Don’t Ignore Baby Boomers

Quick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media? Millennials? No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

Baby BoomersQuick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media?

Millennials?

No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

This population — born between 1946 and 1964 — are 74 million strong and have more disposable income than any other generation. They are more likely to be in the upper-income group. According to Pew Research, 27 percent of boomers are in the upper income group, which is the highest figure of all generations. Principal economist at Kantar Retail, Doug Hermanson, notes:

“Upper-income Boomers can sustain their pre-recession spending and be a strong driver of the consumer economy over the next five to 10 years. They have the money to spend. It’s a different mindset of saving before and now saying, ‘I’ve got to spend it while I’m here.’”

Let’s dig into these mass affluent Baby Boomers. These are defined as those who have $100,000-$250,000 in household income and over $250,000 in savings. They are an optimistic bunch, with 77 percent saying their goal is to have an interesting life.

Over 80 percent say they live a healthy lifestyle, and they are much more likely to give to charities. Pew Research reports that Boomers are living longer, with an average life expectancy of 80 years old, up from 68 in 1950. Many are now entering their retirement years. While about half of all adults say they feel younger than their actual age, 61 percent of Boomers are feeling more spry than their age would imply.

So what drives spending for this important segment? Quality is important to the mass affluent Boomer, with nine out of 10 saying they are more likely to value quality over brand name. They also like to shop within brands they feel an emotional connection with. And over 70 percent of Boomers across all income levels say the fact that they “like” a retailer is a driver of retail selection.

So, now that we have seen how they like to spend money, let’s take a look at what this generation plans to spend money on. About a quarter of Baby Boomers in the mass affluent category say they will spend more money in general in the coming year. Baby Boomers at the higher income level are more likely to prefer experiences over things: 73 percent of them say they prefer to spend money on experiences, vs. 69 percent of Millennials. Their spend categories emphasize travel, home improvement and charities.

Additionally, Synchrony Financial consumer surveys reveal the following:

  • The highest category of future spend will be travel. About 40 percent of mass affluent Boomers plan to spend more on travel next year. AARP estimates Baby Boomers spend more than $120 billion annually on leisure travel.
  • The second highest spend category is home improvement, with 32 percent of Boomers spending more on home improvement in the coming year, and 22 percent spending more on home furnishings.
  • Boomers are much more likely to say that they give to charitable causes, with 79 percent saying they plan in increase their charitable giving.

The Digital Divide: Boomers and Technology

Let’s take a look at the most talked-about difference between Baby Boomers and younger generations — digital technology. The reality is that the Baby Boomer population is on-par with younger generations when it comes to smartphone ownership, online shopping and social media access. Three out of four Baby Boomers own a smartphone, up 19 percent from a year ago. The generational divide exists in the usage of digital devices. Synchrony Financial’s research studies show that Boomers are much less likely than Millennials to use their smartphone for a multitude of tasks — from shopping to texting to social media postings.

But contrary to what some may think, Boomers have a great deal of access and interaction with social media. Ninety-two percent of Boomers say they have access to a social media channel — mainly Facebook (82 percent of Boomers have access to Facebook, up from 76 percent only a year ago). But they not influenced by social media for purchases. Only one third say they purchased a product after seeing it on social media, which is a significantly lower figure than that of younger generations: For Millennials, that number tops 70 percent.

How well does your business cater to this large and important segment of the population? Generalizations are difficult for any population of this size, but in general, Boomers are optimistic, secure and not done spending. Brands who provide a great shopping experience, high quality and seamless digital technology will go far in attracting this important segment.

Sources: All data is sourced from the following three studies, unless otherwise noted: Synchrony Financial 2016 Loyalty Study, Synchrony Financial 2016 Affluent Survey and Synchrony Financial 2016 Digital Study. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial.

‘Travel’ Is a Terrible Thing to Market

The oft-used statement “I like to travel” is generally a lie. The act of traveling sucks. But the places you’re going and the experiences you’re going to have are magic. That’s what people really love about traveling. And that’s a lesson all marketers should learn.

This morning we recorded our next Marketing Garage podcast with Lauren A. Koenig, one of the founders of TWIP — “Travel With Interesting People.” (She’s also going to be on our Travel and Hospitality roundtable on April 6, click here to be a part of it.)

