Make College Football Great Again

9@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBDTBD 8W–IowaL–MinnesotaL–NebraskaW–N’Western 3W–NebraskaL–MarylandL–IllinoisL–Michigan Here’s what a schedule would look like with these rules in place: 2Ohio St.@ Mich. St.N’western@ Penn St.Minnesota Indiana3-1Ohio State3-1 7L–Penn St.L–WisconsinL–IowaW–IllinoisW–Michigan WeekMichigan St.MinnesotaNebraskaNorthwesternOhio State Michigan4-0Penn State4-0 5L–PurdueL–Ohio St.W–MarylandL–IowaW–Penn St. I’m going to proceed — fairly quickly — through a simulation of this schedule, in order to show you how the power-pairings would work. If a matchup was actually played in real life during the 2016 Big Ten regular season, I abided by the original result — so Ohio State still beats Michigan, for instance.3This holds even if there’s a different home team than in the original matchup. Otherwise, I simulated the result using ESPN’s Football Power Index, accounting for home-field advantage. Based on FPI, for instance, Iowa would have an 87 percent chance of winning a home game against Maryland, a matchup that didn’t occur in the actual Big Ten schedule but which could occur under power-pairing.We’ll zoom ahead to Week 5, when we encounter our first flex-scheduling week. (To see the simulated results for every game, scroll down to the big table toward the end of this article.) Here’s how it works: We take the 14 Big Ten teams and split them into pools of seven home teams and seven away teams based on where they’d been assigned to play ahead of time. We then have to pair the teams so as to give each one exactly one opponent for the week. There are, in theory, 5,040 possible ways to do this. An algorithm sorts through each of the combinations to find the best possible set of pairings, using the following rules:It eliminates all combinations that involve a game that was already played or which was already scheduled to be played. This cuts down on the number of legal combinations quite a lot — to about 600 for Week 5, for example.From among the remaining combinations, the algorithm finds those cases where the win totals match up as well as possible.4More specifically, it identifies cases where the average number of wins separating the paired teams is the smallest. It’s best to pair three-win home team Indiana against a three-win team from the road pool, for instance. If you can’t do that, then pairing Indiana against a four-win team or a two-win team is the next-best option.If several combinations are tied after Steps 1 and 2, the algorithm picks the set of matchups that are least likely to occur in the future, based on how the teams are assigned to home and away games in subsequent flex weeks.5For instance, Nebraska and Northwestern are both scheduled to play on the road in Week 8 and both scheduled to play at home in Week 9, so if they aren’t matched up against each other in Week 5, the only other chance is Week 6. The algorithm will prioritize that matchup before others in which teams have several more opportunities to face each other.If several combinations are still tied for being the most optimal after Steps 1, 2 and 3, the algorithm picks one of them at random.Here’s what the algorithm came up with for Week 5, for example: TEAMRECORDTEAMRECORD 9TBD@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBD 6TBD@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBD 9@ TBD@ TBDTBD@ TBD 1MarylandPenn StateOhio St.@ Rutgers@ Nebraska 4@ MichiganIowaWisconsinMarylandPenn St. WeekPenn StatePurdueRutgersWisconsin Wisconsin2-2Michigan State0-4 Nebraska1-3Northwestern1-3 2L–Ohio St.W–Mich. St.L–N’WesternL–Penn St.W–Minnesota That worked out pretty nicely — 12 of the 14 teams were power-paired against an opponent with the same win total, generating a key early matchup between 4-0 Michigan and 4-0 Penn State. Still, the home pool was slightly stronger than the road pool and some team had to draw the short end of the stick. It turned out to be 0-4 Michigan State, which was matched up against 2-2 Wisconsin.From there, Michigan beat Penn State in that matchup of undefeateds to go to 5-0. Meanwhile, a couple of overachieving 3-1 teams encountered a dose of reality against stiffer competition, as Indiana lost to Ohio State and Maryland lost to Iowa. That’s one of the benefits of power-pairing teams: The pretenders who benefited from quirky wins are fairly quickly weeded out because they face a tougher schedule.Since hearing about a hypothetical college football season is about as exciting as someone else’s fantasy football team, we’ll work through the rest of the schedule quickly. Ohio State ruined its chances by losing to Iowa in Week 6 (in a matchup that didn’t occur in real life). After Week 8, Penn State and Michigan both wound up at 7-1, with Michigan in the driver’s seat for the conference championship by virtue of having defeated Penn State in Week 5. However, Michigan drew a tough matchup against Iowa in Week 9, which it lost, while Penn State (having already defeated most of the good teams in the conference) beat Illinois to win the conference title. Here are all the simulated games in one chart, in case you want to see the dirty detail: WeekPenn StatePurdueRutgersWisconsin 4L–IndianaW–IllinoisW–MinnesotaW–N’WesternW–Mich. St. Minnesota1-3Rutgers1-3 3@ Nebraska@ MarylandIllinoisMichigan 4@ Ohio St.Rutgers@ Purdue@ Nebraska 5@ TBDTBD@ TBDTBD 6TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD Big Ten simulated schedule with power-paired matchups 8L–IllinoisW–PurdueW–RutgersL–WisconsinW–Maryland WeekMich. St.MinnesotaNebraskaNorthwesternOhio State HOME POOLROAD POOL 1L–MarylandL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.L–RutgersW–Nebraska A Big Ten schedule with predetermined and power-paired games 7@ N’westernPurdueNebraskaRutgers@ Ohio St. 4L–MichiganL–IowaL–WisconsinL–MarylandL–Penn St. 1W–MinnesotaL–IowaW–N’WesternL–Indiana 9L–NebraskaW–MarylandW–Mich. St.W–PurdueW–Wisconsin WeekIllinoisIndianaIowaMarylandMichigan 5@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBDTBD For me at least, that feels a lot cleaner than having a conference championship game. Thanks to power-pairing, the top four finishers — Penn State, Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan in our simulation — all played one another, so a championship game wouldn’t have left a lot more to prove or disprove.It’s true that we got slightly lucky in this simulation by having a lone champion (Penn State) instead of a tie. But the bounty of head-to-head games between the top teams under power pairing makes potential ties easier to break, because the best teams would play each other more often.I hear what you’re saying: Penn State beat Ohio State in the real-life Big Ten and the committee chose to ignore that, or at least to de-emphasize it. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that power-pairing would remove every controversy. But in the spirit of a team debate, I have a couple of rebuttals.First, power-pairing would create a higher number of meaningful games, making it more likely that disputes would be settled on the field. In our simulated season, Penn State played (and defeated) Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois, a decent group of opponents whom they didn’t play in the actual regular season,6Penn State played Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, but not in the regular season. but skipped games against mediocre Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers, whom they pointlessly faced in real life. That made Penn State’s schedule harder and made its one-loss conference record even more impressive. On the flip side, Ohio State’s schedule got tougher also,7Ohio State played Iowa and Illinois in our simulated season, sacrificing real-life games against Michigan State and Rutgers. but they couldn’t handle the heat, blowing a game against Iowa that they didn’t have to play in real life. This is the algorithm working as intended: It improves the résumés of the very best teams while also thinning out the crop with (at least theoretically) entertaining games against closely matched opponents.Second, power-pairing would make teams easier to compare, by eliminating divisions and the potential ambiguities created by conference championship games (such as if Florida had become the nominal conference champion despite having more losses because it beat Alabama in the SEC championship). The top teams would simply be those that won the most games from the start of the regular season to the finish. And under power-pairing, the top teams would usually play one another, further aiding comparison.And third, eliminating conference championship games would free up a week in the schedule, so we could tack on another round to the College Football Playoff without further bloating the college football schedule. That would make it easier for strong conferences such as the Big Ten to place two or three teams into the playoff when deserving.It isn’t a perfect system, and it’s easy enough to imagine what some of the complaints would sound like. A team’s partisans would curse “the computer” every time the algorithm came up with an opponent they didn’t like. Coordinating travel logistics would become mildly more annoying. But power-pairing would get the best teams in the conference to play one another more often and create more deserving conference champions. It might be a nerdy solution, but it would make for better football. 6L–NebraskaW–MarylandW–Ohio St.L–IndianaW–Purdue Purdue1-3Illinois1-3 3@ RutgersMinnesota@ Mich. St.Purdue@ Wisconsin 9W–IllinoisL–N’WesternL–IndianaL–Ohio St. 1L–MichiganW–WisconsinW–PurdueW–Mich. St.W–Illinois 2Indiana@ Michigan@ Purdue@ Iowa@ Illinois 8TBD@ TBDTBDTBD WeekIllinoisIndianaIowaMarylandMichigan 7@ Penn St.@ Wisconsin@ IowaIllinoisMichigan 7Mich. St.@ Indiana@ MarylandMinnesota 8@ TBD@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBD 8TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD@ TBD 9L–Penn St.W–RutgersW–MichiganL–MinnesotaL–Iowa 6TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD@ TBD 2MarylandNebraskaWisconsin@ Rutgers Ohio State somewhat embarrassed the Big Ten in getting shut out by Clemson 31-0 in the College Football Playoff semifinal last week. Still, hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t necessarily begrudge the playoff selection committee for having turned down Penn State, which won the Big Ten championship, in favor of the Buckeyes. Ohio State was probably the better regular-season team and had fewer losses against a tougher schedule. Penn State — which for its part blew a big lead to lose the Rose Bowl to USC — had a head-to-head