Monthly Archives: June 2018

Online Marketing on Tablet

Recap: Online marketing techniques you must try in 2019!

By Sharon Scott Wilson

We posted these tips last year and think they are applicable now. Here’s what we said then:

It’s easier to catch a scampering mouse than to stay current with Google’s mercurial algorithm. Plus, experts say a goldfish has a greater attention span than a human in today’s online environment. That means you have less than eight seconds to make an impact! But does this make marketers in the resort industry give up on online marketing? No way! Your attempts may not be as trumpeted (pardon the pun) as often as those from the Tweeter-in-Chief, but here are a few tactics to help you enhance your game:

Dramatic messaging

People respond emotionally, which means you still need to follow the strictures of the human psyche. This is where even a small company can get ahead if you just use your noggin:

  1. Your blogs, your collateral, and your social media will be most effective when you tell a story featuring people. Touch them! Reach them on that emotional level.
  2. Your business is NOT a commodity; it’s unique and special. Make your customer feel that. Let them know they are part of an inner circle; they belong.
  3. Dramatic comes from the root word, “drama,” after all. So, build some in. Use rituals, symbols and events whenever possible. Ask your typical realtor. They will tell you that the words “Grand Opening” or “Super Sales Event” draws a crowd, even though the prices and offerings are the same on a non-event day.
  4. Being different is better than being better (unless you get weird). Why, one might ask, does the rather ordinary squirrel picture labeled “cute and friendly” get 158 ‘likes’ while the squirrel brutally taking down a stuffed animal and ripping it to shreds gets 1,000? I rest my case.

Weaponize your website

Blog! Analysts who track Google’s algorithm processes say that blogging – optimally with 1500-word-or-greater posts, complemented by a mélange of social media interaction, all with the intent of driving traffic to your website, will rule in 2018.

Install landing pages. (Check out www.instapage.com or www.hubspot.com for the latest on these.) Create a calendar for when you will blog, post to social media, and buy pay-per-click (PPC) ads. (By the way, explore PPC. It is instant SEO [Search Engine Optimization] bait.) As for the site itself, the most valuable real estate is the left-hand side. Get viewers to your call to action with a solid landing page. Hold in mind, viewers read websites in the shape of an “F.” (Who knew?)

Sock-it-to-‘em headlines

As far as what to include in your blogging and socializing, the number one rule is to pay careful attention to writing attention-grabbing headlines in your blog and social media posts. The best headlines create surprise, ask a question or create curiosity. Use your keywords in headlines and the text whenever possible.

Use pictures everywhere. Pictures and videos with people telling their own stories, your story…any story…are what’s hot these days. These are tools to make your stories come alive and help prospects see themselves as part of your world.

Free online marketing advice

There are a number of free or low-cost software systems to help schedule, manage and track posts, including buffer.com, zoho.com, hootsuite.com, and postplanner.com.

You can find free guidance for social media best practices from sites such as salesforce.com, mashable.com and guykawasaki.com. At least for now in 2018, you’ll need a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and perhaps to LinkedIn and Google+.

If you’re delving into online marketing for the first time, rest assured, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take it a step at a time, give yourself a pat on the back, and remind yourself occasionally about how far you’ve come.

10 Ways Your Brain is Being Hijacked

In twelve-to-fifteen easy minutes (more if you’re a ‘stop-and-think-about-it’ kind of person), you can learn ten ways in which Tristan Harris says online product designers try to exploit your mind’s weaknesses. In his 2016 blog, “How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind,” Harris – a co-founder of Center for Humane Technology, Ex-Google Design Ethicist, and one-time CEO of Apture (a company which was acquired by Google) – shares how the game is played to grab your attention and steal your valuable time.

Courtesy of the site, thriveglobal.com, it’s an easy read that shares a wealth of hard-earned wisdom. In 2016, Tristan left Google to work full-time on “reforming the attention economy with the non-profit initiative, Time Well Spent. Time Well Spent aims to catalyze a rapid, coordinated change among technology companies through public advocacy, the development of ethical design standards, design education and policy recommendations to protect minds from nefarious manipulation.” Some highlights he shares about how our dependence on technology are worth thinking about. He calls them “Hijacks”:

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices. He points out that when presented with a list of choices, people rarely ask why their thought processes have been limited to just those specific items.

“The more choices technology gives us in nearly every domain of our lives (information, events, places to go, friends, dating, jobs) — the more we assume that our phone is always the most empowering and useful menu to pick from,” he says. “Is it?”

He argues that technology is reframing the way we perceive our world and the choices we are able to make each day. “By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we are given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.”

