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Today’s Travel Decision Cycle [TRAVEL INFOGRAPHIC]

Today, we look at how travelers increasingly use online media and mobile technology throughout the various stages of travel. The art of travel has changed and the Travel Decision Cycle has evolved. The former model that usually included a travel agent and resources like the OAG (Official Airline Guide) no longer fits. Today’s model includes much more depth and social interaction in the ‘Planning’ stage, more automaton of the transactional ‘Booking’ stage and once again, more depth and social interaction in the after-travel phase of ‘Sharing’.Travel Decision Cycle

Travel Decision Cycle 

The stages of the Travel Decision Cycle are:  Dreaming, Planning, Research, Travel Reviews, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing. The travel infographic below shows some of the online companies that support this market. Some companies, like Trip Advisor, Facebook and Pinterest have services that support more than one stage.

Top Online Travel Companies

As of this writing, these are the big players in travel: TrippyPinterestGogobot, Citybot, Tripline, TouristEye, Worldmate, Tripit, RelaxWisconsin (a product of SocialEnergizer.com), Momando, Virtual Tourist, Facebook, Fodor’s, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Places, IgoUgo, Yahoo Local, Kayak, Hotwire, Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, CheapOAir, Hotels.com, Hipmunk, Booking.com, Orbitz, Hotel Website Booking Engines, FlipKey, AirBNB, HomeAway, VRBO, Foursquare, Tripwolf, and Flickr.

Watch for future articles on each of these providers and the roles they play in each part of the travel cycle. Do you know of some we’ve missed? Please add them in the comments and we’ll add and update the infographic.

Is Your Hotel Facebook Nearby Ready?

Facebook Nearby is picking up momentum. It raises some important questions for hoteliers.

  1. Does your hotel have a Facebook Page optimized for business?
  2. Can people ‘check-in’ to your hotel on Facebook?
  3. How important are guest reviews to your business?
  4. Do you actively manage your reviews? And seek new ones?
  5. Will Facebook ‘Nearby’ be able to pick up your location?
  6. Is your site mobile ready?

Below are a couple of excerpts on a post from Revinate (via Are Morch) on new features from Facebook that will be vital for hotels.

“What Hotels & Restaurants Should Know About Facebook Nearby Upgrade

Photo (1)Yesterday, Facebook announced upgrades to their mobile application’s Nearby functionality for both the iPhone and Android. This upgrade now positions Facebook’s mobile app much closer to Foursquare’s recent local recommendation terrain, as users can search and find local businesses to visit, based on their proximity, by name or category. In addition to enhancing the application’s local discovery functions, Facebook’s Nearby also now comes with a 5 star ratings system for local businesses that is noticeably comparable to both Yelp‘s 5 point scale as well as Foursquare’s recent 10 point rating system.”

“Action Items for Hotels & Restaurants

PhotoWith about one out of four Facebook users worldwide tagging at least one of their posts each month by location, the now two-year old ability to share your mobile check-in with others has clearly reached a critical mass. With half of Nearby visits coming from mobile users, Facebook has additionally overhauled the Places Pages design for mobile as well, which means more changes to pay attention to that have direct hospitality implications. Accordingly, here are some action items to tick off when conducting your audit of your hotel or restaurant’s Facebook Places page.

  1. Update Your About SectionFor hotels, this section must include all of your basic information (phone number, physical address, email address, description of your property and general facility information) as well as the all important website link. Be sure that this website link direct users to your mobilly-optimized website so that you don’t miss the opportunity to capture more mobile traffic to your site. For restaurants, the same basic information from above applies, as well as ensuring hours of operation, price range, specialties, attire, services, and payment options are all up-to-date. While these categories do not differ from your desktop-accessible Facebook Business Page, they’re important to review as the likelihood of receiving a positive rating may be contingent on these basic pieces of information.
  2. Update Your CategoryThis may sound self-explanatory, but particularly in the case of restauranteurs, categorizing your business can have a huge impact on the foot-traffic your dining establishment may receive. With over 20 subcategory options to choose from, make sure you’re accurately representing the restaurant cuisine experience so not to disappoint the customer.
  3. Encourage Ratings & Reviews: As is the case with every social media and online reputation management practice, the best way to generate more interest in your business is simply by asking. Don’t shy away from encouraging your consumers to like, check into, rate, and recommend your place. Like Yelp, these ratings can have a significant impact on the consumer’s likelihood to visit your establishment, as they are prominently displayed directly on the landing page of the business listing.

