Author Archives: national pen

Why Personalized Marketing is Essential for Small Business

Small businesses typically do not have the budget, manpower, or resources that bigger businesses have. However, if you’re a small business, you can make up for this by adding marketing personalization to your efforts.Group of People Receiving Personalized Marketing MessagesWhether your customers are visiting you online or in-person, they are looking for a personal experience when shopping. What current efforts do you have in place that speaks to your target audience’s specific needs and wants? How are you making it personal for them?

According to research conducted by Infosys, 86% of shoppers say marketing personalization has at least some impact on what they purchase with 25% revealing that personalization significantly influences what they purchase. That’s a large chunk of customers you might be missing out on simply because you aren’t adding a personal touch to your small business marketing. Not to worry, you can fix this and update your strategies just in time for the busiest shopping days of the year!

  1. Personalize Your Message

    Think about who you are trying to connect with before launching your next marketing campaign. If you identify targeted audiences you think will find value in your products, you can better position your messaging to speak directly to them.

    For example, if you are in the salon business, maybe one of your targeted audiences is the stressed out parent who needs to take time for themselves during the hectic, end-of-the-year season. Alternatively, if you sell insurance, maybe your messaging is geared toward parents who want to protect their families.

    Rather than thinking in terms of buying and selling, think in terms of providing answers to questions and solutions to problems. When you take the “business” aspect out of the equation for a minute and hone in on what your customers need, you’ll find personalized marketing strategies come more naturally. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Include the recipient’s first name in each email campaign you send out.
    • Include language that speaks to how a person is feeling across all your marketing copy.

      Examples: “Feeling stressed out? Let a [salon service] help you relax.” or “Protect the most precious commodity you have – your family –  with [personalized business products for insurance].”

    • Segment your audiences and send promotions most relevant to them.

      Of the hundreds of ads your customers will see this holiday season, an offer specifically catering to their interests is the one that will produce the positive results you’re looking for.

    Personalized messaging is essential so you can target different audience segments with the products or services they need most rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach that misses the mark.Man Shaking Hands with Trade Show Attendees

  2. Personalize the Trade Show Experience

    One of the biggest advantages of attending trade shows or open market events is the opportunity to speak one-to-one with customers who are already familiar with your brand and those who are new to your products and services. While your physical presence already makes the interaction more personal, this is an opportunity to further personalize your company, small business products, and services in way that leaves a lasting impression.

    Make the most of your end-of-the-year trade shows while preparing for the upcoming season. Also, local vendor festivals and holiday markets are popular this time of year. Add a personal touch no matter which events you decide to attend to better connect with your audience and make your brand memorable.

    • Show instead of tell.

      Set up a product demo, if applicable. Even if you’re in the business of selling a service rather than a tangible product, guide attendees through the process. Show how simple, convenient, and valuable it is.

    • Create a welcoming space.

      Host a raffle or free giveaways with personalized marketing products at your trade show booth. It will entice people to stop by and chat with you longer while boosting your brand’s visibility.

    • Know your audience.

      A convention-style trade show has a different vibe and different expectations than a local vendor show. Adjust your “presentation” to accommodate the audience you are going to be talking to.

    Personalizing the trade show or vendor market experience is essential to connect with new audiences who may not have as much familiarity with your brand.

  3. Small Business Owner Putting Together a Marketing Personalization Strategy

  4. Personalize Your Merchandise

    Decide what makes your brand memorable. When you’re a small business, it’s all about making the personal connection to encourage loyalty from customers. As Small Business Saturday creeps up, create personalized business products and create ways for people to interact with your business in a fun and engaging way.

    • Personalize tote bags emblazoned with your logo, company name, or tagline.

      Fill it with local treats, coupons, and other small items that won’t make your budget suffer and will make your shopper feel special. You can also use this giveaway as messaging to direct your online audience (via email or social media) to your physical store. “First 25 customers to visit us this Saturday will receive a free tote bag full of goodies.”

    • Customize a banner and host a pop-up shop.

      If you’re hosting an event somewhere other than your store, you’ll want the brand recognition to remain with you.

    • Create a direct mail campaign with branded stress relief products.

      Stress is common among the holidays, so why not address it in a fun way and offer your customers a promotion or offer at the same time.

    Personalized marketing through merchandise is essential to strengthen your brand presence in the market and help create loyal customers through a genuine connection.

    Small Business Personalized Marketing Strategies

    This holiday season, create a marketing personalization list and check it twice to ensure you are providing a special shopping experience for every person who interacts with your business. You can achieve this by personalizing your messaging, the trade show experience, and your merchandise.

    Continue this one-to-one connection through your interactions online, over the phone, and in-person. Rather than the one-and-done shopper, you’ll find with marketing personalization, you’re more likely to create customer loyalty for a lifetime.

Personal Mid-Year Review: How to Finish the Year Strong

The end of 2017 is quickly approaching and what do you and your company have to show for it? Have you met the goals you’ve aimed to achieve? Have you improved your branding efforts throughout the year? And, have you made the changes needed to make a significant difference both internally and to your client base?Person Using Calendar to Plan End of YearFinish the year strong by performing a mid-year review and challenging your company to end on a high note. Take inspiration from The Weekender to see how you can incorporate the work-life balance necessary to succeed. Get the creative juices flowing and have everyone motivated throughout the remaining months of the year.

October – Make Time to Play

Make time for play to increase productivity and boost company morale.

All work and no play can make for some very disgruntled employees. Disgruntled employees typically translate into slips in productivity and progress. Make time at work for play. This can be anything from a creative brainstorming session with snacks and conversation to out-of-the-office team building events.

