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Hiking along Virginia's Appalachian Trail is a favorite activity of international visitors. Photo by Clark Norton

Hiking along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail is a favorite activity of international visitors. Photo by Clark Norton

In yesterday’s post, we asked the rhetorical question “Can A Rebranding Campaign Boost Tourism to the U.S.?”

According to new research that’s just out, apparently so.

Brand USA, a public-private partnership that aims to improve the image of the U.S. around the world for the purpose of increasing international visitation to the States, is now citing a study by Oxford Economics that shows the new advertising campaign — called “Discover America, Land of Dreams” — resulted in 1.1 million new visitors to the U.S. in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. That’s a 2.3 percent increase over the number that would have visited without the campaign.

Those 1.1 million visitors, according to the study, spent $3.4 billion in the U.S. and had a total impact on the economy of $7.4 billion, supporting… Continue reading

The JW Marriott Miami, one of 63 current representatives of the brand. Photo from JW Marriott Miami.

The JW Marriott Miami, one of 63 current representatives of the brand. Photo from JW Marriott Miami.

Like every other business these days, it seems, the hotel business is all about branding — the art of distinguishing your hotels from those of other brands.

Every lodging chain from Motel 6 to W Hotels has a brand, and a target customer they believe will respond to that brand. Motel 6 appeals to budget road travelers who apparently arrive late at night. W Hotels appeal to affluent younger arty types, who don’t mind paying big bucks for cool but cramped quarters. Not many Motel 6’ers are going to stay in W’s, and not many W aficionados are going to bed down at Motel 6, no matter how late they leave the light on for ya.

As JW Marriott’s global brand manager Mitzi Gaskins told the travel trade site Skift.com in a recent… Continue reading

Reindeer in Finnish Lapland.  Photo from Visit Finland.

Reindeer in Finnish Lapland. Photo from Visit Finland.

In my last post, I analyzed the six U.S. tourism websites that the travel site skift.com considers to be among the 20 best-designed such websites in the world.

I was particularly impressed with the Oregon and Los Angeles visitor websites. For me, great website design encompasses not just spectacular visuals and clean typography but easy navigability leading to compelling, well-organized content. The other sites (Massachusetts; Washington, DC; Tennessee [Fall season]; and Florida, while all well designed, also contained some flaws.

If potential visitors — the baby boomer travelers that I focus on, in particular — get frustrated by not being able to find something they’re looking for right away, they may go elsewhere to find it rather than spending the crucial extra minutes on the site that might convince them to visit the destination. Tennessee, for example, has beautiful new sites for… Continue reading

Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

Viking River Cruise boats glide through Europe. Photo from Viking.

The travel site Skift.com has just named its top 50 global travel marketers for 2013, including the senior vice president for marketing of Viking River Cruises, Rich Marnell.

Little wonder — Marnell was hired in 2007 as Viking’s director of marketing for North America, and since that time Viking’s share of the burgeoning European river cruise market has risen from 20 percent to fifty percent, remarkable considering that competition is getting increasingly fierce.

I’ve written previously about Viking River Cruises’ approach to marketing: a laser-like focus on their target customer — the classic baby boomer.

“What we’ve done is tailored the product experience for the 55+ culturally curious in mind,” Marnell told Skift. “We don’t try to be everything to everyone. For us, we see that as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.”

At a press conference last spring … Continue reading

Spaceport America -- will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Spaceport America — will it revive the fortunes of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? Photo from Spaceport America.

Baby boomers of a certain age may vaguely recall when a small town in southern New Mexico, then called Hot Springs due to the natural hot springs in the area, agreed to change its name in 1950 to Truth or Consequences.

Ralph Edwards, the host of a popular radio and soon-to-be TV quiz show (called, of course, Truth or Consequences) offered to broadcast the show from any town that would change its name to, you guessed it, Truth or Consequences, in honor of the show’s tenth anniversary. Edwards returned every year for decades on the anniversary, and Truth or Consequences turned the occasion into a celebration called the T or C Fiesta. (The town is now usually referred to simply as T or C by the locals).

