Tag Archives: Personal Growth

Trending Now… Trends

It’s the most wonderful time of year… for #trends. You know, the speculations and forecasts of initiatives one must undertake next year to keep up with the Joneses. There are marketing trends and social media trends; e-mail marketing trends, content marketing trends, website trends and even customer service trends.

We were recently reminded that perhaps we need to not worry about the “next big thing” and get back to the basics. These 32 Marketing Tips are great, but what if we got back to the very basics of business, people relations, and simple kindness? Customers might find us and our businesses more pleasing. We might have lower stress, and 2015 might be the best year ever.

New Year 2015 Loading Background,happy New Year Template

Smile. We’re stressed. We’re busy. We have a dozen things on our mind when we greet that customer. They don’t care. They want to be treated like they are the only agenda item that day; the only thing on your mind. Heck, maybe they’ll smile back and make your smile genuine!

Be Positive. Whether you are positive or negative, the situation doesn’t change. So we might as well be positive. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Compliment Someone. Give genuine, personal compliments. You are so kind with co-workers. You listen so well before assisting the visitor. “I like how you remember everyone’s birthday.” You compliment every co-worker each week, it’s gonna be a very positive work environment!

Write A Note. Don’t type it. Write it. Do you remember pens, paper, envelopes, stamps…? Hand write a thank you note, or a compliment. It’s far more personal than an email or text. And the positive impression is far greater!

Let Someone Merge. Hold a Door Open. You remember common acts of chivalry for us guys, kindness for the ladies. Be a Scout and “Do A Good Turn Daily”!

Pick Up A Piece of Trash. You’ll make your city look better. You’ll make the front of your business look more inviting. Disney managers carry trash tongs. They recognize it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things tidy. You can’t rely on the ‘wind sweeping down the plains’ to sweep the sidewalk or parking lot.

Be On Time. It’s respectful and courteous to with whom you are meeting. It’s less stressful on you.

Pray For Your Customers and Business Partners. It’s said “As long as there are tests in the classroom, there will be prayer in school.” Well, as long as there is stress in operating a business, there will be prayer. We are instructed to pray – “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Of course we’re thankful for customers and business partners! Why would we not want to petition for blessings upon them?

They’re simple. They’re easily forgotten in today’s hustle and bustle. Put on that smile again. Be kind. Write a compliment. Keep things tidy. Staff morale will improve. Your business team will be strengthened. Customers will want to come back. And your business will stay healthy.

Something to add? Leave your comments below. Thanks for reading.

The Fifth P of Marketing

A colleague at a recent tourism function was sharing how her DMO was getting in a “turf war” between the City and the Chamber – both trying to take over the management of the organization. She concluded by sharing ‘I’m staying out of it. I’m not in politics.’ A few of the glancing looks from others at the table communicated that we were thinking the same thing, “Oh yes you are like it or not!”  (And you’d better engage now or you may find yourself in a place you aren’t going to like!)


I thought going from a DMO to an attraction I’d find less politics. Boy was I wrong. On the heels of her statement above, I thought I’d dust off this post from April, 2011. Still as timely today! 


Remember the Four Ps of Marketing?  Product – Price – Placement and Promotion.  It’s Marketing 101. It’s the core of what we do – destination development (Product), drive hotel rates (Price), advise on the location of the attractions (Placement), and of course advertising and media relations (Promotion.)  But the longer I spend in destination marketing, the more I realize there is indeed a fifth P of marketing.  That fifth P is Politics.


I once read that destination marketing professionals are “politicians with marketing skills”.  And while I don’t like to consider myself a politician, I recognize more and more frequently that we do a lot of politic-ing.  Consider that…


– The CVB was active in recent City Council elections.  We assisted with candidate profiles and submitted questions for the candidate forums.


– Recently we’ve monitored and spoke on City issues related to business lighting and storm water runoff.  Further back, we took a stance on a state education issue and supported both a parks master plan and funding for a business park. (Following this post, we monitored and spoke on high density housing near a popular shopping district and engaged in the passage of a bond issue to improve one of the main corridors into the destination.)


– I accompanied our Chamber of Commerce on a ‘fly-in’ to DC to meet with our five representatives and Senators. We also met with NOAA as weather is big business in Norman! (Delighted to see my successor continued the practice!)


– In the near future we’ll discuss raising the transient guest tax and the split of that tax to maximize it’s economic impact on the local economy. (It passed increasing the DMO budget by $250,000.)