If you find your hotel or restaurant is on Facebook Nearby but has not been merged with your brand’s Facebook Business Page, OR is simply not showing up on Nearby at all, do not fear! To remedy this dilemma, Facebook offers a great couple of resources to help assist with this issue.”

Click here to read the full article at Revinate.

 

Additional Revenue Model for Hotels

Catalin calls this hotel strategy The Catwalk Concept. It is fundamentally an additional revenue model for hotels that uses the concept of sponsoring brands that may be used within the hotel.Catwalk

Excerpt from Catalin at Cain:

“A branded hotel can take three specific steps to capitalise on this opportunity:

  • First, conduct research to identify specific brands of other products and services that appeal to their guests, for example, one such brand could be a particular type of flat-screen television whose design and price tag has been targeted to a specific type of customer.
  • Second, explain to the companies identified the benefits of gaining access to their guests; the hotel could build guest market profiles to support the claims that its guests fit the profile of the flat-screen television’s target audience.
  • Third, find inconspicuous ways to grant these companies access to the guests, for example, the hotel could agree to display the flat-screen televisions in its rooms so that the guests interact freely with the product, without ever feeling part of a marketing campaign.”

Just like pro-fisherman and Nascar racers, who rely heavily on sponsorships, hotels are in the position to heighten the visibility of certain branded products that they use. Presenting an even better opportunity, is the ability to actually put that brand in a potential customer’s hands. Need a new mattress? Try it out at a sponsored hotel. Love the sheets? Buy them directly from the hotel.

Some of the larger hotel chains, like Hampton Inns, have been selling their bedding for a while now. How could this work for small to medium-sized hotels? Is anyone doing this now?

Here’s a shout out to brands that supply hotels -is this an attractive proposition for you? What would a hotel need to do to begin this partnership? I’m thinking that for a brand there is great potential here for some very valuable social media interaction.

Find the full article at Cain, a Strategy and Innovation Agency located in the United Arab Emirates.

WH&LA Hotel Web Services Giveaway from Social Energizer

whla trade show 2012

Lynn Rasmussen, Owner of Social Energizer

Social Energizer would like to congratulate Dawn Byczek, of the Adams Inn (formerly Adams Super 8), Adams, WI as the prize winner of our Hotel Web Services Giveaway at the WH&LA Convention and Trade Show on Oct 22, 2012. Dawn was among the nearly 200 participants who attended the convention and trade show at Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Hoteliers from all over the state converged to learn new techniques in hotel management, to discuss recent hotel trends and to partake in a broad spectrum of presentations and exhibits.

This was Social Energizer’s first year at the show and we found many owners and managers of small and medium-sized hotels that were interested in finding new ways to market online. Online Booking Engines and Property Management Systems integrated into hotel websites topped the discussion with tips on travel-specific social media networking running a close second. Our jungle theme “Don’t just survive. THRIVE!” was a fun takeaway with Posada Yum Kin Hotel, Tulum, Mexico as the featured case study. Their success story from the jungle’s of Tulum is one we love to talk about.

For members of WH&LA, Social Energizer is also offering a free annual listing on our directory site, RelaxWisconsin.com. It lists a wide variety of fun things to do and places to stay in Wisconsin.

Who doesn’t like free advertising? To enter simply click on the WH&LA logo on the right edge of our homepage. You will be taken to an easy to fill in form where you can describe details about your hotel. Simply fill it in and you will shortly find it listed under the Stay category of RelaxWisconsin.com. You can also return to the site for updates as often as you wish. Please enjoy reviewing our site – we are adding new properties every day.

 

 

5 Stages of Choosing Travel

The travel outlook is positive, and with the rise of mobile, social and video behaviors, we are now seeing seeing travelers move through five key stages of travel. Here are some insights within each stage:
  • Dreaming: 68% of business travelers watch travel-related online videos. Among them, 68% are thinking about a trip.
  • Planning: The average traveler visits ~22 travel related sites during 9.5 research sessions prior to booking.
  • Booking: 37% of leisure travelers report that the internet prompted them to book, up from 28% two years ago.
  • Experiencing: 70% of business travelers check into their flights/hotel with their mobile device. Almost 1 in 4 hotel queries come from a mobile phone.
  • Sharing: About 1 in 3 business travelers have posted reviews online of places they’ve been.

The Better Road to Success

Ever wonder where Road to Success really is? I’ve been working a lot lately with people that I like and respect. It’s actually a choice I made a couple of years ago and at times I have questioned that decision, as I walked away from certain business opportunities, because of the people connected to them. I’ve learned that when you get those certain warning sounds going off in your head to TRUST IT and walk away.

So when I read Seth’s blog, added in full below, it struck a chord. It’s not as much about getting those people to do what you want, but about working in tandem -not having to discuss and contest every decision because both viewpoints come from the same basic goal and value set. Put those difficulties aside and you can just get busy -improving and promoting the business.

From Seth Godin’s blog-Seth Godin -make something happen

The easiest way to get people to do what you want them to do…

is to start with people who want what you want.

Identify, organize and excite people who are already predisposed to achieve what you had in mind and you’re much more likely to have the outcome you seek. It’s far easier (but less compelling) than turning strangers or enemies into customers/voters/supporters/colleagues. Over time, an engaged and motivated base of followers is the single best way to earn more followers.

You used to be stuck with whoever walked in the door or opened your mail. Today, you change minds indirectly, by building a tribe that influences via connections to others.

Read the original article and connect with Seth here.

Your Guide to Selecting a Hotel Property Management System

When I was young, my grandmother and grandfather owned and ran a small resort in Northern Wisconsin. I remember her notifying the nearby Visitor’s Information Center on Friday evenings when they had open, unsold cottages. It was a friendly conversation that was often repeated just before the cottages ‘turned-over’ for the next weekly rentals. These phone calls often resulted in new guests and increased occupancy for the resort. Wisconsin Resort

The days of putting up a sign and then advising the local Visitor’s Center of your hotel’s availability just isn’t enough anymore. To survive you’ll need to realize that hotel marketing has changed. Influences such as social media networks and the global marketplace can make your new sales world seem like you are the smallest of fish in a very large ocean. Sometimes it can even seem like there is a minefield in that ocean, just waiting for you. BUT, it doesn’t have to be THE END. Independent hotels and resorts, yes, even the small- and medium-sized ones, that invest in technology to streamline operations, sell globally, and enhance the guest experience can navigate through successfully.

Today, selecting an outstanding hotel property management system (PMS) is the essential element to maximizing occupancy rates and increasing profitability. As online systems’ integration and the influence of a global marketplace become more and more important to hotel sales, selection of the right property management system, your hotel’s core business tool, is the most critical component to success. Choosing one that easily and efficiently manages and organizes hotel inventory and tasks, while seamlessly coordinating marketing channels to maximize occupancy is the key to a successful implementation.

How do you find a PMS that can do all this? Here are a few steps to get you on your way:

Form a Plan

Form a Team

Unless you’re a small ‘mom & pop’  hotel, where the owners are the team, the first step in selecting a property management system is to form an integration team that includes managers and staff. It’s important to do this to make sure the property management system addresses most of the needs throughout the hotel and is evaluated through various viewpoints. It also helps to get the ‘buy-in’ of the eventual users. For small lodging professionals, the ‘moms & pops’, sit down and discuss this throughly. Treat it as the important decision it is. Don’t let the day to day operations push this decision aside. It WILL make your life easier -and allow your property to make you more money.

Conduct a Needs AssessmentPMS features

  1. It’s important to clarify all the property’s business processes, beginning with guest inquiries, moving to reservations and then ending with check-out and ‘thank you’ letters.
  2. Also gather a list of the numerous functions that, depending on the size of your property and the amenities it offers, can include anything from room service to bicycle rentals.
  3. Consider how and who you want to partner with. Integrating with the many online sales channels today will provide the highest occupancy levels, but not without significant cost. Choosing the ones that best match your guest demographics is the key.
  4. What type of support will be important to you and your team? Typically, most hoteliers’ first choice is 24/7 support with a support team based in the same country.

