Franchising, Social Media, and the Changing Online Marketing Landscape

The worldwide use of social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and many others has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, affecting the business world in radical, unforeseen ways. These online media phenomena are increasingly used by brand owners, their customers and their employees alike as what is now the topmost marketing tool. This article details some of the challenging issues and implications that have gone along with the use of such sites and the particular impact of such issues on global franchising.
We at FGS hope to provide some practical guidance on how social media usage should be managed and controlled in international franchise arrangements. Because of the relative infancy of most social media and their recent adoption by franchise systems, many of these issues have only recently been identified, and the bulk are still searching for a final resolution.
Social media is dramatically changing the fundamental forces of that economy: who pays attention to what, who influences such decisions, how that is tracked and measured, the speed of response, and how it’s monetized. Just as the average prospective customer will check the online reviews for a particular business, many potential franchisees these days are highly web-savvy, and will research a particular business on the web to get a sense of its franchisable status, by its social media presence.
The opportunities in this arena are enormous for franchisors. For a good number of consumers, online communication is now more likely through social media than through email. The commercial potential of this trend has long been surmised, and legitimate companies must take advantage of these opportunities.
The incredible rise of online networking has been driven by younger age groups, but social media are no longer the domain of this demographic only. Consumers from a broad range of demographics are now regular users of social media, although preferred sites will show some variation in their audience.
Social media represent a relatively inexpensive method of (franchise) marketing. However, not all campaigns achieve desired success, and many marketers are still struggling with these relatively new formats. Companies will be better served by listening to customer contributions on such sites as Google Places pages (the #1 source for business reviews online), Yelp, and other user review/ratings sites, rather than using social media as another channel to dictate established brand values. Google now counts the social media conversation regarding your company as the highest indicator of your worth as a business.

Classical Franchising Facts and the New Online “Marketology”

Franchising traces its roots back to ancient China. It is a system for expanding a business and distributing goods and services. It is a marketing method, which has been called by many business experts, the greatest marketing strategy ever created. It is a program that creates amazing opportunities for business ownership, brand awareness and success, and personal wealth.

In the United States, only 8% of retail businesses are franchised. Amazingly enough, these same 8% of franchised businesses do over 40% of the retail sales in the United States. Franchising has the ability to capture much more of the market share. The increased market share is due to three main attributes comprising a franchise:

1.A brand name. Even a newer brand name usually has an advantage over an unaffiliated business.
2.A successful business system. The proven system allows franchisees to follow a successful plan with a high success rate. The franchisee can also enjoy cost savings as a result of the buying power of the franchise.
3.A support system. The franchise will have the expertise of its successful franchisees and franchisor to help them succeed. They are not in business alone.

The Gallup Organization conducted a poll on franchisees’ ownership experience and attitudes. Here are some results:

More than 90% said that their expectations were met, or mostly met.
More than 90% said they considered their franchise to be successful.
More than 65% said that they would have not been as successful if they had tried to open the same business on their own.

Here are some eye-opening social media networking facts, gathered by EPM Communications Inc. (May 2010):

More than 140 million Americans log on to a social media site every month and that number continues to grow.
70% of adults have Facebook profiles.
One-third of social media users are 45 and older.
The majority of travelers visit social network sites to plan and share details of their trips.
Half of those who friend restaurants on social media want to be alerted to deals or receive coupons.

Imagine the number of those folks who are savvy entrepreneurs or business owners (or prospective business owners) who may “stumble upon” your franchise marketing material or companys social media conversation. It certainly spins the wheels of possibility, doesnt it?

Let FGS experienced team of advisors and marketing professionals guide the way toward your franchising success and high-level brand recognition. Call 480-223-1500 for a free consultation today!

