Shaking the social media tree in the tourism business

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Clearing out a little deadwood (courtesy luiginter at Flickr Creative Commons)I’m doing some writing and marketing work for the travel site UpTake; in addition to hosting my Carnival of Cities blog carnival periodically on their Attractions blog, I’ll be covering travel industry social media topics on the UpTake Travel Industry blog.

To get started with a bit of a bang, I wrote two posts this week that Every Dot Connects readers might enjoy….

  • A “wake up out there!” manifesto asking when the tourism businesses and CVBs (Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus) are going to “back off on printing brochures and rejiggering their Web sites (again) and really engage with the Web 2.0/social media world.” Assuming that my semi-rant results in the tourism industry wanting to know what to do next, I followed up with….
  • Helpful hints on how to get social media traction for your tourism blog.  It has entry-level guidance for any blogger, such as, “Is your number of blog content subscribers (by RSS or email) moving in an upward direction?  Do you make it easy to subscribe and is it obvious how to do so on your site?  Do you periodically encourage subscription in your posts?”

Both UpTake posts sprang from my experiences as a blogger attending a recent travel industry conference; most of my impressions are unfortunately corroborated by others like Darren Cronian, who writes the UK’s Travel Rants.  Even today, there is a surprising lack of tourism folks who are really out in front trying to use Web 2.0 tools to promote their destinations in an effective manner.

When I started blogging in February 2006, I thought I was “late to the game,” but I hustled to learn everything I could. Now in 2009, it’s safe to say that any professional communicators worth their salt had better have more than a passing acquaintance with social media.

How blunt do I need to be - if you don’t understand this stuff right now, you are behind. That is all there is to it.

I am pained to find such fear and ignorance when as an avid traveler, it is obvious to me that this is an excellent communications vehicle to publicize tourism offerings.  It is not the ONLY communications vehicle (there is still a place for your printed brochures down in the lobby of the local Hampton Inn) but it is not something happening in the future - it is the way the world is right now.

(I wish they’d stop calling it “new media,” already.)

I mentioned in the second UpTake post that the next big bite to chew is mobile content and interaction. Any tourism organization that is still head-scratching about “whether we should use social media” is going to get their PR and marketing clocks cleaned within the next two years, as mobile activity combines with social networking and they simply cannot handle the steep learning curve of the whole package.

Now, ‘scuse me while I go see if my blogs appear OK on an iPhone display….

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This post was written by:

Sheila Scarborough - who has written 31 posts on Every Dot Connects.

I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism,travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents.

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