Friday, July 22, 2011

The decision making cycle of connected consumers

Brian Solis released recently (in his Flickr page) the above graph describing the decision making cycle of connected consumers. As he admits, the graph is influenced by the McKinsey's Consumer Decision Journey and of course by his own work. Solis said that this graph belongs to a chapter in his forthcoming book "The end of business as usual: Rewire the way you work to succeed in the consumer revolution"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Honoured to offer my knowledge and services to Bournemouth University's Digital Hub

The Digital Hub, an initiative by Dr Philip Alford, is an emerging centre which brings together the skills and knowledge of Bournemouth University academics that have expertise in digital media and innovative technology, providing a one-stop point of contact for research-led enterprise. The spirit of the centre is to work without barriers, in inter-departmental synergy, creating, using, and passing on knowledge for the benefit of all those we work with: students, businesses, our staff, government and many more. The Digital Hub offers a range of services drawing on the skills, experience, research and consulting work undertaken by academics at Bournemouth University (BU). The team consists of staff members from the School of Tourism, the School of Design, Engineering & Computing (DEC), the Media School and the Business School, sharing skills in Cloud Computing, Digital Marketing, Eyetracking, Geographic Information System (GIS) and Social Enterprise. The wealth of knowledge and expertise at BU provide business solutions through The Digital Hub online gateway and they are available to local, national and international businesses. The centre allows easy access to details of BU consulting services, online content advice, funding opportunities (including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships), training, seminars, conferences, Continuing Professional Development (CPD), e-learning, digital consumer profiling, usability testing, online advertising and more.  The Digital Hub services include: Cloud Computing, Geographic Information System (GIS), Market Intelligence, Social Enterprise, Digital Marketing, Process Improvement, Computer Animation, Eye Tracking, Continuing Professional Development (CPD), Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP), Training, and E-Learning. For more information about the Digital Hub, and how we can assist your business to gain competitive edge in digital media and innovative technology applications please contact Dr Philip Alford at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Skyscanner launches flight search within Facebook

Story from

"Flight comparison site Skyscanner has launched a way of finding flights via Facebook.

The new ‘Skyscanner for Facebook’ tool allows Facebook users to post a flight request on Skyscanner’s Wall and receive a price quote and flight details back in seconds.

The tool has been created specifically for Facebook functionality, which means there is no need to navigate away from the Facebook site or install any apps.

Users simply ‘like’ the Skyscanner page to use the tool.

The post also includes a link to the flight details on the main Skyscanner site, from where flights can be booked or options filtered.

The service uses ‘free text’ technology that means customers don’t have to select pre-set dates or destinations.

TravelMole tested the site and it did, indeed, come back with a response within a minute.

For example, the Mole posted “Gatwick to Amsterdam, July 29" and within seconds Skyscanner Flight Search had emailed back with a link to flight options, including £121 Cheapest direct (easyJet) £135 Cheapest indirect (British Airways, easyJet) £140 Shortest (1 hour 10 minutes out, 1 hour back).
It included a link to all 126 results and a link to click for further searches.

Even if customers don’t have specific dates, they can enter “Manchester to Malaga in August” to request a quote for the cheapest flights in that month.

Skyscanner director of sales and marketing Frank Skivington said: “Travel companies are starting to realise that there is more to Facebook than collecting fans, and we’re proud to have developed a pioneering tool for members that has been created with Facebook users in mind.”

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ebookers Explorer iPad app claims to be the 'first social media travel guide'

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Five secrets for social media success from Sofitel

As it appeared in
Following a comprehensive study by PhoCusWright, the travel industry's esteemed research authority, Sofitel Luxury Hotels, in partnership with Travel Spike is proud to announce the details of their successful social media strategy for their nine properties in North America. The report focuses on the best practices for hoteliers to build a quality and relevant following on important social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  While many companies focus solely on numbers, Sofitel has implemented a plan that drives targeted repeat customers to their social media sites on a daily basis.

