Open comment night: Join us.

Microphone by hiddedevries on Flickr

It’s an idea we are borrowing from Liz Strauss’s Successful Blog. It happens to be how Sheila and Becky met: Open Mic Night.

We’ll be talking about the latest and greatest trends for tourism. Sheila’s going to share some of her thoughts on what’s coming, and Becky is adding her thoughts on small town business trends. But because it’s a conversation among friends, we’re bound to get off topic.

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.

Since this is our first try, we have no idea how many people will show up, whether we’ll have a ton of comments, or we’ll hear the crickets chirping in the background. Let’s find out!

If we run in to trouble, we’ll move to our Facebook Page. (Think of this as the “in case of rain” location.)

(Thanks to everyone who joined us from around the globe! Remember that you save 20% off of the regular price of our online course in social media for tourism/hospitality when you sign up during our Thanksgiving Weekend 2010 Open House. Use discount code “OK1″ when you sign up. It’s good now through Sunday, Nov. 28.)

(Update from Sheila:  Well, clearly I’ve lost control over Becky, because we’re keeping the Open House and sale going through today for Cyber Monday. Drop by!)

Commenting area

  1. Hi! ( * waves * ) I do have ice cream and Shiraz in front of me, but we won’t talk about that. 🙂

  2. Welcome! Please say hi. I’m Becky, one of the co-founders of Tourism Currents. (I’m the one in Oklahoma, who owns a liquor store.)

  3. I have peach pie and ice cream, myself. 🙂

  4. I’m here 🙂 Saw the tweet and thought I’d drop in and say Howdy…

  5. Howdy, Patrysha! Glad you dropped in. Care for pie?

  6. Hi Patrysha! Thanks for joining us; I’ll try to say something halfway serious here in a minute but my face is full of ice cream.

  7. I’ll bite….

    Question on tourism, from the tourist point of view: When is is it good to use a company like AAA for a trip and when should you do it yourself?

    • Here’s how I look at it: If you’re uncertain of ANYTHING, ask the pros (either AAA or a local, trusted tourism authority like a CVB). For insider tips, it’s always great to find user-generated content from locals & other travelers.

    • I’ve been having excellent luck with Yelp for restaurant information and attractions, but it’s not always that way. Some cities don’t have a huge amount of local users yet.


  8. Gaah! Where is my avatar? I had a good hair day that day; don’t want it to go to waste….

  9. Oops, name is john blue, indianapolis, @TruffleMedia on Twitter

  10. Hi Sheila and Becky. What an interesting idea. I’m Claudia (@claudiabia) and I live in the DC area. I have an IT background, but currently I am dedicated to 360o photography and I also write a travel blog in portuguese, geared towards the brazilians. So I am very interested in what you guys have to say!

  11. Welcome, John. That is a great question! I know I use group trips when it’s a destination that’s not easy for me to navigate on my own. I did one to Peru and I’m planning one to Greece. I think of it as an easy way to try out a destination, and see if maybe I want to go back on my own later. That’s my opinion!

  12. Claudia, welcome! What a cool tourism niche! Local language content is really set to take off.

    What is 3600 photography?

    • Yes.. it is! And I am also working on the opposite now… since Brazil will have the World Cup in 2014, we are writing about Brazil in English 🙂
      And 360o Photography is also called Immersive Panoramas(I know, doesn’t help much!) but is the kind of picture where you can immerse yourself in it and feel like “you are there” and look around. You probably heard about Virtual Tours, that are very popular in Real State and some hotels are doing that too. Here is an example:

  13. Hi ladies (& gents) – representin’ all things tourism in Seattle! :o)

  14. I keep forgetting to use the Reply link under comments so they’ll thread properly. Oops. 🙂

  15. As long as we’re talking cookin’, I’m also waiting for stollen to rise & heating up Thanksgiving – Part Deux.

  16. Ann! Howdy! Glad you’re here. Have some pie. 🙂

  17. Am just back from heaving the link onto Facebook…

    Um, John, lemme see….I use AAA for maps and discounts and if I get towed, and would use their travel planning services for something specialized, like a cruise. Otherwise I tend to plan things on my own. Knowledge is power, though.

    Hi Claudia – I wish I spoke more than (bad) French! With the economies improving, are many Brazilians eager to travel more?

    • Sheila,
      Brazil was one of the few countries that didn’t get affected by the “global crisis”. And I just got some data from the ITA saying that Brazil was the only country that had an increase in visitation and spending in US.

      • Terrific to be focused on an “up” market!

      • Cool! Do you mean there was an increase in outbound Brazilian travel to the U.S.?

        I’ve never been to Brazil, but my Dad as a Navy aviator taught some Brazilian military pilots a long time ago and had to learn some Brazilian Portuguese to do so – I always wondered why we had those dictionaries around the house, and albums of Brazilian music. He also had me see the movie “Black Orpheus,” of course.

    • I have used the AAA TripTiks , though that is getting easier to do with Google (TripTiks are also on line). No cruise yet.

      • My parents always did TripTiks; I had no idea they are online.

        • We used to use TripTriks, pre-Internet days. Now don’t see the need it them. One comment about AAA, Mr. Bruce still likes there guide books. Back in the day that’s what everyone used. He likes to mark the pages, circle places etc.

          • Still lots of people who prefer a pen and paper for travel planning. Makes it tough to decide how much paper to still print.

      • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:05 pm · ·

        Been a member of AAA forever and still remember the days of Trip-Tiks. I actually saw them working on one for someone the last time I stopped by for some maps. I’m a DIY planner but get info, maps, discounts from them (plus at least one tow somewhere along the way each year :).

        Their website is ok – but they could do sooooo much more and tap into a whole new demographic for membership.

    • We plan on our own now, but in the heyday we were frequent AAA map users.

      These days we Google, and check local sites for the locals we’re traveling to.

      Best is to find the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism site for the big town in that area. Often there are links, maps, and even coupons to local attractions.

      Sadly missing? Often local restaurant guides are skimpy or lacking entirely.

      Todd, @tojosan

      • Todd, that feedback is golden for our local tourism folks! Thank you for sharing it.

      • Thanks for the tip on the need for more restaurant info, Todd!

        Heck, if we could just get many of them to have a website with their hours, location and menus. Sheesh.

        • Yep. Local restaurants with no menu just kills me. Even worse with no hours. Of course they mostly all have a phone number. But if you call, you’ll be put on hold. What a waste.

          I’ve considered offering restaurants a free page on a combination site as long as they fill out a form with all of those essentials.


          • I have a rant pending about the “small business website problem.”

          • About 50% of the restaurants on Seattle’s CVB sites have their menus online and/or websites on our site. We get great feedback from this. We also have pre-formatted menus at the visitor centers to use as references for diners in and around the city.

          • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm · ·

            Totally agree about restaurant information. Think of all the people who stop in a town for gas or bathrooms. If there was an easy way to get solid info about places to eat, they’d be more willing to consider options beyond fast food and chains.

            I think travelers really want to experience something new, but when they’ve been driving of hours and everyone in the car is tired and hungry, spending another hour driving around town and guessing what the various restaurants offer lacks any appeal.

            And PLEASE don’t give people lists – they want substantive information (and a map or directions).

      • I love the discovery factor in smalls cities. I am a big planner.. google everything but sometimes I just love the surprisefactor. I usually go to a local store and ask their local favorites… one tip that I got from a friend, is to ask where would you go to celebrate a special occasion.

        • ooo…. that’s a great tip!
          Ask the locals where they would go to celebrate a special occasion. I’m going to use that one.

  18. just finishing last bite of Pumpkin Pie w Whipped Cream from Village Inn where I work 🙂 How much whipped cream is too much?…. 🙂 Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving? 🙂

  19. It’s me, Todd, aka @tojosan.
    What a great idea. Love this over on @LizStrauss blog!

    Regarding tourism, I’m tired of the term stacation. What the heck? It’s been co-opted by local communities to drive folks to spend money locally.

    It used to mean frugal, now it just means buy at your local establishments.

    What’s another tourism trend I’m seeing? Folks ignoring St. Louis again.

    St. Louis has the most free tourism opportunities of any similar size city. Museums, parks, a world class zoo, and and even the Missouri Botanical Garden has a free morning once each week.

    We’ve had folks come into town and say all to often, ‘gosh, there’s nothing to do if I don’t see a game.’ Bah, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.

    /rant off.

    • I’m in total agreement with the “S” word. We just calling “living & enjoying the Pacific NW to the fullest” instead. (o:

    • So great to have you drop in, Todd!

      Stacation just does not sound like fun. Local travel I can completely support!

      Those are such great points about “nothing to see.” I hear those from towns large and small.

