Tag Archives: tourism

WTM Report Reveals WeChat’s E-Commerce Expansion

With the travel industry descending into the capital en masse for World Travel Market 2014, the latest trends and forecasts in the tourism sector are emerging thick and fast. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the ones that mean the most to our clients (and ourselves!) and something that’s really caught our eye is the rapid rise of WeChat (Weixin) in China.

WeChat is China’s fastest-growing mobile platform, and has become the second largest global messaging service, with 440 million active users to rival WhatsApp’s 500 million. It’s so popular in China that it has become Weibo’s biggest competitor, further fuelling the enduring rivalry between internet service providers Sina and Tencent.

Inevitably, marketers have been turning their eye towards the platform, and some brands have already established a presence on there. The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 indicates that this popularity shows no sign of slowing: In fact, the platform is emerging as a viable sales channel for travel companies.

The report, in association with Euromonitor International, has revealed that WeChat is expected to generate revenues of US$1.1 billion in 2014 and grow by 40% in 2015. Although most of this revenue comes from online games, the company is currently focusing on increasing its revenues from mobile commerce and payments. Given that surveys suggest that it is the most popular platform in China for the sharing of travel experiences, this can only be good news for those wishing to sell their offering to the Chinese market.

WeChat (as well as LINE, a Japanese-based service which is gradually gaining traction in China) now allows companies to manage customer support through their app, which is particularly useful for the travel trade, where a swift response to customer issues can make the difference between a positive and negative interaction. Several travel businesses are already taking advantage of this. Leading online travel agency Ctrip is selling air, rail and attractions tickets through WeChat, whilst Chinese taxi app DidiDache saw its users double to 40 million in one month after beginning a partnership with company. Low-cost carrier Spring Airlines also launched a WeChat service in April 2014, allowing users to book flights and check in using the app.

According to the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, WeChat is expected to be lauched on all internet-connected movile devices including smartwatches and smartglasses, meaning that the platform will tap in to another key growing trend. As World Travel Market’s Senior Director, Simon Press, commented: “Instant messaging platforms have emerged from nowhere to become an important sales channel in one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets, and there is still more growth to come.

“And as accessing the internet from a smartphone becomes commonplace, instant messaging as a transactional channel could take off in mature markets as well.”

China’s significance as a growing travel market isn’t waning, and emerging technological advances such as WeChat’s should make us all sit up and take notice. The ability to provide customer service via the platform is ideal for companies based outside of China who have previously found providing real-time customer service a challenge; whilst the expansion of its e-commerce capabilities means that brands enhancing their presence on the app can follow customer interactions through to purchase. The app’s early adaptation to mobile devices, including wearables, means that it is well-placed to continue its trajectory as one of China’s leading social media platforms.

In short, there’s no reason to delay in embracing WeChat as the best new way to interact with, and sell to, the vast Chinese travel market. Language barrier a problem? It’s not a problem for us at Rhubarb Fool, so why don’t you get in touch?

UK Tourism: What’s Sport Got To Do With It?

Are you excited about the World Cup? We certainly are. Nothing seems to bring people together like sport, and of course, we’re rooting for England.

All eyes are on Brazil right now, and we can’t help but think of the effect the tournament will have on their tourism industry. The question is even more pertinent when we consider the fact that we’re hosting our own world cup (the Rugby one) next year here in the UK.

Ever since the Olympics in 2012, we’ve seen tourism figures for visitors to the UK go from strength to strength. We were lucky to avoid the so-called post-Olympic ‘curse’ that sparks a lull in tourism.

The spotlight was put on London, and London delivered. Its status (and by proxy, the whole country’s status) as a must-visit destination doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. What role does sport play in this?

Some would argue that the recent success of UK tourism is not so much to do with the golden aftermath of the Olympics, and more attributable to the fact that there were a series of internationally high-profile events in quick succession: the royal wedding, the Golden Jubilee, the royal birth.

There is probably an element of truth to this – the fact that the royals are a significant draw for tourists can’t be underestimated. But it would be obtuse to deny the role sporting attractions have to play.

We are a sporting nation, famous not only for ubiquitous football, but for cricket, tennis, rugby…the list goes on. The homes of these sports, such as Lords cricket ground or Twickenham stadium, draw plenty of visitors to their museums and stadium tours.

Then there’s the fact that we are home to some of the most high profile football clubs in the world. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are just a

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few examples of clubs with an international brand and fans across the globe.

For these fans, the chance to come to the UK and experience the home grounds of their favourite clubs first hand is more than enough reason to pick the UK as a holiday destination.