Prioritize the list of features

Create a list of basic requirements that must be included to create a platform suitable to your hotels’ operational and marketing needs. Then evaluate the ‘nice to have’ items and determine implications like ROI and guest happiness and add those top features to the list as well.

Determine your budget

Typically today, a cloud-based system will end up costing you less, provide unlimited software updates, and relieve you of the problem of having the system go down without the right personnel to fix it. In-place systems are usually a better fit for the large hotel chains that have enterprise-level demands and deeper pockets.

Evaluate the Options

Find the most cutting-edge, hospitality approved PMS systems. Ask for recommendations from colleagues at similar-sized properties, your local hotel and lodging association and staff. They have likely used a variety of systems over the years and can offer suggestions and warnings about the available PMS systems on the market. Create a comparison chart to capture the myriad pieces of information.

Common considerations for choosing a property management system are:

1. Functional design. The level of design may be a clue to finding the technology right for your hotel. A clunky, out-of-date interface should give cause for concern; the technology underlying it is probably no better. Look for a system that has a intuitive interface, is easy to navigate and organized logically. Tip- Count how many mouse ‘clicks’ it takes to complete routine functions.

2. Robust Property Management Functions. Fully-integrated front- and back-office operations, detailed guest profiles, management of guest folios and charge routing, housekeeping, special request management and task lists are all required of your multi-functional team and should be part of a basic PMS. Automation of routine communications should be embedded as part of the reservation process allowing your staff to interact with guests, while tracking the information.

3. Sell via new marketing channels. Today, hotels need to be able to directly access the global marketplace. This means systematic support for selling via your website, global distribution systems and social networks. The importance of social media in hospitality sales is now proven. Watch for trendsetting PMS vendors to capture and add guest social profiles to their CRM (customer relationship management) systems and add features for interacting in these new ways.

4. Integration with other systems. Your PMS should interface with your online services and marketing channels. Complex components like the online booking engine of your website, merchant accounts for credit processing, and linking of global distribution systems that will enable you to sell on Expedia, Booking.com, etc. should all be integrated into one easy-to-use interface. Your property management system will be the common control system and should be therefore be the easiest and most robust of all. Automatic synchronization is the key to successfully implementing these various functions.

5. Flexible reporting. Your system should be able to generate custom reports and queries. This will enable you to track your marketing efforts, predict opportunities and determine the partners that provide the best ROI. Do not overlook the importance of your accounting backend. Can you easily track all transactions as they process into your bank? Your PMS should either exist as a full accounting package, export in ready-to-use formats like Excel or .cvs OR both.

6. Positioned for growth. Select a property management system that accommodates future trends and growth. Look for a system with a structure that enables you to add services and functions as your needs evolve.

Narrow the list, based on the data in the chart, to 3-5 property management systems. Then arrange testing and more research for each of the systems. Arrange for system demonstrations with the vendors. Provide each vendor a detailed list of needs. This will ensure that your concerns are addressed and allow you control over the sales conversation.

It’s most likely that vendors will demo their property management system through an online demonstration where you will be able to see the software in action and ask questions about the system. Sometimes, vendors will give you a temporary account, where you can actually add info and test the system with little guidance.

This is also the time to firm up your budget. Request quotes as you evaluate the systems. Obtain references.

Before You Sign

1. Dig into the Real Costs. What is included in the final costs? Does this integration include all the items on your ‘must have’ list? Is the design and implementation of your online booking engine included fee-free? How is the global distribution (gds) set up? Are there additional costs? Are there 3rd party set-up charges that need to be paid? What commissions and transaction fees will you pay and to whom? I.e. Expedia and Booking.com have pass-through commission fees and some PMS vendors add on their own additional transaction fees, as well. Pay attention to vendors that are forthright and transparent in the costs you pay. Watch for warning signs from vendors that are not forthcoming with the costs you will pay (gds integration, etc.) and who will perform the integrations. As a rule, the more people involved in the middle, the more control is lost and the more time is involved for the integration.

