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The Social Media Trends in Travel Tourism in 2009 and beyond

 

img_5019.JPGA panel at the Phocuswright Bloggers Summit at ITB in Berlin, including Darren Cronian, Kevin May, Klaus Hildebrandt, Martin Schobert, Vasco Sommer-Nunes, and moderated by Stephen Joyce about the Social Media Trends in Travel & Tourism. It was interesting to hear that a big discussion was formulating around the use of Twitter? Well, according to Martin Schobert, Twitter is where the conversation is. I would comment:

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What kind of conversation? Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of great discussions going on, but there is also a lot of

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useless stuff going on. In a nutshell, as it relates to starting a Twitter strategy for your travel organization or destination, there are a few things to keep in mind:- If you haven’t already, get your own Twitter account and start following people. Get familiar with the tool and communicating on the platform. Better yet, get a group together at work to do it with you.- Take lessons learned from other direct-to-consumer communications such as blogs and email newsletters and transition those to Twitter.- Brand profiles must be personal and honest; content must be compelling to successfully interest and attract people.- Connect to the audience as often as possible; reply directly to them if they are speaking about your brand.

– Make sure your Twitter voice is consistent with your brand.

– Do not exist on Twitter only as another version of corporate promotion. Be a person.

– Get your CEO or top executive involved. Employees love it. Customers love it. There is no more powerful way to humanize your brand.

– Above all, be authentic. Don’t try to fake, spin or hide behind your tweets — it won’t work.

Then a poll was launched to actually survey the audience to vote on the various social media trends in travel and tourism. The results were interesting…

On the top was Change in Philosophy, then PR using more channels, and hiring a Social Media guy to increase ROI, and lastly Twitter.

Hiring a Social Media guy is interesting. Social Media is one of these new buzz words that a lot of organizations do not know where to put. First it was conveniently ignored, and now it is pushed around. The technology department believes that they need to own it, because it has new technologies. E-Commerce

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believes they need to own it as it as something to do with the website. Distribution believes they need to own it as it involves external websites. Branding believes they need to own it as the consumer is trying to take control of the holy brand. PR thinks they need to own it because it includes the word “Media”. Advertising needs to own it because they received a call from an Advertising Sales Manager from a Social Media website. Research thinks they need to own it as it provides valuable consumer information. And then there is the Legal Department that simply wants to shut it all down and put their head in the sand.

The key is that a Social Media strategy needs a home, which creates a dedicated staff. In the end it is part of content, but depending on the complexity of the strategy, a community manager, an editor, a business development manager to take care of aggregation and syndication partners, as well as technology support. However it is important not to lead with technology, as technology should just be an enabler to stimulate the conversation.

Just as Kevin May, I believe very strongly that the key is to integrate Social Media in the organization and not to build silos.

Finally, I would mention that a lot of companies in the travel and hospitality space are still struggling to pinpoint why they should invest resources into Social Media. Just because everybody is talking about it, and social networking sites such as Facebook are growing? Well, here are some of the benefits of well-executed Social Media Campaign:

So, get ready, and have fun. If you have questions and need help, visit Chameleon Strategies, or listen to the travel blogging community at Tips from the T-List.

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8 Comments

Comment by Manny
2009-03-12 01:11:05

Very interesting article. Most of my clients are small operators who employ 5 people or less. My experience is that a number of these operators are embracing twitter as a very cost effective promotional tool. When you hit with hard times and a low Marketing budget then social media can be a solution. One of my clients is a small rive boat operator. He skippers the boat. He is twitting on his mobile in between his commentry.The cost is your time which is valuable however it is not cash. You can twitter while you think of how to spend your limited marketing dollars on other promtional tools for your tourism business

 
Comment by Manny
2009-03-12 01:43:35

Great Article. Most of my clients are small tourist operators who emply 5 people or less. A number of them have begun using twitter as a very cost effective promotional tool. In these hard times a numebr fo them have worked out that social media can be a cheap way to promote to put it bluntly.

One client a small river boat operator in regional Western Australia actually twitts in between commentry on the boat.When cash is low social media come into its own. It takes time but leaves the promtional cash in the bank. While you are twitting you can be thinking of other ways to spend your limited promotional dollars.

 
Comment by Karen Bryan
2009-03-12 15:43:52

Thanks for update, Jens, sorry I couldn’t make it this year. I was surprised that all panel members are male?

 
Comment by Neal Shoemaker
2009-03-15 05:57:33

I run a travel and tourism service in Harlem, NYC and recently I had to make a decision about the design of my new website: http://www.harlemheritage.com. My website designer consulted with me and after hearing what I had to say, came back with his first draft which looked great. He built the site with social media in mind but I did not know it at the time. After investigating and learning some of the in’s and out’s of the site I realized that there were links for all of the popular social media sites and the opportunity for customers to interact directly with the company via dialog boxes. At first I rejected the idea figuring that customers want to just come to the site and buy what they want and leave.

I changed my mind after reading more about how search engines work, and how much potential exists within the social media community. This potential exists for me personally and for my business.

So now it’s about packaging the social content thats unique to me in such a way that it is accessible and appealing to my audience. I feel good about this because I always like to innovate something new in the industry, knowing that others will follow – it’s kind of like making history.

I will call my website designer in the morning and let him know that I want to go with his idea – this seems like it’s going to be fun.

 
2009-03-17 11:44:32

At the ITB 2008 we started to discuss with several DMO how to implement social media within their marketing plans. Everybody was interested, but only the real innovators were able to decide an investment. One year later we offer social media components on TripsByTips and on our Facebook Application (25.000 registered users, http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=23338699221) for five DMO, further more will be online within the next months. Time has come to move marketing budget from offline to online and from display ads to social media campaigns.

 
Comment by Claude
2009-03-19 17:55:50

Jens,

Thanks for this great post.

I am convince a good social media and travel social media strategy can make a strong difference with your position in Google Universal Search, as I explain some months ago in my post in your blog :

Google Universal Search and your travel industry business. Are you ready?
see here http://tinyurl.com/4jua6r

it could be interesting to see if ComScore have new data about the market share for Google Universal Search.

Best regards

Claude

 
Comment by Mehmet
2009-05-14 12:37:50

awesome post Jens, thanks…

just i have a question and cant clear it.. how to build a long tail keyword list? have any tools or tips?

 
Comment by Barry Wheeler
2009-08-10 19:30:09

This demonstrates the power of social marketing in the Travel / Tourism niche. I think that social networking / social media will have more impact and produce more results.

Tourism is relationship based, and social marketing efforts utilizing the correct tools will pay more dividends.

Check out the Guide to Social Networking and Social Media for Tourism – You can download it free here http://bit.ly/2u4Rjf

Love your site, keep up the great work.

 

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