Marketing, and customer retention, strategy(ies) in the hosting market, where the market is saturated and the service is perceived to be a commodity, with a race to zero pricing wise.

Panda Travel is Hawaii’s largest wholesaler of travel product.  Over the past few years, travel product has become highly commoditized, forcing traditional wholesalers and agencies to diversify their products and services.  Small to mid-range travel companies simply cannot compete with direct suppliers (hotels and airlines) or large OTA’s such as Expedia and Travelocity.

In order to remain competitive in the travel industry, I’ve focused Panda’s marketing efforts on service, consumer niches, and the creation of unique travel product you simply can’t buy from anyone else.  Panda Travel doesn’t just sell Air/Car/Hotel, we sell a unique Hawaii vacation experience with the support of a local travel agent who can create that once in a lifetime dream package.

Currently, dedicated hosting provides businesses the most flexibility with managed services and server customizations.  As the hosting industry evolves, business customers will seek services that will provide a competitive edge, reduce operational and over-head costs.

Hosting companies will provide supplemental services to their clientele beyond typical data center services.   These services may include website design, quality assurance, e-commerce support, and community moderation.  Customer service will continue to be one of the most important factors when a customer chooses a hosting service.   Customers should have quick accessibility to support staff through various channels including phone, chat, email, blogs, or wikis.

Through value add services and long-term contract engagements, a hosting company will be able to provide business customers cost effective dedicated hosting, creative services, and the deliver a positive return on investment.

Web hosting industry analysis

February 16th, 2008

1) The challenges facing the web hosting industry

2) The future outlook of the web hosting industry

Through my experience in the travel industry, I’ve been able to track clear booking trends against current events.   The consumer booking cycle comes in waves, which I believe peaked in summer of 2006.    Basically, my business is affected by the economy, employment, and of course increased competition from other suppliers.

I can draw similar conclusions with the hosting industry.  However, unlike leisure travel, I consider dedicated hosting to be a business necessity.  If the business climate is good, new companies require hosting services and existing companies consider expanding their services.

In a declining market, businesses may choose to cut hosting services back, as we saw in the 2000 dot com crash or consider off-shoring their hosting services to companies in India or China.

From now through 2010, I expect there will be an industry shake out, particularly if the current economic trend continues.    During this time, larger hosting will consume smaller hosting companies and regionalize their business.  Through territory expansion, hosting companies will be able to scale their overhead and equipment costs more efficiently.  By this, I envision a parent hosting company with subordinate hosting companies that are scaled according to the business needs in their respective geographic regions.

This is speculation, but I believe there is an attraction for a larger, mainland hosting company to set up a data center in Hawaii, particularly to create a larger dedicated hosting network.  Developing the business from the ground up could prove to be a costly venture, however there may be acquisition opportunities with local hosting services such as DR Fortress of Century Computers.

In 1994, I joined Segasoft to help launch an online gaming network called At the time I joined the team, I was an associate producer tasked with creating compelling game content, interfacing with developers to enable games for the network, and engaging with customers in the live chat rooms and games. Outside of my developer responsibilities, my focus was to recruit, retain, and develop advocates out of visitors. This was the official start of my online marketing experience.

In subsequent years, my online marketing experience expanded in different capacities.

During my tenure with Altavista from 1999-2000, I was responsible for developing content for the games section of Altavista Live! As the Program Manager for the games section, I was tasked with maintaining the editorial content, developing new business relationships that would add new content, developing project business requirements for designers, and acting as an editor to make sure Altavista Live! displayed compelling content for the millions of daily visitors.

Following a one year tour with Altavista, I joined Sony Computer Entertainment of America as the online marketing manger responsible for This position placed me in the role of developing online advocates of the PlayStation brand by developing a thriving message board community, compelling content for the gaming audience including unique news and event information, email messaging targeted by game genre, trailers, contests, and more. In all, I was able to provide a compelling environment for the hardcore gamer, while learning effective methods of marketing back to them through online surveys and website traffic data.

After 4 successful years with Sony Computer Entertainment, I left the company and left the state to begin a new online marketing career in the travel industry in Hawaii. July 12, 2004, I joined Panda Travel as the online marketing manager responsible for, and a vast network of micro-sites. This career move changed my online marketing focus as I wasn’t able to leverage a strong consumer brand I was accustomed to with Sega, Altavista, and PlayStation. I had to shift marketing strategy from audience loyalty and retention to aggressive audience acquisition. This was my first exposure to search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is a high priority in my teams marketing efforts. The 3 main points I emphasize to my team are usability, aesthetic and organic search performance.

Currently, I manage a network of 30 micro sites with a dedicated SEO editor and developer. These websites are individually hosted with unique class-C IP’s to appear independently operated and inter linked. Each site is optimized for search using targeted keyword terms relevant to Hawaii leisure travel. In January 2008, we were able to see clear gains in organic performance in the following keyword phrases:

Cheap Airfare to Hawaii #1, Ask
Airfare Hawaii #1, Yahoo
Hawaii air interisland #1, Yahoo
Interisland vacation package #2, Google
Lahaina shore resort #2, Ask

These websites include:





plus several more…

PPC and other pay advertising models

To compliment our search engine optimization efforts, the Panda Marketing team is also engaged in PPC and other paid or performance online ad placements. While I’d like to be 100% SEO, I strongly believe in running a paid marketing program for the following reasons:

1) Search crawlers do not index overnight. Sponsored keywords allow immediate exposure in targeted niches.

2) Time sensitive or targeted offers require a quick turn around to market

3) Once SEO content becomes relevant, strong organic positioning plus paid placement increases the chance of a customer conversion.

Social Marketing or Community Marketing

As far back as my experience online goes, I have been engaged in some form of online community. After adequate counter-measures were developed for PC games to combat latency over the net, I spent several hours in multi-player game arenas and live chat environments interacting with game players, particularly during my days with

The greatest contribution to Social Media or Community I’ve made during my career was the development of the starting in 2000. Prior to my arrival in the Fall of 2000, the community was disjointed, basically an after thought of the corporate website. During my tenure with SCEA, I worked collaboratively with our software partner Lithium Technologies to grow the PlayStation boards into a thriving community of hundreds of thousands of loyal members. To this day, I’m one of the oldest active members in the community.

Panda’s marketing goals is to increase community interaction and engage in several Social Marketing initiatives during 2008. These projects include blogs, myspace pages, and possible B2B business relationships with companies like Trip Advisor.

Personally, I’m involved in several communities including myspace, facebook, spock, and twitter as a business professional expanding my knowledge as well as leisure social contributor.