Around the World

Talking About Tourism Marketing

One of my greatest passions (aside from marketing, of course) is travelling.  I love seeing new places, learning about other cultures and getting inspired by local marketing and advertising too. I am currently planning for my next adventure – in about a month’s time, we will be heading to beautiful Alaska!

When I research and plan my travel itineraries, I usually like to head over to the local tourism websites.  They are usually a great resource with planning tools and links to upcoming events, restaurants, must see hot spots and even promotions. In recent years, I’ve noticed so many non-profit tourism marketing organizations branch out from their website and venture into new digital mediums for their marketing.  From Instagram accounts to Vine videos, contests and even working with local bloggers to help highlight what their cities have to offer – from an outsider’s perspective, it definitely looks like a fun industry to be in!

I would say that the industry as a whole has really upped their game! Just take a look at the major difference in these 2 videos, created 4 years apart. Granted, they are not from the same organization but I think it depicts just how much the industry has grown in recent years!

This video from Tourism Jasper popped up in YouTube while I was searching for videos on Alaska. I say, ad dollars well spent there!

Title: Venture Beyond
Agency: Stormy Lake Consultants and C&B Advertising
Client: Tourism Jasper

The respective websites also tell a very different story.  The Travel Alaska site is a bit chunkier to use and researching on my phone proved to be difficult since many of the pages were text-heavy. The main focus was on Alaska’s natural beauty (no doubt what the majority of visitors are looking for). There were also many layers with a lot of information buried deeper into the site.  I wonder if many of the readers delved as far as I did (or if I was just a tad bit less patient than the average user… ;D )

Tourism Jasper Venture Beyond

On the other hand, the Tourism Jasper site was highly visual. The pictures highlighted not only of Jasper’s natural beauty but also the many other activities and experiences the destination had to offer.  It incorporated Instagram and benefited from the efforts spent on social media. While the site also presented a lot of information, there were fewer layers (and fewer clicks to get to information).  The site also made it very easy to connect with local vendors for accommodations, food and activities.

While I will be proceeding with my trip to Alaska, the exposure to the “Venture Beyond” video from Tourism Jasper has certainly opened my eyes to what Jasper has to offer.  It might be time to start exploring my own country!

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Current Trends of Airport Advertising

My latest trip to the Chicago O’Hare airport made me feel like I was an extra in Tom Cruise’s science fiction thriller, Minority Report.  In the movie if you recall, when Tom Cruise’s character stepped into the Gap, the in-store signage automatically scanned his eyes for identification and delivered on-the-spot targeted messages based on his previous purchases.  Walking by billboards, he was bombarded by personalized messages that seemed to follow him wherever he went.

My own “Minority Report” moment wasn’t quite so extreme.  I didn’t have ads speaking to me but as I was walking to my terminal at Chicago O’Hare earlier this month, the digital display ads did seem to be following me around.  Or rather, they seemed to have popped up all over the place!

Chicago O'Hare Advertising

Chicago O'Hare AdvertisingAnother one in the actual terminal:

Chicago O'Hare Advertising

I don’t know how I could’ve missed them before!  Digging a little deeper, I learned that Clear Channel Airports was awarded a 5 year contract late last year to provide indoor digital media program at O’Hare with nearly 400 devices, located throughout the airport.  According to Clear Channel Airports, the digital media program will reach over 66 million travellers in Chicago annually and could attract as much as $25 million advertising dollars to the city.

The program includes:

  • The first ever 360 degree digital globe located in Terminal 3
  • 2 digital soffits comprising of a total of 60 LCD screens equalling 412 square feet of digital display surface
  • Full network of digital directories providing information on restaurants, entertainment, hotel information etc.
  • Digital tablets available for use within sponsored work stations

For national brands, airport advertising (especially in an airport as big and busy as O’Hare) could be a worthwhile investment if reach and volume is a top goal.  Clear Channel Airports also says that 73% of frequent flyers take the time to read airport advertising messages.  I can see frequent business flyers or travellers stuck in the airport for extended period of time seeing the ads often enough to have the messages stick. But mostly, the ads are a backdrop to the bustle of activity from travellers.  That is why I also appreciate the different tactics big brands are employing to catch your attention – sponsoring charging stations for your mobile devices, work stations with tablets that are pre-programmed with messages, bathroom mirror advertising – all ways to make you notice and located where they know you will be!

