Author Archives: Simon

About Simon

Simon is a blogger, copywriter and consultant for Linkbuildr.com His attention span embraces the invention of blogs and has nightmares about writing a novel. He also works on his appreciation the finer things in life, through extensive traveling, experiencing new cultures and trying new cuisine. He also loves to blog on the luxury lifestyle, from brands, fashion, watches, automobiles, gadgets, liquor to travel. He studied marketing communications @ BCIT, which added to his intensive daily online marketing cross-training. Follow him on Twitter: @S_Gerard and Google+: +Simon Gerard

Nike Continues Branding Dominance with #MakeItCount and @NikeFuel

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January 21  |  Brand Building  |   Simon

Nike and their long-time agency Wieden+Kennedy have never missed a game, lost a round, missed a shot or any other winning sports analogy you can think of when it comes to branding and marketing. W+K was actually formed as a result of Dan Wieden and David Kennedy taking Nike as their first client, after they left mega-agency McCann Erickson in the early 80s. Since then, Nike and W+K have had only victories in their ilustrious track record together and have never failed to impress both customers and marketers.  And they definitely didn’t lose their stride with the recent achievement with a viral and social media-powered campaign to brand a new product. And I promise that’s the last (intentional) sports analogy.

W+K came up with Nike’s “Just Do It”, which is probably the most well known slogan ever. Since its inception, it has stood as the ultimate motivational phrase. I recently watched the documentary “Art and Copy” that had interviews with people on the impact of “Just Do It” and their responses went far beyond sports or fitness goals. Check out the clip:

 

The new #MakeItCount slogan is a modern social media take on the same simple concept of their original “Just Do It” slogan.  The #MakeItCount campaign combined traditional marketing elements, such as print, commercials and brand ambassadors, combined with smart social media and viral marketing efforts. They fully leveraged all this through positive customer engagement and, in a sense, customer crowd-sourcing to promote their campaign.

Nike #MakeItCount poster

The #MakeItCount hashtag started up just before Christmas, acting like a new year’s resolution for physical fitness, was all a buildup for a mystery product launch yesterday morning. Nike encouraged its fans to tweet what they wanted to accomplish in 2012. Building a positive and motivational hashtag at the perfect time of year, to lead up to a mystery product launch.

This campaign was so successful that not only was the hype clearly seen through social media, but also in the stock market. Nike Inc. shares hit an all-time high Wednesday, breaking the $100 mark, just in anticipation of the mystery product launch, the day before it was actually revealed.

Nike #MakeItCount marketing campaign

Twitter was an important element leading into this new product launch, was the long-overdue launch of the official @Nike account. They already had a range of Nike Twitter accounts for their various sports and divisions, but were seemingly holding out on @Nike to coincide with the #MakeItCount campaign. Nike’s real-life clout transferred with ease into Klout on Twitter, with all of Nike’s big name athletes following the first day, including Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Steve Nash, the NBA and of course Nike’s strong existing Twitter accounts.

#MakeItCount tweet by Kevin Durant @KDTREY5

Tweet by NBA star Kevin Durant turned into a poster.

Launched on Dec. 29th, @Nike was able to surpass rival @Adidas within 24 hours, gaining around 14,000 followers. after 23 days, @Nike has over 227,000 followers. Over the last few weeks, Nike had their wide range of celebrity athletes, through all sports, countries and cultures, tweet and Instagram their goals for 2012 and #MakeItCount, encouraging fans to do the same. Topsy.com recorded 24,387 mentions on Dec 31st alone. Combined with Instagram, Nike has created a dynamic #MakeItCount page to showcase their fans motivational #MakeItCount tweets, along with their celebrity athlete ambassadors. The current tweet total is showing at over 59,000.

Here is the Youtube commercial released to coincide on Dec.31, which received around 62,000 views that day alone:

 

Nike was founded on the genuine goal to encourage sports and fitness, along with all the positive side effects they have. And by selling the products that help people to reach this goal, their marketing and products a honest combination that has always been well received by the public. With their ongoing #MakeItCount campaign, Nike has already received an obvious high-level of engagement with their huge fan base and effectively crowd-sourced them to hype their upcoming product.

Nike FuelBand - #MakeItCount

And Thursday morning, the Nike FuelBand was released to plenty of hype, praise and criticism, that you most likely caught some of by now. Even the @NikeFuel Twitter account that was launched yesterday morning has topped @Adidas’ follower count, with over 10,000 after around 36 hours.

Here is the Youtube video that also coinsided with the release, which has seen over 478,000 view in 3 days:

 

The huge press conference to finally reveal the mystery product involved out plenty of stars (and their Twitter followers). Pictured here at the event is Kevin Dudrant, Carmelita Jeter, Lance Armstrong and host Jimmy Fallon. With coverage hitting every major news source, blog and social media platform as a rusult, Nike has seen instant exposure for their FuelBand that few companies outside of Apple rarely see.

Nike FuelBand press announcement event

Photo courtesy of CNET

For a better explanation of what the FuelBand does, check out the video below:

 

From  a marketing perspective, the desktop and mobile app are important mentions. They lets you track and monitor your progress, using elements of gamification to keep you engaged with the product.  The social aspects come in here, letting you share your goals and progress with friends through social media, either to motivate, brag or compete with each other.

Now the Nike FuelBand, retailing for $150, isn’t a new concept,with comparable products already existing, such as Motorola’s MOTOACTIV (with costs $250, but with a music player and GPS) and the cheaper JawBone UP at $100. But like the world of gadget brands being divided by Apple and non-Apple, no fitness brands can touch the Nike brand.

Nike was eager to get people testing the FuelBand, with most reviews saying it’s does what it promises too. But when it comes down to it, this product can be seen two ways: Either a great motivational tool for fitness or a unnecessary gimmick that doesn’t technically improve your fitness. With the social elements of sharing with friends and the gamification element of gaining points, beating records and tracking progress, it can be a great tool for some. Or you could just do all those activities without the $150 wristband.

Nike Make It Count Poster

Every Karate Kid-style crane kick counts too.

One thing is for sure, Nike has branded a fitness tracking product like no other company could ever do. They excelled in all areas, from traditional, viral and social media marketing efforts, to leveraging their athlete brand ambassadors to engaging and crowd-sourcing their fans.

And to keep these $150 FuelBands selling, Nike has no plans to let #MakeItCount and @NikeFuel stop trending. First by using their athletes’ continued promotion and and massive combined Twitter following they’ve easily built up. Secondly, with their fans’ utilization of the social sharing and gamification aspects to keep each other engaged and active. Has Nike started a new era in fitness? Or have they just started a big pile of barely used $150 wristbands? We’ll have to wait and see.

Here is Nike’s pop culture/sports/movie montage to promote the FuelBand and #MakeItCount that’s racked up over 1.3 million views in 3 days. Another stellar commercial by W+K that’s imagery resonates with its audience, conveys what the product is about and is just fun to watch, check it out:

 

Follow me on Twitter:@S_Gerard and for another recent viral and social media success by Nike, check out my post on: Marty McFly’s Nike Sneakers are Finally Back From The Future.

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InfoBarrel Steps Up Local Content Marketing With Easy Google Maps

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December 6  |  Inbound Marketing  |   Simon

Our buddies over at InfoBarrel have introduced a new element for their hosted content we’d like to share with you. This one improves their content’s local effectiveness with an easy way to throw in Google Maps. If haven’t used InfoBarrel or stumbled across some of their content on Google, let me fill you in. They’re a popular content hub built on submitted content that’s all human reviewed to keep the quality high. Unlike many automated content hubs that were full of overtly promotional and low quality content that keep taking hits from Panda Updates, InfoBarrel continues to rank high.

With 20% of searches being local, making a quick and easy Google Maps function is a big benefit for InfoBarrel users. Also, 74% of local searches using portals such as Google, they make a solid choice for hosing your content. And if you’re not looking to expand your link profile, don’t forget Infobarrel’s rev share program, so any content you post stands to make extra money through Adsense, Chitika and Amazon.With the success of content marketing depending completely on its value to the reader, InfoBarrel ensures they only host useful or interesting content. This makes it a high-ranking site to share unique content to an active audience, score a relevant backlink and build up your following and a author profile.

