January 11 Open Comments right here

Recording a radio play in the Netherlands, 1949 (courtesy Nationaal Archief on Flickr Commons)(Yep, this is the place!)

We were inspired by Liz Strauss’ world-famous Open Mic and Open Comments nights on her Successful Blog, so we thought we’d throw open our own online doors periodically and invite people to hang out, chat and get smarter about tourism, hospitality, economic development and social media.

Here’s the info from our Black Friday 2010 edition – lots of tips in there!

The topic tonight is jumpstarting your 2011 – what’s the one thing we can help you with, so that you can leave the chat and connect better with visitors and customers right now?

Here’s how it works: you add your comment right on this post. It’s a disjointed conversation, just held in the comments section. If you like Twitter chats and #tourismchat, you’ll love this.

So go, right now, scroll to the bottom of the page, and introduce yourself in the comment box. Reply to someone else. Start a conversation.

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  1. Hurray, and welcome everyone! You don’t have to be involved with tourism to join in the discussion. Just leave a comment.

  2. Hi, we’re now open. I’m still finishing dinner but promise not to chew in your ear. Becky HATES that. 🙂

  3. Hi Becky! I’ve never stopped by for the chat, and thought I try it this evening!

  4. Hey! Love to see the open door I brought the Grape Pie!

  5. Taking a seat in the back row with the hecklers and note passers. Don’t pay me any mind.

  6. Welcome, Mary Jo and Pam! And Visit Finger Lake, we know just what to do with that pie! [Grabs knife for slicing…]

  7. I have an Issue. It is directly related to the Tourism Peeps. I’m thinking that #SoMe has flattened the playing field. #sobCon

  8. Hi Mary Jo – it’s so nice to see you (y’all need to know Mary Jo….she’s wicked smart.)

    Hi VisitFingerLake – don’t be tempting us with pie, now….

    Hi Pam – tell us about the helmet cam for the penguins (did y’all know that she’s going to Antarctica soon?)

  9. Pie is the new Cupcake via #NPR weekend Report 🙂

  10. Pam, my husband is rarin’ to go to Antarctica, so I’m watching your journey with great interest. 🙂

    • Ask me in early March, I’ll be back then. For now, I’m just equal parts terrified and thrilled. I’m a sort of blogger in residence for this tour booker, it’s all very experimental for them — and for me, too, as Antarctica was NOT on my list.

  11. <>

    This is great news! I love to bake pies!

  12. Hi Mary Jo > nice to meet you here

  13. I think a pie place just opened in the Seattle area — selling mini pies or something like that. I thought it sounded great!

  14. seriously… (seems to be a trend)

  15. Finger Lakes,

    I have to agree about the flattened playing field. Any small town can get out there and compete with the big towns.

    Tell us more about what you’re thinking.

  16. So VisitFingerLake, tell us your thoughts on the social-media-as-playing-field-leveler thingy.

  17. Think I’m in the wrong time zone. Oops! I really want to start up a tourism-centric site, but am afraid of being snubbed by the gov run agency(s) – ala my Chamber Caper from 2009, Sheila. The idea is legit, fun, cheap, and hopefully the end (and ongoing) result will be very useful for visitors and locals alike. I get a lot out of what you two ladies put out there, so thanks in advance for the encouragement/critique (you know I will tap into your collective brains at some point!)

    • Andy Hayes January 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm · ·

      Lara, I have been in this situation. While I won’t name any specifics, I did use to live somewhere where not only was my local tourism organisation not helpful, they went out of their way to make sure I wasn’t successful.

      Thankfully I didn’t need their help. Nor do you. You right your right people, you mentors, and the people you need to be succesful. If your Chamber isn’t helpful, move on. Don’t waste precious energy on them, they are not worth it.

  18. I’m afraid that I would like to talk about Stats. Dang. ROI I have a burning question for #TourismCurrents and et all.

  19. Also, I’ve turned off the Akismet spam filter temporarily, so if some weirdo or pharmaceutical joins us, y’all smack em, OK?

  20. Lara, it’s tough to get that local buy-in. The more you can get locals involved early, the better! We’re looking forward to hearing more about it.

    And Finger Lake, throw that burning question out there!

  21. Within our region – as a whole – it appears that all of our #Visitors numbers are down year to year as in > Nov. 2009 to Nov.2010. Down by a percentage. Could it be (surprise) that the playing field has leveled? As in people are getting their answers via Facebook, twitter and #SoMe? Not as dependent on “fingers-moving” websites?

  22. Jeremy Harvey January 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm · ·

    Happy New Year! Would love to know your thoughts on where you think using video as a tool for destination marketing will or should go this year? Any great examples you like?

    • I heard a really great talk about video about two years ago — takeaway? If you’re going to do video, do it right. There’s a lot of talk about “you gotta do video” but really, do you want to be publishing crappy video to market your self/product/destination or do you want to do it right? I vote for not doing it if you’re not going to do it right.

    • I don’t watch video any more. Unless I personally know the person who recommends the video. And I never click through to video posts. Half the time I can’t hear or understand the video, or I have to write down info that I need. That, and sometimes I think it’s just lazy.

      But — lots of people like it.

      • That is a fascinating perspective. Thanks for sharing your video habits. I’ve been adding take-aways under my video posts, and I think I’ll start adding even more.

        • I do download audio and video podcasts to my iPhone/iPod, but when I go to a website or read a blog post, I want words. I can’t tell you how many times the person has been speaking too quickly or too softly for me to understand anything. That makes me soooooooooooo mad!

      • When I did some video for my local CVB, I learned a TON about the importance of good audio in video. It’s one of the main reasons I went out and got a Kodak Zi8 handheld video camera with an external mic jack, and a lavaliere microphone to go with it.

        • Jeremy Harvey January 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm · ·

          Great point Sheila! People are more forgiving of bad video (think shaky, hand-held) than bad audio. They’ll click off when they can’t hear but stay on othe vids even if its sub-par video.

          • The more I learned about video, the more paranoid I got about quality. Now I’m too far in the other direction; unwilling to just throw something out there, so I have GOOD stuff sitting unedited.

            Thanks for the reminder to get over myself.

  23. You can chew in my ear…

  24. Our overall Economy is also a factor I believe. Peeps are just starting to think #travel…

  25. Jeremy Harvey January 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm · ·

    Hi Meg!

  26. Finger Lake, I think you have part of the answer. It’s hard to know what everyone out there is thinking. There are other possible explanations, including the recent big change in Google results, as well as changes in what you’ve done with your website and social media in that year. A year is a long time!

  27. Hey Jeremy! How’s the snow?

  28. For Lara – you know, if you have a vision for a local info site, and you can’t get buy-in with the governmental/Chamber/whatever people already there to work with them on improving what they’ve got….I gotta put on my blogger/online publisher hat and say, go for it. If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em. Signed, The Mean One

    For VisitFingerLake – call me crazy, but I’ve long thought that competing worldwide to chase eyeballs through keywords and suck up to Google is NOT going to work forever. Facebook traffic already surpassed Google’s (last month, I think.) People are tired of looking for good info and getting ezine articles. I like making things happen with SEO, but it’s eventually going to be a fool’s game.

  29. Hi Jeremy!

    Y’all know #SoMeT conference host Jeremy from @VisitLoudoun in Virginia, right?

  30. I hear that 3 months in internet time is equal to 1 year of Live Time! 🙂

  31. Jeremy and Cody, welcome! And, welcome, Andy, way up there at the top of the column. 🙂

  32. Jeremy Harvey January 11, 2011 at 7:32 pm · ·

    The snow is beautiful, but a little icy I’m afraid. But I’m home now and safe and warm with a fast Internet connection so everything is perfect. How’s things up your way?

  33. Hi everyone,

    Just popping by to see what’s new in tourism and social media in 2011.

  34. Jeremy and Pam have a good discussion going on video up there.

    Is it better to jump in and just start, or to hold off until you can do it well?

    You’re going to have to experiment to learn. Do you want to do that experimenting as part of your main image? Or can you find a way to do that as a bit of a side project?

  35. HI everyone! I’m a little late to the party. Got my glass of wine and I’ll have a slice of that pie…

  36. Hellooooo, Glenda!!!

  37. Heather, welcome! That slice of pie is all yours.

  38. shashi bellamkonda January 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm · ·

    2011 started of well with a new team member joining Network Solutions Lisa Byrne. @dceventjunkie
    We will be looking for more connections with the small business community

  39. Apryl Chapman Thomas January 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm · ·

    Sorry I’m late; been crazy with all of this snow and everything. A little about myself, I’m a freelance travel writer/blogger and Twitter fanatic.

  40. Love, love, love your work, ladies. Wish more people in tourism GOT Social Media and it’s importance. I tried to find people on Twitter, etc. while in Europe this last month and they were far and few between. Would have been nice to have someone in Spain and London to chat with and give me more insight while there.

    • Kim, welcome. Your comment is a perfect explanation of how tourism agencies can make twitter into a powerful tool.

    • I wonder if some of that is that for us North Americans, it’s very expensive to be twittering or using our smart phones. We do it on the fly here at home, but financially that doesn’t make sense when we have to rely on international roaming.

      • Mary Jo – The international roaming is a good point. Only my husband had an international plan on his phone for the 15 days we were there. However, I still had wi-fi that I checked daily and I could have easily received more information there.

    • I know it, Kim. I was hoping the London tourism people would at least say hello when I pinged them about you on Twitter. Glad Budget Travel’s Sean O’Neill at least stepped in.

    • The cost of texting is a barrier to entry in many countries around the world. As texting becomes less costly, twitter and other mobile content will increase in power. It’s especially exciting for travel and hospitality.

      • That’s a great point, SEOmom. Texting is pretty basic but should not be overlooked, precisely because it IS basic, and (usually) cheap.

        Thanks for your work on SEOMoz.org by the way; I’ve heard good things.

  41. Hey Becky! After an amazing holiday in Hawaii, this might be an appropriate forum to share an important lesson learned: there’s a difference between “accessible” and “ADA Certified” when it comes to hotels – at least in Honolulu. Who knew! Definitely something to keep in mind for those working in the industry.

    • Glenda, that is a terrific insight! I’m sure you’ll have a post on that coming!

      • Yes, there’s definitely a post or two there – something biblical about trying to find a room on Christmas Eve! Just thinking – would that story be suitable for this blog?

        • Hmm…. The focus here is more on the social media marketing aspects of tourism. Now, accessibility is absolutely part of that!

          • Ah, good point about the social media aspect – I forgot about that. Perhaps something on accessibility and social media at some point? 😉

          • You are most welcome to contribute something on website and social media accessibility for tourism!

            And I’m betting there are folks here who know travel sites that would love that post on hotels.

  42. Folks, it’s 8 o’clock. We’ve reached the end of our official hour together. But of course you are all welcome to hang around, chat, finish off the pie and the wine, and generally have a good time. 🙂

    Thank you all for sharing your questions, answers, insights, and hospitality.

  43. Since when have we stuck to “official” anything? I’ve got some time to stick around….

    My jumpstart move is to give customers more of what they say they want, starting this month. As bull-headed as I am, you can imagine that this is sometimes difficult.

  44. Neat to get together with old and new friends. I really appreciate getting some insight (and sharing a drink) and still getting some momentum for 2011.
    Thank you so much Sheila and Becky. Much appreciated.
    Meg/Finger Lake/VisitFingerLakes.com/:)

  45. Thanks ladies for doing this. Such a fun idea! See y’all around Twitter! @destinboats

  46. Thanks to everyone for stopping by; I’ll be here for a few more minutes.

    Meantime, one of my favorite quotes, from Martha Beck: “Tiny steps allow action to slip through the cracks in your anxiety.”

    Here’s to making it HAPPEN in 2011.

  47. Jeremy Harvey January 11, 2011 at 8:41 pm · ·

    Thanks Becky & Sheila! Sorry I missed the end of the chat – kiddos calling. I look forward to the next one!

  48. Pat Brennan January 28, 2011 at 11:46 am · ·

    Here is a shout out from Radford University. We have a great Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management program.

    “Virginia is for Lovers” so come visit!

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