Introducing: Influencer Labs

At Flip.to, we’re big believers in taking hospitality marketing to a new frontier. We share in celebrating experiences from travelers around the world, and work with folks truly passionate about providing top notch service at incredible destinations.

Somewhere, travel marketing got away from all of that, at the expense of hotels and travelers alike. So we set out to make things right.

Polished product aside, we knew this wouldn’t be a project we’d undertake alone. Nope. This would be an all-hands call with the goal of threading together perspectives from the best in the hospitality industry (and beyond) into a new fabric that defines great marketing.

That’s a pretty lofty task. So where did we start? Naturally, we called a few friends.

INFLUENCER LABS WERE BORN

Orlando Influencer Lab agenda

The idea for the labs was pretty simple. Invite some of the brightest minds in the local community to share their thoughts, spark the conversation, and then let it meander wherever our thought-leaders take it.

Ultimately we landed on very small, by-invitation events held with industry insiders on how to move travel forward—the type of honest conversation that can only happen in an intimate group of smart folks.

From broad topics in marketing, to a “mission to Mars” Elon Musk-style discussion, the groundwork was laid.

THE PILOTS: WHERE CONVERSATION TO MOVE TRAVEL FORWARD ALL BEGAN

Next up was to get the labs off the ground. To do so, we narrowed down three cities from coast-to-coast to be our experiments. And to fuel great conversation, we hosted dinner & compelling dialog with top minds in travel.

Influencer Lab: Orlando

The Alfond Inn

The good company:

  • Maurice Arbelaez, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing, Vista Cay Resort by Millenium
  • Susan Keaveney, Marketing Director, The Shores Resort & Spa
  • Tony Aslanian, Director of Sales & Marketing, BENCHMARK, A Global Hospitality Company
  • Kit McClelland, Director of Sales and Marketing, Caribe Royale All Suite Hotel and Convention Center
  • Jessica Purslow, Area Director of Sales, TravelClick

Hosted by:

  • Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships, Flip.to
  • Diane Van Leunen, Director of Marketing, Flip.to

The biggest takeaways:

  • An all-Central-Florida cast and crew, this inaugural lab is where it all started. (In our hometown, no less.) Our influencers honed in on what matters most—beyond technology, marketing, and everything else—hospitality.
  • Hoteliers consistently go above and beyond when a guest is on property to exceed expectations. Now it’s time to take that same passion everywhere else: like your marketing, digital experiences, communication before and after the stay, and more.
  • Why? Sparking conversations and building relationships is at its heart what this industry is all about. So make sure that no matter how you’re interacting with your guest, that’s the intent that shows through.

Influencer Lab: Myrtle Beach

Travinia Italian Kitchen

The good company:

  • Alex Husner, CMO, Condo-World
  • Pete DiMaio, Director of Client Success, Fuel Travel
  • Matt Klugman, DOSM, Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts
  • Patrick Norton, VP of Sales & Marketing, Brittain Resorts & Hotels
  • Josh Williams, Digital Marketing Director, Visibility and Conversions
  • Jacob Smith, Marketing Manager, Sandy Beach Resort
  • Jay McLaurin, Market Manager, Expedia

Hosted by:

  • Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships, Flip.to
  • Stuart Butler, COO, Fuel Travel

The biggest takeaways:

  • In Myrtle Beach, the market knows that to win travelers, you must first win them for the destination. After all, if you’re bidding for someone that wants to head to say, New York, and you’re in Myrtle Beach, they’re not likely booking your property anytime soon.
  • Taking this to heart, Myrtle Beach has become the example of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” working collaboratively from the ground up. And it’s been a win-win-win: for the destination, for their properties, and for the travelers.
  • The takeaway? Working together matters—and even promotes healthy competition—thanks to a healthy market.

Influencer Lab: Seattle

Edgewater Hotel

The good company:

  • Andrew Assante, Vice President Business Development, VR Cinematic​
  • Meredith Mara, Vice President, Sales, Coastal Hotel Group
  • Lindley Ferris, Vice President Marketing and Account Services, GCommerce
  • Frances Somers, Senior Marketing Manager, Content & Voice, Amazon Restaurants
  • Brent Lindberg, Principal and Founder, Fuseneo
  • Jenny Bullock, Senior Marketing Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Expedia, Inc.

Hosted by:

  • Diane Van Leunen, Director of Marketing, Flip.to
  • Raul Vega, Senior Director of Sales, Flip.to

The biggest takeaways:

  • Looking beyond our industry is a must. As shown by the diverse set of backgrounds who joined us at this lab, our industry should constantly be looking outward for ideas on better serving travelers.
  • So, where do you start? Consider that no matter the path-to-purchase, in every industry it’s all about anticipating the needs of people, and better serving the personal needs of those people at every step along the way. And at the end of the day, people want to be inspired, not sold to.
Influencer Lab: Seattle, hosted at the famed Edgewater Hotel
Influencer Lab: Seattle, hosted at the famed Edgewater Hotel

2019: TAKING INFLUENCER LABS WORLDWIDE

It was obvious from the pilot labs that something was sticking. And we knew that it was time to take this type of conversation to a larger scale.

So, back to boldly taking hospitality to a brand new frontier… 2019 has a ton in store, with labs lined up across the country and around the globe. In fact, the first few are already taking shape:

  • Influencer Lab: Montego Bay
  • Influencer Lab: Denver
  • Influencer Lab: Maho Beach

Be on the lookout for more to come from each of these regions, with lots of opportunity to join the conversation. Collaboration and bringing new ideas to light are musts in order to set a new course and move travel forward, together.

Caribbean travelers-turned-storytellers inspire growth for a region

In a few short weeks we will be “wheels up” for Montego Bay, Jamaica to attend the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

CHTA has paired up with Flip.to to raise awareness for the entire region as part of ‘Rhythms of the Caribbean’ storyteller campaign, and the  impact has been remarkable, so far.

Not only that, but we’re working with properties of all shapes and sizes across the Caribbean, working together to make an impact from the regional level all the way down to the hotel.

To celebrate, we’re sharing some of our favorite storytellers from these outstanding travel brands throughout the islands to show how everyone from a locals to travelers are reaching and growing new audiences, netting incredible results each and every day.

Jamaica Inn – Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Jamaica Inn Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Matt joined his fellow travelers to help reach an audience of 55 thousand in just 3 months. These storytellers helped drive impact for Jamaica Inn, converting 3.2x higher than the average paid search campaign, a testament to the receptive warmth of the audience and quality demographic.

Pure Granada – Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique

Pure Granada — Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique

Destination marketers Pure Granada are winning over new travelers for Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique by switching on advocacy. In just the first 2 months, their storytellers have reached an audience of more than 200 thousand travelers worldwide, driving thousands of site visitors and warm leads for the destination.

El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton – San Juan, Puerto Rico

El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by HiltonSan Juan, Puerto Rico

Lesley visited El San Juan Hotel for rejuvenation and relaxation. She and her fellow travelers placed the hotel at the center of their rich, authentic stories shared. Together, they introduced the hotel worldwide, helping earn over 600 warm leads in just 15 weeks—each who are being delivered authentic, personal conversations and nurtured for a future visit to this picturesque property.

The Crane – St. Philip, Barbados

The Crane – St. Philip, Barbados

The Crane is no stranger to success. They proved to be the perfect fit for George and his family, and memories like those shared have a lasting impact for their resort.

In only 15 weeks, travelers reached an audience of over 200 thousand, proven to be the warmest, most receptive audience for their resort by converting leads at over 3x the industry benchmark.

Thatch Caye Island Resort – Dangriga, Belize

Thatch Caye Island Resort – Dangriga, Belize

A peaceful moment captured during Steven’s stay at Thatch Caye Island Resort speaks volumes to the natural beauty that surrounds the property. He brought over 100 visitors back to the hotel’s site all on his own一tapping into new audiences previously out of reach. And he’s joining fellow travelers each and every day to reach new audiences for Thatch Caye.

Ladera Resort – Soufriere, Saint Lucia

Ladera Resort – Soufriere, Saint Lucia

Hana was awestruck by the beauty at Ladera Resort. Her favorite travel memory was shared to over 400 friends & relatives一fellow travelers with similar interests and buying habits, and the perfect demographic for their resort.

