InterContinental Hotels Group rolls out Android-based rewards
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InterContinental Hotels Group is using an Android application to reward loyal customers with points for future deals.
The Priority Club Rewards application contains booking and reservation management features for Priority Club Rewards members. The application is also available for iPhone users.
“As an early entrant into mobile travel, IHG has always aimed to provide solutions to improve the guest experience – whether it be searching, booking, arrival planning or staying in one of our properties,” said Bill Keen, director of product management-branded Web and mobile solutions at IHG, Atlanta.
“Mobile as a channel allows us to stay engaged with customers throughout the entire guest experience as it is always on and always tethered,” he said. “We are pursuing solutions that are device and platform appropriate and provide guest convenience – inclusive of regional and local languages – in the core markets we serve.”
IHG franchises, leases, manages or owns, through various subsidiaries, over 4,400 hotels and more than 650,000 guest rooms in 100 countries around the world.
Using the application, consumers can check rates and view or cancel reservations for all seven of IHG’s brands including, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
Loyalty members can find and book a room, view photos and amenities for each hotel, click-to-call the front desk for each hotel and use Priority Club Rewards account information to facilitate bookings.
In addition, consumers can view Priority Club Rewards member details, including the number, level and points balance.
Members can manage their account profile, redeem points for Priority Club Reward Nights, use Corporate IDs to get corporate rates and view special offers.
“Our Android and iPhone applications are targeted at our most loyal customers whose expectations are convenient service and recognition of their loyalty,” Mr. Keen said. “Also, because our target market indexes towards busy business professionals, we wanted to make sure we used functionality inherent in the devices such location aware search, voice search and map integration.
“We have a multichannel marketing plan aimed a driving awareness but also inclusive of promotional incentive aimed at driving consumer usage,” he said. “We are merchandising across all of our electronic channels via landing pages that make consumers aware of our mobile options whether they be mobile applications for the iPhone and Droid or our multilingual mobile Web sites.
“We will also be sending emails and continue efforts in both mobile search and mobile display advertising.
IHG is offering 1,000 Priority Club Rewards bonus points to members for each qualifying stay up to Sept. 30.
There is also an enhanced version of the iPhone application that includes two new features that let consumers use corporate IDs to get corporate rates and to redeem Priority Club Reward Nights.
“We currently support multiple device and platform types through our mobile Web and downloads – regardless of feature phone or smartphone, we have an option available,” Mr. Keen said. “Also, as a global company we are looking at solutions to support solutions in key international markets such as Japan, China, Britain and Germany.
“We are currently working on several initiatives that extend into new markets and new mediums,” he said. “We will be extending our mobile Web language support beyond our currently available languages of English, Spanish, German, Chinese and Japanese.
“We will be enhancing our downloadable apps to include branded versions as well as translated versions.”
By Rimma Kats
97% of all text messages are read within 4 minutes! Mobile marketing is here to stay. If you’re not using it to market your business it’s only a matter of time before your competitors do. The opportunity to capture and build your target market is NOW.
The use of mobile phones has reached unprecedented numbers – by the end of 2009, roughly 4.6 BILLION people across the globe had a mobile phone, twice the number of those using the Internet. 4.2 BILLION text messages are sent daily in the US alone! Mobile marketing has made it possible to reach these on-the-go consumers – anytime and anywhere. Capitalizing on this opportunity has never before been so affordable. Proforma PPG Mobile Marketing provides large and small companies with a one stop shop for mobile marketing. Our experience, technical capabilities, infrastructure and superior customer service provides companies with turn-key solutions that are easy to incorporate into any marketing campaign.
How Does It Work?
Mobile marketing is very simple. Your targeted market (Customers, prospects, employees, students, members etc.) see your advertisement inviting them to text a word (keyword) to a five or six digit number (short code) to receive specific information such as product updates, news and/or coupons, discounts and other special offers. When they do this, they receive a confirmation text sent back to their cell phone letting them know that they have been registered.
As individuals register for your promotions, your company is building a database. From this point you can send alerts or text “call to actions” to their cell phones eliciting them to respond thus driving business and/or activity to your organization or company.
