Category Archives: Blog

Moving Fast: Travel Trends of 2018

Posted on Friday, April 20, 2018 by Kelsey

A wise man named Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Those of us in the travel and tourism industry know this truth all too well. But just like the fleeting moments we work hard to create for vacationers, travel trends come and go, and they move fast. What do people look for in a vacation in 2018? Is it still called a vacation? We did a little research to find out what today’s travelers want when they’re on the move. Here’s what we know:

Food is not just a necessity, it’s a cultural experience.

The days of five-star dining and fancy tablecloths are behind us. Today, foodie nomads demand adventure in their meals, and that means frequenting authentic spots for local cuisine. Vacationers want to go home and tell their friends what new, unique, can’t-get-it-anywhere-else dish they tried. This is especially true for Millennials who can’t bear to recreate someone else’s experience, especially when it comes to the photo op at the end of dinner.

According to Intrepid Travel, “A recent study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the definition of adventure is changing. Risky adrenaline activities are favored 45% less than ‘experiencing a new culture’ in the definition of adventure travel.” Activities these food-loving risk-takers enjoy include food tours, cooking classes and wine tastings. Towns and businesses can attract these types of travelers by promoting their specialty dishes and sharing images of appealing spreads and Instagram-worthy dining spaces.

Solo travel is on the rise, and the industry is making accommodations.

Popular travel destinations such as hotels, cruise ships and restaurants have started developing single-friendly packages to accommodate those traveling alone, a practice that has become very popular in recent years. Intrepid Travel found that Google searches for ‘solo travel’ and ‘travel alone’ were at the highest they’ve ever been in January of [2018].”

One reason this trend is, well, trending is the fact that Millennials are waiting longer than older generations did to settle down and get married. It’s important for businesses that tend to offer promotional packages for families and couples to consider this new demographic and take advantage of those venturing out on their own.

The coolest destinations are the ones nobody’s heard of.

A phenomenon taking place in Europe and trickling into other parts of the world is “discovery travel.” Travelers are passing up the Romes and Parises of the world to venture into neighboring small towns and stumble upon their own must-see destinations.

This strategy gives visitors a truly one-of-a-kind experience that is personal to the individual. In other words, people are opting for the road less traveled so they can say they were there first. That’s great news for backroad destinations that can leverage the appeal of the unknown to increase hotel bookings and restaurant reservations to make Romes out of their Puglias. (Independent)

Pinterest Moves into the Major Leagues

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2018 by Kelsey

Pinterest is often dismissed by advertisers as a platform for recipe sharing and DIY craft projects. But the platform is actually a major player in both the social media and search engine leagues. That’s right – Pinterest hosts 2 billion searches every month, and with the addition of Lens, a super-convenient visual search tool, the possibilities for discovery are growing. If that’s not reason enough for advertisers to reevaluate Pinterest’s place on their list of priorities, here’s a list of reasons why Pinterest is a content king.

Reasons to use/advertise on Pinterest:

Post lifespan

Pinterest is unique to other social media platforms when it comes to post lifespan. Unlike tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook posts, pins continue to garner engagement for months after the initial post. According to Hootsuite, “the average pin is repinned 11 times and it takes a pin 3.5 months to get 50 percent of its engagement.” (Hootsuite)

Experience-based content

The experience-oriented nature of Pinterest means that people are not just killing time online, but making real plans for real life. This is good news for experience-based businesses (tourism, for instance). Pinterest users compile their aspirations and dreams into boards which they can refer back to when making plans for their lives. That’s why recipes, wedding ideas and, you guessed it, travel, are so popular on Pinterest. In fact, pins about travel and tourism make up nearly 25% of all activity on Pinterest. (TourismTiger) Pinterest happens on a screen, but Pinterest users make pins happen in real life.