2. Agree Upon A Timeline. After you’ve agreed on your ‘must have’ list with the chosen vendor, set up a delivery timeline. Determine key milestone’s and related delivery dates. Sometimes there are actions that are out of control of a vendor and depend on 3rd party implementation; these should be clearly defined and best case/worse case scenarios should be given.

3. Technology Partner. As you make your final selection, keep in mind that this choice will become a vital component in your technology requirements. Be sure that the services offered are encompassing enough to support your needs and skill-level. If not, then consider a 3rd party project manager, that can help with implementation, can fill in the technology gaps and will advocate for you to the many vendors that are in your global circle.

4. Additional Things to Ask.

• How is training implemented? One-on-one? Group? In-person?

• Is there an appointed account manager/trainer?

• System documentation, how to videos and updates should be up-to-date as the software changes.

• Support times (i.e 24/7)

• Guaranteed turnaround times for phone calls and emails.

• Country of Origin of the support team. Will language issues be a barrier? Can you wait several days for a resolution to a problem?

• How does the support team track and manage your requests? Do they have a robust support system for supporting their clients?

• How does your info export? Can you perform the export? Does it come out in usable MSExcel-ready files?

The hospitality environment is ever more competitive and challenging everyday. Selecting the right advisors and vendors to fully-integrate software systems to maximize occupancy, serve your guests well, and ease staff workload is the key to your hotel’s future success.

As an e-business advisor to the hospitality and leisure industry, Social Energizer helps with the selection, integration and implementation of property management systems, online sales channels and social media networks with a special focus on independent hotels, inns, resorts, and campgrounds.

Social Energizer integrates inbound marketing techniques into each marketing plan, creates dynamic and affordable websites fully optimized for Search Engines, then utilizes digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Keeping Your Website Real

Recently, Chris, from Design4Real.net, and I ventured down to Posada Yum Kin Hotel in Tulum, Mexico to work on their next web update. It has been a little over a year since images and content throughout the website have been updated, so once again, it is time to refresh everything.

Our trip went smoothly with a nice flight down, easy transfer over to our rental car and a fun, but relaxing 2-hour ride to Tulum, Mexico. Chris and I love working with Dan and Balvina, the owner’s of Posada Yum Kin. They are creative entrepreneurs that have stuck their heart and souls into this little piece of heaven and it is slowly, but surely paying off for them. Posada Yum Kin in the last year has consistently ranked at number 7 or above in Trip Advisor in the Tulum area.

The hotel, as always, was pristine and perfect. As a special treat, Dan, the owner, had placed us in their best suite, The Kinah (#7). It is a huge, oversized-suite with 1 king-size and 1 queen-size bed. It is the perfect room to be able to ‘live’ and work at the same time. Chris and I were happy to make it our ‘office’.The Kinah -Suite # 7

One of my favorite things to do while staying at PYK, is to visit with the guests. Besides great conversation, I always discover new insights from them. While chatting with recent visitors, Bob and Susan, from Whidbey Island in Washington State, Bob commented that our website images ‘fairly represented the hotel’. Well, of course, I thought “Shouldn’t they always?” What his comment pointed out to me though was that this should be a main focus, as it is a major concern for all travelers buying online. As Bob said “It’s disappointing to get to a hotel only to find that the images are either far out of date or perhaps appear a bit fake.”

As always, working onsite at any hotel is a fast-paced, multi-tasking challenge.  As Chris got comfortable with some initial shots of the property, I worked with Dan and the hotel staff on some issues like property management system implementation, training and work coordination.  As a small hotel, working efficiently takes a team coordinated effort to meet and track guest requests and keep things running smoothly. Our time went quickly.Jennifer and Manuel

With a small hotel like Posada Yum Kin, making every single peso count is key. One of our greatest challenges has been creating professional-quality images. How could we find models that fit our budget? Could social media help? I thought so and decided to test out the theory. I’ve been reading and writing on several of the local Riviera Mayan forums and found a very active online community. Starting with a simple post on a forum looking for people that would be happy to be included in our photoshoot for a very nominal fee, I was delighted to find travel blogger, Jennifer and, professional portrait photographer, Manual Salazar to sit as models –just for fun.

