Back to School means new crayons (courtesy niseag03 on Flickr CC)

(You’re in the right place!)

Every once in a while we like to throw open the doors and have a little party at our place, and since September 9 is the 2nd Anniversary of the day we launched Tourism Currents, this week is a time for celebrating!

We were inspired by Liz Strauss’ world-famous Open Mic and Open Comments nights on her Successful Blog (where Becky and Sheila first met, come to think of it) so here’s a chance to hang out, chat and get smarter about tourism, hospitality, economic development and social media.

The topic is Back to School – tell us what you learned on your summer vacation, bring something to Show and Tell, or ask us and the crowd that one question about something you really need some help with – we want you to leave the chat and connect better online right away with your visitors and customers.

But because it’s a conversation among friends, we’re bound to get off topic….and that’s OK!

Here’s how it works: you add your comments right on this post down below and hit Refresh in your browser to see updates. It’s a conversation held in the Comments section. If you like Twitter chats and #tourismchat, you’ll love this.

More good news:  we’re also going to host a free webinar this Thursday, September 8 at 2 pm CST – it’s an Idea Fair of helpful tips and guidance plus an Open House for our online course, so you can go behind the scenes and see for yourself what our multi-part lessons look like and all the great stuff your peers and friends are learning about using social media to tell their stories to the world.

Go here to sign up for the Thursday Idea Fair webinar – thanks!


Have you connected with us in your favorite places?

If you arrived here directly from a link, here’s the email signup for this newsletter.

Say hi to Tourism Currents on….

Don’t miss these goodies, either:


Commenting area

  1. Hi everyone! Thanks for dropping by….

  2. I love open mic nights!

  3. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm · ·

    What is the difference between # and @. When I use @ does it go directly to that person even if they are not following me-and then to all the people following me? Thank you!

    • Hi Kari – yes, the @ is for the Twitter handle of a person. The # (hashtag) is to group together tweets about a particular topic – for example, when we’re participating in #tourismchat or #blogchat, all of our tweets have that hashtag in them, so they can be grouped together.

      You can see what’s on any hashtag at

    • Also, when you @reply to a person on Twitter, it will show up in their mentions, whether or not they follow you, or even if you follow them.

      If you put the @name at the very beginning of the tweet, any of your friends who do not follow that person won’t see it. Otherwise, all your followers can see it.

      Hope that helped!

      • Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm · ·

        So if you want that person and all your followers to see it say something first like “hey @tourismcurrents” and with that hey there first it will go to all of my followers as well. And if I want it private to you I put @tourismcurrents first thing?

        • The first part is exactly right:
          “if you want that person and all your followers to see it say something first like “hey @tourismcurrents” and with that hey there first it will go to all of my followers as well. ”

          The second part is not quite right. If you put @tourismcurrents first thing, it shows up in the stream of @tourismcurrents, and also for any of your followers who also follow us.

          The reason is simple: you probably don’t care what people are saying to other people who you don’t follow. That’s why you don’t see tweets that start with their @name.

  4. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm · ·

    How come none of my Tweets have the “retweet” option below them? I am not seeing them on my tweets and everyone else has that?

    • I noticed that, too. You can’t retweet your own tweets that way. Besides, you didn’t want to retweet yourself. Find a new way to say it, or a new item to feature. That’s more interesting for your friends than just repeating the exact same info, too.

      • We sometimes repeat our tweets, especially when our monthly newsletter comes out, to spread announcements out across audiences and time zones. Each time, we change the wording just a little, or add something like, “In case you missed it….”

        • Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm · ·

          I see peoples same tweet a lot-I just thought they were trying to get the message out again in case you were not on Twitter at that time. It is easy to have your message missed isn’t it?!

      • Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm · ·

        So you see the “retweet” on your screen for my entries okay?

  5. Kari, welcome! Glad you could drop in! Will get you an answer in my next comment if Sheila doesn’t beat me to it.

  6. Congratulations on your 2 year anniversary. So exciting to watch you grow. I know you both work hard, but one can tell you also are enjoying the adventure. Add in your skills, experiences, and friendly personalities, are the real deal.

    I am looking forward to what is next.

  7. We have a small Tweet-up group made of retailers,restaurants,lodging & some activity properties. They are the champions for social media in our community. Unfortunately, the other 77% of the community has trouble understanding and believing in something they can’t touch & feel (love those print ads!) Involvement by the Tweetup group dives down in the summer as everyone gets too busy physically & mentally.. By mid-October, things slow down and I want to get the existing group back together, energized, and also attract some newbies. Any thoughts on motivating new & old for sustainabe action?

    • Hi Jan (thanks for your support from Yellowstone….)

      Perfectly normal for things to ebb and flow – I started a Jelly Coworking group that’s been pretty moribund lately, but I’m going to get it charged back up soon.

      Contact the 5 – 7 most active people in your tweetup group, tell them where and when you want to get things kick-started again, and ask each of them to return and bring a friend. I’ll bet they miss your group and will be glad to see it revitalized.

    • Jan, great question! That’s a common issue: getting “the other 77%” to understand.

      To get your group back together and excited, consider an out-of-town speaker, a live video link up, a hands-on demonstration, or brainstorming session focused on one business.

  8. Congrats on the milestone.

    This summer I learned that a lot of tourism-based companies are sloooowly coming around to social media (even just a year ago I felt like I was beating my head against the wall). That makes me smile.

    I also learned that there are certain topics that will always spark controversy… for my niche it’s the Marching Days in Northern Ireland.

    • Wow, Corey, you’re the world-famous Irish Fireside guy – thanks so much for coming by!

      Yes, some are, ah, rather more speedy about adopting social communications than others, but the momentum has DEFINITELY shifted in the last year or so. We see it at our speaking engagements; people know this isn’t a fad and they need to figure out how to make it work for their destination/attraction.

      Have you worked with Tourism Ireland?

      • I have worked with Tourism Ireland/Discover Ireland. They’ve sponsored a rail trip I took last year. It was new territory for them… since then they’ve hosted several UK bloggers.

        Almost two years ago they launched a pretty good blog and their Twitter feed is doing things right. I wish the folks in charge of those two areas had more say in other aspects of their marketing.

        Not sure if anyone heard of the Discover Ireland Facebook game… they were doing an Irish tourism knockoff of Farmville. Not sure how they measured success on that one… it got a lot of media mentions, but I can’t say the game was a real hit though.

        • Hmmm, I missed the Facebook thing. Glad they appreciate you!

          For everyone, here’s the Tourism Ireland/Discover Ireland blog –

          Yes, sometimes the ones who “get it” best find themselves a bit marginalized, but the rest of the organization either comes around, or those people leave for greener pastures (or they’re hired away by organizations that appreciate their talents.)

    • Thank you, Corey! So glad to hear that the industry is coming around!

      I’ll be that Sheila can tell the Fargo story about controversy here.

      • Yes, the Fargo (North Dakota) – Moorhead (MN) CVB are proudly in possession of the original woodchipper from that gruesome scene in the movie “Fargo.”

        It has pulled a gazillion people into their Visitor’s Center and is wildly popular – several locals were critical of it on the CVB Facebook Page, but supporters countered that it showed personality and a sense of humor to embrace a pop culture moment like that. Point man for it has been Brian Matson
        ( @BVMatson on Twitter ) – he’s one of our Tourism track speakers at BlogWorld in November. Yay!

        • Love it! Belfast is finding that their two biggest draws are “The Troubles” and the Titanic… two topics that don’t always cast the city in the best light (although they emphasize that “the Titanic was fine when it left Belfast”).

          • Best line ever! “The Titanic was fine when it left Belfast.”

          • I’ve found that to be true about the Troubles, too — both when I write about the music at Music Road and when I write about that on travel or Ireland focused site. one I did in the wake of Belfast unrest for Perceptive Travel got noticed by BBC NI.

    • Do you avoid the topic or let the interaction go where it will? Earlier this year, the legal department for our State Tourism Office informed us that an administrator for any social media site (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) funded by public dollars could not delete any comment, posting,or Tweet unless it was pornographic or libel (free speech first ammendment). So, I sometimes hesitant on posting items about grizzlies or wolves in Yellowstone because of the big emotional reaction we get (both sides of the issue.)

      • I let the conversation take its own shape and make sure everyone is clear that the opinions belong to those sharing them… we’re just the vehicle.

