Author Archives: Kate

About Kate

As a former television journalist, Ms. Hagen knows a lot about engaging an audience. She is adept at using social media to capture the attention of travelers, feeding them useful information and carefully selected tidbits, all with the goal of turning prospective travelers into overnights.

Link Friday: The Social Media & Hurricane Harvey Edition

Posted on Friday, September 1, 2017 by Kate

Hurricane Harvey is being dubbed the United States’ “First Social Media Storm.” Let’s take a look at the role social media has played in this chapter of history.

  • Facebook users in the path of Harvey were able to mark themselves as “safe” to ease the minds of far-away family members.
  • BuzzFeed worked to compile a list of hoaxes spreading online to warn people of potential scams and fake news.
  • Victims desperately in need of rescue turned to social media when local 911 operations were unavailable.
  • People who had businesses or homes unaffected by the storm used the platforms to offer shelter.
  • Now, pet owners are reuniting with their furry friends thanks to social networking.
  • One of the coolest ways social media helped during the disaster was by raising money. Kudos to Houstan Texans defensive end (and former Badger!) J.J. Watt for kicking off an online fundraiser that has since raised more than $14 million for relief efforts!

Link Friday: The 2017 Fall Shoulder Season Edition

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2017 by Kate

Like it or not (I do not), summer is winding down. The days are getting shorter and it won’t be long before we feel that familiar nip in the air. Pumpkin spice is coming. But good news, lovers of travel – so is shoulder season!

  • Shoulder what? Shoulder season is the time between the high season and the low season for travel destinations. Think spring and fall.
  • Obviously, shoulder season travel can present a few challenges. You know, like hurricanes. But thoughtful planning around the few drawbacks it might present can yield some high returns – like big time travel deals.
  • Other cool perks of shoulder season vacations? Fewer people (did I mention I hate crowds?). Way fewer people. And cooler weather. Even food is cheaper!
  • Check out these awesome destinations that are way more affordable in the shoulder season.

Speed up Sites with Lazy Loading Images

Posted on Sunday, August 13, 2017 by Kate

By May 2015, the average size of webpages had doubled since 2013. Thanks to Smartphones, nearly everyone can understand website size in terms of the amount of data it uses—the larger the size, the more data used, the slower the load speeds (and that’s across all platforms: from mobile to tablet to desktop). Images account for nearly 63% of that data, but images are important, especially for travel and tourism websites. Unfortunately, large websites can also eat up the mobile user’s data plan.

To solve the problem of slow loads and large sites (that cost mobile users money! And hurt SEO!), we’ve implemented what’s called “lazy loading images,” meaning that only the images that appear for the user’s viewpoint are downloaded. The images on the site that users don’t see don’t download unless the user scrolls or navigates to that page.

The Current State of Social Media Networks

Posted on Thursday, July 27, 2017 by Kate

A recent survey of nearly 6,000 marketers worldwide has yielded some interesting results about the state of social media marketing we want to pass along.

In 2017, more of the marketers surveyed are using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat than they were last year. However, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest use declined 8%, 11% and 10% respectively. That’s not to say those platforms aren’t still important. We firmly believe that any social media network you can regularly maintain well is a beneficial one.

Also of note, marketers continued to overwhelmingly rank Facebook as their most important social media platform and the numbers were even higher among B2C marketers. Facebook remains king of the social networks!

The two top benefits of social media marketing survey takers listed were increased exposure (88% said this) and increased traffic (78% agreed). Improved sales was actually the benefit ranked last at 52%, but to be fair, that’s a pretty tricky conversion to measure for most businesses. So in all likelihood, sales are improving, companies just lack the tools needed to measure it.

As for content, marketers said visual images were the most important type of content they shared. For the future, 75% of them planned to increase their use of videos and 61% said they wanted to incorporate more live video. Consequently, video was also the number one content form those surveyed said they wanted to learn more about. Virtual reality and 360-degree video came in close behind.

Pilch & Barnet has been encouraging our clients to increase their use of video for years now, ahead of the current trend. Want to stay a step above your competition? Let Pilch & Barnet help!

Link Friday: The 2017 Fourth of July Edition

Posted on Friday, June 23, 2017 by Kate

A record 44 million Americans are ready to get away this Fourth of July!

  • According to AAA, that number is almost 3% more than last year. Cheaper gas, lower rental car rates and more affordable airfare all appear to be in play.
  • If you’re looking for the finest fireworks, set your GPS to the east coast where four of the ten biggest and brightest fireworks shows can be found.
  • If you’re looking for the most affordable getaways, check out these lesser traveled hotspots for the Fourth.
  • For the best parties, it looks like the East Coast wins again, but fear not, fellow Midwesterners, the coasties don’t get to have all the fun. Chicago made the rankings too.
  • And if, by chance, you’re not looking to travel at all, our national holiday will still profit your wallet. It’s the best time of year for shopping on a long list of items.

