If you’ve been following the brouhaha in the media about the war between online travel shopping sites like Orbitz and Expedia and American Airlines, you’ll be interested to hear what the National Business Travel Association has to say. American wants to stop paying the global distribution fees associated with those sites and have passengers book directly with them. As a result, American’s flights are no longer sold through Orbitz and Expedia, decreasing their value as a one-stop shopping site. According to experts in the travel industry, If other airlines follow, it could alter how travelers book their flights, and ultimately, how much they pay.
The NBTA has been making a lot of noise about the situation. They’ve published several white papers condemning the action, and added a session on the topic to their Masters Program meeting on Feb. 7-8. Their point is that American’s action is threatening competition in the marketplace, and that the business traveler will ultimately foot the cost. That’s us and our attendees, of course. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to that. What do you think?
Ann Turner, Editor
As an addendum to our Trends issue that hit your mailboxes this week, we thought you’d be interested in what Loyalty 360 has to say about customer loyalty trends for 2011. You’ll see a lot of familiar words, like “engage,” “relevancy,” and “experience” — concepts that we’ve been talking about for the past two issues. Social gaming makes the list as well. Let us know how you plan to integrate these concepts into your meetings and events in 2011 and we’ll spread the word!
(1) Marketers will increasingly understand that loyalty is not a program – it is a journey and a strategic business goal. True loyalty is based on a total customer experience. Loyalty initiatives will focus on engagement and building long-term relationships
(2) Loyalty will focus more on emotions than on rational, incentive-based initiatives. Behavioral economists tell us that economic decision-making is 70 percent emotional and 30 percent rational. The emotional side of the decision making process creates connected, passionate, engaged customers.
(3) Companies will increasingly look at how customer engagement and employee engagement work together to drive bottom line results. A 2009 Gallup poll found that those in the upper half on customer engagement get a 70 percent boost in bottom-line results.
(4) Voice of the customer programs are an important strategy for brands and Loyalty 360 expects to see greater focus on them in 2011. “Getting closer to the customer” is a top business strategy and area of focus.
(5) Relevancy will be a key driving force of customer loyalty, engagement. Today’s customers want loyalty programs to be “about me” – individual, relevant, meaningful, etc. Brands need to use the information they collect strategically to show customers they’re listening and give them what they’re asking for.
(6) Marketers will take a more strategic look at in-the-moment marketing, looking at how best to use all the customer touchpoints including mobile.
(7) Goal of customer loyalty initiatives will be to engage customers. Marketers now realize that although spend and number of transactions are important, customer engagement is the holy grail for loyalty initiatives. Because with engagement comes loyalty, advocacy, trust, passion – the soft side of the customer relationships that directly impacts the bottom line.
(8) Cause-related marketing/corporate social responsibility programs that are aligned with strategic corporate goals will effectively drive loyalty – especially with Millennials.
(9) Marketers will integrate social gaming into their loyalty initiatives. Traditional incentive-based marketing does not drive the level of consumer participation that can be achieved via gaming – and it’s this sought-after participation that builds lasting relationships, engagement, brand affinity, and brand loyalty.
Ann Turner, Editor
I didn’t really know what to expect when I stood in line at the airport last week. I had read about the new security procedures, but wasn’t particularly worried about getting though them. I have a pretty laid back approach when I travel – go with the flow.
Stepping into the full body scanner was surreal. These science-fictiony contraptions kind of reminded me of the “beamer” on Star Trek. You stand in a round glass tube with your arms above your head and the walls swirl around you as some guy in another room sees you naked. As discomfiting as this was, I endured it without too much trouble. But then, for some reason, I got the pat-down.
A female TSA agent motioned me out of the scanner and pointed to two of those foot stickers on the floor. I assumed the position, wondering what was going on. The agent, who didn’t say one word to me through the entire procedure, played with her walkie talkie while I stood for perhaps 2-3 minutes, waiting for who knows what. Then she abruptly stepped over to me, motioned that I should extend my arms and then began running her hands over my body – in places only my doctor and husband have ever touched. I was shocked speechless. I couldn’t even think to tell her to not touch my junk.
Oh, and by the way, I had an audience for the whole thing. Judging by the way they stared, it must have been quite a show.
Maybe it would have been better if the TSA employee had explained to me what was happening, why I was subjected to a pat-down in addition to the scanner. Or let me know that I had the right to a private pat-down away from all the eyes. But I doubt that even these actions would make this a tolerable experience. It was too humiliating, too invasive, too dehumanizing.
I dread my next trip.
