[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]There are more and more tourism destinations every day on Twitter. Ultimately, I think this is a good thing. Social media, including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., are simply just another channel available for marketers, and are valuable tools to include as a part of you marketing arsenal. Yet, there are still too many destinations that haven’t embraced the concept of social media marketing. In Texas at least, these tend to be the smaller towns.
As I’ve learned over the last few months, there are hundreds if not thousands of small to mid-sized tourism destinations that are out there and tweeting regularly. Some are using Twitter in very clever ways. Others are are doing the typical things that marketers do – and doing them quite well.
Here are some that really shine:
Coos Bay, Oregon
Coos Bay is located on the Oregon coast, about halfway between San Francisco and Seattle. It’s known for its spectacular beaches, world-class fishing, sand dunes, and beautiful scenery. Now, it’s also known for a great little campaign they did on Twitter.
Allan Jenkins and Lee Hopkins are bloggers and all-around social media gurus. When planning a trip from Seattle to San Francisco, they turned to their friends on Twitter to suggest places to see and things to do along the way. As all good tourism destinations should do, Coos Bay (@TravelCoosBay) was listening. They not only responded with suggestions, they literally won they guys over with a series of smart, funny, and increasingly convincing tweets.
For the whole story, take a look at the post that Allan wrote about the whole experience. Here’s a quick run down:
- Responding to Allan’s initial tweet, @TravelCoosBay tweeted in reply about dropping in for a night during their trip.
- When Allan (@allanjenkins) and Lee (@leehopkins) thanked them and made a little joke, @TravelCoosBay sent them a link to a Flickr group showing off the area’s spectacular scenery.
- Being no stranger to beautiful surroundings, Allan and Lee asked if the people in Coos Bay were as nice as the scenery.
- @TravelCoosBay responded with more pictures. This time, the pictures were of signs and electronic marquees from local businesses inviting Allan and Lee – by name – to Coos Bay. Local folks also starting tweeting Allan and Lee en masse.
- Still Allan and Lee didn’t commit. @TravelCoosBay kicked it up another notch by filming a series of “man-on-the-street” YouTube videos. Featured in these videos were regular Joe’s and Jane’s who could be seen in Coos Bay any day of the week. Each talked about a different feature of Coos Bay that Allan and Lee were sure to enjoy.
Well, after that, who wouldn’t go?
The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, located in Hutchinson Kansas, wanted to bring some PR attention to the town and the other tourist attractions located there. Most small towns (and big cities, for that matter) would probably host a FAM tour to accomplish this. A FAM – short for familiarization – is a short tour geared toward the press or travel trade to familiarize them with the attractions of a particular area. The hope is that after the tour the press will write stories and articles about the area, and the travel trade will begin to book tours there.
Not content to do things the old-fashioned way, Hutchinson Kansas hosted a travel blogger tour in mid-April. While the mechanics of the tour were much the same, this blogger tour differed distinctly from a typical FAM tour in the way word got out.
Nine travel bloggers went on the tour of the Hutchinson area. They hailed from towns throughout the Midwest, and had a particular niche or specialty area they tend to write about. Here’s a list of the bloggers on the tour along with links to their blogs and their Twitter profiles:
- Becky McCray – Blog: smallbizsurvival.com Twitter: @BeckyMcCray
- Sheila Scarborough – Blog: familytravellogue.com Twitter: @SheilaS
- Cindy Stanford – Twitter: @WichitaCindy
- Todd Vogts – Blog: toddvogts.com , Twitter: @ToddVogts
- Deb Brown – Blog: debworks.com Twitter: @DebWorks
- Naomi Shapiro – Blog: superdumbsupervillain.blogspot.com Twitter: @superdumb
- Bill Genereux – Blog: billgx.edublogs.org Twitter: @BillGX
- Jeanne Cole – Twitter: @OkieJ
- Patsy Terrell – Blog: www.patsyterrell.com Twitter – @patsyterrell
Most of them wrote blog posts during the tour, and they all wrote posts an articles once the tour was completed.
Just to add another dimension, these bloggers were also on Twitter. They gave their followers the opportunity to keep tabs on all the Hutchinson action with the #hutch hashtag.
Check out the blogs listed above and search for #hutch, and you’ll get a idea of the incredible amount of coverage and attention Hutchinson, Kansas got in return for a few days of hospitality.
Have you heard of any other clever uses of tourism marketing using Twitter or other social media channels? Are there any other small towns that deserve some attention for their ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.