By making time to incorporate a little fun and lightheartedness into the workplace, you can increase employee satisfaction, which in turn, will benefit your company. Although it varies by level of position, the cost to replace an employee averages to about 6 to 9 months’ salary. Isn’t it worth it to keep good employees rather than trying to train new ones?Coworkers Having Fun and Creative Brainstorming Session

November – Do Something New

Create innovations for connecting with customers that will encourage more loyalty to strengthen your brand.

One of the biggest competitive advantages any company has is their unique value proposition. Decide what makes your company uniquely you. If you’ve spent the year going through the motions of tried-and-true, now is the time for innovation. Customize the way you are promoting your products and selling your services. According to Pew Research, majority of adult, American consumers say they are more comfortable using familiar products and brands.

What new thing(s) will you introduce in these last months that will carry over into the new year and put your brand on the forefront of people’s brains (and purchasing decisions)? Think about hosting an educational workshop, creating a loyalty program, or event that focuses on the needs/wants of your audience.Employee Connecting with Customers

December – Reconnect

Personalize your messaging to make real connections with your customers.

The purpose of any business initiative should be connecting with customers. Make sure your mid-year resolutions reflect changes you want to make to ensure this happens. Reconnect with loyal customers by sending them a personalized calendar that will help them plan out their next year. Add your own customized touch with a company newsletter, handwritten note, gift basket, or holiday card. Alert them to upcoming specials, deals, and/or new products on a monthly basis to give them a reason to stay engaged with your brand.

End of Year Inspiration

While the last months of the year are typically focused on generating revenue and hitting quarterly goals, it should also be used as a time to reflect on the successes and setbacks you’ve experienced throughout the year. Set up some time for a yearly review to gather feedback from both customers and employees to freely share what processes were successful and which more challenging. Were there any steps that were missed? What took longer than expected? Most importantly, did you discover opportunities that you didn’t see before?

By planning ahead and disposing of old methods that don’t work, you’ll finish the year strong and be ahead of the game come January 1st, feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.

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How to Turn Your Desk Setup into a Work Sanctuary [Infographic]

Header for desk sanctuary infographic

Each person is acclimated to their own desk style, but are all desk styles conducive to feelings of calm and relaxation? According to a recent article published by Entrepreneur.com, an average office employee spends more than an hour a day “looking for things.” A cluttered space can result in haphazard workflows, misplaced documents, and a lack of ability to focus because everything is fighting for your attention at once. Lack of organization usually means lack of efficiency, which can result in an increase of stress. Simply put, more mess leads to more stress.

But all is not lost. There are ways to bring more Zen into your work day. It’s all about how you keep things organized for your office desk setup.

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“Sanctuary” may be the last word you think of when it comes to your desk space, but it may not be as far-reaching as you might think. For starters, the placement of your desk can align with the benefits of feng shui to introduce a good energy flow around where you work. Who wouldn’t want to create an environment more prone to prosperity and creativity?

For balance and clarity, place your monitor near the back of your desk and keep things tidy near the center. Additionally, keeping a journal or sketchbook situated in the front right section of your desk helps generate more creative vibes.

Continue to build your desk sanctuary in other ways by making it more personal with photos. Add your family, pet, or a travel scene to your desktop. Bring in a plant or include some splashes of color or new lighting to brighten up the space. By incorporating some simple touches to the area typically known for housing only a computer, pens, and notepad can make it feel more Zen.

Want to learn more about turning your workspace into a desk sanctuary? Get inspired and get ready to update your desk with the tips from our infographic below.

Benefits of handwriting vs typing

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Rise with Fall: How to Embrace the Changing Business Environment

Every industry has its ebbs and flows in business, typically gauged by quarterly reports and monthly revenue goals. Embracing the inevitable changing business environment equips you with the right tools and mindset to tackle any hurdles that may arise, thus setting you up for success.
Board Meeting to Discuss Business Environment

In order to keep the pace with the ever-changing business climate, your company must know how to be agile enough to ride the ups and downs. Let’s review three ways to embrace the change of seasons and highlight how you can end the year strong – even with both predictable and unpredictable industry change.

  1. Adopt and Embrace an Offline and Online Marketing Strategy

    Users want to see a tightly aligned message with a company’s online and offline marketing strategy. According to the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail customer response rates increased by 43% year-over-year, according to 2016 statistics. If your current offline strategy involves the use of direct mailers, include customized products your clients can use year-round. These may include personalized calendars, pens emblazoned with your logo, or business card magnets they can hang up in their own office or at home. However, while direct mail still is successful for most industries, don’t forget about the industry change of an ever-increasing mobile audience who may prefer to receive their messaging electronically.

    According to a 2016 report analyzing over 1 billion emails, there was an open rate of 24.88% when averaged across all devices and sectors. This scrapes by the average email marketing open rate of 22%. People consistently rely on email to receive information. If you’re not utilizing both offline and online strategies to align with each other, you may be, quite literally, sending your customers mixed messages.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Don’t abandon tried-and-true offline methods. Just make sure they match what you’re presenting online as well, and test which performs better per campaign.
    Market Research for Industry Change

  2. Put on the Blinders and Live Out Your Own Mission (Don’t Follow Competitors)

    It’s still recommended to do market research and keep on an eye on your competitors to help gauge your place in the industry. But, you may also want to pay close attention to what sets your company apart from others. Brand identity is crucial for a small business, because marketing budgets most likely can’t compete against the bigger brands. Live out your own mission by engaging your entire team to be an advocate for your brand.

    Do this by becoming a “walking, talking billboard” at the places that matter most, such as trade shows, local events, conferences, and other opportunities where it makes sense (and is expected) to promote your brand. If your budget allows for it, sponsor a well-attended event and set up a booth to sell your products or services.

    Once you have finalized your calendar of events, equip your staff with promotional merchandise to give away. Items should include your company’s name, contact information (phone, email, and/or social media), and a tagline, if applicable. Customize note pads, water bottles, drawstring backpacks, and other swag-worthy items to pass out at your next event. It will give people a reason to stop by and learn more about your company, buy your products, or schedule an appointment for your service.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Stop focusing so much on the competition. When it comes to promoting your company, sometimes you have to ignore the industry chatter to hone in on your specific goals and audiences.
    Small Business Team Meeting to Define Goals

  3. Think Big and Stay Small

    The term “small business” is defined by the number of employees and amount of revenue generated. These numbers range by industry as outlined by the Small Business Administration. Whether you are a small business of 25 employees or a company of 250, you must always be willing to think big to keep up with the changing business climate.

    Thinking big, though, often refers to looking at goals that go beyond revenue. It involves asking questions like: How do you want to present yourself in the industry? What kind of opportunities can you provide your employees? Are you a company that encourages leadership and advancement? Maintain open communication within your company and have scheduled internal brainstorming meetings or quarterly initiatives to further your company’s culture and value. What goals would you like to see your company achieve?

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Define your company by more than revenue; find out what else motivates employees. This will help reduce turnover and improve loyalty within your company, which in turn saves company hiring costs.

There will always be climate change in business, especially as technology shifts and audience mindsets evolve. As a small business, it’s important to stay relevant among industry change. Ensure you have stability internally, so you can maintain your business goals among your clients and new audiences. Empower your team to be flexible and adaptable through industry changes.

Want to gain a new perspective and learn how to embrace change? Download a free copy of our Weekender Guide, a work-life balance calendar, to help you set goals for your entire team.

 

How to Make Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbons

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The initiative is focused on raising awareness about breast cancer and providing education and support. As an act of support and solidarity with those affected by breast cancer, survivors, family members, and friends proudly wear a pink ribbon during the month of October.Breast Cancer Awareness Month with RibbonAccording to U.S. Breast Cancer statistics, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women in 2017, in addition to over 63,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

To join the cause in raising awareness, you can easily make your own pink breast cancer awareness ribbons to wear or distribute to your family and friends, coworkers, schools, or other organizations you are a part of. All it takes is a three-inch piece of pink ribbon and a small safety pin to create the iconic marker of such an important cause. Though breast cancer research is crucial year-round, as a nation, we claim the month of October as the time to wear pink.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Steps

To make your own pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, it takes just three easy steps:

  1. 1. First, cut three-inch pieces of pink ribbon, cutting the ends at an angle.
  2. 2. Hold the ribbon horizontally at its midpoint and fold the left end down and slightly across the midpoint.
  3. 3. Then, fold the right end in the same way so the ribbon crosses itself slightly below the fold. At this cross-point, use the safety pin to secure the ribbon in place.

If it’s easier, you can stitch the ribbon together or hold it together with double sided tape at the midpoint before pinning to your shirt, jacket, bag, refrigerator, or wherever else you would like to display it. This DIY craft barely takes any time to make and allows you to demonstrate your solidarity for breast cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their battle with cancer, and celebrate those who have beat it. It’s a small and simple token, but with a powerful statement.

Go Pink with Breast Cancer Awareness Customizable Products

In addition to wearing pink ribbons, National Pen offers breast cancer awareness merchandise in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Customize magnets, tote bags, water bottles, keychains and more with the pink ribbon emblem to take to your next tradeshow, company meeting, or fundraising event to support the cause. Perhaps you would like to include someone’s name as a gesture of remembrance. Whatever the case may be, utilizing products such as these to go pink can help keep up the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month all year long.

Woman Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Tradeshows

Stock your tradeshow booth with pink products that have been customized with your company’s name or logo. For example, tote bags emblazoned with “[company name] supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Personalize items that will be useful for people year-round to make your company stand out and make raising awareness a long-term initiative.

Company Meeting

Encourage employees from all branches of your company to use pink breast cancer awareness pens, notes, sunglasses, or hats if they are headed to a conference, client meeting, sales pitch, or interoffice event. Pass them out at your next company meeting, and encourage distribution of them through the month of October as part of promotional efforts.

Fundraising Event

One of the best ways to actively show your support is to raise money for breast cancer education and research. Host a company bake sale and personalize a pink ribbon company banner to accompany it. Plan a 5K walk and order matching pink breast cancer awareness t-shirts for the whole team. Set a goal and share your progress on social media so others can feel inspired to do the same. The ideas are endless, but the goal is fixed on raising money and awareness for breast cancer.

The power of community involvement can’t be denied as everyone “goes pink” for the month of October. The fight against cancer is ongoing and every bit helps. How will you make a difference? Show your support by learning how to make breast cancer awareness ribbons, being active in raising awareness, and purchasing and wearing pink breast cancer awareness products.

The New Reality of Hospitality Marketing Solutions

Hospitality is a multi-billion industry that remains highly competitive. With the inception of Airbnb, virtual reality destinations, and the ever-growing online audience, one misstep in your hospitality marketing can make your brand become easily forgotten or dismissed.
Flight Attendant Standing in Airport
Not only do those in the hospitality industry need to focus on bringing in a loyal client base, but they must also have processes in place to address new challenges, such as 24/7 social media status updates and real-time requests in the age of instant gratification. One bad review or poorly executed ad can cause a viral media storm. Just ask Pepsi or United Airlines, both big companies who recently were caught under fire due to less than favorable choices and lack of response back to consumers.

Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry knows problems will inevitably arise, but it’s how you deal with them and move forward that matters most. Some may see hotel marketing, restaurant marketing, and travel marketing (along with public relations) challenges as all too familiar in their day-to-day work life. We have identified challenges and hospitality marketing solutions, new and old, for how to promote hospitality businesses through the right mix of marketing and promotions.

Challenge: Higher Guest Expectations

Guests used to favor amenities like a heated pool, onsite workout room, or in-room coffee station. Now, those features are standard to the hotel experience and guests expect more. They are looking for added value to their stay. Hosting

events at your property or restaurant is a nice perk to offer your guests and a good promotional opportunity to invite prospective guests to experience the different elements and amenities of your hotel. Whether it’s a seasonally-inspired menu tasting, rooftop yoga, or live music night, you want to make as many people aware of the event as possible.

Reach your audience where they are most likely to see the announcement. This could be done through email campaigns, social media posts, flyers, or a combination of all three. Test your audience and see where they respond to you best. For example, if you’re unveiling a new menu, think about hosting a Facebook Live event with the chef introducing some of the new dishes. You can use this saved video as a promo to entice guests to make reservations.

Plan the promotional schedule a few months in advance with set reminders closer to the event date. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too many notifications, but do create engaging visual content that will make them want to remember your event.

Solution: A multi-channel approach to marketing your event that combines both online and offline efforts.

Restaurant Bartender Drying Wine Glasses

Challenge: Having the “It” Factor

Nearly every hotel has a brochure rack that is filled with material from various sources of what there is to do in the city. Why not customize a brochure specific to your hotel with content showcasing what makes your property special?

Does your property uphold a unique history? Are there amenities you offer that are not available at other hotels? Does your chef create seasonal dishes, specialty cocktails? Encourage your team to brainstorm a list of what makes your hotel one-of-a-kind and then, organize this into a promotional brochure to hand out at the front desk, add to your brochure or concierge area, and use in partnership with your local tourism board. This can include anything from a treat special to your city or state, such as the whoopie pie in Maine, live music from local artists, or a neighborhood tour hosted by your concierge that includes the history of your hotel where you highlight what makes it most interesting.

Make sure your content is an honest reflection of your hospitality brand. Stock photography and staged space setups are never popular solutions. Create unique promotional materials by using user-generated imagery or hosting a specialized photo shoot in the area you’re promoting.

For example, if your next ad is designed to promote wedding season, photograph garden or rooftop areas where those events are usually held. Allow the guest to visualize what the possibilities are with real-life imagery rather than sharing cookie-cutter event spaces.

Solution: Give your guests itinerary options that include your property and/or restaurant features. Include this in a welcome email or video or as part of an app where they can customize their own itinerary.

Challenge: Customer Loyalty

With the bevy of options available for travelers these days, the challenge among many in the hospitality industry is not only creating a satisfactory experience for the guest, but creating loyalty. Customer loyalty means the guest is most likely to choose your hotel over any other brand. If you don’t have a loyalty program for your hotel, it’s time to create one. If you already have one, it’s time to update it.

Ensure the perks and offerings that are part of your program are what guests value most to ensure a positive customer experience. Do they receive a free night after a certain number of bookings? Do they receive a gift on their loyalty anniversary? Not every perk has to be costly to your hotel, but everything offered has to make your most loyal guests feel like VIP.

Solution: Get creative with how you promote your loyalty programs from members-only events to added perks every year of membership.
Man Checking in to Hotel Front Desk

 

Challenge: Reaching More Than One Audience

When it comes to hospitality marketing, think about multiple ways you can repurpose one piece of promotional material to keep your budget in check. Align your messaging to what users want to see most. With the capabilities of data analysis available through website and social media reporting, you can see what messaging resonates most. You can also separate your messaging into different groups to ensure it is directly hitting your target audience(s).

For example, a hotel that wants to promote a summer campaign on Facebook should tailor their message differently between its prospective audience (those who have not yet visited the website or booked a stay recently) and the remarketing audience (those who have).

Solution: Align your marketing efforts so you can track results more easily and understand where your audience is responding to you most.

Make the Most of Your Hospitality Marketing Initiatives

The hospitality industry isn’t one where you can rest on your laurels and count on clients being loyal. With the increasing number of options available, attention spans can be fleeting and people are more enticed to try new adventures, especially if that comes with the promise of added amenities, improved accommodations, and personal extras that make one property more appealing than another.

One of the best ways to get a pulse of how your guests feel about your hotel, travel service, or restaurant is to pay close attention to what’s being said online. Both reputation management and social media responses are incredibly important to sustain a healthy brand image and encourage guests to come back for more.

But the first step to address evolving hospitality marketing solutions and opportunities is to be proactive. Showcase the best parts of your property or service, and give your guests nothing less than an ideal experience.

5 Hotel Marketing Tips to Boost Hotel Loyalty Programs

In the hotel industry, guest loyalty can make all the difference in the success of a hotel chain or company. New customers and frequent guests are valuable and always welcome, but it is important to remember that those long-term loyal hotel members are who will speak your name to all their friends and family and in the long run, have the biggest impact on your hotel’s growth.

Loyal Hotel Guests Checking in to Room

Happy and loyal guests are the people who keep coming back to your hotel time after time. They may not be frequent visitors, but you can rest assured that when they do travel, they will choose your hotel as their preferred choice. As such, you must consider, how are you making sure that they continue to be satisfied by your accommodations and services? How do you cater to your guests or reward them for their loyalty? Are you actively nurturing the positive relationship you have established with them? Have you introduced a hotel loyalty program to give back to your guests?

We have listed 5 ways for you to boost your hotel marketing and increase guest loyalty so that they continue to choose your brand and hospitality above all others.

  1. Create Valuable Hotel Perks

    What can you offer guests to make their stay more enjoyable and convenient? This might be early check-in or late checkout free of charge. Maybe it’s a free breakfast or invitation to an exclusive onsite event during their stay. Perhaps you spoil your guests with goodies upon arrival, offer discounted pricing for activities or theme parks in the area, provide free airport shuttle transportation, or a complimentary cocktail with dinner. Whatever those nice little extras are, be sure to include a list of the perks every loyalty member will receive as part of their hotel membership.

    Check in with your guests by using surveys and train your staff to ask about their stay while recording their answers. What is it your guests like most? What is it they could do without? What is it your team can improve on? The more data you collect, the better you can refine the experience into one that proves to be of highest value. High value equals more loyalty, more loyalty means a customer for life, which can be far more profitable than someone who may be a guest with your frequently, but temporarily.

    People like to receive free stuff and feel a sense of gratitude toward those who bestow such gifts. Make the most of the guest experience and nurture guest loyalty to entice guests to book their next trip or sign up for your hotel rewards program.

  2. Introduce a Reward Points System

    The gamification of the customer experience never seems to shy away from the fact that people love to earn points. According to 2017 loyalty program marketing statistics, enrollment for hotel loyalty programs has grown by 31% over the past four years. And, 87% of large companies state customer experience efforts such as these have made a positive impact. That’s a big percentage of the market you may be able to capitalize on when you put forth some effort.

    By initiating a points system, you can incentivize your guests to keep coming back, providing you with numerous opportunities to satisfy their needs and eventually create a loyal relationship.  Establish a tiered points system, the more points they earn, the bigger the “prize” they can receive, such as free room upgrades or complimentary nights. When they hit different loyalty tiers, create extra rewards or introduce a few surprises as a form of thanks. This could be an upgrade to a suite, a complimentary bottle of champagne, or a free dinner with a guest in your hotel restaurant. Consider what makes sense financially for your company, and set a points scale in place.

    You will also want to remind guests with incentives of why they should redeem their points. Research performed by Deloitte shows 82 percent of people who are part of a hotel loyalty program redeem their points when the opportunity arises, like if they receive a promo code or offer when they’re planning a trip. When you have this level of engagement with your hotel, why not capitalize on it?

    Hotel Rewards Program Deals Online

  3. Deliver a Unique Experience

    In order to do this, you must first identify what makes your hotel stand apart from others. What do you offer that is a value differentiator? The experience matters for those who are already loyal to your brand, but it will also capture the interest of those who have not become hotel loyalty rewards members. For example, a guest may choose your hotel primarily because they like your exclusive bedding and complimentary cookies offered upon check-in. Get creative with the ideas you use to market your hotel and showcase your unique style. Here are a few popular ideas for hotel perks and rewards that you can adapt to make your own:

    1. Host an outdoors movie night complete with complimentary snacks and sodas
    2. Host a cocktail hour inviting loyalty members only or use it as an opportunity to get guests who haven’t joined to sign up
    3. Prepare customized welcome bags for guests who reach certain milestones
    4. Make sure to celebrate birthdays with loyalty members who have shared that information

    A little effort can go a long way and turn a happy guest into a loyal one. How will you make your hotel experience stand out?

    Man Checking in to Hotel Front Desk

  4. Promote Your Perks and Hotel Loyalty Program Benefits on Social Media

    Plan your content and social media calendars to post about upcoming offers, benefits, and other information about your rewards program. Remember to target rewards towards your property’s specific audience(s). For example, family-friendly hotels can highlight free kids’ meals, onsite events that are fun for the whole family, and other perks that benefit those with kids. While those who focus more on the business traveler should focus on expedited check-in and check-out, conference room availability, and guestroom amenities like free wi-fi, multiple plug-ins, and enough space to spread out to take conference calls and work remotely.

    There are guests that may need a little reminder of the awesome benefits they receive through your loyalty program. Use this opportunity to provide updates on any new benefits. Have you added new perks to the program? Are you hosting a special seasonal event? This is an opportunity to re-engage your guests and also attract potential future guests.  Go above and beyond by providing great perks and incentives, but be sure you stay on top of your guests changing habits and use social listening to address their needs.

  5. Listen to Your Audience

    Constantly monitor your hotel rewards program and check its effectiveness. Listen to your guests – and if you’re not receiving enough feedback to make decisions, ask for it. In today’s digital world, direct surveys aren’t the only way to receive information about the satisfaction of a guest’s stay. Closely monitor online review sites and social media channels to get an idea of what hotel rewards your guests gravitate most to and which they could do without. You might find that the perk you have been focused on for the past 6 months is not actually driving interest from your guests, or that the small change from checkout at 11am to 12pm has made all the difference in your customers’ satisfaction.

    For instance, in an article shared by HotelExecutive.com, the example reviews data regarding a hotel’s 24-hour room service offering. The hotel surveyed guests at two different times: when they offered room service 24 hours a day and when they offered room service during reduced hours. The data demonstrated that there was no change in satisfaction or loyalty based on the 24-hour availability. Their “assumption” about the value this provided cost them $80,000 a year, a perk they cut after reviewing the data.

The more you connect with your guests to learn about what they value most and understand their needs and want, the more likely you’ll secure a guest for life and can continue a positive relationship for years and trips to come. Pay attention to your guests’ activities and feedback, and utilize hotel rewards programs to enhance your hotel marketing and continually provide great experiences for guests. Your involvement in these activities will surely help you remain top of mind for your loyal guests.