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets. Just as gambling is addictive when the occasional win hits the addict’s pleasure center, another way to hijack your attention is to throw in some sort of reward now and then. “When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got,” he suggests. “When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got. When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next. When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match. When we tap the # of red notifications, we’re playing a slot machine to what’s underneath.”

It’s easy to see why Americans typically check their email an average of 150 times a day!

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI). The chance you’ll miss something important is perhaps only one percent, argues Harris. “If I convince you that I’m a channel for important information, messages, friendships, or potential sexual opportunities — it will be hard for you to turn me off, unsubscribe, or remove your account — because (aha, I win) you might miss something important.”

What an enormous time-waster! Harris says, “Imagine if tech companies recognized that, and helped us proactively tune our relationships with friends and businesses in terms of what we define as ‘time well spent’ for our lives, instead of in terms of what we might miss.

Hijack #4: Social Approval. We’ve been taught all our lives to “speak when spoken to.” We find it impossible to resist providing a response to being tagged, liked, befriended, or sent a comment.

Harris observes, “Everyone innately responds to social approval, but some demographics (teenagers) are more vulnerable to it than others. That’s why it’s so important to recognize how powerful designers are when they exploit this vulnerability.”

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat). Following closely is our sense of responsibility to reciprocate when we perceive someone (or some entity) has given us a favor of some kind, such as following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook. “Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.”

“LinkedIn is the most obvious offender,” he says. “LinkedIn wants as many people creating social obligations for each other as possible, because each time they reciprocate (by accepting a connection, responding to a message, or endorsing someone back for a skill) they have to come back to linkedin.com where they can get people to spend more time….”

“Imagine millions of people getting interrupted like this throughout their day, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, reciprocating each other — all designed by companies who profit from it. Welcome to social media.”

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay. We’ve all been there: You go to watch a cute little kitty video and the next thing you know, an hour has passed and you’re watching a Beyoncé video.

“Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave.”

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery. Companies have learned to float in or pop up messages that demand a response before the user feels free to return to the original content.

“Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system to interrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.”

Harris observes how the increased incidence throughout social media and on websites is becoming more than just a nuisance. “The problem is, maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day. This is a huge problem we need to fix with shared design standards (potentially, as part of Time Well Spent).”

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons. “Another way apps hijack you is by taking your reasons for visiting the app (to perform a task) and make them inseparable from the app’s business reasons (maximizing how much we consume once we’re there).”

“For example, in the physical world of grocery stores, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

“In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front.”

“Tech companies design their websites the same way. For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.”

Harris wants us to imagine a more humane tech world. “Imagine if web browsers empowered you to navigate directly to what you want — especially for sites that intentionally detour you toward their reasons.

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices. “Businesses naturally want to make the choices they want you to make easier, and the choices they don’t want you to make harder….

“For example, NYTimes.com lets you “make a free choice” to cancel your digital subscription. But instead of just doing it when you hit ‘Cancel Subscription,’ they send you an email with information on how to cancel your account by calling a phone number that’s only open at certain times.’

Who hasn’t run into this kind of scenario?

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies. It’s the age-old bait-and-switch technique and it’s becoming more and more commonplace. “People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them,” says Harris. “Sales people use ‘foot in the door’ techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (‘just one click to see which tweet got retweeted’) and escalate from there (‘why don’t you stay awhile?’). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

“Imagine if web browsers and smartphones, the gateways through which people make these choices, were truly watching out for people and helped them forecast the consequences of clicks (based on real data about what benefits and costs it actually had?).”

That’s why Harris added an estimated reading time of twelve minutes to the top of his post. “When you put the “true cost” of a choice in front of people, you’re treating your users or audience with dignity and respect. In a Time Well Spent internet, choices could be framed in terms of projected cost and benefit, so people were empowered to make informed choices by default, not by doing extra work.”

“We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.”

Your Summer (Plus, a Lifetime of Enjoyment) Starts Here!

Reprinted with permission, Bay Tree Solutions, June 2018.

Memorial Day sales may be over for retailers, but when it comes to buying a week or points at a vacation ownership resort, bargains are still available! Start your summer out right. In fact, if you move quickly, you can get a last-minute steal and enjoy a week at one of the nation’s top resort destinations right away!

