October 2010 – You Can Do This

Moulting penguins (courtesy State Library of New South Wales at Flickr Commons)She leaned in, very focused and serious, and said it at the big annual Texas Travel Summit….

It was during a conversation with Sheila, after yet another persuasive Summit session about the impact of technology on the tourism industry.

Tourism Currents Charter member Teri Freitag, who runs Burnet County (TX) tourism, said:

“Keep telling them:  ‘It’s not so scary. You can do this.'”

Teri has known us for awhile and finished our online course herself months ago, but like all of us, she’s still a social media and tech student.

You’re never finished learning (Teri’s busy figuring out the location-based service Gowalla [update: bought by Facebook and now defunct, sadly] on her smartphone these days) but make no mistake….

You, too, can do this!

If you want our help, our online course in social media for tourism is open for enrollments.  We’re here to help, and we’ll look out for you.

On to this month’s goodies….

Checklist for a Tourism Assessment

Okeene OK mural (courtesy BJMcCray on Flickr CC)One of our favorite tools to help you figure out what you have that can attract more attention and visitors is the 8 Rural Culture Elements from Kansas Sampler Foundation.

Sure, this list was originally created for smaller towns and rural areas, but it is quite helpful for any destination.

Becky walked Okeene, Oklahoma through the checklist to help them see their own potential….here’s a snippet from looking at one of the elements….

Cuisine – Long ago, every town had a flour mill. Okeene has one of the few remaining, now part of the Shawnee Milling Company. Their flour goes into everything from Sara Lee products to dog biscuits to the VAP specialty bakery products, made in my hometown of Alva. In more traditional cuisine, Okeene’s Whippet Stop is a wonderful old time cafe. When I asked about ethnic cuisine, everyone said, with one voice, “Delgado’s.” And if you come during the Rattlesnake Hunt, you can try the rattlesnake meat. Really.”

Every place has the 8 Elements: Architecture, Art, Commerce, Cuisine, Customs, Geography, History and People.

Now, take just one social media tool and apply it to this. For example, how could you highlight each element above with a photo and accompanying Wall post on your Facebook Page?

Fold that into your editorial calendar for publishing Facebook Page updates, and you’re off and running with some interesting content that only a local like you can provide.

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This is Your Brochure. This is a Smartphone.

Hold your downtown walking tour or heritage highway route or wine trail or art gallery stroll brochure in one hand.

Hold your Web-enabled smartphone in the other (or borrow one.)

Now, imagine the information, links, maps, beautiful photos and interesting videos from the paper brochure also being available in multimedia form on the smartphone (and easily accessible to anyone visiting your town.)

Mobile technology and tourism are a natural fit.

How can we help you get ready?  Tell us in the comments below!

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How Can Social Media Bring More Conferences to Your Town?

If you are interested in attracting the attention of meeting planners and conference/trade show folks, networking with social media can help you.

Here are a few ideas:

1)  Read some professional and industry blogs followed by those who plan conferences.

***  Start with the Alltop Event Planning channel or the Trade Shows channel.  Find a few industry blogs, keep up with them, make comments and interact with the authors. Over time, let them know that your destination is the sort of place that they’d love for their meetings.

2)  Connect on the LinkedIn professional networking site (we’ve written before about LinkedIn for tourism – we think it’s way too overlooked in the general social media scrum.)

***  Go beyond filling out your personal LinkedIn profile (although a complete one is important) and also create Company profiles for your CVB/Tourist Board and your Convention Center. Here’s the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Company profile.

***  Find, join and be visible in LinkedIn Groups that relate to your market.

Start looking at Groups like the new DMAI (Destination Marketing Association International) empowerMINT Group for CVBs and Meeting Professionals, MPI (Meeting Professionals International,) the Association Resource Group, PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association,) Event Peeps (for Live Event Industry Professionals,) Corporate Event and Meeting Planners and the IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events) Group.  Just pick a few for active participation or you won’t be able to keep up.

***  (Update: the Answers feature is no longer available.)  Pay attention to, and provide assistance when you can, in LinkedIn Answers – a Q&A section of the site – particularly in response to questions and activity in the Conferences and Event Planning section.

Did we miss anything? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

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New tool: Flowtown 

Update:  Flowtown was acquired by Demandforce, but check your own email marketing provider. We use MailChimp; you can do a database search with their SocialPro feature, which gives you social presence data for all email list members.

We just started looking into an interesting tool that helps with integrated marketing – not using social media as a bolt-on option, but fully integrating it into all of your destination marketing efforts.

It’s called Flowtown, and it takes your email contact list and figures out (not always perfectly, but pretty well) where those people have social media accounts.  That saves a lot of guessing and legwork as you integrate email and social marketing.

You can start with 50 contacts for free, to experiment.  Maybe you’ll find that one of your email subscribers is an avid Facebook user (but doesn’t know about your Facebook Page) or is big into photography on Flickr (but doesn’t know about your Flickr Group Pool.)

There are options for targeted campaigns and some other things we haven’t tried yet, but we wanted to get this info out there to you because we want you to know about anything that helps connect dots and reach more people where they hang out online.

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Don’t miss these goodies, either:

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Commenting area

  1. Hi folks – we know the comments text is getting

    squooshed up, but don’t worry, we can still read

    what you say. (I’m hitting Enter to leave a

    space between each sentence. Dumb ol’ software.

    We’re working on it!)

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