Golden Globes

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As an accessories freak I had to comment on Sofia Vergara’s gorgeous statement piece necklace. First, here’s what renowned celebrity gossip colomnist Perez Hilton had to say, “We would have preferred gobs of jewels for her necklace, because we know jewelers would die to have their accessories close to that famous bosom. However, Sofia opted for a turquoise statement piece instead. It’s still totally gorgeous, but diamonds win every time!” 

Ms. Vergara is confident and knows herself well enough to wear a statement piece necklace that’s atypical. Love that she broke the rules and didn’t see the need to be dripping in diamonds; her beauty shines through; enough said.

P.S. Mr. Hilton it sure does look like Ms. Vergara’s necklace was indeed sprinkeled with diamonds!

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Runway Accessories: A Nucleated Pearl Necklace

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It’s taken me a while but I wanted my first piece for “Runway Accessories” to be a rare find and I do believe this nucleated pearl necklace qualifies. I just love owning a piece of jewelry that is not identifiable by the magazine reading pubic. It’s so satisfying to walk into a room and wear something that no one has seen before or for that matter no one is wearing.

This 17″ nucleated one-of-a-kind pearl necklace, with a gorgeous detailed brass leaf clasp is just that. It can be worn with a crisp, white blouse (my favorite) and jeans, a little black dress for a ‘wow’ look and image wearing this pearl necklace on your wedding day. How appealing and unexpected, especially if paired with a simple wedding gown and an up-style hairdo.

My goal when dressing is to dress in simple classic pieces that can be worn from year to year, with a bit of a twist – the unexpected accessory. It can be a bold ring, an eye-catching necklace or earrings that walk the room with you.

How about you? What’s your accessory style?

Runway Accessory

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I’m back. I know really!

For many years I’ve loved to shop when traveling. I’ve not been traveling this year and I’ve noted that my style has suffered greatly. And yes I admit I do subscribe to quite a few cool websites that I shop to help me mimic my style when I’m not traveling.

I’ve got to share I’m not loving the plastic, vanilla offerings that are so prevalent in the luxury box stores. I’ve also been shopping the boutique stores, and YIKES the prices are off the charts and the offerings are pretty-much the same? (Note to small businesses it’s always good to offer something that the big box store is not.)

Is it important to you to have that one fashion item that makes a statement? Then stay tuned as I’m starting Runway Accessory.  An online store that offers ONE-OF-A-KIND semi-precious necklaces, bracelets and rings.

Pictured is an example of a gorgeous necklace I found made from natural ‘sleeping beauty turquoise amethyst and black spinel.

Beautiful and makes a statement — a runway accessory look for sure! What’s your statement look?

Keep me posted and I’d love to learn more!

Moving On

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First and foremost I must apologize for not letting you all know that I will not be blogging at this address any longer. As of February 1, 2013 I have launched a new blog, a new website and a new business; Zapala PR.

I am returning to what I love travel, tourism and lifestyle PR. While I relished my tenure at Anson-Stoner (I will continue to be a part-time director at the firm) I want to do what I love, and that’s travel and lifestyle PR.

A big thank you to all who have followed, left comments, and shared a post. It is my hope that you will now join me on my new journey at Zapala PR. Please Like, Share or Tweet your thoughts as it’s always great to hear your opinion.

Why Unconventional is Always Best?

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Every Sunday I tune into Joel Osteen, I find his sermons to be more motivational than religious. This Sunday was no exception. Olsteen was talking about Jesus, the unconventional prophet, in a parable about Jesus making a blind man see on the Sabbath. Unconventional for sure and against the rules of the day, which were to keep the Sabbath holy.  The founders of Starbucks were also unconventional in thinking people will pay $3 – $5 dollars for a cup of coffee. Walt Disney too, was unconventional in his price point thinking and look where Disney is today.

As you proceed with the annual marketing planning process I challenge you to give unconventional your top priority. And I don’t mean pricing as unconventional, especially in the travel industry. Look at what your competitors are doing. Is it the same thing you are doing? How can you stretch your business in an unconventional way to make it a stand out among the generic marketplace offerings to encourage sales?

I thrive on unconventional. Here’s an example on how my monkey brain works. I had a private island resort client and was tasked to think outside the box. I reviewed the resort’s competitive set and found everyone was doing the same thing. Big surprise. I went back to the drawing board and came up with great idea, a spread in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. A feature like this would benefit the resort for a myriad of marketing reasons. Everyone laughed as the magazine rarely covers a single, stand-along resort and to be honest, the resort over the years had gained a reputation as passé. For one year I gently pushed my agenda to the producers at Sports Illustrated, and they would politely tell me no until one day in November, I got the call. Within a month the entire Sports Illustrated team was on property and the shoot was underway.

This effort generated a 22- page article, $7 million in advertising equivalency, and more importantly it assisted the resort in their re-branding efforts and increased their profits. Additionally, I won an international Platinum Award, the Mac Daddy of awards, presented by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

Unconventional will never go out of style. How will you turn unconventional into a win in 2013?

A New Year’s Resolution: It’s all in the details

I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan so of course, I rushed to see The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey. A very special scene from the movie spurred this blog. Gandolf was asked the question, “Why bring along Bilbo Baggins?” His response was eloquent and inspiring and it went something like this, “he brings me joy and it’s all in his daily details.

“All in the daily details is a New Year’s resolution every hotel should inspire to incorporate. The Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental are a few hotels known for their superior customer service, but do they offer daily details that generate positive conversations, unforgettable moments, and high referrals?

