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Are Classic Brands Rediscovering Or Forgetting Their Customers?

May 22, 2023 | Customer

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A Tale Of Two Brands From My Youth: Stuckey’s Rediscovery Versus Holiday Inn’s Disconnect

By Tom Seest

Are Classic Brands Rediscovering Or Forgetting Their Customers?

Do Brands Rekindle Relationships Or Lose Focus on Their Customers’ Roadtrip Through Life?

The old-fashioned American road trip embodies the romance of simpler times, the allure of vast, untouched landscapes, and the thrill of a new discovery around each bend. This quintessential experience is a testament to the spirit of adventure that lies in the heart of every explorer. It’s an epic journey through a diverse tableau of picturesque scenes, spanning majestic mountains, idyllic prairies, golden deserts, and bustling cityscapes, each part of a grand mosaic stitched together by miles of winding highways and byways. This journey unfolds not only before the eyes but also in the soul, echoing a timeless romance that has enticed generations of travelers, poets, and storytellers. It’s an intimate affair between wanderers and the open road, an affair spun with golden threads of sunrise and dyed in the vibrant hues of sundown.

Road trips are an immersion into a sensory feast: the sound of gravel crunching under tires, the smell of roadside wildflowers, the taste of diner coffee, the feeling of a cool breeze rolling off the mountains, the sight of a million stars freckling a moonless sky. Each moment blossoms into a cherished memory, a silent testament to an enduring journey. The journey, laden with stories that unfold like well-thumbed pages of a beloved book, each carries the whispers of the past and the promise of tomorrow.

And, for many of us, the classic road trip in the beat-up station wagon was our introduction to classic American brands. In those days, the excitement would build as we rounded the bend and saw the sign for Stuckey’s. We all pulled in to look through the many trinkets, experience the tastes of the corn dogs and Pecan Rolls, and the smell of the ethyl gasoline being pumped into the classic but experienced station wagon. Eventually, when we were tired from the sights, the sounds, and the excitement of the day, we’d pull into the Holiday Inn and experience the Holidome and the endless night of fantastic dreams in anticipation of the next days.

Are the Stories and Experiences Of Brands Passed From Generation to Generation?

Each new day, every pitstop became a new story, each detour an experience. Stopping at a bustling farmers’ market, engaging with the locals, eating a meal at a roadside picnic area, and savoring farm-fresh produce adds authenticity to the trip. A spontaneous detour could lead to a hidden waterfall or a panoramic view that becomes the treasure of your journey. These chance encounters, serendipitous surprises, and the camaraderie developed en route form an integral part of the road trip culture, weaving an intricate tapestry of experiences that echo with laughter, shared secrets, and unforgettable conversations.

The joy of the American road trip, for me, lied in its limitless possibilities, where each journey is as diverse as the landscape itself. It was a kaleidoscope of experiences that bound together the country’s heart and soul. It captures the essence of life – unpredictable, beautiful, filled with moments of quiet contemplation, bursts of unbridled joy, and instances of profound connection. This adventure offers the chance to witness first-hand the fascinating duality of America – the old and the new, the tranquil and the chaotic, the natural and the manmade. The memories garnered, and the experiences shared become treasured keepsakes, sparks that ignite fireside tales and fill scrapbooks with tangible fragments of past wanderings. The romance, the memories, the experiences, and the joy of the old-fashioned American road trip, thus, continue to live on, ever-evolving, ever enchanting, calling forth those with an unquenchable thirst for the open road and a yearning for the horizon.

And, for someone like me that was growing up, learning, developing, and bonding in a struggling middle-class family in a small, rural town called Hopedale, Illinois, it was my introduction to the brand. Each brand became a beacon of a consistent experience, with a local flavor, in friendliness, service, sight, smell, and taste. We were living in a fantastic time, we were creating memories that we didn’t properly appreciate at the time, and I miss that.

Is Tom Seest a Known Marketing Or Branding Profession?

When you first venture upon these lines, it’s important to underscore that I am not a branding consultant, a marketing guru, or a business analyst. I am an experienced consumer, the kind that brands have relied on for years, the one who forms the backbone of market dynamics. I’ve experienced the ebb and flow of the consumer landscape, seen the giants rise and fall, the Davids become Goliaths, the classics fade into oblivion, and the unexpected becomes the norm.

My words are not cloaked in layers of professional jargon; they are rather the reflection of an ordinary customer’s journey, seasoned by time and shaped by a myriad of experiences. The insights I share here are rooted in the nostalgia of my childhood, colored by my personal preferences and tempered by my pragmatic sensibilities.