The Responsive Advantage

Posted on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by Kate

We’re putting a lot of thought into responsive design in our web projects for a reason – the days of struggling to navigate websites on a smartphone are over. Today, responsive (smartphone-friendly) design is the norm. It allows users to easily navigate content, which is particularly important for travel and tourism websites. Why? More than 60 percent of Google searches now come from smartphones and that number is growing. That statistic is mirrored by the analytics we track on the sites we manage. When people are making travel plans at home, at work or on the road, they are using their phones. When they are exploring destinations, the smartphone is their guide. In fact, a survey commissioned by Expedia found that one-fifth of U.S. travelers consider their smartphone the most indispensable item for travel, just as important as carrying a driver’s license. We are working to make sure we capture this audience.

How do we build a responsive site that serves these travelers? We start by taking a mobile-first approach to our design process. Our designs use a fluid grid that allows a flexible, scalable layout. In other words, it will still be easy to navigate and attractive, no matter what the screen size. We use flexible text and images that can be scaled and cropped, allowing display on a small screen. The site is coded to allow multiple layouts and before we launch a site, we conduct user testing on multiple devices to ensure that all elements of the site function properly. We make sure the site works on the latest iPhone and Android devices, as well as phones that are a few years old.

Website design is an evolving craft and responsive design is something that we’ll continue to make central to our design work, so when someone is conducting travel research, they’ll find their destination.

Link Friday: The 2017 Road Trip Edition

Posted on Thursday, June 8, 2017 by Kate

Buckle up – it’s time for a summer road trip!

  • According to AAA, more Americans will take a road trip this summer than last and the travel outlook for the summer looks strong.
  • Travel + Leisure mapped out some of the country’s very best road trips from sea to shining sea, here.
  • Those are pretty scenic, but maybe even more fun are these roadies based on cult classic TV shows like Twin Peaks and X Files.
  • Or you could plan your route around the some of the world’s most specific art museums like the Smiley Face Museum in New York City or the Toilet Seat Art Museum in San Antonio.
  • Road trips can teach you a lot of things – like how to become an expert, Tetris-style car packer or exactly how many miles you can drive after that low fuel light goes on – but it can also teach you a few really important things about marketing.

Link Friday: The “Instagrammable” Products Edition

Posted on Friday, May 5, 2017 by Kate

In the age of Instagram, image is everything it seems. Let’s look at marketing an “Instagrammable” product.

  • “Instagrammable” means something is so visually alluring, it’s worth sharing on Instagram for everyone to see. The term has become so popular, it’s warranted its own hashtag. Click here to see #instagrammable examples.
  • There’s a method to the madness of sharing something that will be an “Insta” success. The Social Savior recommends photos with the color red and subjects including, but not limited to, bikinis, revolvers, perfume and puppies. Got one of those things to sell? You’re good to go.
  • Ok, so maybe you’re not selling any of those things. Use of a good hashtag will get you far. Here’s a list of the most popular ones.
  • Makeup, travel hot spots and food are some of the most popular Instagrammable items these days. Perhaps the most well-known recent example of this is the Starbucks Unicorn Latte. There are tens of thousands of posts for this one colorful coffee drink alone.
  • And although these Instagrammable items are, no doubt, a feast for the eyes, are the products becoming more about flash than substance? This article suggests just that. Starbucks learned this lesson the hard way when people stopped snapping photos of their Unicorn Latte long enough to taste it (spoiler alert, not everyone’s taste buds were as impressed as their eyes).

Link Friday: The Spring Travel 2017 Edition

Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Kate

Spring fever has fully set in now, so let’s talk about the spring travel forecast for 2017.

  • More people overall are taking vacations, more are traveling solo and more are working to unplug while they’re away. See more details here.
  • While perhaps not the most visited spring destinations, these spots vie for the most stunning.
  • For a spring break on a budget, check out these top spots.
  • Not looking to fly? How about a road trip! Check out this list of America’s best spring drives.
  • What says spring more than flowers? See the season bloom via these beautiful Instagram images from around the world.

Link Friday: The 2017 March Madness Edition

Posted on Friday, March 17, 2017 by Kate

March Madness is in full swing! Not to brag, but I’m tied for second place in our office pool, based on my expert strategy of picking the higher ranked team to win every single game.

  • Another way to add to the March Madness fun, check out these tournament haikus, for the first 32 games. I’m not sure why this is a thing, but as a fellow writer, I give props for the effort.
  • If you didn’t already take the day off, there’s a good chance you’re trying to watch the games on the down low at work. But if you work at the Pentagon, guys, that’s a big no-no. Because, you know, national security.
  • You could follow along on Twitter too, where thanks to a partnership between the NCAA and Turner Sports, you’ll find some special emoji popping up whenever you use certain tourney-related hashtags.
  • And in case you’re wondering just how many people are feeling the fever, check out these stats: Since the tournament teams were finalized on Selection Sunday, there have been more than 600,000 social media mentions of March Madness (up 300%) and the hashtag #MarchMadness has been used more than 150,000 times!