win against Ohio State and the conference title, two factors the committee explicitly says it considers in ranking the teams. It was a tough decision.My point is simply this: Conference championships, as currently devised, don’t make much sense. Because of imbalanced divisions, championship games often don’t pit the two best teams in a conference against each other (Big Ten championship participant Wisconsin was probably the fourth-best team in its league, for instance). They’ll sometimes result in an awkward rematch of a game that was already played during the regular season. And conference championship games waste a weekend that could be better spent on something else, such as expanding the College Football Playoff to six or eight teams.And now we have pretty good evidence that the playoff selection committee doesn’t really care one way or another. So let’s get rid of them! Imagine a world in which we’re spared the annual indignation of having to watch Florida lose to Alabama 59-2. Imagine a world in which historical rivals always play each other every year and yet, by almighty Rockne, the best teams in a conference always play one another, too. Imagine a world with no divisions. By which I mean: a world in which we eliminate divisions such as the ACC’s perplexingly named Atlantic and Coastal divisions, and all teams within the same college football conference compete as one.Not only have I imagined such a world, my friends, but I have seen one. I have seen it in the hallways of a high-school debate tournament.High-school debate tournaments — all of you will be shocked to learn that I was a master debater in high school — face some of the same constraints that college football conferences do. In any given tournament, there are lots of teams of radically varying quality levels, and there’s not nearly enough time to have them all play one another. A typical debate tournament, for example, might involve 60 teams but only six rounds of competition, with the best eight or 16 teams advancing to the playoffs (or what debaters call the “outrounds”). Each round is precious, and you don’t necessarily want to watch some some pimply-faced sophomores from a Class D school debating a Class A juggernaut like my alma mater, East Lansing High School, any more than you want to watch Rutgers lose to Michigan 78-0.The solution that debate tournaments devised is something called power-pairing. Power-pairing just means that teams with the same record are paired off against each other, so that a team that starts off the tournament 2-0 will face off against another 2-0 team, for instance. It usually works by drawing the first two rounds of a tournament at random,1Alternatively, the teams may be seeded somehow, such that everyone starts out with one matchup against an experienced team and another matchup against an inexperienced team in their first two rounds, for example. and after that, everything is power-paired.This turns out to be a surprisingly elegant solution. It helps to make the matchups relatively even, which not only helps students to learn more but also usually tells you more in determining the best teams. Furthermore, the pairings are somewhat self-correcting. Suppose a good team happens to randomly draw very tough opponents in its first two rounds and gets off to an 0-2 start. They’ll receive some compensation by being paired with easier opponents the rest of the way out — an 0-2 team and then a 1-2 team, and so forth. As another bonus to this system, the best teams are put through the gantlet and really earn their keep. A team that finishes its tournament undefeated or with just one loss will have beaten a lot of very good teams along the way.What would power-pairing look like in the context of a college football season? Here’s an example that I drew up involving this year’s Big Ten. I experimented with a few different setups, and happen to like this one, but feel free to disagree with the particulars (this is more a proof-of-concept than anything I’ve thought all that much about).It works like this: Each team plays nine conference games, the same number they play under the Big Ten’s current rules. Five of these are scheduled in advance, while four are power-paired or “flex” matchups determined only once the season is underway. To be more specific:Teams play rivalry games in weeks 2, 4 and 7. These matchups are the same every year. Week 7 features the most storied rivalries such as Michigan vs. Ohio State — the games that the Big Ten currently plays in the last week of the season. The games in weeks 2 and 4 involve secondary or tertiary rivals, such as Ohio State vs. Illinois or Michigan vs. Minnesota. Granted, this doesn’t always work out perfectly, since some teams (such as Michigan) have lots of Big Ten rivals and others (here’s looking at you, Maryland) don’t really have any. In real life, you might retain some of these games but have others chosen on a random or rotating basis.The matchups in weeks 1 and 3 are based on the previous season’s standings. Week 1 is a high-low pairing (the best teams from the previous season play the worst teams) while Week 3 is a high-high pairing (the best teams play the best teams and the worst teams play the worst teams). In theory, this gives each team one relatively tough and one relatively easy matchup within the first few