A wealth of organisations benefit from the slew of sports tourists visiting the UK. Sports tour operators arrange visits to stadium tours and games, and sports bars and restaurants such as the recently opened Café Football in Westfield Stratford City also capitalise on the trend.

So what will the future hold for tourism in 2015? Inevitably there’ll be plenty of rugby enthusiasts descending on the capital to enjoy the games and the atmosphere. And if current trends are anything to go by, the tournament will only enhance the UK’s reputation as a globally significant sports tourism destination.

Marketing a small business on a shoe-string with Rhubarb Fool Part II

Follow Rhubarb Fool‘s top tips on marketing a small business

2. Look local

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the trees for the wood. You don’t always have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Look around you at what’s in front of your nose. Find out what’s going on in your community. Sponsor your local under elevens football team, participate in a fun run, or sponsored swim. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Think about your ideal customer and where they might want to spend their time. Then identify the opportunities to bring your marketing message to their attention.

3. Collaborate

Establish links with local, non-competitive businesses and establish joint purpose by cross promoting. You can use coupons, joined up website links, shared promotions or social media platforms. By collaborating with other businesses in your community, you can extend your customer base by allowing your company to travel new pathways to the market place.

4. It’s nice to Network

There’s a lot to be said for just getting out there. Shake people’s hands, share a coffee and establish some acquaintance. Personal networking can be a resource heavy activity and the results it can deliver will probably be better measured over the longer term. But personal relationships still have an important role to play in the fabric of commerce. Moreover, a strong commercial network can help any business person deal with the commercial peaks and troughs that are a factor of any business’s development.

5. Put yourself at the lectern.

Public speaking is something that a lot of people will endeavour to avoid. But in

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starting your business, you’ve already stuck your head well and truly above the trench. Look a little in your community and you’ll find no shortage of organisations that offer opportunities to qualified, subject-matter experts, who are able and willing to deliver talks and lectures. So leave that comfort zone behind you and volunteer.

And remember. No-one is going to expect you to

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deliver something from the after dinner circuit. You just need to be clear, informative and helpful. And there’s one important fringe benefit. Like many things in life, the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the easier it will become. Before you know it, you’ll be the local authority in your field.

6. Turn some heads

The public relations sector has changed markedly over recent years, largely as a result of technological advancements. It’s now far easier than it was to interact with the different forms of media around you. Look and you’ll find that there are plenty of media outlets around you that are looking for a story. Find out how such a story could help your company and make it happen.

Marketing a small business on a shoe-string with Rhubarb Fool Part I

 

Before engaging the marketing services of Rhubarb Fool think about steps that you can take

It was the celebrated writer (and Rhubarb Fool

favourite) Mark Twain who observed: “Many a small thing has been made large, by

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the right kind of advertising.”

But please don’t all rush down to the nearest advertising agency just yet. Advertising your company’s products or services can make a dent in the deepest pocket. In times of economic uncertainty small companies often find it easiest to cut their marketing budgets. The results that this activity yields are sometimes not immediately apparent. As such, it’s hardly surprising that activities more closely linked to cash flow can be deemed a higher priority.

At Rhubarb Fool our clearest belief is that the issue of whether you’re operating in markets that are forgiving or unforgiving is ultimately academic to your ongoing need to keep pushing your brand to centre stage.

Recent years have seen small companies operating in tougher market places, as customers (and let’s face it we’re all customers) have had less money to spend. As such, it seems to us imperative that when customers are ready to unburden themselves of their hard-earned, your brand should have a strong presence in their consciousness.

At Rhubarb Fool we believe that social media offers a highly effective and affordable means of engaging your customers and maintaining your brand at the forefront of consumer consciousness. But there’s more to business than social media. Let Rhubarb Fool share ten tried and tested marketing strategies that will enable you to market yourself and your brand in a way that won’t cause your bank manager any unnecessary vexation.

1. Create an “elevator pitch”

Marketing is a full-time activity that shouldn’t be constrained by where you happen to be or what time you happen to be there. Nothing will help you more in doing this than a short and snappy elevator pitch. According to research, the average adult’s attention span is about seven seconds. This isn’t long to grab someone’s attention and mark their consciousness. But if you can get over this first hurdle and engage your target, research also suggests that you then earn a little over a minute to really pitch your product or service. So time spent crafting a compelling and clear elevator pitch represents a canny investment that could yield considerable returns in terms of creating commercial opportunities for your company.

Social Media for small businesses

Swimming in content … or drowning?

We are bombarded with content.

The average social network user receives 285 pieces of content daily.

Facebook has 900 million users.

Every sixty seconds, 293,000 status updates are posted on

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Facebook.

175 million tweets are sent each day.

