Success Stories



STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND COOPERATIVE MARKETING BUILD BRAND AND INCREASE SALES

When the availability of condominium resort accommodations in Hawaii exceeded that of hotel rooms for the first time, Hawaii's largest condominium management company (Aston Hotels & Resorts) found itself with more available condo accommodations than anyone - while the total Hawaii vacation market itself appeared to have plateaued.

I developed "Condo in Paradise" - a cooperative program with American Airlines and other partners, which utilized a combination of unused room capacity, rental cars and airline seats to create a barter fund of more than $4 million in today's dollars.

In the first full month following introduction of the "Condo in Paradise" program, gross bookings increased 168 percent - nearly five time the increases the company had been generating prior to the launch of the program.

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COMPREHENSIVE RESEARCH UNCOVERS CONSUMER ATTITUDES, CHANGES MARKETING AND CREATIVE DIRECTION TO REVERSE DOWNWARD TRENDS

Despite spending millions in advertising utilizing a "friendly" campaign which touted "crowds were smaller, lines were shorter," the number of visitors to Reno/Lake Tahoe had declined for three consecutive years, hotel occupancies declined, gaming revenues were declining or flat, motel occupancies were off substantially, and tax revenues were seriously lacking.

A study was conducted to determine what was important in making initial decisions to visit a gaming destination. We found potential visitors wanted crowds, they wanted noise, they wanted excitement and they wanted the idea of going to a popular, exciting place. Since Reno's own commercials told potential visitors that "crowds were smaller, lines were shorter" it told those potential visitors not to visit Reno because it didn't have what they were looking for!

Armed with this research, I engineered a dramatic repositioning of Reno advertising, leading to the best six-month period in Reno/Tahoe history in increases versus prior years.

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USE OF HIGH-TECH AMENITIES AND NEW STRATEGIES TO BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO BRAND THAT WAS SEEN AS OLD AND STOGY

Howard Johnson was an older and somewhat "stodgier" hotel brand than its newer competitors. Hotel occupancies were flat at best, and loyalty among our key target audience (families traveling with children) was eroding.

To provide an incentive to families traveling on vacations and generate excitement among both consumers and hotel managers, I adapted our Kids Go HoJo program and entered into a strategic alliance Sega of America - at that time the number two video game company in the USA. We then "adopted" Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog - leading edge, high tech, computerized, modern, fun. Sega then provided Game Gear video games at no cost to every hotel in our system. We bombarded consumers with value-added incentives.

Kids Go HoJo with Sega became the most successful, most imitated (within two years, at least nine other brands launched similar programs) and the most award-winning family marketing program in the mid-level hotel segment.

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EXPANDING MARKETING POWER THROUGH BARTER FUNDING IN LIEU OF CASH FOR MAJOR CRUISE LINE

Terrorism, hijackings, bombings, kidnappings and other negative influences had seriously impacted Cunard Cruise Lines' marketing efforts, and resulted in severe reductions in available funding.

I developed a combined cash/barter program in which Cunard was able to increase its national magazine schedules while significantly reducing its cash expenditures by utilizing unused or excess cruise cabin capacity on a trade or barter basis.

This resulted in Cunard reducing cash expenditures by 47.5 percent (saving more than $4 million!), maintaining all previously scheduled advertising and expanding to critical new publications despite funding cutbacks.

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DEVELOPING A DESTINATION BRANDING STRATEGY TO EXPAND SCOPE OF MARKETING EFFORTS, INCREASE AWARENESS AND ESTABLISH PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION

Turning Stone Resort & Casino in upstate New York was a complex with four hotels, five golf course (including a PGA Tour venue), two spas, more than 120,00sf of gaming space and many other amenities. Management sought to expand its customer base beyond traditional local "drive" markets.

As VP of Sales, Marketing & Entertainment, my first step was to develop an infrastructure and online booking engine that was dynamic, modern and easy-to-use. With the internals in place, I launched a destination marketing campaign with a meaningful brand position, creative theme, target audience identification program, and media plan that generated memorable awareness and recognition of resort attributes.