Building an Effective Mobile Marketing Campaign
Mobile marketing with is a great way to stay connected with your target audience.
- Strengthen your customer connection: With every text communication, your top objective should be to get closer to your customers and for your customers to get closer to you.
- Offer value: By offering consumers discounts and offers that are only available through your text marketing program you instantly build value intoyour messages.
- Alternate your messages: By sending different messages with new promotions/offers on a consistent basis, recipients will be more likely to read future messages.
- Trade value for information: You can collect more data about your target market by asking them to reply with information about themselves in exchange for the next offer. Perfect for conducting surveys or collecting information such as email addresses or demographic information.
- Text a keyword to a short code to receive instant coupons WHILE at the store or restaurant
- Alerts about sale events, web specials, and other time sensitive product information
- Inform participants at an event about scheduled functions or changes in schedules
- Survey customers/employees about upcoming events or policies
- Remind customers/patients about upcoming appointments to reduce costly no-shows
- Alert waiting patrons/patients that it is their turn to be served. Perfect for hospitals/restaurants
- Give your target audience access to additional information when printing space is limited.
Focus and Discipline are the Keys to Social Media Success
As you read this, it will become painfully obvious that focus and discipline are two things I desperately need to work on.
I initially decided to attend the Social Media 101 presentation to meet (face-to-face) Nicole Crimaldi (aka @MsCareerGirl), Matt Chevy (aka @MattChevy) and Mari Madden Luangrath (aka @FoiledCupcakes). I was invited and wanted to make sure to show up and maybe even learn something. In my mind, “probably not…” I know everything – right? I hate when I’m proven WRONG!
I was excited to go and couldn’t wait to get there. I left with plenty of time, but who would have guessed there was construction so early in the season. Not to make excuses, I wasn’t going to make it, on time. You’ve heard “Your first impressions are the most important”. Taking that into account, of course, I didn’t pay any attention to the details of where the function was being held (ADD Alert!). I had to call Matt to find out, and again (ADD) didn’t really listen. I walked around the entire campus (Elgin Community College) looking for the location. To make a long story short, it was where I had originally started. My hair was all wind-blown, I was hot and exasperated by the time I finally arrived.
Yay, I’m here! Now let’s get started. There was a nice sized group of enthusiastic newbie’s. Coffee, donuts and bagels were provided as well as a booklet called “Social Media Guidelines.” Which I thought that was fantastic, by the way.
The meeting started, everyone introduced themselves and Matt and Nicole began their presentation.
I was very impressed to learn a whole bunch of stuff that I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t get to take full advantage of. One of my bitchiest, pain in the ass wonderful customers was driving me crazy with shipping questions for their orders that were to be delivered in three different states. Phone was ringing and texts were flying, but I was still able to tweet, take and share pictures and believe it or not learn some valuable information. Sorry, Matt and Nicole for having to get up so many times. Work takes priority…
Here is what I got out of Social Media 101:
Social Media 101 covered all the main points of what it takes to effectively participate and take advantage of the opportunities we are afforded through Social Media.
Matt would be surprised to know, I picked up on one point that kept resonating throughout the presentation. “You have to be disciplined and dedicated,” with your Social Media activities. If you cannot discipline yourself to stay the course, you cannot succeed with Social Media.
Begin by working towards building a positive reputation on the web and establish your online footprint by being yourself, being genuine and most importantly being PRESENT. Your objective is to establish a Social Media Strategy and set goals, focusing your online activities towards meeting that objective.
Discipline yourself set time aside for Social Media. Make it part of your daily routine as part of your strategy by dedicating a few hours of the day to manage your online presence. Your strategies should include engaging with people on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin as well as reading and commenting on blog posts.
If you get a chance to attend one of these, you will also learn about the role Google plays in Social Media and networking. Google Reader, Google Alerts and Google Analytics are super important if you are serious about meeting your Social Media goals.
They also talked about blogs, branding yourself on the web, case studies and much, much more. Mari came in around Noon, which was a treat (no pun intended) she came bearing her famous Foiled Cupcakes. She also spent time engaging the group with interactive marketing exercises. Having attendees use their businesses as the subject for the group to come up with Social Marketing strategies.
