The Social Media Trends in Travel Tourism in 2009 and Beyond.
By Jens Thraenhart
Wednesday, 15th April 2009
It was interesting to hear that a big discussion was formulating at the Phocuswright Bloggers Summit at ITB in Berlin around the use of Twitter?  Well, according to Martin Schobert, Twitter is where the conversation is.  I would comment: What kind of conversation? Don't get me wrong there are a lot of great discussions going on, but there is also a lot of useless stuff going on. 

In a nutshell, as it relates to starting a Twitter strategy for your travel organization or destination, there are a few things to keep in mind:- If you haven't already, get your own Twitter account and start following people. Get familiar with the tool and communicating on the platform. Better yet, get a group together at work to do it with you.
  • Take lessons learned from other direct-to-consumer communications such as blogs and email newsletters and transition those to Twitter.
  • Brand profiles must be personal and honest; content must be compelling to successfully interest and attract people.
  • Connect to the audience as often as possible; reply directly to them if they are speaking about your brand.
  • Make sure your Twitter voice is consistent with your brand.
  • Do not exist on Twitter only as another version of corporate promotion. Be a person.
  • Get your CEO or top executive involved. Employees love it. Customers love it. There is no more powerful way to humanize your brand.
  • Above all, be authentic. Don't try to fake, spin or hide behind your tweets — it won't work.
Then a poll was launched to actually survey the audience to vote on the various social media trends in travel and tourism. The results were interesting…

On the top was Change in Philosophy, then PR using more channels, and hiring a Social Media guy to increase ROI, and lastly Twitter.

Hiring a Social Media guy is interesting. Social Media is one of these new buzz words that a lot of organizations do not know where to put.  First it was conveniently ignored, and now it is pushed around. The technology department believes that they need to own it, because it has new technologies. E-Commerce believes they need to own it as it as something to do with the website. Distribution believes they need to own it as it involves external websites.

Branding believes they need to own it as the consumer is trying to take control of the holy brand. PR thinks they need to own it because it includes the word "Media". Advertising needs to own it because they received a call from an Advertising Sales Manager from a Social Media website. Research thinks they need to own it as it provides valuable consumer information. And then there is the Legal Department that simply wants to shut it all down and put their head in the sand.

The key is that a Social Media strategy needs a home, which creates a dedicated staff. In the end it is part of content, but depending on the complexity of the strategy, a community manager, an editor, a business development manager to take care of aggregation and syndication partners, as well as technology support. However it is important not to lead with technology, as technology should just be an enabler to stimulate the conversation.

Just as Kevin May, I believe very strongly that the key is to integrate Social Media in the organization and not to build silos.

Finally, I would mention that a lot of companies in the travel and hospitality space are still struggling to pinpoint why they should invest resources into Social Media.  Just because everybody is talking about it, and social networking sites such as Facebook are growing? Well, here are some of the benefits of well-executed Social Media Campaign:
  • Higher search engine rankings for their top keywords.
  • More rankings of additional keywords or "long tail" keyword phrases.
  • More link popularity from sites linking on their own accord.
  • More link popularity from social media sites.
  • More activity on their blogs, such as more commenting and interaction.
  • Direct traffic from incoming links on social media sites (One good StumbleUpon.com submission can net thousands of visitors alone.)
  • Significant traffic increases and steady growth in unique visitors month after month.
  • An increase in subscribers and sales. Social traffic, properly acquired, is very receptive to your message and products.
So, get ready, and have fun.  If you have questions and need help, visit Chameleon Strategies, or listen to the travel blogging community at Tips from the T-List.


The panel at Phocuswright Bloggers Summit including Darren Cronian, Kevin May, Klaus Hildebrandt, Martin Schobert, Vasco Sommer-Nunes, and moderated by Stephen Joyce about the Social Media Trends in Travel & Tourism.
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