We all know we’d rather not spend time searching for an address ourselves, so check out the short Youtube video on using the new feature. And I’ve included a recent infographic below from MDG Advertising on the state of mobile search.

 

Infographic: Local Search Evolved by MDG Advertising
Infographic by MDG Advertising
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Alec Baldwin’s Schweddy Balls A Viral Hit

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September 10  |  Viral Marketing  |   Simon

With all the hype trending around the release of the Nike Air Mags that Marty McFly wore in “Back to The Future II” after a 23 year wait, you might not have caught another viral product announced at the same time: Ben & Jerry’s “Schweddy Balls”.  This new flavour from Ben & Jerry’s, like with the Nike Air Mags, have come from fantasy to reality. If you’re not familiar with the Saturday Night Live skit Schweddy Balls is based on, check out the video below.

 

This combination of vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum with fudge covered rum and malt balls is another stellar example of viral marketing that was practically competing with the Nike Air Mags on Twitter. This limited edition flavour was able to virally leverage the SNL Schweddy Balls meme to completely cover all marketing costs.

Twitpic of Ben & Jerry's "Schweddy Balls"

@cherrygarcia's twitpic has 2119 tweets and 33,000 views

Twitpic Credit: @cherrygarcia

Let’s look at the social data from Topsy.com for the three days since Schweddy Balls was first mentioned.  The original article by Time announcing Schweddy Balls has been Facebook liked 867 times and Facebook shared a staggering 42k times. It has had 4560 direct tweets, 245 Diggs, 54 Stumbles and 74 +1’s.  The link has also racked up 4,457 social mentions. Ben & Jerry’s official Twitter account, @cherrygarcia, tweet linking to their Schweddy Balls page on their site received 1,899 retweets. The now famous fake family name “Schweddy” has 7,768 social mentions 7,768. Alec Baldwin (@alecbaldwin) has a massive following of 330,766 and his tweet of the Times post received 505 tweets plus 19 influential tweets alone.

Imagine the ROI of promoting a new flavor of ice cream through traditional channels like banner, print or TV ads, compared to inbound marketing tactics like blogs and social networks, and you just can imagine the money saved. All it took was a clever idea and the balls to actually put it into action. Yep, had to throw in a balls joke somewhere.

@alecbaldwin's "Schweddy Balls" tweet

Like with my previous post on the viral marketing hit of the Nike Air Mags, Schweddy Balls stands a premium example of successful viral marketing and leveraging inbound marketing. What was great about Marty McFly’s Nike sneakers was the proceeds go to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I think it would have been a smart and funny PR move by Ben & Jerry to have proceeds of the limited release of Schweddy Balls went to support prostate cancer, which gets much less attention than breast cancer but affects just as many men. Too bad they didn’t aim to do some social good like Nike, but both reap the benefits of viral brand building, which resonates in today’s marketplace so much stronger than traditional ads or commercials.

Follow me on Twitter:@S_Gerard

 

 

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Marty McFly’s Nike sneakers have finally come Back From the Future

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September 8  |  Viral Marketing  |   Simon

As a senior member of Gen Y, the 80s holds many of my fondest pop culture memories. The Back to the Future movies were huge hits when they were released and are still loved by millions today. I still remember seeing the original Back to the Future when it was first released to VHS. When the sequel came out, where Marty McFly travels to the future, my whole generation was blown away. No one can forget the flying DeLorean, the hoverboard, the 3D Jaws movie billboard to the self-tying Nike hi-tops that Marty McFly wears. With all this and so many other imaginative details, Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg were able to send us all to the distant future: the year 2015. Now in 2011, Nike is finally releasing the same Nike’s Marty McFly wore to ride his hoverboard, after over 20 years of rumours and hype.

The legions of Back to The Future fans have always discussed and fantasized about when the hoverboard and the self-tying sneakers would become a reality. On September 6th, 2011 the Nike “Air Mags” finally came back from the future in a teaser Youtube video by user “DocEmmettBrown88”, for those who don’t know all their BTTF trivia, that’s the name of the scientist who invented the time traveling DeLorean.