weeks of the season.Weeks 5, 6, 8 and 9 are flex or power-paired matchups, where teams are paired against others with similar records that they haven’t played previously and that they aren’t already scheduled to play against in the future. (I’ll describe the procedure for pairing teams in a moment.) Each team has two home flex games and two away flex games, with the weeks designated in advance: For instance, Penn State has away games in weeks 5 and 9 and home flex games in weeks 6 and 8. Home and away weeks are set up such that every team has the opportunity to play every other team at least once.2For example, since Michigan State and Ohio State weren’t originally scheduled to play one another, there has to be at least one flex week where one of them is scheduled to be on the road and the other is scheduled to be at home. 3L–IowaW–IndianaL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.W–N’Western 4Indiana@ Illinois@ Minnesota@ N’westernMich. St. 5L–WisconsinW–RutgersW–N’WesternL–NebraskaW–Indiana 3W–RutgersL–MinnesotaW–Mich. St.W–PurdueW–Wisconsin 7W–Mich. St.L–IndianaL–MarylandW–Minnesota Iowa3-1Maryland3-1 7L–N’WesternW–PurdueW–NebraskaW–RutgersL–Ohio St. 4W–Ohio St.W–RutgersL–PurdueW–Nebraska 5@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD 1MichiganWisconsinPurdue@ Mich. St.@ Illinois 6W–RutgersW–N’WesternW–IllinoisL–MinnesotaL–Iowa 3Iowa@ IndianaPenn St.Ohio St.@ N’western 5L–MichiganW–IllinoisL–MinnesotaW–Mich. St. 6W–WisconsinL–MichiganL–Mich. St.L–Penn St. 2W–MarylandL–NebraskaL–WisconsinW–Rutgers 1@ Minnesota@ IowaN’western@ Indiana 8W–Mich. St.L–MichiganL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.W–Indiana Power-paired Week 5 matchups in hypothetical Big Ten schedule 2L–IndianaL–MichiganW–PurdueW–IowaW–Illinois read more

DETOX NEWS 10 New Developments Heading Into Tonights Board Of Appeals Meeting

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Based on information provided at Monday night’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting, here are some of the latest developments in the effort to construct a detox facility at 362 Middlesex Avenue.The Board of Appeals has an important meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm in the Town Hall Auditorium on this matter.#1) At tonight’s meeting, the Board of Appeals will review and possibly vote on the draft written decision that was made at its January 16 meeting to deny the special permit request of the applicants.“Town Counsel Jonathan Silverstein has prepared a decision that is intended to reflect both the vote that was taken and the basis for the decision to deny the special permit,” Town Manager Jeff Hull told Selectmen. “If the decision is finalized at that meeting, it must then be filed with the Town Clerk.”#2) If a majority of Board of Appeals members were to disapprove the draft for some reason, the vote denying the special permit would NOT change.“This is NOT an opportunity to change the substance of the decision,” said Town Counsel Mark Rich in response to a question raised by Selectman Mike McCoy. “The Zoning Board of Appeals must come to an agreement on how that decision will be translated. They’ll be discussing the language of the report that goes to the Town Clerk. This is NOT an opportunity to reconsider the vote that denied the special permit… The intent is to have a defensible decision for the Town Clerk as that’s going to be the matter of any appeal… That it accurately and appropriately reflects the comments and positions of the [board members] and how they voted.”#3) Also at tonight’s meeting, the Board of Appeals will discuss the process to follow for consideration of a request from the applicant for a reasonable accommodation.“The Board will consider, with the advice of [Town Counsel] Jonathan Silverstein, whether or not to conduct the meeting as a public hearing and will receive counsel’s opinion as to whether the decision to grant a reasonable accommodation requires a simple majority or a ‘supermajority,’ added Hull.#4) Town Counsel Jonathan Silverstein has communicated with Town Manager Hull that he intends on recommending to the Board of Appeals that (1) the board DOES conduct a public hearing and (2) the decision to grant the reasonable accommodation would require a SUPERMAJORITY (i.e., 4-1 or 5-0), NOT a simple majority.  KP Law believes the governance of the town would still apply in this case.#5) The Board of Appeals will NOT actually consider whether or not to grant the reasonable accommodation at tonight’s meeting, and it may be awhile before it does so.“The Board’s next scheduled meeting on March 13, 2019 apparently has a full agenda, which may mean that the reasonable accommodations matter is scheduled for a later date,” cautioned Hull.#6) The Concerned Citizens of Wilmington recently provided the Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Selectmen with a letter arguing that the federal American with Disabilities Act may not be invoked to supersede local zoning bylaws. A ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court (Get Back Up, Inc. vs. City of Detroit & City of Detroit Board of Appeals) was provided as support.The letter also argued that the residents of Wilmington have already made “reasonable accommodations” to those suffering from substance abuse by amending the zoning bylaw to allow for the construction of future detox facilities in industrial zoned areas that are “remote, quiet, and more conducive to those individuals undergoing the torments of withdrawal.”Prior to summarizing the letter for the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Jeff Hull took an opportunity to clear up any implication that Town Counsel Jonathan Silverstein hadn’t been evaluating the case.