The summer season is upon us. We have been updating our site www.ReviewResorts.com and I am amazed how many of the hotels and resorts have upgraded their facilities. Many of the renovations and creative new amenities are almost breathtaking. I have been especially taken with how the Hawaii Hotels have upgraded their properties. The other important note would be how many beautiful new resorts are under development in Mexico. Where are you going for your summer vacation?
Carnival Cruise line announced it has pledged up to $300 million to be used for safety upgrades to its fleet of cruise ships. The video below details the improvements Carnival is making to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers.
We have said on this blog that it was obvious corners were cut, however we now give a big thumbs up to Carnival for their commitment to passenger safety. We applaud this commitment to safety and the cruise industry as a whole. Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world by any measure. In addition to Carnival Cruises, they also own and operate Princess Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Carnival is the industry leader. They have a lot at stake to instill safety and comfort of of the cruise product in the marketplace.
The wreck of the Costa Concordia was bad. It exposed serious operational deficiencies that at the time we all hoped were isolated. However it seems that every other week or so another incident involving a Carnival ship is in the news. Now, I read the latest Carnival Cruise Line incident of the Triumph breaking away from its mooring dock due to high winds. While the Triumph seems to be the problem child in Carnival’s fleet of ships, there have been numerous incidents that naturally raise questions. The well-publicized mess of the Triumph’s long tow, dead in the water incident and the Carnival Legend ship that had propulsion problems and had to limp back to port. Then the Carnival Dream lost power in Saint Maarten which causing toilets and other plumbing to back up. Carnival Cruise Corp just can’t catch a break.
The thing that strikes me about this string of incidents is that these situations rarely happened in the past 50 years of the modern cruise industry. I also know that as a public company Carnival Corp is beholden to Wall Street to maximize profits. The question I would like to raise is whether per ship maintenance time has been held steady as she goes or decreased? I am sure they will cite an increased per ship budget for maintenance as inflation has risen greatly. However, I question whether the bean counters got their way and the result is the string of incidents. The unfortunate result is that the cruise industry is taking a hit as there is a real reluctance in the traveling public that only time without any further incidents can mend.
What’s your view?
We have been updating Review Resorts with a new contemporary design. While working on the Waikiki Hotels we have on the site it struck me how many times the word “renovation” appeared on all your favorites. It seems there is a reason that Waikiki has become the hottest destination in the Pacific. Hotel rooms must be reserved well in advance and prices have risen.
View of Waikiki from the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel
Candidly, the major know on Waikiki was that it had gotten a bit tired. The hotels needed to be renovated and the destination itself needed updating. While the recession had a vicious impact on tourism in general and especially Hawaii, the low interest rates have provided the easy money they needed to make the improvements provide a return on investment.
So come and enjoy the new and renovated hotels, the new beach-walk promenade along Kalakaua Avenue.
A session at the prestegious NY Times Travel Show revealed concerns about the Travel Agent distribution system by Travel Suppliers. It seems Travel Suppliers are concerned that consumers are having a hard time finding Travel Agents. No longer located in store front locations, home based travel agents must be diligent in marketing online to find new clients. John Lovell, CEO of Vacation.com stated “Consumers are having a hard time finding the travel agents. It comes down to social media and where that’s going. For today’s agents, a key issue is making themselves visible to – and connecting with – travelers. Travel Agents need to be in every distribution channel out there.”
A commitment to gaining the travel knowledge and inside information to call yourself a travel expert is imperative. Consumers can probably find a website that will beat your price. You must provide additional value that the consumer cannot. Larry Pimentel, CEO of Azamara Cruise line said: “The most successful sellers are educated about what they’re selling. You can’t win with low price. To succeed, all branches of the travel industry must refocus on consumer needs. The consumer must win – or we all lose.”
What this tells me is that a dedication to Travel Content Marketing has never been more important for the success and survival of travel agents and suppliers. Reaching out to consumers with quality, well written and informative content on blogs, websites and forums is critical. This is the way to be found and relevant in the travel distribution system
It never ceases to amaze me how hoteliers allow pushy time-share salespeople to ruin their guest’s experience. We received another review about a traveler who really liked a hotel, but the time-share sales people were such a negative they flamed the place online.
