Thanks for Commenting

Thank You by nateOne, on Flickr[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]I’ve been a fan of Lisa Barone (@lisabarone) and her work for some time now.  If you’ve ever read her posts on the Outspoken Media blog, you’ll already know why.  She’s a prolific writer, and provides posts that are easy to understand and tips that are easy to implement.  While her depth of knowledge of all things online seems to know no limits, her most interesting and useful posts to me are about blogging, branding, online marketing, small business marketing, and social media.  Plus, she cracks me the hell up.

I’m an RSS subscriber to the Outspoken Media blog, as well as the Small Business Trends blog which she also writes for.  Basically, I hope to write like her when I grow up (never mind that I’m older than her).  She has a “no BS” style and a sense of humor that makes me laugh out loud in my cube farm at work.  She’s engaging and makes me want to keep reading.

I’ve chatted with her casually on Twitter a few times, regularly retweet her, and she kindly let me re-post one of her articles in a newsletter I write for work.  But in all the time I’ve been reading her blog, I’ve never left a comment.  Until a few weeks ago. Continue reading

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School’s in Session: Social Media Learning Resources for Tourism

class picture[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]School days.  School days.  Good ole golden rule days.  Now that Fall is in the air, many people are heading back to the classroom.  Whether it’s my own (soon to be) 8-year-old who is starting the second grade, or if you’re heading back to college yourself, September is synonymous with “back to school”.  That, and college football.  But that’s another blog post entirely.

If you’re in the tourism industry, you’re wrapping up the busy summer season and beginning your preparations for holiday celebrations.  Sure professional development is important, but who has time?  If we’re lucky, we can attend a seminar sponsored by the chamber of commerce.  Or we might make it to our state’s Governor’s Conference on tourism.  To top it all off, now there’s social media marketing to try to get a handle on.

There are plenty of conferences, seminars, and other learning opportunities that cover social media and marketing with social media.  There are few, however, that deal specifically with using social media in a destination marketing organization (DMO) setting.  Until now.

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The Ones To Watch: Small-town Tourism Meets Social Media Best Practices

watching[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.

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Social media monitoring: Are you listening to what they’re saying about you?

listen

[tweetmeme source=”pagetx”]Social media has given us another platform for communication.  There are conversations going on out there right now.  Are you listening?  For tourism businesses, this means that there are travelers out there talking about us, our destinations, our customer service, and ultimately their experiences … both positive and negative.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what they are saying?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to respond to them?  It’s what we would do if they were standing right in front of us.  Why shouldn’t we do the same when we have conversations using social media?

Fortunately, there are as many ways to listen to social media conversations as there are to have social media conversations.  If not more.

There are some excellent companies that offer fee-based social media monitoring solutions, such as radian6 and trackur.  There are also some very good free ways to monitor social media conversations if you’re willing to do a bit more legwork.

Here are a few of the free tools available to monitor conversations on Twitter and blogs.

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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!