TripAdvisor will offer a million dollar digital marketing campaign to PATA CEO Challenge winners

pata logoEmerging tourism destinations have an unprecedented opportunity to boost their digital marketing campaigns, thanks to a collaborative venture between the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and TripAdvisor.

The PATA CEO Challenge offers two prizes, each valued at US$500,000, for regional, state and province tourism organisations, and secondary and tertiary cities that are able to demonstrate the uniqueness and authenticity of their heritage, customs, culture and natural beauty to local and international travellers. Awards valued at US$500,000 will be presented to the winners of each category: States, regions and provinces; and second-tier/third-tier cities.

Trip AdvisorThe winning organisations will work with dedicated teams from TripAdvisor to create unforgettable digital marketing campaigns that showcase their destinations to global stakeholders.“The PATA CEO Challenge is gathering momentum and we are receiving enquiries and entries from a very broad spectrum of new and emerging destinations. This is a remarkable opportunity to work with TripAdvisor’s digital marketing experts,” said PATA CEO Mario Hardy. “We have received many enquiries from organisations in mainland China and to assist them we are accepting entries in Simplified Chinese.”“Travellers around the world are always on the lookout for places to discover and explore.

By participating in the PATA CEO Challenge, emerging destinations will have the opportunity to showcase their unique destination to TripAdvisor’s global travel community,” said Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing, APAC at TripAdvisor. “We look forward to receiving even more creative entries as the deadline draw near.” Deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 1, 2015. The awards will be presented at the PATA Aligned Advocacy Dinner in London on November 2, when the guest of honour will be UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai

via TripAdvisor will offer a million dollar digital marketing campaign to PATA CEO Challenge winners.

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline)  Steve Symington

With the advent of online travel sites, it’s never been easier to book a quick vacation, business trip, or even a spontaneous jaunt for almost anywhere in the world. Though the online travel industry is relatively young, it’s still growing quickly, with dozens of viable sites ready to make your trip happen.

The sites with the most loyal customers stand to grab the biggest share of this market as Internet usage increases around the world. But maintaining customer loyalty is even more challenging in markets like the United States, where online travel is becoming second nature as nearly 90% of the population is already online.

Thanks to online travel sites, resorts like this are just a click away.

This of course begs the question, which travel site are Americans the most loyal to?

Thanks to prominent advertising campaigns, several incorrect names might immediately come to mind. Take the various sites operated by Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), for example, which notably include priceline.com, KAYAK, booking.com, rentalcars.com, and — thanks to a $2.6 billion acquisition last year — even restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable. Since it was founded in 1997, Priceline has enjoyed the charisma of spokesman William Shatner talking up its negotiating skills, while KAYAK earns business by comparing the prices of “hundreds” of travel sites at once.

Collectively, these businesses helped Priceline Group achieve $50.3 billion in total gross bookings last year alone. And with a market capitalization higher than $61 billion as of this writing, it’s no surprise Priceline regularly calls itself the “world leader in online accommodation reservations.” But “world leader” or not, none of Priceline’s sites are tops in customer loyalty.

Or how about Hotwire? Specific financial details are scarce for the privately held site, but Hotwire earns customers by selling off unsold travel inventory at a huge discount, saving people planeloads of cash on all their travel needs from airfare to hotels, rental cars, and comprehensive travel packages.

Unfortunately, though, even Hotwire’s approach doesn’t translate to the most loyal users. It’s not Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), either — though we’re getting closer.

Travelocity’s roaming gnome, Credit: Travelocity

Love for the Roaming Gnome

According to the 19th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, American consumers are most loyal to a travel site acquired by Expedia less than two months ago: Travelocity.com. On January 23, 2015, Expedia paid $280 million in cash to buy Travelocity from travel-technology specialist Sabre (NASDAQ: SABR), which itself was a subsidiary of American Airlines until being spun off in 2000.

According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff, 2015 was Travelocity’s first year atop its category in loyalty. And this year’s results were driven by the brands’ abilities to “identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values.”  So why do Americans specifically love Travelocity so much?

A little focus goes a long way

First, keep in mind that Travelocity signed a strategic marketing agreement with Expedia in mid-2013. Per the terms of that deal, Expedia agreed to take the reins of the technology platform powering Travelocity’s U.S. and Canadian websites. In exchange, Expedia received performance-based marketing fees that varied based on the amount of travel booked through those Travelocity-branded sites.

