Eugène Schoen

Matching Tourism & New Media

Sand Mandala by Wonderlane (Flickr)

How do Apps & Tourism fit ?

One thing that struck me during my survey interviews with companies active in Tourism was how little they used new media to engage customer. Some have Facebook pages, others Twitter accounts, others were proud to have a nicely designed websites but few had an integrated communication approach.

By making life easier, Apps like SBB Swiss Railways associate brands with real day-to-day value. Improving consumer experience, Apps are one good way to engage customers and build loyalty.

Providing brand content with innovation

As seven of my interviews showed, providing the right content on demand is the key challenge for organizations active in tourism.

Here are two interesting examples of how innovation can help provide content to consumers:

  • A Wine Cellar in Switzerland, la Cave Giroud launched recently a service using QR-Code bars on their bottles labels that can be scanned by app-powered smartphones to access specific mobile content related to the wine (history, type of grapes, service recommendations, …).
  • Keeping in mind that smartphones are personal devices that know where you are, the forthcoming app developed by the city of Geneva will serve as virtual guide with augmented reality to help discover more of the city, its monuments & history in an interactive way.

New times = New opportunities

In the past the Tourism Sector had few ways of engaging visitors aside from personal contact  (information offices, events) and traditional advertising. New Media will change the way tourism organization connect with visitors and guide them. Learn more in my next series of posts on Tourism, Loyalty and New Media.

How do you see the evolution of tourism customer engagement strategies ? I’d be glad to have your feedbacks !

Simplicity Innovation

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo Da Vinci

Simplicity as an innovation trend

Speaking about future innovation trends in consuming , Josée Bélanger Simko, one of the main speakers at last year’s Innovation Conference organized by the HEIG-VD in Yverdon (Switzerland), mentioned the challenge of making technology easy & simple to use.

Some of the best known examples of this user-friendly product philosophy come from Cupertino. Browsing the web, checking your e-mails, editing your calendar, accessing your Twitter or Linkedin accounts have never been so easy thanks to app based / touchscreen equiped devices like the iPhone and iPad. Switch on, tap on your app and get to work !

Simplicity & Loyalty: Making life easier

As my study showed, companies in Suisse Romande with loyal customers improve constantly consumer experience.

Simpler devices make the life easier for users who can focus on what is important for them: shopping online, travelling, skiing, therefore giving the opportunity to improve their life quality.

App based devices such as smartphones & wi-fi tablets will help new users of all ages access the Web in a more simple way, creating new conversation 2.0 & loyalty building opportunities for many companies. Stay tuned for more in my future posts !

What do you think about Simplicity Innovation ?
I’d be glad to have your comments !

New Event Management

Is this hospitality heaven ?

Sipping a good coffee surrounded by nice people in a relaxed environment makes people comfortable and socialize. This is a basic working principle of successful hospitality platforms called EVENTS.

Getting real world interest & attention

When I asked managers how their companies build loyalty, more than 90 % mentioned EVENTS as an effective way to meet customers in good conditions to develop relationships and confidence. Events have also the ability to draw public attention. During a recent piano concert I was amazed by the attention the guests showed while listening to a speaker during the opening speech.

New Events are coming

Consumer behaviour is changing and the way marketers reach their audience must also change. Marketers are searching for new ways to not only reach their customers, but to understand them, to peer inside their minds. As the level of consumer understanding increases, so can the knowledge of how best to reach them. – Media Convergence – The Economist

As communication evolves into conversation 2.0, hospitality platforms will blend with social media giving birth to New Events with a strong focus on STORYTELLING, building brand content online and offline.

Creating opportunities

Making New Events today create opportunities to tell stories, develop relationships via social media (Facebook Fan Page, Twitter accounts, Linkedin Groups …) & encourage customer registrations. Remember, a registered customer has better chances of staying loyal.

Why not you ?

Companies & organizations promoting brands in the service sector should seriously consider working more with New Events. These event based strategies improve customer experience & loyalty using new media such as apps. Learn more in future posts !

How do you see the future of New Events ? Do you have any particular examples you’d like to share ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

Building Loyalty with Apps

Web users are going mobile

Recent studies by Google (Wired, feb. 2010) show that only a small part of the 4-5 billion mobile phone handsets in the world are smartphones. Only a small part of these users have access, for the moment, to the web via PCs mainly. Part fun, part function, Web Apps are making mobile devices smarter, encouraging new consumer behaviours and helping web users going mobile.

Innovative apps meet mobile users the leading Swiss online supermarket launched last week it’s brand new app for iPhone owners. Mobile shopping for the registered customers has never been so convenient. Customers can order when and wherever they fancy with the same comfort as they would have from their desktops. One week after the launch in the App Store, more than 2000 users have downloaded the app.

Starbucks released in September 2009 two interesting apps: myStarbucks app locates stores using the iPhone’s GPS, has a nifty drink builder & calories calculator. The second app named Starbucks Card Mobile lets you manage your balance, and — if you’re in Seattle and Silicon Valley — actually pay by scanning an on-screen bar code.

Are Apps the future of loyalty building ?

F O R  C E R T A I N

Based on many positive user feedbacks of SBB Swiss Railways popular app the answer seems obvious. Door-to-door travel information, real-time information during incidents, “Take me Home” function with GPS support, buy and display tickets for public transport services are some of the innovative features of this iPhone app. Travelling by train in Switzerland has never been so easy. Just sit down & enjoy the great views ! This app could well inspire many public transport providers in cities and tourism.

As my “Loyalty & New Media” study showed in 2009, companies with loyal customers improve constantly consumer experience. Each of the three apps examined in this post improve travel, shopping & consuming experience. These apps also show loyalty improving potential for businesses like online retail, public transport and food & beverage outlets with strong brand names.

Do you think smartphone applications are changing the way brands communicate with their customers ? Do you have any particular examples you’d like to share ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

New Consumer Rising

Back to basics for Twenty Ten !

A NEW CONSUMER is rising. the leading Swiss online supermarket announced this week that 39’300 households bought online for the 1st time in their shop in 2009. This is a major evolution for the Swiss retail market. In America a recent study showed that a growing percentage of smartphone owners made mobile purchases when products weren’t available in store in 2009. Things are moving !

A Post Crisis Consumer as described by John Gerzema is emerging. Connected via social media & the web, this customer has new cultural values (relation to credit, ethics driven, quality seeking, community conscious) & consuming strategies (durable living, cooperative consumerism).

New consumers equal new challenges for the companies intending to rebuild sound business relationships and loyalty.

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography (Flickr)

Customer feedback will be crucial in developing effective loyalty building programs for your customer communities.

  • What drives your consumer ?
  • What does he or she like in your product, brand, point of sale or event.
  • How satisfied are they ? What can managers improve to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty ?

As my study showed  companies with loyal customers stay close to them, keep in touch and integrate surveys in the consumption process to avoid customers feeling annoyed or under surveillance.

Happy TWENTY TEN to everybody !

Has your customer changed too ? How ?
I’d be glad to have your comments !

Enter Conversation 2.0

Is Communication evolving into Conversation ?

As the slides taken from a recent Thomas Baekdal presentation show (via NiceToFeedYou ) traditional marketing is undergoing a major revolution.

Traditional Marketing

Web Marketing

Social Media Marketing

Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, …) are linking individuals with similar interests & needs. Customers communicating before individually regroup, associate & interact spontaneously with their favorite brands, point of sales, event or  travel destination. This is changing the way companies communicate with their customers.

What is the link between social media & loyalty building ?

Companies with loyal customers stay close to them. By keeping in touch, companies can show interest, attention and understand better their needs. This is easier for the smaller organizations where customers can be met personally. For companies which can not be so close to their customers – for business model reasons – solutions exist such as social media.

Find out more in my next posts as we will examine examples of loyalty building campaigns using social media.

Is communication evolving into Conversation 2.0 ? I’d be glad to have your comments !

What is loyalty building marketing ? (1)

There is not one but many ways to define a loyal customer depending on business models, values, corporate histories.

But HOW do the managers interviewed motivate their customers to stay loyal to their brands, products, services & points sales ?

Before answering this question, let us remember that although very different, loyalty building campaigns can be very close to sales promotions & public relation activities if you consider some of their effects (customer acquisition / image) in the short & long terms.

Loyalty building vs sales promotion vs public relations

To avoid any confusion, every manager must set clearly their loyalty building objectives during strategic marketing planning.

What is for your business loyalty building ?
I’d be glad to have your comments & feedbacks.

Is Twitter building bridges ?

Social sites have never been so busy,
Twitter in particular !

As I attended last week Stephen MR Covey’s Workshop “Inspire for Excellence” organized by the Swiss Marketing Club & IMD in Lausanne I decided to share on Twitter some of the storytelling impressions & quotes during the conference.

To my surprise one my very first tweets was translated & retweeted by a brazilian follower. Half an hour later another quote got translated to spanish !

This is just a good example of Twitter’s interaction potential. Although I expected some reactions, I was really surprised by the spontaneous translations showing how interested followers in Brazil, Argentina & Great Britain could interact with such an event.

Is Twitter building bridges ? What makes it so special ?
I ‘d be glad to have your comments !

What is a loyal customer ?

How do companies define loyalty ?

As I started this study, I had in mind the definition learned in business school: loyalty marketing regroup strategies meant to convert consumers into customers and to motivate them to stay loyal to the brand, product, service & point of sales.

Thirty interviews later one thing is clear: there is not one but many ways to define loyalty depending on: customers, business models, values, corporate histories.

Image by S p r e s o ♥ (Flicker)

To the question “What is for you a loyal customer?”, managers in tourism & hospitality sector refer to customer satisfaction & service.

Here are some quotes:

  • A loyal customer speaks well of you (public transport / tourism)
  • A loyal customer comes back and recommends you (hospitality )
  • A loyal customer is a friend you don’t know yet (tourism)

When asked the same question, trade company managers (traditional & online) had a more quantitative approach

Here are some more quotes:

  • A loyal customer is in a business relation for a long time (trade)
  • A loyal customer is registered. It’s consumption is tracked  (public transport & trade)
  • A loyal customer is someone with a high retention score (trade)

What is for you a loyal customer ?
I’d be glad to have your feedbacks & comments.

Welcome !


Here are some increasingly important questions:

  • What makes a customer loyal ?
  • What loyalty building strategies help companies ensure customer satisfaction in the present times where consumption patterns as well as customer confidence are evolving fast ?
  • How are used the latest technologies (social media + smartphones + online solutions) in these strategies ?

Nowadays these questions make even more sense !

To get a better picture, I contacted the management of more than 30 companies in the Lake of Geneva Region in Switzerland. Although active in very different sectors (insurance, banking, advertising, tourism, public transport, e-marketing & fashion) all these companies have one thing in common:

  • the determination to satisfy their customers.

Photo by Hélène Quintaine (Flicker)

In this changing world, new opportunities & challenges are appearing in areas such as loyalty building strategies, communication and business development. The conclusions of my study surprised me. They will surprise you too.

Follow this blog & learn more as my future posts will develop these new trends.

Welcome ! Hope you enjoy it !

Eugène Schoen