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18th January 2011

Travel Reservations a Key Online Activity for All Age Groups

According to the Pew Generations 2010 study, making travel reservations online is one of the top activities people do online.  And it is true for all age groups.

Another activity that has increased again this past year is watching video online.

If you are a travel venue with  an interest in attracting  people 45 and older,  your strategy for 2011 should include

  • increasing your online presence and visibility
  • learning how the new Google ranking system now includes social media mentions
  • connecting all your social and corporate content
  • making helpful videos  and placing them on social sites, as well as your own website

A social media newsroom is a useful tool to help you house the content you need and make it easily visible and available.  Take a look at what Doubletree Hotels has done with this Destinations website.

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21st December 2010

Travel Social Media Trends for 2011

EyeforTravel just published their 2011 Trends and their number one pick is the increasing need to integrate social content and activity on your corporate website.

As budget freezes start to thaw, it’s time for them (companies) to consider how to integrate social media functionality, for example, incorporating the power of Facebook comment boxes on site to provide a feedback loop for consumers. onto their main site. Sites will become a hub to aggregate and explain activity on social networks, and add long-form value.

I totally agree that this is an important travel social media trend for 2011 and here’s why:

  • 93 percent of people active in social media say they expect companies to have a presence in social media and networking sites and 85 percent of them want the companies to communicate and interact with them on those sites.
  • The rate of content sharing on Facebook has increased 500 percent in the last six months. The average Facebook users now shares 12 pieces of content a week.
  • Shared news content links in Facebook send three times more traffic to news websites than Google News does.
  • The UMass Social Media adoption surveys presented at the SNCR Symposium at Stanford University in November showed that while the adoption of social media by companies and organizations in many sectors (including the travel industry) is rising fast, there is still a large disparity between those active in social media and the number that connect that content and activity to their corporate websites (less than 30%).
  • In June 2010 the Washington Post interviewed thought leaders in the social media and marketing space and asked for the 10 mistakes companies make in social media. We know how important it is to get your content out into the social web, but not many have seen the value of aggregating the content and social conversations on their own site.In this article Debbie Weil, author of the Corporate Blogging Book, warns that companies that rely solely on external networks to reach their audiences relinquish a certain degree of autonomy. She recommends that organizations and companies using social media have a hub on their primary Web site where users can find links or feeds to blogs, photo galleries and other third-party Web sites. This also gives customers or constituents a single go-to URL. (There is that word hub again.)

How do you integrate social content, conversation and activity on your site? Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group published this roadmap that lays out the steps you need to follow

By my own observation of the corporate websites of the Fortune 100, top 100 hotels, Inc 500 and Entrepreneur 100, of the 70-odd percent that have not yet integrated their social content and activity most are still at step one, or at best, step two.

The PR version of this dilemma is the corporate newsroom. Most travel companies have one, but they are definitely at the bottom of this ladder.

And there really is no need to languish down there – social media news hub services like PRESSfeed can catapult your site to number five on this ladder in a few weeks. (Disclosure: I am a partner and helped to develop this social news hub)

Doubletree Hotels are using this system for their new Destinations website.

DoubletreeDestinations.com

The CVB of Winston-Salem in North Carolina is seeing excellent results in increased traffic and news coverage from their social news hub.

You can of course work with your IT department to develop a social news hub, like Intel did. It’s likely to take a lot longer than a few weeks, but the tools are readily available.

Step 6 and 7 on this ladder are where this trend is heading: Users stay on your site using a social log-in like Facebook Connect and that log-in triggers sharing of the content onyour site. Content shared in this manner ends up in their social news stream, is seen by others and usually gets shared again by 5 of their friends or followers. According to Facebook’s Developer Network Director, Ethan Beard, more than 100 million users started logging into Facebook Connect on third-party sites in the last 12 months. And it is spreading – it’s already been integrated with YouTube.

A social registration and log-in helps your visitors – they save time and keeps them connected to their friends .

It helps you because you become part of the their social graph.

Which step are you on now? Do you have plans to upgrade to a social hub in 2011?

Follow me on Twitter

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24th January 2010

Travelers Turn to Social Media

2010 is going to be a much better year for travel industry, says Travel Insights 100.  They’re an interesting group: a panel of 100 travel experts that includes activists, traditional media, independent travelers, and airline and hotel experts who have banded together to monitor travel insights and trends.

They’ve  made some predictions about travel in 2010:

  • Travel will begin to recover driven in part by a pent-up demand from those who have put off traveling due to economic concerns.
  • These eager travelers will still be looking for discounts and promotional pricing.
  • The big change? Where they’ll be looking.  Social media will be the game-changer for travel in 2010.