Travelocity’s #IWannaGo campaign was wildly successful, Credit: Travelocity.

While this meant less revenue for Travelocity at the time, it also greatly improved the site’s profitability by drastically lowering operating costs. In its most recently reported quarter as part of Sabre, for instance, Travelocity’s adjusted revenue fell nearly 45% year over year, to $89 million, while adjusted EBITDA skyrocketed 116% to $16 million. Without the need to focus on maintaining its technology platform, Travelocity was free to redirect those resources toward promoting its brand — something it arguably did more effectively than any of its deep-pocketed rivals, anyway.

Take Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” mascot, for example, whose offbeat TV spots have been at the heart of its viral advertising efforts for more than a decade. But starting in 2013, Travelocity also began using the gnome to engage consumers on a personal level with a wildly successful social media campaign centered around the hashtag #IWannaGo.

By following the @roaminggnome handle on Twitter or Instagram, then using the hashtag to tell Travelocity where you wanted to go, you were automatically entered to win a chance to make your travel dreams come true. Then. last year, Travelocity built on that momentum by combining the hashtag with its new “Go & Smell the Roses” tag line.

According to Travelocity chief marketing officer Bradley Wilson: “‘Go & Smell the Roses’ is more than a tag line in an advertising campaign, it’s a rally cry. […] We are using our most powerful asset, the iconic Roaming Gnome, to inspire and instigate people to get off the couch, to go and smell the roses.”

If Brand Keys’ latest Loyalty Index is any indication, Travelocity’s efforts to connect to customers on an emotional level are obviously proving effective in its core American market. If it can translate that good work under Expedia’s wing to inspire people around the world, something tells me Expedia’s $280 million purchase price will look brilliant in the end.

via You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse

Engagement Labs, the technology and data company, has recently released the social media rankings of the top performing hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites.

The rankings are based on Engagement Labs’ eValue scores, which take into account three factors: Engagement, Impact and Responsiveness.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices

The top three hospitality companies on Twitter are (in order) Hyatt Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Trump Hotel Collection. Hyatt was highlighted for using highly visual vacation-related content and the use of creative hashtags.

The top three Facebook marketers in the hotel industry are The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. Ritz-Carlton stood out based on its regular engagement with travelers and its posting of images and facts of its resorts.

“As social media is increasingly becoming an all-purpose communication tool, the hotel industry excels by providing real-time information to their customers on their social media channels,” said Bryan Segal, chief executive officer of Engagement Labs, via a release. “Companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Hyatt Hotels utilize their social media channels to provide up-to-date resort news and industry information as a one stop shop for their audiences.”

American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines led carriers in Twitter marketing. American Airlines also was No. 1 in Facebook marketing, followed by Island Air and Delta Air Lines.

On Twitter, American Airlines was adept at responding to consumer postings and weaving in topical news and events to drive interest, according to Engagement Labs.

On Facebook, American Airlines received a high eValue score for updating travelers on company information and relating major news and events back to the airline industry (to celebrate Women’s History Month, the major carrier asked Facebook followers to share stories about female American Airlines members who exemplified premier customer service).

In terms of the travel aggregators (OTAs and metasearch sites), Hotels.com, OneTravel and CheapOair were the top Twitter marketers (parent company Fareportal owns both OneTravel and CheapOair). Hotels.com was highlighted for using Twitter to dish out the latest deals and promotions, as well as posting travel tips and trivia to boost engagement.

BookIt.com, Orbitz Worldwide and Travelocity were the top three Facebook marketers. BookIt.com scored highly in large part because the site posted articles that included travel ideas, tips for things to do in particular destinations, and contests for their followers to win trips to different destinations.

Travelers on social media “want convenience, trusted brands and good deals,” Segal said. “Social media is a key resource to help consumers navigate the complexity of travel today. We see marketers optimizing social channels to enhance user experience, customer satisfaction and develop trust and loyalty with their audiences.”

Engagement Labs’ eValue Analytics leverages more than 300 conventional social media metrics to produce a single benchmarked score, analyzing more than 75,000 handpicked, verified brands that include marketers, advertisers, publishers and broadcasters around the world.

via Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse.

How Google Now is Improving Travel. – 4Hoteliers

google nowIt seems that with every new release, smartphones are changing everything, they have had a significant impact on the travel industry over the last few years, and this trend doesn’t  seem to be stopping.