This article and story are an expression of my personal perspective, a series of observations, shared not as the gospel truth of branding but as the musings of a thoughtful customer and the marketing, branding, public relations, and franchisors. As you delve deeper into my analysis of two brands—one which has admirably navigated its way back into relevance and the other that seems to have lost its touch—remember these are merely my opinions. This is my story, the story of an everyday consumer, making sense of the constantly evolving marketplace, one brand at a time.

I can’t tell you why you should listen to me, or my struggles, or my story, but I hope you do, that you listen, and that you learn, for many of you have lost your focus, your customer, your legacy, and your story. In this area, I have plenty of experience.

Most of your customers are like me. We are experiencing “existing customer” buying fatigue.

Do Customers Look At Brands and Consider the Past, the Present, and the Future?

I don’t know all the answers, but I ask a lot of questions. And I find myself questioning the insanity around me. But I can assure you that we don’t forget the past, we appreciate the present, and we shape our futures from our experiences.

I, too, lost my focus and my way. Due to the challenges of life and raising a family, I lost my focus on serving others, serving my customers, serving God, and serving myself. Due to this lack of focus, I woke up one day and realized that I weighed in the neighborhood of 600 pounds. I was unfocused, and the process of getting there was a blur, full of lessons that I learned, happiness, joy, sadness, and all the other emotions. But my point is that I woke up.

I set out on a new road trip to recapture the good from the fast, the experiences that helped form and shape me, to regain my health, a deeper, more honest relationship with my God, and a readiness to learn and glean new meaning and memories with my family and friends.

And I chose the road trip again, but this time, on a bicycle. Over a period of 7 years, I rode my bicycle just over 24,000 miles on trips down the Mississippi River, on Route 66 from St. Louis to Chicago, from New Orleans to Florida, from Santa Barbara to Mexico, and so much more. It taught me to slow down, enjoy what God is showing me and giving me each day, and rekindle a passion for those slower-paced times. When you plod along at a pace between 8 and 15 miles per hour, you get a new perspective of the same landscape.

Were Holiday Inn’s a Part Of the Great American Road Trip Experience?

The Holiday Inn brand, recognizable worldwide, holds an illustrious history spanning over seven decades. It’s more than just a name; it’s a saga of hospitality evolution and innovation that has consistently met the changing needs of travelers.

The Holiday Inn story begins in the mid-twentieth century, an era defined by a surge in automobile travel and burgeoning interstate highways. Kemmons Wilson, an entrepreneur from Memphis, Tennessee, was disappointed with the inconsistent quality and prices of roadside lodgings during a family trip in 1951. This spurred him to envisage a hotel chain that would offer predictable, family-friendly accommodations at reasonable rates.

A year later, in 1952, Wilson opened the doors to the first Holiday Inn hotel in Memphis, setting a precedent for standardized, affordable lodging. The name “Holiday Inn” was suggested by architect Eddie Bluestein as a joke referencing the 1942 musical film, and it stuck.

Wilson’s model, which involved providing amenities such as air conditioning, in-room televisions, free parking, and kids-stay-free policies, was groundbreaking. These value additions turned Holiday Inn into a reliable and welcoming brand for weary road trippers and vacationing families.

By 1957, the franchise model was introduced, marking a milestone in Holiday Inn’s rapid expansion across the United States. A prominent feature of this growth was the iconic “Great Sign” which had a script logo, star, and marquee of interchangeable messages. With the beacon-like presence of the Great Sign, Holiday Inn became a symbol of hospitality and comfort.

For me, I still remember the times we spent swimming with family and friends while stranded in a blizzard in Elmhurst, Illinois, in the early 1970’s, a trip to the Holiday Inn in Navarre Beach, Florida, where they filmed Jaws, time in the Holiday Inn in Hannibal, Missouri where we learned about Mark Twain and swam with the cousins. More trips to see my Aunt down in Pacific Missouri with stops at the Collinsville, Illinois Holiday Inn to swim with family and see all the great St. Louis attractions.

While I don’t remember the bad things or experiences from those trips, the good times were seared into my mind, and those memories are as fresh as if they happened yesterday.

What About Holiday Inn Today?

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the Holiday Inn brand spread globally, embracing the rise in commercial air travel. The brand diversified with new offerings, such as Holiday Inn Jr., a smaller design created for downtown locations, and Holiday Inn Express, introduced in the 1990s to cater to budget-conscious businesses and transient travelers desiring a simple yet comfortable stay.