The next day at around 3pm, NiceKicks.com, one of the leading authorities in the world of sneakers, received a special package from the future. Just like the scenes in the movies where Marty would receive messages from Doc Brown for another point in time, an iPod Shuffle had a special message from the Doc himself saying: “Welcome to Los Angeles. If my calculations are correct, over the next 24 hours you are about to see some SERIOUS SH*T!”. It included an invitation to: “IT’S ABOUT TIME…an unveiling that could change the course of time”, a special event in Hollywood tonight. I’m sure the NiceKicks staff are BTTF fans and I couldn’t imagine their excitement, I would have screamed and fainted for sure.

promo package for Nike's "Back to The Future" Air Mag sneakers

Doc Brown's metal wrap glasses from "Back to The Future II"The package contained Throwback Pepsi (the mid-80s formula), some 80s candy, such as Nerds and bubble gum tape. It also had the Back to The Future Trilogy and a pair of Doc Brown’s metal shield glasses he wore in the film.

While there have been a few Nike releases with a “Marty McFly” theme, none have been official or done the pair from the movie justice. Last August, NiceKicks reported that Nike had filed a patented for a pair of battery-operated self-tying shoe with LED lights. Many dismissed it as a hoax since rumours of this sneaker being made have always come up over the years.

80s candy, Throwback Pepsi and "Back to The Future" movies

Now we have confirmation that the dream is real, tonight at 8pm, the real-deal Marty McFly Air Mag sneakers will be unveiled. They will be the first rechargeable footwear from Nike, featuring a glowing LED panel and it actually auto-ties itself with a button… JUST LIKE IN THE MOVIE!!!!

Nike's Air Mag sneaker from "Back to The Future"

1500 have been made, with 150 to go up for auction on eBay for 10 days, starting tonight. All proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease. In case you are not aware, Michael J. Fox who starred in BTTF, has Parkinsons which led to him starting this foundation. He will appear on David Letterman tonight, hopefully in his signature outfit from the movies. Leading up to this release, Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki said they would match all donations to this foundation up until 2012, at a max of $50 million. With over 20 years of hype for this release, I’m sure it will be an all out 10-day bidding war for these sneakers, so it’s great to see Brin and Wojcicki stepped up to match all donations.

Marty McFly holding his Nike Air Mags in "Back to The Future II"

Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, said he wanted to translate all the built-up excitement for this sneaker and turn it into a positive action to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. A great PR move by Nike to help a great cause. The viral-ness of this sneaker has blown up across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. This has covered all marketing costs, outside of the teaser video, release event and promo packages. And Nike and BTTF fans get a chance to fulfill a childhood dream while giving to charity. This ends up being a win-win-win situation, with Nike, charity and fans all benefiting. It also stands as another stellar example of viral marketing and leverage of inbound marketing techniques, brought to us by the geniuses at Nike.

topsy.com stats for "Back to The Future"

Hoverboard from "Back to The Future II"

Still waiting for the Hoverboard to come out...

Let’s take a look at some of the real-time stats from Topsy.com after 24 hours of NiceKicks’ post on receiving the promo package. The Back to The Future hashtag, #BTTF has been used just over 1000 times. “Back to The Future” has been mentioned 5,600 times, “Marty McFly” has been mentioned 2,800 times and “Nike Air Mag” mentioned 1,500 times. The post itself has had over 19,000 FB ‘likes’, 228 +1’s and 3683 retweets. The teaser Youtube video has received almost 185,00 views in two days. All this without the shoes even being released yet. Just imagine the ROI of promoting a pair of sneakers or a charity through traditional channels like banner, print or TV ads, compared to inbound marketing tactics of social networks and blogging. You can imagine the $$ saved.

We’ll see how long this topic trends with 10 days of auctioning. And I’ll also update if I’m incredibly lucky and win a bid… They would just make the perfect pair of (online)work shoes.

