Destination Marketers and Tourism Boards Change or Perish

November 21, 2006

Interesting Article by Yeoh Siew Hoon from Wired Asia 2006, published by Travelmole on November 10, 2006


In a world where the consumer is in control of accessing information, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) or tourism boards need to stay relevant to the needs of consumers due to the fact that the way how consumers seek information on destinations and buy their travel is changing. Many factors were affecting the way destinations marketed themselves and some could become irrelevant, particularly in the face of new websites such as the social networking portals where consumers were “telling the truth” about places and experiences. In the absence of a true, independent, all-encompassing destination dashboard, however consumers still trusted the websites of DMOs.

There are three main drivers of change that were affecting the role of DMOs.





  • Demanding and connected consumers who were price conscious, demanding immediate attention/bookings, expecting rich, accurate information and able to exchange information with other consumers; and




    1. Commercial players who have developed over the past 10 years and are now operating in DMOs’ traditional marketing space and who are customer-focused had efficient business processes, effective distribution and continual improvement.


Tourist boards and DMOs had two clear advantages over the new players however – the majority of tourism services on the ground need the DMO to provide the “umbrella” and the public do trust the official tourism organization to provide unbiased information. However they must add value by doing things that the private sector does not wish to do for their destination and cannot do as efficiently and as effectively as the DMO. DMOs must become expert in exploiting the opportunities that ICT (information communications technology) and the Internet offer, which must become central to their operations. To secure the future, there must be interoperability between the different levels of DMOs within a country and they must succeed in e-marketing.

The following 10 principles to future success in e-marketing for a DMO include:



  • Reach as many potential customers as possible




  • Maximise the lifetime value of customers, by maintaining the relationship




    1. Be aware of what consumers are saying about them through community websites



    1. Create a compelling website experience



    1. Maintain high quality content



    1. Deliver sales, directly or indirectly



    1. Offer customized packaging



    1. Engage tourism businesses to deliver the inventory



    1. Demonstrate return on investment – performance evaluation and benchmarking



    1. Ensure effective electronic distribution of information to travellers and visitors.



The Rise of Web 3.0 – the “Semantic Web”

November 15, 2006

“The Future Has Arrived But It’s Not Evenly Distributed”

Currently, Semantic Web (aka Web 3.0) researchers are working out the technology and human resource issues and folks like Tim Berners-Lee, the Noble prize recipient and father of the Web, are battling critics and enlightening minds about the coming human-machine revolution.

The Semantic Web (aka Web 3.0) has already arrived, and Inference Engines are working with prototypical ontologies,

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one, which is why I was suggesting that its most likely enabler will be a social, collaborative movement such as Wikipedia, which has the human resources (in the form of the thousands of knowledgeable volunteers) to help create the ontologies (most likely as informal ontologies based on semantic annotations) that, when combined with inference rules for each domain of knowledge and the query structures for the particular schema, enable deductive reasoning at the machine level.

Read the New York Times article about Web 3.0, which introduces the holy grail of the web – bringing meaning to the web.


Published: November 12, 2006

From the billions of documents that form the World Wide Web and the links that weave them together, computer scientists and a growing collection of start-up companies are finding new ways to mine human intelligence.

Organic search engine optimization: The Next Level

November 3, 2006

Article written for Canadian Tourism Commission’s Tourism Magazine – October 2006.

It’s the online equivalent of wining the lottery – a little bit every day. We all dream of finding our tourism product web pages on the first page produced by search engine queries. Achieving this is a sometimes?elusive art, but when you get right down to it, it is the result of a process far less complicated than rocket science.

The first step involves using Google or your own favourite engine to search for keywords you believe are the most relevant to your tourism offering. By analyzing the results, you will get a sense of who your competitors are, how you can go up against them and (if successful) eventually achieve first?page rankings. The size of the search volume results will help you identify the best keywords associated with your business and their probability of ranking well. They will also lead you to consider other tactics like perhaps focusing on the use of better?targeted keywords on your pages. There are free tools available to help you perform this task.

Once your keywords are defined, the next step is to write content around them and make sure each page is uniquely optimized for a maximum of two to three keywords. Choosing more keywords would be equivalent to diluting your efforts. You should consider the density of keywords on your page in relation to a particular angle you are optimizing. For instance, if you were to optimize for ten keywords, you would be entering into more competitive waters. This means that hypothetically, instead of competing against 2?million indexed pages with three given keywords, with 10 keywords you might all of a sudden find yourself submerged in a sea of 30?million pages, all competing against you.

Whilst there may not be strict guidelines governing keyword density, there is a general consensus that the ideal density for which you should aim is in the range of between 3% and 7% keyword?presence per page. A simple formula would be to take a keyword and divide it by the number of total words on that page. I would suggest you start at 3% to 4%. Wait for the first search engine crawls to see where you land in queries before you decide to increase density. On one page you may want to optimize for “Thunder Bay” and “hotels,” while on another page, you might choose to optimize for “hotels” in “Ontario”. Keep monitoring how your positioning evolves through the engines and revise the content of your pages as needed. >>>

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Search Engine Marketing 101

November 1, 2006

Written for Canadian Tourism Commission’s Tourism Magazine – September 2006.

Have you ever wondered what determines the ability of some websites to come up at the top of search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others? Much of this is determined by how these websites have been optimized for search engine marketing, one of the most important elements of online marketing tactics today. It usually requires a combination of organic site optimization (making sure the website is search?engine spider?friendly) and an investment in paid search engine advertising (bidding on keywords, and being charged per click?through to your website).

For positive results to occur, a number of steps should be undertaken. The first is brand protection. This involves making sure you have acquired the right domain names, no one is bidding on your keywords, and you have protected your meta tags. (You might want to consider buying advertising on search engines to compensate for the competing use of keywords.) Avoid distracting pop?ups and pop?unders, to make sure the consumer is not confused when he or she looks up your company or destination on the web.

Paid placement or pay?per?click advertising can be an attractive solution especially if

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you have a price?point attached to the ad. To use the example of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, many people might not know that the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is a luxury hotel. Potential guests clicking on paid links hoping to find bargain accommodation would quickly move on, and a paid “click” would be wasted; pre?qualifying visitors through ad content is very important. Once the visitor clicks through to the landing page, it is important that this page is designed to accomplish the goal, such as selling a hotel room, capturing email addresses, or excite about the brand or destination to increase awareness.

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