Social Media and Travel Industry

The Travel Industry took by surprise the number of people who “by-pass” them and simply ordered travel trips online in the 90’s. Specially after the “internet boom” in the late 90’s with websites being created at a fast pace.


I was surprised to know that the Travel Industry instead of “fighting” against online e-commerce and social media in general, they became part of this new reality. Maybe some travel agencies downsized or simply closed – the ones that did not adapted – but the Travel Industry started to focus on educating the customer on the benefits of having a reliable travel agency vs booking online.

The Travel Industry first took social media as a “threat”, then as an “opportunity”. They noticed that for some customers that are only interested in book a flight, they are most likely to use online services and simply book online. This new trend was explored by many new companies like Trivago, Expedia,Travelocity, TripAdvisor, etc…

Travel Agencies now focused on providing a service that goes beyond the fact of an airline ticket, they are now focusing on  all-inclusive packages for resorts, cruise line, or a combination of flight/hotel/transportation package.

As marketing experts pointed out: “agents need to embrace social media and use it as part of their marketing strategy, according to Ron Cates, international director, digital marketing education for Constant Contact: You engage with your customers – they are advocating for you.” .

I think that the Travel Industry, is an example of an industry that at first took online e-commerce as a threat, then learned how to adapt and use Social Media as an opportunity to target customers. (Below photo: a Travel Agency that became less popular after online booking).


Most of the large travel agencies have a Facebook, Twitter and several social media tools in their portfolio: “Content creation for travel and hospitality brands has traditionally been filled with imagery showing off the sights, accommodations and benefits of picking one brand over another. But social media, combined with new generations that favor experience over prestige, has created new influencers who often showcase different approaches to sharing their experiences…” (By Chris Kerns – VP of Research and Insights) Below photo:  an example of a Travel Agency that adapted to the competition of online booking.


Finally, Social Media helped to bring more attention to beautiful places in the world, and helped share the experiences of many travellers, therefore collaterally boosting the Industry.



Blockbuster vs Netflix


Blockbuster CEO John Antioco thought that online business and e-commerce was “a small marketing niche” therefore he was not impressed in purchasing a new company, called Netflix.

Reed Hastings the founder of Netflix, flew to Dallas in 2000 to explain his new business concept, and suggested that Blockbuster should take advantage of this concept. Actually, advising Antioco that Netflix should be running Blockbuster brand in the online industry, as Blockbuster should promote Netflix inside Blockbuster’s stores.


Antioco not only denied the offer but left the room laughing at Hastings idea. Ten years later, Blockbuster was declaring bankruptcy and Netflix was listed as a $28 Billion dollar asset company worldwide.

What happened with Antioco is just an example of how successful companies (including Netflix today) can have their solid grounds shaken and changed in today’s marketplace. Just think about Kodak ignoring digital cameras, Blackberry underestimating Apple, CAA ignoring Costco vehicle assisting program, as a few examples.


The interesting thing is that most of the top Executives of successful companies have good business concept. Antioco was not an exception to this rule. He brought Blockbuster to a strong brand position, having stores all over the USA and the world. Yet he laughed at Hastings proposition and probably thought that it was an insult.

Well, the opposite example was the CEO of Walt Disney, if they had stayed only with cartoon animation, they would have been bought out by another company by now, instead they invested in Theme Parks, Cruise lines, video games, movies and finally even  buying  Star Wars franchise.

The bottom line is that you need to pay very close attention to what is happening in the marketplace and never underestimate the competition.


Montreal Christmas tree: it was supposed to be the biggest and most beautiful one…

Montreal’s Christmas tree at Place des Arts was supposedly designed to compete with New York’s legendary Rockefeller display – but it isn’t quite living up to grand expectations.


Now lets compared with Rockefeller Christmas tree…


No wonder Montreal Christmas tree is getting attention in the social media but not for the good reasons…


“You can’t find a perfect tree!”   Said one of the supporters of the Montreal tree.

The tree has garnered so much attention, that it now has its own Twitter account!

“What you don’t have in a tree, you make up in an attitude with people,” said Christine Gordon, a New Yorker visiting Montreal.”  Global






New Air Force One: Tump vs Boeing

US elected president Donal Trump made a rare move when he tweeted that Boeing was building a new 747 Air Force One for future presidents at a cost of $4 Billion. Trump finished his tweet “Cancel, order!”

As usual the CEO of Boeing agree to discuss the cost in order to keep the sale. Trump said that this is being responsible with tax payers money. He also could had said: “Hey, if you have any problem I can keep flying on my own plane”! Not every president could say that!





If Facebook were a country… and why other social media companies failed?


I was shocked when I read for the first time that if Facebook were a country, they  would have been the third largest country in the world! But according to the Huffington Post, this has changed, and changed for better!


“If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous nation on earth.The huge social network said Wednesday that 1.39 billion people log in to Facebook each month to scroll their News Feeds, communicate with friends and look at photos.That’s more than the entire population of China, the world’s most populous country, which the CIA last estimated to have 1.36 billion people.”The Huffington Post.

The growth is not only in online users, financially, Facebook is doing very well.

“Facebook reported revenue of $3.85 billion for the three months ending in December, up 49 percent over the same period last year. The company’s stock is trading at $76.24, up nearly 22 percent over the last 12 months.” The Huffington Post.


It was not long ago that Mark Z. was happy to announce that if Facebook were a country it would be the 8th largest in the world….


So far Facebook is doing very well, but other social media companies were not so successful, like Orkut – Google’s project lunched in 2004 – that did very well but was not able to retain “its citizens”.

The same faith for social media Friendster, MySpace, YahooBuzz, Ello (sorry, but I never heard about Ello until now…) and finally, Google Plus. From all of them only Ello and Google Plus are active. But none of them were able to take Facebook platform. But it does not mean that a new social media company, maybe boosted by Google or other corporation, will not launch something new with an innovation appeal that will change the landscape of the social media world. (6 Social Media Networks that just couldn’t make it happen)


Let’s see what would be the demographic of Facebook in the next 5 years. So far, Facebook achieved what other were unable to achieve: connect with people…



Starbucks CEO stepping down: what is the next step for Starbucks?

Howard Schultz is stepping down as chief executive of Starbucks Corp. to lead an effort at the company to build high-end coffee shops that will charge as much as $12 a cup, his next attempt to revolutionize the way Americans consume coffee.” WSJ


Howard Schultz undoubtedly increased and improved Starbucks brand to what is now 25,000 stores in the world! But that growth seems to have reach a plateau.


What is going to be the next step for Starbucks as a company? It seems that the landscape for Starbucks is being unfold as Schultz is stepping down. Schultz is trying to reach a new “vision” for the company building high-end coffee shops as Starbucks is trying to retain its loyal customers to sustain grow.

“While Starbucks continues to outperform the broader food retail industry, its sales  growth has slowed in recent quarters.”WSJ



“Analysts see plenty of risks for the new venture. If the economy falters, they say, investors won’t be too keen on Starbucks spending what some estimate will be roughly $100 million a year building fancy new stores that may draw few customers.” WSJ

Only the future will tell if Schultz was right in bringing Starbucks to a new level of premium or like some critics are saying “premiumization”:

Moving too far upscale could be a distraction to the operation of Starbucks’s traditional coffee shops. Credit Suisse analyst Jason West said: “The menu is getting complex at Starbucks. If you’re going to throw on top of that another level of premiumization and innovation and add an espresso bar, this could make things more challenging.” WSJ



Is good management a key to survive? Just ask Disney!

Walter Elias Disney founder of an idea that became one of the most successful companies in the United States.

The success of the Walt Disney Company is not only due to the talent of its founder, that saw the future of animation, but to the savvy management that took the company over the decades. Making “Disney” a trademark not exclusive in the animation business – which may had been a big mistake – but into a multi brand organization.


Disney once was a small animation studio in the early years of 1928. Today they spent into cruise line, resort, amusement theme parks, toys, video games, movies and more!


Disney as a brand seems to had evolved since the creation of Mickey Mouse in 1928 to  multi billion dollars acquisitions; like the amusement theme parks in Orlando and California and the purchase of Star Wars franchise!

“The mission of the Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.”



images-5 Disney video game expansion!


Disney cruise line and private islands!

From a small animation studio to a world-class multi-level organization worth billions! According to business reports Disney held assets worth $74.5 billion dollars  with a market cap around $179 billion dollars, according to Forbes magazine!

