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Money Saving Last Minute Travel Booking

As gas prices continue to go up and the effects ripple through travel related businesses we will probably see even more of these kinds of pricing anomalies. I would suggest experimenting when booking last minute travel as the bundling agreements of travel aggregators may do nice things for you also.

I recently made a one-night trip from Houston to Chicago with very little notice. I managed to save almost $200 off of the lowest-price plane ticket by adding a hotel room at a Super 8 outside of Gary, IN, which I didn’t use.
A quick look at Travelocity shows me that it was no fluke- for brief trips with very little notice, it’s much cheaper to book a flight to Chicago if you book a room at a Super 8 at the same time. At the time that I originally wrote this post, Delta would sell a flight from Houston to Chicago for $616 without a hotel room, $340 with. If I needed to leave tomorrow, I could buy a ticket on American for $606 without a hotel room, or $350 with.

It used to be that one would book a cheaper round trip ticket when you only needed a one way ticket but now there are other options for getting a deal. Good tip.

Crooked Timber on Last Minute Travel Booking

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August 31, 2005 in Building Customer Community, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RFID Used to Gain Customer Intuition for British Homebuilder

A British homebuilder is using an active RFID system to study how a typical British family lives in one of their model homes. The family agreed to where RFID bracelets that tracked their movements throughout the house while they lived there. The goal is to determine which features of the design actually get used. Dinning Room? Sunken Bathtub? Basement space? Decks? Hot Tubes?These are some of the elements under scrutiny.

The standard layout of British houses derives from what people's needs were in the days before TV and 50-hour work weeks, Birbeck points out. “If it's true that today adults are only in the house and consciously awake three hours a day and that they spend half that time pampering themselves in the bathroom, what's the point of a huge living room?” he asks.

More and more technology is being used to track and understand customer behavior and preferences. Privacy advocates hate tracking systems but handled properly these kinds of systems can generate valuable insights that can help business' better serve their customers.

Sometimes it's as easy as a review of the video of customers using your product or service. What insights have technological systems brought to your understanding of customer behavior?

Business Week: Home Design

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August 31, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geeks Get Their Customer Intuition On

Flickr Logo-1Two geeks wondered which days of the week are the most popular for pub/bar going. They sought a geek solution to the answer. They decided to analyze the dates on Flickr photos that are tagged “pub” or “bar.” The logic is simple. People who go out drinking are likely to take pictures of their friends and upon uploading them to Flickr are probably tagged with either pub or bar.

While this is an unscientific analysis done by a couple of code geeks just for fun it does point to the practicality of using consumer generated media and social software to gather customer intuition.

If you were a bar or pub owner you'd do well to set up an RSS feed to monitor flickr photos taken in and around your establishment. If you make and/or sell widgets of one kind or another you should also monitor tags and photo pools that are relevant to your industry, company, product, service, etc.

Arm Chair Sociology With Flickr

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August 30, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter, CMO, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Today's To-do Items

After seeing the pictures coming out of the gulf states here in the US in the wake of Hurricane Katrina I'd like to encourage you to take up an office or company wide collection to donate to the Red Cross. Ten people giving ten dollars equals $100 for disaster relief. Once you've done that consider other ways you and your company can assist your customers, suppliers, family members, etc. who are in the areas hit by the devastating storm. The right thing to do in these situations also builds good will with your customers and prospects. We see it in the advertising of consumer companies. Why not do something remarkable as a company and have a really good story next time you sit down to write a email newsletter.

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August 30, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, blog publish, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Promotion Fatigue

Last week I had to go shopping at a clothing store I prefer to avoid. They were the only store in the area that stocked what I needed. The problem I have with this store is promotion fatigue. Their everyday pricing is clearly inflated to support their promotions. Playing their promotional games requires that you shop their stores on certain dates to receive savings coupons that are good only on certain days a month out. It's blatantly manipulative and I resent it. If you want me as a good customer don't make me jump through your arbitrary hoops. Don't make me shop on the days you want me to shop. I'll shop at your competition when I want to shop.

It's a fine line between sales and manipulating customers to make your numbers.

Have you talked to a customer lately to gauge their response to your pricing and promotion practices? Oh, look, there's a phone right there on your desk.

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August 29, 2005 in audio publication, award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Brand enhancement, Business newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Weekend Travel Report

I am happy to report that I had a remarkably smooth time traveling this weekend. The airport check-in kiosks worked great. Flights were on time. Airport transfer worked fine. There's really no story. That's a good thing because we all know how wrong it can go.