The new campaign resulted in a 58% increase in overall brand name awareness among travel agents, an incredible 253% increase in agent perceptions of Turning Stone providing "an outstanding vacation experience," and increases in recognition in all critical areas: Luxurious resort accommodations, outstanding golf, and unique spa experiences.

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INTEGRATED MARKETING ENCOMPASSES TRADITIONAL (TELEVISION, RADIO, PRINT) AND DIGITAL (ONLINE ADVERTISING, SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, PAY-PER-CLICK, WEBSITE, ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTERS) TO BUILD MARKETING POWER AND ESTABLISH NEW BRAND, RAPIDLY INCREASING LEADS AND REVENUES

Always Best Care Senior Services had no national advertising fund, no marketing department, and no national advertising program. Compounding this was an explosion in industry competition - national brands grew from 12 in 2007 when Always Best Care began franchising to more than 50 by the end of 2014, putting even greater pressure on franchise performance.

I established the first National Advertising committee of franchisees, launched the first national advertising fund drive, and created the first national advertising program. Over the next five years, we launched the brand's first television campaign, its first Internet marketing campaign, its first consumer website, its first national public relations campaign, and many other new activities.

Franchise revenues exceeded $100 million in 2015, increasing from only $9.6 million in 2010. In the process, we were honored with 22 awards for marketing and advertising excellence - more than any other Senior Care company in the United States and Canada.

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STRATEGIC AND TACTICAL ADVERTISING COMBINE TO CREATE MAXIMUM IMPACT AND EXCEED SALES EXPECTATIONS

Thomson Vacations (now Apple Vacations) began as a charter tour operator from three Midwestern gateways. In its second full year, summer season sales to sun destinations (Jamaica, Bahamas, Mexico, Florida) and Europe were up more than 40 percent. This pattern was repeated again the following summer.

When I began working with Thomson, I saw a need to establish and coordinate four distinct strategic phases of the marketing program, each of which utilized a distinct medium to accomplish its goal: Television, magazines, newspapers and trade co-op.

Thomson believed summer sales would be up 55 percent versus the prior year - outpacing previous summer increases by 15 points. However, as we moved from phase to phase of the new campaign, the new strategy for Thomson helped the company sell more vacations in one summer than in all three previous summers combined!

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OFF-SEASON COOPERATIVE MARKETING BUILDS SALES FOR MULTIPLE PARTNERS WITHIN AN ESTABLISHED BRAND

Hilton-owned hotels in the Chicago area were suffering the usual off-season (summer, or non-convention) doldrums, which compounded the traditionally soft weekend period for urban hotels, as well. At the same time, each hotel faced severe budget limitations, and none individually could afford to launch a major promotional effort.

I implemented a cooperative program combining resources of all area hotels for the first time. I also negotiated with and attained media placement primarily on a trade-for-rooms basis, with barter accounted for 80 percent of program funding.

The results were astounding! Package sales for the Palmer House increased 56 percent; for the Conrad Hilton, 75 percent; for the Arlington Park Hilton, 26 percent; and for the O'Hare Hilton, more than 600 percent. Total room nights sold via the package promotion campaign increased 62 percent for the combined hotels versus the previous year.

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STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS COMBINE TO MOVE BRAND FROM A "LOW PRICE" TO A "VALUE" POSITIONING, INTRODUCE NEW PRODUCT AND INCREASE REVENUE PER CUSTOMER

Firstours entered the Hawaii market with low-cost packages, but suffered two major set-backs: (1) The Hawaii Express, its low-cost airline, went out of business with TV news programs showing stranded Firstours passengers at the Honolulu airport, and (2) a supplier of Super Bowl tickets ceased operations and, for the second time in a two-week period, Firstours' clients were shown on TV news being stranded without getting what they paid for.

I created "The Whole Hawaii Catalog" and worked with Firstours to attain cooperative marketing agreements with United Airlines, Hyatt Hotels and other nationally known suppliers - all designed to create a "quality by association" impression, negate past difficulties and move from a "low price" to "value" positioning.

Within one year, Firstours not only retained its base of Hawaii business but increased passenger volume by more than 60 percent and, more importantly, increased sales per passenger with its upgraded product line by 70 percent - which meant a total dollar volume increase of 165 percent!

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