Here is a digital sign I saw in the Jacksonville airport:

Jacksonville Airport Advertising

Jacksonville Airport Advertising

Seems like most major airports have gone digital in one way or another with their advertising!  When you have these fresh tactics though, eventually they become old so I am really looking forward to seeing what else advertisers come up with!  Perhaps the personalized billboards in Minority Report are closer to reality than we think!

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Resurrecting an Old Slogan: United Airlines & Friendly Skies

I once again had the pleasure ;) of flying through the Chicago O’Hare Airport several weeks ago, when I took a trip to Orlando, Fl.  This time around, the experience was much better due to the fact that my layover was only 1.5 hours long as opposed to 7!  Despite the shorter stay in Terminal 2, I still found the time to walk around and enjoy some of the ads and signage around the terminal.

As a marketer, it is always a challenge to come up with the perfect tagline that can properly represent your business, your values, your products/services and still be versatile and transferable.   That’s why when I saw these ‘Friendly Skies’ ads from United Airlines, I was both impressed and in awe.  Little did I know, the ‘friendly skies’ tagline was one that United had dug out of the archives!  With the modern look of the ads combined with the focus on what travellers today care about when they fly, I would never have known the tagline came from 1965!

Here are the two that I managed to get a picture of from O’Hare:

United Airlines Friendly Skies Campaign

United Airlines Friendly Skies

“Fly the friendly skies of United” was first introduced in 1965 by Leo Burnett.  The tagline was used for over 30 years before it was retired when the airline parted ways with the agency.  It wasn’t until last fall, in September of 2013 that McGarryBowen resurrected the tagline – bringing it back in a whole new light.

What McGarryBowen was careful to do was to bring back the iconic tagline in a way that is relatable to today’s travellers.  They were careful to highlight the things that today’s air travellers cared about the most including more non-stop flights, more locations, more leg room, power charging outlets and better service.  McGarryBowen was able to highlight all these things with their ‘friendly’ campaign.

The campaign officially launched on September 20th, 2013 and included television and radio advertising, print, outdoor, digital as well as full fledged social media campaigns and outreach.

Here are a few more print ads from the campaign:

Ads Based on Location

United Airlines Friendly Skies Chicago

United Airlines Friendly Skies San Francisco

Ads Highlighting On-Board Features

United Airlines Flat Beds

United Airlines Onboard Entertainment

Ads Highlighting Their Destinations

United Airlines Destinations

United Airlines Destinations

United Airlines has definitely not shied away from ad spending.  Last year, the airline spent over $30 million in advertising, just in the fourth quarter!  It was rumoured that they would maintain the same level of spending for all of 2014.    While the ads are lovely, just how effective have they been?  And most importantly, have they been able to change consumer opinions?  Many frequent travellers I know still often complain of United’s on-time performance and service.

Since 2010, the airline has made substantial investments in both product and service.  Let’s see if the consumer experience will be anything like what their ads portray!

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Marketing Lessons from the Theme Parks of Universal Studios

Marketing Lessons from Universal Studios

I just returned from a very short (but fun-filled) weekend in Orlando, Florida!  It was my first time there and like most people that visit the city, I was excited to visit the theme parks!  My entire weekend was spent at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure where I got to indulge my inner child with endless rides and visits to both Hosgmeade and Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Funny enough – it was at the theme parks that made me realize a few valuable marketing lessons for 2014!