“Social media (Twitter in particular) will continue to reshape how destinations are promoted and companies will increase their participation in and creative use of social media.”

If that’s the case many  hotels have their work cut out for them.  We recently did an analysis of the top 50 hotel chains’ websites and social media activity  – only 21% are currently on Twitter and a scant 16% are engaging with their community.

That does not take into account the smaller hotel groups, bed and breakfasts or tour operators.

If you are in the travel business  now would be the time to update your Travel PR strategy.

And once you get your content out into the social web, update your site with a social media newsroom.

Image credit:  Idle type

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22nd June 2009

Social Media Important for Travel Industry

DigitalVisitor.com, has been shortlisted for an online travel award alongside industry giants such as Air France, Lastminute.com and Kuoni.  Their social media solution, Visitor Review, features in the ‘Best Online Application’ category at this year’s Travolution Awards.

“Social media has become a huge area of importance for the travel industry,”  said Digital Visitor’s Managing Director Anthony Rawlins.  “Visitor Review was developed to enable businesses to take advantage of the benefits of user generated content whilst keeping clients in their own branded environment.  As a white-labelled solution each platform is tailored to reflect a company’s own branding, allowing users to upload text, photo and video.”

Now that is a smart idea.

Another smart idea would be to syndicate this content in a feed.

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17th June 2009

Bing Travel Offers New Search Tools

Microsoft’s new search tool Bing has a travel section (http://www.bing.com/travel) that makes it less complicated to navigate through booking a vacation or business trip.  They offer flight bookings, hotel selections and comparative searches.

Since Bing calls itself a decision engine they strive to offer the searcher as many pieces of information as possible to help the person searching find all they need to make that decision.

If you are a travel website you’ll want to make sure that you have these kinds of content available to Bing so they can display it to their searchers.

Companies looking for better travel PR should look into their online footprint.

Add new content about your destination with images and video. Encourage comments and reviews on your site.  Syndicate this content a feed. That way more people see the content, they can add it to social sites and search engines like Bing can easily find and index your content.

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1st May 2009

Travel Searchers Using Longer Phrases

The long tail has come to travel. If your search strategy is focused on one or two word keywords, you’re probably missing the target right now.

“Google recently stated that most of the recent growth in travel query volume has come from the tail. In fact, the average number of terms in a travel-related search phrase has increased from 2.5 to 4+. Conversely, the head’s query volume has dropped sharply. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated searchers, and it is important for search marketers to embrace this opportunity to provide more relevant ads for long tail keywords.” Kayak.com’s manager, search marketing, Shehzad Daredia in an interview with EyeforTravel,

Most marketers are looking at how to use this information to adjust their SEM/paid search strategies

However, the best way to reach long tail searchers is with content marketing – write good articles about your resort, cruise or destination.  Add images and video.  Syndicate the content with RSS feeds, so it gets seen by search engines, news aggregators, bloggers, journalists and new audiences.

The feeds help to raise your organic search visibility on many longer phrases. And it occurs naturally.  Just keep writing and syndicating with feeds and the long tail phrases start to show up in search.

The very best part of this online travel PR strategy is that is that it is easy and affordable to implement, and it gets excellent ROI.

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14th March 2009

Travel Marketing Tips – Business Travel Trends for 2009

business traveler

Image by Ed Kohler

There was a lot of discussion about how to survive the current economic downturn at the Social Media for Travel conference in San Francisco this week.

Keynote speaker Duncan Wardle of Disney showed the attendees how they are using social media – from recruiting employees and engaging customers to harnessing the power of their brand ambassadors.  His closing statement was that brands that do not use social meida and engage with current and potential customers will soon be nostalgia.

In bad times businesses tend to focus on their ‘best’ customer and for many in the travel industry that is the business traveler.  However, all is not so rosy in this segment either. 

David Grossman writing for USAToday.com calls attention to 10 trends affecting business travel. 

  1.  Airline tickets are on sale. U.S. airlines have initiated 25 fare sales since the beginning of the year and prices are back to pre-2007 levels in some markets.
  2. Flights are being cut. Most airlines have eliminated 10% to 20% of domestic flights.  The Air Transport Association projects the seven largest U.S. airlines will cut another 3% to 10% this year.
  3. Extra fees – what we can’t charge you for upfront we’ll catch you for on the back end.  United Airlines expects to earn $1.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2009.  Some hotels are cutting perks too.
  4. Travel budgets are under scrutiny. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives found over 70% of corporations trimming their travel budgets by 10% to 20% this year.
  5. Focus on business travelers – many airlines and hotels are offering perks to attract more business travelers.
  6. International bargains are available. A combination of factors have led to deeply dicounted international fares.
  7. Empty hotel rooms and unrented cars.  Forty percent of hotel stays are tied to flights, according to a recent report produced by Promedia Travel.   Less flights mean more empty rooms.
  8. Meetings and conferences are being cut.  Meeting Planners International and American Express indicated 7% of 2009 meetings had already been canceled, and meeting attendance is expected to be down by 5%.
  9. Downsizing to regional jets.  Some airlines have replaced larger planes with the small regional jets on short flights – such as Washington to New York.
  10. Internet bargains are available. There are bargains are available on sites like Hotwire and Priceline. While brands are loathe to disocunt in good times, the current climate has led to an increase in Internet offers.

