Category Archives: travel

Wanderfly’s inductive marketing

What if you helped customers find solutions they didn’t know they need?

This is very different than the linear, deductive path of most sales pitches. As you recall from Philosophy 101 class, there are two types of logic — deductive and inductive. Deductive reasoning reduces generalities to specifics; if you want to know what a brick is made of, break it down in lab tests to find clay composed of hydrated silicates of aluminum. Inductive reasoning expands upon specifics to generalities — using a few uncertain assumptions to leap to new ideas, a more creative approach to building conclusions, say, “What are all the possible uses for a brick?”

Marketers love deductive logic, the linear cause-and-effect reasoning that suggests if we do A and B, then C will happen. You carefully calibrate variables, weigh all options, evaluate all risks, forecast results, and then when you finally pitch to customers, the goal is to tap their needs to pull them through an awareness-intent-response-sales funnel to buy your one perfect solution. Your careful math leads to a near-certain conclusion. Direct mail is the classic example, and in the 2000s Google became the ultimate deductive solution — digesting nearly all the variables in the online universe, the search giant helps consumers match need with exactly the right finding.

But what if you leapt out of that box?

Which is why we love This travel site expands to an inductive approach — punch in a few specifics, and it comes back with wildly creative answers. The site asks for your travel time, budget range, and a few interest categories, and then if you pick “anywhere” will suggest you fly to say, Amesbury, England, the famous site of Stonehenge. Obviously not every business can build such creative solution sets, but if you work in a customer service organization, inductive reasoning could be a point of differentiation. It’s nice that Travelocity and Kayak will tell us the lowest fare to San Diego on Jan. 15; it’s nice that your ad agency can build campaigns to sell X number of widgets. But a service that helps us figure out the creative potential in life or customer response, why, that’s a trip.

Luxury resort cuts price to $19 — if you sleep in a tent

The Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego has three sweet pools and a golf course, but like other elite resorts it is hitting a bump in this recession. So it’s invited visitors to a “survivor package” in which they pay less for each amenity they give up, all the way down to $19 if they’re willing to sleep in a tent. It’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek; the staff puts the tent in your room after unscrewing the bed headboards.

Call it the hotel industry’s version of a trial offer; your back may hurt in the morning, but once you try the spa, you may return at full fare. Via Dirk Singer. Image: Chicchun.

We’ll take the line for frantic panicked travelers, please

Maybe it’s time to let your customers personalize their own experience.

Fallon Planning wrote recently about the new traveler check-in process at Orlando Airport, in which travelers choose from one of three lines — expert, casual, or family travelers — for different experiences. As you’d expect, expert travelers are people with small carry-on bags who whisk themselves through the metal detectors with no change in their pockets. On the other end, families struggle with many bags and crying kids. Yet, bizarrely, this process — which was suggested to the Transportation Security Administration by focus groups — has streamlined check-in as travelers perceive more control over the experience.

Which is all brilliant, because the TSA has pushed personalization into the control of the consumer, not computers. Back in the 1990s, the idea of personalization and 1to1 marketing was almost arrogant, in that companies assumed they could analyze your data and then use fancy “business rules” to give you the perfect, next-best offer. The idea had its roots in airline seating (high-value business up front, schmucks in the back) and financial services (if you’re investing a cool mil, your broker returns your calls).

Different customers would be treated differently, but only based on predictive modeling.

The Holy Grail of personalization broke down because (a) it’s really hard to understand the actual future financial value and potential needs of all your customers, (b) mass-customizing a response is almost always cost prohibitive, and (c) the theory never really translated into a competitive advantage. Personalization is only one of the value factors that consumers perceive. Brands, design, financial cost, opportunity cost, competitor entries, what your spouse will think … all of these make personalization just one push toward the purchase.

But personalization is still important. Google has succeeded wildly by creating the most personal response of all, by simply allowing customers to ask for what they want. And now airlines are allowing customers to pick their own line, for a more positive check-in experience even if it means admitting they aren’t “expert travelers.”

So, Netflix, Amazon, and all you other collaborative filtering tell-us-what-we-want recommendation systems: We love the kindness. But sometimes, maybe you can just ask us what we’d like instead.

(Photo: United terminal at O’Hare by Ken Douglas)

Voyeurism, adventurism, and mental stimulation

The willingness to take risks is required in reproduction, evolution, creativity, communication and business. None of us would have left the womb if we’d carefully weighed the odds. So we shouldn’t laugh to hear that some German tourists are now flying absolutely nude on an airline sponsored by travel agency It seems there is an entire movement in Germany of free body culture in which clothes are, uh, too confining.

We shouldn’t laugh because our management team is taking a flight ourselves (fully dressed) to get away to a warmer clime for a business planning powwow. A quick scan of Google finds there is an entire consulting-travel industry that facilitates corporate offsites. Yep. Our minds will think deeply on how to steer the economic ship, and we may end up drinking to our future in a big blue pool.

Why do humans long for green fields far away? Why do we surf the web at lunch, watch drivel on TV at midnight, travel to sunny lands to think business, and deep in our hearts know that, in another life, it might be cool to strip bare-assed on a plane? It’s not sex or lunacy. More likely, modern civilization has our brains so wound tight with Twitter-recession-smartphone-Obama-blogging-Bernanke-RSS-iPhone feeds that we all just long to go away. Turning the brain off is a good way to turn the mind back on.