Ann Turner, Editor
Today I attended our local ISES meeting, held at the Minneapolis Hilton. A good-sized crowd turned out to see Ken Kristoffersen of POP, formerly known as Experiential Events, with three locations in Canada. Ken was just off a flight from India so was experiencing some jet lag, but he managed to keep the ISES folks engaged with stories and photos.
His main point was that we need to get away from the “pretty party” mentality and see events as strategic communication tools for conveying messages. He’s not so interested in décor (decorations) as much as design—the thought processes that goes into crafting your client’s message. And, he says that the force now driving industry innovation is evolving from experiential to “stimulating your guests to think.”
Intriguing idea. Anyone else have some thoughts on this?
Ann Turner, Editor
I wasn’t able to make the Motivation Show in Chicago last week for a bunch of reasons, but I’ve been studying the Tweets and news releases that have been pouring out of the show doors and into my email box. One of the more intriguing announcements came from the group ROI of Engagement, which is an initiative led by the Catalyst Performance Group. These folks are in the business of helping businesses measure ROI and building successful employee investment programs, with a focus on meetings and events. Their methodology, they say, has been used in “thousands of programs every year in more than 50 countries.”
Those kinds of statements usually make me leery, but the announcement caught my eye for another reason. They just launched a New ROI Resource Center on their website that looks to be a pretty good primer for planners who are just getting into the nuts and bolts of ROI. (And if you aren’t at least considering doing this, think hard because very shortly it will probably become a vital part of your job.)
The Resource Center seems comprehensive, containing white papers, a decent blog, and lots of case studies. It also has sections for training opportunities and software tools to measure ROI. At the very least, I think it’s a good starting point if you’re not sure how to tackle the whole ROI thing. Take a look at www.ROIofEngagement.com and let us know what you think.
Ann Turner, Editor
It was fascinating to see the fallout when Facebook went down for a few hours last week. Some people actually panicked when they were cut off for a brief time from their hundreds of “friends.” These lost souls took to Twitter with their angst, many of them half-joking that now they’d have to do some real work—or horrors!—talk to real people with voices.
Equally amusing was the reaction to the hysteria, ranging from my favorite (@TheDollSays: “Facebook users are roaming the streets in tears, shoving photos of themselves in people’s faces and screaming, ‘DO YOU LIKE THIS? DO YOU?) to the laconic: (@Randy-412733: Who cares!).
Although I usually check my FB account once or twice a day, I didn’t even notice it was down. I mainly use it to keep up on family news, and a few business-related sites. The fact is, that the Social-Facebook I signed up for a few years ago has been overtaken by Marketing-Facebook and Stupid-Game-Facebook (apologies to my loved ones who actually play that stuff). It’s evolved into another way for people to sell stuff to you, and indulge in inane activities that benefit no one. Who needs it?
So will I give up Facebooking anytime soon? Probably not. It’s part of the social mainstream and as a member of the media I need to know what’s going on, and participate. (I also *blush* like the discount codes from Coldwater Creek.)
But it’s intriguing to wonder what would happen if both Facebook and Twitter went down at the same time, along with MySpace, Linkedin and all the groups you belong to. What kind of withdrawal would you suffer?
Ann Turner, Editor
The National Business Travel Association Foundation recently released its latest report on the best and worst cities for travel taxes—a subject that can inspire wrath in a great many travelers (and planners). Sticking it to travelers for projects that may or may not have anything to do with travelers is a popular way to raise revenue, especially for cities like Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle and Minneapolis, which have the highest total travel tax rate in the U.S. If you want to avoid meeting in a city that imposes the highest taxes specifically on travel services, be aware that Portland, OR, Boston, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and New York will make you pay through the nose.
On the other hand, if you’re watching your budget you may want to consider holding your event in a city with lowest overall taxes: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Portland OR, Detroit or (surprise!) Honolulu. Cities with the lowest taxes on travel-related services are all located in sunny California: Orange County, San Jose, Burbank, San Diego and Ontario. Hmmmm, makes you wonder if those cities will see a little more meeting action when the word gets out.
Ann Turner, Editor
Many of you have taken the last couple of years to diversify your businesses, re-train your teams and to freshen your inventories, all ways of staying on top and regrouping for an economic recovery.
Attended the local NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) meeting last night to connect with friends and learn more about tasting events. The meet-up was at the Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport, and the room was packed—hot topic, it appears. Here are a few take-aways that event planners may find helpful.
After the trials and tribulations of the past few years, it’s nice to finally hear some encouraging news. The meetings industry appears to be on an upswing—a minor one, to be sure, but the momentum seems to building a bit.