Tag Archives: travel and tourism

Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media But Aren’t

Social media… the marketing world never paid attention to it in the late 90s when GeoCities and SixDegrees were starting.  We didn’t engage with MySpace in the early 2000s.  But then Facebook happened.  It hit 200 million users.  Then 400 million.  (Now 900 million.)  YouTube became the second largest search engine.  Twitter reports 1 billion tweets.  Okay, you’ve got marketer’s attention!

Conferences began offering breakout sessions on social media.  Then keynote speakers.  Now full conferences.  (How Dave Serino’s SoMeT didn’t make the list I’ll never know.)  Books, consultants, reporting standards, even it’s own awards.

Marketing departments and DMOs are hiring New Media Managers.  We’re cutting out print ’cause we can post and tweet for free.  Some are doing it well, some are, well, doing it.  While I don’t profess to have the silver bullet to conquering social media, might I suggest Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media… But Aren’t:

1. Using LinkedIn… while LinkedIn’s 225 million users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 900 million, LinkedIn is still nothing to push aside.  Most conference sessions tend to discuss Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for attracting the leisure visitor but LinkedIn can be valuable at attracting conferences and meetings.  I have more than 850 LinkedIn connections compared to nearly 500 Facebook “friends”.  Professionals on LinkedIn tend to connect quicker than those on Facebook so you’re able to grow your network quicker.

How do you use it?  Post.  Your office probably has a company LinkedIn page but do you ever post?  If a DMO, post new features or the TripAdvisor rankings of your convention center or a new hotel.  Sales person has a new certification?  An attractions’ new exhibits.  (Off site functions remember?)

Engage… comment on posts so meeting planners keep seeing Joe Gesortenflort, VisitAnywhereville.  Join groups and again, comment on posts.  When you finally call that meeting professional, they’ll be familiar having seen your name numerous times.

If you have significant news, personal message your connections.  We’re focusing on Facebook and not using LinkedIn.  Try it.

2. Monitoring… what are meeting planners and visitors saying about your destination?  Here’s an idea – create a dummy account on Facebook.  Like the association pages.  Then monitor the dialogue.  “Oh crap!  We’re going back to Anywhereville!?  The 2010 conference sucked!”  Engage your PR department and manage a poor perception.  See what the meeting planners are posting about working with caterers, convention centers, or, gasp – your staff!  Social media allows us the opportunity to hear the chatter!

3. Prospecting… Just went on Twitter.  Typed in “Oklahoma Conference” and before the song on the radio ended, I identified 15 conferences that someone could target.  “Association”, “Convention”, “Summit”, “Conclave”, prospect other states business… search LinkedIn too.

4. Engaging… Social media is not a ‘to-do’ each day.  “Posted on Facebook.  Next task.”  Never to look at Facebook again until the next day when you post again.  (Or worse, you use Hootsuite and schedule all of your posts for the week and never look at Facebook.)  If your posts are truly engaging, people are commenting and asking questions.  They’re posting on your wall and sending personal messages.  All which needs to be responded to in a timely manner.

5. Monitoring (2)… especially on weekends.  An office posted about a parade one Saturday morning.  A prospective attendee inquired about the time.  The account wasn’t being monitored and thus, wasn’t seen until Monday morning.

In an experiment, I picked on the Des Moines and Wisconsin Dells CVBs and the Wisconsin state tourism office this July while on vacation.  While driving through Des Moines my tweet inquired about lunch options.  Albeit it was a short time frame, but I didn’t get a response until after lunch (and we had found some awesome BBQ.)  I tweeted over and over about the water slides, cheese and week in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Dells CVB and state tourism office only responded once.  “Looks like you had a good week.”  No alternative suggestions, no engagement, no customer service.

Social media isn’t easy.  But it isn’t overbearing either.  These are but five things you should be doing on social media but aren’t.  Is there a sixth or seventh?  What successes are you having?  Comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading!

