ToriStar Defines Creative For Collaborative Product

With the arrival of The Pound Cake Company's "Summer Cake" at the Chateau Élan Winery and Resort, savory parings will never be the same!  Chateau Élan selected The Pound Cake Company to create a unique dessert treat using the natural peach essence of their Summer Wine to serve as a perfect paring complement.  With agency of record, ToriStar Media leading the creative for packaging design and marketing, the collaborative effort is expected to be mutual beneficial for both brands.

The Power of Co-Branding:

There are some foods that just naturally go together- think of peanut butter and jelly, coffee and cream, or rum and Coke, and that creates the idea of co-branding advertising!  While all of these foods are natural compliments to the other, very few of them are created by the same company.  That’s where the idea of co-branding products can help you make the most of your advertising dollar. Co-branding promotion is even more important than ever as companies vie for new customers and hope to increase sales and improve brand recognition.  When co-branded promotion is used to its fullest potential, this form of advertising can be even more effective than traditional advertising methods.

The key to making co-branded products successful is to partner with the right company that has a good reputation, strong brand recognition and also makes a logical pairing with your company. You should never attempt co-branding with a company that competes with yours.  Instead, work with a company whose products compliment yours.  Many companies who have used co-branding choose to create websites specifically dedicated to explaining how products can be used together. Other companies simply choose to launch campaigns that promote the products together.  Campaigns are often based around a particular season, to attract shoppers who are often looking for new food ideas for entertaining. For example, a three company team has launched a campaign aimed at summer entertaining that combines graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate which are marketed together for the purpose of making (S’mores) in the summertime. The options for food companies are endless.  Turkey and stuffing companies at Thanksgiving, florists and chocolate manufacturers at Valentine’s Day, and now we have a gourmet dessert brand that personifies decadence and a premier resort-winery that is known for pampering their guests.

Stay tuned to see how they entice new and old customers with their unique combination of products and services...

Press Release: The Pound Cake Company "Rises" into Retail

The Pound Cake Company Launches Wholesale Line of Savory Pastries
ATLANTA, GA (May 22, 2014) The Pound Cake Company, long time bakery and manufacturer of gourmet flavored pound cakes, today announced the launch of its new line of wholesale sweets. As part of the first phase of the launch, The Pound Cake Company will provide distributors and retailers with their popular trademarked miniature pound cake - The Phavor™. The initial flavor offering features their most popular selection, the original Mother's Butter Pound Cake! Additional flavors and seasonal favorites will be added at a later time. "This product offers a fresh, innovative spin on an old traditional dessert snack," said Milton Stephens, Founder. "The small individual-sized portion makes it very appealing because you can enjoy all of the decadence of our large pound cakes without the temptation of over doing it." And it's made with 100% all natural ingredients, because our reputation is built on the highest standards of quality and customer service. One taste and you know it's homemade. The Phavors™ are individually sealed for freshness and have an extended shelf life. Presented in a decorative box instead of a simple cellophane bag, they're the perfect complement to any retail establishment. The retail Phavors™ are currently available at Lane Southern Orchards, The Farmer's Table and coming soon to Chateau Élan Winery and Resort. Expect to see The Pound Cake Company rising into retail locations near you soon!

About The Pound Cake Company:
Starting with a variation of a traditional family recipe, we created the original "Mother's Butter" pound cake, winning notoriety as the world's best pound cake! Using innovative blending techniques and flavor combinations, "The Pound Cake King" now boasts over 50 flavors of this traditional Southern sweet bread. From special events, corporate gifting to fundraising, The Pound Cake Company provides a memorable experience. Whatever the occasion, we can make it sweeter... To learn more, visit


Media Contact:
StarMc Stephens
ToriStar Media

Why Social Media Matters in Hospitality

  • What can hoteliers do to get the most from social media?

  • What do we measure?

  • Can social media give me insights about my property?

Our research has shown us that consumers have been inundated with news and information about hotel destinations. Social Media can selectively connect with travelers and develop emotional connections with the hotel and hotel brand. Further, the strategic embracing of a social media plan can provide the hotelier with prompt feedback on the guests stay; facilitating improved hotel operations or used to amplify the positive experiences of the guest.

Online discussions are very influential.  81% check online comments before purchasing a product. 56.3% of users said that they “got to know brands” through online channels. 58.7% actually made purchase decisions based on user- generated online info. Even when not making a purchase, 89.9% of users still pay attention to online comments.


Identify audience, set objectives, success measures and your time frame.  Design and leverage a social media program that meets your intended objectives. Remember no one size fits all in social media. Execute and drive engagement through every touch point.  Amplify and stimulate sharing of the experiences (remember to use video, photos and personal commentary). Identify who you want to reach:  Business Travelers, Leisure Travelers, Travel Agents, Associations, Influencers and Competition.