Mari ROCKED it out!
At the end of the day, I was honored to meet Matt, Nicole and Mari. I learned a hell of a lot more than my thick headedness would have ever imagined I would.
If you have an opportunity to attend a Social Media 101, 102 or whatever level is offered, you should definitely take advantage of it. If invited, I would go again in a heart beat.
Researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) are developing a new Twitter client application that aims to derive meaning from the next-ending influx of tweets. The application, called “Eddi,” automatically groups tweets for you into topics mentioned either explicitly or, unlike most Twitter clients that also provide topic browsing, implicitly. The end result is a Twitter app you can use to quickly find the popular discussions within your own personal Twitter stream, either by search, tag cloud, timeline or category list. It even suggests tweets you might be interested in reading, helping you sort the signal from the noise.
Ed Chi, area manager and principal scientist for the Augmented Social Cognition Research Group at PARC, told MIT’s Technology Review that the way people use Twitter is that they “dip in” to the Twitter stream from time to time, but don’t want to consume it all at once. The Eddi Project was created so that those brief dips into Twitter are more valuable to the end users.
The tool, Eddi, a Twitter client application named after the idea of eddies in a stream, has the barebones look of something built by data researchers as opposed to web designers. But its user interface isn’t the most important aspect – it’s the algorithms behind the facade that are its standout feature.
In order to filter Twitter’s content, Eddi provides two tools: a topic browser that shows tweets broken down into categories and a recommendation engine.
Twitter Topics – And Not Just the Popular Ones
The idea of browsing Twitter by topic is not unique – plenty of Twitter apps do the same, as does Twitter’s own search interface at search.twitter.com. But the problem with most of these systems is that they rely on keywords or hashtags – the latter being the annotations preceded by the pound sign (#) which users add to their tweets to make them searchable.
When there is a major event, such as the Icelandic volcano eruption, Michael Bernstein, a researcher at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT who is involved with the project, explained, the sheer volume of tweets provides a lot of information for an algorithm to use. What’s harder is to figure out are the topics attached to tweets that are more unique.
“The essence of the approach is to coerce a tweet to look more like a search query and then get a search engine to tell us more,” says Bernstein. After cleaning up the tweet, the tool feeds them into Yahoo’s Build your Own Search Service interface in an effort to surface web pages related to the tweet in question. This helps the system to appropriately categorize the tweets into topics.
The second aspect to the system is a recommendation engine that ranks tweets by how interesting they are to you. To determine this, Eddi’s algorithms look at your own tweets and interactions with other Twitter users.
The new system will go live on the web for public testing sometime this summer. In the meantime, you can sign up for another of PARC’s experimental Twitter recommendation engines, this one called ZeroZero88. Information on sign up is here.
via ReadWriteWeb by Sarah Perez on 4/30/10
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A recent poll by Weber Shandwick shows that 85% of nonprofits are now experimenting with some form of social media, perhaps in hopes of recruiting and retaining donors, finding new audiences, or simply keeping up with the times. While some organizations have already hit on the best use of social media, many are just getting their feet wet, and some are still wrestling with the terminology.
While social media and social networking are closely connected, they’re not quite the same. At its core, social media is content created for the web by the public. Social media allows you the opportunity to be a citizen journalist, video producer, author, and radio engineer.
Social networking is the act of communicating with a chosen community on an established web platform. Facebook, Friendster, and MySpace are all social networking sites. As such, they provide a platform to upload and share social media.
Social media is about creating content for the web. Content is king on the web. It enhances search engine optimization, drives traffic to your website, establishes instant credibility, and builds brand awareness. It creates an unprecedented opportunity for your organization’s materials to reach thousands of people instantly.
Take the case of a three-minute nonprofit video that reached six million people recently. In November 2009, the staff of the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, OR, partnered with Medline Medical Supplies to create a simple video to raise breast cancer awareness. The video features 200 hospital staff members sporting Medline’s pink surgical gloves and dancing to Jay Sean’s “Down.” Since its debut, the video has been featured on ABC and CNN news, made headlines on The Huffington Post, and received over six million hits on YouTube. While the video raised awareness and funds, it accomplished something equally as important; it gave the hospital a voice and a soul.