How can you  benefit from these trends?

  1. Be proactive and innovative. Do everything possible to win customer loyalty
  2. Encourage business travelers to come back. Offer facilities that they value – like a comfortable work space, free Internet connection, good information about the surrounding area
  3. Get  very visible online. More people are searching online for travel deals than ever before. 
  4. Create excellent content that shows your venue and your perks – in text, images and video
  5. Optimize all your content for your keywords so it will show up in search
  6. Syndicate the content with news feeds (RSS) so it can be seen in many more places than just your website
  7. People are also using social media sites to talk to each other and find out about deals and opportunities  Use social media tools to find business travelers.  You can check sites like Upcoming and LInkedIn events.  Also monitor blogs and Twitter for info on meetings coming up in your city

There are still people traveling. You have to be found where and when they do their research.  Don’t restrict your online marketing efforts to search only – there’s a potenial goldmine in the social media sites.

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7th March 2009

Disney on Social Media Strategies for Travel

Duncan Wardle, VP Global PR Integration & Walt Disney World Public Relations, Disney Parks and Resorts. is a keynote speaker at the Social Media for Travel conference next week in San Francisco. The successful brands of the future will be those that allow their employees and customers to engage in rich, meaningful dialogue around the topics that both are most passionate about, says Wardle.

Asked for his take on the fact that people are screening out brands they find irrelevant, Wardle said:

“Most people today are already self selecting which brands they choose to engage with without really even trying. The DVR has provided the consumer control over which brands reach them through TV. RSS feeds have allowed the consumer to screen the multitude of brands and information available on the internet. The ipod and satellite radio have provided a brand screener for music and iphone apps have further allowed consumers to choose exactly which brands they choose to engage with.
So, it is imperative that brands engage their brand advocates, allowing them to spread the message on their behalf.”

Syndicating travel content in an RSS Feed and adding social bookmarking links makes it easy for people to find, save and share your information. And once it gets into the social sites it can become a part of the conversation.

It also gives your search visibility a boost. The IAB reports that search numbers increased by an average of 20 percent per month in 2008. And we we know that online searches for travel deals is on the rise. Being found when these prospective travelers search is vital.

I will be at the Social Media for Travel event next week. Watch for updates frorm the sessions and video interviews with speakers.

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26th February 2009

Online Presence Vital in this Climate

 

Even though business and leisure travel is down, 70% of those who do book travel do so online.  And eMarketer predicts that online travel bookings in 2009 will grow by 10.5% to reach $116.1 billion, primarily as a result of a dramatic shift from the offline to online channel.

So it is even more important than ever to have a great online presence. 

When people who are looking for travel deals do a search, if your hotel or inn does not show up, that coveted booking will go to your web savvy competitors. So invest in online media relations and travel PR – upgrade your website and make it the very best it can be.  All the content needs to be search optimized, interesting and relevant. Use lots of images and video.  Find relevant websites that could republish your content and link back to you.

One of the eaiest and most cost effective tools you can use to boost your online visibility is an RSS feed.  Add travel articles about your destination, include images and videos, and then syndicate the content with feeds. With the right RSS tool your content will find its way into the social media sites like digg, StumbleUpon and Twitter.  

Good travel PR online reaches new audiences searching for travel information, and as a result they will find your site. 

 

 

 

 

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3rd February 2009

MGM Vegas Tweets

Who knew that a casino was savvy enough to use social media presence app Twitter to connect with folk on vacation in Vegas. @Vegas-Concierge spits out a steady stream of suggestions of things to do while in Vegas.  Their tweets are targeted at people follow Twitter updates on their phones.

Here are some recent examples:

Tila Tequila will be at Jet inside The Mirage. Call 702-693-8300 to get on the guestlist

Chinese New Year is the current theme at Bellagio’s Conservatory. It’s a great, FREE attraction to check out

Just Announced: Exclusive Twitter Offer – 35% off CRISS ANGEL Believe tickets for select performances

It’s working for them.  if you want to find  out more about how to use social media for travel destinations go to the Social Media conference in San Francisco in  March

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