Facebook Promotional Posts “Phase Out”

Facebook Logo

Surprise, Surprise – Facebook wants you to Pay to reach your fans.

Facebook announced last Friday (11/14/14) that it would be phasing out free promotional posts. (See article in the Nov. 15-16, Wall Street Journal, page B3).

The reality is apparently a bit more complicated, and we won’t find out the true impact of their algorithm change until it goes into effect in January. Apparently blatant “buy now” will be discouraged in Facebook posts.

I have great sympathy for Facebook – businesses often seem to expect Facebook to provide its services for free; it is paid for by advertising after all. Facebook can’t show every post that a person might be entitled to, so they have to winnow to what Facebook feels / knows is most likely to be appreciated by the user.

I do hope that the non-profits I help out are not hurt by this change. Posts about shows (especially with video clips) are extremely popular.

An analyst for Forrester Research was even quoted yesterday on CNBC that businesses should even consider stop advertising; according to him, most ads did not perform well.  According to him, Facebook should know by now what ads worked, so he was blaming Facebook, not the advertiser, for the poor results. This seems strange to me – I see a lot of bad print ads in magazines and stupid TV commercials; I don’t blame the magazine or TV Network – I blame the advertiser.

At the end of the day, have your Facebook posts be interesting to real people, and design them to be good promoted posts, because that may be the best way to insure reach in future. While some posts go viral for unknown reasons, the basics are clear – a good hook of interest to readers, a good photo, a good video and a simple and easy call to action. Need anything more?


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Pinterest Integration with Business Marketing

Michaels In-Store Catalog

Michaels uses Pinterest in Creative way to Increase Sales

This past weekend I came across what I have to be a good integration of social media and marketing. I had to buy something at Michaels, the crafts store. Turns out Michaels had just held a special “Make it with Michaels Pinterest Party”.

This Pinterest Party included the following elements:

• In store booklet with ideas, “how to” directions, and approximate priding. (The book was not specific to the store, that all stores could use the same book, or the details of the specific store could be imprinted on the front.)

• In-store coupon on the back of the booklet, good only for the 5 hours (the three hours of the party, plus one hour on each side of the event.

• In-store assistance on finding the components, and advice on assembling.

• Request that people take a photo of their end result, and then post it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, complete with the #MadewithMichaels hashtag.

• Multiple in-booklet references to a specific Michaels page on Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/Michaelsstores.

• Multiple references to the Michaels website, also with craft ideas.

Admittedly, Michaels seems a natural store to promote Pinterest, but other businesses could be creative and “borrow” the ideas here. What about a a special winery tasting room or gift-shop  event with creative ways of using their gift items, or wrapping their wine bottles as gifts? Be creative. Women into crafts are likely to visit and post to the business’ websites, Facebook pages. Pinterest pages etc.


Posted in SLO County Restaurants, SLO County Wineries, Tech Tip - Social Media, Tech Tip - Website | Comments Off

Overlay Tourism Promotion District for SLO County?

Question Marks

What could the Central Coast do to increase market share?

The San Luis Obispo Tribune just printed a major editorial (Sunday, November 9, 2014; page B6) in support of a county-wide Tourism Business Improvement District. If enacted, there would be a 1% surcharge on all lodging bills in SLO County; this would net the “BID” (Business Improvement District) about $3 million per year at current rates. This would be in addition to the current Tourism BID districts that exist in most areas of the county.

Certainly, the money would help greater promotion of SLO County. Most visitors to SLO come from within California, and California is one of the most expensive media markets in the USA, if not world. As many blog posts have pointed out, SLO County tourism is NOT growing as fast as the rest of the state.

Nevertheless, one wonders about the full ramifications. As mentioned, most cities, and indeed most of SLO County, are already represented by BID’s. With overlapping BID’s, who is responsible / to blame for increases and decreases in travel?

The editorial mentions that the new BID would be responsible for representing all the many tourism draws (Hearst Castle, beaches, wine country etc.) However, most BID’s already promote them anyway – distances in SLO County are not all that great, and the BID’s want to hook onto what they know will attract visitors.

Still, at the end of the day, LOTS of money is needed to promote SLO County. And it would be nice to see one organization with overall responsibility. This organization would also be the perfect one to act as the Film Commission for SLO County and encourage more filming here.


Posted in SLO County Attractions, SLO County Lodging, SLO County Restaurants, SLO County Wineries, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Tourism Destination Marketing on Pinterest – Revisited

The November 3, 2014 issue of Forbes Magazine has a very interesting article about Pinterest “Social Media’s New Mad Men” by Jeff Bercovici. (Note – the online version of the article has a different title.)

Pinterest Icons

Crack For Women aka Customers

The beginning sentences of the subhead offer some of the key insights: “Facebook monetizes the past. Twitter the present. Pinterest, by organizing what you might do or buy in the future.”