Purchasing decision influence

Pinterest functions like a search engine, and actually serves as one of the most-used websites for shoppers doing product research. With integrated shopping capabilities and one of the most popular sites for e-commerce marketing, it’s no surprise that 93 percent of pinners use Pinterest to plan purchases. (Hootsuite)

Top Pinterest strategies:

Optimize pin quality

  • Post high-quality images and pin-able graphics.
  • Use rich pins, which offer space for additional details and content on each pin that increases engagement and drives traffic to your website

Increase presence and activity

  • Pin and repin regularly throughout the day.
  • Follow pages similar to your own and share their content.
  • Engage with content in the “Popular” category.

Utilize SEO and keywords

  • Include SEO keywords in pin descriptions to increase likelihood of pins showing up in searches.
  • Categorize pins accurately to increase likelihood of pins being displayed in relevant feeds.

 

Bright Colors, Bold Designs

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2018 by Kate

In general, it appears that 2018 will be the year of vibrant and colorful design. From typography to photography, the general trend is for brighter, bolder layouts and colors. Last year, in contrast, we saw a resurgence in vintage trends, nostalgic muted tones and minimalism. According to leading design blog “99 Designs” and “Venngage,” popular looks will be specialized and unique. To accomplish out-of-the-box design, photo manipulation, lettering, and illustration will become popular—alone and combined—to make brands stand out among their competitors.

Pilch & Barnet has utilized photo manipulation most recently for some of our clients, placing a map pattern over photos on a website and placing selective photo cutouts over logos on visitor guides. Another example of photo manipulation is on the team member photos on the Pilch & Barnet website.

The New Facebook Algorithm: Posting Smarter

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by Kelsey

The landscape of Facebook has undergone major changes in recent months with the rollout of a new algorithm that prioritizes posts from family and friends above those from brands and other pages. This change is part of Facebook’s effort to increase daily usage and engagement among users.

Other new additions include the Facebook Stories feature, which allows users to post temporary photos and videos, as well as Facebook Live, which gives users the ability to stream live video to their followers.

Source: Pixabay

Although posts from pages do not receive the priority they once did, brands still have power to share meaningful content with their Facebook followers.

Research suggests brands are most successful when they post once or twice a day. Why?

It eliminates brand fatigue.

When brands post too often, followers can get tired of seeing their content. By limiting the number of posts, businesses can avoid inundating their followers’ news feeds.

It boosts visibility.

When brands only post once or twice a day, it’s more likely the posts will actually show up on followers’ feeds. When too many posts are made, Facebook’s algorithm chooses which ones to make visible. This means not everything you put out will be seen–and it could very well be the most important updates that go unseen by your audience. (Obviously, advertising on Facebook is key to brands’ visibility as well.)

It prioritizes the best content.

When narrowing down to one or two posts a day, brands must be picky about the content they share. While this might seem daunting at first, it will work out best for the brand in the long run because only the best content will make the cut.

Video and images garner the highest amount of engagement from Facebook users. Source: Buzzsumo

 

 

 

As new features such as live streaming and stories grow across social media platforms, research continues to show that video garners the highest engagement of all content. The appeal of video is its accessibility and authenticity, especially to younger audiences. While video can be challenging to produce, its benefits can be replicated in photos and other content that focus on brand personality and provide value to customers.

The new Facebook terrain may seem like a challenge, but it gives brands the opportunity to develop their content strategy to share the most high-quality, engaging and relevant content with their followers to build and strengthen relationships.

 

Authentic Photography

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Brianna

At Pilch & Barnet, we’ve always championed on-site photo shoots where models resemble real people on vacation in your destination. When our target audiences connect with the images and really envision themselves there, they’re more likely to plan a trip. Whether we’re working with custom photos or selecting stock, we look for images that convey emotion, contain action or tell stories as authentically as possible. But that’s no longer just a standard that we employ: unfiltered and unstaged compositions are now back in vogue. Demand for real-life photography grew significantly in 2017 and will grow even more in 2018 as brands seek to connect with their users and designers seek to rid the world of staged stock photography.

Take CVS Pharmacy, for example: recently, they’ve decided to inform customers if certain advertisements for beauty products have been digitally altered, keeping in line with this step towards authenticity in advertising. From Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS: “[People] are saying ‘Celebrities aren’t real. I want to relate to people who have my own imperfections and feel that I’m empowered by the fact that I look like these people.’”