Jennifer and Manual, two ex-TV professionals, have a great story, which can be found on Jennifer’s blog “Bi-Coastal Living“. Describing themselves as a combination of expats and vacationers to the Riviera Maya area, they are a light-hearted, inspiring photographic and content-creating team that is bound to thrive in this entrepreneurial area. Their portrait portfolio quality far exceeds any that we have seen. Art Director, Chris Schudy from Design4Real.net said “Manuel and Jennifer’s work is some of the best I’ve seen. It beats some of the portfolio’s of the Fortune 100 companies that are out there right now.”

The day of the DIY photoshoot with Jennifer, Manuel and several guests was beautiful and went off without a hitch. Chris got some great shots that included ‘real-life’ pool shots with Jennifer, Posada Yum Kin’s massage therapist, Elvira and even the personal taxi driver, Artemio. Our goal of updated images was realized with Chris’ great new perspective.

The next day, we headed home and are working now to select the best images, ready them for online viewing and insert them in the site. It’ll be a week or so, but PYKTulum.com will have a facelift very soon. Watch for it!

Life is a Balancing Act

It’s been a little over a week since returning from Mexico where Chris from Design4Real.net and I worked at Posada Yum Kin Hotel in Tulum, Mexico on a fun little website update. It feels like a lifetime ago and in some ways it has been for me. This is kind of a weird story for me to write and you’ll find that it is unlike my other posts, being personal in nature. The lesson is simple, life is a balancing act.balancing act

For those of us engaging in social media promotion the pressure is on to openly share so many details of our lives, so we can better ‘connect’ with our community. How do we do that and remain true to ourselves? How do we reserve any element of privacy? I’m not a ‘dramatic’ person, how can I keep life’s speedbumps from sounding overly dramatic if I write about it online? Increasingly, we are challenged with what to ‘share’ and what to keep private. Recently, the Zuckerberg’s (of Facebook) faced this challenge on their honeymoon. As a case in point, I am facing this challenge now, as I decide how and what to communicate. My goal? To keep it balanced.

Many of you have been asking about our trip and, for that, I think this little ‘news’ report will be helpful, mainly because I won’t have to retell the story several times which suits me just fine. This post started as a ‘live’ case study about our business project, but on this trip it became, oh, so much more personal.

We had a great time working hard and getting things done. Read about our week at Keeping Your Website Real. But, this story on findng the ‘balance’ actually begins as we headed on our way home. Little did I know that while we were getting things done on our ‘to do’ list and spending a little time at the beach that I had something BIG working against me.

Unknowingly, in the weeks before going to Mexico, I had contracted a bacterial infection. As spring brings in allergies, I believed I was just battling a recurring eye-allergy. Using over-the-counter-meds, I thought it was under control and put the whole matter to the back of my mind.

While we were in Tulum and as we became more active, I became very dehydrated. I struggled to keep up with our quick pace, but just put it off to our irregular schedule. As we traveled home, I was so thirsty; I drank anything I could get my hands on. Since I was dehydrated, I sought out highly caloric beverages with lots of electrolytes, etc. As we had started our travel day at about 2:30am, I believed that I merely had jet lag and dehydration and, once home, would feel better quickly. After I got home, I proceeded to sleep for about 24-48 hours straight through. Lucky for me, mom and my hubby, Tom, took matters into their hands and insisted that I go to the doctor.

What the doc found was 1- the infection, 2- dehydration, and 3- a life-changing diagnosis of Diabetes. Drinking the ‘rehydrating’ beverages had driven my blood sugar levels as high as 636. That’s close to the point of having some serious damage and I can tell you first hand that I have never felt so disoriented and simple-minded. Long story short, it took 4 agonizing days in the hospital to rehydrate and get my blood sugar count in line. Now, it has been another 4 days just to learn how to balance my blood levels.

