Tired of Searching for Flickr Photos of Your Destination? Automate It!

Flickr Icon[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]As many of you already know, I am a huge fan of Flickr.  I use it personally to share photos from my life and my travels.  I also use it professionally to help promote the Colorado River Trail region with our Flickr group.  With this group, I’m able to get candid and often high-quality photos from people enjoying my destination.  I’ve used them in blog posts, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in a publication (with the photographer’s permission, of course).

Finding these photos can be very time-consuming – especially when your destination consists of 11 Texas counties.  Manually searching for town or attraction names is tedious at best.  What if there were a way to have great photography delivered to you on a daily basis?

What if you didn’t have to hunt for them any more?  What would that be worth to you?

Now.  What if I told you it was free and just takes a few simple steps to get set up?

Well, wait no more!   Continue reading

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National Tourism Week Goes Social – 2011

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]About this time last year I wrote about some cool social media promotions that DMOs around the country were doing to help celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week.  This year, National Travel and Tourism Week is May 7-15, 2011.  Hundreds of events will be held throughout the week to inform the public about the economic impact that travel has in our communities.

Many groups are holding local rallies.  Some are doing outreach to the media.  And others are stepping up their advocacy efforts to elected officials.  Some DMOs are including social media as a major component of their National Travel and Tourism Week activities.

Last year, I featured the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Visit Indiana, and Visit Jacksonville, Florida.  Swing by the U.S. Travel Association for all the information and resources you need to launch an effective campaign in your destination.  And if you tweet, be sure to add #TravelTuesday and #travelrally to your tweets on Tuesday, May 10 to help spread the word.

Are y’all ready for round 2?

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West Texas’ Social Media Rock Star – Shanna Smith Snyder

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]West Texas is known for a lot of things.  Big skies, ranching, oil, rugged terrain …  One thing it hasn’t always been known for is being a hotbed of social media activity.  Until now.  Enter Shanna Smith Snyder with the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB).

Shanna and I first got acquainted on Twitter, where I became an instant fan of her work with the CVB in Abilene.  After building our online relationship for a while, we finally got to meet at a Texas Travel Industry Association function.  Shanna impressed me so much that I asked her to speak at a seminar series my organization hosted called “Social Media for Economic Development and Community Marketing”.  As I expected, she did a fantastic job getting our attendees to realize that social media marketing was not out of reach.

I think her story will really resonate with a lot you out there.  ACVB is a small- to mid-sized bureau that does all their social media marketing in-house.  Yes, it’s possible and yes, it can be done.  Shanna is living proof.

So here’s my one-on-one interview with Shanna Smith Snyder.

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To Experience or Collect? That Is the Tourism Question

Road Trip![tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Your annual summer vacation.  That Spring Break trip to the beach you took in college.  Disney World with the kids.  Name your poison, but travel is an integral part of Americans’ lives.  Many of us consider it a birthright.  We may cut back on spending in other areas, but by God, we are GOING on vacation this year!

I was intrigued by a blog post I saw in the Dallas Morning News.  In the post, the author Nicole Stockdale, poses a basic but very interesting question.  One in which the tourism industry in general – and DMOs in particular – should probably consider.  Her question?  Is travel (or tourism) an experience, or merely just a checklist?  Wish I’d have thought of it first.

What is it that motivates people to get in their car and drive for 16 hours (like I did with my family over Christmas)?  Is there some unique, experiential aspect of the trip that drives you to do it?  Or is it something more commonplace?  How do we know when we’ve really been somewhere?  As Stockdale suggests, is it when we visit someplace cool like a local restaurant with regional fare?  Or notable and unique to the area like the Statue of Liberty?

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#SoMeT Wrap Up

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]I’m back home from one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.  I’ve even had a few days to digest all the great information, but honestly, my head is still swimming.  There was just so much to learn.  Some of the information served as a refresher, or even a kick in the pants to get started on things I should already be doing.

Other presentations shared information that was new to me, and my mental wheels are seriously turning.  In addition to all the great content, probably what excited me the most was the opportunity to meet people IRL that I had only known online previously.  What a fantastic group of smart and creative people!

So what conference had such an impact on me?  The Social Media Tourism Symposium – or #SoMeT – held in Loudoun, VA from November 17-19, 2010.  Kudos to Dave Serino of Gammet Interactive for putting together the conference of the year – regardless of the industry you’re in.

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Social Media Tips for Marketing Downtowns

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]From time to time, I’m asked to speak at various regional and state conferences about social media marketing and other tourism-related topics.  My most recent request came from the Texas Downtown Association.  They asked me to present during a breakout session at their annual conference in El Paso, TX on November 11, 2010.

My presentation covers the use of social media to promote and market downtowns, downtown businesses,  and downtown attractions.  I’m co-presenting with Lisa Garibay with LARGetc.   Lisa is presenting on strategy development, and I get to show the participants some examples of types of content to use and some social media best practices.  In other words, the fun part!  Sorry, Lisa. 🙂

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Creative Uses of Twitter Lists

Just the Grocery List [tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Ahh, lists.  We all use them – probably daily – to make life a little easier.  For those of us over 40, they are a staple tool to help get us the job done.  But lists are simply just utilitarian and functional.  Institutional even.  Or are they?

Enter the Twitter List.  According to Wikipedia, “In late 2009, the “Twitter Lists” feature was added, making it possible for users to follow (as well as mention and reply to) lists of authors instead of individual authors.”  Mashable wrote a great piece about 10 Ways You Can Use Twitter lists which covered most of the basics.  Many DMOs took the ball and ran with it, creating Twitter lists to help visitors and potential visitors find information about their destinations quickly.  If you were to look, you’d find that most social media-savvy DMOs have at least a few Twitter Lists at the ready.

But sometimes even a list can be a helpful tool and still have a little fun.  Not satisfied with simply being helpful, the examples below help to highlight the unique personality of the destination or of the creator.

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