The number of fake Facebook accounts is roughly equivalent to the population of Egypt.

Youtube has more than1 billion unique users visit the site each month, with over 6 billion hours of video watched. That’s almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than in 2012.

Etc, etc.

It really wants to make you cry. Or at least design a funky infographic!

Instead we say, forget the facts, ditch the digits and focus on one thing. Your customer.

We help brands connect to this market get the right content to the right customers at exactly the right time.

What is the right content? Well it has to be three things:

  • Timely
  • Relevant
  • Engaging

And before we put pen to paper we discuss the brand. From here we think about developing a tone of voice. Sometimes that’s as easy as playing the “if the brand was a famous person who would it be?” game.

Sometimes it’s useful. Sometimes we realise we have spent the last hour deciding that the W Hotel was Chloë Sevigny.

But it’s a starting point and more often than not it will lead us to go out and gather as much customer insight as possible. There’s no rigid formula to doing this.

For example, we’ll hang out in hotel lobbies before launching a hotel magazine. But we’ll supplement this with using data to listen to what your customers are doing, reading, watching and buying – and then act.

So don’t just sit there. Go and sit in a hotel lobby. Or decide what superhero Hoover would be. Just don’t drown in the content.

Entrepreneurial journalism. Part II.

Identify and focus on the ultimate objective.

If you can succeed in entertaining and educating your reader, then you’re half way there. But we never lose sight of the fact that strong entrepreneurial journalism should be aimed at eliciting a response from its reader, rather than entertaining or educating him or her.

The exact nature of that response can come in different shapes and sizes. But is has to be clearly identified and targeted from the outset. Unless we know precisely what optimum reader response we’re seeking, then we’re not practising entrepreneurial journalism.

Add Value and Establish Credibility.

Reading various other peoples’ work on commercial content, we’ve seen the word “value” come up again and again. But how do we add value to a product by writing about it?

Let’s approach this question by way of analogy. We like to think of a football commentator, who’s giving a commentary on a match you’re watching. A good commentator will offer a sense of excitement and provide an accurate description (players’ names etc) of the game.

A great commentator also does these things. But they’ll also tell you things that you didn’t previously know and point out details of the match that you hadn’t previously noticed. A great commentator will be on your level. They’ll give you the sense of being on your side by helping you to derive as much enjoyment from the game as possible. It’s easy to understand that some people have favourite football players. But it’s our experience that people also have favourite football commentators as well.

Connect and Empathise with your readers.

We all need a friend out there. In market places that sometimes seem rapacious and bewildering, it can be nice on occasions to be taken by the hand and helped to make a good decision. But it’s nicer if you feel that the person who is taking you by the hand has an unambiguous understanding of what you’re actually looking for in that market place. And to understand your readers you’re going to have to take the time to get to know them before you start communication with them.

Visit the venue before the Event.

It’s important to be mindful of where or how your reader is going to encounter your content. This can be tricky because the answer(s) may not be singular. You may be firing some shots in the dark. However, you’ll be a far more valuable resource if you’re able to integrate your content into a

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media-driven strategy.

Think about how the media best serves your reader. Try and identify a realistic time and place where the interaction will take place. Is it going to be one or two way traffic? Will the experience be superficial or more profound? Is it a first time meeting, a regular spot on the social calendar or a follow-up? As much as is possible try to focus on the where, when and why factors and you could increase the relevance and accessibility of your content.

Put Meaning into your Message.

Your content should be based on an idea. But that idea can’t be arbitrary. However basic this may sound, anyone can call themselves a content creator. Style without substance can still turn heads and, though it will always be found out sooner or later, in the short term it can even win contracts. But we want you to do things properly. We want you to thrive and still be reading our blogs in years to come.

So every element of the content you create should be a step towards an ultimate objective. Put another way the macro message you want to deliver will never be successfully constructed unless the micro messages are intricately, thoughtfully and meaningfully delivered in a manner that is more than anything joined up.

Contextualise your Message.

Interactions in the public sphere no longer occur in isolation. This is a fact that is even more evident in commercial spheres. So make sure you’ve got a good sense of who’s doing what in the space that you’re entering. Find out where the party’s at. Learn what’s tired and what’s fresh. Identify your market’s most influential individuals, organisations, publishers and companies.

Never be afraid to rigorously research your competition. Familiarise yourself with the tactics and tone that have traction in the market place. While you’re ultimately going to be served by making yourself unique, it will always help to know what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Make your content come alive.

The best way of doing this is by having a headline that makes an impact. Your headline is an invitation to like-minded people to join you and enjoy what you’re enjoying. So you can’t afford to be coy. Make people feel that they’ll be missing something unmissable if they don’t get on board with you. Make it clear this one can’t be missed.

