Tourism tips from our Black Friday Open Comment online chat

We threw open our doors this past Black Friday to host an Open Comment/Open Mic chat on our website for a couple of hours, as a part of a Thanksgiving weekend tourism event that also includes a 20% off sale – use code OK1 – and Open House sneak peek at our online course (both are ending tonight, 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!)

After sifting through 150 lively comments from a bunch of visitors (there wasn’t much of a post-food/shopping coma that we could see) here is some tourism/hospitality news you can use:

What Drives Your Visitors CRAZY

1)  Lack of restaurant info: menus, websites, etc.

From @Tojosan who blogs at The Broad Brush – “Sadly missing? Often local restaurant guides are skimpy or lacking entirely….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 think travelers really want to experience something new, but when they’ve been driving for 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).”

(Note from Becky and Sheila – yes, an alphabetical list dump of your restaurants starting with the local Applebee’s chain place is not very helpful, and we see this all the time.)

@SeattleMaven from the Seattle CVB mentioned at this point that “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.”

2)  Out of date event calendars.

On the importance of CVB site event calendars, which several said they use when visiting….

@CygnetUpdates who is Vicky Soderberg said, “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?”

3)  Lack of mobile-friendly sites.

@Tojosan: “If the tourism site isn’t mobile friendly soon, it will be dead weight.”

Reminder from Becky:  “You 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 (FAQ.)”

Which Country Has Lots of People Who Want to Visit the US?

Brazil! @claudiabia is involved with Brazilian travel, and says that she provides lots of information (in Portuguese) to outbound travelers.

She says that there’s plenty of interest from Brazilians in traveling outside of their country, and they especially like images. Here is her immersive photography depiction of Washington DC’s World War II Memorial plus she’s creating informational content in English to build a base for World Cup 2014 travelers coming TO Brazil.

She says she “just got some data from the ITA saying that Brazil was the only country that had an increase in visitation and spending in US….we [are] trying to get the Brazilians to do something different than just go to New York and Orlando for parks.”

Is this an opportunity for your destination?  What can you offer some lively Brazilian visitors?

Loving/Hating the “Staycation”

Said @Tojosan – “I’m tired of the term staycation. 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.”

(Note: Becky has a terrific ebook resource for shop local campaigns.)

Said @SeattleMaven:  “We just call it ‘living & enjoying the Pacific Northwest to the fullest’ instead. (o: ”

Becky added:  “Staycation just does not sound like fun. Local travel I can completely support!”

Said @Patrysha who is Patrysha Korchinski:  “I’ve appreciated the staycation trend because it’s helped local tourism places extend better offers locally….That’s where social media and really starting the conversation and listening to the market becomes vital.”

What You Can Do To Help Visitors Using LBS (Location Based Services)

@Tojosan likes using Yelp for restaurant information and attractions, but wishes that more local users would provide reviews in their own towns.

He also says, “If you’re a tourist, be sure to reward places you visit that you like. I don’t mean just leaving big [money] 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.”

When To Use Travel Experts

@TruffleMedia who is John Blue wanted to know when to call in the travel experts from places like AAA or CVBs, and when to go it alone. Consensus seemed to be that for complex travel like a cruise or a country where you’ve never been (Becky is looking into a trip to Greece, for example) it’s very helpful to use a professional planner. For simpler travel, going it alone is fine if you’re comfortable doing so.

Regarding your local AAA – did you know that you can do AAA TripTiks online now?

@CygnetUpdates  said “I’m a DIY planner but get info, maps, discounts from them [AAA]….Their website is ok – but they could do sooooo much more and tap into a whole new demographic for membership.”

Thought: How can a CVB/DMO best support both travel planners and intrepid individuals?

Favorite Places to Visit

Favorite places to visit from our chat visitors:

India and the Taj Mahal, Hong Kong, Ubud in Bali, Shanghai, the Sacre Coeur in Paris, northern Wales, Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona and taah-daah….

Milwaukee, Wisconsin because the people were so friendly.

Thanks for Coming!

Also dropping by to say hello were who loves whipped cream on her pie, Des Walsh from Australia, SoMeT conference host @Jeremy_Harvey from DC’s Wine Country, @Miss_Dazey and Cheryl Lawson with Tweets for Tots.

Keep up with us on Twitter and on our Facebook Page for the next Open Comment session, and if you think all this sounds like helpful info, then please enjoy our free email newsletter!

Comments are closed.