UPDATE: The winning big on the first pair was $37,500 by British rapper Tinie Tempah, who also received a plutonium case to carry them in and was apparently promised a puppy by the auction’s host. And unfortunately, the sneakers do not auto-fasten, guess we’ll actually have to wait until 2015 like in the movie… But in other BTTF news, Coke-a-Cola has angel invested in The Hoverboard Program, which aims to bring us the hoverboard by 4:29pm on the 21st of October 2015, which is the exact date/time when Marty McFly arrived in the future. Its hard to say how serious this program is, they are hiring though. Just like with the legacy of the Nike Air Mags, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Follow me on Twitter:@S_Gerard

Photo Credits: NiceKicks.com

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Social Travel’s Most Exciting Players: Airbnb and Tripping.com

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July 30  |  Social Networks  |   Simon

So I’ve been researching the current state of social media and mobile marketing in the hotel industry for a series of posts, when I started to relapse into a state I know all too well. My breath was getting shallow, hands clammy, one moment hot, then next cold. The same symptoms I’ve suffered from writing for hotel and travel clients. While I always swear that I’ll quit each time, I again found myself in the grip of an addiction I can never truly shake- Googling travel plans!!! …and It can happen to anyone, even you!

You could be at your office, just working away at your computer, not worried at all. But all it takes is just a few simple words to set it off, sending you spiralling out of control. It could be a co-worker could innocently ask if you have plans for the “Long Weekend” or you check Facebook and see an inflammatory post reading “Cabo in a week!!! Whoo!!”  Before you even realize it, you’re Googling for inclusive vacation deals until the janitor turns off the lights.

First I’m browsing a few white papers on the hospitality industry, I blink and find myself hypnotized by  Airbnb’s search. Did you know you can search for both “wireless internet” and “tree house” and get results? I start to hyperventilate as I realize I could be in a tree house in Morocco and still work. The problem is what am I actually going to do there and how am I not going to eat all my work time figuring it out.  I’m allergic to those expensive, boring tourist tours that just drag out all day, if only I knew someone there to show me around… That’s when I discovered the answer to this problem with Tripping.com.

Long distance connections and travelling is where many see the greatest value in online social networks. What finally convinced me to sign my soul over to Facebook a few years back was tagging along last minute with a few friend’s journey through S. E. Asia. This made keeping up with everyone you meet travelling the area, during and after a true benefit of Facebook.  While there are plenty of social travel sites out there now, after a cold shower, I thought I’d focus this energy into sharing the two I’m the most excited about.

Airbnb.com

Airbnb inc. made headlines yesterday by joining the billion-dollar start-up club after a $112 million round of financing. Airbnb has already gained notoriety in the start-up world, with TechCrunch using the phrase “The Airbnb of ______” to describe other social sharing networks/collaborative consumption start-ups.  For those not familiar with Airbnb, it is essentially a vacation rental site, but takes it further. Airbnb uses the concept of peer-to-peer travel and goes way beyond couch surfing. Rental spaces range from beds, rooms, apartments or houses to castles, tree houses, igloos, private islands. There are even have listings for whole villages and a country up for rent. While this all grabs headlines, where Airbnb really stands out from the range of vacation rental sites is its social aspects.

“Airbnb is to space what eBay is to stuff” is how co-founder Brian Chesky describes his company. This sparked interest with investors, not just by the comparison to eBay’s success, but also to its seller and buyer reviews.  Airbnb not only lets travellers review the hosts, it lets the hosts review the travellers.  With Airbnb, each traveller and host has to introduce and interview each other online before both can agree on the booking. This means, like with a host, a traveller has to keep a good reputation to keep participating in Airbnb’s service.  They even let fellow travellers vouch for each other to help build trust and smooth out the introduction stage Airbnb added Facebook connectivity in May, which has created 59 million connections in three months. This feature allows a LinkedIn-style degrees of separation, letting you see hosts and travellers through you FB friends. Now you can message a related FB friend to learn more about your potential host or guest.  This all goes to strengthen the vitally important community aspect of Airbnb.

Visit Airbnb.com

 

Tripping.com

Tripping.com is a new social travel site that is similar in features to Airbnb, but offers a service that can actually compliment Airbnb.  Tripping’s features include comparable community and trust building features between hosts and trippers, offering reviews both ways, along with peer reviews.  Facebook connectivity also links you with and through your Facebook friends to tripping members. For safety reasons, Tripping asks for extra validation from members through a video Skype call to show their passport and proof of address to match their account info. They also have an emergency hotline for trippers that is currently in beta-testing.