Before you break out your camcorder to shoot the next YouTube sensation, you should take time to plan and develop a comprehensive social media strategy. Here are five steps to help guide your planning.
Determine Your Organizational Goals: Align your social media strategy with your organizational goals. Maybe you want to augment membership sales by 15 % each quarter? Boost ticket sales by 30 %? Increase online donations by 20 %? Your goals should be specific and provide measurable metrics.
Once you’ve determined your goals it’s time to understand your target audience.
Create a Buyer Persona: Author David Scott Merman recommends that nonprofits build a buyer persona profile for each group they’ll target. A buyer persona is short biography of a typical donor. It includes information on the donor’s background, daily activities, media preferences, and solutions to their problems. The buyer persona will help you make informed decisions regarding content and how to effectively deliver your message.
Think Like a Publisher: Now you need to start thinking like a publisher. Publishers create content with their audience in mind. This is not the time or the place to drone on about your mission or vision. This is an opportunity to create authentic content that resonates with your audience.
Create an Editorial Team and Calendar: Organize a team to brainstorm content ideas. Remember, there are no right and wrong answers in a brainstorm. Don’t let the realities of budgeting or staffing hold you back. You can deal with realities later.
Think blogs, video, podcasts, email newsletters, white papers, etc. While you may connect with a portion of your target audience on your blog, you may be missing an opportunity to connect with those who hate blogs but love video. Different strokes for different folks.
For instance, a community health center could brainstorm ideas to launch a blog that addresses patient concerns around such topics as H1N1, diabetes, and chicken pox. They may also choose to launch a video series that promotes healthy eating habits or a podcast series for new moms.
Once you develop your ideas, select one or two projects to bring to fruition.
Appoint a Social Media Czar: In order for your campaign to succeed, appoint someone (not an intern) to manage the campaign. The czar should activate and enable the entire organization to take part in the social media campaign. Everyone has something valuable to add. Your czar should commit to becoming a permanent learner as the field of social media continually evolves introducing new technology and platforms.
The good news is that most social media applications can be created on a shoe string. Blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad are free and easy to use. The pocket-sized Flip camcorder produces high-quality video and audio that can be immediately uploaded to the web. The average cost of the Flip is around $100.00. As for podcasting, all you need is software to record and edit and MP3s (most computers already have this application) and a desktop microphone, which retails around $30.
While social media may not be replacing traditional methods of fundraising, it is continually evolving and offering new opportunities to strengthen relationships and connect on a deeper level. In fact, according to Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, we’re still in the Jurassic era of the revolution. “The social media scene today is where radio was in 1912 where TV was in 1950, where the web was in 1996. A lot of wonderful opportunities lie ahead of us.”
For those who didn’t know about the SXSW® Interactive Festival held in Austin, Texas over the last 5 or so days. The event brings together the world’s most creative web developers, designers, bloggers, wireless innovators, content producers, programmers, widget inventors and new media entrepreneurs. The interactive part of the festival is where you would find your fellow tweeps and fans. If you are a regular tweeter, you probably know a lot of tweeps who attended by the use of #SXSW hashtag on their updates.
An interesting development came out of the festival. The company Foursquare, a location-based social networking site, announced yesterday – March 17, 2010, an increase of approximately 100,000 users over the last week and a half due to SXSW. According to Mashable.com, Foursquare was the breakout app at last years SXSW conference; but this year it blew up! They reported a record-breaking check-in day, over the weekend of approximately 350,000 users. Most of these check-ins took place on Saturday, as a result of all the activity generated by SXSW partiers and thrill seekers.
As a point of reference: The barely one year old company, Foursquare, supposedly only had approximately 500,000 users as of last week. Therefore an additional 100,000 new users, in a matter of days, is an impressive growth spurt, to say the least. I am sure users have also noticed a spike in friend requests, as a result of the growth.
All-in-all, it sure would have been a lot of fun visiting Austin, Texas last weekend.
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