Excite. Tease. Tantalise. Strike a chord. And be ever mindful of the fact that you only get one shot at a one liner. Make your opening salvo resonate. It needs to be exciting, resilient and most importantly something that you won’t be tired of seeing a year from now.

Listen. Create. Communicate. Three words that occupied us for days. They’re probably not words that are going to get anyone hot under the collar. But they’re words that accurately headline what we do.

Maintain Perspective.

You live, breathe and sleep your company. Good. It shouldn’t be any other way. But let’s be fair. Not everyone is going to share your passion. The easiest way to lose someone is to ply them with information about something that they have no interest in.

You won’t turn a single head by talking about your brand or product. Regardless of the message you’re trying to give, the central character of the piece has to be the reader. Make “you” your stand out word. Assume that your reader’s favourite subject is him or herself. After all everybody warms to someone who is interested in them.

Encourage a Realisation.

Let’s assume your headline worked. Your reader gets your message. But never is the old adage “many a slip twist cup and lip” truer. You could still lose that reader if you don’t consolidate the initial connection. So pose a question or make a statement that encourages the “yes, that’s me” realisation. Let your reader know you get them and you get their needs.

Feelings are your friend.

Your reader will process information firstly through emotion, and secondly through reason. So your writing should be connecting straight to your reader’s limbic system; the sub-cortex section of the brain, the centre of desire and motivation. Use words that suggest passion (and if you’re passionate about your subject that helps) and feelings.

Mates’ Rates.

Drifting? Lacking ideas? Words aren’t flowing? Not hitting the right tone? Each of these issues is probably linked to you over-thinking what you’re doing. So approach your content without fear and formality. Singularise the interaction by talking to just one person. Try imagining it’s a mate or someone you’re relaxed when talking to. And start typing the way you’d talk.

Enliven with Verbs.

Use adjectives sparingly and use verbs vigorously. Engagement is about doing. Support. Promote. Achieve. Do. Be. Do.

Express yourself.

In a world defined by increasing homogeneity people tend to remember the one offs. The writers that are remembered: Shakespeare, Joyce, Twain and Camus had voices that were as unique as their fingerprints. And you are unique. So find your voice. Let it define your writing. And never be afraid of being you.

Plain English is Big and Clever.

Want to alienate a reader? Go to the manual. There’s nothing worse than industry-specific, technical language. All it will do is cast your reader back to the hellish hours they spent assembling a flat-pack piece of furniture. No matter how much you love your industry’s jargon, leave it where it belongs.

But, perhaps conversely, avoid any process of dumbing down, in pursuit of perceived accessibility. Just be yourself and focus on little words that showcase big ideas.

Rhubarb Fool is a multi-platform content provider

Entrepreneurial journalism. Part I.

At Rhubarb Fool we never stop reminding ourselves that you won’t deliver style, if you can’t deliver substance.

In no small part, the substance of Rhubarb Fool’s work is determined by the content it generates. The greatest proportion of this contact comes in the form of the written word. And that’s what will will be the broadest focus of this piece. Good, accessible writing.

We’re also clear that the writing that we

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undertake as Rhubarb Fool is largely commercial. Its success or failure won’t be determined by the response of The Times Literary Review. However, at Rhubarb Fool we all love great writing and we all aspire to write well.

In our attempts to qualify the writing we produce, we’ve coined the phrase ‘entrepreneurial journalism’. It’s a phrase that you may have come across on our website. But please don’t get too alarmed. We’re not claiming to be great entrepreneurs and we’re certainly not claiming to be journalists. Rather, when we talk of entrepreneurial journalism, we’re talking about writing that helps our customers meet their commercial objectives.

If we approach writing in its generic form, the conclusion that our boardroom conversations have led us to is that good writing is underpinned by the author’s personality (having something worth saying in an attractive, engaging and interesting fashion) and accuracy (grammatical and factual integrity).

At the same time, anyone who has written a lot will know that (even if you have bags of personality and are the sort of person who loses sleep over a mis-placed comma or a questionable fact), writing involves a process.

Entrepreneurial journalism is, by its very nature, more process driven than its brothers and sisters in the literary or journalistic world. Essentially, the process

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of entrepreneurial journalism demands not only preparation (that would be a prerequisite for any good piece of writing), it also involves planning. Our purpose is not only to deliver something that attracts and engages. It is also to deliver something that is functional. Something that does a great job for our customer.

So read on and let us set out the most important steps we’ve identified that could help you deliver good commercial writing. We hope that this piece guides you through the planning process to the point of execution and implementation.