I find when travelling, having a friend or friend-of-friend at your destination is always a great advantage. Having someone who can give you the real tour of a location beats any cookie-cutter guided tour. A personal tour by a local gives you the chance to meet their local friends and gets you into the local culture. This is how you’ll get off the beaten path to see the best local restaurants, bars, clubs and all the little secrets of the area. Of course it’s a challenge to have connections located everywhere you want to go. This is where Tripping.com comes in.

You can either act as a host to your area or a tripper when travelling. What the host does offers their time to show the tripper around and can also offer to have them stay over.  There is no charge for this service, what everyone gains is the experience to share their lives and culture. While this sounds cheesy in print, the value you get from travelling and sharing culture is truly priceless, making is a much appreciated gift to receive. It’s also a great feeling to share your home and culture and to learn a different perspective on both from a traveller. Hosting also gives you a connection to the tripper and opening up their local area to you as well.  And of course there’s nothing wrong with treating you host with drinks, dinner or gifts for their time, as you would for a foreign friend hosting you.

Visit Tripping.com

 

If you’re an avid traveller or wanting to start dipping your toes in international water, make sure to check these two social travel sites out.  And in case you’re still lie awake at night worrying about your online privacy, get over it, it’s the future now, so connect to both through Facebook. Just seeing the lists of hosts you’re connected to that I can contact for an introduction can’t be more appealing.  I plan to try out both services in the near future and I will let you all know how much fun I had after! If you’re planning to visit Vancouver, BC, hit me up on tripping.com and I’ll show you the town.

Connect with me on Twitter: @S_Gerard

 


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Interview with Anand Patel, Founder of TalkHotels.com

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July 21  |  Social Networks  |   Simon

Recently I’ve been enjoying the beta-test of TalkHotels.com, a new professional and social network for hoteliers and hospitality professionals. I’ve been sharing my knowledge and chatting with hotel industry members and had a chance to meet the founder, Anand Patel. He’s agreed to have an interview with me to share what it’s all about.

Simon: Hi Anand, please fill our readers in on the basic concept and features for TalkHotels

Anand: The concept for TalkHotels is simple: create a free networking tool for hospitality professionals to exchange ideas, opinions, and reviews of products and services. Hotels continue to face more challenges each year and I noticed there wasn’t a single tool they could use to get reliable, up-to-date, organized information from their peers. Of course, there’s trade magazines and a few notable hospitality blogs but that conversation is one-way; there isn’t much dialogue there between the people that are involved in day-to-day operations.

Simon: Give me a little history on what inspired TalkHotels

Anand: It really stemmed from the early experience I gained by working with hotels around the world. I made websites to help pay my way through college and the majority of my clients were in the hotel business so naturally, I heard stories about how difficult it became to find reliable information when you needed it most. With each story I heard, the idea for TalkHotels grew until I felt I had a pretty good, sustainable model to take to market. I guess the purest inspiration I had was the fact that nothing like TalkHotels existed before. I wanted to provide an authentic solution to a real-world problem and I believe I’m on the right track.

Simon: Here at Linkbuildr we’re pretty excited about how you are connecting vendors and services together with the hotel industry, Please elaborate.

Anand: The TalkHotels ‘Shop’ experience is designed to give hoteliers access to the largest collection of vendors and local service providers, along with unbiased reviews from their peers. If you operate a franchise hotel, you can’t just work with anyone so we wanted to provide our members with a catalog of vendors that was custom-built for you and the brands you’re involved with. As we grow and we get more vendors on board, we plan on introducing a handful of tools to make the buying process even easier for hotel operators. Simply put, the vision is to equip hotel operators with all the information they need in a concise manner to make educated, informed decisions on the go.

Simon: I see TalkHotels is taking on an environmental initiative as well. Tell us about these plans and your collaboration with CarbonFund.org?

Anand: Yes, the environmental initiatives were something I wanted to incorporate from the beginning because I’m aware of the impact hotels and travel/tourism in general has on the environment. As TalkHotels grows, I want to use our voice to help raise awareness and look for authentic solutions to reduce the impact hotels have on the environment. Right now, we’re planting a tree for each invite that’s requested. Later, we plan on introducing several other environmental initiatives for hotels and travelers to participate in.