If Disney had stayed only with the animation portion of its brand, they probably would have been bought out by another company! Instead Disney was the one that bought other companies and made an outstanding growth throughout the decades. A good example of talent and management.

$3.6 million in bonus but it was not enough: is that money addiction?

“In my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted.” Sam Polk, a former Wall Street trade investor.  The New York Times article: For The Love of Money


This 2014 NYT article choked a lot of people who think that a bonus of $3 million dollars is a lottery winning ticket and yet for Sam that was not enough because he compared himself with his co-workers and some were making even more.

Sam described in this NYT article how he was basically “addicted to money” and at the age of 30, with not children he was making over $3 million dollars a year but not happy.


Sam actually said in the article: “Only a wealth addict would feel justified in receiving $14 million in compensation — including an $8.5 million bonus — as the McDonald’s C.E.O., Don Thompson, did in 2012, while his company then published a brochure for its work force on how to survive on their low wages. Only a wealth addict would earn hundreds of millions as a hedge-fund manager, and then lobby to maintain a tax loophole that gave him a lower tax rate than his secretary”.

Sam left Wall Street and opened up a nonprofit organization to help low-income families. He stated that he had helped others from his stock trading world to move out if they thought that they had enough but did not know how to leave.

Definitely an interesting topic. From one side, you see that people have the right to achieve higher goals in their lives, including financial freedom. From the other side, you see a huge gap in society where just a few people are able to be making millions based on a system that perhaps does not favour more than a few.

Despite this gap, the problem is not in the freedom of entrepreneurship that allows people  to succeed in live. The problem perhaps is where organizations like McDonald’s, can pay $14 million for a CEO, but vast majority of the company’s employees are living on minimum wage.



Is the mainstream media bias?


I don’t think that there is a precise answer to the question of mainstream media being bias. After all everybody has a perspective of the facts. The problem is when the media focus too much on presenting the facts associated with their point of view. But dissociating from the public that are receiving the news.


I don’t think that there is an unbiased approach if you are so focus on presenting the facts according to your interests.


However the public today is realizing how they can be played. How that the same news can be shown differently from channel to channel. This is creating a sense of urgency for mainstream media to be more transparent and to work towards the unbiased path.


I don’t think that there is a time more appropriated for that approach than now. The internet brought new challenges but also gave more freedom to people. The internet has a lot to improve, for example we still have reports of “fake” news on Facebook and Twitter. But the reality is, despite the small percentage of “fake”news, the internet provide at the same time, every channel commenting the same news.screen-shot-2013-03-28-at-3-47-32-pm

In the end, the public are able to question why the same facts are downplayed or overemphasize between channels. And ask: why the media is not impartial?

This was the first step to make the mainstream media more accountable on how they present the facts without being so bias.

Tourism and blogging: Boosting the economy in small towns


Visiting picturesque small towns are usually a nice experience. First of all the small towns have always something unique and after a good experience, visitors are now writing blogs and sharing their opinion with social media.

In the United States and Canada, it seems that the small towns are trying to boost their economy using tourism and social media to attract visitors. (Photo above: Galena, IL)

I was particular surprise on how similar are certain towns and how they are trying to “differentiate” themselves showing something particular to each one of them. dining-roomI

It does not matter if you are visiting small towns in  United States or in Canada, you will find a good source of blogs and travel tips from local businesses and visitors commenting their experience. Here is a blog from visit Virginia. (photo above: The Downtown Grille in Charlottesville,VA, photo below, summer festival in Niagara on the Lake, ON)


We can always be impressed with big cities like New York, Paris, London, Vancouver or Toronto, it is almost like that the big cities don’t need to make an extra effort regarding advertise to attract visitors. However, small towns are now getting smart and using the power of social media in their favour. 13517614_10154096361262489_1602048739658451533_o

The power of social media and hundreds of blogs have created a natural flow of tourism and with it a good boost in the economy for small towns.(Above: photo of downtown Newmarket, ON)

I placed here some photos of small towns in the USA and Canada, at one point was hard to see what town was what (well, unless you see the Canadian flag), they are very similar at first but each one is unique. Because of that, small towns are advertising their uniqueness, meaning; a family restaurant, or a street summer festival, or even a coffee shop. (photos below: downtown Charlottesville, VA).


Summer festivities in downtown Newmarket-ON.


Below wineries in Niagara on the Lake, ON and Charlottesville,VA.