For those in America, this Thursday is the holiday known as Thanksgiving. And the media is awash with stories about the latest research on whether we will travel, how we will travel and what we will eat.
Despite warnings for miserable travel conditions in parts of the country, AAA estimates Thanksgiving travel will be up over 4% from last year thanks to sagging gas prices and a rebounding economy. They also believe we will be spending more this weekend than last year.
And then, there's what we will eat. Over the past few years, I've broken with the tradition of carving a bird in favor of a big pot of wicked fine seafood, sausage and turkey gumbo. But, when I'm assigned a dish for a holiday dinner at someone else's house, it's usually the green bean casserole. Mostly because I screwed up the recipe a few years ago...and ended up crushing it.
Which, as a Wisconsinite, is only natural, as we Cheeseheads love our green bean casserole more than any other State in the Union...except Kentucky. Or so says Del Monte.
Bacon and celery salt are two of my several secret ingredients. Yours?
Adam Lambert (who is currently fronting Queen on its World Tour) began to pull away from the pack during his turn on American Idol when he reworked the classic Johnny Cash tune, Ring of Fire.
And, while I'm not a big AI fan, I'll admit I actually bought the single off iTunes. A timeless song given a new twist by an interesting performer.
Which may make this Music Friday pick even sweeter. As much as I love Adam's change-up, the a capella group Home Free (with an assist from Avi Kaplan of Pentatonix) has uncorked an amazing version that has garnered over 4 million YouTube views since July.
On assignments in which I get the opportunity to ideate ways to enhance the workplace environment with professional staff, one complaint comes up every time: The ubiquitous Staff Meeting.
Of course, we've got to have them or there'd be either anarchy or total disengagement. Staffs are universal in their "need to know" what everyone else is doing...but just as universal that the traditional staff meeting isn't getting it done.
Make Staff Meetings voluntary. It's not unlike when the Ritz-Carlton made news by allowing any staffer to spend up to $2,000 to take care of a guest's complaint on the spot. Most observers feared staffers would abuse the right. Instead, just the opposite happened, as staff began to view that $2,000 as their money...and were often more reluctant than management to spend it.
Same thing here. A Boeing executive has made all his meetings voluntary. Most, if not all, of his reports attend, because they don't want to miss anything. And, they go from being forced into being there to make the conscious decision to be on their own. Brilliant.
Remove the Chairs. As much as the Boeing example is so cool, this is my favorite. Researchers at Washington University used body sensors on team members who sat and those who stood for Staff Meetings. Those who stood were more engaged, less territorial about their ideas and generated more creative results. Love it.
And, if you try either one, let me know how it goes.
Not so, says the Greek Tourism Board. While the scenes may not be of Greece, the constellations seen above the coast in the Aussie video are named after figures in Greek mythology. Thus, the Board says they have every right to use the video.
Yeah, I know. I just snorted soda through my nose too.
But, it gets worse. The spokesperson evidently goes on to say, “Almost all the world, wherever you turn around your eyes, you will meet an idea, a name, that originated from Greece.”
With that kind of logic, wait until Greece claims ownership of all planetariums, the Super Bowl, the American Space Program (or Apollo Creed), Gene Hackman and Shelley Winters (think about it), Lynyrd Skynyrd (think even harder) and The Little Mermaid.
With some thought, they'll avoid the last one...or get sued into the next millennium.
A recent story in the New York Times (and channeled last week by The Hub) featured a rebirth in interest for those classic art-deco travel posters from the 1930s. Incredibly, one of the posters fetched over $50,000 at a recent auction.
"The Australian poster, '’To the Seaside by Train‘ … doesn’t depict a seaside or a train. Nor does it feature any element that suggests ‘Australia’ in any way … Instead, the poster is built around an illustration of a man and a woman in white, form-flaunting bathing suits … Their toned limbs and radiant smiles are so vital and incandescent they overwhelm the rest of the universe … Travel, the poster suggests, isn’t about going to some physical place. It’s about achieving an emotional state."
Sometimes in the Destination Marketing game, I think we forget that.
When people talk of the quintessential British rock triumvirate, almost everyone speaks of Eric Clapton. It was Cream that launched "slowhand" into a career that brought deity-like reverence for his guitar virtuosity.
And, his prowess as a vocalist.
But it was Jack Bruce that was the frontman for Cream. And, in the supernova that was Eric Clapton, much of the music world forgot that. Forgot Jack.
But, those of us that still remember those life-changing albums haven't forgotten.