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – La Baie de Silence, Saint Lucia

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – La Baie de Silence, Saint Lucia

Sugar Beach’s staff made an incredible impression for Grant and his wife, going above and beyond for their stay.

So much so, it was an experience Grant was excited to share on to friends & family, and helped track impact for their hotel on top of it. Sugar Beach was introduced to thousands of his friends, with over 200 site visitors coming back to learn about the St. Lucia property, and 131 warm leads to friends just one degree away from Grant and showed interest in a future stay.

Copal Tree Lodge – Punta Gorda, Belize

Copal Tree Lodge – Punta Gorda, Belize

Cale joined other travelers-turned-storytellers when he shared his wonderfully exceeded expectations of Copal Tree Lodge. In just 3 months, over 36 thousand friends & relatives were personally introduced by someone they know and trust, resulting in hundreds of warm leads for this unique Belize property.

Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Curaçao – Newport, Curaçao

Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Curaçao – Newport, Curaçao

Suzanne captured a timeless memory to share for years to come with Santa Barbara Resort Curacao at the center of her experience. This compelling story matters the most to her friends & family and they drove impact for the property一over 1,500 site visits and 164 warm leads to Santa Barbara Resort Curacao一in the most authentic way possible.

Bay Gardens Resorts – Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia

Bay Gardens Resorts – Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia

Bay Gardens attentive hospitality inspired Kennedy to join other traveler-turned-storytellers in sharing their experiences at the resort. Together, they’re warmly introducing these exceptional properties to new audiences, in the most trusted way possible—all while getting more for every dollar they invest into marketing.

Couples Resorts Jamaica – Ocho Rios and Negril, Jamaica

Couples Resorts Jamaica – Ocho Rios and Negril, Jamaica

Susan has been making memories at Couples Resorts in Jamaica for over 10 years. She introduced her friends and family to their beachfront properties, leading to 32 warm introductions to like-minded travelers who showed interest in a romantic getaway of their own.

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas – La Romana, Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas – La Romana, Dominican Republic

For Gordon and his family, time spent at Casa de Campo was one for the books. Along with other storytellers, they reached over 100 thousand new demographic一all just one degree away.


These are just a few of the storytellers helping net new audiences of travelers through Flip.to, each and every day.

Just can’t get enough? See more stories here, and if you’re heading to Jamaica—get in touch with us here!

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.

Cardinal rules: how marketing got off track and a new era ushered in change

Conversations on marketing and data are no longer confined within the walls of brands alone. As headlines around the world show, now more than ever the general public wants to know that brands are trustworthy, especially when it comes to how their personal information is being used.

To really get better, it’s important to understand why these events came to be in the first place. As we see it, they’re in large part (long overdue) fixes to spammy marketing practices, fake news, clickbait, and the like, that have people fed-up. And so change is happening.

Now we’re setting out to help travel marketers adapt. Below, I discuss a short history of how we landed here, plus the first step–being a good steward of customer data, and thus a better marketer:

 

There are some wins in all of this, too.

While immediate changes in how we market day-to-day might change, the truth is that these changes will also help us build our most engaged audience. And that means building stronger relationships with our travelers and customers, too.

Subscribe below if you want to stay up-to-date with more videos in the series, including a deeper dive into opt-in strategies and segmentation. Plus, we love collaborating with movers and shakers in the industry to make travel better.

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GDPR: A primer for everyone in travel

GDPR. It’s a regulation that, in just over a month, will have a huge impact for marketers everywhere. While building compliance into our platform, we’ve gotten a ton of questions as to why it’s important, and how we’re handling the shift.

To help, we’re raising awareness industry-wide with a primer on how it affects all of us in travel:

 

To go further, we’re sharing what else we’ve learned.

For one thing, there’s the possibility that your existing marketing database is at risk. Legal counsel or insurance providers may stop use without proof that it’s in compliance. In the short-term, this potentially invaluable asset is where your focus should be.

If you’d like information about de-risking your database, get in touch with us here. We’ll share a usable fix to segment existing audiences, while kicking off a marketing campaign that’s a win for everyone involved.

In the meantime, check out AdWeek’s full take and let us know how you’re preparing for the long-term.

Set to go beyond data, we see it as a way to get into personal conversations that are expected and wanted by your travelers—leveling up all of us as travel marketers.