The value of travel for a strategist

Today, I wanted to share some musings on the value of travel in the life of a strategist.

I’ve always been a passionate traveller. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to leisure travel quite a bit in my life. I’ve visited nearly 70 countries — some in depth, some just for a short visit. In my adult life, I’ve made travel a priority, making most of my financial and major life decisions on the basis of how I could maximize my opportunities to travel.

For years, I downplayed this in my professional life, worried that it might make me seem less dedicated to work, that the dreaded “resume gap” could make me appear less attractive to potential employers. But I want to make the case today that this doesn’t have to be true.

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Endings, beginnings, and change: Being a planner in times of crisis

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon.

Don’t mind me as I get a little personal here.

This has been an upside-down, crazy year for everyone, myself included. And as I embark on a new, unexpected chapter of my life, I wanted to reflect on what it took to get me here — and on what might lie ahead.

In Tarot, the Death card represents endings. But it also represents change, transformation, the kind of new beginnings that are only possible by letting go of the past and starting fresh.

This can be a painful process. It so often is. But as I’m trying to remind myself, new beginnings can be hopeful, too. It’s a feeling I had nine years ago, standing on the precipice of the last new beginning. And it’s a feeling I have today, as I embark on this next one.

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The fragility of trust: Airlines and the COVID dilemma

“Trust is a fragile thing – difficult to build, easy to break. It cannot be bargained for. Only if it is freely given it can be expected in return” – Peter Lerangis

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated many industries, but perhaps none as swiftly or as severely as the travel industry. As borders shuttered and lockdowns came into effect worldwide this spring, reeling airlines grounded flights across the world. By April, IATA estimated that passenger traffic dropped by 91%, forcing airlines to cancel over 80% of their flights and sending dozens of airlines into bankruptcy. Major carriers including Avianca, LATAM, South African Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic filed for bankruptcy protection or were forced into receivership.

As airlines struggled to cope with the devastation, they reverted to life support mode. They massively laid off staff, grounded entire fleets, and set to work cancelling thousands upon thousands of flights. And they were left with a massive cash flow problem when, suddenly, they had to cancel virtually all of their flights and refund their passengers. So much money going out, with no money coming in? That spelled disaster. And they panicked.

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Marketing during COVID: A 4-step plan

I’m writing this about nine weeks into lockdown, during the biggest pandemic of the century.

2020 wasn’t supposed to be like this. The year started with optimistic projections. The global economy was healthy and robust, with the OECD projecting lofty growth among both G20 and developing countries. It was to be an Olympic year. Unemployment was down. Living standards were up. Digital advertising revenue was forecast to grow by nearly 11%, to a whopping $326 billion.

And then everything changed.

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How to be data-driven in a crisis

In times of extraordinary change, how should businesses navigate and interpret the massive quantities of data coming their way? My team of strategic planners, analysts, and insights specialists spend all day every day interpreting numbers. But what happens when those numbers suddenly seem to become irrelevant in times of massive upheaval or change?

Right now, we’re facing unprecedented times—in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, it seems like things are changing so quickly that one day’s numbers are no longer relevant by the next. We’re accustomed to looking at 30 or 60 or 90 days of historical data to make forecasts, but that feels impossible now.

Many businesses who rely on big data for decision-making are struggling with this right now. So, I’d like to propose a few guiding principles to help data-driven decision makers cope with a crisis of this scale.

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Oscars 2020: Retail marketing lessons from the red carpet

It’s Oscar time once again. And, more than just predicting the winners and losers of the best picture race, the big question on everyone’s mind is: Who will be the best and worst-dressed stars on the red carpet this year?

As both a digital strategist and avid pop culture consumer, I tend to watch these award shows with interest. After all, celebrities in today’s culture are more than just people; they are actively managed brands. Retail brands can learn a lot from Hollywood celebrities this season: How to make a splash, how to project confidence, how to generate positive buzz without compromising their reputation, and how to get a return on their often considerable investment.

Here are 4 lessons from the Red Carpet that retail brands can incorporate into their digital marketing strategies:

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What dating etiquette can teach marketers

A couple are out having drinks and the woman looks irritated that her partner is on his mobile phone and not paying her any attention.

Like most people, I’ve had a lot of bad first dates in my life. In fact, my single life was full of cringeworthy first dates that could charitably be described as good story fodder. Luckily, as a marketing strategist, I love a good story, and it’s recently occurred to me that, while these dates were each bad in their own unique ways, they actually had a lot in common with bad marketing strategies.

Most of my bad first dates were with nice people who made one of two seemingly opposite-yet-related errors. And these are the same errors I see a lot of businesses make in their marketing strategies.

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How to suck at social media customer service

twitter customer serviceLike it or not, customers have gotten accustomed to reaching out on social media channels when they have a comment, complaint or issue with your company.

And yet, even years after channels like Twitter, Facebook or Whatsapp have become commenplace for customer service, so many companies are still doing it wrong.

If you’re a company that REALLY does not like your customers, and your goal is to royally piss them off, here are 6 surefire ways to do that:

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10 more indispensable digital tools for frequent travellers (2017 update)

My status as a travelaholic is no secret to anyone who knows me. Between frequent business travel and maximum personal travel, I’m on the road as much as possible, trying to quench a wanderulust that can never be satisfied.

Like most people, I use a lot of websites and digital tools pretty heavily when I travel. I previously posted a list of some of my favourites. But that post is over seven years old now, so I figured it was time for a refresh.

A few notes about this list: I haven’t included some of the self-evident sites like Google Maps, just because they’re so well known and I’m assuming everyone is using them already.

Without further adieu, here’s my current Top 10 travel list:

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