What Types of Amenities Should a Luxury Vacation Rental Include

People who love to travel often have standards for the accommodations they select.Travelers want impeccably clean housing with finely appointed furniture, kitchen facilities, and perhaps an outdoor place for relaxation, such as a deck or patio. Many travel in order to escape their daily routine. For this reason, a luxury vacation rental should include some pampering of guests as well. The luxury traveler responds positively to on-site concierge services, delivery of extra towels or linens, or even a nice gift basket or bottle of wine in their room upon arrival. Some vacation rentals make it easy for guests to schedule a massage therapy session with a local masseuse. All of these extras make for a stress free travel experience.

In my opinion, the luxury vacation rental should be attentive to guests needs in a way that other accommodations are not. Following is my checklist for luxury vacation rentals. If youre paying a premium for a place to stay while traveling, the expectation is higher.

Review the list and see if you agree with my specifications. Though a luxury vacation rental may not include all of the items on this checklist, it should include most.

– Luxury bedding and linens
– On-site pool or pond for outdoor relaxation
– Privacy that cannot be found in condos, duplexes, or even cabins sited close to each other without a natural landscape buffer.
– It is not necessary to book a vacation cabin miles from civilization to get privacy. There are many luxury vacation rentals close to the shops and restaurants of small towns and cities such as Asheville, NC.
– A private hot tub in each cabin or vacation rental
– Fireplaces for the winter months, preferably wood-burning fireplaces
– Wi-fi Internet at no added cost
– Flat screen televisions
– Washer/Dryer in the vacation rental or cabin
– Fully appointed kitchen with updated appliances
– DVDs available at no cost for the use of guests
– Work-out room or gym
– Attractive interior design and windows that offer an expansive view of the outdoors
– Games on premises ( ping pong, horseshoes, basketball, foosball, etc.)
– On-site concierge services
– On-site office and maintenance staff that is trained to provide the best possible service and respond to guests needs in a timely fashion

Travel to an unfamiliar location can sometimes be stressful. Staying in a luxury vacation rental where excellent accommodations and service are provided puts guests at ease and allows them to let go and truly enjoy their time away.

Many vacation homes, condos, cabin rentals and other types of accommodations claim to be luxury vacation rentals and are really mundane accommodations with very little, if any, service. Most often, these accommodations may have some of the amenities listed above. However, a staff that is lackadaisical, or unresponsive to guests needs can spoil a good vacation. So can dated facilities or worn furniture, appliances or fixtures, bugs or lack of attention to detailed cleaning.

Adding amenities is simply not enough distinguish a resort, cabin or vacation home as a luxury vacation rental. The amenities must be high quality and consistent. Perhaps even more important is the fact that many luxury vacation rentals cannot deliver on the promise of superior service. Nothing ruins a good vacation more than experiencing a maintenance problem and being unable to get it fixed.

If you do enjoy a truly luxurious vacation somewhere, you should respond positively to the experience in person, in writing, or even online. If you and your loved ones have a bad experience while staying at a vacation rental, the same holds true. This type of critique might encourage owners or stakeholders in vacation rentals to improve upon their facilities or staff. These days the consumer demands more than ever, especially if he or she is paying a luxury price.

Do not be silent if you are dissatisfied with your luxury accommodations. Let management or the proprietor know. If you feel they have not addressed your concerns, then make your opinion known online at sites like or the Google Places pages.

Before booking a luxury vacation rental, it makes sense to conduct research on customer opinions about the rental online. Look at Google Places pages or to see guest comments about their stay. For those who use Facebook or Twitter, these are also good sources of information.

Look for places with a history of being in business, but recent comments are more helpful that old comments that may not reflect the property’s current condition. If the comments are negative, does the owner or management respond to these concerns publicly? If the answer is yes, you may have a winner. If the answer is no, then the luxury vacation rental you are considering might not be right for you. If a vacation rental has no reviews, look out! It may be one of the many rentals dumped on the market by distressed owners in the current depressed housing market. In most cases these owners have neither the resources or the experience to meet the standards for a luxury vacation rental.

For more information about luxury vacations, visit