April 2012 – Let the executions commence!

Execute on the fundamentals Sheila Scarborough in Cosmosphere multi-axis trainer Hutchinson KS (photo by Becky McCray)

Happy Birthday, Sheila! In the Cosmosphere multi-axis trainer, Hutchinson KS (photo by Becky McCray)

Sheila is taking a month off from being our main newsletter author. She spent time traveling with her family and celebrating her birthday. She’s all full of travel-y goodness about West Texas. Just ask her about it.

So I’m at the newsletter helm today, and as weird as it feels to say it, I’m taking this chance to talk about my first book, which just launched. It’s not a tourism book, but it’s perfect for small business and big business folks. And Chapter 7, all about Build Your Local Connections, is very relevant for tourism. If you’re interested, take a look here: Small Town Rules. Thanks for allowing me that short announcement.

We need some executions

In my travels so far this year, I’m seeing a lot of buzz about the latest thing, the Pinterest support groups, and QR codes everywhere. What I’m not seeing a lot of is good execution.

In a world polarized among those enamored with the next new thing and those scared by it, you can stand out by being the one doing:

  • quality, well-executed work
  • with a few focused tools
  • matched to the goal
  • and as a part of your overall plans.

That’s enough to keep all of us busy. Sure, play with the new tools to learn them, but remember that visitors are watching.

Let’s take QR codes, for example

I’ve been watching as QR codes spread out into wider use. They make an appearance at almost every event I attend now. But I see very few that are useful.

At a recent meeting, the agendas were paperless, distributed by QR code. Fine idea, but plagued with execution errors:

  • The codes were printed on recycled paper and the texture made them hard to scan.
  • Neighboring graphics were too close and interfered with scanning, too.
  • There was no alternative to the QR codes: no short or long URL attendees could use to locate the agenda.

I got riled up, and I wrote a short guide to avoiding these promotion-killing QR code mistakes. It could come in handy the next time an eager person volunteers, “Hey, you should put a QR code on that!”

What is the plan?

  • Not having even a simple strategic marketing plan.
  • Not integrating social media as only one part of that plan.
  • Setting up Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and blogs without any particular goal in mind, or metrics to measure success or failure, and then letting them sit unattended for weeks and months.
  • Having only one person doing everything social, then when they become ill, or go on vacation, or take another job, nobody else has a clue how to continue.

These are some of the big basic mistakes, and we see them way too often.

We haven’t mentioned the little irritants that happen all the time, too ….

  • Not responding to Facebook questions, comments and tags, or blog post comments.
  • Not having anyone keep an eye out for “@” mentions on Twitter, especially on weekends or holidays when people are traveling, or at night when they’re out and about in your town.
  • Not having helpful things like itineraries on your website, grouped by interest, instead of a data dump alphabetical listing of restaurants and attractions that visitors have to sort through.

It’s so easy to be distracted by the latest shiny object, or what the next town over is doing, but you must stay focused on your strategy and execution of the basics before worrying about anything else. It is critical to your success.

Get your Basics in Line

Truth is, you already know you need to do these things. You need some way to make yourself make them a priority. That could be a trusted peer holding you accountable or a commitment to professional assistance.

If you’d like some help deciding on the best social media services for your destination, attraction or lodging, and then integrating those services into your overall marketing plan, we do offer one-on-one coaching and support packages.

We can help you see your online presence with fresh eyes so you can fix the basics, feel more in control of your communications efforts and be ready to try those new social media tools in a more thoughtful, planned way. We have no agenda other than to give you the knowledge and resources you need to reach the visitors you want; we’ll “teach you to fish” and then get the heck out of your way!


You know, each month, Sheila lists out ALL our online presences. Instead, let me point out just one…

Need a speaker on social media and tourism? Look no further.

Commenting area

  1. Excellent post, Becky! After working with several tourism destinations in the past year, can say with confidence that strategic planning and implementation is the weakest link.

    Pinterest is a valuable tool for tourism related business yet only part of the overall marketing strategy. If a tool or service does not fit into the vision for a business, it needs to be put aside until there is a place for it in the plan. On the flip side of that, if a business’s ideal consumer is using one tool or service and the business isn’t using it or using it well, it needs to be incorporated into the marketing strategy and hire professional help to get it right.

    Thanks again for your voice of experience!


  2. Bonnie, thanks for chiming in. Not everyone is great at writing those plans, but it can be done. And the focus you gain is well worth the effort.

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