The following are several Facebook/Twitter- tips for hoteliers to consider, that have been proven effective by Travel Spike, on behalf of Sofitel building a strong presence within the social media realm:
Tip #1 - Appoint a social media coordinator for each property. This person will be the eyes and ears to what is happening on the property level, including sharing specials at the spa or menu changes at the restaurant.   They will coordinate with sales, marketing, weddings, meetings & events and the concierge to share the updates so their social media team can get the message out.
Tip #2 - Be authentic! Customers don't want to read updates that sound like a robot has written them. Sofitel is a unique upscale brand known for its stellar service and French style, so the social media updates stay true to the product.
Tip #3 - Target your demographics.  For Sofitel, targeting discerning travelers and gourmet diners remains a top priority.
Tip #4 - Sprinkle in local events.  Show off your concierge skills by becoming the local inside source for events, parties and festivals. Sofitel Los Angeles, for example, tweeted live from their recent Golden Globe Gifting Suite.
Tip #5 -Engage with your audience, don't just sell. The quickest way to lose a consumer is to ‘bang them over the head' with product information.  Sofitel Washington DC, for example, asked their Facebook fans what DC tips they would like to receive - consumers responded that they wanted to hear more about museums, family travel, luxury dining & romantic tips for couples.
The results speak for themselves as within a year, Sofitel went from 1,000 'random' followers on Twitter to over 28,000 ‘quality' travelers.

"We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious travel research firm such as PhoCusWright," said Director of Marketing," Gabriela Navejas, "Sofitel looks forward to strengthening our social media platforms with our travel partner, Travel Spike, by providing fresh content and exclusive offers to our growing online audience."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How antisocial are social media during holidays?

As per press release via PRNewswire (March 14, 2011)

Antisocial Media: iPad Madness Causing Holiday Sadness?

The age of antisocial media is upon us. A recent online survey, conducted by YouGov, revealed that 30% of UK holidaymakers who use a portable multimedia device update their Facebook status when on holiday, while 26% check their social feeds and 8% tweet (of those holidaymakers updating Facebook, women are busiest: 35% compared to 25% of men). Even more startlingly, 48% of the holidaymaking technology generation (those aged 16-24) use their devices to update their Facebook status when on holiday, while 43% check social feeds and 19% tweet. 

These figures underline the notion that we are quite literally incapable of switching off from social media, as we become increasingly interconnected.
The iPad 2 launches today; will this increase the trend in antisocial media whilst on holiday?
The survey revealed that only 2% of people currently use an iPad in the UK, which is surprising given the hype surrounding the product's launch.
Given that the iPad is a portable multimedia device, its usage whilst on holiday is expected to increase as it gives the user the capability to stay connected and be entertained whilst away from home. This 
increase is most likely to affect the way full time workers interact with their devices whilst on holiday.

Full time workers have many uses for their devices whilst on holiday, but use such devices mainly for emails (61%). The antisocial media trend is also highlighted -this group is not just working on holiday, they are also connecting socially with their devices. 28% of full time workers say their device usage, whilst on holiday, is geared towards checking their social feeds (Twitter, Facebook newsfeeds etc.) with a further 32% using their devices on holiday to update their Facebook status. This begs the question; do we ever really switch off on holiday?The iPad would provide the perfect platform for workers to regularly satisfy their social and working and entertainment needs (watching movies, playing games etc.) whilst on holiday.

The trend of antisocial media becomes clearer when studied across a wider range of devices. The percentages of smartphone users who keep using their device while on holiday are as follows:

- 88% Apple iPhone
- 79% Android
- 85% Blackberry
- 86% Symbian phone (Nokia)

James Street, co-founder commented: "My dream holiday is one without my phone, laptop and iPad so I can completely switch off, relax and enjoy myself. Unfortunately it remains a dream. There's nothing more antisocial than only having someone's partial attention while they check their feeds and update their status."

In addition, the overall usage figures across all devices being used while on holiday (tablets, smartphones, laptops, desktop computers and e-book readers) are as follows:

                                    Activity    Percentage

                                      Emails           61%
                                       Calls           37%
                                         SMS           39%
        Checking Social Feeds (e.g. Twitter,
                         Facebook Newsfeeds)           26%
                           News Subscription            5%
                               Reading books           18%
                              Watching films           12%
                          Listening to music           31%
                               Reading blogs            6%
                               Playing games           25%
                         Updating my blog(s)            3%
                     Facebook Status Updates           30%
                              Twitter Tweets            8%
                               Photo Sharing           15%
               Checking In (Facebook places,
                                 foursquare)           14%
             Localization (maps, local info,
                                  languages)           27%

These figures show that social media has very much become a part of the modern holiday experience, and with the new iPad 2 which became available to the public last Friday, it will be easier than ever for holidaymakers to stay connected wherever in the world they are. Whether this is cause for gladness or sadness is a debate that is only likely to intensify for years to come.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2205 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 9th March 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16+).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Live map on the phenomenal contribution of Twitter on tsunami and earthquake affected populations

The contribution of Twitter on the distribution / exchange of information regarding the recent tsunami and earthquake is expected to be phenomenal among the populations affected today.  You can witness live the huge information flow on  I am sure that Twitter and associated mapping / tweets aggregating platforms will prove today very useful to million of people around the globe. Let's hope for the best for those affected. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Social Media and the Hospitality Industry: Holding the Tiger by the Tail

The Center for Hospitality Research (School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University) just released a new report on social media and the hospitality industry, by Glenn Withiam.  To download the full report (free registration is required) click here.

