Hacktoberfest: What happens when design is in your DNA

Thursday's Hacktoberfeast potluck

It’s a wrap—our inaugural Hacktoberfest is in the books.

This all-hands-on-deck hackathon-style event brought our teams together to create an all new feature for the platform, from end-to-end, that reimagines how to tell the visual narrative of a travel brand.

A few special guests joined along the way to collaborate, and after three days of hard work, group think and great food, the project started taking shape.

Here’s a one-minute look at what happened:

 

The week in review

A huge thank you to all of our Hacktoberfest guests!

Throughout the week, there was lots of fun to be had with our team members near and far. From daily “Hackachat” check-in’s, to Thursday’s “Hacktoberfeast” potluck, there was no shortage of Gemütlichkeit—and outstanding teamwork along the way.

Among our top highlights? Visits from a few special guests who share our passion for hospitality and lederhosen.

They brought their expertise in destination marketing, visual storytelling and all things digital, while putting their stamp on the creative process.

A huge “danke schön” to Zach Stovall, Jason Holic, Christina Leake and Dan Spellman for stopping by!

Starting (and ending) with our why

Hacktoberfest: hard work, group think and German-style celebration

Hacktoberfest was more than trying our hand at pronouncing German words and getting to break out the Flip.to robot. These three days were a chance to hone all of our team’s talents in one place, putting our heads together to trailblaze travel marketing. As Zach commented during his time with us, the more creative minds coming together, the more incredible the outcome.

At Flip.to, design is in our DNA. We know that great marketing isn’t just about having a polished final product—it’s about innovation and solving real challenges for travel marketers to help them do what they do even better.

Hacktoberfest brought this to the forefront. In the following weeks, look for more about the event and what’s coming to the platform soon.

Stories that inspire: Team week

One of our core values: No minions here. We hire amazing people first, let them tell us what they’re good at, and then help them find their superpower. So as you may have guessed, team is important to us, and ours is made up of some pretty incredible people.

So, last month, our whole team stopped by HQ in Orlando for a week of creative collaboration, coffee brainstorms, and a bit of fun.

Here are some of our favorites moments from the week:

Wrapping up Thursday’s catered lunch after team updates and Founder’s Corner
Wrapping up Thursday’s catered lunch after team updates and Founder’s Corner
“Escaping” from the Great Escape Room in record time
Getting ready to race electric go-karts on Friday’s offsite at Andretti Indoor Karting
Getting ready to race electric go-karts on Friday’s offsite at Andretti Indoor Karting
Celebrating the wins (and crashes) after the checkered flag waves
Celebrating the wins (and crashes) after the checkered flag waves

An extra bonus of having the entire team in-house means we get the chance to take advantage of the creative talent of our design team. Any time they’re in town, we schedule a few hours to update the chalk wall in our lunch room.

This time, we set up a camera to capture the entire session:

 

To meet some of the Flip.to veterans along with some fresh faces, hop over to our about page. Plus, always feel free to say hello 👋 to us here—we’re always eager to chat with other movers and shakers in hospitality!

Meet Matt: team player and pun champion

At Flip.to, we’ve made our careers in hospitality. Now, we’re certified in advocology. (Our science-y approach to turning advocacy into revenue.)

On this team, we aim to hire amazing people, which is why we’d like to introduce Matt—dedicated Account Manager and “punny” guy who settles for nothing less than huge wins for every customer.

 

Want to dig in? Say hello to Matt, or peek at the rest of our advocologists at work here.

Behind the screen: finding our voice in video

A few months back, we shamelessly shared our first blooper reel after an excited foray into video production. It’s been one heck of an experience and we’ve learned an awful lot along the way.

At Flip.to we’re all about authenticity and the connections between individuals. So when we first committed to making video there was unanimous agreement that whatever it is we’re talking about in our videos, it should be us talking about it.

OurVoiceInVideo_9.2
Setting up the mic and testing audio before getting started.

I was asked to be the voice of our videos. One never to turn down an opportunity (or a challenge), I was happy to take up the mantle. (To be honest I was more excited about recording impersonations, so I convinced myself this was a step in that direction.)

As fun as it’s been, we’ve been focused on continuous improvement. If you’re thinking of integrating video into your content marketing strategy (and you should), here are some major lessons to help you get started.

1. Spend time on a script…

Going into this, I was working under the assumption that we’d need some manner of script but, for the most part, we’d be winging it. It only took a single video to realize how wrong I was. We were using a script from the beginning. While we did adlib a bit, it was immediately apparent how important the script was.

This may seem like an obvious thing, but when you spend the better part of your day talking about a product, you feel confident enough you can do the same with a microphone in front of your face.

Don’t bet on it–having a polished script ensures you’re covering the important points.

2. …but don’t be afraid to deviate

As critical as the script is, if you want the video to feel authentic and convey real emotion, you’ll need to make changes on the fly. We’ll record each section of the video multiple times to make sure it feels and sounds authentic and natural. The script isn’t gospel. Instead, it’s a guide to tie together the scenes and concepts in the video.