I’m not going to spoil much of the interview, which you’ll be able to listen to next week. But one of the things she said has been on my mind all day:

“Saying you like to travel is like saying you like to breath air.” It doesn’t say anything. How do you travel? Where do you like to go? What do you like to do?

Lauren’s point is that to understand travelers — and to connect them, which is TWIP’s main business — your focus shouldn’t be on “travel,” it should be on how they travel and what they want from it.

Travel Doge This is a lesson all marketers should learn.

Travel vs. Experience

The oft-used statement “I like to travel” is mostly a lie. Who really likes to spend hours trapped in a pressurized metal tube, crammed in like sardines breathing recycled air and praying no one’s kid starts crying? Are buses, trains or cars any better for long trips? Even boats are fundamentally uncomfortable things to be stuck on for long periods of time.

travel-uncomfortableThe act of traveling sucks. But the places you’re going and the experiences you will have are magic. That’s what people really love about traveling. And that’s what marketers try to capture in travel marketing.

Traveling is just a means to an end. The word “travel” gets emphasized as the name of the industry and often as the hook for the marketing because it’s a catch-all word that describes the ordeal one goes through to have the great experience.

So when you’re describing what you do, or what you like or what you’re marketing, should your focus be on the ordeal, or on the magic at the end of it?

Travel Not to Escape Life

Hostel Marketing 101: 4 Tips for Success

I love to travel, so the opportunity to work on more travel and hospitality-specific marketing content has been a real treat. One thing I have not done yet, however, is stay in a hostel. And before you wave the idea off, hostels have come a long way since the 1970s AND not every hostel is like Eli Roth’s movie. That said, our awesome Target Marketing Group intern, Jaclyn, HAS experience with hostels and suggested a piece on them. How could I say no?

Travel DogeI love to travel, so the opportunity to work on more travel and hospitality-specific marketing content has been a real treat. I’ve met some cool people, attended a great conference focused on NY travel and helped put together a virtual panel dedicated to travel marketing in the Internet Age, hosted by one of those really cool people I met (Hint, it’s Kae Lani Kennedy and she’s seriously awesome.)

One thing I have not done yet, however, is stay in a hostel. And before you wave the idea off, hostels have come a long way since the 1970s AND not every hostel is like Eli Roth’s movie. That said, our awesome Target Marketing Group intern, Jaclyn, HAS experience with hostels and suggested a piece on them. How could I say no? So here she is, rocking your minds with four ways you can improve the marketing of your hostel.


Hostel Meme
Honestly, don’t watch it. And stop worrying, you’re going to be fine.

As a business built around low budgets and minimalism, a hostel requires crafty solutions to marketing and advertising challenges. Target prospects don’t access typical marketing channels in the same patterns as the general consumer (which is probably good news for the locals!), and cost of acquisition would most often exceed revenues from conventional tech-aided conversions.

As an avid hostel-goer, I’ve seen a lot of hostels struggle to increase guest turnover and profits because of these challenges. But I’ve also seen a lot of creative, successful marketing solutions along the way, and have become quite familiar with the backpacker/hostel-traveler demographic.

Here are four marketing ideas to help generate more business for your hostel — or offer a little inspiration for your other low-margin business.

1. Connect With the Community

Those looking to stay in hostels are looking for authentic, community-oriented, cultural experiences (jellied moose nose, anyone?). Connect with individuals and local businesses in your area and build relationships with them, so that you can later share these connections with your guests to improve their customer experience.

Use cross-promotional tactics to achieve greater word-of-mouth velocity. Your guests need to eat and want to explore your city, so offer these details — perhaps via the savvy use of well-placed fliers or a custom guidebook.

But don’t advertise these other businesses for free! Instead, approach eateries and other relevant businesses to see who’s willing to cross-promote your hostel to their customers, or recommend you to travelers getting into town.

2. Capitalize on Environmental Appeal

Environmental issues and conservation are higher priorities for this target demographic than for the general consumer. Thus, your environmental efforts will be much more appreciated by this market — so take advantage! Install shower timers, start a compost pile, encourage less paper product usage, consider installing solar panels. Or, you can get really creative and do something like installing a power-collecting dance floor to power your lights AND throw some wicked parties.

Not only will adopting eco-friendly policies boost your marketing efforts and lead to higher revenue, but your ROI should start increasing while your costs decrease (this may take a little time depending upon your initial investments on policy changes). So it’s a win-win-win — for your business, your customer and your planet.

But wait, there’s one more thing! Make sure you advertise your environmental efforts and policies both on your website and on premises. Post signs explaining your mission and policies, along with a call to action asking your guests for their help protecting the planet. Engage with your customers.

3. Set Yourself Up for Free Social Media Marketing

When people are traveling, they like to take pictures to share with others. Your hostel can harness that tendency into free social media marketing. Put something outlandish or cultural in your lobby or right outside your hostel. Passersby and guests alike will not be able to resist taking pictures and posting them to social media if it is impressive enough.

The key factor for success here? Make sure you put your hostel’s name and location (just the city will do — you don’t want to crowd the space) in a highly-visible spot for photo shoots. Offer your guests a strong Wi-Fi connection to ensure posting capabilities. And have some fun with it! You could have a monthly Instagram contest offering a free night’s stay for the most creative photo posted — and of course tagged with your hostel and hashtag!

4. Offer a Second Service

Down-time and slow seasons leave a lot to be desired for a hostel business. A great way to counter these inefficiencies is to offer a second service: bike rental, a café, a bar, travel services, a brothel (Just kidding! Making sure you’re paying attention).

Catering to a second, distinct crowd will increase your word-of-mouth advertising as well as your conversions. Additionally, you will be decentralizing risk and labor between the hostel and second component, effectively reducing costs and increasing profit margins for both aspects of the business.

Learn to Fly Without a Pilot’s License

The savvy traveler of the 21st century expects more of everything when planning trips, from the booking experience to the transportation options, from the destination to dining. The overall experience must deliver, and travelers are not afraid to vote with their dollars. I know I’m sure not afraid to do so — I do a ton of research ahead of a trip to ensure I get the best experience for my investment, whether it’s for business or personal.

Travel has been on my mind a lot lately. On Sunday, I’m flying out to sunny LA to attend DMA’s &THEN Conference, then coming home for about 48 hours before hitting the road to visit one of my best friends just outside of Buffalo for a long weekend.

So that’s over 5,400 miles flown, then an additional 750 miles driven round trip. Woof.

Foo Fighters' Learn to Fly
Dave Grohl can be my captain any day…

Two weeks later, I board a plane for a red-eye flight to Madrid, Spain for a quick layover, then to my final destination of Lisbon, Portugal so I can attend the 2016 Web Summit as a speaker (more on that exciting news later!)

My round-trip travel for that will be over 6,800 miles … so in less than 30 days time I will have traveled more than 13,000 miles, stayed in two hotels, one AirBNB rental, had countless meals out, taken taxis, Ubers, subways … now can you see what travel’s been on my mind so much? (I think I need a nap just thinking about it all.)

The savvy traveler of the 21st century expects more of everything when planning trips, from the booking experience to the transportation options, from the destination to dining. The overall experience must deliver, and travelers are not afraid to vote with their dollars. I know I’m sure not afraid to do so — I do a ton of research ahead of a trip to ensure I get the best experience for my investment, whether it’s for business or personal.

In late July, we hosted our annual Integrated Marketing Virtual Show, and I had the opportunity to bring together a stellar panel with moderator Kae Lani Kennedy, social media manager for Matador Network, as well as the following panelists:

  • Jennifer Andre, Director of Sales, Media Solutions, Expedia
  • Christy Ciambor, Destination Marketing Manager, Travel Juneau
  • David Naczycz, Founder, Urban Oyster/NYC Urban Adventures

The focus of the panel was to look at travel marketing in the Internet Age, and as I rewatched the presentation, a few things came to mind:

We All Can Learn From the Travel Industry

Actually, all marketers can learn from every industry outside their own. I think that’s a given and something we all need to do a little more of. But what I believe the travel and hospitality industry really caters to customer desire. Sure, the automotive industry caters to my desire of driving a wickedly sweet car (I’m looking at you, Dodge Challenger), but it’s not a desire that can be met easily … but an $900 vacation to Paris? A $350 long weekend in Washington DC? A $40 walking tour of Brooklyn? These are all more quickly attainable than a $27,000 car.

