Twitter is blocked in China – what does it mean to Travel and Tourism Marketing?

June 3, 2009

twitter-blocked.jpgFirst some background:As reported by Reuters, and experienced by myself yesterday in sunny Beijing, the GFW (Great Fire Wall) strikes again. The Chinese Government censors blocked access to Twitter and other popular online services on Tuesday (June 2) afternoon at approximately 5pm, two days before the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. The photo-sharing site Flickr, email service Hotmail and other services were also unavailable this evening. was blocked last month and YouTube has been inaccessible from the mainland since March. Read more

Using UGC to Attract Visitors – who leads?

May 19, 2009

In the good ‘ole days – a mere 30 years or so ago – destination marketing was a relatively simple affair: figure out your major selling features, maybe add some positioning spin ( a “snazzy byline or
contemporary looking logo), print some brochures, run an ad campaign; ensure there was a “call to action; ” wait for the phone to ring; mail out the brochures and hope for the best. Read more

The Value of DMOs?

March 22, 2007


Sometimes it seems to be hard to understand from private tourism business or even from government, as well as from residents to pinpoint the true value of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs).
DMOs have gotten under attack recently, and two examples illustrate the case – one more tongue and cheek, the other a bit more real-life.

Read more

Booking Engine for National Tourism Organizations?

February 19, 2007

As many national tourism organizations all over the world hurry to provide hotel, air, car, and package reservation capabilities on their websites, either by building their own booking engine or by partnering by one of the major OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), it poses the question of the role of National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) or even state, provincial, regional, and teritorial Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). By talking to different NTOs and DMOs over the past year, I learned the following: It really depends on the mandate and structure of the organization, as well as the situation of the destination itself. For some NTOs and DMOs it may make sense in going with a booking engine, but certainly not always. Not to go into too much detail, the NTO or DMO should ask itself the key questions: Do we create value to the travel industry we are serving as well as the consumer by becoming another intermediary? Can we operate a booking engine in different languages, as well as providing adequate customer service? Will we be more effective in this very competitive global environment, and can these revenue streams be leveraged to execute better marketing programs and drive traffic to the websites? Are we alianating our partners (hotels, airlines, tour operators, etc.) by potentially competing with them, or are we actually facilitating a better online service by providing booking capabilities directly on the destination’s website? Are there other ways to create a better online experience for consumers and make it easy to connect potential travelers to the right tourism supplier?

I found the EnglandNet (powered by TravelFusion on VisitBritain) debate in the UK interesting however. Even though, the Travelmole article is from July 2006, it touches this issue directly. Especially have a look at some of the User Comments below…

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Canada launches new Visual Identity of Tourism Brand

January 17, 2007

This week, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) launched the new visual identity, both offline and online at, of its new Brand, Canada-Keep Exploring. Canada has been globally leading the .travel initiative, which is strategically aligned with the new brand articulation. What has been a very exciting development over the past two years, will be a new way how this great destination will be communicated. Canada. Keep Exploring recognizes an undeniable truth about people: they are all explorers. The brand promotes and celbrates the explorer in each person.

According to the United Nations, Canada is the #2 place to live in the world, and three Canadian cities are on the top ten list, but

Canada as a travel destination ranked a disappointing 12th in the most recent report by the

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World Tourism Organization. It was apparent that

Canada, a great place to live, was not resonating with consumers as an exciting and compelling travel destination. Research has shown that while

Canada is viewed in very positive terms by the travelling public, it is not “top of mind” as a travel destination. In addition,

Canada continues to face increasingly competitive pressures in the tourism market, and is being far outspent by competing destinations.

Brand Canada is designed to bridge the gap between consumers’ historical perceptions of

Canada as simply a place of beautiful geography and our emerging international reputation as a progressive welcoming society.

Canada. Keep Exploring, provides a new frame of reference, to take everything that is good and true about

Canada and make it more relevant and personal.

The new brand reflects an inherent impulse to explore, and reflects

Canada as a place worth exploring. It reintroduces the excitement of discovery, and encourages the consumers to connect with that child-like wonder within all of us. >>>

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.



Thailand’s Innovative Country-Branding Initiatives

October 10, 2006

Now this is TRUE country-branding:

Thailand’s government opened hundreds of Thai Restaurants around the world, in an elaborate franchise scheme set up by the Thai Department of Export both to promote Thai food and act as physical tourist brochures around the world. The highly branded outlets will be known as Golden Leaf, Cool Basil and Elephant Jump. The goal is to open 3,000 restaurants worldwide, in cooperation with joint-venture partners. Kicking off this remarkable initiative, two ‘Elephant Jump’ outlets recently opened in London. In the US, franchise fees would be US$30,000 for Golden Leaf, $20,000 for Cool Basil and $10,000 for Elephant Jump. Franchisees would pay 3% of their annual revenue to the holding company, which would see a 30% Thai government ownership. With tourism now the world’s largest industry, and smaller countries scrambling to be heard and seen amidst the explosion of travel destinations, Thailand shows that it understands the future of ‘popular embassies’. Opening up entertaining (not to mention appetizing) global outposts that generate both instant cash and future income from increased tourism/trade is far more profitable than boring brochures and travel trade shows.

Now, targeting high net-worth individuals around the world, the country’s Tourism Authority has introduced a loyalty scheme, called the Thailand Elite

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Privilege Club

. A world’s first, membership (which comes with the Thailand Elite Card) earns card holders benefits

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and discounts all over the kingdom, ranging from fast-track immigration at Don Muang Airport, heavy discounts on Thai Airways (buy one, get one free), special rates at five-star hotels, free golf at several courses, free limousine transfers, 24-hour concierge service, free spa treatments and medical check-ups, and five-year multiple entry visas allowing the cardholder to stay continuously in Thailand for 90 days. And it gets even better: next year (2005) will see hotels like the Thailand

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Elite Boutique Hotel, golf clubs, and entertainment centers that would be exclusive only to card holders.

Perhaps most intriguingly, members can also ‘purchase’ second homes in Thailand. As foreigners aren’t allowed to own land in Thailand, purchases would be in the name of Thailand Privilege Co., the entity that runs the Thailand Elite program on behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The state tourist body, which is overseeing the promotion, is hoping to sign up at least 10,000 wealthy visitors to the program by the end of next year. Thailand’s president, Thaksin Shinawatra, has predicted that 200,000 members could eventually join. That’s a lot of newly minted Thai ambassadors!

If for government. Or tourism. Or loyalty management. Or anything that could do with a healthy dose of privilege for customers floating in the ever expanding ‘sea of sameness’. This Thai initiative may inspire to

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re-assess the assets and determine which could carry a premium by making them available to members-only. From a country’s point of view, there are a lot of potential candidates who could do with either an inflow of prosperous visitors, or more goodwill.