Your program will be different depending on what you are trying to achieve. As a hotelier you may want any number of the following types of outcomes. 

  • Monitoring customer feedback
  • Increase property awareness and brand sentiment
  • Manage reputation and identify negative media
  • Medium for suggestions on how to improve customer service from customers
  • Channel to monitor competitor activities

Depending on your social media plan you will have selected a number of channels to develop in order to reach your desired audience.  Make sure you also have a communication plan that includes the themes and topics for your program.  Develop fan pages: Promoting the Fan Pages ‘Sharing’ and ‘Liking’ are important indicators for a hotel to understand how customers feel about the property and it's Important for expressing intent about the hotel.


Don't ignore bad reviews - They are seen by hundreds, even thousands of people.  

Acknowledge the good - Respond to the positive reviews as well as the negative ones.  This shows customers that you care enough to listen to what they are saying.

Be Honest - If something needs to be addressed, then admit it and address it.

Be Relevant - If someone complains about the quality of service for breakfast, don't talk about the new bedspreads.

Don't Blame Others - Take responsibility and say how you are working to fix it.  Always be courteous.  Welcome guests back to your hotel/brand.


No (successful) social media program is static and you should consider it a living program. Just as you would feed and water a plant you need to constantly feed and grow your social media program. Leverage your measurement platform and constantly evaluate what is working and what is not. This is about long term engagement. The choice to participate or not in social media is still being debated by many hotel groups but my message to you is don’t wait. This is not a passing fad and the longer you delay, the further behind your hotel competitors you fall.


What's the Best Time to Post?

The question we ask our self every day when managing Facebook pages for clients is how often should we send messages to our fans news feeds through Facebook pages? Should we post them weekly? Daily? Or even more then that?  

Obviously this is very different for two types of companies – brands and media companies. Brands should typically not post more frequently then once a day, only if its really exceptional news. Some brands maybe should only post every second day, or a couple times a week.

Media companies on the other hand have much more space. They can post different stories even several times a day and still their content will be very engaging.

Does Affiliation to a Hotel Brand Work?

Brands are becoming bigger by the day - be it in designer clothes, consumer products or any industry for that matter. Hotel and hospitality industry is no exception. Hotel brands such as Hilton and Holiday Inn are famous in their own right and known for their own niche visitors. Big hotel brands enjoy the loyalty of most of their patrons, which stand alone establishments seldom have the benefit of.

Small stand alone hotels that are yet to become brands unto themselves have started acknowledging the importance of getting attached with a big hotel chain to earn profits without having to give up the reins. From being responsible for all nitty-gritties of the business to chugging along with the extravagant marketing budgets of the hotel chains, becoming a franchisee is the best way to start on a journey to financial welfare. This is the best option when you want to retain the ownership, and not completely lose control of the operations, along with reaping intangible benefits of a central reservation system, marketing, and rigid operational procedures. Not to mention the strong backing of the parent brand that will make your hotel's presence felt in markets that matter , drive up occupancy rates and in turn skyrocket profits.

Though the world over, hotel markets do not show a trend of getting affiliated to a brand, with meager 30% affiliations, the hotel market in the United States shows an exactly opposite trend. A survey reveals that more than 70% of hotels in the United States are affiliated to chains. And other markets are surely catching up.  But, acquiring a hotel franchise is easier said than done. There is already a beeline for getting affiliated to big brands. This has resulted in the brands getting to pick and choose from an array of stand alone establishments that suit their needs and gel well enough with their existing image. Most of the times, the process of selecting a hotel to confer their franchise upon, is a complex one, involving a lot of number crunching and analysis. Costs versus benefits are thoroughly examined before any substantial move is made.  Hence, for hotels wanting to get affiliated, the following considerations might prove helpful.

Analyze the cost:  Reading between the lines to gauge the total cost of being affiliated is essential. The royalty fee might be just the tip of the iceberg. Additional charges include the annual fee for reservation system, joining fee, a liquidated damage fee in case of termination of affiliation before end of the term, and marketing program prices. Calculate all expenses incurred during the agreement tenure while comparing prices.

Be sure of the brand image:  Each brand has a niche of its own. One brand could be renowned as a business hotel while the other could be known to cater to leisure travelers. Their focus on entirely different traveler markets makes it important for you to check which one would find your present status more attractive for its own brand.  Getting acquainted with the franchisers either directly or indirectly is necessary, because it is they who can decide the fate of your hotel in the years to come. Find out more about their working style by directly interacting with them. Also try to speak to franchisees and find out if they are satisfied enough with the franchisers. Speaking to ex-franchisees, who for some reason might have terminated the affiliation, might also prove to be helpful. Analyze the franchiser's views on issues like giving franchise affiliations to other hotels in your market.