Thinking About the Customer Experience

Going to theme parks like Universal Studios Florida can be quite the experience. Every detail is thought out – from the layout of the parks to the queue waiting areas, all aspects of a person’s visit is carefully planned out and considered.  Because we went during the weekend, there was no avoiding the crowds and the line-ups.  Nonetheless, the wait for some of the rides was so much more tolerable when the queue area was made to be part of the ride experience like the Amazing Adventures of Spider Man ride where the queue takes you through the office of the Daily Bugle or the Transformer 3D ride where you get to watch footage clips instructing you on your ‘mission’.

Marketing Take-Away: Think about your customer’s experience from the beginning to end and find ways to make the process more enjoyable for them.  Identify the steps in the process that might be problematic for your customers or where you predict fall off and find ways to improve or even delight your customers!

All in the Details

One of the most memorable experiences at Universal Studios Florida was visiting the newly opened Diagon Alley! From the moment you walk through the non-descript entrance and into Diagon Alley, you’re transported into a whole new world of magic!  Everywhere you look – every sign, store front, employee was made to be part of your wizarding world experience.   For example, in the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, there were flying brooms and cauldrons if you looked up. At Ollivander’s, you were taken through a guided tour and selected audience members got to experience what Harry experienced in the first movie when he picked up his first wand.  The restaurants sold butterbeers and pumpkin juice in addition to the regular selection of sodas and juices.

Marketing Take-Away: These small details present wonderful opportunities to delight and surprise your customers when they least expect it.  These small details don’t have to take a lot of effort but can have huge impact in your overall customer satisfaction.

Integrate with Technology

When we walked in to the park, one of the employees informed us where we could go to find out more about waiting times for each of the rides.  He also told us that there was an app that we could download which would provide information like wait times directly to us through our smartphones.

Marketing Take-Away: While we didn’t download the app (we had limited access to data), Universal identified an area that could cause dissatisfaction in their attendees and found a way, using technology, to keep everyone informed.  You don’t have to build an app to keep your customers updated and informed.  Email notifications, phone calls or a web page where they can check job status can also be ways to keep customers happy.


The basic admission will only grant you access to the park.  While you’re free to go on all the rides, you have to line-up.  Depending on the season or day of the week, lines have been know to take over 5 hours!  If you wanted to avoid line-ups or cut your waiting time, there is an option to purchase an Express Pass which would put you in the priority line.

Marketing Take-Away: You want to make sure your products and services are open to everyone (or as inclusive as they can be) but consider reserving premium services, add-ons or exclusive experiences for those that are willing to pay more.  The exclusivity can also help you create value for your services. The decision to pay more remains with the customers and those that decide it is worthwhile to pay more, will.

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New Orleans: A City with Personality

I’ve probably said this a few times already on this blog – but I absolutely loved New Orleans!  It is such a vibrant city and a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, hip and traditional – classic but with a twist.  There is so much personality everywhere you go – case in point here. We were taking a stroll around the Warehouse district when we spotted these street signs:

I loved these little street banners because they are a symbol (however small they may be) of the wit, humour and eccentricity that is New Orleans.  To me, they were a sign of how the city differentiates and brands itself – which got me thinking about Travel and Tourism Advertising.

Travel and Tourism Advertising is an area that I am highly interested in as it combines two of my biggest passions.  The concept of promoting a destination has stayed the same for years but the tactics have certainly changed dramatically!  People are no longer relying on magazines and catalogues – I remember having to request ahead of time, travel catalogues from the places I wanted to visit and having to wait patiently for them to arrive by mail (snail mail, that is).  Today’s travellers are on the web – from the research stage all the way to the booking stage.  And when they are doing their research from the privacy of their own computers – how do you leave an impression and compel them to visit?

I can say that I was in love with New Orleans – even before I got there!

The official New Orleans Tourism website (while a bit dated in its design) is packed with useful information.  From where to eat to what to do, the site is full of useful information for you regardless of what time of year you choose to visit.  There were itineraries based on your interests, budgets and even your age.  This of course, is very typical of tourism websites.