The article does confirm the trend since Pinterest’s inception that 80% of the users are women. These people “pin”  (i.e. post) images they come across on the web that appeal to them, be it of shoes, dresses – or travel destinations. The idea – per the article – is that posting implies intention. The spin of the article is that while Facebook may know you like to travel, pictures a person posts of a specific travel implies interest in travel to that location, even before they “Google” about that location. The skew towards women helps tourism marketing, as women are the main travel planners for ccouples and families.

From my personal experience, I do know that these posts – unlike Facebook – have “legs”. That is to say, the posts have a life, long after they are pinned. Many months ago, I “re-pinned” (which means I pinned onto my own boards photos already pinned by someone else) a batch of wonderful travel photos of Germany. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive notification from Pinterest that someone has  has further repinned one or more of these photos.

So you marketers of travel destinations (which includes the entire Central Coast of California) , get your best destination photos onto Pinterest ASAP, since organizations can directly upload to boards they maintain. And do NOT forget to imbed text declaring the source, so that if the image is endlessly re-pinned, the specific location remains clear. Do this on both the images you directly upload, as well as images on your website that people may want to pin.

Posted in Santa Maria Tourism, SLO County Attractions, SLO County Lodging, SLO County Wineries, Tech Tip - Social Media, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Got Union Pay?

(And no, this article is not about the argument for raising the minimum wage. Explanation to follow in just a bit…)

The One and Only Credit Card for Visitors form Mainland China

Arrange to Accept this ASAP!

The October 25, 2014 edition of the Los Angeles Times  had an article on the strong growth of international tourism in the United States (page B4).

Quoting a U.S. Department of Commerce report, international travelers spent an estimated $150 billion in the USA in the first 8 months of 2014, so will assumedly total about $225 billion for 2014 as a whole.

The article further points out that the three main ports of entry were New York, Miami and Los Angeles. (Not mentioned in the article, but one has to assume that San Francisco can’t be too far behind LA.)

The real spin in the Los Angeles Times article is the massive growth in tourism from China, with the biggest growth in visitors. Per the article, most stores in the upscale “Beverly Center” now accept “Union Pay”, THE bank card for China. (“THE” as in monopoly.)

So local businesses that cater to visitors should make sure that that they can accept payments  form travelers who want to use it for payment. Otherwise, they may shop / eat / stay elsewhere.

Per the informative Wikipedia article on Union Pay, the “Discover Card” orgnaization in the USA has an arrangement with Union Pay, so that any business that accepts Discover can accept union pay.  Worth discussing with your credit card processor … Soon!

Posted in Santa Maria Tourism, SLO County Lodging, SLO County Restaurants, SLO County Wineries | Comments Off

California Regional Tourism Trends Continue – Not Good News for SLO County…

Beautiful Historic Building in Ventura

What is Ventura’s Mystery Attraction for Visitors?

California Tourism has now published the monthly Smith Travel Report (“STAR”) for the month of September, withYear-to-Date Stats for the first three quarters of 2014.

I feel / sound like a broken record. The San Francisco region continues to do gangbusters, with Los Angeles now doing above average as well. The all important “Revenue Per Available Room” (aka RevPAR”) increased 10.5% for the first 9 months in California as a whole vs. the same period last year.

The SF/ Bay area RevPAR is up 13.2%, and LA is up 10.8%. The  largest increase YTD was for the Vallejo / Fairfield / Vacaville area – up 14% for the period. The next-door region of Napa was up only 5.9% – go figure?

The Central Coast region continues to underperform. As a whole, RevPAR is up 9.6%. However, of the four sub-regions, San Luis Obispo / Paso Robles  is up 8.9%. This result is slightly above the Monterey / Salinas region (up 8.0%), but below Santa Barbara / Santa Maria (up 10.4%) and way below Oxnard / Ventura (up 12.6%).

Interestingly, the STR  report now slices and dices the information by expense of accommodations. Despite all the talk of higher income people spending way more than before, the two most expensive categories (luxury and upscale price) were both up just singe digits. The three other categories: Budget, economy and mid-price – which constitute the vast majority of SLO County lodging properties- are all up over 12% each. So the weakness for SLO is NOT the lack of

Posted in Santa Maria Tourism, SLO County Attractions, SLO County Lodging, SLO County Restaurants, SLO County Wineries, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Half Year Review of Central Coast Tourism

The Smith Travel Research Report (“STR”)  for the first half of 2014 is now available on the Visit California website .

Which Way for Central Coast Tourism

Which Way for Central Coast Tourism?

Once again the STR Report paint a mixed picture for Central Coast Tourism and the local hospitality industry.

Overall for the state of California in the first half of 2014 vs. same period 2013, the all important “RevPAR” (Revenue per Available Room) is up 10.7%. The Central Coast as a whole is doing better than average: up 11.2% over the same period, only bested by the San Diego area (up 11.3%) and the San Francisco Bay area (up 13.7%). As readers of this blog know, the Bay area has been going gangbusters for several year, making this latest surge even more impressive.