We did see a bit of a story. A young couple sitting across the aisle from us were leaving on their honeymoon. The bride requested hot tea which somehow ended up spilled in the groom's lap. I didn't see it happen so I don't know who exactly is responsible. He did head off to the lavatory to check out the burn. he returned a few minutes later with a bag of ice. The honeymoon is maybe not a good time for a scalding burn in one's lap.

Would it be so hard to come up with some sort of spill proof cup for hot liquids on airplanes?

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August 28, 2005 in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm in For it Today

I am headed to the airport later today for a quick weekend getaway to attend a wedding. The airport goal, as always, is to deal with as few humans as possible. I'll be using ATMs, Kiosks and any other automated system I can find. It's not that I don't like interacting with people, I really do. The reality is that it's a lot faster to move through people-less. People are busy answering questions and handling customer problems. They often don't have the time or interest to deal with the routine traveller. Some are better than others but overall I have found that the kiosks and automated systems work faster on average provided you have learned to use them properly. A few minutes learning a new system can save a lot of time in the future. It's the same reason I always prefer the self checkout systems where available.

Are any of your customers struggling to use your automated systems? From your website to your telephone system automation is pervasive in today's business environment. An FAQ about your automated systems would make a great content item for an email newsletter.

On Monday I'll let you know how things went.

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August 26, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Current Affairs, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Movie Producers Face a Huge Crisis of Customer Intuition

The New York Times has a rather obvious report on the clear customer intuition crisis that the movie industry is facing. The movie industry appears with few exceptions to be in a downward spiral of poor quality products that perform poorly due to external competition, distribution competition and poor customer experience.

Customers are finding alternatives for their entertainment time and money. Gaming, internet use, books, Tivo dumping and even board games are contributing to reduced movie ticket sales.

Prices are dropping for new and used DVDs. Prices will continue to drop as customer collections mature. Publishers will discount their offerings to boost sales. Competition from Netflix and discount retailers will also drive pricing down. Customers are also drawn to TV shows on DVD. The smaller chunks of entertainment may have a real appeal. Customers can watch 20, 30, 60 minute stories without having to commit to a full 90 or 120 minute film.

Home theaters are becoming more prevalent. Large screen TVs with or without surround sound are becoming a real convenient option for time and increasingly fuel starved customers. Why go out when a superior experience can be had at home.

Customer experience is becoming a real problem. As multiplexes look for multiple sources of revenue and turn to advertising, high priced concessions and arcade games they are creating an experience that is only tolerated by teenagers who have different standards of acceptable theater behavior. Talking, seat switching, cellphone use, etc. are behaviors that are not well tolerated by older(35+) moviegoers. This encourages older customers to stay home and watch DVDs on their home theaters. When the rare movie designed to appeal to baby boomers is released theater owners and movie studios wonder why older movie goers don't come out to the theaters.(Witness the theatrical disappointment of Cinderella Man) They don't have enough customer intuition to see that they have designed their customer experience to be unfriendly to precisely the customers who can most afford the alternatives of DVD collections and home theaters.

Is your customer experience driving customers to do more business with you or to seek alternatives? Over time your customer base may have shifted. Are you still aligning your customer communications and experiences to who your customers really are?

NYT on the Movie Business

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August 25, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Current Affairs, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Top 5 Reasons to Outsource Your Email Newsletter

Sarah Eaton has been doing a great series on the top reasons to outsource your email newsletter. This is great advice. She's only part way through her list so you'll want to grab the BeTuitive blog feed so that you can read the rest as she post's them.

And the number five reason why it's a good idea to outsource your newsletter?  It combines elements of some of our previous ideas (as seen below).  <b>You get a designer, an editor, a writer, a list manager, a strategy team.  You get all of those things, for the price of hiring one person to work on your newsletter for you in house</b>.  That's right: a whole bunch of brains for the price of one. 
5.  Multiple brains for the price of one.
Design that pops and complements the custom content.
Professional writing and editing services at your disposal.
You're working with experts; you can let go of the worry.
Because you're so flippin' busy

This is great advice for anyone just starting out to create an email newsletter or anyone looking for a way to work smarter not harder. The first step is to check out BeTuitive and request some Pricing to see how outsourcing can save the day and better serve your customers.
Multiple Brains for the Price of One

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August 25, 2005 in award winning newsletter, blog publish, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business credibility, Business editorial, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Any Stories From Back in the Day at A Dot Bomb?

Interesting list of dot bombs on c|net.

Top 10 Dot-com Flops

Anybody got a Marketing or Customer Intuition story from one of these companies? Leave it in the comments.

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August 24, 2005 in Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, CMO | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack