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19th January 2009

Travel Site Sees ROI from Social Media

Chris Noble of WorldNomads.com has a great article in EyeforTravel today.  While others are focused on the value of advertising in social sites, Noble says the value (particularly for travel) lies in engagement.

These are his key points:

  1. Show the world the human side of your company – let them get to know the people who work there. ” You’re a trekking company looking to ‘engage’ with those consumers interested in trekking. You have a staff member who happens to be passionate about photography and sharing their pictures. Why not encourage that staff member to manage your company Flickr account, upload their photos and build a community around trekking photography.” This is a great example.
  2. Get ideas from your users.  Dell has done this superbly with IdeaStorm. World Nomads did it with their audio language guides, born out of a debacle caused by using the wrong phrase.  Listen, learn and respond says Noble.
  3. Be part of the conversation.  Positive word of mouth in discussions has led to influence and sales. They’ve seen more sales through Facebook as a referring site than any Ad Network they’ve used – and they’re not running ads on Facebook.
  4. Tie social media into your corporate social involvement.  Sites like KIVA have shown just how effective online giving and involvement in other communities can be. WorldNomads.com encourages their travelers to donate to sustainable community development projects around the world when they buy travel insurance. 180,000+ donations later, 35 projects funded and a 90% donation rate shows that their users share their values.
  5. Building business relationships with social media.  Many people still see Twitter as a waste of time, but Noble has found it ‘shockingly effective’ in building relationships with like minded peers.  He’s done several successful partnership activities and promotions as a result of Twitter conversations.

Listen, learn and respond is indeed the mantra. It’s about what they need and want, not what we want to tell them.

Get started by using tools like BlogPulse to find conversations about your brand or niche.  Subscribe to their RSS feeds with Google Reader. Search Twitter using your keywords. That’s the listen part.

Then comes the learn – listen for things people are interested in, what they like and dislike, what could make their lives easier.  Do an evaluation of what you’re finding in these conversations. Be open ofr AHA moments,

Now you can formulate a content strategy. Create content that will resonate with your audience.  Listening gives you ideas that align with their interests and values.  Create something that really helps your users.

Word of mouth and engagement follow naturally when you create the right content.  And pPeople link to excellent content. That helps your search visiblity too, so you win on both fronts.

posted in content syndication, enterprise RSS, travel | 0 Comments

16th January 2009

Vegas.com makes the most of social media

Vegas.com has introduced Always Open, an online page dedicated to providing Vegas fans direct access to content about Vegas on social media platforms. They’ve created pages on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Flickr.  their Twitter page already has more than 400 followers.  Perhaps we’ll see them on the top 100 in the future.

It’s smart to connect with your audience where they are, in the medium they prefer. Always Open shows unfiltered photos of working in Vegas tourism, interviews with celebrities and real-time advice on what to do while in Vegas — from shows and nightclubs to which hotels have the best deals.

This kind of social media content is easy to hook up thanks to RSS feeds.  Most social content is moving on RSS feeds.  Other travel and tourism destinations that cater to the digirati – and that includes the Boomers now – should follow Vegas.com’s lead.

Get great content into the social media platforms.  Have ‘people just like me’ writing reviews, blogs and tweets.  Make it easy to subscribe and share that content.  Make it  available in an RSS feed.

People are online looking for info and deals.   Give them great content they can relate to and you’ll get the monitization you’re after.

posted in content syndication, travel | 0 Comments

8th January 2009

Social Media Must Lead to Tangible ROI for Travel

Image by Shiny Things

The current economic climate has made travel execs focus on the bottom line.  Brand awareness is all well and good, but when it comes to social media, monetization is the top priority for travel executives, says EyeforTravel.  They surveyed travel execs this time last year, prior to their social media conference, and found brand awareness was the top concern.  This year it’s monetization.

And they found that one of the most pressing problems for travel marketers is the ability to track and measure their social media campaigns. And travel companies are not alone – every business is feeling the economic pressure.  Every marketing channel has to prove its worth right now. 

Now is not the time to cut marketing budgets, or to blithely say I know half of my marketing works- I just don’t know which half. You have to make sure every action you take brings results – its the beans for beans theory.

However, ther is a fine line here. Other research shows that the best way to survive, and even flourish, during down times is to form deeper relationships with your customers. So while you are focuisng on the bottom line you also have to communicate with your customers and build loyalty and trust.

It is possible to use social media marketing tools that give you the best of both worlds.  You can be social and allow feedback while you track results from first click all the way to conversion.

Create content about your destination.  Use visual elements like images and interactive video.  Add it to your website. Syndicate the content with RSS feeds.  Embed trackable links.  Link back to a landing page that has a special offer.  Capture the identities of your visitors. Use an analytics tool that can track your visitors, so you get info on where they went after they first clicked on your link and how long it takes for them to come back and convert.


posted in content syndication, travel | 0 Comments

6th January 2009

Hotelier’s 2009 Top Ten Internet Marketing Resolutions

A comprehensive, ROI-centric Internet marketing strategy is the hotelier’s perfect “survival tool” in the current economic environment, says Max Starkov at Hospitality eBusiness Strategies.

Doug Hay, CEO of Expansion Plus, a boutique PR firm that specializes in online travel PR, agrees. “Although there have been dire predictions about the state of the travel and tourism industry in 2009, a recent study by the TIA showed that Americans are still determined to travel,” says Hay. “They might look for a resort closer to home, and they’re keen to find packages and deals, but they are going on vacation. To capitalize on this information travel websites need to invest in online PR in 2009.”

More than 55% of all travel bookings and up to 40% of all hotel bookings in North America will be generated from the Internet, which represents a double-digit growth over 2008. (Source: eMarketer and HeBS)

Here the 10 strategies HeBS recommends for 2009:

  1. Take advantage of the competition’s hesitancy and outsmart them online.
  2. Re-evaluate your marketing efforts and advertising budget.  Focus on proven return-on-investment (ROI)-centric efforts. Shift funds from offline to online formats
  3. Re-evaluate the importance of your key customer segments and feeder markets in lieu of the economic downturn.
  4. Track conversions.  Figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Create unique hotel offers based on unique product attributes. Don’t compete only on price.
  6. Differentiate your hotel and offer what the competition does not: a broader selection of specials and packages in a variety that your customers can appreciate.
  7. Make the direct online channel the centerpiece of your Internet strategy.  It provides immediate results in a very difficult economic environment as well as long-term competitive advantages.
  8. Your website is the hotel’s most important marketing asset today and enhancing and optimizing the hotel website should be a top priority in 2009.
  9. Get familiar with and use Web 2.0/Social Media. Establish interactive relationships with customers via Web 2.0/Social Media initiatives such as expert blogs, consumer experience and photo sharing, contests and sweepstakes.
  10. Acquire new core competencies and adopt best industry practices by partnering with leading hospitality experts in Internet marketing and direct online channel strategies.

Excellent resolutions. And here a few more that fall into the best practices category:

  • Create compelling content about your hotel or your destination.  Google says the most important factor in search ranking is exclusive, relevant content
  • Add this content to your site
  • Make sure it has visual elements – images and video. It’s the visual element that sells travel destinations
  • Syndicate the content in an RSS feed
  • Add social bookmarking tools
  • Make it easy for your readers to save and share the content

If you make the most of these simple, cost-effective online marketing strategies 2009 could end up being your best year.

posted in content syndication, travel | 0 Comments