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?

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4 Responses

  1. We are using social media here in Tri-Valley, California CVB!! I agree, we have got to get more hotels and members involved as well! we use twitter, fb, myspace, blogs etc. with no slow down in sight!

    • Hi Tri-Valley CVB,
      I’m glad to hear that you’re using social media so effectively. Would you care to give us some details on some specific uses of Twitter, Facebook, and your blog? I’d love to hear about what you’re doing. How are you tracking your success?
      — Sarah

  2. Great article, Sarah. For many people change is difficult. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. And the smaller the centre, the more skeptical people tend to be of the latest trends sweeping the nation. But if travel and tourism businesses are to survive during this difficult economic period, we believe they need to embrace change and begin to adopt social media as another tool to develop relationships with their guests. Twitter and Facebook enable us to reach out from our small village on Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast to build relationships with people from around the world. Just last week we received our first reservation on Twitter. People in small centres value relationships and once they see past the social media hype they’ll be tweeting their way to business success.

  3. Social media allows smaller companies and organizations to allbe on the same playing field.
    Large and small organizations are either in the process of changing or dying! Twitter for example affords resources, information and collegial relationships that are mutually beneficial. The pace of change is exciting and the opportunities endless
    to connect with the world. Remember the days of
    the long distance operator.

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