How to Apply a Back-to-School Attitude to Work

No matter how long you’ve been out of school, there’s always that feeling of brand new come September. It’s the season of change and fresh starts that remind us of school days past. Turns out a new school year can benefit everyone, especially if you carry a back-to-school attitude with you to the workplace.

Playful Coworkers Fist Bumping

Not only can it serve as the boost of inspiration your team needs, but having a more playful approach to some of your monthly to-dos, and more work activities can serve well for your productivity levels, positive mentality, and creativity. Studies have proven that employee satisfaction leads to spikes in productivity, in some cases, as much as 12% or more.

In the days leading up to the first day of school, think about how you can take what you’ve learned during your long-gone school days and incorporate the same feeling into your work life. Here’s how to make a more seamless transition into the next season of the year, with more play at work as a stress reduction.

Shop for New “School” Clothes

As kids, shopping for new school clothes seemed like tradition for many households. Whether needed or not, it always felt nice to head back to school with a new wardrobe and looking fresh.

As adults, the same kind of mentality can apply. While the summer may have encouraged a more relaxed type of look, head into fall looking like you mean business and see how it changes your mentality. It doesn’t have to translate to full-on suits (unless your occupation is part of a corporate environment), but looking polished will give you an extra boost of confidence as you head out into your day. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and give your wardrobe the refresh it may need by adding some work essentials to your closet.

Set Reading Goals

Pizza Hut’s Book It! Challenge was a craze in the 80s, encouraging grade school kids nationwide to read more. More reading meant more pizza and what kid can pass that up? Setting goals is part of what makes a school year productive, but setting rewards is what makes us feel like kids again. While pizza might not be the biggest motivating factor (or for some, maybe it still is!), book clubs or traveling to places you read about are adult-friendly goals that help add some play at work and fun to the “task” of reading.

Encourage a friendly competition within the office. Make it voluntary to sign up for a set company goal of number of books to read by a certain date. Then, celebrate accomplishments with a team lunch or happy hour. Consider the idea of a department book club that meets monthly or bi-monthly to discuss a work- or business-related book. This type of learning makes people more engaged with critical thinking of how it can be applied to your business.

“Play-Storm” Vs. Brainstorm

Brainstorming can be difficult when you’re not feeling the creative spark. How can you change the process to get more people involved and collaborate? Incorporate some color, mini-activities, and even music into the brainstorming session. For example, hand out a different color set of sticky notes to your team members and set a timer for five minutes. During that time, everyone writes down their ideas, one per sticky note, without editing. Once everyone is finished, review everyone’s notes and group into different categories. This will help you start to put together the shell of a project. This method is also helpful because it could spark ideas from others presented during the exercise.

Coworkers Brainstorming Around Table

Have In-Office, Friendly Competitions

Friendly competition in school has always been encouraged as a way of bonding and team building. Why not incorporate some of this friendly competition in your workplace to spark interaction between different teams or departments? Remember the “Office Olympics” episode from The Office TV show? It was a fun way to get the group together to participate in different events. Consider organizing something similar for your company to break up the routine for a minute and have some work play fun. Maybe host a competitive event at the end of the year and allow employees to invite their families for a carnival-type affair with separate stations for food and games. Not only would this encourage participation in the event but also help increase employee satisfaction in the workplace.

To disperse responsibility, encourage each team to come up with their own station, which could include ideas like:

  • Ping-pong
  • Target shooting with a bow and arrow
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Putt-putt
  • Water balloon catch

Award prizes for the most creative and host a BBQ or picnic following the awards ceremony.

Gift a Welcome Basket for New Employees

Starting a new job can feel a lot like the first day of school, intimidating yet exciting, scary yet fun, overwhelming yet great to be learning new things. As a new employee, there may be mixed feelings such as these especially when it comes to meeting new coworkers and getting used to the policies and projects everyone else is already familiar with. As part of the onboarding process, include supplies with your branding that can help ease their concerns and prove helpful to your new hire. A gift basket could include:

Include anything that will make a new employee feel welcome and assist them with day-to-day directions. Also include business cards, marketing collateral, and a list of favorite nearby places for lunch to help them get started on the right foot. Not only is this a nice gesture for welcoming your new employees, but a great way to help with stress reduction and their first day jitters.

Encourage Team Lunches

When work schedules get busy, people tend to sit at their desks and work through the lunch hour rather than taking a proper break. This can lead to burnout and decrease in productivity since longer hours don’t always equal better performance. A good way to improve employee morale is to encourage team lunches. Don’t you remember how fun recess and lunch time was in school? Some would even say it was their favorite part of the day! At work, lunch should also be just as great. Whether that means company paid lunches in or out of the office, or scheduling a weekly or monthly lunch hour for the team to get away from their desks and go outside or meet in the breakroom, it can help employees take a much-needed break.

Make your work environment one that encourages an actual lunch break rather than only having a physical breakroom that no one ever uses. Again, this may be especially applicable to new employees who think the office norm is to work through lunch and may feel discouraged from using their lunch hour to eat.

Table with Food for Group Meal

Schedule a “Back-to-School” Picnic

To build on the idea of team lunches, a back-to-school picnic or ice cream social is a great way to introduce new team members, announce promotions, and allow employees to get to know each other better outside of the office. If you remember back in school, back-to-school get togethers usually happened a week in advance, giving you the chance to meet new teachers or see friends that had been gone all summer.

It’s a tradition that can help employees feel refreshed and get back into a better rhythm, especially following months where many people were probably out on vacation. You can use it as a kick-off to a new quarter or to celebrate a company milestone. The focus on the group over the individual helps further illustrate the importance of teamwork and camaraderie among co-workers. Keep things simple by hosting the picnic potluck-style and the company provides the main dish and drinks. Few things bring people together faster as a group than food. Food is an easy (and delicious!) way to incorporate play at work and maintain employee satisfaction.

Thinking about our old school days can make us feel nostalgic for simpler times with less responsibilities, but even if our task lists have increased, it doesn’t mean the feeling of play has to die out. Our work lives are what we make it and by incorporating a back-to-school attitude that focuses on fun as much as it does getting things done will improve mental energy and lead to greater productivity overall.

Back to School Checklist: School Supplies for Success

Doesn’t it seem like summer just started and now there’s already buzz about heading back to school? As much as we would like to prolong days spent by the pool, at the beach, or chillin’ in the A/C, we can’t ignore the fact it’ll soon be time to head back to school.

Back to School Note with School Supplies on DeskRather than waiting until the last minute to make sure you’ve properly prepared your classrooms and extracurricular organizations, why not make this year’s back to school shopping a breeze by BYOB, a.k.a. building your own bundle? Whether you’re a teacher preparing your students for all the supplies they will need for a successful school year, resident advisors prepping incoming college freshmen for their first year at university, or a group leader who wants to make sure your kids have what they need to make it through the school year, get started on your back to school checklist today. We’ll guide you through how to build your own bundle as part of our Back to School campaign.

School Kits for Elementary Teachers

Teachers get called into action well before students step foot in the school halls to prepare the classroom and teaching plan for the year ahead. One way to welcome students to a new year is by surprising them with a box full of goodies and essential education supplies that they can use all year long. They’ll come armed with the basics: backpack, notebooks, and pencils, but why not include a few fun items as well? Set the tone for the school year by stocking up on a few supplies to get your students excited.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Drawstring Bag

    This lightweight, over-the-shoulders bag will help keep all their new supplies in one place. Students can leave them at their desk or take them home to tote what they need throughout the school year.

  • Personalized Pens

    Customize pens with your school’s mascot name, a classroom nickname, or an inspirational quote to start their year off right.

  • Water bottle

    Avoid trips to the water fountain during class by giving your students their own water bottle to use and keep. With options starting at under a $1 per bottle, back to school shopping doesn’t have to be costly to keep your kids hydrated throughout the school year and avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Elementary School Teacher Teaching at Front of Class

Classroom Organization Kits for School Administrators

As an educator, there’s plenty to haul to and from the classroom every day, including laptops, notebooks, lesson plans, and the list goes on and on. One way to help your teachers feel less overwhelmed and more organized is to arm them with the right school supplies to start the year off on the right foot.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Canvas Tote

    You need a bag that’s sturdy and can stand up to the weight of what you’ll be carrying to and from school on a day to day basis. Personalize yours with school colors, the school year, or anything else that makes it easily identifiable to make it less likely to be accidentally picked up by someone else.

  • Lunch Bag

    Unless scheduled for cafeteria duty, it’s not uncommon for high school teachers to miss their opportunity to eat lunch. Avoid the risk of having to grab fast food or snack on stale leftover treats that might be lying around the teachers’ lounge, and pack a homemade lunch plus a few snacks to get you through the long school days.

  • School Planner

    Teachers live by their planners to keep track of upcoming assignments, tests, to-do tasks, and more. Rather than planning around the calendar year, teachers typically plan their days around what’s going on at school to avoid conflicts with holidays, in-service days, parent-teacher conferences, and all the other dates that can affect a classroom schedule.

College Freshmen Welcome Kits for Resident Advisors

Staple items every college kid needs include: quarters for the washer/dryer, storage bins for clothing and shoes, and plenty of snacks to keep stashed away in a dorm room. But in order to survive the day-to-day of classroom life, there are additional, practical back to school items to help make it easier to adapt to the first year at college. As a dorm floor resident advisor or sorority/fraternity house mom, giving your students a head start as they enter college life will help make the transition that much easier.

What’s in the bundle:

  • USB Flash Drive

    These are a must! Students will want the extra security of a backup location for important files and assignments. Help students with the scary and probable situation of coffee spills on their precious laptops causing their files to get lost or becoming corrupt by providing an alternative secure location for their files.

  • Planner

    One of the biggest adjustments to college life is time management. College is a hectic schedule of classes, extracurricular actives, volunteering opportunities, educational internships and social events that will surely test a student’s time management skills. Planners are an essential item to encourage better organization and help a first year student get acquainted with the college life.

  • Customized Mug

    If there’s one thing that helps a college student get through early morning classes and late nights spent studying, it’s coffee. By personalizing the mug, it can also serve as extra motivation to get through the long days (and nights) college life can bring.

College Freshman Student Ready with School Supplies

Supplies for School Club Leaders

Get your school group organized by creating a back to school checklist for items you anticipate needed for the year. Whether you need to gather equipment for your sports team, theatre group, marching band, or other extracurricular organizations, make sure you have the supplies you need on hand at all times. These are items to be used throughout the school year to instill a sense of camaraderie among your group and identity when you travel for competitions or events.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Backpacks

    Customized bags emblazoned with the school logo or student group can be used season after season, if used with care. Use the backpacks for trips to competitions, games, and other offsite events where students need to pack uniforms, props, and other items necessary to their role in the group.

  • Selfie Stick

    Every school group should have a selfie stick to capture moments perfect for school yearbooks, social media pages, and student newsletters. Make sure to brand it with the school’s logo and/or contact information, and take it on school functions or use it when preparing for the next sporting event or production.

  • T-shirts

    Show your club’s spirit by sporting crisp new t-shirts with your tagline, organization name, or at the very least, your school’s mascot. It will help create a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness among the group, while also making your team stand out at the next event.