DMAI Convention Summary

If you weren’t able to attend the annual gathering of destination marketing professionals at DMAI’s international convention, that’s okay. I have a summary for you. It seemed like last year’s DMAI convention had a recurring theme or two strung between all sessions – mobile and video. Perhaps it was the diversity in sessions I attended this year but there wasn’t a recurring theme it seemed. Instead five or six good takeaways that I’m sharing with you this month:

1. Motivation… DMAI started the convention with this video…

Very motivating as a destination marketing professional. Throughout (and before in the CDME course) there were a few great motivating quotes:

Destination marketing organizations make people’s lives better! We give visitors experiences and memories. We help people learn about other cultures and how to become tolerant. And of course we make the industry and the community money! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

Be courageous. Don’t be timid. Do what you need to do to grow the community. Be thoughtful and politically mindful but lead! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

There is nothing about economic development that doesn’t begin with a visit. Chris Thompson, BrandUSA

Create demand for the destination. No one else does that holistically like we do. That’s our core purpose – to tell the destination story. Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

(Of course we needed the inspiration since this was posted days before the convention: Why the DMO model is broke)

2. Social Media… of course there were sessions on Social Media. The biggest takeaway came from the ROI on a Budget session. In it Charlottesville VA CVB’s John Freeman presented their Facebook approach: Beautiful pictures every time 3 times a day – 820a, 250p and 750p. Don’t have pictures? Ask to repost pictures from Flickr, Instagram, etc. The CVB has never had a no. Force the interaction: Can you caption this? Like if you agree that… Share if you think… Hit like if… Results? 44m impressions in 3 months.

Another session speaker said: We need to be human in our real-time communications. Time to loosen up and have fun.

And an attendee tweeted 5 levels of social media sophistication

3. Data Analytics…Think you have the whole reporting thing figured out? Know what to look for in Google Analytics? Don’t get comfortable. Last year’s data analytics methods are likely out of date this year. Wes Nichols, Marketshare.  His session wound up being an infomercial for a program DMAI will probably roll out soon but I really liked this quote. Tends to remind us that we can’t always be making decisions about the future based on the past – at least today’s quickly changing technological days.

4. Group Sales… Didn’t catch who said this or which destination but one attendee in the shirtsleeves shared: We give a bonus to our sales staff AND award the hotels that send the DMO leads. If the hotel can’t book it, keep it in the destination. Brilliant! Although the award probably needs to be more than a free nights stay at a hotel huh!?

5. Crisis Management… Patrick Tuttle shared wonderful insights from their tragedy in May, 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin, MO. His best quote: Be proactive. Don’t wait for the media to call you. They may find another source and you may not agree with the choice. Brilliant!

6. Travel Trends… The greatest increases in how travelers get information? Gave you a hint in the opening paragraph – traveler review sites on their mobile device. Couldn’t go through this summary without mentioning mobile could I? We have four months until more people on the planet own a mobile device than a toothbrush. Today, most people keep their mobile device no further than three feet from themselves-they’re that attached to them. And back to the first nugget – more and more travelers are getting their information from travel review sites on their mobile device. That’s why we need to be thinking Web Presence not just website!

And there you go… a few takeaways, aha’s or nuggets from this year’s DMAI convention.  Need more?  I’ve seen this one.  Thanks for reading!

Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing

In completing my Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) through Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) I had the opportunity to draft a paper on Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing. What follows is the executive summary and excerpt of the conclusion. A link to the full paper follows. I hope by my sharing you are able to glean one nugget that will help in your destination marketing efforts.

As with any partners, town and gown relationships can be either cooperative or adversarial working relationships. City governments and neighborhoods either choose to stay at odds with local universities or colleges or, alternatively, develop programs to communicate and develop amicable partnerships. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) in “college towns” are no different. Communication with nearly thirty colleagues revealed that some DMOs are just now establishing relationships with university departments and representatives while others have long established relationships. This paper will reveal five ways how DMOs have collaborated with their local universities to drive visitation to both the campus and community.

DMOs are collaborating with universities to drive travel, tourism and economic development to their communities. This paper has outlined a number of action items for such collaboration. As with most business ventures, they start with relationships – the most critical of which are:

– President’s office. Discuss your interests and goals. How could he/she “open doors for you”? Be mindful that the President could have another goal in mind, however, if you work on his/her goal first, he/she may have more willingness to promote and assist with the DMO’s project(s).

– Recruitment office. Can the community’s information provided by the DMO be included in the recruitment packages? As students begin their schooling and parents are introduced to the school, how can the DMO be a part of the orientation process?

– Athletics department. Can the DMO recruit events that could utilize the university fields and/or facilities? Can the DMO assist in recruiting regional or national championships or simply help service championships that are already coming to the community? You can also discuss clustering community events with athletic events on campus.