 

Simon: Are you planning a mobile app version of TalkHotels?

Anand: Yes, that’s definitely something we’re working on in the near future. Before we fully jumped into creating a mobile version of TalkHotels, we wanted to build up our member base and gain insight as to what we can improve, what we can ditch, which features were deemed the most important, etc. We’re still in the process of gathering this information but we’ll definitely be unveiling an app for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and iPad in the near future.

Simon: Do you have plans for any additional features or services from TalkHotels?

Anand: Absolutely. I wish I could share more information but at this point, we’re still in the planning stages. Stay tuned, though, because we’re going to be introducing some new services that we feel our members will enjoy and gain tremendous value from.

Simon: TalkHotels is still in beta testing, do you know when you plan to launch officially?

Anand: We’re getting there. We still have about 200 invites to grant so once we grant those we’ll give those people ample time to sign up and tour TalkHotels. After that, we’ll open up the invite system so that our existing members can then invite people they know in the industry. In fact, we have some interactive promotions and campaigns planned for our existing members so that we can share TalkHotels with even more people. We plan on keeping it invite-only because we want our members to have total power to let in people who they feel will contribute to the TalkHotels network.

Simon: Thanks for your time Anand. For anyone involved or who follows this industry you really see the progressive nature that people outside don’t pick up on. The trends of the modern traveler are evolving at an accelerating rate, with new niches and new needs that constantly challenge hotels. For instance I just discovered a new category I’m slowly getting sucked into called the “micro-tripper”. It’s being built around the popularity of flash sales, private travel sales and group buying sites and is made of people interested in very short or last minute vacations. While there are always naysayers when any new social network arrives, the size of the global hospitality industry is big enough to warrant its own. And with the constant changes we’re seeing in travel,  the demand within the industry for this will only grow. The Linkbuildr team is excited to see how the community expands and what new features are integrated. I’d be happy to check in with you for another post in the near future.

If you’re in the hospitality industry, or supply a product or service for hotels, make sure to check out TalkHotels. Right now it’s an invite-only network, so please visit to request an invite. And remember, they’ll plant a tree just for your request!

TalkHotels.com

 

TalkHotels on Facebook

 

TalkHotels on Twitter

 

Email Anand – anandp[at]talkhotels.com


Follow Simon on Twitter: @S_Gerard

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Friskies iPad cat games: developed by cats, tested on humans?

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May 20  |  Brand Building  |   Simon

There are a few iPad games for pets, but Friskies has taken the production up a notch with three free cat games released today on gamesforcats.com. The games were built with HTML5, enabling your cat to attack your iPad or any Android device. The Friskies scientists claim that their cats haven’t scratched the glass of an iPad, but could damage a plastic cover.  The boss’s cat here is a heavyweight in the ring (pictured here), so I’m still sceptical on letting him take a swing at it. So I figured I’d test it out first before I mention it to second in command. The three games are Cat Fishing, Tasty Treasures and Party Mix-Up. All are pretty addicting from my end, the cat equivalent of Nintendo’s classic Duck Hunt, letting the cat swipe the targets instead shooting with a light gun. Now that I think of it, they should remake Duck Hunt for cats, catching the nostalgia market for cats that grew up in the 80s on 8-bit NES. Check out the video below:

I did a little Googling on it and found the game developer, Mondo Studios, which has already released two games for Friskies called Wonderland Quest and Wonderland Quest II. Both designed for humans, the popularity of the first demanding a sequel. I gave the sequel a go, which followed the original by letting you uncover cat treats in a fantasy setting, which was oddly hypnotic. The weirdest part is the developer’s press release, which sites a research study, funded by Friskies, which discovered these key findings:

  • Wonderland Quest positively influenced the purchase intent of Friskies dry cat food among buyers and non‐buyers of Friskies
  • Among Friskies buyers, the game had a positive impact on brand loyalty and influenced the purchase intent of specific varieties of Friskies cat foods
  • Among most groups the game also enhanced the Friskies brand perceptions of taste, variety and mealtime experience

So what I gather is they reverse-engineered the new games for cats from their success with cat food-based games for humans. This leads me to the only conclusion that the Friskies scientists are, in fact, cats.

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