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Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 in Digital Industry News

Generation Z. Who Are They, and Why Do They Have So Much Money?

Mary Grace Cooney was one of two MDS 2017 summer interns. During her time with us, we challenged her to write a blog post about content that she learned while working with our team.

Look alive – Generation Z is here. Spanning ages 7-20, these technology masterminds are revolutionizing the way businesses need to advertise, which constantly keeps the travel industry on its toes. Gen Zers are generally seen as globally conscious individuals who have a major impact on what money is spent on, and how it is done. The mindset of the Gen Zer is everchanging, making it challenging for the travel industry to stay ahead of the game and create lifelong loyalty members from a young age. Let’s take a look at how the industry can keep up with the superpower known as Generation Z.

Who exactly is Generation Z and what is the group’s purchasing power? Let’s break it down. According to Uniquely Generation Z, a study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, a Gen Zer is, “someone who was born in the mid-1990s or beyond, and estimated to be between 2 billion and 2.52 billion strong. Self-reliant digital natives, they socialize, learn, and have fun living in a fluid digital world – one in which the boundaries between their online and offline lives are nearly indistinguishable.”¹ To put it simply, purchasing power is the ability to buy goods and services with money. Purchasing power can also be seen in the form of influencing purchases, which Gen Zers do a great deal of.

Generation Z(Image Source: IBM)

As shown above, Gen Zers spend a lot of time online, but they also spend a great deal of time hanging out with friends and family, actually stepping away from their screens for a bit. Socializing is at the forefront of their daily thoughts, so it is important for companies to design products that give Gen Zers something to talk about. According to the CMO of Home and Lifestyle, “They [Generation Z] are ‘always on’ and expect everything to be available ‘on-demand’ because they are used to having everything at their fingertips 24/7.”¹

What Generation Z Cares About(Image Source: IBM)

It is crucial for companies to conceptualize the chart above. Yes, Gen Zers have this purchasing power, but will they spend it on your goods and services? As shown, almost half of the surveyed individuals care about what their peers think, as well as trying to stay as eco-friendly as possible when purchasing. Take Amazon, for example, who does a fantastic job of appealing to Generation Z. Their business model is one of the best at capitalizing on efficiency. It is rare for Amazon to sell out of an item or delay shipping, even on their ever-popular Prime Day. In fact, they are so efficient, they now can get items to your doorstep within one or two hours. If that doesn’t scream the instant gratification that Gen Zers long for, then what does? Hotels can capitalize on this speed and use it to their advantage when assisting Gen Zers. Marriott is beginning to incorporate “speedy technology” that greatly appeals to Gen Zers, such as mobile check-in and digital room keys. This is a great start, and will only improve from here on out.

Although some Gen Zers have limited monetary spending power, they usually have an enormous influence over purchases made by their families. In 2015, Gen Zers spent a mountainous $829.5 billion USD.2 A lot of this can be contributed to the age difference seen in households. Gen Zers grew up in the digital age, unlike their parents and grandparents. According to a press release put out by MarketWired, “Gen Z, tweens/teens carry significant influence on household purchases than previous generations. Ninety-three percent say their children have at least some influence on their family’s spending and household purchases.”3 The teens and tweens of this generation influence the buying of everything from food and beverage, to bigger-ticket items such as travel, and everything in between. According to VisionCritical, 86% of Gen Z’ers prefer to stay in hotels. Staying relevant in the eyes of a Gen Zer by appealing to their likes and interests is a great way to make sure you become their go-to hotel. These individuals have a vital influence on their families’ decision to travel, and have ever-changing preferences. It has been said that Gen Zers growing up in the digital age want a good story and are won over by video. It is crucial to “sell” Gen Zers the experience that your hotel can offer them, assuring them that you are worth their time. The chart below illustrates what Gen Zers spend their money on and how they influence the spending of money by their families.