But before buying, you might do a little soul-searching: Are you and your family looking forward to taking a little R&R time each year to enjoy one another’s company and get away from the stress of day-to-day concerns? Do you feel that giving yourself and your family the chance to grow closer together by building precious memories should be a priority? If so, then buying a timeshare/vacation ownership interest will be a great first step to ensuring this quality of life for the ones you love. Spending your hard-earned money on hotel rooms each time you take time off is often an inhibitor to actually doing so. Here are some of the reasons why vacation ownership may make sense for you:

Prepaid vacations – When you check out at the end of your vacation, your bill is “0,” nada! You already will have paid for your stay and, oftentimes, you will have saved money. Plus, there’s no up-charge for extra people. In many cases, a resort apartment will have beds for as many as ten people. And, because the condos have kitchen facilities, a family can easily save more than $100 a day by stocking up the refrigerator and relaxing at home! As an owner, you will get the first choice for renting unused time at true bargain owner rates.

Take a look at a recently listed bargain-price timeshare at Tanglewood Vacation Villas in Pottsville, Texas, for instance. For only $3,000.00 (and the sellers say they are even willing to negotiate), you can easily afford this 2-Bedroom/2-Bath deeded, “floating” week! (When banked with Interval International weeks, you can enjoy a two-for-one exchange privilege!)

Tanglewood Resort is located on Lake Texoma, away from the bustle of the city, approximately one hour’s drive north of Dallas. Guests can enjoy an 18-hole championship golf course. With over 500 miles of shoreline, Lake Texoma offers some of the best striper fishing in the world. Three swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, day spa, and, with the addition of Barnacles Sports Bar, two full-service restaurants also are available. All one- and two-bedroom units have a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and a private hot tub.

No more pizza on a bed! Staying in a timeshare resort condo provides you with private bedrooms, kitchen and dining accommodations, and includes housekeeping at most of the better resorts. Often, a larger resort will have several different restaurant offerings, ranging from casual hamburgers poolside or sandwiches in the golf course clubhouse to fine dining.

One such resort is Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. The mammoth 1450-acre property offers the Tradewinds Restaurant and Bar, Currents Cafe at River Island Exchange, The River Island Grilling Company, The Legacy Bar & Grill, Breezes Restaurant & Bar, and Anchors. Who’s going hungry, here? Other amenities include the marketplace, tennis, fitness center, and excellent golf course facilities. The Orange Lake Resort complex offers a lakefront watersports center, many pools and spas, and the new River Island water park area with a lazy river.

You’ll have to hurry to get this one, as Orange Lake’s amenities and its proximity to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios make it a hot-ticket item. At the time of this writing, BayTreeSolutions.com was offering the deeded week “37” in the West Village section for $8,500.00. That’s the second full week of September, with the option to “float” during the red season! You will have the ability to exchange through Holiday Inn Club Vacations as 96,000 points per year… This particular unit may have been snapped up by the time your read this, but don’t worry. Bay Tree Solutions has other other excellent bargains available.

Entertain the ‘troops.’ In addition to swimming pools and tennis courts, many resorts offer a host of other activities including horseback riding, canoeing, karaoke, and more. Most resorts provide interactive games, activities for kids and adults, and tours of local hot spots. Spend your time enjoying vacationing. Save the hours and hassle of planning, because it has already been done for you!

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort in Gatlinburg comes to mind when thinking of a hugely popular destination. At the moment, Bay Tree Solutions is advertising a 2-Bedroom/2-Bath July 4th week for only $5,000.00 or best offer! This is a really good deal. The resort backs up to nature trails, which take you straight from your cabin into the densely wooded forest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, adjacent to the resort property. Guests enjoy two large swimming pools during warmer weather, each with a six-person in-ground hot tub. With Dollywood and other attractions nearby, the kids will find it really, really hard to be bored!

Exchange, Rent, or Sell — Most resorts are allied with one of the large exchange companies, RCI or Interval International, which provide many different alternatives for getting the most out of your timeshare. Many resort management companies will help you rent your unit/points if you can’t enjoy your ownership privileges for some reason. The more you learn about your vacation ‘product,’ the more you will come to enjoy the great flexibility that comes with your timeshare. You can exchange time at a deeded property or utilize your points (depending on your purchase-type) to travel to vacation destinations throughout the world! And should you decide you are no longer interested in owning your timeshare, you can always put it up for sale by advertising on www.BayTreeSolutions.com. Just remember to purchase wisely in the first place, as timeshares do not typically appreciate in value.

Another very popular resort destination is Branson, Missouri. Branson’s Nantucket, perched on the coast of Table Rock Lake, has a one-bedroom unit available. This 1-Bedroom/1-Bath Branson’s Nantucket timeshare is a deeded, “floating” week during Platinum Season! Exchange through RCI as 51,000 points per year, which is enough for larger 2- and 3-bedroom units during the off-season. Plus, the points may be exchanged at over 7,500 resorts worldwide.