A lot of the larger hotel chains have developed stand alone apps to try and gain better control over the guest experience.

These apps are typically targeted to members of their loyalty programs or frequent travelers, but Google has a new product that might make them obsolete and level the playing field for independent hotels.

Google Now

Available with the latest versions of Google’s Android OS and through the Google Search app for the iPhone, Google Now is changing the way users are interacting with their smartphones. Using what they call Google Cards, Google Now displays a custom feed of information tailored specifically to the user. Day to day use provides local weather reports, traffic conditions, where you parked your car and new stories relevant to your interests. It pulls this data from the usage of your phone, GPS data and emails.

Specifically when traveling, Google Now can be incredibly useful. By scanning your emails, Google Now will automate a travel itinerary and update it on the fly. It knows what time your flights leave and will alert you when it’s time to check in, leave for the airport and even if there are any delays.

Google Now even generates your Boarding Passes as a scannable QR code. Once you arrive and check in, Google Now can display local attractions, nearby restaurants and other areas of interest. Now has become not only your itinerary, but your travel guide as well.

So how can hoteliers use these services to their advantage? Every hotel should make sure their emails are coded to trigger Google Now Cards. Contact your booking engine provider to see if their coding is compatible. If you’re doing your own coding, Google has provided a basic tutorial to help get started.

Encoding your outgoing emails to be captured by Google Now will only impact those currently using the service, others will see your emails normally. Once set up the Card can display a photo of your hotel, a Click to Call button, Reservation number, and Check In/Out times.

As mobile Check In features become more robust they will be integrated into Now as well. Most of the larger OTAs are already coding their emails to work with Now, so it’s important for hoteliers to match and exceed that experience as services grow.

Joshua Meehan is a Marketing Specialist at E-Marketing Associates, where he assists independent hotels with marketing strategies, social media, and contributes regularly to the E-Marketing Associates Blog. E-Marketing Associates works exclusively with independent hotels and builds innovative online marketing products that increase direct bookings and drive top-line revenue.

E-Marketing Associates helps independent hotels increase direct bookings and reduce reliance on OTAs. We build innovative online marketing products that deliver the best ROI for independent hotels. Our products aim to ultimately drive top-line revenue.

via How Google Now is Improving Travel. – Friday, 16th January 2015 at 4Hoteliers.

Digital Marketing Trends Redefining Tourism Prospects | Travelandtourworld.comTravelandtourworld.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

the-digital-marketing-room-homepage-grid-300x152

Technological advancement has completely revolutionized the concept of travelling round the globe. With the increasing number of travel technology providers, tourism in different exotic destinations gets a boost. Hassle-free and instant in its function, travel apps are the latest trend among global tourists.

Digital marketing is the most sought-after modish trend to promote tourism. Offering promotional deals is a simple way to invite potential customers to travel while segmenting your market to find interests for touring.

Social media marketing has immensely contributed to increase tourist influx in unconventional destinations along with boosting tourism in picturesque locales.Among the 25 major international markets surveyed, Asia ranks top in online travel bookings, mobile searches and mobile bookings.

Asian travellers lead the field when it comes to mobile travel bookings and searches performed, at 33% and 59% respectively, compared to the global average of 25% and 46% respectively.Travellers continue to use the internet for both information and booking.

Travel advertisers need to take full take advantage of the opportunities online advertising offer, as the key component in their marketing strategy.If you are a travel advertiser, then Adform has a range of new and exciting Rich Media formats that will perfectly fit your campaign objectives.

For instance, what should you do when you want to entice travellers to visit a specific island? How can you recreate that beach sensation for them? Check out their Sandstorm format and the revolutionizing Snowball format for a brighter tourism prospect.

via Digital Marketing Trends Redefining Tourism Prospects | Travelandtourworld.comTravelandtourworld.com.

Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist

economist logoIn 1996, when Microsoft was still ahead of the big technology trends, it launched a small brand called Expedia Travel Services. It hoped to persuade customers to book holidays online. It was not an immediate success. Few households had an internet connection then and, just as importantly, most people thought the idea of buying a holiday through the ether not to mention typing their credit-card details into a web browser plain foolish.