Generation Z Influencers(Image Source: IBM)

According to IBM’s study, over 75% of Gen Zers spend at least half, if not more, of their monthly income on clothes, food and technology, among other things. Where does this money come from? Although a lot of it stems from allowances and gifts, a quarter of Gen Zers seek out jobs and ways to make money online. They are a forward-thinking generation and use this to their benefit. Being able to use and create innovative technologies propel these teens into entrepreneurial masterminds with endless possibilities at their fingertips. The hotel digital experience must be nothing short of consistent eye-opening interactions to ultimately hook Gen Zers and reel them in. Some examples of this can be seen in recent efforts done in Marriott’s Innovation Lab Hotel.

As Generation Z matures, so will their lifestyle and behavioral decisions. Marriage, entering the workforce and purchasing a home are only a few of the factors that are bound to increase the purchasing power that Generation Z holds. As far as businesses are concerned, Gen Z is a spending force to be reckoned that has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Generation Z loves to feel appreciated and special, and it’s up to hotels to make them feel that way. They have nothing but options to exercise, and the ability to make decisions that not only affect them, but those around them.

1 http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/gen-z-and-gen-alpha-infographic-update

http://www.nextgeneration.ie/generation-x-vs-y-vs-z-workplace-edition/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/generation-gap-workplace-its-effect-organizational-asad-ur-rehman

2 https://www.fungglobalretailtech.com/press-releases/gen-z-to-be-most-image-conscious-demanding-consumers-in-history-says-new-fung-global-retail-technology-report/

3 https://finance.yahoo.com/news/deep-focus-cassandra-report-gen-151500647.html 

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Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Digital Industry News

George Corbin Shares How to Get Ahead – In Life and Business

George Corbin, former Senior Vice President, Marriott Digital, recently shared some inspiring advice about life and career development with Marriott’s digital team. Watch the video to learn what is the most important question to ask and which word limits companies and careers.

“Your true lasting impact is what you did for other people. How you made them feel. What you enabled them to do. Those are the ripples that change lives. Those are the ones that last.” Statements like this not only reveal George’s leadership style but also reflect Marriott’s corporate culture well.

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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Digital Industry News

Amazon Enters the Calling and Texting Battlefield

On May 10th 2017, Amazon announced that they were rolling out a new feature for their digital personal assistant, Alexa – free calls and texts between users of Amazon Echo devices.

While it is not the first time that Amazon is trying to penetrate a new market, or create one, this is a complicated one to enter. They have tried to join the travel industry, but did not succeed. They have also been pioneers in drone delivery, and I would not be surprised to see it become the norm in a few years. Amazon was also part of the firsts to join the digital personal assistant race with their Alexa product, which they keep improving at a very fast pace.

What is Alexa?

Alexa is the name Amazon gave to its voice-commanded digital personal assistant, which people interact with through the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Tap or Echo view devices.

You may have read my post about Chatbots; Alexa is a very powerful and sophisticated Chatbot. While commands are still a little strict (not yet a fluid conversation), you can have fun: if you tell her “Alexa, see you later, alligator” she WILL reply, “in a while crocodile!”

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot (Image Source: Amazon)

Alexa can do a wide variety of tasks, from setting up a timer, to playing your favorite song, reading the news, telling you a joke, turning on the lights, playing games or even ordering from your Amazon account the latest item you need. All of this by simply talking to the device.

Amazon allows developers to build Alexa capabilities in a similar way to how they would develop apps for iPhone or Android; allowing the world to create capabilities for their devices, providing scale instantly.

And now, they even allow you to call and text through Alexa!

So why does it matter that they offer calling + texting functionalities?

With approximately 65 million Amazon Prime users (paid subscription to get free deliveries, access to music and films plus more) and an overall estimated 300 million users in total, Amazon is a gigantic ecosystem of its own. When rolling out new features, Amazon instantly touchs hundreds of millions of people; similar to Facebook or Google rolling out a new feature.

The battlefield for calling and texting is crowded however, with very large players already heavily in it such as Facebook with both WhatsApp and Messenger, Apple with iMessage, Microsoft with Skype, the Japanese platform Line and many others.

With approximately 4.9 billion mobile users across the world (WeAreSocial + Hootsuite 2017 report) the opportunity to attract and retain users – and then monetize the relationship one way or another – is gigantic.

By offering this new service, Amazon is trying to take a piece of this pot, getting deeper in day-to-day lives, gathering more data and knowledge about their user’s habits which they can then aggregate into insights for the advertisers on their platform allowing for more personalized experiences and recommendations.

The more actions you can do in one ecosystem, the fewer things you have to get into another ecosystem to get done. When Amazon allows you to seamlessly make lists, order items online and listen to the news, that’s a wide array of other third party apps and systems they have now rendered useless.

By allowing users to call and text, they are – to some extent – replacing your need for a smartphone.

How is this applicable to the hotel industry?

Marriott International is a pioneer in the technology actually, always looking into creative ways to integrate technology in their hotel rooms. Currently Marriott is testing multiple variations in a few hotels, enabling guests to request services, manage their room (lights, tv, etc.), and learn about the local area through voice commands, talking with Alexa.

Wynn Hotels also jumped into it, and already offer it across all their rooms in Las Vegas.

Thinking about the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if brands and marketers start leveraging voice-command digital personal assistants more heavily to answer customer needs and enabling faster/more efficient service for all of a guest’s little requests. True luxury will always require a human touch in my mind, but where applicable, technology will take a larger part in the coming years.

As voice-commanded digital assistants become the norm in households, a guest’s expectation will be to experience this in his/her hotel room. Now whether it’s an Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Siri-enabled iPad or another player yet to come, only time will tell.

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Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in All Matters SEO, Digital Industry News

How to Maximize Your Hotel Special Offers

Special offers are a key component in driving traffic and direct bookings back to your hotel website. But with so many different brands and hotels offering similar deals and packages, how do you make yours stand out amongst the bunch and ultimately get your customer to convert?

Sell an experience

When searching for hotel deals and offers, customers are usually more focused on their travel experience as opposed to just the room itself. So what exactly are travel shoppers looking for? Besides wanting to save money, online shoppers are looking for an offer they can’t refuse. So give them exactly that and make it only available by booking direct. And with packages that aren’t tied to a percentage offer, try and focus on the human element around the offer experience and how it will enhance the buyer’s time on property, rather than just the savings. Keeping your hotel story in mind when creating a special offer is essential in order to create an authentic connection with your consumer. When it comes to design and copy, don’t forget the basics like great images and photography, catchy but concise headlines, descriptions with important keywords, terms and conditions, and a clear and prominent call-to-action. Does your hotel have a renowned restaurant or amazing spa? Determine your hotel’s unique features and use these as a selling point within your offer. These can really lend themselves to certain guest segments who are looking for particular offer experiences around spa, golf and more.

Marriott Offer Example

(Image Source: Delta Hotels Edmonton South Conference Centre)

Using visual story telling within your merchandising

It’s important to not only ensure that your homepage is visually rich, but that your special offers are, too. Take a page out of retailer’s books; 41% of retailers said site merchandising was a leading priority for their digital business in 2016. In order to do this, try to use descriptive storytelling text to add context to your website and promotions that include details about your rooms, offer amenities and unique features. Additionally, over 90% of consumers say enticing visuals are the most important factor in their purchasing decision. So when possible, try and convey your offer story visually through your property images rather than just generic stock photography. And last but not least, make your special offers easy to find on your hotel website by utilizing homepage messages and other onsite merchandising tactics.

Mobile matters

Ensuring your special offer landing page is easy to navigate and optimized for every device is crucial getting the end user to convert. Here are some quick stats to prove this point:

  • If your landing page isn’t optimized for mobile, it will be abandoned by 40% of mobile visitors who will look for another result
  • 66% of e-commerce time is being spent on smartphones
  • 6% of consumers will delete emails if they don’t look good on mobile
  • 45% of consumers have unsubscribed from promotional emails because the emails or website didn’t work well on their smartphone
  • In 2017, almost 60% of traveling bookings in the US will be done on a mobile device

Having a mobile responsive website, as well as mobile optimized special offers pages, are essential for a seamless experience across all devices.