US Travel Association has long recognized the fifth P of destination marketing.  DMAI is engaging more and more in advocacy.  A committee is developing a tool kit for a community to utilize.  Not soon enough as we spend less and less time on the Promotion side of our jobs and more time on the Politics of our job. Update: that tool kit has been developed. It and many other resources can be found here.


It’s not the customer interaction we crave. It’s not the full conference hall corridors we like to see. And it’s not the dynamic new advertising creative we like reviewing but politicking has become a vital part of our jobs. Again, like it or not.


I’d love to hear success stories or best practices.  Please share those below.

We work in the NOW world

I live in Norman, Oklahoma.  There’s a small university here and the University of Oklahoma is pretty good at football.  The Sooners played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two weeks ago.  (A Thursday evening.)  While friends were relishing the upset victory, a video starts popping up on social media.  An Alabama fan goes crazy on an OU student.  Friday afternoon a story is posted – Bama Sugar Bowl mom ‘sorry’ but would ‘do it again if I had to’.  Okay, sympathy for the mom?  Wait… have you seen this video – the Crazy Bama Mom BEFORE attacking OU student?  All of that played out through social media within 36 to 48 hours.  Anyone pay attention?  The first video has been viewed nearly 3 million times.  The Yellowhammer story has more than 2,000 comments.  Who knows how many views?  And the third video has been viewed 391,000 times.  (Warning: videos and comments contain offensive images and language.)

So what?  What if the headline is “attraction GM goes crazy on family” or “restaurant owner goes crazy on diners” or “salmonella outbreak after banquet at Yourville convention center”?  We never know what is going to set something off or when a mobile phone is recording.  What could it be that potentially embarrasses the destination?  Maybe it’s not even an embarrassing situation.  Perhaps it’s a hurricane that hits the Gulf or massive flooding in the east or ice storm just before the Super Bowl?  Welcome to your job in the NOW World!  What do you need to prepared to work in the NOW World?


1. You need to be ready… ready now… ready now for anything!  You need to have an emergency public relations plan.  The next chance you get, lock yourself away with your staff and imagine the 20 worst scenarios.  Just scan the headlines: water poison, bed bugs, salmonella, tornado, hurricane, scandal… Then think of the 20 you’d never think of – Crazy Bama Mom.  Doubt the Alabama Alumni office wasn’t prepared for that one!  Talk through what your response should/would be for each situation.  Type them up and store them away.

2. You need to realize we’re not in an 8am to 5pm job any longer.  Tornadoes don’t strike during business hours.  Videos of drunk fans go viral at any time!  If you’re the PR / Communications person for your office, you need to understand that you may be called back in even though it’s after 5pm or it’s during the weekend.  And if it needs reminding, comments on Facebook don’t end at 5pm, people don’t clock out and quit posting and watching videos on YouTube, and tweets are tweeted 24/7.

3. You need to understand that you can’t be passive any longer.  We are not in control of the message any more!  They are and they can post, tweet, pin, comment anything they want – and they do.  It’s as Dan Patrick said numerous times on Sportscenter: You can’t stop him.  You can only hope to contain him.

4. For the messages you are trying to control, you need to understand social media is not posting something once a day and never going back to view the comments or looking at it the next day when you sign in to post another message.  Social media is not loading up Hootsuite on Monday and never participating in the conversation.  (And if Hootsuite is your only portal to social media, I’d suggest shutting it down now.)  Social media is monitoring 24/7 or if you’re a small office, 16 to 18/7.

5. You need to understand you don’t have a private life any longer.  Can you cringe with me just imagining if that Crazy Bama Fan was your employee?  No, this isn’t a case of bad press is good press!  The press would love to run “Executive Director of CVB is Crazy Bama Fan”.  And your personal social media accounts aren’t personal either.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Justine Sacco.  We have a cool job that allows us to experience a lot of cool things but the bad news is we don’t have a private life any longer.

Those are my initial thoughts of our working now in a NOW World.  Did I miss one or two?  Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary


The Kansas Tourism Conference theme was Capitalizing on Tourism.  (The conference was held in the Kansas capital Topeka.)  The sub-theme might as well have been Getting Back to Basics.  Roger Brooks opened the conference with a two-part full morning general session sharing Deadly Sins and the New Age of Tourism, Jerry Henry provided guidance on doing research on a shoestring budget, representatives from the state revenue office gave a transient guest (hotel/motel/bed) tax 101, and the state tourism office shared their research and strategy the next fiscal year.

