How to use Twitter for tourism: fall foliage reports

Fall color in Colorado (courtesy Elite PhotoArt on Flickr CC)Does part of your destination marketing include trying to attract “leaf-peepers”  —  visitors who particularly enjoy traveling to see autumn foliage? (Soon I hope to visit the Lost Maples area here in Texas for those pretty reds and yellows.)

Why not steal a page from one of the latest uses for Twitter – roving location/update reports from food trucks, like this insanely popular Korean BBQ truck in Los Angeles – and use social media tools to provide timely reports of leaf color for your location.

Some area color displays change very quickly in the fall, and prospective visitors may make last-minute travel plans based on the most timely and complete reports.

The weekly color updates that many tourism Web sites offer are nice, and many have elaborate whiz-bang display interfaces, but that seems a slow and clunky way to make these reports in 2009 (plus it means you have to wait on your Webmaster to do all the work.)

Use the social Web to your advantage!

Some locations and regions already have foliage blogs, like Yankee magazine’s New England Foliage Blog or Oregon tourism’s Fall Foliage Report blog, but it would be even easier and faster to use Twitter for quick updates by your staff out on the road.

Tourist on holiday using mobile cell phone (courtesy Moomettesgram at Flickr CC)

In fact, Oregon is already there with their @ORFallFoliage Twitter stream.  Good for them!

Any of your staffers with halfway well-equipped cell phones can snap photos when they’re out and about, and then send them in from the mobile device straight to TwitPic or YFrog for posting on Twitter.

I did this myself with an absolutely ancient Samsung flip phone, using it to take a photo of a bougainvillea plant in my back yard and then email it, from the phone, to a special email address that links to my TwitPic account.

What about it, tourism gurus? Why or why not is this a good idea for your organization? Your comments below are welcomed.

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13 Responses to How to use Twitter for tourism: fall foliage reports

  1. Excellent idea! The thought that these photos need to be super professional in quality is passe’! People want a good view of what it really looks like. As long as the pic is clear and in focus, why NOT use a cell to share what’s there?

    • Thanks, Anthony!

      While I certainly appreciate what a good Webmaster and website design person can do with those weekly color reports, the fact is that there are other ways to skin the cat.

      If budget, time and staff allow, do both. If budget, time and staff are minuscule, you still have the power to be very helpful.

      If the quality of photos is that much of a concern, then have staffers use a good digital camera on the road, then dump the photos onto a laptop, stop at the closest place with WiFi, and upload to TwitPic.

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  3. Andy Hayes says:

    Great idea – and it works for lots of things. Is there another seasonal event that requires timely info in your area – say, snow reports or waves for the surfers (for our antipodean readers)?

    Even if you’re small, think big.

  4. Jeff Foliage says:

    Hi Sheila, I just found your blog citing my blog on Yankee Magazine’s website. I use twitter already (http://twitter.com/Vistaphotos and http://twitter.com/Foliage_Reports) and as much as I can I transmit my current location and a photo via twitpic so folks can see what and where and when I’m seeing it. I also will post GPS coordinates and the page number from the Delorme Gazetteer.

    Yankee is also up on Facebook where folks can post questions and their own pics.
    http://www.facebook.com/YankeeFoliage

    Do you think I’m hitting it yet? or is there something else I could be doing?

    Jeff “Foliage” Folger

    • Hi Jeff,

      You’re doing great, putting the word out through multiple channels (forums, radio, Facebook, etc.) Keep an eye on the auto-posts; they can get annoying to those who follow you in two places and keep seeing the same stuff. IMHO better to personalize each, if you can.

      Are you on Flickr? I know that can be tricky for a pro photographer, but you may want to consider putting a few items up under a fairly loose Creative Commons license (or get “Yankee” to start a Group Pool for the magazine, if they don’t already have one. Could be foliage-specific, or not.)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for acknowledging our new fall foliage strategy in your post. We are getting our statewide contacts rallied for the upcoming season, so you should see much more great info from us in the weeks to come.

    We are also starting a group on Flickr for Oregon Fall Foliage and hope to embed a viewer on the blog once people start sharing their photos with us. Check it out: http://www.flickr.com/groups/oregonfallfoliage.

    In turning to these social media channels, we hope to build an enthusiastic and engaged leaf peeper community around Oregon Fall Foliage. Although we will maintain our current contacts throughout the state, we want to turn every traveler into an on-the-spot reporter. When in Oregon, feel free to share your adventures in the comments on the blog and by replying to @ORFallFoliage on Twitter.

    Thanks again,
    Stacey Malstrom, Tourism Public Relations Manager
    Travel Lane County
    Eugene, Cascades & Coast
    http://TravelLaneCounty.org
    http://OregonFallFoliage.com

    • Thanks, Stacey – good idea on the Flickr Group – I’m a big fan of those!

      And while you’re here, thanks again for your Lane County input to the Oregon post in the 50 state series on my family travel blog. 🙂

  6. Maria Wygnal says:

    Great article and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments!! This year, Michigan is getting fall color help from its fans, followers and others. We’ve found that people are already talking online so we are tuning into the fall conversations. Pure Michigan is playing a game of MI Spy this fall on its social media channels to enhance Fall Color Watch reports posted weekly to michigan.org:

    http://www.puremichiganblog.org/mispy/lets-play-a-game/

    Glad that others are taking notice of this opportunity as well. Thanks for sharing!!

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