In 1988, the UK-based company Bass PLC acquired the Holiday Inn chain, integrating it into its existing hotel business. In 2003, the company was rebranded as InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), one of the world’s largest hotel companies.

In 2007, Holiday Inn embarked on the most extensive relaunch in the hospitality industry’s history. This $1 billion undertaking revitalized the brand through improved service training, refreshed logos, and upgrades to more than 3,000 hotels globally. The endeavor emphasized the brand’s commitment to innovation and continual evolution in response to the modern traveler’s needs.

As I started and grew my businesses and continued my struggle down that road trip called life, I was also developing my story and my brand; some of it good, some of it bad, and learning lessons from my experiences. And I was growing my experiences using the services of the Holiday Inn Brand. I would host business meetings there in rented conference rooms, meet with family while there, and host my family there if we were traveling together. When I started riding the bicycle again, I’d stay at Holiday Inn Expresses or Holiday Inns with my bicycle and recover from the day’s adventures. I continued a grand tradition passed to me by my father and uncles, and I was reliving the memories of the past at a much slower pace.

What Is the History Of the Stuckey’s Brand?

The story of Stuckey’s Corporation is an inspirational American narrative, beautifully intertwined with entrepreneurship, family tradition, and the open road. This timeless brand, renowned for its pecan log rolls, roadside shops, and blue roofs, emerged from humble beginnings, facing its share of turbulence yet continually embodying the essence of classic Americana.

The inception of Stuckey’s hails back to the era of the Great Depression in the early 1930s. The founder, William S. “Bill” Stuckey Sr., a young Georgia pecan farmer, started selling pecans from his used car to make ends meet. Noticing the increase in motorized traffic due to newly established highways, Bill set up a small roadside stand near Eastman, Georgia, to peddle pecans, candies, and souvenirs to travelers. This initiative marked the embryonic stage of the Stuckey’s franchise.

The business quickly blossomed, leading Bill to incorporate Stuckey’s in 1937, pioneering the highway oasis concept. During World War II, when sugar was scarce, he innovated the Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll, an alternative to traditional candy. This new product, a nougat center rolled in caramel and dipped in Georgia pecans, quickly became Stuckey’s signature treat.

The post-war boom of the 1950s brought more cars on the road, leading to an expansion in Stuckey’s operations. The brand began partnering with gas stations, offering food, fuel, and clean restrooms to weary travelers. By the late 1960s, over 350 Stuckey’s stores adorned highways across the United States, becoming an iconic part of American road trips. Their blue roofs became a beacon of relief and comfort for families on long drives.

While my current metabolic health challenges don’t allow me to eat those tasty treats, the memories of those fantastic trips and the stops at Stuckey’s are seared into my subconscious. Their billboards were a treasure and also a warning sign in later years for the brand. They were a brand that dwindled much too early for many of us.

Is Stuckey’s Still a Brand Today?

Despite this meteoric rise, Stuckey’s encountered a major setback in the 1970s. Following Bill’s ill health, the company was sold to Pet Milk, which later merged with IC Industries. This transition marked a period of decline for the company as it lost its way amidst corporate reshuffling.

But, the spirit of Stuckey’s remained resilient. In 1985, Bill’s son, W.S. “Billy” Stuckey Jr., repurchased the company, infusing it with renewed vigor. However, the wave of new freeways and interstate systems overshadowed the once-popular highways, challenging the brand’s relevancy.

In a new turn of events, the company found its savior in Stephanie Stuckey, Bill’s granddaughter, in 2019. A lawyer and former Georgia state representative, she took over as CEO with a bold vision of restoring the brand’s former glory. Under her leadership, Stuckey’s has seen a resurgence driven by a mix of nostalgic marketing, new store openings, and an expanded e-commerce presence.

Today, Stuckey’s, with its 90 years of history, remains an embodiment of the classic American road trip. Although fewer in number, the stores continue to provide that much-needed respite for road-weary travelers, offering sweet treats, quality merchandise, and the iconic Pecan Log Roll, a testament to its founder’s innovative spirit.

I follow Stephanie Stuckey on LinkedIn and all the other social platforms because she has reflected on the journey of Stuckey’s, and bears witness to a lasting tale of tenacity, adaptation, and an undying love for the open road. From a single roadside stand to a national phenomenon, Stuckey’s story resonates as an enduring emblem of American entrepreneurial spirit, reminding us of the sweet taste of perseverance and the timeless allure of the journey. And she’s a master storyteller, someone every brand manager and marketer in America needs to follow and learn from.