However, within the Central Coast, Oxnard/Ventura RevPAR was up 14.1% for the first half, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria up 12.0%, Monterey / Salinas up 10.1%,  with the San Luis Obispo / Paso Robles region bringing up the rear with a 9.5% increase (below the state average.) RevPAR growth closely matched increase in rooms sold: Oxnard/Ventura demand up 8.6%, with SLO demand only increasing 3.9%. (This is also below state average increase of 4.2%.)

Even the actual room rates rates achieved in the SLO/Paso Robles region suffer in  comparison. For the first half of 2014, average RevPAR for the state was $97.56, Santa Barbara / Santa Maria $110.57, Monterey / Salinas $106.41. SLO RevPAR was $82.20 – only barely edging out the Ventura / Oxnard area of $79.55.

It makes one wonder why there is another boom of building new hotels and motels in SLO County: below average demand growth, below average RevPAR, and below average RevPAR growth don’t exactly scream need for more capacity… Why is this area so attractive for builders???? Thoughts?

Posted in Blog: Central Coast Tourism Industry, Santa Maria Tourism, SLO County Lodging, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Oxnard and Ventura Rock in 2014!

The Visit California website now has the Smith Travel Research(“Star” or “STR reports) report for the first quarter of 2014. The

Sudden Interest in Visiting the Mission in Ventura?

results show an incredible surge for the Ventura / Oxnard area in March and for the first quarter as a whole.

Just some examples: in March RevPAR (The all-important “Revenue per Available Room” – the key metric for the hotel trade) shows a wonderful 10.6% increase over 2013 for the entire state of California. The Oxnard / Ventura area area had a 19.4% increase in the same month – by far the highest regional increase in the state. For the first quarter, Oxnard / Ventura enjoyed a 15.6% increase (almost the largest increase in the state) vs. state average of 11.4% .

The Ventura / Oxnard increase was driven by an incredible increase of occupancy: 14.4% for March and (vs. state average of 4.3% increase) and 11.4% for the first quarter (vs 4.9% increase for overall state).

Sadly, SLO County is the worst performing of the four Central Coast Regions. so far in 2014. Yes, its RevPar is up 9.8% for the first quarter, but Monterey / Salinas is up 12.3%, Santa Barbara/Santa Maria is up 12.9%, and as mentioned, Ventura/Oxnard is up 15.6%.

And the Bay area continues its surge: San Francisco / San Mateo RevPAR for the first quarter is up 17.7%, and its nearby wine destination getaways of Santa Rosa (i.e. Sonoma County) are up 16.5% and Napa are up 14.9% for the same period.

Any thoughts on why Ventura and Oxnard are doing so well?

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RevPAR 2007 – 2013

As pointed out by my earlier blog post this month, in 2013 the Central Coast and its sub regions had a very average year in growth of RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room), compared to the state of California as a whole.

To look at longer trends, I went through the earlier year-end Smith Travel Research (STR) Reports that were previously published on the VisitCalifornia travel trade website section during 2008 – 2013. (The 2008 results allowed me to provide the baseline 2007 statistics.)

As we know, 2007 was the last “normal” year for travel. 2008 started fine, but with the stock market collapse beginning in September 2008, everything quickly went to h***. 2009 proved to be the worst year, with the variable speed recovery since then.

Looking at RevPAR:
For California as a whole:   2013 vs. 2007: + 12%       2013 vs. 2009: + 40%

Key CA Regions
San Francisco Region:         2013 vs. 2007:  + 40%      2013 vs. 2009: + 64%
Oakland Region:                    2013 vs. 2007:  + 18%      2013 vs. 2009: + 61%
San Jose Region:                    2013 vs. 2007:  + 24%      2013 vs. 2009: + 70%
Los Angeles Region:              2013 vs. 2007:   + 14%     2013 vs. 2009: + 43%

For Central Coast as whole: 2013 vs 2007:   +    8%    2013 vs. 2009: + 31%
San Luis Obispo Region:     2013 vs. 2007:   + 15%     2013 vs. 2009: + 30%
Santa Barbara Region:          2013 vs. 2007:  + 11%     2013 vs. 2009: + 31%
Monterey Region:                  2013 vs. 2007:    +   5%    2013 vs. 2009: + 33%
Ventura Region:                      2013 vs. 2007:   +  3%     2013 vs. 2009: + 27%


The Central Coast RevPAR was not as badly impacted during the downturn as the Key California cities, but then the Key Cities snapped back even higher. (Way to go San Francisco: RevPAR up 40% since 2007, and up 64% since 2009!)

As for the Central Coast Regions, SLO had the best recovery compared to 2007, though even that 15% increase was barely better than the state average of 12%. Compared to 2009, the four Central Coast Regions are all close to the average 31% increase for the region as a whole, ranging from 27 – 33% increases. Even SLO’s increase may be partially attributable to the fact that it is nearest the booming Silicon Valley: note the 60%+ increases in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose since 2009.

Your thoughts?

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