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.
A report from eMarketer shows that 260,000 small businesses in the US and Canada are using some form of social media in their marketing activities. That’s only about 1% of all small businesses in those two countries.
Yet there are many stories of how small businesses that are involved in social media are getting great results. Even local businesses.
One is Boston Court Theater in Pasadena, CA. They are interested in building a community of art and theater lovers in the Pasadena area and they’ve used sites like Twitter to build that support. They tweet the back stage “insider stories” that let people get a glimpse into the world of the theater. They’ve built up a loyal following of over 600 local folk.
Another is Naked Pizza in New Orleans. Reuters reports that this small company has 4,300 followers on Twitter and a recent online promotion brought in 69& of their business on that day. They’re now seeing a sustained 20% of sales volume coming from their social media marketing.
There’s an excellent post about how small businesses can use social media at Search Engine Land
Start a blog
Comment on other blogs that talk about your industry or subject
Get active on Yahoo Answers
Make and share videos
Take and share pictures
Try the social news aite StumbleUpon
Find and join relevant groups
4, 5, & 6 are particularly good ideas. However, if you want people to share your content you have to make it easy to do so. That means #8 should be ‘add your content to feeds.” Feeds are the blood vessels of the social web – they keep all this content flowing.
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.
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.
The Cluetrain Manifesto, published ten years ago, has 95 theses. With not a lot to go on the authors predicted how they thought the Internet would change our lives: the way we communicate, connect, find news and information. All of which of course changes the way businesses need to operate.
Starting today 95 bloggers are writing their take on how each thesis has made an impact on our world. And big news – original author Doc Searls has just been added as one of the contributors.
You can follow the posts by subscribing to the #cluetrainplus10 Twitter feed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Focus on business travelers – many airlines and hotels are offering perks to attract more business travelers.
International bargains are available. A combination of factors have led to deeply dicounted international fares.
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.
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%.
Downsizing to regional jets. Some airlines have replaced larger planes with the small regional jets on short flights – such as Washington to New York.
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?
Be proactive and innovative. Do everything possible to win customer loyalty
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
Get very visible online. More people are searching online for travel deals than ever before.
Create excellent content that shows your venue and your perks – in text, images and video
Optimize all your content for your keywords so it will show up in search
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.
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.
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.
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