    • Being a mom on a budget (which sadly means no real family vacations) I’ve appreciated the staycation trend because it’s helped local tourism type places extend better offers locally…of course I live in the snowmobile capital of the world and don’t own a snowmobile so I might just be bitter.

      • Local tourism is a huge trend for small town business in the coming year. I think this may be one answer to what Todd pointed out: “never been there” and “nothing to do” syndrome.

        • That’s where social media and really starting the conversation and listening to the market becomes vital. Thank goodness for the advances we’ve made over the past 8 years (that’s when I put together my very first presentation on internet basics for small business)…so many more options at much more affordable rates than there were back then!

          • 8 years of teaching internet basics for small business…. Good for you! I should go look up when I did my first “Doing business on the Internet” presentation. It’s been years and years.

      • I am lucky to live close to three states: DC, VA and MD.. and since I’m leaving here only 6 years, there’s always something new to see around town. 🙂

  20. OK, even with this blank head I seem to have, this is MASSIVELY fun!

    Next comment I’ll sound off on where I see tourism going in 2011….

  21. What I see in 2011….

    1) Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Connect the Internet in your purse or pocket with social media, and it gets really crazy.

    What to do now: Get your main website mobile friendly. ASAP. Before any apps or any of that.

    2) Location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places. Facebook Deals means you check in, you get a coupon. Can you say, Hell Yeah on Black Friday?

    What to do now: Make sure venue information is correct on all the major services for your Visitor’s Centers and primary attractions at your destinations.

    3) Video. Huge to tell your story. Huge for SEO. Just huge. Where blogging was in about 2007.

    What to do now: Get a Kodak Zi8 from right now, while they’re on sale for Black Friday. Video your spouse. Video your cat. Just figure out how to tell a visual story.

    All of these are from this post on my blog:

    Dang, I just killed off the Shiraz.

    • Great points Sheila.. but as far as video, I’ve been so bad… the only ones that make it to the site are the ones done with Qik. The ones in the HD camera, never get edited. 🙁

      • I think you make up for it with your specialty in 3600 photos!

      • Yes, editing in HD is frankly a nightmare, I’ve found, unless you have a Mac (which I do not – yet.) They take a lot of processing power.

        • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm · ·

          I have the Mac and HD is still a pain – probably my lack of knowlege though 😉

      • I’m finally experimenting with video again. I helped a group of grade nine’s win a regional contest about six years ago, but hadn’t done a whole lot recently…until last week. I do need to find a better video editing software…

    • Shiraz, shiraz, there is always more shiraz.

      Great recommendations. Unmarketing, aka Scott Stratten, said the same thing about mobile and mobile friendly. If the tourism site isn’t mobile friendly soon, it will be dead weight.

      Video rocks. The key is to make the videos short and not on some proprietary platform. Put the video up on YouTube and tag it!! Then embed on the website.


    • You also don’t have to make your whole site mobile friendly all at once. Start with the highest priority info for visitors on the go: events, locations, frequently asked questions.

    • Also, regarding Foursquare et al, if you own a business of any kind, it’s very low effort to claim ownership at each site and insure the information is up to date.

      Foursquare even makes it easy to create deals for check-ins.

      I’d recommend doing that at the earliest opportunity at least for claiming and updating.

      Oh yeah, lots of folks are using Yelp, and their finding your competitors already.


      • Location based services are multiplying every week, making it a challenge to keep up. You’re absolutely right about Foursquare and Yelp as market leaders. Google Places and Facebook Places are up and coming.

  22. A lot of food commentary going on: have you Americans been celebrating something? 🙂

    I’m based on Australia’s Gold Coast, a full day’s drive north of Sydney on the east coast.

    Happy to share what I know about travelling to/in Australia. Also some practical experience with travelling in Bali and Java, Indonesia.

    By the way, I trust you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and one of many things I’m thankful for is Becky & Sheila’s friendship and mutual collegial support.

  23. Jeremy Harvey November 26, 2010 at 7:52 pm · ·

    Hey Sheila & Becky! Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you had a good trip back home from Loudoun, Sheila.

  24. Open question: What’s a favorite place you’ve visited, and what left a strong impression in your memory?

    • Um India. But I was 8 and very impressionable and away from my parents and no one had warned me that there wouldn’t be toilet paper!! But I do think it was worth all that to have seen and walked through the Taj Mahal. Even at that age I knew it was something wondrous that I would remember forever.