Executive Summary (as published in School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University website) 

Social media present a golden opportunity for the hospitality industry to make greater contact with its customers, with an ultimate goal of developing a partnership for brand growth and development. Underlying that opportunity are the twin dangers that hospitality operators will mishandle their social media connections or that customers (and the media themselves) will move on, leaving the industry behind. So, just as hotels and some restaurants have built their websites, they now have to make sure that their site is optimized for search engines, have mobile apps, and, more to the point, keep customers involved in a conversation about the operation. Although many hotel chains have embraced mobile apps, Facebook, and other channels, others are hardly represented at all in the social media firmament. One great potential advantage of social media is that guests are willing to share information about their likes and dislikes. By using appropriate analytic methods, hoteliers can get a sense of what guests want generally and how they react to the hotel specifically. Most important right now is the development of mobile apps, since travelers expect to use their mobile devices to book rooms or other travel services on the spot. A comprehensive strategy of customer engagement will employ all social media, whether it’s Facebook or Flickr, YouTube or Twitter—or all of them, and will also help you keep an eye out for new applications and customer desires.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The 2011 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report

The World Economic Forum recently released its 2011 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report:  "Slowly recovering", and "cautious optimism" are expressions used, to describe the current status of the industry. The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report measures and analyzes the drivers of T&T competitiveness in economies around the world. In this year's report findings, Switzerland, Germany and France have the most attractive environments for developing the travel and tourism industry.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mapping the travel mind: A study by Conrad advertising

As published in a Press Release in Conrad Advertising's website:

Whilst conventional industry research tells us in general terms what media is used by travel consumers, Conrad Advertising recognised that travel marketers and advertisers need a more sophisticated understanding of the role played by different media at each stage in the consumer’s holiday planning and buying process. Which media is used and when, and which media and content influences a consumer’s choice?

When we can answer this question, we begin to understand how best to integrate conventional digital and social media into successful travel advertising strategies.

Conrad Advertising worked with YouGov and TNS Research to interview 1,340 respondents. 1,040 completed an online questionnaire and 300 were interviewed in person. The sample was designed to be representative of the general population’s age, gender and social profile and all respondents had taken an overseas holiday of at least five days in the previous twelve months.

The research produced a number of key insights including:
It challenged conventional thinking into the link between age and internet usage when planning a holiday, demonstrating that older consumers are neither more nor less likely than other age groups to use the internet. The extent of their online usage is reliant on other, social factors, an insight that has important implications for marketers targeting the ever-growing grey market.
TV, Newspapers and the Travel sections of Media websites continue to be the most used media sources of holiday ideas and inspiration, with Travel review websites and Travel company’s own websites also considered as highly trusted sources of holiday recommendations. Even so, despite the popularity of review websites, only 8% of respondents voluntarily write reviews after each holiday!
The internet was recognised as playing a key part in the planning and buying process with 70% of respondents preferring to book their holiday online. Interestingly, for a majority of Travel consumers, online search and research is used mainly for price comparison rather than convenience. With travel company websites the most mentioned source of holiday packages and offers, the role of advertising is now surely to drive targeted traffic to company websites. Response management then ensures that campaigns are optimised to maximise results.
Although Social Media is a great topic of debate amongst marketers and advertisers, it is not considered the best source of inspiration and recommendation by travel consumers, who are more likely to turn to company websites or travel review sites for ideas.

Commented Nick Henley, Media and Planning Director of Conrad Advertising: “This research is highly relevant to travel marketers and advertisers as it demonstrates the different roles played by each media type at the various stages of the travel planning and buying process. It has long been recognised that media selection and creative strategy must vary according to the consumer’s position on the path to purchase – this research provides new insight to optimise planning accordingly”.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How DMOs use social media? How they measure performance?

A very comprehensive picture (just six slides) to give a glimpse on how 100 Destination Management Organizations use social media and the social media metrics they use, through the findings of a study made by Destination Marketing Association International.
Originally posted by
Thank you abouTourism

View more presentations from abouTourism.

Tenerife uses social media to attract UK tourists

Friday, February 25, 2011

72% of U.S. hotel owners plan to respond to both positive & negative online guest reviews in 2011

On February 17th, TripAdvisor announced the findings of its first "Accommodation Owners Survey"  of more than 1,000 U.S. accommodation owners -- hoteliers, B&B owners and innkeepers -- who revealed their plans to attract travelers in 2011 and increase repeat customers.

As per the social-media related findings:

A. Responding to Online Guest Reviews in 2011
  • 72 percent will respond to both positive and negative reviews.
  • 14 percent will respond only to negative reviews.
  • 13 percent will respond only to positive reviews.
  • One percent have no plans to respond to reviews.

B. Getting Noticed Online with Photos
  • According to the survey, 10 percent of respondents said they posted 11-20 photos of each of their properties on TripAdvisor last year.
  • Many accommodation owners are planning to increase the number of photos per property in 2011, as the number of respondents planning to post 11-20 photos per property on TripAdvisor in 2011 rose to 26 percent. Still, the majority of owners (67 percent) said they will post 1-10 photos per property this year.

C. Social media budget

Most owners also appear to be embracing online engagement with consumers, as 57 percent expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year versus last year. Thirty-seven percent with social media budgets expect them to stay the same, and only six percent anticipate social media budget cuts. Meanwhile, virtually all owners surveyed (99 percent) plan to respond to online guest reviews.
Survey respondents also offered insights into a range of other hospitality industry trends, from mobile marketing to plans to implement green programs this year.

Other interesting findings include:
D. Most Accommodations Offering Free In-Room Internet Access
Accommodation owners seem to be meeting a key consumer demand—staying connected while traveling:
  • 91 percent of respondents said that they will offer in-room Internet access as a free amenity in 2011.
  • Five percent of respondents will offer in-room Internet access for a fee this year.
  • Four percent said they had no plans to offer in-room Internet access.

E. Mobile Marketing is a Growing Trend
  • 27 percent of survey respondents plan to launch programs, for the first time in 2011, to engage with travelers using mobile devices.
  • Another 27 percent indicated that they had offered such programs last year and will continue to do so this year.
  • 46 percent have no plans to offer programs to engage travelers using mobile devices in 2011.

F. Deals Owners Plan to Use Most Often This Year to Attract Guests
  • Discounts on rooms – 61%
  • Special amenities – 36%
  • Rewards points – 29%
  • Deals on nearby attractions – 23%
  • Free night's stay with booking – 16%

G. Few Planning to Charge Consumers Additional Fees
  • According to the survey, 94 percent have no plans to charge consumers additional fees for amenities.
  • Six percent, however, do plan to add fees for such items.

H. Eco-Friendly Programs on the Rise in 2011
  • 47 percent of travelers take eco-friendly factors into consideration when making travel plans.
  • Environmental concerns are also an important factor for owners, as 70 percent of survey respondents plan to offer programs in 2011 to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • By contrast, 30 percent of accommodation owners have no plans to implement such programs.

"TripAdvisor's first annual Accommodation Owners Survey suggests that the hotel industry is still being affected by a slow economy, as the majority of respondents don't foresee room rate increases this year," said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. "Yet, savvy hoteliers are attempting to stand apart from the crowd by embracing social media, launching mobile marketing features and offering the programs consumers demand most."
Source: TripAdvisor 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 25 Online Travel Marketing and PR Influencers

Although the KLOUT influence score system has received some criticism, it is still considered by many as an indicator of influence in the online world.
The Influencers in Travel website use the KLOUT API to track influencers in the travel industry. Here are their categories and rankings and here are the the top 25 online travel marketing & PR influencers

Monday, February 7, 2011

Facebook Deals: Location based advertising knocks hotels' entrance! Sol Melia goes for it!!