“[Attorney Silverstein] has looked at a number of different cases. He’s a specialist in land use law. I think it needs to be made very clear to the public that he is on top of this. He has many years of experience in land use law,” stressed Hull.A letter from Silverstein was read into the record at the end of Monday’s meeting, which, in part, reemphasized Hull’s assurances that Town Counsel has been handling the case appropriately.#7) Resident Suzanne Sullivan criticized the Board of Selectmen for, in her opinion, failing to protect and defend the bylaws of the town. She read a section of the Wilmington Board of Appeals’ rules and regulation:“The discussion about this accommodation, in our minds, is illegal,” continued Sullivan. “There is no basis for them to be coming to the Board of Appeals and this town is setting up a process that is counter to the bylaws of the town. And this isn’t only town bylaws, it’s the state statute… Are we going to have to sit here and listen to this ‘fake process’ coming forward?… I’ve yet to hear how under what law they can come forward with an accommodation petition after they just got a denial on a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. I still don’t have that answer…. This is not allowed. It was voted down. Plain and simple. Deal with it. They have a recourse — it’s called land court.”#8) Resident Rob Fasulo urged the Board of Selectmen to reconsider its decision not to enter into Executive Session to discuss Board of Appeals Chair Dan Veerman and any perceived “liability issues” he causes the town in this matter.“There’s been a lot of talk about the Facebook post [in which he used the term “junkie”], began Fasulo. “I don’t remember hearing any talk of any other comments. I happened to be going back through the WCTV tapes. During the carnival debate, [right before] the 26-minute on the January 13 meeting video, [Veerman] is on record again using that questionable word. So now we have a long-term pattern of this usage. The concern over that is he really can only vote one way without getting the town into some trouble. If he votes no when this accommodation comes up, there will surely be an appeal on that fact alone.”“I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, but this situation needs to be looked at,” continued Fasulo. “Can he make a vote one way or the other without causing liability to the town? You guys need to do your job and at least have the discussion… Please reconsider the vote and go into Executive Session to discuss.”#9) Later in the evening, Selectman Mike McCoy requested that the Board of Selectmen, at an upcoming meeting, again consider entering Executive Session to discuss Board of Appeals Chair Dan Veerman. While no formal vote took place after McCoy made the motion, Selectman Chair Kevin Caira agreed to put it on the agenda for a future meeting. McCoy noted he planed on raising this issue even before Fasulo suggested it.At the February 11 meeting, the Board of Selectmen were stalemated 2-2 on whether or not to enter Executive Session, with Selectmen McCoy & Bendel voting in favor and Selectmen Caira and Loud voting against, with Selectman Eaton abstaining. As a result, the motion failed due to the lack of a majority. With Selectman Loud having resigned from the board, the math, and possibly outcome, of the next vote may be different.#10) Selectman Mike McCoy also made a request that, by the next Selectmen’s Meeting, he be provided with examples of other instances where the Wilmington Board of Appeals took a vote at one meeting and then took a vote on the original vote’s decision at a following meeting.  He claimed it had never happened before. Town Counsel Mark Rich said it was not uncommon, but did not specify if he was speaking generally or Wilmington-specific.“In all my 30 years, I don’t think this has ever happened. I think when [the Board of Appeals] takes a vote, they deny it, and it automatically goes to the Town Clerk’s Office,” claimed McCoy. “Can anyone please tell me if there’s ever been a case, on file, similar to what we’re doing now for 362 Middlesex Ave, where there actually going to take a vote on a decision?”Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedBREAKING: Detox Center Proposal For 362 Middlesex Avenue Officially Submitted To TownIn “Government”LAWSUIT FILED: Bettering LLC Sues Zoning Board Of Appeals Over Detox Facility DenialIn “Government”SELECTMEN NEWS: 5 Things That Happened At Monday’s MeetingIn “Government”last_img read more

More People Have a Summer Streaming List Than a Summer Reading List