Few think the idea crazy now. Expedia, which Microsoft sold in 2001, has become the world’s biggest travel agent see chart. Last year, through brands such as Trivago, Hotels.com and Hotwire, as well as its eponymous operation, its gross bookings were $39.4 billion. The third-largest travel agent is also an online firm: Priceline, whose brands include Booking.com, made reservations worth $39.2 billion in 2013. Last year online travel agents OTAs had combined bookings of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm.

Indeed, when it comes to reserving flights, hotel rooms and rented cars for holidaymakers, the online-travel market looks quite mature in many rich countries. PhoCusWright, another research firm, reckons that online booking now accounts for 43% of total travel sales in America and 45% in Europe. Since much of the rest is accounted for by business trips handled by specialist corporate-travel agents such as Carlson Wagonlit, scope for the OTAs’ market to grow seems limited. That explains Priceline’s purchase, announced on June 13th, of OpenTable, a restaurant-reservation website, for $2.6 billion: it sees this as a way to earn commission on another chunk of tourists’ spending.  There are some big markets where online bookings have yet to take off.   Germans still typically arrange their holidays through traditional travel agents. Although the Chinese now spend more on travel in aggregate than any other country’s population, in 2012 they booked only 15% of their trips by value online, says PhoCusWright.   It thinks this will rise to 24% by 2015, making the Chinese online-travel market worth around $30 billion.  Much of the expansion will be driven by ambitious local firms. Ctrip, the biggest, makes most of its money from air tickets and package tours to Greater China. But as Chinese tourists become more intrepid—ranging farther afield and no longer shuffling around in big tour groups—online hotel bookings are becoming more important.  Ctrip’s hotels division has grown at an average of 25% a year for the past five years, according to Trefis, a stockmarket-analysis firm, and had revenues of $366m in 2013. It will not be long before it eyes Western markets more keenly.

To stay ahead, the big OTAs are having to follow their customers as they switch from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets.  By 2017 over 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, thinks Euromonitor. In part this will be the result of OTAs making their apps more appealing by, for example, adding location services that help travellers find the nearest rooms and restaurants. But it is also because the way people plan trips is changing. It generally takes a family more than three weeks to book a holiday, from deciding to travel to clicking the “pay now” button, in which time they may visit seven websites, says Faisal Galaria of Alvarez & Marsal, a consultant. In future, travellers are likely to become more impetuous, he says, and smartphones appeal to those making last-minute bookings.

For those still surfing for holidays on their PCs, other technological advances are on the horizon.  Amadeus, which supplies the software behind many OTAs’ booking systems, is developing new ways to entice customers to the agents’ websites. One is to use browser-tracking technology to aim personalised ads at consumers, showing them the latest prices for trips in which they had previously shown an interest. Such targeted advertising has been common among non-travel retailers for some time. However, until now it has proved trickier for the travel business as it involves collating frequently changing data from many airlines and hotels.

Gorilla marketing

Even with help from such marketing tricks, the smaller OTAs will find it increasingly hard to compete with the big two. Online travel is an industry in which size counts. The scale of Expedia and Priceline means they can sign up more hotels, and negotiate better prices, than their smaller rivals. This is a business that requires heavy spending on marketing, which hands another advantage to the big two.  OTAs will spend more than $4 billion this year on digital advertising, according to eMarketer, also a research firm; and Priceline and Expedia will account for over half of this. Some smaller rivals may find profitable niches, but in general it will be hard for them to grow. Whenever they open a door, “there are already two 800lb gorillas fighting it out in the room,” says Mr Galaria.

Not only gorillas. The observant may also spot an elephant in the room.  In 2010 Google bought ITA, a maker of flight-search software, and the next year it launched a flight-comparison website. The giant search company has also improved its hotel listings by including photographs and virtual tours, as well as price information. It has the clout to disrupt Expedia and Priceline if it so wishes. It has not done so yet. Google, many believe, would be loth to cannibalise such a large chunk of its main business: analysts think the big two will account for as much as 5% of its advertising revenue this year.

So besides Ctrip, perhaps the biggest threat to the big two OTAs is TripAdvisor, a popular travel-reviews site spun off by Expedia in 2011. This month it said travellers would be able to book hotels directly through its smartphone app. Weeks before Priceline’s deal with OpenTable, TripAdvisor announced it was buying La Fourchette, another online restaurant-booking service. The online-travel market is consolidating fast, but so far holidaymakers need not worry about a lack of options

via Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist.