The travel and hospitality industry can let consumers itch a desire now. But I think it could teach other marketers how to do this, too.

Mobile Is Here to Stay ALWAYS

That subhead says it all. Mobile was one of the big issues our panelists discussed during the travel roundtable, and it’s such a big issue that we’re hosting the All About Mobile virtual show in December (shameless plug, yes yes I know!).

As a marketer, if you don’t have a seamless marketing experience, you’re going to lose consumer confidence and customer share. Pure and simple.

User-Generated Content Builds Trust

Fun fact: Loyal customers and fans want to contribute! So let them! You can do this in so many ways, from running regular Instagram photo contests to sharing thoughtful reviews. In the end, the marketer gets wonderful content to share with the wider audience and the user gets to share his or her voice.

Anyway, I highly recommend taking 30 minutes to listen (or watch!) the travel roundtable (no registration necessary) so you can take a look at what the industry is doing, and see if you can “steal smart” and incorporate a few ideas into your next strategy meeting. You know … learn to fly without a pilot’s license (yes … yes I am a Foo Fighters fan).

Now if a marketer could just figure out how to deal with the email/travel issue so that we wouldn’t have to come back to an over-stuffed inbox … there’s a billion dollar idea.

Travel and email meme

Who’s the Face of Your Brand?

I recently returned from a multi-city business trip that included a stay in Canada. Unlike the “old days” when I called my travel agent and provided key dates/cities, it’s all up to me to organize the details. At the end of the day, what I remember most about any of those selected brands I chose to interact with were the folks who provided service.

Travel Marketing in the Internet AgeI recently returned from a multi-city business trip that included a stay in Canada. Unlike the “old days” when I called my travel agent and provided key dates/cities, it’s all up to me to organize the details.

Like most, I spent an inordinate amount of time on various travel sites, trying to secure the best deal on an airline, hotel and car rental. Sometimes I read user-generated reviews (especially if the “deal” seemed too good to be true), and sometimes I looked at photos of rooms and amenities (being a daily swimmer, I look for a decent pool that’s onsite).

However at the end of the day, what I remember most about any of those selected brands I chose to interact with were the folks who provided service. At the airport, it was the gate agent, the flight attendant and the captain who thanked me on my way off the plane. At the hotel, it was the front desk staff, the gal who took my room service order and the guy who delivered it. All are typically part of the experience the guest references when writing a review.

But what about the guys who knocked and entered my room — without my permission as they failed to hear my response through a closed bathroom door? When I heard them enter and shouted out (from a bathtub of bubbles) “MAY I HELP YOU?” they responded “Just checking on the WiFi!”

Without a bathrobe in arm’s length, I must admit I panicked, and shouted back, “Please get out.” They did, but not a “sorry” was heard. Just a little snickering.

And what about the lost luggage representative I encountered? He didn’t seem particularly concerned that I was in town for one night and one meeting — missing the suitcase that contained my “business appropriate attire” for the next day, plus cosmetics that were mandatory for being seen in public. He didn’t acknowledge the panic in my voice — he just handed me the standard issue 4” x 3” bag of toiletries and said he hoped it might arrive on the next flight.

Or how about the front desk clerk who asked “how was your stay?” My response was a snarky “well, when the hotel lost 4 hours of electricity, it didn’t help me finish my presentation at a reasonable hour, and your pictures of the hotel pool online indicate it’s close to Olympic size, when actuality it’s about 15 meters and quite dirty.” She blinked at me blankly and said, “Hope to see you again soon!”

However, there was one redeeming moment. When I checked in without luggage (I don’t think that small emergency travel kit counts as luggage) and asked the front desk clerk if they had any contact lens solution, a manager heard my request, came over and offered me his personal supply.

Which of these brands will I write a positive online review about? Which of these brands will I seek out again in the future and show my loyalty over and over again? Which of these brands will I evangelize with family, colleagues and friends? Which of these brands achieved a positive ROI on their investment in customer support staff?

You get one guess.

Creative Cage Match: Travel Edition

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer … and vacation is on my mind. Luckily, I have a trip planned for June to trek off to the Adirondacks, but that leaves plenty of summer days to do more traveling. And my inbox agrees.

Travel DogeThere’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer … and vacation is on my mind. Luckily, I have a trip planned for June to trek off to the Adirondacks, but that leaves plenty of summer days to do more traveling. And my inbox agrees.

In this corner, weighing in at 16 years old and chock-full of user generated content by way of customer reviews, we have TripAdvisor. The site is home to robust travel forums, Best of 2016 lists and a selection of apps. TripAdvisor claims to have more than 60 million members and over 170 million reviews. That’s a lot of vacations.

Across the ring we have 8-year-old travel and hospitality juggernaut Airbnb, disrupting the industry in ways that delight travelers — and home owners — worldwide. The startup site allows hosts to list their properties for rent and provides travelers with the opportunity to rent lodgings and “live like a local.” Airbnb has more than 1.5 million listings in 34,000 cities in 190 countries. Talk about options!

Email vs. Email

First, let’s look at TripAdvisor, which hooked me with this subject line: “And the new #1 island in the world is …” Ooh yes please. I want to know this.

Tripadvisoremail_topTripadvisoremail_bottomAs you can see, this email is PACKED. Let’s unpack it:

  • The tease for the No. 1 island (including a bunch of clues on the form of images and review snippets).
  • Call to action to book a hotel in TripAdvisor.
  • Locations for the 25 best beaches in the world.
  • Airfare rates for a selection of cities — some I’ve been to — from my local airport, PHL.
  • A bunch of special offers for hotels and resorts.
  • The call to action “Where’s this?” (Sadly the link wasn’t working for me)
  • And one more call to action about finding and booking a hotel on TripAdvisor.

It’s a little overwhelming, but if you want to cruise through the email and click on the content that is most interesting to you, it’s easy because everything is neatly compartmentalized.

(Oh, and that No. 1 island? It’s Maui … some place I have yet to go!)

So from gorgeous images to teasing text and plenty of content, TripAdvisor’s email gives you something to spend a little time on. Now let’s look at Airbnb.

It’s Good to Be a Stranger in a Strange Land

We should all play at being a tourist from time to time. But the question is, are you going to be the tourist who gets sucked into all the tourist-trap locations and activities — with cheesy souvenirs galore — or are you going to be the tourist who does some research and hunts down all the local hot spots, exploring neighborhoods and connecting with the community?

VisitAllthePlacesWe should all play at being a tourist from time to time.

But the question is, are you going to be the tourist who gets sucked into all the tourist-trap locations and activities — with cheesy souvenirs galore — or are you going to be the tourist who does some research and hunts down all the local hot spots, exploring neighborhoods and connecting with the community?

Hint: It’s a better experience usually if you go with Option No. 2. And the same rings true when you play tourist in the professional world.

Last Thursday I attended the first day of the NY Travel Fest in Brooklyn (my favorite borough), which was cool for two reasons:

  1. Travel is awesome, and getting to talk about it — and how people market traveling — is doubly awesome.
  2. It’s fascinating being a fly on the wall of a world that isn’t your own.

As we explore more of the vertical industries within the realm of marketing, me and my fellow editors are finding ways to learn more about them in any way we can. So when Roni Weiss, the founder and organizer of the NY Travel Fest invited me up, my response was an enthusiastic “yes!”

During a day packed with sessions and networking, I absorbed some interesting things that are specific to travel, as well as things that not only resonated with me — as someone who writes about marketing — but with the larger marketing population.

Here are some of my favorites:

• Travel is an “Industry of Relationships.” I had never heard that phrase before, but really, I think it extends to all marketing. Or at least the good stuff. We want to have connections with our customers, and if you think of that connection as a relationship, then perhaps you’ll take better care of it.

• Different platforms allow you to tell different stories. Panelists during the session titled “The Evolving Media Landscape: Perspectives on How to Maximize Your Media Interactions” explained that first you must consider the type of story you want to tell, and then figure out the platform that fits it best.

  • Do you have a lot of images to share? Consider Instagram for its editorial look and feel.
  • Want to bring your audience into the moment? Think about using Periscope to record live video and have someone maintain the live chat.

And these are just social platforms to consider … the possibilities are endless for storytelling, ranging from video to print content and everything in between.