    • Hong Kong. One of my very favorite cities from when I first saw it. Shanghai is giving it a run for the money, but Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor setting is hard to beat.

    • Ubud, Bali. If you’ve seen the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, it’s like that, only better. Truly magical. And the people make you very welcome. The reality check is that you just need to make sure you don’t get bitten by a Bali dog, as there are a lot of strays rabies is widespread. Don’t pat the nice doggie!

    • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm · ·

      Sacre Coeur in Paris. I was going through an emotional time in my life and sitting in the silence, looking up at the dome was amazing.

      Driving in rural northern Wales was another time of overwhelming peace.

    • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm · ·

      Sacre Coeur in Paris. I was going through an emotional time in my life and sitting in the silence, looking up at the dome was amazing.

      Driving in rural northern Wales was another time of overwhelming peace.

  25. Cheryl Lawson November 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm · ·

    This is way cool Becky.

  26. Milwaukee in Wisconsin… I heard about the hospitality in that area, but I wasn’t prepared… they were just so great! Hotels, restaurants, everybody was just so wonderful! I wrote my first tripadvisor review to the Hotel in Milwaukee.
    And Page in Arizona… a small city with the most beautiful sites(Antelope Canyon) I’ve ever been.

  27. I just logged on a second to read what you all are talking about. I am not a tourism professional, do travel.

    • Welcome, Miss Dazey! Awesome to have you drop in. Just like Todd, you have a valuable insight as someone who travels. And you are my favorite non-expert. 🙂

    • Hi Miss Dazey,

      You are such a staunch supporter of our training efforts and you always have a good traveler perspective, too.

      A gem, you are!

      • I’d like to comment that your course is a great resource for other business also. Much of the lessons can be applied to different venues. Like how to take good photos, do a video, lots of PR hints. Good practical advice.

        Note: No, not affiliated with Tourism Currents, Becky and Sheila are couple of my “Twitter daughters”

  28. Cheryl Lawson November 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm · ·

    I’m working on launching our social media for social good campaign #tweet4toys.

    Would love to hear from some of you what you think about the concept and the use of Twitter/ social media for giving campaigns.

    We still have a few things to add to the site, but the concept is complete.

    Thanks for the feedback

    • Cheryl, I’m looking forward to hosting the #smtulsa Twitter chat Monday, and learning more about this project. Who could resist toys for kids??

  29. It was great talking to you guys tonight. Thanks Sheila and Becky for hosting! I’ll have to go now. Have a great weekend!

  30. Question: How important are event calendars to CVB sites? I have been looking at site calendars to see when my friend’s shows are listed.

    Will these comments be online for awhile? Got to get off now?

    • Miss Dazey, we’d love to hear what you learned by looking at all those event calendars. I think they are a primary element of a good tourism site.

      The comments will be here from now on. We’ll wrap up our open comment night tonight at 9pm. Thanks for coming over!

    • Most CVBs that I’ve talked to pay a lot of attention to event calendars, but they get frustrated sometimes because they depend on the local venues to send them the info that keeps the calendars updated.

      It’s that geek phrase: “Garbage in, garbage out!”

      I use tourism website event calendars all the time when I travel, but sometimes they are lacking and I can imagine the backroom arm-twisting going on. 🙂

    • CygnetUpdates (Vicky) November 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm · ·

      Event calendars can be dynamic tools, but if they aren’t up-to-date or don’t have complete information they make the CVB look antiquated. Who wants to go to a place where the home page is publicizing something that happened two weeks ago?

  31. Another tourism rant:

    If you’re a tourist, be sure to reward places you visit that you like. I don’t mean just leaving big tips, but sign into Yelp or your favorite restaurant or business review site and take five minutes to rate and review that business.

    It really helps other tourists, for example me, when I’m coming into a town and looking for the best local bbq restaurant. 🙂


  32. Thank you all so very much for coming, from all around the globe. We’ve had a great time, and you’ve shared so much great conversation.


  33. Thanks so much for visiting, everyone!

    Don’t forget: Save 20% off of the regular price when you sign up for our online course during our Thanksgiving Weekend Open House. Use code “OK1” when you sign up. That’s good now through Sunday, Nov. 28.

    And yes, we’re a small business: just two women and a big idea, so you can feel good about shopping a small business!

  34. Michele Price November 26, 2010 at 9:31 pm · ·

    Ok, trying to follow, maybe a twitter chat would be easier ;))

  35. cravingwegt January 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm · ·

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