Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

By Bonnie Knutson Professor, The School of Hospitality Business/MSU | April 08, 2018

To begin my workshops or seminars on consumer lifestyle trends, I often give the attendees a thousand dollars (in Monopoly money, of course) and ask everyone what they would do with it.  Would they go out for dinner? Spend it on a weekend getaway?  Get the iPhone X?  Donate it to charity?  Save it?  Or give it to their kids?

What is always interesting to me and to everyone else is that no two people would use the money in exactly the same way.  And there are little, if any, similarities in spending patterns based on age, gender, income, education, travel patterns or any of the other standard demographic criterion that we commonly use to segment our travel markets. 

But aren't demographics how we tend to segment our guests? The older folks want this.  The Baby Boomers, want that.  And the Millennials want – well, some folks think they want everything.  Even gender differences, rooted in the old axioms that men are hunters and women are gatherers, or that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, are blurring when it comes to what drives consumer behavior.  In other words, demographics don't seem to help us effectively understand how to engage (i.e. market to) the traveling public anymore.  They did 20 or 30 years ago, but not anymore.  Those days are over. 

So if demographics aren't the key, what is?

The answer is emotions.

This truism was recently brought front and center in an online report from Brand Keys.   The article points out what marketers instinctively have known for a long time now:  People buy with their heart and justify with their head.  Perhaps noted neurologist Donald Caine said it best:  The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions."  In other words, it is increasingly being acknowledged that people respond more to emotional marketing than to rational information when deciding what to buy or where to buy it.  Think about memorable Super bowl commercials that moved people throughout the years.  Coca Cola's Mean Joe Green.  Budweiser's Clydesdale Horses.  Or the 2018 Dorito's Blaze commercial with Morgan Freeman.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.