Monthly Archives: April 2014

Leisure & Hospitality: Marketing the Great Outdoors

By Hyaat Chaudhary

For hospitality professionals looking to connect with new and potentially lucrative demographic segments through online advertising and digital media, outdoor enthusiasts are an ideal resource. Many outdoor recreation enthusiasts are tech-savvy family men and women who enjoy adventure and will travel at great lengths to experience it, whether it is hiking in Colorado, fishing in Texas or taking in the water activities in the Great Lakes State.

They research new equipment online and actively join digital forums connecting with others who enjoy the same activity, all while discussing their travel experiences. With the hotel industry looking to attract and retain leisure travelers, hoteliers have begun to take note of this active, highly travel-focused demographic and market to them where they already spend their time: online.

Demographic synergy
Outdoor sports and recreation is a $600 billion industry. For hotel decision-makers, capturing a bigger piece of that pie makes sense, especially when you consider that 80 percent of the money spent by outdoors sports and activities enthusiasts goes toward related travel and lodging logistics.

Whether they are hunters, fishermen, campers or canoeists, all outdoor enthusiasts tend to have something in common: a passion for what they do. Spending time outdoors is not an idle or casual pursuit, but a deeply ingrained lifestyle choice. The way they spend their money and their time reflects that passion, as more than half of the households in this demographic have average incomes exceeding $75,000, and they spend a disproportionately high percentage of that income on the sports, hobbies and activities that they love.

As a group, outdoor enthusiasts also tend to be very brand-conscious, cultivating a deep and lasting sense of brand loyalty. Trust, reliability and familiarity are important within this demographic; a dynamic that applies whether it is a comfortable and familiar fly rod or a trusted hotel brand.

Consequently, this is an extremely valuable space in which to make inroads. Hotels that can connect to the outdoor community will not only get more out of their advertising and marketing dollars, but will forge a lasting connection with a particularly loyal and lucrative demographic.

Meeting the travel needs of this huge and influential economic segment, and understanding how to reach them and appeal to them through impactful emerging digital media channels, requires a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of who they are, where they are, want they want, and what you as a hotel can do for them.

The proliferation of online forums and websites where outdoor enthusiasts are able to share stories, photos, experiences and advice about their outings and adventures has been astonishing. For hotels looking to target this audience, the digital world has opened a variety of new marketing opportunities. Hotel owners and operators looking to make a connection with this group should understand the key strategies and accepted best practices required to design and deploy an effective marketing, advertising and communications strategy targeting this population.

Site planning
A hotel’s website is the first and most important way to deliver targeted content that will resonate with outdoor enthusiasts. Delivering seasonally appropriate content with targeted landing pages for appealing outdoor activities in the area not only enables a hotel to precisely focus on specific resources and services, but also helps with the kind of SEO optimization than can attract a new digitally-savvy audience.

Showcase services and facilities
One of the best ways to appeal to guests who have specific outdoor activities in mind is to demonstrate that your property can facilitate or even enhance their experience. Be sure to actively promote any and all outdoor amenities offered by the hotel. If your property is on a lake, do you offer access to boats? Complimentary fishing supplies? Kayaks or canoes? If a hotel is located out in the country or near scenic trails, are bikes made available for guests to ride? What about maps of local trails and sites? Does your hotel offer adventure tours? Be sure to highlight any day trips or other activities that guests can participate in that are sponsored or scheduled by the hotel, including things like fishing charters, horseback riding and guided tours.

Promote regional assets
Outdoor-related travel is almost always a group activity between friends and family. As a result, successfully appealing to the community of outdoor sports enthusiasts and hobbyists means offering them a hospitality solution that has something for everyone. Hotels should promote nearby outdoor attractions that are fun and easy on the wallet. Whether your property is in the mountains, near the beach or somewhere in between, local, regional and national parks are a great fit, and any activities available at those parks (hiking, fishing, kayaking, water sports, etc.) should be a point of emphasis in your digital marketing and communications campaign. Be sure to mention any associated amenities the hotel offers—a shuttle to and from the park can be an appealing extra—as well as any noteworthy special activities (zip lining, bungee jumping) available in the region that might appeal to guests with a taste for outdoor adventure.

Right message, right time
When it comes to connecting with outdoor enthusiasts, timing and positioning are everything. Instead of expensive national or regional ad campaigns, get more bang for your buck by strategically targeting those digital arenas where outdoor enthusiasts are present and active. Whether you are designing an ad, a video message, or a full digital campaign, consider the following proven tips to optimize your messaging:

Relevance—Target and tailor your messaging. Your advertising should be contextual and demographically specific. Ensure that your advertising works in context, avoiding standard formats and utilizing outdoor images and messages as much as possible.

Timeliness—When it comes to timing and message precision, hotels are in a position of power with respect to marketing to outdoor enthusiasts. The seasonal nature of so many outdoor activities makes it possible for marketing and advertising initiatives to be timed and designed accordingly.

Format—Video can feel like a more compelling format, but the reality is that click-through rates are frequently stronger with simple banner ads. That said, videos can be a compelling way to showcase some of your key attractions and activities on your website.

The right messenger
No matter how good the quality of a facility, no matter how diverse and appealing the range of outdoor-friendly services and amenities at a hotel, and no matter how powerful and impactful the digital messaging campaign may be, if that messaging does not connect with the audience, it is all for naught. Work with experts who know how and where to find communities of outdoor enthusiasts, and understand how best to deliver your message. In terms of a favorable ROI, a good bet is to coordinate with a vertical ad network or a company that specializes in the kind of specialty and niche digital marketing that can generate big returns for a comparatively modest investment. If possible, hotel owners and operators should try and tap into an established, multi-channel digital ecosystem, where the delivery of demographically targeted content directly to a receptive audience of outdoor enthusiasts is most effective and efficient.


Luke Capizzo

Lee’s Summit Journal: Heartland Bowhunters hunting a different type of game in “Full Strut”

Michael Hunsucker and Shawn Luchtel are now in their seventh season of producing “Heartland Bowhunter,” an award winning outdoor television show that has aired on the Outdoor Channel.

On the heels of a successful run with “Heartland Bowhunter,” Hunscuker, Luchtel and the company that they own with Trevor Hawkins – Mammoth Media – partnered with digital lifestyle network CarbonTV for a new show following their adventures hunting turkey last spring throughout the Midwest.

Titled “Full Strut,” the new mini-series premiered April 13 online at, a network for outdoor enthusiasts. New episodes will air weekly on Sundays throughout turkey hunting season.

Taping the show wasn’t quite a stretch from the buck hunting that dominates Heartland Bowhunter, but “Full Strut” is all about bow hunting a different type of game.

“Full Strut is kind of a sister series to our show Heartland Bowhunter,” said Hunsucker, like Luchtel, a Lee’s Summit resident. “It’s focused completely on bow-hunting turkeys.”

Michael Hunsucker, in front with bow, and Shawn Luchtel, both of Lee’s Summit, take aim in a still from “Full Strut,” an online turkey bow hunting series they produced for CarbonTV.

Michael Hunsucker, in front with bow, and Shawn Luchtel, both of Lee’s Summit, take aim in a still from “Full Strut,” an online turkey bow hunting series they produced for CarbonTV.

CarbonTV is a digital programming network from Carbon Media Group, which bills itself as the largest producer of content for outdoor enthusiasts with a network of more than 500 websites geared toward those who live, work and play outdoors.

Carbon Media’s Corey Spearman said picking up a show such as “Full Strut” and airing it exclusively online is what the company is all about.

“We think that Mike and the Heartland Bowhunter crew have some beautiful videos and shows that they produce,” Spearman said. “It’s turkey season, so it made a lot of sense (to air the show).”

Spearman added the advantages for Mammoth Media in airing “Full Strut” online is that more and more viewers are moving into cyberspace for new programming.

“From what we see in the digital space is the fact that more and more users are moving online to view programming with outlets such as Netflix and Hulu,” he said. “With CarbonTV (and “Full Strut”) it’s just a great opportunity for us.”

Hunsucker said the partnership with CarbonTV has been a work in progress. The plan is to air six or seven episodes of the show this spring. Footage was shot last year during turkey hunting season in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

“We’ve worked with them in the past and we sat down with them this year and shopped the show,” Hunsucker said. “They kind of gave us their ideas and plans on what they were going to do with Carbon TV and we were really excited about that. It seems like they are the first ones who has taken advantage of online TV in our industry.”

Source: Lee’s Summit Journal


Luke Capizzo

Mobile Marketer: Sports and Mobile Marketing: A No-Brainer For Content, Interactive Experiences

Sports fans from Sochi to the Bronx are increasingly accessing their mobile devices to heighten their sporting event experience.

Throughout the game, fans are tuning in for real-time updates, social media, and commentary. This translates to real-world advantages for marketers and advertisers.