No fireworks.  No glamour.  “Just” a back to basic conference packed with information.  The top nuggets are offered in this month’s 5 in Five:

1. Arguably Roger Brooks’ key takeaway was the command to “jettison the generic”.   All too often we want to present our destinations as attractive to every audience – young, old, rich, poor, family, single, etc.  What we wind up with is a very generic ad that doesn’t attract anyone.  While he didn’t present them, I reflected on Roger’s 40 Overused Words and Phrases to Avoid in Destination Marketing.  Review the list here and then count how many of them are in your ads and publications.

2. Roger suggested 80% of people use the internet before they buy.  While I have seen that number as low as 60% and as high as 95%, regardless it’s a reminder that consumers are using the internet more and more.  Based on that, Roger suggests 45% of a destination marketing budget should be spent on the web/digital/social.  (In case you’re wondering about the other 55% – 20, PR/media; 20, traditional advertising; 10 collateral; and 5 outdoor or trade shows.)

3. Did you know 70% of all spending takes place after 6pm?  I’ve never heard this but Roger sharing it opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of paradigms as we were challenged to thing about how we should create – or reschedule – events to after 5pm.  Sure it means retail outlets and workers of the events don’t get home to 9pm or later, but want to attract the most spenders?  Start after 5pm.  Our communities’ farmer’s markets are Wednesday mornings.  Yep, a lot of people working at that time.

4. Clearly a testament to the quality of Roger Brook’s presentations when four of the five aha’s are from him, but I appreciated when he stated cities and towns should not hang their hat on a festival or event.  What about the other 364 days (or 51 weekends) of the year?  I reflected on a time I was driving to a meeting in beautiful southwest Oklahoma.  Outside Idabel was a billboard welcoming travelers to the Home of the Dogwood Festival.  The festival is the first Saturday of April.  I was passing through weeks after.  I instantly thought “there isn’t any other reason to visit for the next 50 weeks!?”  (When in fact there is a lot to do in Idabel and McCurtain County.)

5. The last takeaway isn’t going to help your marketing plan or provide any ROI.  It’s merely professional development.  Developer Jack DeBoer welcomed the attendees at the Statehouse and provided sage advise from his book Risk Only Money.  The best was he shared if he had it to do all over again, he would listen more.

Thanks for reading.

That’s It! I’m Getting Organized!

I’m writing this 10 days after I was supposed to post it. (“5 at 5” means five things posted or shared on the 5th day of each month.) On the 5th, I left the office with more than 1,100 emails in my in box, 7 voice mails, 3 months of reports to be compiled, and a report for the Chamber left undone. How can I even leave and enjoy the weekend with no sense of accomplishment!? Let alone be prepared for the 950 things next week!? 950?

Liz Davenport says the average businessperson receives 190 pieces of information each day. (and that was in 2001. I’m sure it’s increased! Plus I wonder if that includes the spams for Russian women and Dr. Oz pills or not!?) AskMen.com stated it clearly, “the world is moving fast and it’s only getting faster. So much technology. So much information. So much to understand, to think about, to react to. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.”

Another emphasized “if you don’t have a system in place for getting things done, you’re likely losing a lot of productive time to repetitiveness and inefficiency.”

Add to those 190 pieces the fact that “the average businessperson wastes 150 hours each year looking for stuff. Add 10 more hours and that is an entire work month!” Think about this “if you got organized, you could have an extra month each year! Just think how much more you could accomplish (or how much vacation you could have) if you got organized. You could take a three-day weekend every other week and still do as much as you are doing now – or more!”

So there’s got to be help out there. Search the internet for ‘organization’, you get 264 million results! ‘Organization at work’ narrows it down to 136 million. ‘Getting things done’ down to 55 million. Just look for a book… Search Amazon and 108,000 suggestions appear for ‘organization at work’. Time management, productivity, manage your schedule, reclaim that desk, organize your week, eat that frog!

There are 10 tricks, 13 steps, and 50 tips. I found the 5 second rule on YouTube. Oddly it took 3:45 seconds to explain the 5 second rule which is “Count to five and do the task.”

Maybe friends have suggestions. I asked Facebook friends for their tips. To-do lists was the repeated answer. My sister posted, “(I) read once to categorize the day’s ‘to-do’ list into 3 categories: like easy, medium, hard or must-do, like-to-do, and won’t-die-if-waits-until-tomorrow. That way each day you get to check off lots of ‘done’ things -feeling good- and have manageable expectations for what you have to do and can do. It really works for me. The tomorrow list makes me look far in advance and as things move up to the today’s category, I can track my time requirements.”

Amanda’s variation on that is to “block off time on (her) calendar for hot or time intensive projects; group a bunch of small tasks to tackle in one sitting–makes you feel really accomplished when you cross them off!”

Nichole keeps a small white board on her desk l for daily to do’s, that way she gets to erase the line when it is done.

Here are additional tips on the to-do list:

— Create a daily to-do list at the start or end of each day. Make sure it contains single-step tasks, not projects. “Call Bob” is a to-do. “Develop Marketing Plan” is a project.

— Keep a master project list (“Develop Marketing Plan”) but have the to-do list made up of all multi-step tasks you want or need to do. In other words, make your to-do list pebbles. Break it into tiny pieces of the mountainous job writing down only tasks you can accomplish in 24 hours. “File my taxes” vs. “get my receipts out and put them on the table.”

— Run An Assessment – does every item on the to-do list deserve to be on the list?

— Focus on Value and Outcome – identify the true value of the task. Is it really worth it? What will you get by completing it? Focus on outcome not on the task its-self. If you’re really truly passionate about the task, then the result should inspire and motivate you to get it done.

— In prioritizing, ask who’s task is on your list? Are we prioritizing other people’s most important tasks or ours? Additionally we may set ourselves tasks that we don’t really believe in and that have little value to us and then wonder why we never end up getting those things done!

— Write down your to-do’s as soon as they pop into your head. Keep small note pads and pens handy — in your office, briefcase, wallet, and purse. Regularly collect the pages from your note pads and add them to your to-do list or master project list.

It’s that last part that I miss! I wind up with stacks of pages from 5×7 legal pads, sticky notes and napkins with to-dos written all over them!

What are your tips? Comment below. This subject will continue in future posts… more on getting things done in subsequent months.

Thanks for reading!

Another Cliche New Year Read

Well not really.  New Year.  Resolutions.  Blah.  Blah.  Yuckity yuck.
I don’t make resolutions.  Heck, I’ve already had a soda this year.  (More than one if you count Dr. Pepper 10.)  I’ve gone a day without kissing my wife and left the office without addressing all the new emails in my inbox.  I know by January 2 or 3 resolutions are by the way side.
But then again I’m reminded that really the problem is we come out of the blocks January 1 in a sprint when this whole new/better you thing is a marathon over the year.  And it’s okay to stumble out of the blocks just so long as we keep going!
Here’s thoughts on how your entire year can be better.  Not just the first week or so.

Learn More… What book are you going to read this year?  And not a teen supernatural fiction.  One that is going to help you in your profession.  I have 14 identified that I want to read.  This year I’m gonna read one of them.  First up is Getting Things Done by David Allen.  Others that peak my interest are Destination Marketing Organizations Bridging Theory and Practice by Steven PikeMarketing in Leisure and Tourism by Patricia Click Janes  and Marketing Outrageously by John Spolestra.  I’ll put the entire list on my website.

There’s also tons of research and you don’t really need to dig for it (or pay).  It comes to your inbox.  US Travel Association sends a weekly news brief.  Every other issue or so has a story on research, trends or an industry study.  I also like Lou Taverna’s Hospitality Newsmaker Alert.  Again, periodic research or trends.  The third I like is TripInfo.com’s Internet Travel Monitor.  The Marketing & Research and Technology Bits are great!

Relate More… That thing in your hand does something really cool and it’s not Angry Birds.  It allows you to talk to someone miles away.  Hear their voice.  Laugh with them.  Pick up the phone and call someone once a week.  Not just old friends too.  When was the last time you went out to eat with the Chamber person, City Council rep, Parks and Recs Director?  Don’t get complacent about those relationships.

Work Smarter… I’ve started on David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  I’ve completed Order From Chaos and am trying to implement Liz Davenport’s cockpit system.  Hopefully I’ll get more things ticked off my to-do list and not have so many small pieces of paper lying around with scribbles on them.

Stress Less… Really it starts with exercise.  I’m not talking running a marathon.  Simple stress reducing exercises that relax muscles, gives you a feeling of happiness, reduces pent up frustrations, and takes your mind off of problems.  On top of all that, you’ll look better and have more energy too!  Energy to stay up late cleaning out the email inbox.

Believe More… Just tonight the Bible story I read my 4-year-old reminded us that He provides food for the birds and clothes for flowers.  Aren’t you more valuable than they?  “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well!”

Here’s to a great 2012!  Thanks for reading!