Branson is known as the “live entertainment capital of the world.” Branson’s Nantucket offers luxurious accommodations with convenient access to internationally known attractions, including water parks, go-carts, miniature golf, wineries, and shopping. Visit famous Silver Dollar City, which features rides, attractions, crafts and a wide variety of live entertainment. Enjoy the view of Table Rock Lake off the deck of every unit while you and your loved ones watch the sunset. The next day, you can head out to enjoy boating, water-skiing, and fishing.

If you and your family or friends plan to vacation each year, timeshare makes great financial sense while offering superb facilities. Remember, buying timeshare is not a financial investment; it’s an emotional and spiritual one…a chance to ensure you will be able to take some precious time to build lifelong memories with loved ones and be able to put the worries and cares of the world into focus.

 

Gardens RV Village to Exhibit at Several FMCA Expos

The Gardens RV Village — a community of luxury homes exclusively developed for RV owners — plans to exhibit at various expos being presented by the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA). This year will mark the 100th such expo to be presented by the association. Below is the announcement of upcoming events.

FMCA Announces Expos

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FMCA has booked locations for its 2019 conventions.
This summer, FMCA will visit CAM-PLEX Multi-Event Facilities
July 18 through 21 for its 98th convention.

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Cincinnati, OH – June 2018 / Newsmaker Alert / Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), a Cincinnati-based international association for RV owners, has announced the dates and locations for its conventions in 2019.

FMCA will be making a return visit to a popular venue for the association’s 99th International Convention and RV Expo – the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia. The March 13 through 16, 2019, gathering will mark the 11th convention FMCA has hosted at this middle Georgia facility, which FMCA leaders describe as tailor-made for an FMCA event.

“We haven’t hosted a convention at the same venue two years in a row since the early days of FMCA. So, this is a bit of a departure from the norm, but Perry is such a fantastic facility and meets our needs so well that we have decided to go back there next year. Meanwhile, we’ll be exploring other potential locations for future winter/spring events,” FMCA national president Jon Walker said.

The location of the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, just off Interstate 75, and the usual timing of the gathering, as many snowbirds are heading back home, play a role in the success the association has with events held at this facility. A number of the group’s largest events have taken place there, most recently in March 2018.

“The staff at the fairgrounds are great to work with,” noted FMCA executive director Chris Smith. “And the facility has made substantial improvements over the years to help accommodate FMCA events, including adding roadways and drainage in RV parking areas. Not only that, but the community rolls out the red carpet to welcome FMCA families. So, we’re looking forward to being in Perry again next year,” he said.

Summer 2019 will find FMCA members in the “Magic City” – Minot, North Dakota. RVers will gather at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds August 14 through 17, 2019, to celebrate a milestone in the association’s history – FMCA’s 100th International Convention and RV Expo.

“FMCA has hosted conventions at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds three times in the past, most recently in 2005; so, this will be a long overdue return visit,” said FMCA events director Doug Uhlenbrock. “Minot offers a small-town feel with big-town amenities and attractions and will make a great destination for this special celebration of FMCA’s 100th convention.”

Registration for the Perry, Georgia, convention will begin on September 12, 2018; registration for the Minot, North Dakota, convention will begin on February 13, 2019.

RVers need not wait until 2019 to join the fun. Registrations currently are being accepted for FMCA’s 98th International Convention and RV Expo, set to take place July 18 through 21, 2018, at CAM-PLEX Multi-Event Facilities in Gillette, Wyoming. Various registration options are offered.

FMCA international conventions include an RV Expo that showcases the latest RV models, as well as booths filled with RV-related accessories, components, and supplies, plus companies offering services RVers need and want.

When they aren’t shopping, attendees can take part in seminars about topics ranging from RV driving and towing tips to microwave-convection cooking and satellite television for RVs. Approximately 100 different sessions are held, so plenty of educational opportunities present themselves. A variety of entertainment options are offered as well.

To learn more about FMCA events, visit FMCA.com or call 513-474-3622 or 800-543-3622.

About Family Motor Coach Association
Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) is an international organization for families who own and enjoy the use of self-contained recreation vehicles (RVs). The association maintains its national headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently has more than 75,000 active member families. FMCA offers its members a number of benefits, including a subscription to its monthly magazine; a medical emergency and travel assistance program valued at $105 per family; a tire purchasing program; group rates on a roadside assistance program and on RV and auto insurance; and discounted rates for RV tours and caravans. Perhaps the most important benefit of FMCA membership is the camaraderie and friendships that develop among people enjoying the common interest of RV travel. The organization can be reached at 513-474-3622 or 800-543-3622 and on the web at FMCA.com.

Media Contact:
Pamela Kay
FMCA
Director of Communications, Publishing
800-543-3622 ext. 234 or 513-474-3622