June 2010 – Places to Connect and Learn

Making connections with tech is not so new (courtesy Vali... at Flickr CC)Everyone’s always telling you to “connect online” with prospective visitors, fans, and supporters (we call them your online champions.)

For many, however, the social Web is not familiar territory.

“Find some bloggers!”

“And some, er, tweeters!”

“Maybe a few Facebook-ers!”

“And one of those ‘viral video’ nuts, while we’re at it!”

It almost sounds as though such people inhabit some mysterious land far, far away.

With Hobbits, probably, and maybe unicorns.

Nope, there are a number of actual places….Hobbit-free, last we checked….where wired travel enthusiasts of all kinds tend to cluster and connect.

Let’s talk about one event that’s happening at the end of this month where you can meet some movers-and-shakers, and then a new, really exciting Tourism Currents event later this fall that we are designing specifically for making those CVB social media connections.

Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX)

TBEX10 Travel Blog Exchange conference logoThere will be 250 travel bloggers and 50 travel-related PR folks gathering in New York on June 25-27, 2010 for the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) conference at the NYU Cantor Film Center in Greenwich Village.

If you follow the people involved with this conference, you’ll have a very good feel for the current travel blogging landscape.

There are TBEX Facebook and TBEX Twitter accounts, plus Twitter lists of the speakers, sponsors, organizers, and many attendees.

Sheila is speaking on the Sunday afternoon panel, “SEO for Travel Blogging & Monetizing Strategies” with:

We’d love to tell you that you can still get in, but the 2010 waiting list is up to 150+ people.

What does this mean to you?

Well, for now, follow the very active #TBEX hashtags and mentions on Twitter (we follow hashtags all the time in order to attend conferences without actually getting on a plane,) make sure you keep an ear out for links to the Web livestream during the conference, and for heaven’s sake, register for TBEX 2011 and/or TBEX Europe the minute you hear about it!  🙂

Tourism Currents Workshop at BlogWorld and New Media Expo

We announced this during #tourismchat on Twitter, but we are super-excited to tell you that we are going to hold a one-day workshop on social media for tourism – specifically about connecting with your online audience – on October 13, 2010 at BlogWorld and New Media Expo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As Sheila said in her announcement post:

“This is a big deal because we’re always telling clients and Tourism Currents members that to really understand what’s going on with tech and social media, you have to ‘go where the geeks are‘ – events like South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi,) BlogHer, SOBCon and BlogWorld – and be immersed in how they communicate.

Rather than have people come to such a huge event and be rather overwhelmed, we’re working with BlogWorld founder Rick Calvert (a travel enthusiast himself) to design a social media seminar that will introduce tourism folks to our ‘geek world’ and how it can upgrade their communications work.”

And from Becky’s announcement post:

“The bonus? It’s part of BlogWorld, giving you the chance to connect with bloggers, podcasters, and other online content creators. These are the people who can help spread the word about your destination online. We’re planning networking meetings, tweetups, and possibly speed dating to help destination marketers network with the people who can provide them with online coverage.”

Here are some thoughts on why to attend a social media/tech conference from Cart-Away, a company that Becky interviewed when she attended BlogWorld….

More workshop information to follow as we hammer out the details, and we certainly hope to meet you IRL (in real life) in Vegas!

Got a Minute? We’d Love Your Thoughts!

We’re really close to wrapping up preparations for the re-launch of our online courses, but first we need to ask for a favor.

The new courses will be opening in the middle of June, but we want to be sure that we’ve included everything that needs to be covered.

We need to ask you a couple of questions to get your feedback. Can you help us out?

(This will just take a minute – we know you’re busy! – and it will help us bring you the best possible social media training for tourism.)

Please click here for a short survey:  https://tourismcurrents.com/question (Update: the survey is now closed)

Thanks very much….

More Places to Find Your Online Champions

Forums and Bulletin Boards (BBS)

Even though these are nothing new, forums and bulletin boards are certainly two-way communication and comprise some of the earliest forms of social media.

They’re still around and they are still quite valuable.

In our experience, here are some places where you’ll find very active and engaged travelers:

Screenshot of Frommer's forum question about Montana travelThese are good opportunities for tourism organizations to offer advice and ideas to receptive online communities.

For example, there is a question right now in the Frommer’s forum by a reader asking for late August travel ideas for nine days in Montana (and that thread was also highlighted in the June 3, 2010 Frommer’s Outdoor and Adventure email newsletter.)

Know any organizations in Montana that could step into that thread and help? We can think of a few….

As always on the Web, look for niche groups of enthusiasts. For example, the topic of using geocaching came up in this month’s rural economic development conference in northwest Oklahoma.

One person following on Twitter mentioned geocaching as a fun way to draw visitors, which reminded us of Paul Gillin’s excellent post What Geocaching Taught Me About Social Networks. When we looked for geocaching communities, we found the Geocaching Groundspeak Forum.  A cursory Google search for more found geocaching forums specifically for Wisconsin, Texas, parts of Canada and Colorado.

Cast a wide net because niches are your friend, and they’re easy to find on the Web.

Bookmarking Sites

Many of us like to “bookmark” or “Favorite” some of the helpful Web sites, videos, photos or blog posts we find online.  Bookmarking sites allow those to be seen and shared across the Web, and they can drive additional attention and traffic to content that resonates.

They can also serve as a research database, because you are looking through the hand-picked bookmarks of thousands of avid online readers.

StumbleUponDiigo, and Digg allow users to share their choices with others, and highlight good links from around the web.

Although Digg may be the best-known, it is more focused toward tech stories than travel, so it’s probably the least useful of the three unless something spectacular happens at your destination.

If you search on StumbleUpon for “travel OR tourism,” here are the latest results of related sites that have been “stumbled” by users who are interested in travel.

We might mention that StatCounter says:

“StumbleUpon over the past year has been consistently in the top two Social Media sites in terms of generating global website traffic. Indeed, in the US in March [2010] StumbleUpon was number one ahead of Facebook in terms of website traffic generation.”

Audio Podcasts

The wildly-popular iPod digital audio file player from Apple has sparked mass distribution of audio content – that’s the origin of the term “pod”cast.

Think of podcasts as digital books-on-tape or personal radio shows that are broadcast on the Internet, rather than over the airwaves.

One place to find travel-related “Internet radio” shows is Blog Talk Radio, and for travel-related audio, simply search the Apple iTunes store for “travel.”

Three well-established independent podcasts are Amateur Traveler, the Indie Travel Podcast and This Week in Travel.  For audio walking tours in Europe, many turn to Rick Steves’ podcasts.

The Oregon tourism organization has an active Travel Oregon podcast channel.

And really, any site can offer audio content.

Here’s a bonus audio interview we recorded for you, with Des Walsh.

One last thing

Don’t forget about our short survey:  https://tourismcurrents.com/question (update: survey’s now closed)

Thanks very much!

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