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  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?