Roughly 2,500 posts later, I can confirm that business is, indeed, good. And, yes, part of that success can be attributed to this blog…just as some comes from our monthly e-newsletter and word of mouth from our friends and clients in the Destination Marketing sector.
But, that’s not why I have continued to blog while he and so many of my friends have slowed or altogether abandoned their foray into the platform. I know it might sound corny and contrived…but it really is because of you, the reader, that I offer up my thoughts to both industry colleagues, friends and passerbys.
Your “likes” when the blog posts most mornings on Facebook and the conversations in which we engage when you comment are what powers me forward, constantly looking for the cool, the inane and the simply wrong around us.
I may not have the following of a Jay Baer, Lefsetz or Seth Godin…but my followers mean the world to me. And, it thrills me that we can inject a subtly subversive viewpoint, from time to time, into the increasingly meaningful discourse on Destination Marketing…the nation and the world.
Thanks for being part of this journey…and here’s to the next 10.
Frankly, after watching the fallout over Washington's short-lived campaign, I'm somewhat surprised that Diane Shober and her intrepid crew at the Wyoming Office of Tourism would have ventured down a similar path. But, that's why she's one of the best.
From the first riff, I'm hearing the primary chord progression from a little known performer named Tommy Faragher, whose claim to fame was a Grammy nomination for some of the best tracks in John Travolta's follow-up to Saturday Night Fever, called Staying Alive. The track is "Look Out for Number One," and is worthy, not just as my proof to the lift but, because it's a fun trip back to see a 30-year younger Travolta.
The cookies, tags and pixels that marketers use to track online behavior can be a pretty sensational way to remind a potential customer that they stumbled upon (or were actively researching) your product, service or experience. We've all been served up ads from companies and destinations the day after visiting their site. Sometimes it's a welcome reminder. Sometimes not.
Etsy falls into the "not" category. Two years ago, I researched and purchased a hand-painted mailbox as a Christmas present. And, every couple of days since (for two years, now), I have received an e-mail showing me more hand-painted mailboxes.
Now...Etsy knows that I purchased a hand-painted mailbox either for myself or as a gift. And, unless Etsy believes I have a hand-painted mailbox fetish (which is less likely than me purchasing one for myself or a friend) or live in a neighborhood where mailboxes often fall prey to baseball bats and M80s, one would think that Etsy would start serving up something besides hand-painted mailboxes. N'est-ce pas?
A little information in the wrong hands, my friends, is a terrible thing to waste...as you can see from the selection I was served up the other day (click image to enlarge).
They are clearly smart enough to know I once showed an interest in a product...but not smart enough to avoid pissing me off every other day.
We always chuckle when someone opines that a particular market isn't big enough to pursue. Because, when we hear that, we instantly think of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by ski destinations and resorts on an activity in which only 4% of Americans participate.
Here's a new number: 19. That's the percent of Americans that used a Travel Agent last year. Yeah, one in five.
Not that such an announcement was a surprise. But, when 62% of Americans want a different choice than the one the media has foisted upon them, isn't that enough reason to add additional candidates for our consideration?
And, lest anybody suggest that adding Johnson to the stage is akin to the media pushing its own agenda for a better, more interesting storyline, isn't that how we got here in the first place? The media's inane coverage of a candidate so fully not qualified to become President that they have to be scrambling for a do over to save face?
It's time for the media (and its advertising sponsors) to attempt to redeem itself and provide Gary Johnson a level of visibility in this embarrassing moment in American history.
If he truly represents the viewpoint of only a sliver of the American people, what would be the harm? Taking twenty minutes away from candidates whose positions we already know and would only be repeated?
If, after seeing him debate, his numbers skyrocket, what could be the harm? Maybe Americans could be persuaded that the system isn't rigged against them (though most still know better.)
This weekend, Farm Aid comes to Prince William County VA. I'm just back from there, kicking myself for not having extended my trip to catch the concert on Saturday. But, when Farm Aid marketing (which I get in my inbox every month) said this year's concert would be in Bristow VA, it never dawned on me that the concert venue was just a few miles from destinations I would recognize (like Manassas and Prince William County). Thus, once again, unsophisticated marketing costs promoters my dollars.
But, that's beside the point.
While I was in-market, I asked a Millennial if he was planning to attend Farm Aid. He thought it was just a fundraiser for farmers...which it is, of course. But, he had absolutely no idea that Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, Neil Young and a slew of other performers would be there. Thus, once again, unsophisticated marketing costs promoters (and farmers) resident dollars.
But, that's beside the point.
On this Music Friday, we honor the heritage of Farm Aid with one of the songs that started the movement.
Philadelphia is one of a small handful of cities that maintain two Destination Marketing Organizations...one focused on Groups (Meetings, Conventions, Tournaments, etc.) and one on the Leisure Travel Market.
The latter agency, called Visit Philadelphia, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a video that shares the credit for the destination's success with the residents of Philadelphia. Weaving it's best campaigns from the past two decades with scenes of Philadelphians loving life, the result is a powerful statement that both celebrates and drives home relevance.
The U.S. propaganda machine has always painted the condition of workers in Communist countries as bleak, back-breaking work in horrid conditions and without protection of civil rights. Never having spent time in a Communist country, I can't comment on whether that image is true...but, there has to be a kernel of truth for any lie to gain traction.
A new study by Google Consumer Research indicates that half of Americans took no time off the summer. And, Project Timeoff suggests that, if there was a nationally mandated minimum for vacation time for the American worker, 1.2 million new jobs would be developed, generating $21 billion in new tax revenue.
But, noooo. America is only one of two industrialized nations in the world without such a policy.
As the first college freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy, when "Johnny Football" stepped out of that limo at the 2014 NFL draft, making that childish money sign with his hands, we all should have known he wasn't mature enough for this to go well.
Just back (and I mean JUST back...like within 18 hours of check-out) from a conference, and I receive an e-mail survey from my hotel, asking about my experience. Which is great, as I love their interest in getting my reaction to the experience before I begin to forget.
But, some of the questions are just idiotic.
Have you told anybody about your experience? Who am I gonna tell in 18 hours (8 of which were just spent sleeping)? The shuttle driver? The gate agent at the airport? My seat meat on the plane? Terri?
But, that's not the dumbest question. The survey goes on to ask whether the hotel and staff exceeded my expectations on a 5 point scale with 3 being "met expectations."
This is possibly the most useless question that any business can ask because there is absolutely no frame of reference.
The hotel is clearly hoping for a "5" on all aspects of my stay. And, if I stayed in two or three hotels a year, I might given them those coveted "5s." But, I stay in a lot of hotels. And, while my stay was quite nice, thank you...it was expected. Thus, I answered the survey with "3s," which will probably make somebody at corporate nuts.
But, my "3s" are like a virgin's "5." Except, there's no way for them to know that because they didn't bother to ask a qualifying question to better understand to whom they were talking. Thus, the answers they harvest mean nothing.
It is sadly rare when someone from outside the destination marketing sector can actually see, understand and articulate what we attempt to accomplish for our respective communities each and every day.
And, like when one experiences insanely great customer service and can't wait to tell everyone they know, I'm urging everyone to read this editorial by Marshall Helmberger of the Timberjay newspapers in Northern Minnesota.
He absolutely nails why tourism is more than heads in beds, seasonal jobs and marginal wages.
If only other members of the media could possess as sophisticated a view of what really matters in our communities.
Located in Northern Wisconsin, Minocqua is a tourist town. And, while some of my favorite experiences and events "up nort" have come after the crowds have departed, this town is packed with visitors all summer long.