On January 31st Facebook introduced, in the UK, its new location based advertising service called "Deals".  The Guardian offers a good analysis of the strategy behind Deals, in relation to competing services from Groupon, Google, Foursquare and SCVNGR .
As EyeForTravel announced today, Sol Melia already has chosen to participate in the platform that is already available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

In their website EyeForTravel states: "Launched in the US last November, Facebook Deals lets users 'check in' to venues via the Places feature on its mobile app for iPhone, Android and through on some smartphones.
For its part, Sol Meliá has shared that this new platform is one outcome of its 2011 strategy to increase its visibility and positioning in the 2.0 environment.
The showcased Deals from Sol Meliá include discounts of up to 50% in Spanish Meliá, Gran Meliá and ME by Meliá properties.
To access these offers, individuals must register their visit via “Facebook Places” and look for the yellow ticket, showing offers at local stores. Facebook Places and the associates Deals have been made available for iPhone, Android and via the site for other smartphones.
“The wisdom of friends has taken over from the wisdom of crowds, through a highly personal experience in the real world, and Facebook local enables users to take that Facebook identity out and about with them as they experience the real world – likewise using that to inform that Facebook identity,” said Emily White, Facebook’s director of local, according to a report filed “Places is the 'where' to 'what am I doing' and 'who am I with'. And it allows businesses to start joining the conversation.”
The publication also mentioned that Groupon, Google, Foursquare and SCVNGR all have something new to worry about with the advent of the giant social network’s latest move into local - and free – advertising.
“Facebook Places certainly challenges Foursquare, not least because Deals places it firmly along the commercial lines of rival SCVNGR, which claims to have had some success building a location-based game around business from the outset, rather than starting out with early adopter gamers. Again, it is scale that is Facebook's main advantage,” added the publication.
The Independent highlighted that the launch of Facebook Deals is likely to bring location-based services into the mainstream, according to experts who warned that companies, including Foursquare, will be looking over their shoulders."

Facebook welcome to the hospitality industry!!! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Visualizing Facebook Connections: My two worlds!!

Inspired by the work of Nicholas Christakis I persuaded myself to take an “introductory look” into a data visualization of my Facebook network.  Although very basic, the Facebook application TouchGraph  seemed appropriate.
After some experimentation with the basic adjustments, (i.e. move zoom slidebar to minimum, and spacing  to maximum, then tick both “Show all self edges” and “Tick edges” in the advanced pull-down menu), the application plotted my 528 friends and their inter-connections. Also have in mind that TouchGraph by default shows Top 50 or Top 100 friends. Use that box and write the total number of friends. 
Although not as impressive as Butler’s Visualizing Friendships Graph , I should admit that the outcome surprisingly reveals my ...two worlds!!!   

The up-right part depicts my connections in my homeland (the island of Rhodes), where 4 segments can be easily identified: The Chamber of Commerce of the Dodecanese, Rodos College, Hotel & Tourism Professionals, and of course people whom I know and consider as friends (hm... traditional and Facebook ones!!)

The bottom – left part consists of the Academia part: In the massive green area I found my ENTER Conference network.  Interestingly enough a sub-segment with this year ENTER’s friends has been identified.  Towards the bottom right side there is Bournemouth University: Academics and stuff (light green) but also my students:  See how clearly my students are divided to my January cohort (pink) and October cohort (sky blue).
Interesting enough somewhere in the middle you can see friends located at Athens.

Implications for marketing? Apart from the profound ones, imagine if instead of such segments (calculated in terms of friendship connections), companies (via their Facebook pages) can see segments with customers that share “Like” on common things or even their common interests and activities, therefore being able to customize offerings, services and promotional messages according to same preferences!!!   

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social media and the end of ...demographics as segmentation tools

From TED: Media and advertising companies still use the same old demographics to understand audiences, but they're becoming increasingly harder to track online, says media researcher Johanna Blakley. As social media outgrows traditional media, and women users outnumber men, Blakley explains what changes are in store for the future of media.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Google Art Project: Museums virtual visits redefined !!!

Google managed (...once again) to impress us by using its Street View technology into a new context: Museums. The new platform, called Google Art Project, redefines the "Museums Virtual Visit" experience setting new standards for further developers: Easy to use intuitive navigation using features from Google Maps and Google Earth, seamless transition and flow, but more than that: 3D mode (mouse right click - put on your glasses and go!!!), incredible zoom - at least in one per museum painting (gigapixel shot enabling access to microscopic details), and of course sharing features via social media platforms and ability so that users create their own collections.
However, for the other side of the coin read Alastair Sooke's opinion at The Telegraph.
What are your ideas about the new platform implications for leisure travel?

Monday, January 17, 2011

How Travelers Use Social Media - eMarketer

How Travelers Use Social Media - eMarketer:
"72.7% of US social network users accessed the sites at least daily while they were traveling"

Social Media When We Travel... - What's Hot

Social Media When We Travel... - What's Hot
Although with a number of limitations, this survey on 500 women in the US reveals interesting findings on how women use social media during travel