• Align yourself with influencers. You’ve heard it a million times before, but here it is again. Influencers — who often identify as social media-savvy bloggers — can help you tell your story through organic content creation. Since they’re outside your organization, they can bring fresh ideas to the table and help you create an unforgettable campaign. (Don’t believe me? Check out the #WurstAdventure). However, be sure to thoroughly ask yourself why you want to work with an influencer and which influencer in particular.

• You can’t ignore negative reviews. Genna Gold of Yelp brought this up, and explained that a study showed people found no response from a business to a negative review was worse than if the business responded in a not-so-polite way (e.g., calling someone a jerk for writing a negative review). And with 92 percent of consumers reading online reviews to determine whether a business is a good business, according to Bright Local, you can’t afford to ignore the review space, no matter what your business is!

• You need strong visual anchors. Ask yourself: What’s the story … what are the visuals … what are people connecting to? Humans are a visual bunch, and we respond to visual storytelling.

30th Street StationMTA subway seatWelcome to Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge
Rocco's Tacos Chandelier
Negroni Pie from Butter & Scotch
See? Using my Instagram photos I’ve managed to tell a quick story about my day in Brooklyn, instead of writing about it for 200 to 400 words.

So go ahead … be a stranger in a strange land when you’re able. You never know what you’re going to learn, who you’re going to meet and what slice of pie you’re going to have.

You’ll Get My Attention With a Giant Squirrel

Almost anyone who’s flown more than a couple of times knows what the safety instructions entail on a commercial flight. And so most of us ignore them. Delta Airlines recognized this, and chose to create a series of safety videos full of pop culture references and humor to convince even the most seasoned flier to pay attention.

Delta squirrelI recently got back from a short vacation to Key West (yeah, yeah, humble brag), but I’m not going to regale you with photos. What I want to talk about is Delta’s airline safety, content marketing and storytelling.

I’ve been flying for 28 years, so I’m a pretty seasoned airline traveler. I jockey for a good position in line as I wait for my zone to be called, focus on getting my gear stowed, butt in my seat, seat belt buckled and book out to read as quickly as possible. I don’t mess around.

I also have heard the safety announcements so many times that I tune them out, a problem Eddie Izzard recognized during his comedy show, “Glorious.”

For my flight to Key West, I was prepared to do my usual ignoring of the flight attendants. Instead they announced there’d be a safety video. Oh goodie. Yawn.

But when I saw out of the corner of my eye a giant squirrel putting an oversized acorn into the overhead compartment within the first 13 seconds of the video, I stopped reading, and slipped my bookmark between the pages.

I watched the rest of the 4 minute and 39 second video. I heard people giggling. The kids behind me exclaimed, “Mom! Mom! It’s Yo Gabba Gabba!”

That’s right.

https://youtu.be/kfFHn6DxvEg

When the safety video ended, I was smiling. Delta had entertained me, reminded me about the usual safety drills, and managed to stay in the forefront of my mind for a solid week between my flight and when I wrote this week’s post. I told my aunt and uncle about the video when I met up with them in Key West. I sent links to the video to my best friend as I was writing this post. I told my dad — also a seasoned traveler — about the video Sunday night on the phone.

You’d think Florence + The Machine dropped a new album. Or that Jon Bonham had come back from the dead. Nope. A Delta airlines’ safety video had me talking.

As I think about it more, the entertaining safety video shows me that there are some creative problem solvers at Delta. The problem they faced was that most passengers tune out the flight attendants sharing safety instructions.

The solution, then, was to use the airline’s sense of humor to tell a story of safety, creatively. From Delta’s News Hub:

Delta launched a series of safety videos beginning in late 2012 meant to grab the attention of even the most seasoned travelers by using pop culture references, surprises and guest appearances — all to communicate important safety messages.

The video I saw during my flight, launched in August 2015, has over 250,000 views on YouTube. The description below the video on the YouTube page reads:

Safety information is information that no one should miss, even if they’ve heard it a dozen times. So to help encourage even the most frequent of frequent fliers to pay attention we’re constantly adding fresh scenes and moments of fun. It’s part of Delta’s commitment to making every part of our passengers’ flight a memorable one.

A few months prior, Delta released “The Internetest video on the Internet” featuring 22 Internet memes and clocking in at more than 9.5 million views after going viral.

https://youtu.be/Vttuonfu2BM

Finally, taking this all to the next level, Delta hosted the SAFETYS on Feb. 28, right before the Academy Awards. Following its Twitter feed starting at 5 p.m., the airline revealed which characters from its previous safety videos were up for a SAFETY award, as well as its newest safety video.

https://youtu.be/OiBIPNqmfEk

Suffice to say, Delta gets it. The airline understands its core business, sure. But it also understands the importance of storytelling and content marketing, of delighting its customers, and also keeping them safe. And, of course, all of this factors into the airline’s unique selling proposition (USP).

After enduring a stream of disappointing flights on a different airline — ranging from poor customer service to cancelled flights — my flight with Delta really showed what Denny Hatch calls “Customer Relationship Magic.” From the free snacks to the entertaining safety video, as well as arriving at my destination early, Delta wowed me. I look forward to racking up frequent flyer miles with them, especially if they feature more giant squirrels in their videos.

Fighting Fear of Zika: 3 Quick Email Tips

As Zika virus spreads, questions about the safety of traveling are once again being asked. Using email, some marketers have begun to address the the crisis.

As the Zika virus spreads through Latin America, questions about the safety of traveling are once again being asked. In recent weeks, via email and the Web, some marketers have begun to slowly and carefully address the crisis.

Believed to be transmitted primarily by infected mosquitoes, Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and possible brain damage. It’s been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization(WHO), and President Obama asked for $1.8 billion in the new budget for a multi-pronged attack on the virus.

With millions of Americans thinking of, and even planning overseas visits, how do you calm fears about a growing epidemic and provide reassurance?

Here are a few ideas from email that I’ve received in my Who’s Mailing What! inbox since Feb. 9.

1. Get People’s Attention
Emails sent by Sandals, the operator of several chains of Caribbean resorts, are always jam-packed with offers. Various packages, deals and airline partner specials related to resort properties within that brand are spotlighted as you navigate down the html.

SandalsZikaFeb9After the first week of February, across all of its brands, Sandals has added a round read-and-white “ZIKA UPDATE” button that clicks through to a special landing page. While it is the same size as the other bursts typically used, its placement in the top image of the email, either just above or just below the fold, stands out.

2. Provide Important Information
Trust is the most essential ingredient in communication. To build and reinforce it, you need to give people as much information as possible. In this case, travelers need to know how to avoid, or at least minimize, the risk of infection by taking the right preventative measures.

SandalsSplashThe Sandals Zika landing page is topped with a big image of a couple holding hands on a beach and lots of reassuring copy about the company’s response to Zika. “ALL SANDALS & BEACHES RESORTS REMAIN TOTALLY ZIKA FREE” reads the banner at the top, with some quick stats and a breakdown of precautionary measures below.

Further down the page, a map and a chart detail the current Zika status in each of the Caribbean countries where the company has a resort. At the bottom, there’s a statement of Sandals’ commitment “to work with the Ministry of Health departments in each island to ensure that they remain free of the Zika virus.”

3.Offer Solutions
Despite their fears, most people will still travel. ExOfficio, a performance clothing retailer, recognized that “the pull of adventure is strong,” and sent an email that offered to “Mosquito-Proof Your Travels,” as the subject line put it.

ExOffNewThe top block of the promo sets up the fight: “BUGSAWAY VS. ZIKA,” then goes on to position its clothing line as a disease-fighter. Another section of text describes how clothing treated with permethrin, an insect repellent, is “EPA-registered” and “Appropriate For Families.”

ExOffClothesAnother block shows four examples, with pricing, of the “bug-defeating” clothing, two each for men and women. A click or tap leads to its landing page on the ExOfficio website.

All of these steps are about making sure that the customer is comfortable with the decision to make a trip.

According to news reports, some airlines, hotels, travel agencies and cruise operators have offered their clients the opportunity to cancel trips without penalty for either a refund or credit towards another future travel.

Whenever an international crisis arises, allowing customers to defer travel or switch to another destination is a measure of goodwill that builds customer loyalty. Any expense generated by this flexibility seems like a small price to pay when the customer’s peace of mind, and the reputation of the business, is at stake.