What are the important 2011 trends in social media for tourism and hospitality?

Bryan Person, Aaron Strout, Sheila Scarborough and Kyle Flaherty social media panel at Innotech Austin 2010 (photo courtesy Elmer Boutin and @itweetrubbish)What should tourism and hospitality folks be paying particular attention to these days on the social Web? Where is the market moving and what are the trends?

After our “Social Media 12 months from now” panel at Innotech Austin (thanks again to moderator Bryan Person and co-conspirators Aaron Strout and Kyle Flaherty)  I was asked by PR expert Dana Marruffo, “Well, what IS the answer to where social media might be going 12 months from now?”

These are big questions, but I’m going to give you my cocktail party answer. You know….what I’d say if I had to summarize, speak loudly over afterparty music and try to be Jack-Daniels-coherent.

Here’s most of what I shouted to Dana over a bourbon:

***  Mobile technology is a big deal, including mobile-based tech that crosses dimensions like QR codes and video tags on paper (or maybe even on historical markers) that become Web pages and videos when scanned by a smartphone. The world is moving towards everyone having a computer and the Internet in her/his pocket or purse; some of your communications must already be geared to that reality.

Your next move for 2011:  get your website mobile-friendly.  To drive this home, get your smartphone or someone else’s and try to navigate through several of your site’s pages using the mobile browser. Now imagine your visitors trying to do that, around all the ads and photos and Flash goop and whatnot. See? Fix that before you fiddle around with apps.

***  LBS (Location Based Services) with check-ins like Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla and Facebook Places/Deals. We just talked about Deals in our Tourism Currents November newsletter. Deals is a game-changer because it combines mobile devices,  the now-mainstream Facebook and tangible rewards for the admittedly rather odd practice of checking in.

Your next move for 2011:  Look for one or two of your main attractions, hotels, museums, etc. on Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla and Places.  Ensure that the venue information is correct, and see if people are checking in, leaving tips/comments or taking photos (it’s just another way of listening to your visitors.)  If there’s activity, see if you can integrate it into your other sites; Matterhorn Marketing shows you how to embed people’s Foursquare Tips and To-Do’s onto your own website or blog.

***  Video.  I talk rather a lot about video for tourism (here’s the Video category on this blog) because I think it’s important.   Imagery and videos can generally show off your destination better than text, and when properly titled, tagged and described they are very powerful for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because there is less competition for them right now than there is for text.

Your next move for 2011:  Get a small pocket video camera like the Flip or the Kodak Zi8. Hold off shooting in HD (high-definition) for now until you 1) have a tripod and 2) have a Mac or super-high-powered PC for editing.  Play and experiment. Go someplace cool in your town and show why it’s cool, or grab an interview with a lively person who can explain it. Put that video on your Facebook Page and YouTube channel. Title, tag and describe it thoroughly. Start small and build, even with some fun Google Search Story videos.  You’ll be glad you got in early.

For more tips and thoughts from our Innotech panel, here is Elmer Boutin’s nice recap titled “Smart People in Austin Talk Social Media.”

What are your thoughts about how digital communications are evolving for tourism and destination marketing?  Did I miss anything? Your thoughts are welcome down in the comments.

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12 Responses to What are the important 2011 trends in social media for tourism and hospitality?

  1. Elmer says:

    Thank you for the shout out, Sheila.
    Elmer´s last [post] ..The Servant Leader Anti-Heroes

  2. Thanks, Elmer, and appreciate your post as well.

  3. Agreed, agreed, agreed.

    If you are reading this and thinking “nah, not for me” or “it’s too hard,” I encourage you to just pick one little thing you can do. Maybe you can promote someone else’s video of your destination, or you can try using Facebook places to check in somewhere.

    Just try it. It won’t hurt, I promise. Ok, well maybe a little. 🙂
    Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners´s last [post] ..In Tourism- You Need Video It’s Not So Hard

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention What are the important trends in social media for tourism and hospitality? | Sheila's Guide To The Good Stuff -- Topsy.com

  5. Kay says:

    I’ve been resisiting a smart phone because I really don’t have that much use for one, especially when you look at the cost. But those damn QR codes and video tags in mags and elsewhere might be the thing that drives me to one. I think this is the coolest dang thing in the world! I haven’t been this intrigued by a gadget/gimmick in, well, ever!
    Kay´s last [post] ..Veterans Day 2010- Tax considerations for members of the military

  6. Hi Andy – you’re so good at encouraging people (me especially.)

    Hi Kay – I was the same way; I had other reasons for getting a smartphone earlier this year but I will say that the growing profusion of magazine QR codes was driving me nuts because I couldn’t read any of them. They really have tremendous potential.

  7. Phil Nash says:

    I agree with sentiments and opinions expressed. Unfortunately, the costs of adapting existing content and developing new content for all the various smartphone platforms – especially when the end user i.e. the consumer generally expects that content to be free (or good as free: $1.99 / £1) at point of access – can make things difficult for smaller ‘travel related’ businesses.
    Phil Nash´s last [post] ..Parliament- Gunpowder- Treason &amp Plot

  8. Pat Strader says:

    Great post Sheila, thanks for the shout.
    Pat Strader´s last [post] ..3 Dead Simple Tools for Social Media

  9. @toddlucier says:

    Hi Sheila,
    I disagree about the video advice. The last thing we need is more amateur video in tourism industry. With two billion YouTube videos being viewed daily it’s time to create great video that stands out against the low Rez stuff. Invest in a good camera and tripod. Invest in a microphone. Hold that camera steady or tripod and make good stuff yourself or encourage your tourism organization to do a group buy for media services. Or hire a media graduate in your region. They all want to work for the big networks and espn, but tourism folks need them now! HD only please!

  10. Hi Todd,

    I know you’re a huge proponent of video, and while I agree that no one wants to look at junk (which is why I did advise getting a tripod, etc.) I’ll take issue with “the last thing we need is more amateur video in the tourism industry.”

    People have got to get over their fear of this medium, and stop thinking that they “have” to get a pro to do everything. The right person at the right time can do just fine on their own, and I want tourism organizations to get out there and try their hand at this.

    Yes, there is talent out there (students, interns etc.) who can make a huge difference in quality, and a group media buy is another possibility, but I won’t squelch efforts of people to try a few things on their own. That’s how I learned.

  11. Simon says:

    Hey Sheila, Sounds like you pulled off that bourbon moment really well. I enjoyed this post… bit of humor to soften the ready up for some poignant points and info laden links. Agree strongly with mobile trend and video/rich media being crucial. I’m going to have to school up on LBS… is it like pinning the tail on the donkey?
    Simon

  12. