November 2010 – Conference Madness!

Tourism track session at BlogWorld and New Media Expo with Becky, Sheila and Ann Peavey (Seattle CVB) in the foreground ((cc) Kenneth Yeung - www.snapfoc.us)We’ve brought you some insights and info this month from two significant events:  the very first Tourism track at BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas, and the very first 140 Characters Conference SmallTown in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Yep, that’s some geographic whiplash, isn’t it? Las Vegas and Hutchinson.

But here’s the deal – each of them were powerful events because they took online relationships and moved them offline, thus strengthening both.

Here’s what can you learn from them for your own organization….

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Takeaways From BlogWorld

Here are some thoughts from the CVB, DMO and tourism experts who decided to “go where the geeks are” and join us as speakers and attendees at the BlogWorld Tourism track….don’t despair if you missed the conference, because we’re going to run the track again at BlogWorld in October 2011.

—->> From the Seattle CVB‘s Ann Peavey (@SeattleMaven)

“Love-love-LOVED the general geekiness and camaraderie throughout BlogWorld….the general vibe was loads of attendees going well out of their way to embrace, engage and inform others!

Tourism mobile geek session at BlogWorld and New Media Expo (photo by Sheila Scarborough)The Tourism Track was great (as was the feedback). As a CVB, I found it the perfect place to connect not just with other techies, but specifically with bloggers wanting to talk about our destination.

Of course my brain’s running wild with QR codes now (we have them at the VIC [Visitor Information Center] desk already, and are looking at best ways to utilize the idea through our Holidays in the City campaign beginning next month!)”

—- >> From the Pensacola CVB‘s Mike Bersabal (@Mike_VstPcola)

“It was good because so many different attendees were there. No matter if they were in tourism or not, they all seemed to represent their brand or company with blogs / social media. It was great to share ideas and network within the social community.

The night before our BlogWorld and New Media Expo Tourism track; Becky and Sheila touring the Mandalay Bay Conference Center.

I met someone from PENSACOLA?! I met someone in health care. I met people in travel: photogs, writers, all bloggers. Seeing and talking to people who do what I do in different industries brings insights to my everyday tasks.

Scott Stratten’s ‘Unmarketing’ keynote was epic. I shared his ideas and thoughts with my team here [in Florida,] to give them a better understanding of how they should write, and engage with the audience.”

—- >> From Velvet Chainsaw Consulting‘s meetings expert Jeff Hurt (@JeffHurt)

“Two things from BlogWorld….

How to use your blog to share important critical community/city information about natural disasters, and a hands-on interactive session on using your video camera effectively for blog posts.”

—- >> From the Beaumont CVB‘s Stephanie Molina (@Beaumartian)

“The thing that I most enjoyed was meeting all the different content publishers and hearing their take on the shift in media consumption. In between sessions, I encountered a number of traditional media outlets that were there at BlogWorld to learn the best way to bring their magazines online while remaining profitable.

I also enjoyed meeting and mixing with social media nuts like me in completely different industries. I had lunch with doctor who was using Twitter to stay in touch with patients and remind them to take medicine and blood sugar readings throughout the day. That kind of real-time high-tech communication enables her to really monitor levels….I loved looking at social media from a different industry perspective.”

—- >> From DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International) and empowerMINT‘s Christine Shimasaki (@Shimosan)

“I’m getting ready to launch our empowerMINT blog and the conference was not only timely, but had me spinning with all kinds of fundamentals and ideas for our industry.  I think the one take away that I heard is that you just can’t be focused ENOUGH on our customer – and in my case, the meeting planner!!”

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Insights From 140 Conference SmallTown

At the 140 Characters Conference SmallTown in Hutchison, Kansas, we talked about communications in the “State of Now” for smaller towns and rural areas (and yes, we’re doing this one again next year in Hutch – mark your calendars for September 20, 2011.)

(Update – Sheila wrote both a guest print column and blog post to PCMA “Convene” in January 2011, about how others can learn from what the Fox Theatre did to host 140. Here it is: Small-Town, Not Small-Time. )

It was obvious that rural people are just as connected as urban people. If you had any thoughts that your audience doesn’t fall into the connected category because of age or geography, give it up. The small town audience was full of people of all ages, from college students to 55+, all connected and connecting.

Is your communication keeping up with them?

One tourism highlight was speaker Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. She is busy educating the whole world about what is special in Kansas’ small towns.

One project that has driven their success for the past three years is the 8 Wonders of Kansas campaign [we mentioned it in our October 2010 newsletter.] The local businesses that are featured in the campaign have seen a definite upswing in business. One said they “felt like they had arrived.”

The Kansas Sampler Foundation illustrates the connection of tourism and small town economic development.

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The 800-lb Gorilla Checks In: Facebook Deals

Heads up:  We’ve been following and experimenting with LBS (Location-Based Services) like Foursquare and Gowalla (here’s Sheila’s post on how to build a Gowalla Trip) but now Facebook has entered the fray with the November 3 beta launch of Facebook Deals.

The idea is that you can check in on Facebook Places and get a tangible reward for that check-in, through Deals.

In the travel and tourism worlds, we note that the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas is jumping into Deals starting November 18, with free nights and some other incentives.

With millions of Facebook mobile users – many of them more mainstream than previous LBS enthusiasts – this may start to bring check-ins to mass adoption.

Any bets about whether there will be Black Friday Facebook Deals? You heard it here first.  🙂

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Can You Spot Social Media Hokum When It’s Pitched To You?

On our recent travels, we’ve been disturbed by some of the unrealistic and expensive tech and social media services that are being pitched to tourism organizations.  For example, it shouldn’t be as hard/costly as it apparently is for one agency to attach a WordPress-powered blog to a CVB website, especially since the WordPress publishing software itself is free.

One of the reasons that we like to teach people about social media is so that they can better evaluate offerings in the marketplace.

We don’t claim to have all the answers by any stretch, but a little training helps a lot with the caveat emptor (buyer beware.)

Let our online learning community make you a better consumer.

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