first_img Summer used to be synonymous with poring over a juicy read at the beach, or curling up next to a good book outside on the porch.But not anymore. A new survey conducted by New York-based research firm Miner & Co. Studio reveals that, while 76 percent of Americans say they have a summer reading list, 85 percent report to having a summer “streaming” list — a catalog of content that they intend to binge before summer ends.And the great outdoors has slowly become the venue of choice for streaming. Sixty-four percent of participants said that they are consuming video in places where they used to spend time reading outside, including on porches, decks, backyards, beaches and lakes.Related: Binge-Watching Is Our New NormalYouTube (93 percent) and Netflix (90 percent) are the two platforms leading this streaming trend, according to the report, which surveyed 800 adults aged 18 to 59.But before you’re quick to bemoan the unplugged vacations of yesteryear, Miner also found that summer streaming can have certain social benefits. Ironically, streaming has increased social interaction between friends and family, according to the survey, in that 65 percent of participants said that they now spend more time with their loved ones watching and talking about their favorite shows.For additional streaming trends this summer, check out Miner’s infographic right here:Click to EnlargeRelated: As Online Video Explodes, a Look at 5 of the Industry’s Biggest Trends (Infographic) 2 min read This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. August 28, 2015center_img Enroll Now for Free Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Nowlast_img read more

An agents survival guide for Black Friday sales strategies and opportunities

first_img Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Tags: Feature Story Kathryn Folliott << Previous PostNext Post >> Share This is a feature story from the November 23rd, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. TORONTO — Heading into high season for winter getaways, and with spring and summer vacations on the horizon, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are well-timed for the travel industry. But do Black Friday and Cyber Monday keep travel agents in the loop?As the industry gears up for this year’s edition of Black Friday (Nov. 24) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) madness, a $16 billion phenomenon, we spoke to several suppliers including tour operators, hoteliers and cruise lines about their late November sales strategies, and how agents can best take advantage of all the deals out there – and minimize the chances of their clients booking the big discounts direct.In the space of just a few years, consumer awareness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the Canadian marketplace has gone from non-existent, to “it’s a U.S. thing”, to bona fide bookings motivator.And while Cyber Monday started out as the online bookend to the bricks-and-mortar retail frenzy known as Black Friday, most companies are now fully onboard both bandwagons, whether they’re storefronts or web-based.Patrice Geske, Marketing Manager/Canada for the Globus family of brands including Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways, says the company ran a sale on a limited range of product to test the waters last year and was pleasantly surprised to see how good the uptake was. The company plans to expand its Black Friday and Cyber Monday product range this year with an even more meaningful offer.Geske suggests that agents send a ‘teaser’ email to their client list with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that catch their eye. “Alert them to the fact that there will definitely be some tempting offers out there, but very time limited in nature,” says Geske.The timing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is perfect for agents, adds Jeff Element, President, The Travel Corporation (TTC) Canada. “November is an ideal month to get clients thinking about booking their summer 2018 Europe trips, while there is more availability for departures compared to after the New Year, where space starts gets more limited,” says Element.Black Friday/Cyber Monday is also “a massive sales opportunity for agents to surpass their 2017 sales target”, and earn some extra commission just in time for the holiday season, he adds.Not surprisingly, the most popular trips with preferred summer departures dates are the first to fly off the shelves. Last year TTC found that offering a shorter Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotional offer was more effective, since clients were looking for deals specifically from Friday to Monday and were most inclined to make their travel decisions and book their vacations during the four-day window. This year, however, TTC is extending its offer. “We found that clients are shopping around more since there is an increasing amount of travel deals in the Canadian marketplace … so this year our Black Friday/Cyber Monday [offer] will be a few days longer to give clients every opportunity to finalize their vacation plans and book their holidays.”More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesBoth Contiki and Trafalgar had Black Friday promotions last year and received a significant number of bookings, with bookings up by double-digits, says Element.Back when Black Friday was truly a one-day event, when bricks-and-mortar stores opened their doors in the wee hours of the morning to a stampede of shoppers intent on nabbing a $99 flatscreen TV, the spur-of-the-moment buying window was part of the fun.That’s still true for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But now that retailers selling