– Deans and Department Heads. Would they be open to communications to university staff soliciting meetings and conventions? Being experts in their fields Deans, department heads, and professors are probably speaking at conferences that could be attracted to the community.

The full paper is here: CDME Final Paper Edit. Please note that the paper is an edited version. (CDME only allows for so long of papers.) A longer, supplement with much more content and information from those 30 colleagues will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

The Marketing Voices in Your Head

What’s the motivating slogan that runs through your head pushing you up the hill at the end of your run, ten more minutes on the elliptical, or three more reps of lifting weights? Right now I’m using Saucony’s “Find Your Strong” as I recover from a bum hammy and try to get back into shape.

In the business world we might have

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world. “ Mahatma Gandhi

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” James Broughton

or “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Babe Ruth

If you’re a Christian, you might recite Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As we head into this year of marketing our destinations (and perhaps planning and budgeting for next year,) what are the motivating slogans that might be running through our heads?

What will be your web presence? This was a headline on a blog over a year ago but because the blogger hasn’t blogged since then, it remains on My Yahoo in my RSS feeds. I don’t delete it ’cause I love the constant reminder that it’s not just about our website, it’s about what all the other websites are saying about our destination.

As the post states, your “strategy should include goals, objectives, target markets, key messages, key words, content management, resources required to add and build your web presence.”

Another way of saying it?  “Online is no longer an individual strategy. Online should be a part of every strategy.”

Sales is always both/and, not either/or. Pulled from 10 Realities That Can Rescue Your Community From Group Sales Obsession, Reyn Bowman reminds us that “marketing includes sales and sales requires marketing. Sales is just one of several important marketing activities and overall marketing is a blend of activities, including but unrestricted by, direct sales. Overall marketing includes diagnostics/measurements (aka research), branding (aka image), earned media (aka public relations), paid media (aka advertising), and post-arrival circulation (aka point-of-sale sales).”

YouTube is the number two search engine… still ringing in my ears from DMAI’s Convention this past summer motivating me to develop content for YouTube! Again, it doesn’t have to be Steven Spielberg HD.  I heard a few times “content over quality”. And keep ’em short! 30 seconds.  No one is going to watch your 8 minute mini movie about your destination.

Email marketing is the new mobile marketing. I highlighted this a few months back.  A study revealed strong increases in the interaction of mobile devices with email marketing.  In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of emails sent were opened on a mobile device – a 32 percent increase over the last half of 2011, when 27 percent of sent emails were opened via a mobile device.  What is it now!? Dare think it’s 50%

Think email is dead?  Not as mobile grows.  And speaking of mobile…

“We used to say ‘it’s not too late to be early to mobile’. I’m here to tell you you can no longer be early to mobile.”  Again, another from DMAI’s Convention.  The facts shared: -smart phones out number desk top computers; – in 2014, mobile search will pass desk top search. If you do not have a mobile version of your website, stop reading now and call your webmaster.  Seriously!  Stop reading and call.  Mobile is here!

Or should I say “Just Do It!”?

Thanks for reading!

Secret Shopping Visitor Guides

It really simply started as a curiosity about what other destinations were doing with their Visitor Guides.  But then as co-workers will tell you, my ideas get bigger and bigger!  How are other DMO’s Visitor Guide request processes?  How long does it take Guides to arrive?  Are they sent first class or bulk?  What size are they?   And then to the original question, what features are destinations including in the Guides?

Where else does one get the answers but to ‘secret shop’ Visitor Guides.  So we sent off – or attempted to send off for 60 Guides.  Major destinations.  Smaller destinations but primarily ‘benchmark’ destinations – University cities or cities of 100,000 in population.  The results?

Delivery Of 60 attempts, twice we were unable to even find an ability to request a guide online.  Two more fulfillment pages were broken.  Eight only offered online versions and we weren’t able to order a printed Guide.  So we were only able to order 48 Guides.  Surprisingly, we have only received 39.  Nine requests for Visitor Guides have gone unfulfilled.  Sure there’s got to be some explanation but perhaps that’s the next study – my asking the nine why they never sent a Guide. 

Delivery II The average Guide took 6 days for delivery.  Thus the challenge to our staff – 5 days or less!  Matter of fact, I have a side anecdotal story below about the importance of a speedy delivery!

Delivery III Only one Guide was not sent First Class.  Explains the average six day delivery.

Annual or Multiple Issues per Year We experimented printing three issues per year.  For too many reasons we’ve decided to return to an annual.  We’re right in line as only seven destinations don’t print an annual and those seven – the larger destinations – each printed twice a year.

Size Apparently out is the adage that Guides need to be small, pocket-sized for the visitor to put in their back pocket or purse.  23 of the 39 were magazine sized 8.5 X 11 (or a close size to that, 7.5 X 11.)  12 were digest size (5 X 8 or a close size to that, 4 X 9.)  The other three were 8 X 8, 7 X 9 and 4 X 7.

Length All over the board!  The smallest Guide was 10 pages.  Lengthiest – Orlando’s 233 pager.

Inserts / Enclosures A handful of destinations included a detailed Calendar of Events.  Six enclosed a thank you letter for requesting the guide.  And one destination hand wrote a note and dropped it in the envelope with the Guide!

Content –  Social Media meets print  There are numerous instances in which destinations have included Social Media content in the Visitor Guide.  Detroit’s is the most prevalent.  Detroit includes these “Travel Tips” throughout the Guide which the content is pulled from social media.

Detroit Travel Tip

They even go full-page with the social:

Detroit Social Page

Durham has similar features throughout their Guide:

Durham Fan Favorites

But Detroit keeps pulling from social media and nicely promotes the online world through their “Depict the D” page.  Click here to see the page.

Content – Use of QR Code While I bashed QR Code use last month, I will hand it to Columbia and Grand Rapids for both utilizing QR Codes to bring the online world to the print world.  Columbia offers the reader a chance to scan and have a walking tour of their downtown:

Columbia Walking Tour

Grand Rapids provides a map of their smart phone tour.  The page from the Guide has 10 QR Codes that a visitor can scan and learn more about the public art.

Content – Research back to Detroit where they point blank say ‘We Need Your Help’ and give you a QR Code to scan so you can answer a few questions about their Guide.

Detroit Survey

If you ever wanted to benchmark your Visitors Guide with others, there you go.  That’s a rough summary of what Visitor Guides are looking like today.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, by the way, here’s that story…

In the midst of our Visitor Guide research above, our family is planning our three family vacation next summer.  Thanksgiving Day my brother and I discussed three destinations.  I perused three destination websites.  My wife is still a printed piece person and heck, I being in the industry doing the above research thought here’s two more that I can test.  So, I requested three Visitor Guides.
Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the first one arrived.  (That’s TUESDAY after Thanksgiving it ARRIVES!  Standing O for someone or their mail house working on Friday or Saturday to get that Guide out!)  Wednesday my wife flipped through it while my daughter practiced.  My wife started texting me ads and pictures from the Guide.  She gets home and starts showing the family pages that were dog-eared.  When my son asked ‘can we go there.’  My wife declared, ‘Yes.  This is where we’re going next summer!’
But, what, um, uh, we have two more Guides on the way!  We have two more options!
Not in my wife’s mind.  Destination 1 beat the other two to the mailbox.  She’s already studied the Guide.  She liked what she saw.  She’s made up her mind!
Destination 2’s Guide arrived two days later.  She hasn’t even looked at it.  Destination 3’s Guide is yet to arrive.  Doesn’t matter.  Game over.

QR Codes – Pointless or Effective Tool?

QR Codes… (Quick Response Code).  They’re the little squares with dots.  (See below.)  A consumer scans the code with their smart phone and, well, in most cases, becomes very disappointed in the results!  Most of the time we’re only being sent to a website – and most of the time, the websites aren’t even mobile friendly.  One gets the desktop version of the website that is difficult to read and navigate on an iPhone or android smart phone.  Fail!

I’ve become obsessed with QR Codes mainly from the ‘let’s-see-how-this-one-is-done-poorly’ sense.  I’ve heard how they’re supposed to be used and successful ways they are being used (shared later.)  But first, let’s review the top five worst ways QR Codes have been used.

I’m not quite sure which one is my favorite so they’re in reverse alphabetical order.

Website Bring up the offending website and there it was – right in the middle of the home page.  Naturally I’m curious so I get my phone and try to scan it.  You can’t scan a QR Code off a computer monitor!  Did no one think of trying this before they went live with the site?

I was really curious where the code would lead me so I printed the screen shot, scanned the code and you know what it allowed me to do?  See a picture!  Um, just put the picture on the website and save us a lot of time and frustration and you a lot of humiliation!