3. Record, record, and record again

OurVoiceInVideo_8
Getting a bit of feedback from Hunter on the recording.

Getting a scene right on the first try is akin to keeping a wet dog in the bathtub. Try as you might, there will be slip ups.

Or, it just may not feel right. No matter how you feel after recording a scene, the playback may change your mind. In the beginning, we recorded a scene, played it back, and recorded it again—then repeated. We wisened up and now we record each scene a few times back-to-back and then listen in succession. Doing it this way lets you compare each attempt to single out the best take. If none sound good, well… do it again!

4. Finding the right voice and tone takes time

I don’t mean to say you need to make a host of videos to find your voice and tone. Instead, I’m talking about finding the right tone for a specific video.

While recording our “Introduce your hotel to the people that matter most” video, we were about three-quarters of the way through the voice-over when we hit our stride. We wrapped up several scenes in quick succession and they felt incredible.

We went back and listened. It sounded noticeably different! The final 25% felt so right, that we took the time to re-record everything up to that point so that there was continuity. It was well worth the effort. Once we dialed it in we were able to record much more quickly too.

OurVoiceInVideo_7
Hunter gives the thumbs up on the new recording.

For future videos we recorded a reading of the entire script, sometimes multiple times, to get a feel for the tone. Ultimately this saved us time, produced a better quality video, and gave the video authenticity.

5. Have fun

It’s not all business. You will definitely need to take breaks. We deviate from the script (sometimes by A LOT) because a good laugh can go a long way.

And like I said at the start, doing impersonations was what I really wanted to do in the first place. So don’t hesitate to cut loose when the urge strikes and enjoy the moment. It’s not often you get an opportunity to professionally record yourself cutting up for, you know, posterity.

Oh, and don’t think we didn’t save some of the fun stuff—listen in for yourself below!

Jumping into your own recordings? Let me know! We’re always eager to share and learn more, and collaborate along the way.

Watch now: jumping into video

It’s been 4 months since we released our first video, Introducing: Photo Explorer. We’ve come a long way. We’re continuing to improve our production process, crafting our content and meticulously editing our scripts.

All this incredibly careful planning has led to some really good stuff, and even better bad stuff. So without further ado, let’s start with the bad stuff. (Thanks NAVIS for being such good sports.)

 

We’ve got a lot planned going forward, including a look at our team and culture, video resources for customers, event recaps, partner spotlights and more. Check back soon for even good-er video.

A sweet surprise from Chickasaw Nation

I’ve said it before—the biggest reason I love working in this industry? The hospitality. This week we were treated to one sweet surprise—an incredible selection of Bedré Fine Chocolates courtesy of Micha Krodel of Chickasaw Nation out of Oklahoma.

Milk Chocolate Oklahoma, Cowboy Boot & Hat
Milk Chocolate Oklahoma, Cowboy Boot & Hat

If the Chickasaw Nation wasn’t on your travel list, it should be. They have some spectacular offerings in store for their guests. From the breathtaking landscapes of their rec areas to a rich cultural center, opportunities to explore are limitless. Visitors can also relax in luxury at the Artesian Hotel, unwind at the Chickasaw Retreat spa, or even enjoy top-notch gaming at the WinStar World Casino and Resort.

Bedré is something really special, too. This small chocolatier was brought to life by the rich legacy of the Chickasaw Nation. Purchased in 2000, they’ve completely transformed it into a nationally recognized luxury chocolate brand. These sweets are offered in retail stores across the country, including The Artesian Hotel and Bedré Café.

(And our whole team can attest to the chocolate—we snagged a few pics prior to the devouring!)

full-spread-bedre-chocolates

We had just a taste, and it was enough for us to start planning our next trip to Oklahoma. Be sure to have a look for yourself!

Introducing: Photo Explorer (our first video!)

The need to make videos has become more apparent as our team and company continue to grow. Video will complement how we communicate our product, culture, and vision to the world. It’s a completely new arena for us, and I’m awfully excited that we’ve just jumped in.

We closely collaborated with our account team to better understand our customers’ needs, and narrowed in on what topics were right for us to get started. Of course, producing high-quality videos fast is crucial for a small startup team. After some help from The Startup Video Course, we were up and running in a couple of days.

In the end, here is what we made:

 

Be on the lookout for a ton more in this arena, from product updates, ideas and of course a bit of fun.

Also, word around the office is that a few other employees want to try their hand at voiceovers, so expect to see a few auditions, and possibly some bloopers along the way.

Take a tourorWatch next video

Advocates vs. avocados

Advocates vs. avocados: it’s more than a case of po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe. Hoteliers are seemingly becoming disillusioned by avocados after seeing the power of advocacy (you should see the emails we get.)

Our advocologists did minutes of research and surveyed nearly half a dozen people to figure out why this debate keeps popping up, and of course to declare the ultimate champion.

