Dec 7 Open Comments right here – let’s fix your problems!

Let's FIX some things (courtesy j_anet on Flickr CC)

(This is the spot! Comments are open!)

Periodically we like to host a casual get-together online chat event that we call Open Comments.

It’s an opportunity for us to bring people right into our Tourism Currents “house”, enjoy good company and happily allow a bit of free…yes, it’s true!….brain-picking.

The topic on 7 Dec is Fixing Problems – we have some hammers and by golly, we’re looking for your nails. Stuff like….

**  Integrating social communications into your daily workflow.

**  Ideas for getting more out of the photos, blog posts, etc. that you’re already creating.

**  Getting some buzz going for that New Year’s event you’re running.

**  How to get buy-in for social media from the boss or Board.

**  How the whole SEO/social media thing fits together.

**  What to do if you get negative feedback (or just plain nutball people) on your Facebook Page, your blog, your tweet stream, etc.

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 like #tourismchat, you’ll love this.

Even More #Awesomesauce

Open House & 20% Off in Our Store

Yes, we’re blowing the doors open and letting you in to explore our social media for tourism online course – an Intro plus six multi-part lessons – for free.

The normal pay wall will be disabled for two days only, Wednesday and Thursday, December 7 and 8. Come on in, kick the tires and see how we can help you feel more confident in telling your story online.  We’re even offering guided tours on the hour on Thursday, Dec 8 from 1 pm to 4 pm Central time, using a Google Hangout.

If you like what you find – and we think you will – you can also get 20% off of any item during our online Store sale through Friday, December 9.  The promo code is “Sheila” (no longer available) – hey, we keep things simple.

This is for those who don’t know what our course is about, or who may be wondering whether there’s enough value in a six-week course specifically focused on social media for tourism, with us as your guides (um, we’d say there sure is, but maybe we’re biased….)

The pay wall for the course goes back up after December 8, though, so don’t miss the open window!


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. Ah, Open Comment Night. One of our most fun traditions. We can call it a tradition now, even though we’ve only done it like half a dozen times, right?

  2. Hi, I’m the Sheila half of Tourism Currents. Thanks for joining us tonight! Just hit Refresh on your browser to see comments update.

    Tell us if you left a comment and it didn’t show up – we can fish you out of pesky spam filters. 🙂

  3. Hi, I’m Carly from Central Illinois! Ready to comment & chat!

  4. Hi, Carly from Central Illinois!

  5. Welcome, Carly! I got distracted reading a story about the Square credit card payment system. (We use it here at Tourism Currents and I use it in my bricks and mortar store.) Might be a great system for fairs and festivals to handle payments. Maybe also for CVBs to take credit card payments? Lots of potential!

    • Ah, yes. A couple of the vendors at our farmers market use that system either on their iPhone or iPad. It’s great.

      • We looked into that one. Really liked it…can’t remember why we weren’t able to do it? Are the income limits pretty low?

        • No income limits, Heather. It does take an iPhone, Android or an iPad with internet connection.

          The rate is even competitive. I’ll tell you lots more if you want to know it. 🙂

          • Maybe I am thinking of something else then. Something we looked into made you jump through hoops if you made more than like $1000/wk…not Square? Is that the one Chris B wrote a blog post about? If that’s not true, I need to have another look. Our fees are insane. 🙁

          • Becky –

            You said that you use it in your brick & mortar business….I have tossed the idea around to local business owners about that option since it seems as though it’s quite beneficial. Any suggestions on how to support that claim? They see it as “more technology to deal with” but I think it would be good…especially for those that travel to different shows/events.

          • Heather, if you do more than $1000 a day in “card not present” transactions, they delay transfers BUT… I hear they are reasonable about lifting that limit if you let them know you’re a real business. Check around in their FAQs.

            Carly, I do own a real-life liquor store. We were using a traditional merchant processor (NPC). While our “qualified” rate was 1.5%, once you figured in all the fees (and more fees and more fees) it worked out to 3.1% that it actually cost us. (Lesson: take the time to figure that for your business!) Square is just 2.75% no matter the card, no matter the amount. No extra fees. (That “no fees” part alone should get some attention.) I plan to write a post about this for my blog at Small Biz Survival, so watch for more details there.

          • Yes, the “no fees” part should be enough to convince some of the local businesses.

        • I will look into it again, Becky! Great to hear from another brick and mortar business owner that is using it with success. Our fees average 4% after fees. At one point we were paying over 5.5%!!! It definitely pays to stay on top of that stuff. I talked to a restaurant owner locally who is paying over 6% because she has lots of small transactions and the per transaction fee is killing her. I’ll look forward to your blog post!

          • Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Yes, I better get that written up!

          • The traditional payments industry, including VISA ( and Chase who does Squares acquiring) like Square because it attacts new merchants to take plastic. They see it has a low cost merchant acquisition strategy. That is also the bad news – “merchants” have no credential hurdle to pass. Anyone can claim to be a merchant. For this reason and because the card swipe mechanism is not encrypted square is a riskier proposition for consumers.

          • Thanks for adding your comments, Bob.

            I can say that my liquor store really is a merchant. And we encrypt all transmissions across our network. And that is much more secure than keeping around the paper copies of all receipts with full card numbers, which is what our previous traditional merchant terminal generated.

    • I’ve been using Square for a little while now, and I love it. I used to use a system through my bank (PNC) but the fees were ridiculous, and there was buying the extra expenses of rolls of printer paper for the machine. Now I can charge a card when I am at a clients house, am able to make up-sales with greater ease. I also love the fact that the receipt is sent directly to customer. As I’m a web designer it works perfectly for all my needs… and fee are more reasonable than what I was using through the bank.

      Highly recommended…. I got my card reader for free, although I’m not sure if it was a promotion or it’s been an ongoing thing.

      Twitter: @PAmacGuy77

  6. Wait, DUH – Carly, you were at 140 Conference SmallTown in Hutchinson, right?

  7. Hi there! Heather here from Destin, Fl!

  8. Welcome, Heather!

    Help yourself to a drink from the sideboard, ladies! I think we should have drinks while we share problems (and solutions, too, we hope).

  9. I always forget to scroll up and see the discussions going on in nested comments. 🙂

  10. I’m here as the product support man. Or, at least, the support for one of the producers, man. I just keep the liquor cabinet full. And, since we live so far from Becky we can’t just visit her store. So, we will supply drinks to all who come tonight (virtually). Sheila may be a more “direct line to source” kind of gal though.
    Thank you both for being there for all of your fans.

  11. Feel free to bring in any questions or problems you brought with you. We’re up for it! (Well, Sheila will probably make a silly joke, but she’ll give a real answer eventually.)

  12. A big hello from Surrey, on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. It may be yucky outside, but I am cozy wrapped in a blankie like a little old lady. 😉

  13. Andy Hayes December 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm · ·

    Hey it’s Andy here from Travel Online Partners. Just finished one of our awesome website evaluations and now off to give a training class, but wanted to stop by and say hi as there is usually pie at these things. 😉

  14. Hi Glenda, Sheila never finds a way for us to meet. But one of these days we will. I hear nothing but good things about you from these two ladies.

  15. For those who don’t know, Glenda Watson Hyatt who just joined us is a web accessibility expert and a terrific speaker. More on her Do It Myself blog –

    • Accessibility in travel and tourism is HUGE now, and will just get even bigger as the population ages!

      • Last week I came across an amazing stat on this. Trying back track to find it….

        • From a 2005 article. …”There are currently more than 50 million people with disabilities in the United States and 180 million worldwide, representing the single largest untapped tourist market in the world. According to a recent Harris Poll conducted in conjunction with the Open Doors Organization and the Travel Industry Association of America, the 50 million people with disabilities in our country have a combined income of more than $175 billion. In 2002, these people took 32 million trips and spent more than $13.6 billion on travel ($4.2 billion on hotels, $3.3 billion on airfare, $2.7 billion on food and beverage, and $3.4 billion on retail, transportation, and other activities). This study suggested that these travelers would double their spending if some minor amenities were made available. Meet and greet programs at airports, preferred seating on airplanes, hotel rooms closer to amenities, and employees who go out of their way to accommodate guests with disabilities topped the list. ”

          • That is interesting. We had a guest this past Sept whose wife was handicapped. He wanted to know about accessibility from car to boat. I was able to direct him to photos of our office/grounds/marina on FB showing the path, and as a result he chose us over a cheaper (and, in my opinion, inferior) competitor, even though he started out by being a “price-shopper” (appearing to be shopping on price alone). The same guest not only left us positive feedback on FB but he ALSO created a YouTube video about his experience and recommended us with a link to our website in the video description. Pretty amazing.

          • That is an excellent story! Being ready to show your accessibility and answer questions made a big difference!

  16. Hey Becky & Sheila! Wanted to stop by and say a huge hello and thank you for everything you have done for me this year! You two are absolutely awesome and such assets to the tourism industry. Running to a local small business’s Christmas party, but sending you both lots of warm wishes for the holidays!!! (Warm being the operative word as it’s freezing here at Lake Arrowhead!)

  17. Lindsay Franklin December 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm · ·

    Happy cheers to the Tourism Currents crew & company!

    • Hi, Walking Papers QR code experts! How’re y’all doing?

      • Lindsay Franklin December 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm · ·

        Marvelous- thanks for asking! Mashable is mentioning us next week for our work with the Sustainable Food Center in Austin- e are beyond thrilled. Walking Papers is also growing into smaller communities and working on a regional product with the Texas Forest Trail. It’s really exciting to see smaller Chambers, EDC get mobile and fired up about QR coding in mapping and way-finding. A print map is still the most valued amenity for visitors- we just power them up with the codes!

        We’ve got social links to FB and Twitter on our mobile sites but thinking about adding 4square to the mix- any thoughts on check-ins? What traveler tools would you like us to link to… Twitter feeds? Yelp?

        • While I’m not as familiar with what you do, I would add this: Yelp will reach a wider variety of people than Foursquare.

          Yelp has something like 41 million monthly visitors (seen on and they don’t have to sign up or be a member. Looking at place reviews is one of the most popular mobile online activities.

          Foursquare claims 10 million users. Only 5% of online adults use location networks like this.

          You probably knew all this, Lindsay, but maybe it will help one of our other readers. 🙂

          • Lindsay Franklin December 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm · ·

            Absolutely- thanks Becky! We publish print “smart” maps that utilize QR codes and custom mobile websites for our clients- We want our sites to be as social and shareable as possible. Great stats- 5% seems not worth the trouble- sadly I would only be the mayor of HEB or Target which isn’t something I’m likely to share!

          • Lindsay Franklin December 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm · ·

            Before I sign off, do you see Yelp as an effective tool in rural communities- it seems so urban to me but I’ve never applied it to smaller towns. Would it work as well?

          • Speaking as someone who lives in a small town, and took a driving tour through a bunch of rural areas this year, YES Yelp is effective in small towns and rural areas. There are fewer reviews, but travelers are eager to see them!

            Thanks again for participating, Lindsay!

    • Howdy, Lindsay! Thanks for the cheers!

  18. Question for you all re: Negative Feedback…

    Do you feel that it’s best to respond to negative comments (i.e. on your Facebook page)?

    I am the person behind the City of Tuscola’s (IL) social media sites. While we don’t have a lot of negative comments on our Facebook page, we do have a few. They cover a variety of topics but I always answer them. Sometimes we are even able to solve their “issue” or better explain the situation so they better understand. Personally, I think it helps. Plus, it shows others in the community that you are responsive to their concerns/needs (and in a timely manner).

    • I think it’s important to address legitimate concers/problems (as it sounds like you have been). I would not respond to spam.

    • Carly, I agree with Heather. It sounds like you have the right approach:
      Answer legitimate questions and complaints. Fix what you can! (Nothing sucks life out of a complaint like fixing the problem!) Explain things you can’t fix.

      When it’s spam, delete it.

      When it’s mean and hateful, consider responses carefully. Sometimes, it’s best to just say, thanks, and move on.

      And as a former city manager, I understand just how negative people can be about voicing their concerns!

  19. OK, everyone scroll up right now and read those amazing statistics Glenda just posted about the untapped tourism market!

  20. Ron Gardner December 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm · ·

    Any folks here using short video clips on their Facebook pages? If so, whats the response like? If not, why not?

  21. Hiya, Ladies! Will I see you at SOBcon this year? Terry just sent me a bill!

  22. Hi gals and guys –
    Great reading of the open comments — helpful for sure.

    I’d like to know what kind of ideas you have for tourism for the months of January and February when up North here it’s traditionally slow.


    • How about this – all of the places that are jammed during peak times are quiet now. So, a campaign focused on peace and quiet, on uncrowded/contemplative experiences – how’s that?

    • Oh Deb, up in here in the “frozen white north”, there is so much to do in the great outdoors. Are you able to tap into or tie into outdoor sports/events at all?

    • Deb –

      I work in an economic development & tourism office in Central Illinois. During January and February when it’s cold and less people are out-and-about, we use that time for lots of smaller networking events or community events. I guess you could say that we use it as a time to focus more on our own residents. By getting feedback from them and pursuing/creating other ideas, we can accomplish more in the warmer months. It’s a time for brainstorming, creating new ideas, and re-inventing old ones.

    • How about warm and unexpected things? I bet you have a lot of “who knew” items to promote!

      Might also be a good time to target people closer than you usually do, in your nearby region. Shorter travel may appeal.

  23. Lindsay Franklin December 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm · ·

    Here’s a question- how do I connect my mug shot with comments? I’m tech challenged despite being a whiz with QR- blame the Liberal Arts degree. You guys are an attractive bunch!

  24. In the house right now is an amazing guy – S. Anthony Iannarino – a sales guy who is 1) smart and 2) NOT massively annoying.

    Want more about him?

  25. I have had a fabulous time this evening, but I need to be going now. Thanks, Sheila and Becky, for hosting tonight’s Open Comments! Always fun chatting with fellow tourism marketers. 🙂 I’d love to continue to get to know everyone on Twitter. My handle is @destinboats! Have a great night!

  26. Thanks, Heather! Glad you shared.

    I’m so impressed with the brainstorming that you all have shared! Lots of great ideas flying around up there!

  27. Sarah Page December 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm · ·

    Hey Sheila and Becky!
    How’s the Open Comments night going? I wanted to pop in and say hello to everyone, AND I also have a question for the two of you or the community at large.
    — Sarah

  28. Well, jump right in there, Sarah! Welcome!

  29. Sarah Page December 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm · ·

    Aww, shucks. Thanks, ladies!

    I was asked today about the possibility of merging a Facebook place and page. This is a subject I know NOTHING about (never having played with Facebook places/check-ins).

    First of all, is this possible? If so, what are the pros and cons of merging the two?


    • For a long time, Facebook didn’t allow this, but it has changed its mind recently. (When they made all those place pages, they generated a lot duplicates.) Search Facebook help long enough, and you can turn up the help article on it.

      For a small town or small company, I recommend you merge them. That is what I did for my store, rather than have a page I maintained, and a separate page where people could “check in” on Facebook’s location system.

      (Edited to clear a typo. If there are any more, don’t tell me.)

      • Sarah Page December 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm · ·

        Okay, cool. Was it a fairly painless process? I’ll dig up that article you referenced and send that link to the lady who asked me. She owns a local business in a small town, so it sounds like she would be a good fit too. Thanks, Becky!

        • When logged in to my store’s regular fan page, Facebook asked me to merge them, and it was fairly painless.

          I’ve also found that lately they allow the conversion of personal profiles into business pages. Useful for those businesses that created personal profiles when they should have made a fan page!

      • Good to know those pages can now be merged…I’ll have to do some digging tomorrow at work!

  30. OK folks, we’ll be wrapping up here in a minute. Thank you so much for generously sharing your expertise!

    Reminder – our Open House goes for one more day, through tomorrow, if you want to check out our online course. Go here to start:

    The 20% off sale goes through Friday, Dec 9. Our Store is here:

    You’re always welcome in our online house. 🙂

  31. Very interesting discussion. I am glad Glenda brought up the accessibly travel, subject near and dear to me. I went over and marked some of the information for reading later. Also want to share the info about Square with a friend who just opened new business.

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