Email and third party merchandising

Contrary to popular belief, email is not dead. In terms of ROI, email typically outperforms social media and paid search. And because it is generally one of the most cost effective choices compared to other digital marketing tactics, it’s a great tool in pushing out your special offers while driving direct bookings. With email marketing, try and plan your deals content two months out from launch during peak seasons. If you’re participating in a paid business account with third parties such as Trip Advisor, Yelp, Trivago, etc., make sure you are taking advantage of their special offer placements and refreshing them on a regular basis to avoid offer fatigue and to cater different offers around seasonality. Paid social campaigns are also a relatively inexpensive option for promoting special offers. And effective promotions stand out on social media by incorporating a hotel’s story rather than just around a generic discount. Creating a sense of urgency and exclusiveness, beautiful imagery and a strong call to action will set you up for success in this channel as well as across your hotel website.

So there you have it! Keep these best practices and strategies in mind and your special offers will be set up for conversion success. And check out some of these additional resources:

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Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in All Matters SEO, Digital Industry News, Social Media

Content Marketing: 20 Mind-Blowing Facts

Creating Content

(Image Source: Death to the Stock Photo)

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Whether it be blog posts, infographics, pieces of micro content, videos or social media content – all forms of content marketing could potentially have a place in your marketing strategy depending on your specific digital goals. Here at Digital Services, we offer a wide array of content marketing tactics.

When considering how to spend your hotel’s budget, consider the following 20 content facts:

Visual

  1. 65% of all people are considered to be “visual learners” – make sure you’re capturing their attention
  2. By 2019, content marketing as an industry is expected to generate $300 billion
  3. A study conducted by 3M found that the human brain processes images 60,000 times quicker than text
  4. On social media sites, infographics are both Liked and shared three times more than any other type of content
  5. About 10% of information that is spoken and heard by a listener will be remembered. However, if the same information is accompanied by a stunning visual or image, remembrance rate increases to 65%
  6. According to this research, the average consumer only looks at a resource for 122 seconds (2 minutes, 2 seconds) and only takes in 53% of the information provided. However, the average human attention span is only 8 seconds

Strategy

  1. A recent 2015 study from IBM Digital Experience Survey found that 56% of marketers believe higher engagement rates are tied to personalized content
  2. How does your strategy match up? On average, marketers are using about 13 different types of content marketing tactics throughout the year including infographics (67%), videos (79%), blogs (81%) and social media content (93%)
  3. As long as the content isn’t perceived as “too salesy” or “too pushy,” 74% of viewers are reported to trust educational content
  4. Is your content mobile friendly? 60% of consumers report starting a travel search on their smart phone or mobile device

Video

  1. 90% of viewers say that watching a video is helpful during the decision making and buying process
  2. YouTube boasts that mobile video consumption increases by 100% yearly
  3. Including a video in an email campaign can boost click-through rate by anywhere from 200-300%
  4. Watching videos accounts for 1/3 of all activity that happens online
  5. After about 1 minute, only 5% of viewers will either stop watching or navigate away from a video. After about 2 minutes, that number increases to 60%

Social

  1. Social media content importance continues to grow. There are more than 3 billion active social media users around the globe and more than 65 billion active social media accounts worldwide
  2. The popular photo sharing site, Instagram, has about 400 million users. 60% of those users report having learned about a product through Instagram
  3. On average, businesses that maintain an active, regular and engaging blog generate 67% more leads
  4. After seeing positive reviews, comments and posts on social media, 57% of consumers report being swayed or influenced to think more optimistically about a business
  5. Are you measuring the right metrics for your goals? For 2016, 80% of marketers have identified social media engagement (aka Likes, shares, comments, etc.) as the most important success gauge, followed by 61% citing audience size and 56% citing site traffic

Given the multitude of facts and research conducted, it’s no wonder that so many individuals have chosen to engage in some form of content marketing for their businesses. Discuss your hotel’s particular goals with your Client Services Manager; we can help you navigate the content marketing waters and select the right tactics for you. Be it an infographic or micro content creation, video or photography guidance or social media strategy and outreach, Digital Services has you covered.

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