And, here is a moment from Cream's 2005 Reunion Concert at the Royal Albert Hall...and "Sunshine of Your Love."
Sung by Jack Bruce. And, they look like they are all having such fun.
Fascinating piece in the New York Times last month (and covered on The Hub) showcasing how pop culture has connected red wine with powerful women. The Good Wife's Alicia Florrick, House of Cards' Claire Underwood and Scandal's Olivia Pope are all depicted as powerful women with the same jones for a big beautiful glass of red as men have for their bourbon.
"On Scandal, Olivia Pope 'treats even the finest wine as if it were a can of beer. She habitually grabs glasses by the bulb, rather than the stem … she never swirls or sniffs. She guzzles rather than sips.'" However, according to writer Eric Asimov, wine has exactly the opposite result in the hand of men, connoting vanity and weakness in pop culture (e.g., Frazier).
Which isn't the reason why I drink bourbon (I like the burn)...but it certainly is something to consider for our next photo shoot.
For over 25 years, we've seen messaging in hotel rooms encouraging us to re-use our towels. The placards always point to environmental sensitivity, some resorting to images of white owls to drive the point.
Recent research shows that such messaging has been successful in getting about a third of guests to participate. However, when the wording is subtly changed to "Join your fellow guests...." just under 50% of consumers participate.
Which, of course, brings us back to you. Are you marketing your product or services by saying it's the thing to do...or reinforcing that yours is the product that all the cool kids are buying?
I'm guessing the company with which other companies contract to supply them with parking claim checks has been doing this for a long time. And, they just keep printing stubs and hotels keep buying 'em. Year after year after year.
And, nobody bothers to actually read the words on the stub. They just keep on printing them and hotels keep on buying them.
For, ummmm, at least 20 years.
Because...when was the last time most of us had a CB radio in our car? Or a "tape deck?"
Click the image to read the ticket I received last week at a relatively new hotel in New York.
I’m often bemused at how "expert" some editorial writers are regarding subjects on which they have no more an idea than Somali Pirates know how to build a starship. And, it happened again last week.
A writer for the Marietta (OH) Times opined that the local Destination Marketing Organization doesn’t really need the $575,000 currently being invested in promoting and selling the area. She suggests $383,000 makes more sense so that the City could use the remaining $192,000 for city projects such as paving streets and mowing cemeteries.
Part of the rationale is that the writer believes that destination marketing is just so much easier and less expensive with the internet. Of course, if anything, it’s significantly harder and more costly because of the internet.
She tweaks the DMO for occasionally missing a festival on its calendar of events and suggests that, if they would just make the calendar more robust, it would be a low-cost tourism-palooza for Marietta. Of course, no DMO misses an opportunity to promote an event unless they don’t know about it...and that takes people power to curate content. Which costs money.
And, she maintains that there is no measurable impact from the DMO's work...mostly because she doesn't believe the State's county-by-county research data. A study which I'm guessing is more reliable than the Times' circulation statistics, which I don't believe.
The writer may even know better, because she lets her cards slip when she says, “we think if the CVB wants to keep its share of the bed tax as it is, then a starting point would be sharing a detailed budget of where its money goes.” As in, we’re annoyed that the Director won’t reveal her salary so that we can play class warfare.
Here’s hoping that the Marietta City Council is more sophisticated about how the investment in destination marketing is critical for future non-resident tax generation and job growth than this editorial writer.
I just read a fascinating dissertation on whether online reviewers can be sued by alleging defamation.
At the end of the article was the warning "This article may not be reproduced without the permission of..."
OK...maybe the lawyer has already made enough money in his career that he doesn't care if he gets another client. But, then why take the time to pen an article that raises such interesting conundrums for potential clients down the road?
Or, is the author just not sophisticated enough on the ways of today's society to understand the potential ROI of giving content like this away?
New research indicates that the later you crash, the smarter you are.
According to Psychology Today, intelligent people are more likely to be nocturnal than people with lower IQ scores. From being proactive to rebellious and open-minded to anti-establishmentarians, those of us that head to bed after midnight are apparently brighter than those that give up before Fallen does his monologue.
I know a bunch of people that I believe to be whip smart that crash early. Your thoughts on whether this study holds water?
As we collectively mourn the death of Michael Alsbury, the co-pilot of the doomed Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, a columnist for The Guardian took the opportunity to rage at a world in which people could actually afford to treat themselves to a trip into space.
In a column entitled "Richard Branson’s Space Tourism Shows what Today’s Obscene Inequality Looks Like," Zoe Williams riffs on why those with the means to travel into space are sensationally bad people. She suggests that "the waste of fossil-fuel energy could only be considered by someone who either didn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change or didn’t care. The need to see Earth from a distance with your own eyes, whatever the cost, hints at an interior life as arid as the surface of the moon."
So, Zoe believes a $200,000 experience is excessive. Does she believe that a $20,000 excursion to Africa also signals that we are a pitiful waste of skin? What about $10,000 for the trip of a lifetime to Australia, Greece or South America? At what point does she believe spending money on experience is acceptable, if at all? Because all travel entails consumption of fossil fuel. And a lot of travel (which is an enormous source of world commerce) happens when people have disposable income.
This class warfare shit is really getting old...and using the death of a pioneer to advance an ugly, jealousy-fueled agenda is just wrong.
As the majority of the comments beneath the story can attest.
For the uninitiated, Sam has been annointed by the Kentucky Legislature as the "Father of Newgrass," recognizing his role in transforming traditional bluegrass music into a more mainstream style. Possibly best known for his breakthrough work with the New Grass Revival with John Cowan and Bela Fleck, Sammy has been touring solo for the past decade to packed clubs across the nation.
For today's Music Friday feature, we're going with a rare duet with former bandmate (and, serenditously, a performer I fell in love with during my first visit to Virginia's Blue Ridge a decade ago) John Cowan. It's a smokin' cover of Lowell George's "Sailin' Shoes."
Two tribes have been locked in mortal combat in Lake Havasu City as of late, providing those of us watching in with an endless series of chuckles.
In this corner, weighing in as the reigning Destination Marketing Organization, is the Lake Havasu City CVB and their recently minted slogan, "Play Like You Mean It." In the other corner is a bunch of residents that think the city is better defined by a landmark (the imported London Bridge) and, hence, the slogan, "Home of the London Bridge."
The two groups have been engaged in a battle royale for the past few months, waiting for a reluctant City Council to decide between the two.
Alas, what Norm and his buddies fail to realize is that, for the vast majority of the CVB's target audience (which isn't his 'hood), the London Bridge means absolutely nothing. While we may drive over it or look up at it while we're in town, it is not why we come to Lake Havasu. With the possible exception of British heritage buffs, it's not the reason any of us come to Lake Havasu.
Are you, like me, seeing the number of newspapers that block your online consumption of their content without a subscription grow?
And, are you, like me, shaking your head in utter disbelief?
It's like the owners, publishers and editors have never heard of YouTube, which serves up ads before every few videos to make its nut. Do newspapers really think that I'm going to purchase a subscription to read the occasional story? Do they track the abandonment rate versus conversion when people decide the content of that one story isn't worth a 13-week subscription?
I certainly doubt it...because those abandonment rates have to be stratospheric.
Or, is it that their old school salespeople aren't adept enough to sell digital visibility to advertisers?
Dudes...do the YouTube. Better yet, do what the Northwest Indiana Times is doing, by offering potential readers a choice of ads to watch. Or, offering up research questions they can sell to clients that want to test theories or products.
Really...stop trying to stop locals from trying to access your content for free. There are a gazillion of us around the world that you can leverage if you just think different.
It's the age old battle...and I used to compete years ago when I was in Rock Radio. Our salespeople used to chortle (yes, they chortled) that, without them, we on-air talent wouldn't have a job. Of course, we'd shoot back that, without the killer product we put on the air each and every day, they'd have nothing to sell.
The afternoon guy and one of our sales managers ultimately got married. I always thought their pillow talk must have resembled that of James Carville and Mary Matalin.
When I migrated to Destination Marketing, it was pretty much the same. Sales Managers telling Services people that they owed their livlihood to the groups the salespeople brought to town. Services people would often suffer in silence, saying under their breath, "yeah, but your repeat numbers would suck without us."
Which, a new study of meeting planners across the nation by the Event Services Professionals Association has revealed. Check this out:
• 100% said that Event Services professionals have a significant impact on the success of their events (thus, a higher liklihood of a return).
• 88% said Event Services professionals greatly affect their perception of the product or DMO.
• 81% said that service pros kept them on top of their game.
Yeah...that would be "Point: Services pro."
But, my favorite was a comment on the story in Successful Meetings by James Knauff: "Having cut my teeth in convention services at very busy meetings hotels before moving into group sales, I know who orchestrated the hotel team to meet and exceed client needs. I loved being in sales for twenty years or so, but, never forgot the key positions that made it all happen."
True dat...so, don't forget to hug a services pro today.