Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Best Western is successfully using blogging to build a relationship with its customer base

In one study, it was found that only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs trust them.  I believe this low number is because companies are struggling to understand the value of blogging and how it can be used to enhance a brand and connect and build relationships with customers, as opposed to just another communications tool.

One brand that I think is doing it right is Best Western.  Best Western's blog strategy is to communicate around the one topic that unites its customer base, travel, and do so without pushing marketing propaganda and corporate communication in the face of its readers. 

The company's main blog, found on the homepage of its website, is called  "You Must Be Trippin".  Although the name may be questionable, the blog content and approach is not.  There are multiple contributors to the blog, each focused on a targeted audience, and all writing about travel tips, ideas and feature destinations.  Do you travel to Canada frequently? Read articles by Bryson Forbes, the Canadian Travel Expert.   Hitting the road for a motorcycle trip? Jason Fogelson is your guy to give you the best rides through Tennessee, teach you about that new Harley, and give you a Best Western recommendation, if you want it.

How successful is this approach? One of the corporate bloggers is Amy Graff, who not only writes on the Best Western blog, but also has her own successful blog, sponsored by the company called  "On the Go with Amy".  Amy as she states in her profile is " a girl on the go. I travel for fun. For work. With my kids. With my husband. With my girlfriends." The blog won the 2009 award for Best Family Travel Blog from Tripbase and has a steady fan base.  Amy doesn't push the Best Western brand at her reader’s; however she does politely acknowledge that Best Western sponsors her blog on her homepage.  As with the corporate blog, instead of focusing on Best Western heavy content, Amy focuses on the interests of what her readers are looking for ... convenient travel topics for mom's and family travel, thus building a strong following and support with her readership, who occasionally may just find some great deals at Best Western hotels around the country.