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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

28th December 2008

Travelers Still Out and About in 2009

travel meme

Predictions for 2009 are that despite uncertainty about the future, people are still going to be traveling.  Milions of Americans plan to take a vacation newxt year – but they are counting their pennies.

“Consumers are responding as we might expect in troubled times,” said Suzanne Cook, research vice president for the Travel Industry Association in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.  Cook’s forecast is based on interviews with 2,291 adults in October.  7 out of 10 respondents said they intend to take an overnight trip of 50 miles or more in the next six months. Nearly half of those surveyed said they did not plan to change their future travel plans because of the financial turmoil.

The study predicts only a 1.3 percent decline in leisure travel next year from this year.

Some key findings:

  • 76 percent of travelers expect to book a packaged vacation (air, hotels, meals and sightseeing) to save money.
  • 58 percent plan to comparison shop for prices and rates specifically on the Internet.

How can you use this data in your 2009 marketing strategy?

Get your destination, resort or hotel very visible online.

Take the time to find a boutique agency that specializes in online travel PR.

Show up in local search on Google.

Offer great package deals to prospective travelers.

Concentrate on markets close to you.

Create articles and interactive videos about your destination.

Show them the attractions they can see, and  the experiences they can have, while staying with you.  Syndicate this content in RSS feeds, so you show up higher, and faster, in the search engines and YouTube.  YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google!

Not sure what RSS feeds are and how they work?  Read What is RSS?

Image by GeekGirly

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

28th December 2008

Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Source

The Pew Center for Research for People and the Press published figures December 23 that show online news got a huge boost this year.  It’s jumped from 24 to 40 percent as the main source of news across all age groups.  And in the under 30 age group it’s way higher – equal to TV.

One easy and affordable Internet marketing strategy you can employ right away is to add news content to your site and syndicate it with an RSS feed.  If your news makes it to Google News – number 8 on the top ten list of news sites online – you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

What is RSS? Read our tutorials and case studies.  You’ll see why RSS is an excellent SEO strategy too.

posted in content syndication, enterprise RSS | 0 Comments

14th December 2008

What is RSS? Getting Google Searches

Google’s Year-End Zeitgeist list shows us what  our collective minds have been on in 2008.

“Zeitgeist means ‘the spirit of the times,’ and we strive to capture this spirit through exploring the year’s new and exciting search terms,” a Google spokesperson explained to Thomas Claburn of Information Week.

Many of the search terms were phrased as a question – what is….?

What is RSS? is on that list at #5!  Nice to know that more and more people want to know what RSS is and what it can do.

If you are one of the folk who needs help with understanding feeds, read the RSS tutorial or What is RSS on the PRESSfeed site.

What is RSS

Image by: Photopia

posted in enterprise RSS, RSS Search Visibility, RSS Submission | 0 Comments

2nd December 2008

Travel Tops Online Sales on Cyber Monday

Cyber Mondays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, are known to be high sales days for online shopping

This year ROI Research and Performics surveyed 7,043 consumers on the role of search engines in their purchasing behaviors across seven consumer segments and ten product categories.

“Consumers turn to search for different reasons,” said Michael Kahn, VP, account management and marketing for Performics. “Online strategies from one marketer to the next can look like night and day depending on the verticals and target segments each needs to navigate. In some cases, consumers use search to buy; in others, it’s a research tool, often used to find offline retail locations.”

Travel reigned as the top online product category, with 70% of respondents reporting making their last travel purchase online.

Another study released in the UK this week states that companies that do not engage their customers in conversation or provide the information, advice and reviews online searchers are looking for, will be hardest hit by the recession.

Based on this data social media would seem to be the strategy for travel sites in 2009.  RSS is one easy way to get started.  RSS and SEO make the perfect strategy for travel and tourism sites.

posted in content syndication, RSS Search Visibility, travel | 0 Comments

23rd November 2008

Travel Strategy for 2009 – best ROI is online

Image by Overig

According to a recent study from Jupiter Research 94 percent of travel advertisers see strong return on investment in online advertising, versus TV and radio (3 percent) and print (3 percent).

“Almost a third of the money from travel marketers spending will be online for 2008,” said Emily Riley, senior analyst at JupiterResearch.

With companies in all sectors cutting budgets for 2009, where are the travel dollars likely to go?

“Travel spending is going to increase from the marketer’s side significantly,” said Riley, adding that the total spend online for travel will be close to $2 billion in 2008 and will reach $4 billion by 2013. “[Advertisers] see where the ROI is, where the consumer goes, and the money that follows.”

What ROI are travel marketres looking for?

  • generate sales (87 percent)
  • generate leads (37 percent)
  • increase purchase intent (37 percent)
  • build brand awareness (27 percent)
  • build customer loyalty (17 percent)

One of the best ways to increase leads and sales is to improve your search visibility.  A poll conducted by HeBS showed that consistently over 50% of visitors to a hotel website originate from the search engines.

So how do you improve your search visibility?  Search engines thrive on new content.

Web 2.0 sites, that have constantly updated content and peer reviews,  have increased their share in the travel planning process. But travel planning is still predominantly done using traditional travel sites  – and more than 50% of the time the most relevant site is found by oding a search.

In Google’s new SEO starter guide they once again state that unique, exclusive content is a very important part of your search visibility.

Creating great content about your destination and syndicating it in an RSS feed can boost your search ranking remarkably.  If you’re looking for a cost effective travel marketing strategy for 2009, search optimized articles in an RSS Feeds is a sure bet.

posted in content syndication, RSS Search Visibility, travel | 0 Comments

22nd November 2008

RSS as a BtoB Marketing Tool

Seventy percent of BtoB technology marketers are not using RSS Feeds. A recent study of 300 websites showed that only 3 out of 10 have feeds and of those a mere 10 percent offer more than one feed so that their visitors can choose targeted information updates.

According to Marketing Sherpa and Knowledge Storm 71% of technology buyers assign value to their RSS use.

“RSS offers B2B technology marketing and PR professionals a golden opportunity to establish ongoing relationships with their target audiences and become a trusted source of valuable information on topics buyers care about most,” stated Kim Cornwall Malseed, Principal, MarCom Ink. “Our survey revealed that although 30% of companies are providing RSS, only 10% have multiple targeted feeds enabling visitors to choose from a variety of topics to subscribe to, so almost all of the companies surveyed could benefit from developing an effective RSS strategy.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  I come across many feeds on BtoC and BtoB sites that obviously have no strategy behind them.

In this economy every marketing action has to be goal oriented and show results.  A content strategy based on feeds and syndication is very effective – if it’s done right.

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posted in RSS Submission | 0 Comments