        In fact, comment about a Facebook post about the Marching Days inspired a blog post where I invited some of the most colorful voices to share their opinions on the topic.

  9. Andy Hayes September 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm · ·

    Just wanted to say happy birthday! Thanks for saving me the corner piece of cake. 🙂

  10. Congratulations, Girls! (Hey, I am an old person.) Very proud of what you are doing.

    I think the tweet-ups are a great thing. I went to my very 1st a couple of weeks ago–scared to death, but it was interesting. I never thought I would miss the face to face, but apparently I do.

  11. Congratulations! What a great idea you have going here!

    Well, what I learned this summer was something I now wish I had learned years ago – Adobe AfterEffects. I’ve been a Photoshop user for many years, but I didn’t realize the video equivalent is found in AfterEffects. I’ve been having lots of fun playing around with this software, and am looking forward to showing my students some new tricks.

  12. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm · ·

    How do I see all of the tweets from tourismcurrents (or any certain person) (menaing which button do I cleick) and how far back will that go?

    • WOW! Great question….I, too, am awaiting that answer.

    • Kari, if you’ll click on a Twitter user’s name, it opens their profile page. Their you can see all their tweets, at least for the past several weeks. It’s limited by number of tweets, rather than time, so it depends how often they tweet.

      You can open anyone’s profile page with an address like this:!/tourismcurrents

      • Yes, last I heard you could only go back about two weeks on tweets. If you come across one you really like and don’t want to lose it, hit Favorite on it.

      • Also, every time you scroll down to the end of the page, it loads about 20 more tweets. You can keep scrolling down like that for a long way, but eventually, Twitter will quit loading more tweets.

        And yes, Favoriting a tweet (clicking “favorite” or adding a star to it) is the best way to be sure you can find it later.

        • Reading these after the party is over. I have question about favorites. The favorite button on my Twitter has gone away. Any idea why? I checked the setting, didn’t see anything to check or uncheck. I used it often.

  13. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm · ·

    One lady says, “twitter newcomers, if you put your name to your account and don’t tweet for yourself then you’re not doing it properly.” What does she mean?

    • Kari, hard to speak for someone else, but I’ll guess.

      Imagine if I used @beckymccray as my Twitter name (which I do), but I had Mom tweet for me, and pretend to be me. That would be kind of false.

      That may be what she meant.

    • Well, there are paid “ghost tweeters” out there just like there are ghostwriters for books.

      It’s not what we would advise – we always say, “Why would you pay someone else to use a free tool to speak with YOUR voice?” – but sometimes people feel that it’s necessary.

      In a crisis or when you’re just getting started, it’s fine to get some help, but we’re kinda itchy about the idea of outsourcing the whole Twitter stream. It’s more effective and timely when it’s your own voice.

      • OMG! “ghost tweeters” — who knew? Really? Of course, or you would not have said so. Amazing.

        • I heard a ghost-tweeter speak at the 140 Conference in New York City. She maintained that most politicians are not good at the skills it takes to be an effective political tweeter: brevity, person-able-ness, professionalism, etc.

          • Of course they aren’t. That is why they are politicians: so they can go on and on and on and…..

    • Kari – I think they mean if you’re using a personal name for your account, it should really be you tweeting, as opposed to hiring someone else to “fake it” for you.


  14. Hey – any cake left? And who guzzled all the champagne??

    Congratulations on the anniversary too.

    Canadian tourism marketer here – for the Rocky Mountains areas of Canmore & Banff National Park as well as the rest of Alberta.


  15. Thank you all for jumping in to help each other! I love to see that!

  16. Just dropped in to say congratulations! (Midwest Guest here, a regional travel blog)
    I had to laugh at Sheila’s #JurassicGeeks comment! I remember “flash chat” on BBSes back in the dark ages, too.

  17. I just wanted to stop by and sing you a little happy birthday song. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!

    What did I learn? Well, I attended Book Passage, the travel and food writers conference in Marin county this summer. And I learned such a happy thing. It turns out that there are people out there in the world who love to WRITE just as much as they love to travel. I learned that there were people who still really have NO idea of how the social media ecosystem (that I totally take for granted) works. I learned that I really enjoy teaching.

    I learned, again, that writing well matters more than anything else. When ever I hear that again in my head, I also hear Sheila’s voice in the background saying “WRITE FOR PEOPLE, NOT FOR BOTS!” It’s easy to forget this in the noise.

    Right on, you two, here’s to many more.

    • Right on, Pam.

    • The instructions I always give about web writing is to write for people who use search. That puts the focus on the human reader but reminds us that most people are only going to find what we read if we take the search engines into account.

      Former English major and word geek here too – LOVE to see the language used effectively and to inspire 🙂


    • Hey, Pam! Glad you’re here! Still love your post about cattle. I showed it to lots of small town tourism people, just to make them realize what they have and take for granted.

    • Thanks for all of your support over the years – you’re a peach!

      So glad that Book Passage turned out well for you; it always seemed like a worthwhile event. I know you blew ’em away….

  18. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm · ·

    How can you put a picture behind your Twitter Page-Should I do this? Love the one that @Marilyn_Res has.

    • Kari, on your Twitter page, under settings, you can upload a picture. Get a graphic-designer friend to help you, or pay for a pro to put together one just like you want it. Should cost you less than $100.

    • That’s an option that’s available in the settings of your Twitter account, Kari. You can select one of Twitter’s choice of defaults or you can upload your own.

      Go to after you’ve logged into your account.


    • Wait, do you mean the wallpaper BEHIND your Twitter stream?

      Same thing – go to settings and look for Change Background Image – and you can upload a photo. Mine on @SheilaS is one single personal photo, put into “tile background” – I think that option is still there. Otherwise most of the pic often gets hidden behind your stream box.

      • Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm · ·

        Thank you. Yes, I meant behind your page. So what “picture” were Paul and Becky talking about?

        • I think they mean that some people do a custom background image as their wallpaper (it usually has all the info sorta stacked to the left or right side, so you can see it better rather than have things end up hidden behind that middle box where the tweets go.)

          Our Tourism Currents account has such a background –

          It was part of a graphics/presentation overhaul we did on our whole site.

  19. I hope things are going well. What’s the hottest thing going on in tourism these days? What’s the world talking about?

    • Howdy, Chris!

      We’re hearing the most talk about how potential visitors look for info about where they are going. Right now, that’s mobile, and probably not the CVB’s own site.

      Glad to say that the tourism world spends a lot of time thinking about their customers, the potential visitors.

    • They’re going BANANAS for QR codes, and mobile, mobile, mobile.

      They’re also hitting the “Believe” Button on social communications, even the former doubters. 🙂

    • Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm · ·

      In New Zealand we are all talking about the Rugby World Cup and all the REAL Festivals and events carried out for it.

    • Hey – it’s THE Chris Brogan! 🙂

      Mobile strategy for DMOs/CVBs and what to do about booking engines on DMO websites (Destination Marketing Organizatoins) are hot topics in tourism marketing here in Canada

  20. You asked what we learned on summer vacation…

    One of the things that I learned is that taking an extended break from online isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and can actually be very good. i was at the cottage for 3 weeks with no Internet. Came back to the web with some fresh eyes, new ideas (I kept working in a notebook) and some new enthusiasm.


    • Oh, mercy, I need one of those kinds of vacations. Becky’s the smart one – she goes off to Africa and everyone leaves her alone!

      • First time in my working life I’ve ever taken 3 weeks in a row. Spent most of it bobbing around in the river – we don’t do much swimming in the glacier-fed lakes here in the mountains and it’s one of the few things I really miss, living out here.

    • Paul, I love going offline like that! I always go completely offline when I go on safari. It’s a great feeling to really be in the moment, with no distraction from the online world.

  21. Before we forget….

    If you want to come visit again, we’re having a free webinar this Thursday, Sept 8 at 2 pm CST.

    It’s an Idea Fair (we’ll bring a stack of tips, advice and ideas) and then a quick Open House tour of our paid course, so you can see what we offer and what the multi-part lessons look like.

    You can sign up here:

    We will record it, too!

  22. On my summer vacation, I visited both the U.S. and Canada sides of Niagara Falls. I was really surprised how little continuity was going on between them. It really seemed like the two sides are two very distinct experiences, but wouldn’t it make more sense if the CVBs of the two sides worked closer together/

    • JoAnna, what a great point! Probably all of us are guilty of just “doing our thing” without looking across the borders. Imagine how much more we could accomplish together!

      • This is a pet peeve of mine – but I often see the same issue with destinations that are right next to each other in the same country. The political demarcations created by funding/administrative organizations are totally meaningless to a visitor. They don’t give a hoot about the political boundaries of an area.

        So many destinations could be leveraging each other to create a much more effective critical mass for their areas, but seem blind to the lost opportunities by sticking to their silos.


    • My understanding is that there are big economic development problems/urban blight in the community on the US side of the Falls, but not the Canadian. Did it seem that way, JoAnna?

      • I actually felt like it was the opposite situation. Niagara Falls on the U.S. side is in a state park, and in Canada it’s very commercialized. The Hard Rock Cafe is just a couple minutes walk from the rim in Canada. There may be a bit of urban encroachment in the U.S., but I think that as long as it stays a state park, it will be okay. What was so striking to me was that there were similar activities on both sides, but the Canadian side was much more kitschy and expensive.

  23. Congratulations ladies! I’m following slowly in your footsteps here in Iowa (speaking this week to a CVB where only about 30% of members even have websites! Lots of work to do!!)

    But I am finding that, if presented correctly, small town tourism is open to the idea of new media. Thanks for breaking the path!

    • Jody, thank you! So glad you came by. I love hearing that you are doing good stuff in Iowa! Keep it up!

    • YAY for the Midwest Blogga Nostra! 🙂

    • Social media is truly a “great equalizer.” If your community competes with other communities, regions, or states with huge budgets and big staffs, it can be a very effective way of getting your marketing message out. Granted we have a lot of people traveling thru our town to Yellowstone Park, but whenever anyone “checked in” on FourSquare there were four of us (three businesses & the Chamber) who welcomed them to our community and either invited them into that business or the Chamber just to say hi! We tracked the results amidst ourselves and found that over 60% of the people we invited did come in. Many followed our Facebook and Twitter pages and posted photos or comments either during their trip or after. One of retailers was even able to track sales from just these welcome posts.

  24. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm · ·

    Is there any online thing you should do through Facebook or Twitter to get more Facebook and Twitter Followers aside from contacting each person directly?

    • Hi Kari ~ I’ve found that fostering honest relationships and steady, consistent networking is key. I don’t think there’s a “quick fix” if you want a true following of fans either on Twitter or Facebook.

    • Kari, JoAnna has given you a great answer. I would only add to continually create and share the information your target market is interested in. When you’re sharing things like that, word about you will spread, slowly but surely, and your target market will find you. That’s where the best followers come from!

    • It definitely takes time to develop, but one thing for sure would be to add links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts on your website. Even better if you can include a short little blurb about why it would be worthwhile for a visitor to like/follow you. ie what’s in it for THEM.

      Part of the battle is just letting people know the accounts exist 🙂


    • It just flat takes time. We clicked over 700 recently on Facebook, but we’ve been at it there for two full years.

      We ran Facebook ads a couple of times (once on a freebie promo code, and then we went wild and spent 50 whole US dollars.) That bumped our numbers a little, but we much prefer organic growth.

      Here we are:

      Let us know your destination or hotel Pages….

  25. I’m gonna have to bug out here in a minute – having a birthday moment with my son, who is turning 12, much to my amazement. THANK YOU all so much for coming, and for your kind thoughts and great ideas. We appreciate every single one of them.

  26. Wow! That hour (and a bonus half!) went really quickly!

    Thank you to every single one of you who dropped in and celebrated with us. Help yourself to the last of the champagne and cake before you go!

    And we hope to see you Thursday when we give a tour of our online lessons, and also share more great ideas you can use. You can sign up here:


  27. Kari Moers September 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm · ·

    Thank you so much you two! A very Happy Birthday. Wishing you much success. If you are in Round Rock, Texas we will have to come see you next time we are back in the US-Bill is a 6th generation Texan. His mother is a descendant of the original 300.

  28. Congrats again ladies – enjoy your celebration week! (And happy birthday to the young gentleman.)


  29. even though I wasn’t able to come to the chat live, it was fun to catch up through reading the comments, and to see some online friends joining in as well. congrats on the anniversary, Becky and Sheila!

Comments are now closed for this article.