Read what Karen from Milwaukee, Wisconsin wrote about her experience at the Marival Resort in Puerto (Nuevo) Vallarta:
“Great beach area in addition to the pools. The pools are nice, food is decent, rooms are clean and comfortable (though nothing fancy) but I wouldn’t recommend this hotel to anyone and would definitely not stay here again. Right from when you check in, they start pushing the time-share on you. The person who shows you the hotel map, gives you the all-inclusive bracelet, etc., tries to sell you on a timeshare presentation. Even if you say you aren’t interested, they offer you free massages, say ‘it is only 90 minutes and well do it during your breakfast, and you have to eat anyway” various guilt trips, etc. If you say no, for the duration of your trip, you will receive flyers under your door, and whenever passing through the main lobby or high-traffic areas, they will try to pressure you again. After finally giving in, the session took 3 hours instead of the promised 1.5, was very high-pressure sales, and impossible to leave. They pass you from one person to the next, each time promising it’s the last person you’ll talk to. I mentioned to one employee that I would be giving a bad review and he said, ‘But the time-share staff isn’t the hotel staff…That isn’t fair.’ That may be true, but the time-share staff is everywhere, permeating your entire hotel experience. I came on vacation to be relaxed and have fun, not to be annoyed and guilt-tripped.”
This business practice seems so small minded. Allow a third party to station on your grounds, stake out and harass your customers, pissing off most of them so they flame you online. They tell as many people as they can what a rotten experience they had at your hotel. But you get a small commission for the one guest out of every 100 they screw out of a bunch of money. Something tells me they don’t teach this in business school.
I recently visited Las Vegas with my daughter’s tournament softball team. I am one of the coaches and can say we had a blast. I can also tell you that it seemed like the rest of the world was in Las Vegas with us. Walking down the strip on a Friday or Saturday night is an exercise in patience as you just move with the crowd. I made a few observations I would like to share.
Not everybody visiting Las Vegas is a gambler. There were many vacant tables and slot machines. Yet, every entertainment venue was packed and people were spending money.
The Bellagio water show never ceases to captivate the masses. It is an incredible performance, free to everyone walking Las Vegas Boulevard. A must see!
The strip is changing for the better. The City Center development with the new Aria and Cosmopolitan hotels along with the accompanied shopping and dining is a remarkable. The 3-story chandelier is a work of art.
I can’t wait to go back and have some more fun.
I have done some SEO work for leading innovation strategist Phil McKinney and follow his blog. He recently published a quote by DreamWorks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg:
“In order for us to delight and surprise — and to exceed the expectations of our audience — the requirement is that we are original and unique. Original and unique equals risky. Risky equals failure — sometimes.”
This statement resonated with me as I contemplate how to make the travel websites I manage stand out from the crowd. How do you make a website rise above the noise? I know that creating compelling content is critical for reduced bounce rate (one page-view and exit) and also for SEO. However, the term “risky” in marketing suggests taking a chance on some method of creating buzz and energy. With this line of thinking, I am the one responsible to get eyeballs on the site.
Yet, “risky” could also be acknowledging that management no longer owns the brand, the users do. Charlene Li’s book “The Groundswell” brings to light the concept of clients, customers and users being the actual owners because the Internet has empowered them with the power to post, critique and promote the brand. Good old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising updated to encompass online. With this line of thinking, I am responsible to create the brand image however I am relying on the users to communicate and promote the brand experience.
A “calculated risk” may be the smarter approach of blending these two marketing concepts. How about enlisting an organization’s managers to create content rather than the marketing department? This would create a more genuine marketing effort. It would also allow the managers to have ownership in the brand experience.
Let’s use a hotel as an example. Most hotels have a general manager, head chef, catering manager, front-desk manager, group coordinators and a director of sales. What if each of these managers were given a week in which they were responsible to create the content for the website? The hotel would be branding their managers and staff as celebrity professionals committed to quality while adding personality to the branding campaign. They would also be enlightening and engaging the user on all the different facets of running the hotel. Users would then be encouraged to provide comment, critique and feedback which the hotel could use to improved internal processes. Risky to turn your brand over to your employees and customers, but if you are committed to quality, it is a calculated risk that may pay big dividends.
I call this genuine marketing. It becomes knowledge management by providing a platform for information and perspective from different parts of the organization to be communicated. Content creation from many areas within the organization along with user engagement is the foundation for which the genuine marketing campaign is built. I believe winning organizations will utilize genuine marketing to empower, encourage and build their brand image.
Enjoy the Journey,