“Real-time information, that’s the sweet spot for mobile in sports. Whether you’re at the game or watching from home sports fandom is a social experience, and to be a part of the conversation you need both real time data about today’s game as well as in-depth information about teams and players,” says Joe Fullman, director of digital strategy at Arnold Worldwide, Boston.

“By putting information at our fingertips, mobile helps us become better fans,” he said. “Whether it’s settling an argument about stats in a sports bar, or updating your fantasy team on the fly. The opportunity for brands is to become a part of the flow of information and the experience of the event.”

Success stories
Arnold Worldwide found that, at the Sochi Winter Olympics, more than half of American fans followed the games on their mobile devices.

Results from Arnold Worldwide's Sochi Winter Olympic games study.

Results from Arnold Worldwide’s Sochi Winter Olympic games study.

Already, agencies are reaping the benefits of increased mobile attention to sports fans. Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group, Bingham Farms, MI, has focused recent advertising initiatives on mobile users.

“Carbon Media Group exclusively focuses on sports and the outdoors, so we have the luxury of contextually targeting every campaign that we launch for a particular activity. Some campaigns run across all action sports, while others may be just focused on hiking or snowboarding,” Chaudhary said.

“Our niche allows us to do some very specific targeting by sport,” he said. “To meet the growing demand for content accessible and optimized for mobile viewing, we created CarbonTV, our new digital video platform with content geared toward outdoors sports fans. With episodes only eight to ten minutes long, they are perfect for mobile viewing.”

Chaudhary’s clever appeals to sports fans are paying off. Carbon Media Group is drawing in more than 20 million users every month using advanced technology, including geo and weather targeting, to make sporting events more convenient and pleasant.

Mobile users can tune into games directly through apps such as Sky Sports.

Mobile users can tune into games directly through apps such as Sky Sports.

At the same time, professional sports leagues are building out their own mobile platforms to capitalize on the growing amount of time spent with smartphones and tablets.

For example, the National Football League debuted a tiered digital video streaming product earlier this year with Gillette, Microsoft and Yahoo as launch sponsors (see story).

Modifying individual strategies
Marketing executives agree that mobile marketing to sports fans is essential in any advertising campaign. But some experts debate how to modify mobile strategies to the specific sports audience.

Chaudhary said that targeting specific tech-savvy groups allows them to share information with like-minded individuals. “We’ve seen success with consumer-facing campaigns such as Pure Michigan, as well as targeted outdoor industry companies such as Keen.”

“Utilizing mobile elements in our campaigns has helped us better engage active sports audiences: We already know this group is always on the go,” he said.

“These holistic efforts consistently drive more traffic and result in more time spent on our clients’ Web sites.”

Take Dunkin’ Donuts, for example.

The coffee giant has sponsored the Major League Baseball’s Beat the Streak application for several years to hone in on baseball fans.

Arnold Worldwide’s Mr. Fullman concurs that aiming efforts at a specific audience is vital to campaign success. “The bigger question is whether a regional or national platform of sports marketing makes sense for your brand,” he says. “That’s obviously pretty dependent on your budget and priorities.”

But as a general rule, it seems that any advantages from using mobile to access sport audiences typical outweigh the problems. “If you’re trying to get the most out of big ticket sponsorships, mobile is a flexible, scalable no-brainer of an add on,” Mr. Fullman said.

Source: Mobile Marketer


Luke Capizzo

DBusiness/The Oakland Press: Carbon Media Group Honored as a ‘Company to Watch’

BINGHAM FARMS — Carbon Media Group, a Bingham Farms-based company that produces digital content geared toward those who live, work and play outdoors, was selected as a 2014 Michigan 50 Company to Watch.

Presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, the award recognizes small businesses in a variety of industries and fields whose growth is supporting Michigan’s economy. Carbon Media Group grew revenue by more than 30 percent in 2013, and in early 2014 launched CarbonTV, a new premium online outdoor lifestyle video network. The company is on pace to hire an additional 20 employees this year.

Michigan 50 honorees will be recognized at an awards ceremony on May 6 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Source: DBusiness, The Oakland Press


Luke Capizzo

Carbon Media Group Honored as One of the 2014 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch”

Bingham Farms, Mich., March 24, 2014 – Carbon Media Group has been recognized as one of the 2014 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” an awards program presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. Hyaat Chaudhary, CEO of Carbon Media Group, made the announcement.

Carbon Media Group will be honored at an awards ceremony during the 10th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business event on May 6 in East Lansing, Mich.

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