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Summer Travel tips










It’s the top item on a bucket list and it’s what more people aspire to do (even beyond raising a family). If it’s your heart’s desire to travel (and for summer 2016), here are some tips from Taylor L. Cole, APR, travel expert for Hotels.com, on how to make the most of your summer travel plans.  

Plan ahead
The top domestic destinations for American travelers are Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, San Diego and Los Angeles. The top international destinations are London, Paris, Toronto, Rome and Vancouver according to research from Hotels.com. Yet for summer, warm-weather beach locales like Cancun, Maui, Jamaica, The Bahamas and Costa Rica top travelers’ lists. The key is to plan ahead if you plan to visit popular beach destinations. The typical booking window is 90+ days out, but there are still great deals available for travelers who opt to book last minute within the same week of travel.  A great blog with advice for real people who have stayed in the destinations is Expedia’s Viewfinder Blog https://viewfinder.expedia.com/

Check trusted reviews
One of the best things you can do to ensure you have a happy experience during your summer vacation is to check the verified guest reviews of travelers who have actually stayed in popular hotels. Some sites allow people to write reviews for hotels they’ve never even seen. Be sure the reviews you’re reading are genuine from people who have completed a stay. An example is this hotel review (Los Cabos, Mexico verified guest review)


Verified guest review. Courtesy of Hotels.com  

Lather it on (SPF and Coolibar)
You’ve made a wise choice on your hotel and you’ve planned ahead for a perfect stay. It’s also important to pack the right gear. Start with the right skin protection including sunscreen, UVA protection eyewear and sun protective clothing like from brands like Coolibar. Also, the American Cancer Society has expert resources on sun safety including a Skin Safety Quiz to check your knowledge on navigating the sun’s rays.

Check your tech
In the Mobile Travel Tracker from Hotels.com, 76% of people named their smartphone the number one travel accessory, with twice as many people preferring to travel with their mobile than their loved one! The last thing you want to do is arrive to your destination without the appropriate travel adapter and currency converter for your favorite travel gadgets. Also, if you’re traveling with lithium batteries, some airports and airlines prohibit certain devices on commercial airlines. Call ahead or check with the Transportation Security Administration for the latest regulations.

Put your best foot forward
Summer travel is not the time for sore feet. Pack for style and comfort by bringing backup shoes like Nine West, Toms, and Sketchers brands who offer footwear that’s perfect for long walks along the beach that doubles as nightclub wear most any time of the year. And, for your closed-toed shoes and flats, try inexpensive gel insoles for mountain hikes and site-seeing tours.

Into gear? Ship ahead or rent while there
Your travel budget can easily escalate with checked bag fees. Smart travelers are renting ski and watersport gear in their summer travel destinations to avoid baggage fees. And while extreme water sports may not be your thing, hotels are even offering rentals for workout gear, athletic shoes, fitness trackers and GoPro cameras. If you’re super tied to your own gear, ship it ahead to save carryon space and time.

Don’t miss a deal or free travel
An extended summer stay can quickly become a winter escape if you follow a simple tip. Hotels.com Rewards is a free loyalty program where you simply book and stay 10 nights at hundreds of thousands of hotels worldwide, and you earn a free night. You’re not tied to a particular brand, room type or city. More information is here: http://www.hotels.com/hotel-rewards-pillar/hotelscomrewards.html

Share your experiences
If you’ve scored a great deal, don’t keep it all to yourself. Share your experiences on social media and give the hotel or online booking site your feedback to help other travelers benefit from your expertise. Some social media sites offer coupons and rewards for guests who provide comments and reviews following a stay.




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Small Is Big











The fashion industry moves faster than ever. So how does one of the world’s largest B2B marketplaces help its customers keep pace? Think small.


By: Cole Daugherty |cdaugherty@dallasmarketcenter.com | @ColeDallas

For more than 50 years, Dallas has been a global fashion hub because of its unique strength of retail and wholesale (not to mention stylish consumers). But the age of catalogs and poodle skirts has given way to e-commerce and athleisure. Faced with consumers able to trade trend information and new styles easier and quicker than ever how can a brick and mortar business continue to attract eager buyers? This is the key challenge faced by our company and by our customers—tens of thousands of retailers on Main Streets across the country that come to Dallas several times per year to review new products during our trade events.
Today, these small business owners find themselves more challenged than ever as they compete on price with big box stores, on trends with thousands of fast fashion boutiques and on delivery and convenience with endless online marketplaces.  Yet despite all of these barriers to success, independent retail is actually on the rebound. A report from the American Express Open Independent Retail Index stated that nearly half of the total retail sales in the U.S. come from independent businesses. Small is indeed big again, and there is a remarkable consumer desire for the boutique experience, shopping local, and finding unique products.
For a vast marketplace like ours, in order to keep our retailer customers coming back we have returned to basic questions:  Who are they? What do they truly want from us? What are their greatest challenges? What can we do differently to help? Via phone calls, social media and even road trips to visit stores across the country, we’ve heard from our customers that it’s the small things that matter.  As a result, here are three important communications changes we have recently made.

1.    Build Small Tribes
We serve many types of small business customers: from fashion boutiques to lighting showrooms to interior designers. Each group has unique “tribe” characteristics, needs and expectations. They also want to be led (shout out to the subtitle of Seth Godin’s book Tribes). So in addition to basic audience segmentation (e.g. email groups, hashtags) here’s one way we have made it work: build small, active tribes of key customers. We’ve always had customer advisory boards but now we have taken the concept into the digital era. Recently we formed small alliances of retailers from across the country who share information with each other online including trends, promotions, sales data and workplace issues. This channel of communication also continues during our trade events in Dallas since we set up group text messaging among these alliance members who can share discoveries from exhibitors or meet up for a face-to-face discussion. It’s been so well received that we are expanding this platform to new groups in the coming year.
2.    Focus on Quality Over Quantity
We will never issue as much content as some of our competitors, and that’s OK (keep repeating that). But we can be confidently selective about what we present, especially for image conscious fashion buyers, and we can be smart about using outside experts to enhance the quality of our content. One example is our partnership with trend intelligence service Fashion Snoops, which offers great images and insights into new styles months ahead of the next selling season. They create custom seasonal reports for us, and we drop that content into communications channels. It has been a win-win, and we will continue to seek ways to utilize additional partners (and customers) for meaningful content across video, email and the web.
3.    Own The Small Screen
For our customers, video has been a game changer: it’s quick to produce and it can tell a story like nothing else. So it’s no surprise that Social Media Examiner recently found that 73% of marketers are increasing their use of video in 2016. We now issue more video content with more views than any of our competitors, especially content regarding trends and marketplace news. We issue videos directly over social media and emails, through trade media partners, and we even tested Facebook Live during a recent fashion show with tremendous success. We are hooked, and in fact we hired an in-house video team to produce videos and to manage the video monitor content across our marketplace.

Have your own experiences, trials, victories or observations? Let me know about them. cdaugherty@dallasmarketcenter.com or @ColeDallas.

 

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