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Experiential currency drives digital and social landscape – Luxury Daily – Multichannel

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NEW YORK — Starwood Hotels and Resorts employs a localized infrastructure for all digital and social media to provide a 360-degree customer experience, according to an executive at the Luxury Interactive conference last week.

Starwood creates separate personalities for each of its hotel locations and equips them with personal social media sites, Web site pages and tabs in mobile applications. Unique brand identities are extremely important and must be recognizable across all three platforms.

“The new economy that drives the digital and social media landscape is based on experiential currency,” said Stephen Gates, senior creative director of global brand design for Starwood, New York.

“People want to have unique experiences and they want to pay to be part of and experience something that is not the same as what everyone else does,” he said.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts owns high-end hotels and resorts such as The Luxury Collection, St. Regis and Le Meridien, as well as the W, Westin and the Sheraton brands.

Stink bombs

The three overall platforms that Starwood focuses on for all of its properties are Web sites, social media and mobile.

On the Web, the most important factor for brands to remember are the core values of the brand and highlighting them through the Web site design.

For example, Starwood’s Le Meridien hotel site is based around the brand’s core brand positioning: “Discovery starts with you.”

To embody that in digital form, a feature on http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien allows guests to choose photos they like, and drag and edit them to create a collage on the screen.

Based on the images that a consumer finds appealing, Le Meridien suggests personalized vacation destinations that she would specifically enjoy.

Le Meridien’s photo collage feature

Each Starwood property also has personal social media sites that are monitored 24/7.

From these sites, real employees can interact with current and potential guests to offer suggestions, follow-up on complaints and respond to questions in real-time.

In one extreme example from a Starwood property, someone tweeted a bomb threat to the hotel.

The social media employee saw the tweet within eight minutes and alerted hotel security, who then cleared the glass-encased front lobby.

Fourteen minutes later, a bomb went off across the street and no guests were harmed.

via Experiential currency drives digital and social landscape – Luxury Daily – Multichannel.

Written by Kees Winkel

July 5, 2011 at 11:17

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Bitcoin virtual currency may be the worst of both worlds

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By Mathew Ingram Jun. 15, 2011, 3:45pm PT 

After being celebrated by some as the future of money in a digital age, the virtual “peer-to-peer crypto currency” known as Bitcoin has taken some serious hits in the past week or so. Among other things, it has been criticized as a scam — based on economic assumptions that are described as “laughable” — and has come under fire from the U.S. Senate for the ease with which drug dealers and other subversive elements can make use of it. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, a user now says he has lost the equivalent of almost half a million dollars in a Bitcoin theft. The virtual currency could be the worst of both worlds: easy to steal and impossible to trace.

To recap, Bitcoin is an attempt to create a distributed, open-source form of virtual currencythat relies not on gold bars in Fort Knox or the monetary policy of a central bank for its value, but on a computerized ecosystem. The project was started by programmer Satoshi Nakamoto (although that may or may not be his real name) in 2009. The Economistdescribed the process quite well in a recent post, as did Stephen Chapman at ZDNet, and there is more information on a wiki devoted to the concept. There’s also a fascinating discussion of the criticisms about Bitcoin in a thread on Hacker News.

In a nutshell, Bitcoin generates currency at a predictable rate (which reduces the chances of an inflationary spiral like those that have occurred in countries with traditional currencies) through a computer-intensive mathematical process known as “Bitcoin mining.” However, since the currency only exists as ones and zeroes in a computer program — not unlike most of the money we use via credit cards, etc. — it can also be stolen by hackers, as one user hasclaimed that his Bitcoin bank account was.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 16, 2011 at 16:09

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Bitcoin, the Peer-to-Peer Currency that Hopes to Change the World – Industry

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I take an interest in Bitcoin. Could it be that a social currency is due? Will it last? Will it be safe? Can we trust it? Who runs it? What is it? TNW’s Joel Falconer gives us his story.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency with no centralized authority, that provides some level of anonymity to its users. Those behind it claim that it has the potential to change the way our economies work.

But you already knew all of that: Bitcoin has been around for quite a few years, but in the last few months it has received more attention and discussion than in its whole lifespan. This attention, in tandem with the limited supply of currency, has seen huge, leaping increases in the value of each Bitcoin in USD.

By now, most of us know at least a little about it. But how did it begin, and why? What do economists think of Bitcoin?

The Genesis Block

Bitcoin was officially announced by its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, in January of 2009. As a group that largely sees themselves as revolutionaries, the Bitcoin community uses terms for this day that have an almost religious air: the dawn of time is one such phrase. This is the day that the first Bitcoin block was generated, something you’ll hear referred to as the Genesis Block.

A “block” contains a record of transactions and forms part of a chain that represents every transaction ever made over the Bitcoin network. Each computer running Bitcoin has a full copy of this transaction history, and contributing to the chain by having your computer’s client contribute a full block of transaction data collected through the network rewards newly minted Bitcoins — currently at a rate of 50 per block.

This reward rate is designed to decrease over time. One of Bitcoin’s more unusual aspects is that there’s a cap on the number of coins that will ever be generated. That number is 21,000,000 Bitcoins, or BTC in currency shorthand, and the network adjusts the time it takes to complete a block and the reward distributed for completing one over time so that this cap isn’t reached too quickly.

Having your client complete new blocks and collect the reward for doing so is commonly referred to as ‘mining’.

As it becomes more difficult to create new currency and more people express an interest in Bitcoin, the value of the currency has continued to rise at a rapid rate. The built-in scarcity of the currency suggests that this growth in value is by no means nearing stability.

On the 9th of February, 2011, two years and one month after the creation of the Genesis Block, the currency reached parity with the US dollar, trading at a one-to-one cost.

Today, only a few months later, Bitcoin is worth US$14.41. You can see how much that figure has changed by the time you read this by checking Bitcoin Charts Markets, which aggregates data from across various exchanges.

Read the whole story here: Bitcoin, the Peer-to-Peer Currency that Hopes to Change the World – Industry.

Written by Kees Winkel

June 5, 2011 at 10:53

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