to drive loyal customer behavior, we often make mistakes because we over-simplify. We don't just have one kind of customer who is more loyal. Our loyal customers have diverse motivations, and their behavior can be triggered by various events. And they experience different emotions, yet all still fall within the "loyal" category. This realization is behind the increasing popularity of personas among marketers. Instead of segmenting our customers by demographics, we try to capture their motivations with a rich description of their situation and goals. 

As marketers, when we plan loyalty programs, we are creating triggers which may fail. We have to be prepared to use that failure as data. We can't always afford to figure out why or what to do next, but we should not classify someone as 'not loyal' because they didn't respond to our offer. 

I'm reminded of the Groucho Marx comment, "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

Without a loyalty program, it's hard to learn what motivates loyal behavior. Inside a loyalty program, it's still hard to read the data. We just have to plan to build up our knowledge over time. 

strategy + business: Fan Favorites, 2016-Jun-7 by Erin Reilly

For example, a common fan mind-set among Americans interested in music is the “Vocalist.” As the name implies, Vocalists frequently listen to music and sing along, most often in the car. Their mood drives their choice of song and genre. Vocalists typically look for new music to listen to and enjoy learning about music and musicians, and will gladly purchase an album or other products artists might offer. However, they don’t go out of their way to attend concerts or festivals, even though they are more likely than most music fans to play and create music. The Vocalist mind-set is a combination of play,identification, and creation, but a Vocalist is not motivated by social connection or advocacy.... 

Although most fans will hold just one of these fan mind-sets most of the time, they may shift to other mind-sets according to changes in their unique situational triggers. These triggers, which may take the form of tangible objects or discrete actions, can be based on a number of factors, including geographical and virtual location, level of knowledge, strength of social networks, and emotions. If media producers can understand the objects and actions that inspire certain fan mind-sets, they will be better able to create content and activities that can help these fans engage more deeply with a given team, story, or brand... 

The challenge of working with the concept of fandom is the absence of a hierarchical ranking into which we can slot various fan groups. The entertainment and media industry widely believes that 80 percent of its revenue comes from the 20 percent of its audience who are frequently referred to as “superfans.” Some might not consider Followers to be true fans; in contrast, Connoisseurs could be classified as superfans. But this sort of taxonomy papers over the opportunities that each mind-set offers in an engagement strategy. And when we look at fans through the lens of our two core questions of motivations and triggers, we discover multiple points of entry into a fan community, with multiple versions of meaningful engagement.

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Virgin releases an app that makes loyalty a destination

In the U.K., Virgin has released a new mobile app, Virgin Red, which is designed to attract current and new customers. Games, quizzes, content and unusual offers convey the entertaining brand image of Virgin. Current customers can log their loyalty and be recognized for their loyalty, but non-customers can still play to win. 

Although some analysts criticize the program for being too complex, the flexibility of the approach is very innovative. Virgin Red is a place where people can enjoy the brand. 

Marketing Week: Why Virgin is launching a loyalty app to unite all its UK businesses for the first time, 2016-Jun-20 by Sarah Vizard

“The breadth of offers and opportunities we can offer from dinner with Sir Richard to being a taster for the upper class menu on Virgin Atlantic sets us apart. We will offer discounts but also unique experiences within what Virgin does. That way of rewarding people is very different and very Virgin,” says Tupper.

“Also, strategically, we did not want to just reward people for what they were spending, that is too predictable. We are rewarding for spend and behaviour, for being more Virgin.”

That might seem difficult when Virgin runs such a range of brands. Yet Tupper believes there are values that run across its businesses and that also chime with its customers around being more adventurous, taking a risk, being innovative, cheeky and fun.

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How Chick-Fil-A brought excitement back to customer loyalty

Just try telling people they can't join... we're pretty sure that's not what actually happened, but... 

"Invitation only" worked its magic and churned up lots of interest in the A-List at Chick-Fil-A. The program has been rolled out slowly with individual location operators offering the best customers a membership card, and encouraging them to refer others they think are worthy. 

Kudos to Chick-Fil-A for making customers feel special in so many ways. They are truly a loyalty leader.  

A-List Home  

A-List is a VIP program meant to honor our best and most loyal customers. Our hope is that this program will allow your Chick-fil-A Operator to get to know you at an even deeper level and be able to better care for you when you visit Chick-fil-A.

IBTimes: 5 Reasons Chick-Fil-A Is So Popular, 2016-Jun-21 by Tim Marcin

Through efforts like the app, Chick-Fil-A has made brand loyalty a priority, and it's paid off. The company set a record for ACSI customer satisfaction in 2015 and broke it by 1 percentage point this year.

The company has a stated focus to do all it can to treat people well. It started up a brand loyalty rewards program — think "frequent-fryer miles" — that is invite-only for the absolute die-hard customers. So-called "A-List" membership brings extra "treats," events and "insider content."

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