On the Beach

I was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, which my doctor tells me means that my body had some type of virus in the last month or two and signaled to my brain that something was wrong. My body ‘killed’ off the ability for my pancreas to create insulin. I understand I am now termed a ‘Type 1 1/2 diabetic’ and will probably need insulin the rest of my life to balance my blood sugar levels.

As everyone says, “this is a life-changing event”. I’m hearing that refrain a lot these days. I feel caught between two country music songs. Toby Keith’s “It’s about me”, set against the track of Tim McGraw’s “My next 30 years”. It’ll take a bit of time to find my ‘new normal’, but I’m getting there.

Things I took for granted, the automatic adjustment of my blood sugars, now require routine monitoring and adjustment. Learning to balance things better. That’s my goal. Sometimes it’s your health, sometimes it’s your relationships -both on and offline. In the end, taking the time to balance it all out, will be for the better.

Life is indeed a balancing act.

 

 

Interest in Pinterest

Are women leading the growth of the next big Internet thing? The answer is an enthusiastic ‘yes’.  Pinterest is catching on fast among women. And why not? Haven’t women always been the ones to cut recipes out of magazines, save pictures for wedding planning, and pass on their favorite sayings? Internet sensations all have one thing in common. They take advantage of long-standing habits and interests of things that people do offline and find a way to automate it online -in a very appealing, often addictive way. With a good setup and a lot of luck, it turns viral. Facebook used this simple formula, now Pinterest has, too.Pinterest Pinning Image

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is self-described as a virtual pin-up board. While surfing the Internet, users can ‘pin’ images that catch their attention and save them to their personal boards. It’s a great way of keeping track of the flooding impressions made every time one searches the net. How many times, while looking for something specific, do you come across an image or an idea that answers a different question you were wondering about? Pinterest makes it easy to keep track; just ‘pin it’ for later examination.Kissing Couple on framed wall

By virtue of its design, Pinterest piggybacks on Facebook. You need to have, and be logged in, to a Facebook account, then you enter Pinterest. Joining this way brings along all your Facebook friends, who see that you’re on Pinterest, and then of course they join, too. This social networking engine creates opportunities for sharing at a more intimate level than Facebook, which tends to be a bit more broadcasting-like. Pinterest is like inviting someone into your home. See the difference?

Is Pinterest Only for Women?

Will Pinterest interest men? So far, men have been slow at adapting, but I think that’s because the current content appeals mostly to women. To see my point, search on Pinterest for ‘fish’ or ‘trophy deer’. You’ll see that it’s not exactly ‘Man land’. Maybe that’s ok. But as men begin to use Pinterest, if they do, and ‘pin’ their interests, we’ll see more pics of trophy deer, monster fish and skimpy bikinis. Pinterest has lots of potential of becoming a classic man’s bragging wall, complete with pics of themselves with their latest kill or catch.

Pinterest for Travel

Watch for travel to become a hot topic on Pinterest. The largest buying demographic for travel is women. Imagery and social networking aspects have proven to be the strongest driver of travel purchases. It all adds up to a new powerful promotion tool for hotels and leisure-focused businesses. I’ve started pinning images from travel sites I’ve created, Posada Yum Kin and RelaxWisconsin.com on my board (full-disclosure). They are getting attention thanks to Pinterest.

Invitation Only

Like Google+, Pinterest new users need to be ‘invited’.  So, how do you get an invitiation? Leave a comment on this post and I will send you an invite. For a great ‘How to’ on signing up for Pinterest, check out Megan Tietz’ blog on Sorta Crunchy.

Pinner Beware

I’m not sure anyone really cares, but it’s good to know that Pinterest has been receiving a little heat for “non-transparent advertising methods”- gasp. Hey, everyone needs to make money, but it’s becoming more and more important that users know when ‘their content’ is being commercialized. How does that happen? After a user pins an image, Pinterest tags the images with links to marketing affiliates like eBay, Amazon and so on. If someone clicks on the image (which now in effect has become an ‘ad’), then they will be sent to the linking site. Pinterest makes money when people click and/or buy product. Read more on that at LLSocial.com.

This has been Social Energizer’s Saturday Morning Post, a less business oriented, more personally related edition than our blog that is offered during the week. Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you. Are you venturing into online marketing? Give us a call!