Define Market Segment:  Focus on the market that draws you visitors. Hotel chains that already have franchisees in your market can provide a better recognition. Moreover, the image of the existing franchisees might benefit you in a way that you will be spared the burden of establishing your image in these markets. Also consider the demography where the brand is more popular and steer clear of a brand that your market might be new to.  Usually, hotel franchises are valid for a period of 20 years. The franchisor will need to control the image of the chain during this tenure by regularly performing property inspections and terminating franchises that do not comply with standards. Also, if you are looking at a long term relationship with the brand, analyze if it will continue to grow or will start stagnating within a few years. Try to take a peek at marketing initiatives and brand enhancements. Is the brand technology savvy and ready to spend money on improved reservation system or internet connections in rooms? Knowing the position of the brand in the years to come will save you the trouble of terminating the affiliation before it expires.

All in all, making a thought out decision about getting attached to a hotel brand is crucial to your business, while a hasty choice could spell doomsday for the hotel.


Importance of Hotel Branding

Hotel branding is an important aspect in the hospitality business especially in terms of generating revenues. It is a process that helps a product stand apart from others that have similar physical features. In the world of competition, different companies of the same product/service try to lure the same audience you are luring. The only thing that sets you apart is the branding you have done for your business. 

When a consumer buys a product or service, his subconscious mind sends impulses according to what is right for him. This includes the price, quality, and the experience in using the brand. In reality their choices depends on names and images associated on its presentation and testimonials of people who are known to it.  Subconsciously, you are making an impact to your consumer, whenever a decision to buy is made. Customer recall is such an important factor to keep your product/service rank first to your consumers’ minds. As the reputation of the brand goes higher, it adds value to the company. That’s why consumers trust to buy newly released product based on their well-known and established brand names.

In the hospitality industry, it takes time to win the trust of your target market unless your business is under the umbrella of a well-established name. As you gain trust from your target market, brand loyalty will follow. This will include loyal customers and sales promotion for your hotel. However, a good reputation is defeated if the quality of service does not equal the promise of your brand standard.

So how do you entice customers to stay in your hotel? 


1.    Make a target plan for your prospect customers and segment them according to their objectives and perception advantages.

2.    Position your brand to customer’s subconscious mind with product information so they remember what you offer.

3.    Implement the 5P’s in marketing. People, Price, Product, Place, and Promotion should be in harmony with each other. Failing to do so will decrease brand perception.

 As you improve marketing methods, you’ll gain more customers along the way. Remember that branding needs special care and time to make it work. Be consistent with your quality and your brand will stand out of the crowd.

Engagement Makes Social Media Meaningful?

Is engagement a strategy? A tactic? A technique? Where does it play in social media?  You can’t eat it or pay your rent with engagement, but in social media, you must have engagement at some level to accomplish the more meaningful business outcomes you seek. The goal isn't to ‘engage, the goal is to improve your company via engagement.  

Engagement is a big deal.  We strive to have people buy our products. We work to earn and keep the customers’ loyalty. And we depend on instilling the kind of passion that inspires customers to spread the love.  If it can all be summed up in a word, the word is engagement.  

What is engagement? It’s an emotional connection. The intensity of the emotion is equal to the connection to your brand. Face it, they may be few, but there are some brands you really love. So, we get emotionally involved and you know how that goes. 

  • We’re fickle.
  • We expect rewards.
  • The bad stuff tends to outweigh the good.
  • We all have different needs.
  • When we have an itch, we want it scratched—now.
  • The flame requires constant fuel.

Do your best to understand all the elements of engagement.  Here are some of the motivators that drive people to engage:

Access—Ease and convenience influences choices.

Aesthetics—Good looks are appealing.

Association—Comfort and familiarity feels right.

Belonging—Social creatures want to fit in.

Desire—Satisfy desires.

Empathy—A reason to care is a powerful form of engagement.

Enhancement—Appeal to self-improvement needs.

Escape—Help transport people away from the reality of here and now.

Experience—Connect with fond memories or steer people away from bad ones.

Following—Join the crowd.

Integrity—Be honest, consistent and reliable.

Intrigue—Use tactics that spark curiosity such as ambiguity and suspense.

Involvement—Engage people by asking for their time, effort and energy.

Meaning—Help people satisfy their quests for purpose.

Newness—Capture attention with originality and innovation.

Pleasure—Offer the sensory experiences people crave.

Respect—Achievement and recognition is a powerful magnet.