School supply starter kits are great to kick off a new school year. Not only does it help you prepare for the months ahead with a detailed list of school supplies, but it’s also a fun way to get excited about heading back to school and seeing your beautiful students.  Whether you’re a resident advisor preparing for a new dormitory floor of incoming freshmen, a student organization leader, or an instructor who wants to make things fresh and exciting for your students, building your own bundle of school essentials will surely help as you prepare to go back to school.

Make a great impression by getting your back to school basics today.

Planning a Family Reunion: Activities, Gift Ideas & More

Summer is the perfect time for family reunions. Over 65% of people agree that summer beats out all the seasons to get together with loved ones. The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and everyone is in a festive mood thanks to longer days of sunshine and warmer temperatures.
Happy Multigenerational Family Reunion
If you’re planning a family vacation or heading to one this summer, make sure to make it extra memorable with the help of a few creative ideas and created just for your family. Family reunion activities give us a chance to reconnect with loved ones who may be too difficult to see on a regular basis – all while enjoying the summer fun. From barbecuing in your own backyard to traveling across the world, it’s time to make some memories and begin the celebration with these family reunion ideas!

  1. Picnic Potluck

    One of the easiest ways to host a family reunion is by scheduling a picnic potluck. Each family is responsible for bringing their own signature dish and contributing to the meal. If you have a smaller crowd, it’s a good idea to assign each family to a specific appetizer, side dish, or dessert so there isn’t a table only filled with cakes and cookies.

    As the host, supply the main course to go with the potluck sides. Keep it simple by grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Or, host a make-your-own-taco station with plenty of taco meat kept warm in serving trays and all the toppings packed away in a cooler. Create personalized family reunion favors like your own Koozies™ to keep everyone’s canned drinks chilled. Customize them with your family’s surname and year to commemorate the occasion. It’ll be a special cheers to the party in more ways than one. And, it will be a nice reminder of the reunion for plenty of potlucks to come.

  2. Schedule a Destination Family Vacation

    Is your extended family spread out across the country? Pick a centralized destination, and rent a home on VRBO or book an Airbnb so you have plenty of space that you can temporarily call home. Beach or lake destinations are often summer favorites because of the number of water activities available. Both locations will accommodate those who wish to relax and chat by the shore, along with those who want to be active in the water by swimming, boating, canoeing, skiing and more.

    Since not everyone will participate in all activities, you can still feel bonded by creating matching apparel. Whether it’s a comfy t-shirt or hat to block the sun from a long day outside, this is the one time you can probably convince your family to all wear the same outfit, so why not get those fun matching tees?

    People Enjoying a Family Reunion BBQ

  3. Backyard BBQ

    Much like the picnic potluck, the backyard BBQ is one of the family reunion activities where everyone can help pitch in and make it great without having one person having to carry the burden alone. Summer-worthy menu staples include steaks, chicken or ribs on the grill, potato salad, chips and dip, corn on the cob and watermelon. Make the yard feel festive with balloons, banners, or signs that signify the special event. To make cleanup easy, use plastic cutlery and paper plates with trash cans stationed throughout.

    To create an extra festive mood, hire a professional photo booth company or set up a makeshift one to capture the reunion memories. Save all the images to a flash drive to mail out to everyone after the party is over. If you decide to share your images directly online, personalize a picture frame with the date for each family to take with them as they leave.

  4. Family Olympics

    For the family that’s more competitive, set up honorary Olympic games at a park or playground. Schedule events that are easy for all ages to participate in, and hand out prizes to the winners. Easy games that don’t require a lot of supplies or setup include a three-legged race, hula hoop contest, egg-on-a-spoon race, water balloon toss, and other yard games that are applicable for most ages.

    Family reunion gift bags full of goodies like a water bottle, snacks, and a gift card to a popular store or shopping site is a good idea for prizes. To keep costs low, keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be extravagant as the biggest prize is the bragging rights. Get creative with your ideas and don’t be afraid to be a little silly; it’s all about having fun! End the games with a closing ceremony complete with food, drinks and lots of laughs.

  5. Host an Outdoor Movie Night

    Rent a projection screen and set up a movie night in your own backyard. Pick a kid-friendly flick for earlier in the evening, and something more appealing for the adults for after the kids go to sleep. Set out comfy blankets, lawn chairs, and bean bags for plenty of relaxed seating. Serve movie snacks like popcorn, movie candy boxes, and soda. If you’re planning to make it a full meal, think about offering hot dogs, nachos, or ordering a few pizzas to feed the hungry crowd.

    Little Boy on Family Reunion Cruise

  6. Set Sail

    Whether it’s scheduling a full-blown family cruise or renting a pontoon boat for the day, it’s always a treat to enjoy a day in the water. Regardless of what kind of boat you decide to set sail on, pack a summer essentials kit with sunscreen protection, a waterproof case for your phone, and a Kan-Tastic beverage holder to keep your drinks cool. Choose from several different colors and order in bulk for a product that’s both useful and inexpensive to commemorate your family reunion every time you use it.

Start Planning a Family Reunion

There’s nothing better than spending quality time with family, especially if that time only happens once every few years. And, planning a family vacation ahead of time can make hosting an event feel less hectic. Divide and conquer the duties among different family members. Once you pick a date and a location that works for the majority, assign out food, lodging, and activity choices. That way everyone is involved in the reunion preparations, but don’t feel overwhelmed by too much planning and coordination.

Above all, make sure you make the moments count! Take plenty of pictures, add in a few, fun personalized family reunion favors to mark the occasion, but most importantly, cherish the opportunity to catch up and spend invaluable time with your loved ones.