T or C gained… Continue reading

 

One of the scenic reasons why Fijians -- and visitors -- may be happy. Photo by Clark Norton

One of the scenic reasons why Fijians — and visitors — may be happy. Photo by Clark Norton

Tourism Fiji recently announced a new branding campaign based on the claim that the Pacific island nation is the happiest place on earth.

The new  Tourism Fiji slogan is “Fiji — where happiness finds you.” Tourism Fiji CEO Rick Hamilton noted the irony that while the “whole world is continually looking for happiness, actually it’s Fijians, the people who are trying the least, who have it the most.”

The new branding is based on a 2011 survey called the WinGallup Global Barometer of Happiness. The Fijian survey was conducted for WinGallup by the Tebbutt Research Group, while different groups surveyed 57 other nations around the world.

In Fiji, almost nine out of ten people said they were happy, compared to just 53 percent of the entire global sample who said… Continue reading

Lobster bake during the windjammer cruise -- 25 lobsters for 11 passengers. Photo by Clark Norton

Lobster bake during the windjammer cruise — 25 lobsters for 11 passengers. Photo by Clark Norton

 

Quick: When you think of Maine, what image pops to mind first? Chances are it’s lobster.

Is there any other state so identified with one kind of food — or so dependent for its economy on one? Vermont and maple syrup, perhaps, or Florida and oranges — except that Florida has a much more diversified economy.

On a recent trip to Maine for a windjammer cruise aboard the historic Nathaniel Bowditch sailing ship — which I’ll be writing about in subsequent posts — I was struck by the thousands of lobster traps floating in Penobscot Bay off the town of Rockland, where our cruise took place.

Lobsters love the Maine coast as much as Maine loves lobsters, at least until they get caught. Maine has the ideal environment for lobsters to thrive —… Continue reading

A Generator Hostel in Berlin. Photo from Generator Hostels.

A Generator Hostel in Berlin. Photo from Generator Hostels.

Recently I talked about the new breed of luxury hostels that are popping up around Europe and appealing not only to younger travelers — as hostels traditionally have — but to baby boomer travelers as well.

Now the excellent travel site skift.com has a piece  interviewing Josh Wyatt, director of hospitality and leisure at the company that owns Generator Hostels, the leading brand of luxury hostels with eight locations and more on the way. It’s definitely worth a follow-up to hear what he has to say.

For starters, as the skift.com piece points out, Generator is “aggressively targeting” higher-income older travelers by offering a number of guest rooms for singles and couples that include private bath.

For instance, the 154-room Generator Barcelona, which opened this past spring, has devoted more than a fifth of its rooms to singles… Continue reading

The exotic Seychelles of the Indian Ocean. Photo from Seychelles.org

The exotic Seychelles of the Indian Ocean. Photo from Seychelles.org

I’m going to hazard a guess that most readers will not know where the Vanilla Islands are or what they are. At least not under that name.

The “Vanilla Islands” is actually a brand name used for marketing tourism to the seven Indian Ocean island countries of the Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Maldives, Mayotte, Reunion, and the Comoros. Most baby boomers will certainly be familiar with the Seychelles, Madagascar, Maldives, and Mauritius, though they may know less about Mayotte, Reunion and the Comoros.

I think it’s a wonderful idea for island countries spread widely across the Indian Ocean to join together for marketing purposes. (The brand name was established in 2010 and the grouping has since grown from four to seven.)

One of their goals is to reduce paperwork and join together in other ways to make it easier to visit… Continue reading

Baby boomers are filling their bucket lists -- and spending money doing it. Photo from ROW Adventures

Baby boomers are filling their bucket lists — and spending money doing it. Photo from ROW Adventures

I came upon this observation from an unnamed pharmaceutical industry consultant, so I can’t give proper credit (though it appeared in the always provocative Bo Sacks media newsletter):

“No form of advertising is a safe, perpetual source of revenue, no matter how flush the advertiser or how desirable the audience. Because advertising has to change behavior, not just look good or get attention.”

His or her immediate point was that pharmaceutical ads aimed at doctors usually try to convince the physicians to change drug brands rather than cement a brand they currently prescribe to their patients — because for various reasons that’s where the potential profits lie — and I’m sure it’s an accurate observation…in many cases.

But it struck me as not necessarily true about  travel advertising — … Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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