Should We Measure Social Media? If So, How?

tape-measure1[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Anyone who’s been in marketing for any length of time knows that your work produces results.  And results have to be measured.  And from those measurements, it is possible to determine your ROI.  Solid.  Factual.  Numbers that make your boss happy … hopefully.

Because this is what we know how to do, it’s a natural inclination to want to apply those standards to our social media marketing activities.  But is that the right way to do it?  What are the right questions to ask?

Social media is still a bit of an unknown to many in the tourism industry.   That, coupled with trying to determine how to measure it, is a source for additional grey hair for some of us.

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Flickr Can Be a Great Marketing Tool

flickr-screenshot[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Is anyone using Flickr to promote their destination or attraction?  If you’re not, wake up and smell the photography!  Flickr can be used in several different ways to help promote tourism locales.  I’ll talk about just two of them in this post.

Search for Photos of Your Destination
The first way is the simplest.  Flickr makes it very easy to search for photos using various keywords.  Pick any keyword that represents your destination: city name, attraction name, a natural resource, etc.  The sky’s the limit here.  You’ll be surprised at how many really great photos are returned to you in the results of your search.

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La Quinta’s Got It Going On

lq6226_6229_ent-03feb091[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]My family and I are leaving tomorrow on a little trip for Spring Break.  Because of the economy, we feel the need to stay a bit closer to home than in years past.  But we still wanted to get our fix of “Go, See, Do” without breaking the bank.

I don’t plan to list the details of our itinerary, but I did want to describe to you why our Spring Break trip is off to a great start … and how La Quinta has helped us out with that.

I am a member of La Quinta’s rewards program, La Quinta Returns.  However, I haven’t stayed in a La Quinta hotel in some time now.  This time, though, they had hotels in the locations we planned to visit AND they had the best room rates.  A great win-win situation for us.

So as a dutiful hotel patron and traveler, I printed out my reservation confirmations to take with us on the trip in case there were any problems.  As it turns out, I didn’t need to do this after all.  This morning as I was checking my E-mail on my iPhone, I saw a confirmation/reminder E-mail from La Quinta.  Everything I needed to know and more was in that E-mail.  It’s a great example of how customer service and technology can be used to make the customer’s experience just a little bit better.  But wait, there’s more.

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Are the little guys in tourism using socia media?

whisper1[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]The travel and tourism industry was one of the early front runners in social media applications for business.  Dare I say even … an innovator?  Think back to sites like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com.  These were sites that really got people talking about where to go and what to avoid while traveling.  After all, social media is supposed to be social, isn’t it?  Now there are new ones on the scene like IgoUgo, and there’s no sign of this trend slowing.

Other forms of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, are now solidly in the business world.  But does everyone really know that?  It’s easy for those of us using these applications on a daily basis to think so.  But I’m not so sure.

There are many examples of large attractions, destinations, and travel service providers making full use of social media like Facebook and Twitter.  Just look at Southwest Airlines and Six Flags, to name just two.  But how many small town chambers of commerce and convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) do you think are doing this?  In Texas at least, the answer is not near enough.

Am I wrong?  If you know of any small to mid-sized Texas towns and cities that are using social media as a marketing strategy, please correct me.  If I’m right, why do you think this is happening?

I think it’s a combination of things:

  1. social media is the great unknown,
  2. people marketing destinations are afraid they’ll get negative comments,
  3. they don’t know how to respond to negative comments if they get them, and
  4. they think it’s only for cities with a few more zeros on the end of their budget.

Chris Brogan had a great post today about a specific segment of the travel industry – hotels.  Chris discusses several no-nonsense ways that hotels can succeed in this crazy economy by building relationships with business travelers.  However, the reason why he wrote the post was sparked by a Twitter search he did on where people were staying for SXSW in Austin, TX.

Turns out, a lot of people were asking for lodging.  Chris wondered why hotels weren’t monitoring the same Twitter search and sending out rate quotes directly to SXSW attendees via Twitter.  Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  What were those hotels with availability doing when they should have been listening and responding?

This is stuff the little guys can do.  Easily.  Think of all the ways a small CVB could use Twitter.  Here are just a few: promotions, weekend packages, street closures, festival updates, new attractions … I could go on and on.

What are some other uses?  Why aren’t we seeing more of this?

Welcome to Tourism Tech!

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Hello, and welcome to the Tourism Tech blog.  Here on Tourism Tech, I will provide you with ideas, information, examples, and creative applications of technology as they relate to marketing destinations to visitors.  My posts will include my own thoughts and ideas, as well as articles and posts from other highly-respected bloggers, authors, and websites.

We’ll talk about social media a lot.  But our conversations will also include branding, destination marketing, and cool technology applications that can make our lives and our jobs as tourism marketers much easier.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please ask questions and make comments to my posts.  If we can get a conversation started, then together we can fine tune tourism technology and make it work.

Please bear with me as I get this blog started.  I’m still tweaking things, but I’ll get it together very soon … I promise.

Thanks for stopping by!