Like Bill Stuckey, I had to transform myself as my life changed. I lost all that weight and got down to 270 pounds and then encountered a health challenge. I haven’t passed on yet, I’ve embraced the challenges of a joyful heart that occasionally fails me, and like Stephanie Stuckey, I’ve got to find a way to rebuild from the memories, the energy, the stubbornness, and the determination, and continue my journey to better health in the best way I can, with the resources that I have, to make the lives of those around me better. And with each breath of life, God gives me, I want to learn from the brands around me, like Holliday Inn and Stuckey’s, because they all tell stories and give us lessons that we can learn.

Do I Still Stay At Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Or the IHG Brand Properties?

Sadly, I don’t anymore. For like my life and my brand, in my mind, they’ve forgotten the customer, and they’ve done it over time. The paragraphs that follow summarize an event that brought to an end my experiences with that brand, a relationship that will likely never be rekindled. For I am but a number, a case file, an unwanted, unpleasant experience, and an unnecessary blip in the history of a monolith brand.

I will also acknowledge that I am not without fault. I have forgotten many of my customers, ended relationships with them, pivoted to new paths, and developed biases. I am not perfect, and I do not expect that of others, but for me, the relationship is over with the Holiday Inn Brand.

Of my four boys, my second son Brandon joined the army and found himself stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia. We live 4 to 5 hours away, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on a mountaintop, with backyard chickens, cats, bunnies, great neighbors, in our RV in a small campground named Shadowlands RV. When we want to visit Brandon, we have to drive through Stephanie Stuckey’s beautiful home state of Georgia, the rows of pecans, through the heart of Atlanta, and over to Augusta, where traditions hold for golfers for over a century.

We found our way over to visit him in February of 2022 and found ourselves staying at a Holiday Inn Express, of course. We had planned a three-day weekend with him because he had leave for President’s Day and could visit with us off base. On the morning after we arrived, I showered in the tub before we were due to go meet him.

In retrospect, there were warning signs. The floor was very slippery when you walked on it because of the COVID cleaning protocols. The bathtub only had one grab bar located behind you as you went to step out of the tub. There were also no grab bars anywhere anywhere other than the one behind me. And like Humpty Dumpty of old, I had a great fall.

I managed to ride across the country 24,000 miles, lose hundreds of pounds, and walk up the flights of stairs at ball games and at other places, but I fell stepping out of the tub. I’m a careful man because of my past life, and I dried off in the tub before stepping out. When you are 56 years old, and you’ve been on the heavy side for most of your life, you tread carefully, and this experience was no exception.

After toweling off in the tub, I stepped out onto the bath mat towel thing, that the hotel provides, and had an experience that is best described as those old mats we used to sit on and ride down the fun slides at carnivals as kids. As I fell, that was when I found the absence of grab bars to add to the challenge, and I did what can only be described as the first “splits” of my life. My left leg went out under the sink, and my right leg caught the toilet and went behind it. And I felt the snap and the pain of the moment. I honestly said many things that I shouldn’t say, and felt the first real pain that I can remember in my life.

After a struggle because the door was locked as I showered (no family member wants to or should need to see that), I managed to get my right leg over the toilet and next to the left one. After that maneuver, the pain stopped, and I sat and caught my breath. And discovered that I could not stand.

So How Did Holiday Inn Express Change?

I managed to lean to the left, unlock the door, and my wife squeezed in to assess the damage and comfort me, as she always does. I was amazed that I could keep the right leg straight with no pain, but if I tried to bend it to stand, it was unbearable pain.

So, I did a belly crawl, like those soldiers you see in the movies, out to the carpeting in the room and got dressed with the aid of my wife, and horrified, scarred stares of my boys. No one should have to see that.

I have some background and training in emergency services and was able to determine that I had no broken bones and limited swelling. But no ability to stand or put weight on the leg.

So, my beautiful, loving wife went to the front desk to get an ambulance. I gave her specific instructions to be clear that I was not in immediate pain but would need transport to a hospital. I also have been involved with law firm work, insurance companies, and government work, so I asked her to be sure to ask for any paperwork needed to file an incident form for the property managers. I also had my sons take pictures of the room, the room number, and the state of the room immediately after the incident.

But, I emphasize that I was not in physical pain and that everyone should take their time, for I was not hurting.

How Did Local Holiday Inn Express Franchise React As a Brand?