Making the 2nd Mile 2nd Nature

I arrived at a breakfast and grabbed food provided by Chick-fil-a.  Sat down at a table with Chick-fil-a collateral and cows all over it.  I shared, “It was great Chick-fil-a sponsored the breakfast.”  Someone turned and said, “You don’t know do you?”  He turned over a card to show me Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-fil-a was speaking that morning.  What I heard was inspiring, motivating, a blessing and what I’m sharing in this month’s Five @ 5.

Chick-fil-a is founded on Christian beliefs.  Mr. Cathy even shared that he considers his stores missions and the employees missionaries.  So it’s natural for them to take direction for their stores from scripture.  They key one is Matthew 5:41, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”  The 2,000 year ago cultural meaning aside, Chick-fil-a daily strives to make going the 2nd mile 2nd nature.

2nd Mile 2nd Nature… customers know what they’re going to get the first mile – sandwich, drink, parking, clean restrooms, clean booth, etc. We all have our basic expectations from a restaurant, hotel, museum, play, whatever.  But are they going the 2nd mile?  For Chick-fil-a that means a big smile, greeting, offering a refill, carrying food out to the car, pepper grinder… in other words, hospitality or exceptional customer service!

From a DMO perspective, we provide the first mile – visitor guide, website, answer calls, welcome bags, etc.  How are we going the 2nd mile?  More importantly then making it 2nd nature?

Dan further shared they get into the specifics of, for example, the greeting “Have a nice day.”  There’s nothing thrilling or exciting about that any more.  It’s become a throw away phrase much like “How are you?”  (Do we really care when we ask?)  How can they / we go the 2nd mile with simple greetings or sentiments like “Have a nice day!”?

Let Your Light So Shine… the start of another scripture (Matthew 5:16) that Chick-fil-a has adopted to emphasize their culture.  They say “Let your light so shine among customers that they feel your hospitality.”  “Let your light so shine among customers that they feel that is the best chicken sandwich they’ve ever eaten.”  How are we letting our light so shine for the visitors to our welcome centers, museums, attractions, communities?

Chick-fil-a lets their lite shine or goes the 2nd mile in hopes that “they create an experience so compelling that the customer tweets (or posts) about it before they leave the parking lot.”  Wow!  Are we?  We know people will tweet or post bad experiences.  Let’s hope their having so compelling of an experience in our downtowns, for examplt, that they’re tweeting about it!

Finally, meditate on the word daily.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Or bring more people to your community.  Or increase occupancy at your hotel.  Or generate more operating income.  How do you understand where you should be going?  Mediate on the word daily.

If I offend you for getting overly “religious”, I encourage you to attend church service this Sunday and learn more about this stuff so you won’t be offended.  The above is simple stuff from a different perspective.  But sometimes it’s those different deliveries that resonate.  Unfortunately people today now expect bad products and poor customer service! They expect it.  If we “go the 2nd mile” and do one simple thing extra.  We’ve got ’em! How are you going to go the 2nd mile?  Better yet, how are you going to make going the 2nd mile 2nd nature?

More Important Than Marketing, PR or Sales Skills

Paraphrase Einstein and one could say ‘most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great destination marketing professional. They are wrong: it is character.’

Politicians, corporate executives, movie stars, athletes… are all having their character questioned now a days. That’s probably why a speaker at Rotary spoke on his character initiatives. My devotions had a three part series on character. And our minister shared the original lesson on character.

We’re scrutinized often and we should be – we work with tax dollars. We can create the best ad, attract the largest conference ever, or get that travel writer to pen a cover story on our destination, but in the end, none of those make a great professional. Character does. The way my pastor shared it – October’s Five @ 5:

1. A man or woman with character makes integrity a priority. You’ve heard it before, “Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.” There is a key benefit to having integrity. You enjoy the freedom of a clear conscience!

2. A man or woman with character follows God’s standards. Many of us go through life with chalk on our toes from standing too close to the line between right and wrong. Move away from the line (to the right side) and save on cleaning products for your shoes!

3. A man or woman with character maintains an honest heart. The heart is the source of speech, thoughts and actions. Guard your heart and you’ll guard your speech, thoughts and actions. You won’t have to maintain a facade which takes energy and yields consequences.

4. A man or woman with character doesn’t undermine others with words or inflict harm on others. Do you spy or seek out things to say about another person? Do you inflict harm on others – and not necessarily physical harm. Remember to look at yourself before criticizing others.

5. A man or woman with character doesn’t hold grudges. Ah, the ole ‘vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord’ point. Just before that though we’re reminded to “give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all.”

“He (or she) who does these things will never be shaken.” That’s comforting!

(Originally posted October 2010)