Boston Consulting Group – Facebook Report – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Facebook logoTravel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Early Movers Can Cement Significant Advantage by Personalizing the Travel Journey

According to a New Report by BCG and Facebook BOSTON, June 19, 2014—

Although it was one of the first industries to be disrupted by digital commerce, travel and tourism has been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by mobile technology, according to Travel Goes Mobile, a new report by The Boston Consulting Group and Facebook. This reticence has left the playing field wide open for early movers. Those that miss the shift will find catching up increasingly difficult once consumers patterns of behavior and relationships with mobile apps and the companies behind them solidify.

BCG Logo“Early movers in travel, especially those companies that design successful mobile apps, have the opportunity to establish lasting advantage,” said Jason Guggenheim a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. “For many travel suppliers, this means an opportunity to strengthen or reestablish customer relationships that have been eroded by online intermediaries. For intermediaries, it means rethinking their offerings to protect the positions they have established on the PC. Winners will need to understand their customers’ mobile-usage trends, tailor their marketing, and even adapt their operating models accordingly.”

Estimates of the number of apps installed on the average smartphone vary, depending on who is doing the counting, but they range from about 25 to about 40. So far, only a few travel-company apps are used regularly by a significant share of consumers. Most travel companies have converted fewer than 20 percent of their PC customers to mobile-app usage, and no travel app has established itself as the go-to resource on more than 2 percent of smartphones.

The report argues that the biggest opportunity for travel companies is to cement relationships with customers—especially a company’s best, high-value customers—by offering them truly personalized service and experience. Mobile apps generate information related to usage, searching, time of use, location of use, spending, preferences, friends and followers, and countless other kinds of data. The more a travel company engages customers through mobile devices, the more information it can synthesize to personalize messages and the in-app customer experience. This information can also be used to segment the company’s best customers on the basis of frequency of use and expenditure, among other criteria, including their current location, time of day, and status.

“The tools and capabilities available to travel companies continue to expand as digital and mobile technologies improve,” Lee McCabe, global head of travel strategy at Facebook and a report coauthor, said. “This paper reveals the extraordinary role mobile technology can and will continue to play in travel and the tremendous value it can add to travel companies and travelers’ experiences. Sophisticated apps, combined with rich data and targeting capabilities, allow for personalized marketing at scale. The ability to perfectly time and tailor messages on the basis of rich data is very powerful from a business standpoint—for both brand- and direct-response-related objectives.”

The single log-in functionality offered by Facebook, for example, enables seamless movement among apps, eliminating the need to log in for each visit. Innovations such as app install ads, conversion ads, and deep links further simplify moving among multiple apps, which is great for the user and generates tremendous data for marketers.

The report points out that mobile “gatekeepers” have the power and sophistication to vastly augment travel companies’ own data-collection and analysis efforts with the vast amount of consumer information they manage. The biggest gatekeepers today are the device manufacturers and the companies behind the main mobile-operating systems and app stores, app-to-app marketers, and social networks and messaging app operators. The top three—Facebook, Google, and Apple—currently account for half of total app usage.

The report argues that, in terms of apps, travel companies want their customers to do three things: discover and download their apps, engage with them at multiple stages of the travel journey, and find the experience so simple, satisfying, and useful that they want to come back and use the apps again—to the exclusion of other available travel apps.

This means that travel companies need to design apps with functionality that customers—especially high-value customers—prize and that other travel companies cannot match, market the app effectively for both ease of installation and engagement, experiment and bring out new functionality quickly to keep the app fresh and make it more useful, and make the experience more personal over time.

To download a copy of the report, please go to www.bcgperspectives.com.

via BCG – Press Release – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity.

Leading Travel Ecommerce Sites Struggle with Digital Marketing Data Quality, According to New Research – Press Release – Digital Journal

Online travel agencies are leading the charge while airlines lag behind 

OREM, Utah, April 15, 2014

OREM, Utah, April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — In the second installment of The Return on Marketing Technology research series, Lima Consulting Group and ObservePoint conducted extensive research on the top 140 global travel websites to get a granular look at their digital marketing technology deployments.

Image representing ObservePoint as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

The research report titled “The ROI of Marketing Technologies: How the Top Travel Sites Stack Up” shows that only 89.3% of all pages audited have a web analytics tag; and 36.8% of pages report inflated page view metrics across all sites. These factors contribute to poor data quality for some of the web’s biggest digital marketing spenders.