truly big-ticket items, like vacations, are getting in on the game, the buying window is slowly but surely getting longer.Karisma Hotels & Resorts is now marketing ‘Cyber Week’ specials. “Last year we hosted a Mystery Deal that ran for an entire week. It exceeded all expectations and set us on an incredible track for solid bookings throughout 2017,” said Kelly Poling, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Karisma Hotels & Resorts.Poling says Karisma is using the same week-long format this year, “knowing that consumers are excited by both the competitive price point and surprise and delight element.”Whether it’s for a day or a week, not only can the ‘buy, buy, buy’ frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday put clients in the mood to book, it can also motivate clients to splurge on their travel plans.Pamela Lassers, Director, Media Relations, for luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, says A&K’s Cyber Monday promotions have been very successful at encouraging aspirational travellers to book a trip not typically within their budget, just because the deals are so good. That works in A&K’s favour.Says Lassers: “We typically sell out of the destinations featured. Last year the places that sold out first were Botswana, Egypt, Jordan and Russia.Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are compelling promotions for travel advisors to forward to prospective clients interested in one of the featured destinations, Lassers adds. Sometimes, timing is everything. “They have time to think about it … and then the deadline entices them to make a commitment before they get wrapped up with preparations for Christmas and New Year’s.”Do Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions attract new customers? Katie Marshall, spokesperson for Adventure Canada, says the sales both bring in new business, and reward returning passengers. “Our experience shows a 50/50 split,” she says. Adventure Canada started its Black Friday sale a few years ago, and last year’s sale was the best yet for bookings.No matter what Adventure Canada is offering for the annual November blow-out, “we make sure to release the information to our agent network up to two weeks prior to Black Friday,” says Marshall. “We suggest to our agents to share this information on social media, storefronts, website, etc. over that period of time, in order to provide time for the consumer to mull over the investment.”Thompson Seattle’s General Manager Amanda Parsons says agent bookings account for about 25% of the hotel’s business. For Parsons, taking part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday is about building guest loyalty: “We know that if they come once, our hope is that we will gain a fan for life. You can buy electronics and appliances on Black Friday / Cyber Monday. Why not add a really cool vacation to the mix?”More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTAttracting new guests also figures into the equation for The Hollywood Roosevelt, says Director of Sales, Kendall Viola, another newcomer to the Black Friday / Cyber Monday phenomenon. “The biggest shopping day of the year provides a platform for our iconic hotel to showcase its amenities and packages to a large audience, who may or may not be familiar with the urban resort.”Just how global Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become is evident from the November deals from The Peninsula Hotels, applicable not just at the company’s U.S. properties in New York, Chicago and Beverly Hills, but also its Paris hotel as well.Cruise lines are in on the game too. The deals time well as a lead-in to the cruise industry’s Wave season specials in the new year. “Travel agents have a unique opportunity to leverage these Black Friday promotions to kick-start interest and finalize bookings as they close out the year,” says Joe Jiffo, Senior Vice President of Sales for MSC Cruises North America. MSC Cruises’ deals include discounts worth more than 50% off select sailings and the cruise line is looking to ramp up its presence in the North American market.The days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the time for agents to gather all of the key details and begin promoting savings on their websites, e-blasts and social media, says Jiffo. “Travel agents today have the added benefit of social media to directly reach consumers to keep pace with B2C deals. Consumers looking to travel rely heavily on online platforms like social media for advice, behind-the-scenes insight and fast correspondence. Agents should continue to take advantage of this public, wide-reaching platform to be the source of news when it comes to deals so travellers are encouraged to get in touch directly to learn more.”A list of all the travel industry’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can be found here. The list will be updated daily leading up to Black Friday (Nov. 24) and through until Cyber Monday (Nov. 27).This is a feature story from the November 23rd, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. To get Travelweek delivered to your agency for free, subscribe here. An agent’s survival guide for Black Friday: sales strategies and opportunities Posted by About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. 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