The members of the hospitality staff and the front desk were cordial but cautious as I would expect. You can’t have or expect employees and staff managers to acknowledge or discuss liability, fault, etc. They seem inadequately prepared to document or care about the incident, but I would also expect that also. Modern companies now put employees and managers through so much repetitious, mind-numbing training that much of it gets forgotten.

We went to the hospital, and after a day that I spent peeing myself in the freezing hospital lobby, we were eventually seen about 9 hours later. While I could go on and on about the state of the modern medical system, I don’t want to dwell on that because no one can or should take responsibility for all of it, and most of the staff members are trying and doing the best I can. With my wife cleaning up after my spills in the lobby, the xrays revealed nothing as I expected. It was determined that I needed an MRI to look for damage that would not appear on an X-ray. So, we paid the ambulance for transport back to the Holiday Inn Express, where we extended our stay for a night, purchased a second room, and began a new beginning of a temporary phase of life with limited mobility.

Did I Learn to Walk Again?

While I documented the event on my laptop in bed, my wife and her sister worked together to locate the equipment necessary for me, as a 56-year-old, to learn to pee and poop while lying in a bed. They also located a Rollator that I could use to be transported and eventually walk again. My sons and I were thinking an engineering a way to get into the van because we could not get access to an MRI in Augusta on President’s Day weekend.

Meanwhile, back at our campground in Tennessee, my son and our campground host and neighbors went through great effort to put railings in place to ease the transition back into my office, which would become my place to sleep and lay for the next nine months.

The staff and front desk management were helpful but remained distant, as I would expect. As of the time we left, we still knew of no way to report the incident.

Did Stephanie Stuckey Manage to Grow the Stuckey’s Brand Again?

The rate of transformation and dedication is fascinating to watch as Stephanie combines her love for storytelling, love of adventure, love for the brand, and the energy it revives and drives into a well-designed playbook to regrow the transformed brand.

To relive and revive her memories, she makes many of her business trips on the open road and documents the local businesses and the legacy of the franchises from the early road trips of her youth. After each experience, she documents and learns from this, and takes steps like readopting that early packing look, the look of the old billboards, as she signs up new commercial and retail customers for her growing line of the brands of the product. She is careful to share each of their stories, and it has helped rekindle the warm memories of so many people that have experienced the brand.

As for me, I learned to pee, poop, and walk again after my surgery to repair the snapped quad tendon in my right leg. I could lie and say that it was painful, but it was not. I was prescribed painkillers, but as long as I did what I was told in physical therapy, kept it straight, and worked it as I was told, I learned to walk again.

And I continued my quest to get answers out of Holiday Inn Express.

Was Holiday Inn Express Customer Service Helpful?

My wife called the manager, and I emailed him, and we eventually got a form that he said we needed to fill out for the insurance company. After submitting the form, I started getting either no answer to my inquiries or ignored. But, I documented everything as I had been trained to do.

I’m a patient man, but I eventually decided to look into legal options or actions. I got angry at the people at Holiday Inn and documented everything, but it was evident that they didn’t want me as a customer anymore. They chose to end a 50+ year relationship over which I was the doting customer and chose a path of evading, forgetting, and hope that I suppose, I would just go away. I was just a number, a blip in the bottom line, an event that, in their eyes, probably didn’t really happen.

While I have scars from my fall and subsequent complete recovery, it taught me a lot about the modern brand and what they really think of their customers. They focus on new customers and take for granted the customers of their past. They’ll spend a fortune trying to get new customers and forget their classic customers if they think it’s going to cost their bottom line.

I eventually decided that I shouldn’t focus on legal action because my experiences in that industry as an electronic discovery software developer have left a distaste for the experience. I decided to give the IHG customer care service a try since the local Holiday Inn Express franchise had gone non-responsive. Once again, I continued documenting everything. It remains a story that I won’t ever publish because I’m not that vindictive or that type of person. I still have fond memories of the brand, and like the memories of my first and only wife, I’d prefer always to remember the good experiences and forget and forgive the past.

The IHG customer service reply was that I had to resolve the issue with the local franchise. They even put me in touch with the franchise, and it turned out that the franchise was sold to a new franchisor and that I needed to deal with the new franchisor. I contacted the manager and learned that it was the same manager that managed the location for the original franchise. When I discovered this and then pointed it out to him, my summary of his reaction was: yawn, oh, this again. He said I needed to contact the old franchisor.

Unlike Teddy Roosevelt, the buck never really stopped at any desk at IHG or Holiday Inn Express, and I eventually gave up.