Television Commercial Yep, there it was in the corner of the advertisement.  I guess they’re placing it in the ad based on research that more and more are watching TV with laptops, pads or smartphones in hand but for those of us that don’t have it in hand, can one grab their phone, access the scan app, and get up to the TV in time to scan the code?  And based upon the fact you can’t scan a code off a computer monitor, can you scan one off a TV monitor?

Restaurant Menu The code was on the back of the menu.  I scanned it.  It took me to the restaurant’s website – that WAS MOBILE FRIENDLY!  It was a desktop version.  As I flipped through the site, it shared the location of the restaurant and their menu because when I’m sitting in the booth in the restaurant reading the menu, I need to know where the restaurant is and the large menu is too difficult to read so I want to squint at my smartphone to see what kind of burger I want!

Billboard Who in the flip is going to slam on their breaks on the Interstate to stop on the side of the road to scan the code off a billboard?  Genius the one that thought of that use!

Airline Magazine Um, VP of Marketing Genius… we’re on a plane.  and our phones are supposed to be off… and there’s no internet… and one needs a phone that is turned on and internet to follow the code… and, ah forget it!

So after all that sarcasm and ridicule, how are QR Codes best used?

“Getting the consumer one step closer to purchasing” was the best way I’ve ever heard it.  Got them interested in your destination?  “Scan here to book your hotel room” or “see our weekend trip packages” or “purchase your tickets to the (museum, theatre, park, etc.)”  

Don’t give them something they already have, give them something new!  Most likely they are scanning the code from a visitors guide or advertisement.  Don’t take them to more reading.  Take them to a video that then takes them to your hotel reservation system (or ticketing page if you’re an attraction.

I’ve seen QR Codes in ads to travel writers.  The code took the writer to a page on the website that had dozens of story ideas.

Colleagues have QR Codes on their business cards linking new contacts to their Vcard saving time of typing in the contact information!

Put them on conference badges so when one scans it, they have the attendees’ contact info.

Sign at an expo booth.  “Scan to register to win!”

Receipt… have them directed to your TripAdvisor or Yelp or UrbanSpoon listing so they can give a good review or so they can join your email list.

There’s seven.  Bet with your and other reader’s comments, we can come up with seven more!  Comment and share your example of how to use a QR Code.  You can share your QR blunders too!  I always enjoy a good laugh!

Email Marketing Part II

Last month I shared some tips and ideas about email marketing.  Apparently I’m not the only one discussing email marketing these days.

Consider these recent articles:

Five Ways to Create an E-Mail Marketing Campaign That People Will Notice Entrepreneur.com

In a world where social media gives businesses more immediate ways to connect with customers, is email marketing still relevant? It appears so. In fact, the volume of email marketing messages remained at record-setting levels in June, according to research director at Responsys, and retail email volume will grow about 20 percent this year thanks to a shift away from old-school direct mail and print. That makes for a more crowded party. Your emails are competing with millions of others, which means you must be intentional in your efforts to create messages that truly engage your customers. Here’s how. more

Nineteen (19!) Ideas for Growing Your Email List MarketingProfs.com

What would you rather have, a big list with dismal conversion rates or a smaller list targeting a highly engaged audience?  Thought so.  For a healthy opt-in email list, quality always trumps quantity, and here are 19 budget-friendly ways to get the list you want.  What you’ll find here are a few new twists to familiar tactics, along with real results and examples, to help you implement these ideas more effectively yourself.  more

Email Marketing – the New Mobile Marketing Search Engine Watch

A new study has revealed strong increases in the interaction of mobile devices with email marketing. In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of emails sent were opened on a mobile device – a 32 percent increase over the last half of 2011, when 27 percent of sent emails were opened via a mobile device. That’s massive in the span of just a few months. What’s it mean? Email marketing is becoming mobile marketing.  more

4 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Email Marketing American Express Open Forum

Despite the rumors and meteoric rise of social media in recent years, email marketing is far from becoming a lost art form. Instead, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media platforms can provide serious momentum to an e-mail campaign and vice versa. But exactly how do you go about blending these two approaches? more

Email Marketing Lessons from Seinfeld MarketingProfs.com

Although the iconic 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld” might not seem the most likely source of practical advice, some of its most memorable moments provide lessons for improving your email marketing. more

Hope you garner one or two nuggets from these!  We’re constantly learning in our office and I’m reading articles and blogs trying to get better at it.  As I read and put it into practice, I’ll share more with you.

Talk to you next month.