What about independent hotels and resorts, how do they compete with renowned chain properties. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to implement a daily details culture? What I’ve learned over the years is that most independent properties are more flexible and offer amenities that are more unique which create the perfect storm to implement a strategic daily details culture.

Recently, a friend was traveling for business and I wanted to surprise her with an in-room treat upon arrival. I called the InterContinental Hotel in New York City and spoke with the guest specialist, who not only assisted me with my request but she went out of her way to make sure everything was perfect. When I called back to check to see if everything was a go, she stated she spoke to her manager who also included a bottle of champagne. This is exactly what I’m speaking of when I refer to a daily details culture. Going the extra mile to enhance a guest request and employees that can offer that little something extra are just a few ways that daily details would impress. And just imagine how many times these stories will be told to friends and family and shared via social networks.

The daily detail possibilities are endless, but why are they not more prevalent? I believe it’s has to be ingrained within the company culture, and it must be exhibited daily by CEO’s, managers, directors and so on. And yes, I do understand the Lord of the Rings is a fantasy, but isn’t travel a fantasy as well?

Would love to hear your stories on hotels that impressed you with the details?

Travel Planning for 2013

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Everything from the Aurora Borealis, to river cruising, to RV, rail and culinary adventures are on the travel menu for 2013 according to About.com’s travel predictions for 2013.

One trend I found particularly interesting is less reliance on anonymous travel reviews. Consumers are smart and they’ve finally realized that many  travel review sites may not be reliable. Word of caution; and I’ve had this discussion with clients, be transparent, don’t pay anyone to upload false positive reviews. And really study the bad reviews. If they have merit change or correct the problem; if it’s a disgruntled angry rant, let it go!  I predict that consumers will rely more and more on recommendations made through social media channels. I also believe travel review sites will need to offer consumers more in the years to come or they will become obsolete.

Travel review sites or not, people from around the world will travel next year. How will you get travelers to pencil-in your resort or hotel on their 2013 bucket list? This is a great question to ponder as you plan for the upcoming year.

Be Social. Share.

Hotel and Resort Alert: Vacation Package Ideas for 2013

Travel trends for 2013 are arriving in my inbox at a furious pace. The trend that keeps on rising to the top is to unplug, take technology free vacations and step away from all electronics. Travelers may find unplugging from their laptops, e-readers and smartphones anxiety provoking, but after a day or two many find themselves more relaxed and eager to explore the world beyond WIFI.

Hotels and resorts that want to take advantage of this new trend should consider an “unplugged” vacation package. It really doesn’t matter if the resort offers 100’s of activities or 10, the idea is to create a relative, engaging package that speaks to your core target market.

For example a city hotel could offer:

  • Walking tours to include: cultural, culinary, and historic points of interest
  • Cooking classes with the chef or wine tasting classes with the sommelier
  • Shopping trips, complete with discount coupon books and a chauffeur at the ready

Or if you manage a resort property you may want to offer:

  • Traditional activities with perks: BOGO, resort credits or personalized classes
  • Family discounts geared toward modern families and traditional family vacation escapes
  • Learning adventures: watersports, culinary, craft making, photography…

Of course, you can also offer discounts to guests who check their electronics at the front desk upon check-in and doesn’t check them out until they depart. Here’s a quirky twist on this idea, guests that unplug could be featured on the property’s social media channels. Of course, this feature would be post departure, and guests would be encouraged to share their unplugged adventures.

Ideas for unplugged vacation packages are endless. Before creating a package do consider the needs of your current and potential guests, make sure the offer is operationally feasible and offer a creative “news angle” to generate press.

Do share if you develop an unplugged vacation package as I would love to see what’s working. Happy Unplugging….

Cause Marketing and Social Media: A Match Made in Heaven

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An editor from O’Dwyer’s Magazine approached me this past October to comment on the topic of “How to balance the benefits of corporate responsibility.” The article was entitled, Fashion PR – Our Report on Beauty & The Media, Balance, Benefits of Fashion and Corporate Responsibility. I was a bit surprised when I read the article and found that I was the only one presenting the symbiotic relationship between cause-related marketing and social media. To me social media is a natural extension of a social cause: social-to-social.

To that point I thought it would be interesting to discover the success of companies using this strategy as a focal point of their brand mantra. Below are a few companies that really understand how to leverage social media to support their brand over the long-term:

  • Tom Shoes mentioned in the article is a company that now boasts its own cable-like channel on Facebook with more than 1.8 million followers. They are also building a following on Pinterest with more than 9,000 fans.
  • Warby Paker is another company using the BoGo concept and they too have a solid online following with over 100,000 fans on Facebook and close to 30,000 on Twitter.
  • Tides of Hope is another category leader with more than 3 million Facebook fans, pretty good considering the campaign began in 2010 in support of Hurricane Katrina and of course today it’s busy helping victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The premise of my comments stem from my past experience with a cause campaign I launched back in the mid-nineties. At the time I was the PR Director at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and for years I kept seeing the company throw-away ink cartridges. An advocate of recycling and a bit of research lead me to the Shriners Hospitals For Children. I came to discover that these cartridges could deliver a $2 donation for every cartridge recycled and saved them from being dumped in a landfill. A win-win for all.

My predictions are these campaigns will grow in stature and recognition, due in part because people are social and want to do good as social media makes it easy to be a good steward. Today, in just one tweet millions of people from around the world can embrace a cause.

What role do you see social media playing in the future of cause marketing or social responsibility campaigns? Comments are always welcome.