Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hudson Valley MVP Adds To Our Business Community

There are several ingredients that go into making a community great.  Some of the most thought of aspects would be your local government, school districts and the people who live there.  Sometimes we often forget about one of the most important pieces, our local businesses.

Local businesses play a huge role in the community.  For starters they employ our local residents.  Aside from employment, they also contribute to taxes and the over-all esthetics of the region.  Having great local businesses will ultimately be an asset to a region.

Living in the Hudson Valley, we have the privilege of having a lot of incredible businesses serving us, and drawing visitors.  Homewood Suitesat Stewart Airport is just one of several great businesses that help make our community incredible.  What makes Homewood Suites so great?  Well it starts as a result of their great leadership.
The team at Homewood is lead by General Manager, Kathy Russo.  According to her superiors, “'Kathy puts the energizer bunny to bed at night, and then goes back to work.” Kathy is praised for her excellent performance and leadership, which has sculpted the friendly staff and service-oriented atmosphere, keeping guests coming back, and inspiring glowing feedback about their positive experience.
Recently, Kathy has won the MVP Award by Hilton Hotels. In the latest round of Hilton’s quality assurance assessment, Homewood Suites earned an overall score of 96.6 – a score that once again puts it in the most elite category.
With its central location to Stewart Airport, friendly staff, clean rooms and overall esthetics, Homewood Suites has been a fantastic edition to our community.  They make a great first impression for Hudson Valley visitors, which will most definitely get their trip off with a positive start.  Businesses should strive to make the same presence in their community as Kathy and her team.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Smart Shopping with Smartphones

  People eat, sleep, work and play with smartphones readily in hand. Most people are gaming, texting or using Facebook. There is a new phenomenon striking smartphone users and it is called smart shopping. A third of shoppers are using smartphones in stores while they shop to scan merchandise, read reviews, ask friends for recommendations and then share with you, the business, what they've found. If they are not satisfied with your response, they will locate a business that has better prices or service.

This trend in mobile shopping and price comparisons means consumers are willing to forgo an instant purchase in the store if they can save money ordering a product via the Internet — giving online retailers a serious advantage. Or, they will insist that physical stores match or beat the prices of online competitors. Consumers are entering brick-and-mortar locations to review and try out the product but then buying it from their mobile devices.

 What are your options as a brick-and-mortar retailer? The first step is embracing mobile technology instead of this natural impulse to push it away. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsers so you can be competing in the race of gaining mobile shoppers. If you cannot match or beat your online competitors prices, you need to approach the situation in a different way.

Offering private label or bundled package deals is a way to offer consumers something they cannot buy somewhere else. Having a reward program is a great way to make your customers want to shop with you because they get ‘points’ or occasional freebies. Also, make sure your employees are well rehearsed and ready to answer savvy, knowledgeable customers. This adds a superior customer experience not available via mobile shopping. Don’t we all love that comforting and personal attention from sales associates?

Play on the natural strengths brick-and-mortar stores have. You have the advantage of instant gratification for consumers, rather than having to wait days or even weeks to receive a product and face robust shipping fees. Consumers’ purchase decisions are not finalized when they arrive at the store, so in-store advertising and promotions can help drive more conversions and sales.

Make sure you have a captivating marketing and advertising plan to keep customers in-house!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yelpers Look For ROI on Purchases

 Consumers want the most bang for their buck. They are becoming more empowered and reaching out to secondary sources to find information on organizations before they conduct business with them. Popular sites like Yelp are putting all consumer feedback into one place for other consumers to investigate. Yelp can help bring new customers to a small business but on the other side, drive potential customers away.

People are leaving reviews about your company whether you own your page or not but it is better to own it and be active with your page in order to listen and interact with your consumers. It’s ridiculously easy to set up. Make sure to keep track of your reviews and respond. When someone leaves a positive review, a simple “Thank You!” or ‘Can’t wait for you to visit again!’ is a great, simple response.

Unfortunately there may be the occasional not-so-nice comments. If the complaint is legitimate, apologize and try to remedy the problem. After you solved the problem, invite them back to leave a review on what you did. If it is not fixable, a refund or an offer for a future visit always helps. If the negative feedback is not legitimate, do NOT offer them an explanation or argue, simply apologize.  The non-legitimate posts are usually transparent to your audience.  No matter how negative the review, other people like to see that you took the time to respond in a professional matter. It shows your potential customers that you value their opinions and are willing to go the extra mile to better serve them.

If you have great reviews, promote, promote, promote! Use them as testimonials on your website, blog or Facebook. It is also a good idea to ask for reviews from your clients. You could have a sign in your storefront with a Yelp testimonial and then a call for action to visit Yelp and share their personal experience. Never be too pushy, as this will come off as desperate and not genuine.

With Yelp being named one of the most popular apps for smart phones, it is the consumers’ deepest source of information right before they want to buy something for lunch, get a manicure, buy a new piece of furniture, etc. So it is important that you have the correct address, hours and phone numbers to ensure consumers who are looking for you can easily find you—even more of a reason to own your Yelp business page.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Destination Marketing

Spring is well under way and summer vacations will be here before you know it. The economy seems to be steadily improving and we are all a bit more comfortable spending again. We ready to venture out, but how far are we really willing to travel?

Costs for international flights have sky-rocketed this year, due to many factors. It is becoming increasingly more expensive to travel abroad, while domestic flights haven’t been impacted as dramatically. Most experts agree that Americans are going to vacation closer to home this year, and take 3-5 shorter ‘leisure’ trips (long weekends) instead of traditional one- or two-week vacations. According to TripAdvisor, the top three types of trips that will be popular this year are beach trips, cultural trips (museums & historic sites), and road trips. Being lucky enough to live in the Hudson Valley, we can reach all these destinations by car in just a few hours!

Destination marketing is quite simple. Discover what makes your area unique, promote the unusual attractions, and make it easy for travelers to visit by providing easy access to great food, clean lodging, and several travel options. The more your destination has to offer, the more likely visitors will feel connected to the area and want to return. All advertising should encourage vacationers to stay longer and visit often.
Where are people looking to find local getaways? Most people are looking online these days, but traditional media is still an important factor in driving online traffic, so please don’t dismiss good old print ads, radio, and tv.

Your website should include a calendar of events, videos, newsletters, online booking forms, downloadable maps, downloadable coupons or special offers, etc. People want fast and simple. If your tourism website can connect hotel stay, restaurant reservation, attraction tickets, and everything else people need on a vacation, people will feel more relaxed once they get there.

In addition to your website there is social media, which is a must — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs … and let’s not forget Mobile Apps! Forty four percent of travelers plan on using their smart phones, tablets, and Internet connected devices as a travel resource during trips this year, so make sure you are up to speed on marketing through these new technologies.

We look forward to hearing about your travels this year, and what means you used to make your travel decisions. Please visit our Facebook to share any photos or travel tips.