Oct 27, 2012

Interaction in Touristology. Revenue Management 4th!

Two ideas that I repeat over and over to my Touristologists are:
1) We have to make sure that all the departments in a company work together. Breaking Silos,remember?
2) We have to pursue that all the members of the chain of value work as a single organization.
I believe that WE have to do the same in the educational process. I mean, interaction is the name of the game! It is not of great utility just to memorize concept after concept and then regurgitate them in an exam. I prefer to present the theory and then my Touristologists have to prepare study cases and projects making all the concepts interact.
At the end of the day, that is usually the case when they will work in the business jungle! No memorizing! Instead you will have to sharp up your frameworks, analyze reality and REACT in the most effective and efficient way.
Some of my Touristologist are able to do that as fast as the wind, they get an idea, ask me if they have any doubt (I always say to them “You don’t bother me by asking about doubts, you bother me when you do lazy/poor/boring  presentations!”) I reply with improvements and suggestions, they find new paths, read articles, ask to already-Touristologists, visit enterprises… See? Interaction in action again!
When the task is over I happily and proudly can say to them “thanks for beingTouristologists” Their smiling faces after the hard work and the good results is one the most gratifying things in my life!
Let’s see if we can connect the daily battlefield of a Revenue Manager with the usual scheme of a loyalty program. Ready? Steady? Goooo!
Loyalty or Reward programs have three fundamental ideas.
1) First define the tiers: Most of the companies create three tiers. Something like Silver / Gold / Platinum.
2) How to pass from one tier to the next one: Usually buying a service or, lately, doing a recommendation in social networking sites.
Here we have to remember that when someone is about to pass to the next level usually they are willing to make a special effort to pass it!
3) Create the rewards in every tier: It can be a discount, to get an upgrade next time you visit the company, a special merchandising gift, a free service in one member of our chain of value…

You can define these ideas alone OR you can ask your customer to define it. Is it YOUR loyalty program or is it OURS? Here we have a good example about how to follow this approach. Balkticmiles make a contest in Facebook in order to decide tier’s name, how to pass and which kind of rewards you will get.
Another way to provide innovation in rewards programs is through customization. You can create a single program or you can create a set of different programs aiming at different segments…customizing the tier’s name, how to pass, the reward you can get…
Or you can think that sometimes the same customer has different buying patterns depending on if he or she is travelling alone or if it’s a family trip, or travelling with a group of friends. Customization is the future of loyalty programs!
Do you remember the daily battlefield of a Revenue Manager?

You are at the beginning of the red arrow, that it will be different in each hotel and for each segment. For instance, if you are a hotel dealing with touroperators you have to make your movements far in advance. If you are a hotel aiming at couples planning a romantic weekend you can begin the game two or three weeks prior the arrival of the customers...
At this moment you have to select the best proposal you are getting from your customers. Some of the criteria for this selection will be: The price, the ancillary products that you can sell (or you can forecast to sell) the associated cost, the margin (Segments Accountancy, remember?), the length of stay, if the proposal takes some Blackout Dates ... all this criteria are focused on the sale, BUT you also have to think about the customer. Sometimes it is better to get one not-so-good sale but keep an excellent customer who can bring more business and recommendations in the long term.
Apart from assessing proposals you also have to be proactive and make your own proposals.
OK! Here is the question…
Who to? Which segment do we choose?
What with? Which kind of ancillary product do we put in a package?
When? Today? At the weekend? First thing on Monday morning?
Where? In our web site? In  an OTA (Online Travel Agency)? in a SnS (Social Networking Site) ?...
Can a loyalty program help us in this mission? Can you interact with different systems in order to choose a wiser decision?
Are you able to connect the dots?
Are you a real Touristologist? Or just someone looking for an easy grade before meeting me and facing with my favorite question…
Are you one of the brightest minds willing to work in one of the most important sectors ever?
Time to prove it!
Just remember…  “Weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts. ”  Og Mandino

Oct 21, 2012

Touristology using Analogy’s power

I’m a Lecturer, Consultant and Entrepreneur specialized in Tourism. By far, the most gratifying activities I develop are to learn, to understand, to put theory into practice and then to convey what I have learned in a framework format.
If the frameworks are effective then the good part begins:
1) Seeing my Touristologist earning a living using them!
2) Seeing my customers improving their business!
3) Seeing my companies creating employment and local wealth!
Sometimes the issues which I’m dealing with are difficult and complex. My task is to explain, in easy terms, these difficult ideas. Sometimes, the best way is to use analogy’s power. I try with one then with another…
The other day, we talked about Top-Down versus Bottom-up approach here. Recently, I had the opportunity to express my ideas in a seminar. As usual my creativity increases in the battlefield. So, an analogy appears…
One of the most interesting authors I have ever read is Malcolm Gladwell I fell in love with him (intellectually of course!) when I read "The Tipping Point", to me one of the best books ever about  viral marketing, then came “Blink” and others but in this post I want to focus on "Outliers"
In this book he explains a very possible theory about why people in South of China are good in mathematics. One of the reasons is because they practice a lot, Gladwell mention the "10,000-Hour Rule" which claims that in order to excel in any activity you have to practice this amount of hours! The other is because they live in an environment where everybody believes that if you do your part success will appear.

 Ancient China was built along the two main rivers. The Yellow River in the north, and the Yangtze in the south.  In the settlements along the Yellow River, people grew millet in the rich, easily worked loess soil. In the south, people grew rice along the Yangtze river.

Cultivating rice is difficult you have to spend many hours, you have to take care of any single detail but if you do your part you get your reward. So, a lot of practice and a good attitude make people from the south of china successful.
Jordi! Where is the analogy here? Good question Touristologists! People who cultivate rice are similar to the ones which choose bottom-up approach in tourism and also prefer specialized tourism. People who cultivate millet or wheat need great volume and are similar to the ones who choose the Top-Down approach and usually rely on mass tourism.

Which kind of Touristologist are you? Which kind of strategy will you recommend to a tourist destination? Remember you can choose, Top-Down OR Bottom-Up are just extremes to know your position BUT are you sure you can follow the Bottom-up approach? A Chinese proverb says “No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.”

Touristologists! Practice your skills, keep a good attitude, take care of your contacts (tourists, chain of value members, service providers…) and nothing will stop you! …and I will be the proudest person in the entire world!