“According to research by Gartner, CMOs will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017,” said Paul Lima, principal at Lima Consulting Group. “This should come as no surprise as marketing technology continues to have a bigger impact on the bottom-line of organizations that have a major ecommerce presence. However, marketing in a data-driven era means that the marketers need to ensure they are basing their decisions on accurate data. Correctly managing tags are at the core of this movement.”

Key Findings

Lima Consulting Group’s experts have distilled the data into the following findings:

  • Online Travel Agency (OTA) sites are deploying the most marketing technologies, followed by airlines, online hotel booking aggregators, rental cars, and hotel brand sites
  • One-third of all travel sites have deployed a Tag Management Solution (TMS), and half of those with TMS use free over premium enterprise-class web analytics solutions
  • Sites with TMS use more technology, benefit from better user experience and performance, but do experience slightly decreased site load times
  • Composite site performance scoring allows digital marketing teams to have greater confidence in data-driven business decisions

How the research was conducted

In July 2013, Lima Consulting Group (LCG), an online marketing strategy firm, and ObservePoint, a digital marketing technology auditing company, audited the top 140 global

travel web sites using ObservePoint’s advanced tag auditing solution.

Tag auditing is a systematic, comprehensive evaluation of the current tag configuration on a web site. When an audit is performed, tag-auditing software “crawls” a web site, and executes all of the code on every page. This helps accurately test and confirm the function and configuration of every tag on every page. Tag auditing improves results of marketing technologies deployed within the ever-increasing ecosystem of tag-based marketing solutions.

The research report is available for download at Lima Consulting’s Infographics Page.

via Leading Travel Ecommerce Sites Struggle with Digital Marketing Data Quality, According to New Research – Press Release – Digital Journal.

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2014 Top Social Media Trends for Travel Marketers | Adventure Travel News

By Jennifer Pemberton

Three months into 2014 and we’re past making predictions of what the year in social media will look like. We’re living it. The ATTA is focusing on four major trends this month that will shape online life this year — highlighting the ones that will be most relevant for the travel industry, from how to find travelers on social media and speak their language to how to organize your office to best engage socially with your customers.

via 2014 Top Social Media Trends for Travel Marketers | Adventure Travel News.

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Travel industry taps into social networks | Oman Observer

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

By Marie Julien — Tourism companies are turning to travel bloggers as a route into the vast global market of social network users, industry insiders say. At Berlin’s ITB tourism fair this week, bloggers and tourism professionals were brought together at a “speed dating” event to swap tips and further their cooperation in a highly competitive sector. Catharina Fischer, of the German Tourism Office, said blogging opened up an effective and inexpensive way “to generate content, do marketing on social networks, expand one’s presence, and all in different languages”. With the likelihood that a blogger will post YouTube videos or photos on Instagram to illustrate their post, it is easier to create a buzz on the Internet, via Twitter or Facebook, bloggers and companies say.

In today’s world of real-time news and constant information, blogging, where an individual writes online about their own experience, offers an immediacy that traditional media and guide books cannot. Marion Schumacher, of the Moevenpick hotel chain, also pointed out that a blog “is more subjective. It’s often a first-person account by the blogger from their own experience.” “Bloggers mostly post their blogs online before, during and after a trip” which then remain on the Internet to be read time and again, explained Anja Beckmann, of specialist communication agency Red Mod. The guidelines on collaboration between bloggers and the travel industry still vary and have not been formalised — some bloggers plainly state when a trip is financed by a travel company, while others do not.

Angelika Schwaff, a former head of international communication for an airline, launched her blog “Reisefreunde” (“Travelfriends”) because she was always having to search back through business cards when asked for hotel or restaurant recommendations. After around a year, her blog had attracted thousands of readers, and in 2012 she decided to leave her job and become a professional travel blogger —  still a privilege for the very few — and consultant. Today she says that 99 per cent of her trips are down to partnerships with the travel industry but insists she retains her independence and always makes clear in her blog who has financed what. “Even if they (partners) invite you on a trip, I make it very clear at the beginning in my letter of intent ‘you don’t buy my opinion’,” she said. But for travel-lovers, blogging is a good way to fund their passion if they strike deals to get the travel or accommodation costs covered or are paid to provide photos or videos that can be used by the partner company.

via Travel industry taps into social networks | Oman Observer.

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