What impressed me more were their efforts offsite.  They were very active on social media, using the hashtag #FollowYourNola to help visitors discover local favourites.  During my research, I also discovered that New Orleans had commissioned several travel bloggers to visit the city and to share their experiences on their blogs with their readers.  The quality of the bloggers was impressive.  I read the blogs and didn’t even mind seeing the disclaimer at the end.  The bloggers shared beautiful photos, off the beaten path activities and customized to-do lists and I genuinely appreciated their efforts in offering authentic recommendations.

For a city that has so much to offer, I think they are doing a pretty grand job getting the word out.  I loved New Orleans – and can’t wait to go back again some day to visit.

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I Spy…Microsoft Cloud Advertising in Chicago Airport

The Chicago O’ Hare International Airport is usually not my top choice when I have to transit through the States.  The chaos from day to night, the masses of people, the line ups and the waiting – the thought of going through O’ Hare definitely has the ability to make my heart to skip a beat (or two).

On my last trip to New Orleans, I had a 7 hour layover in Chicago.  7 hours is a long time to be stuck in an airport – nothing compared to Viktor Navorski aka Tom Hanks in The Terminal of course but still plenty of time for me to roam around and get lost in airport advertising.  I was stuck in Terminal C for the most part and the ads that caught my eye were the big banners by Microsoft.

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

Microsoft Cloud Advertising

These banners were quite big and were hung high up above the security exits.  The colours were striking and immediately caught my attention even amidst the chaos that is O’ Hare!

Cloud computing has been gaining in popularity in recent times.  Microsoft has maintained a strong hold on enterprise solutions for businesses (true for US and Canada) and these ads were intended to solidify or more likely, introduce Microsoft as a cloud solutions provider to business people and IT professionals.

After some digging, I found the corresponding URL for this Microsoft Cloud campaign.  I was surprised to learn that each ad featured a real client success story that was centred around the Microsoft Cloud services. Above, the first ad was actually about how the cloud helped the Lotus F1 team win the race.  The second is a story of how the City of Barcelona used various Cloud services to run one of the biggest festivals in the city with over 1.5 million guests. The 2 stories together showcases how these real life Microsoft clients were able to utilize the suite of products to their benefit.

Here is the corresponding video for the second ad:

This was an interesting campaign for me to look into.  Seeing the ads peaked my curiosity but when I looked up the site – I was given the big picture and I was surprised at how well Microsoft was able to present their solution and products.  The site itself is well laid out – interactive with many videos to help explain the ‘complex’ ideas behind cloud computing, and when you’re ready for more information, you can dig deeper where you will find more case studies and real life examples.  Finally, when you are ready to share your findings with your team – Microsoft makes it easy for you to share by making a White Paper available for download and email link right from their page.

I have to say – I was pleasantly surprised!


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Living Adventurously

I just wanna go on more adventures. Be around good energy. Connect with people. Learn new things. Grow.

I took a few days off from work last week to visit the lovely city of New Orleans.  The city was magical – and so many different things all at once, it is so hard to describe!  Old, mixed in with the new.  Lively and yet, slow paced.  Elegant and hip.  What an amazing few days I had having my fill of crawfish, oysters, live jazz and sun on my skin!!

I love to travel.  Since moving back to Canada and settling back into real ‘grown-up’ life, my life has been much more grounded… as in ‘no flying’ kind of grounded.  But when I do get to go away for a few days, I always come back feeling more inspired.  The change in environment and routine is always welcomed and sometimes – that is what’s necessary to help me refresh and recharge.  Seeing and experiencing new things always inspires new perspectives in me – and what’s more valuable in life than growth?

I can’t wait to write more about my trip and to share the marketing ideas that the trip inspired!  I have started a new section on the site dedicated to the advertising and marketing I’ve seen during my travels.  A marketing nerd is a marketing nerd anywhere and when I travel, I find that I am especially sensitive to all the advertising that I see!   Check out the section above under “Around the World”. Stay tuned for more!

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