(No advocates were mashed in the making of this study.)


round1

Avocados offer up a rich, buttery taste with a creamy texture that brings guac to life. The results came back inconclusive for the advocates. First matchup goes to the fruit (yup, avocados are actually in the berry family).

Round1_Comparison

Round1_Winner


round2

Now, our advocates are fresh—they travel in style. (Don’t believe us? See for yourself.) But a perfectly ripe avocado is tough to beat. This one was too close to call.

Round2_Comparison

Round2_Winner


round3

After documenting aging characteristics, advocates showed “low to no signs of aging.” Avocados, on the other hand, succumb to time and were transformed into unfortunate brown globs. The winner was conclusive.

round3

Round3_Winner


round4

With the list of health benefits from avocados, the final round was a tough match. However, nothing compares to the impact of advocates.

Round4_Image

round4


The results are in. Advocates were the clear winner of this competition!

The Champ


We published our findings in the Journal of Research in Advocology. The critics quickly chimed in:

“Guacamole is delicious, but it does jack $&*! for your hotel.”
— Dr. Jack Travelfianakis

“Whatever.”
— Haas Avocado Commission

We see the impact advocates have on a hotel’s bottom line everyday. And even though avocados have a ridiculously narrow window of ripe goodness, we believe hoteliers should keep them around as well.

Stay tuned for more on the impact of advocacy, (plus a few ripe-innings of avocados here and there) as our team of advocologists work day and night to bring you the best advocology research in the industry.


ornament2

Holiday science brought to you by the Department of Advocology

Flip.to welcomes very first Director of Breakfasts

Kevin holding up the line
Kevin holding up the line

The sounds of grumbling stomachs were heard far and wide, and the torment of a bagel-less, muffin-less, and cold-brew-less morning in the office had to stop. Plus, the line at the Starbucks machine was getting a bit lengthy thanks to the 32 ounce option. (I mean, really, Kevin? Who needs 32 ounces of coffee in the morning? All those dev hours, I guess…)

The decision was clear. We needed help:

 

Director of Breakfasts
Flip.to seeks first-meal-making wizard

Qualifications:

We are looking for a creative and gifted Director of Breakfast. You will be known as “the meal-making wizard” and maintain complete control of the kitchen and breakroom.

Experience:

Making breakfast taste good

Skills:

  • Cold brew making ability
  • Can incorporate tasty, vegan alternatives
  • Must hail from New York City

Sure, these were HUGE shoes to fill, and quite honestly we weren’t too sure they could.

To our surprise, the response was overwhelming. We had lines of people outside our office giving us tastings of their best breakfast dishes for days. In fact, we’re still getting the occasional chef trickle into our office. It’s a tear-jerker turning down so many crumble-top muffins in the past few days. Regardless, we had to stay strong and move on.

After countless hours of taste testing, résumé reviewing, and deliberation, a decision had been made! We couldn’t be more ecstatic to announce our new Director of Breakfasts, Traci Kent—sister of CEO and fearless Flip.to leader, Brian Kent.

The NY Style Bagels—you should’ve tasted them. And don’t get me started on the multitude of muffins. They’re so good that Traci was once asked to come to the White House for a Presidential Breakfast. She kindly turned it down. With gumption like that, we couldn’t be more proud to have her on the team. She captures the essence of Martha Stewart with the execution skills of highly trained Swat team. In other words, she’s the best.breakfast-collage-2

UPDATE: Traci had to return to Brooklyn after the holidays. The team didn’t take the news very well, but we’re working out a plan to bake remote.

The not so chilly chili cook-off

The aprons were tied, the Crock Pots were in-line, and the heat was ablaze during Flip.to’s First-Ever Chili Cook-Off. With chilly weather (74˚) sweeping across Florida, there wasn’t a better time for a warm bowl of chili topped with ooey gooey cheese and a dollop of sour cream (unless you are Ed who despises anything with sour cream.) Plus, office bragging rights were on the line, which hold a lot of weight around here!

chili-cookoff-collage

For some, it was about trying the newest recipes they found online the night before or maybe stopping at Wendy’s and asking to fill their Crock Pot. For the seasoned veterans, it was about cooking recipes passed down from generations and toiling over perfection for hours, days, or even weeks! Contestants were starry-eyed and hopeful, however, they were unaware of the domination that was about to pursue.

Everyone was given a ballot to cast their votes for Team Favorite, Best Texture, Best Color, Best Consistency, Best Spice, Best Flavor, and Best Aroma. After the votes were counted, the winners are (drum-roll):

winners-circle

Overall, the hard work paid off (mainly for Rosana) and the team got to eat some pretty darn good chili. I mean, look at those happy Flip.to-ers!

chili-cookoff-teamAfter the tastings were done, votes tallied and the TUMS taken, all-in-all things didn’t get too fiery. The bar was set high thanks to the winners’ Martha Stewart like chili-cooking skills. Truly, everyone was a winner–even the slackers who didn’t participate, which I can say because I was one of them. Until next time!