Does IHG Or Holiday Inn Express Stand Behind Their Customers Still?

I wish I knew, but I can honestly say I don’t know. I know I don’t stand with them, and I won’t stand inside their doors again as a customer. I’ve given up on them and the relationship. I’ve moved on.

I’ll point out that I made my reservation with the IHG and Holiday Inn Express. And I feel much smarter having stayed there. They may want to try it from time to time. I DID NOT make a reservation with the local franchise. If your method of running your company is to have a strong brand name and brand with many sub-brands, I can respect that. But I made my reservation with you. If I, as a customer, experience an event while using your services, it is your responsibility to deal with me and the event, regardless of the outcome. If you feel that the local franchise bears responsibility, you deal with them. I’m sorry, but I was too busy learning to walk again and poop in the potty again to be chasing your managers and franchises all over Georgia.

You threw away a relationship with a person and personal brand that spent a couple of thousand dollars a year for over three decades because the buck never stops. Well, it may not stop, but you’re not getting them from me anymore.

Also, you should research your customers in events like this before you choose to ignore them. Take the time to Google the name “Tom Seest” before you throw me away like yesterday’s trash. I give and receive my share of positive reviews, just like you. I also get the occasional negative review and treat it as new information. The only difference is that I listen and learn from my mistakes.

Are Customers Forsaking Brands As They Get Burned on Moving Back Local?

Absolutely. I’m not alone. I wish I was.

Everywhere I go, I hear stories about how long-standing customers have forsaken the national brands and moved back to buying from local providers whenever possible. Customer fatigue is a real thing, and many of us have experienced it. Large brands will spend hundreds to acquire new customers, making hollow, empty promises and using the terms and conditions of the purchase to change how they treat the customer. And, since many have customer fatigue, we’ll put up with it all for a while.

Then, eventually, the line is crossed, and we move along and try to find a brand or company that doesn’t treat us like yesterday’s garbage. One of the promises of branding and a brand is the consistency at which a customer gets treated, and no one really relishes the thought of getting treated poorly, day after day, by a company that we purchased goods or services from.

I give my business to local brands now. I wrote this entire story while staying in Cozumel, Mexico, at the Hotel Villa Deja Blue and eating breakfast at La Cocina De Silvia, the attached restaurant. Both of these legendary local establishments know how to treat new and existing customers. They weathered the storms, over the years and managed to create consistent value for their loyal customers and new customers.

What Should Brands Do Today?

As I stated at the beginning, I’m not an expert in any of this. I’m just the forgotten, underappreciated, and eventually discarded long-term customer. I can’t tell you how to fix your organization, and I wouldn’t dream of it. I can’t fix you because I remain broken in my own ways. I’m still fixing myself.

You might want to start by trying to figure out who your customer or customers are and then treating them like humans with emotions, needs, wants, challenges, and desires. We’re more than just numbers and credit card numbers on a slip.

You might want to examine your organization to see if each department, division, franchise, and location knows who its customer or customers are.

But, unlike back in the hay days of Route 66, we’re all now connected online, and we’re getting tired of the treatment. I still remember when terms like “unlimited,” “limited,” “guarantee,” and “customer satisfaction” meant something.

You’ll likely continue to ignore people like me and me and write us off as troubled, Karens, etc. And continue to buy new customers, but I felt I should write you a letter, and hope that you learn about people like me, as I have learned from you in my past. I’ve learned that I don’t want to be like you.

How Do Growing Local Brands Move Into the Future?

I don’t know the answer to these questions either. I’m not an expert, I’ve learned a lot, and I’m growing and learning every day.

I’m learning how to harness and grow internet traffic and channel it, through social media traffic, to the local and attentive brands that deserve it. I’m an over-liker and over-sharer and, for brands that I like, like Stuckey’s and Stephanie Stuckey. I’ve invested thousands of dollars in learning artificial intelligence tools and how it relates to marketing, and I do it while living in my RV in the woods in Tennessee.

And I’ve decided to ignore the brands that have chosen to forget me.

I’m not asking other consumers to follow my lead because they are already doing it. I’m like the lighthouse of old, shining the spotlight and trying to warn brands that they need to wake up.

Tomorrow, I have to wake up, get treated like a forgotten customer by all the major brands I encounter on the way home, and return to my home, my palace, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my cats, my chickens, and my rabbits in a land of shadows, in a wonderful place we call Shadowlands RV.

I wish nothing but the best for all of you as individuals and as brands, even Holiday Inn.

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