Staged unnatural images may compete for attention, but often fall flat simply because the audience can’t identify with them. Additionally, stock imagery is more familiar to very active internet users because it’s so pervasive (thanks Google images) and can be seen as disingenuous or lazy advertising. Even Instagram users don’t want to post images of themselves smiling at the camera, ushering in the rise of the “plandid,” or a staged photo that looks candid. Unique captures, delightful moments, and surprising perspectives will resonate with viewers more strongly since they show real life rather than staged situations.

FAQs Can Help Drive Content

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2018 by Ben Jones

As we continue to plan out content for e-newsletters, websites and social media outlets for 2018, we’re taking to heart a piece of advice we picked up at a content conference last year, attended by three people from our Content team. One of the valuable tips we heard was to ask clients what questions they frequently get from visitors and potential visitors online, over the phone or in person at their visitor centers or chamber offices. Then, we can craft content based on these questions and use it on websites (FAQ pages, blog articles), in our e-newsletter copy and in social media. This content is valuable because it’s based on information people are actively looking for, not to mention that it can help bolster search results for our websites and improve engagement on our social media channels.

Link Friday: The Safe Topics to Discuss During the Holidays Edition

Posted on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by Kate

At Pilch & Barnet, we love travel and we love marketing. But we also love being helpful. So this holiday season, we thought we’d provide you with a list of interesting holiday fun facts you can discuss at the dinner table, in lieu of politics, religion, climate change, or you know, anything else that could start a fistfight.

Did you know…

  • A traditional Christmas dinner in Japan is Kentucky Fried Chicken? It is, of course, the result of a clever marketing campaign designed to promote the restaurant when it opened there in 1970.
  • Another fun marketing ploy – Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! He came to life in a promotional booklet given out to kids visiting Santa at Montgomery Ward in 1939! (Bonus fun fact – the author considered Rollo and Reginald as names before settling on Rudolph!)
  • One of the first commercially sold artificial Christmas trees was made from toilet brush bristles – it was less flammable and better to hold heavy decorations than its predecessors – trees made from twine or goose feathers dyed green. (Extra points if you mention that Romans are currently angry over the city’s official Christmas tree looking like a sickly toilet brush that happened to cost $57K.)
  • Jingle Bells is actually a Thanksgiving song. The songwriter wrote it for a Thanksgiving performance of a Sunday School class in 1850, but it was so popular, they brought it back for Christmas. (Bonus if you throw in that it’s really about one-horse open-sleigh street races held in Massachusetts and was written in a bar!)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas cost just $76,000 to produce back in 1965 (the modern day equivalent of $590K). Compare that to the 2015 Peanuts Movie which cost $99 MILLION.
  • And if all else fails, bring in Alexa. The Amazon device can play Christmas music, recite “The Night Before Christmas” in its entirety, play Christmas sounds and give you even more fun holiday trivia to keep your gathering, above all else, civil.

Happy holidays!

Travel 2018 Forecast

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 by Alan

Generation Vacation

In our last Travel Trends report, we discussed what Millennials* valued in their travel experiences. Now, Forbes has an article explaining why we should care. Though they might not earn as much as their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, Millennials seem to care more about traveling than any cohort before them. The average traveler (across all generations) intends to spend less on travel in 2018 than they did in 2017—Millennials being the exception. The average spend for a Millennial vacation is $1312 per trip in 2017, which is up 8% from last year, and each Millennial averaged 3.5 vacations in 2017. Of those surveyed, 35% want to take more vacations in the coming year. One reason why they might be willing to take more vacations: peace of mind. Whether it’s to suppress guilt for taking time off, or to keep their inbox more organized, Millennials are more likely to work during their vacations as opposed to checking out completely. 74% of employed Millennials expect to bring work along on a trip, compared to 65% of Gen Xers and 56% of Boomers.

* the tech-savvy generation of burgeoning consumers born somewhere between 1980 and 1995, more or less.

March in Wisconsin Looks Hot

Hot for family travel, that is. This year, most Wisconsin public schools (including the UW system) are on spring break March 24 through April 1, which is Easter Sunday. Local travel experts predict that the combination of school recess on top of a high-travel holiday will result in an unusual peak in hotel room bookings across the state at the end of quarter 1.

Air Turbulence and Domestic Destinations

In a recent U.S. Travel Association report, five out of six adults say that air travel has become more of a hassle. Reasons given include more airline fees and overall cost. Case-in-point: nearly all major airline carriers introduced new basic economy fares which prohibit carry-on baggage in the overhead bins (so you’ll get charged unless your bag fits under the seat in front of you), a move which has angered many unsuspecting travelers. According to Conde Nast Traveler, “airlines have been more forthcoming about the drawbacks of these fares, essentially admitting that basic economy is an inferior product largely designed to encourage customers to upgrade to the next-highest fare.”

This might be part of why 49% of all respondents in a recent AARP travel survey expect to travel only domestically in 2018. Of those travelers, only 13% of those domestic trips have been booked already, and most of those trips are classified as summer vacations, multi-generational travel (aka a whole-family trip) or weekend getaways. Finally, Airbnb reports that the Midwest, moreso than any other U.S. region, is seeing an increase in bookings, at least for the first half of 2018.

Two easy ways to build your brand on Snapchat (without a brand account!)

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 by Kate

There’s no denying Snapchat is a powerhouse in social media, but for brands, the idea of having a constant presence on the platform can feel daunting, even overwhelming. But, good news! Your brand can reach people on Snapchat, without having to commit to an account. Here’s how.

Geofilters

No doubt Snapchat users love their lenses (you know, the graphics that give you puppy ears or make you look like you’re barfing rainbows?), but creating one takes a professional designer and they start at around $100,000!

Instead, try a geofilter. When users take a photo or video, they can swipe within the app to see a series of available filters. What users see depends on where they are, what day it is, etc. Some make note of the city or neighborhood the user is in, but others are reserved especially for events.

They’re relatively easy to design (Snapchat has its own design tool you can use, or you can create your own with their specifications), then you choose the time you want the filter to be available, and exactly which area you want it to be shown in, all for an extremely reasonable cost! A geofilter for an event like a football game, a fair, or concert that lasts a couple of hours in a relatively confined space can easily cost under $100.

Custom Snapcodes

If you do any print material, custom Snapcodes are an easy way to get Snapchat users to your website. Users take a photo of your code using the Snapchat app, then are immediately directed to the site of your choosing.

Creating one yourself takes just a few seconds. The Snapcode is e-mailed to you and can be incorporated into posters and signs. It’s especially helpful if you’ve got a longer or more complicated web address, or if people won’t be able to spend much time engaging with your material.

Need advice?

Need more help navigating Snapchat? Contact us here.

Web Design Trend: Small Movement

Posted on Monday, November 13, 2017 by Ben Jones

If you’ve perused the internet sometime in the last six years, you’ve probably spotted the small (and often funny) images that loop to infinity—the animated GIF (GIF stands for graphic interface format, but you don’t really need to know that). What used to be a gag in blogs and group text messages is now becoming more common in web development. In 2018, these short animations will become more refined. For example, expect to see custom branded GIFs replacing static logos (Google and Uber have already done this).

Adding a bit of tasteful movement to key elements of a brand makes web content more engaging for users. Small movements can also draw attention to key elements of a page in a very beautiful way. Instead of placing an entire GIF on a webpage, some web developers are employing cinemagraphs. At first glance, a cinemagraph appears to be a normal photograph—but look closely, and you’ll notice a subtle, sometimes looping animation.

At Pilch & Barnet, we implement cinemagraphs on client sites when appropriate. We also use GIFs in many of our promotions. And, if you ever want to ignite a superficial squabble in the office, ask if it’s pronounced “GIF” (like gift) or “JIF” (like the peanut butter).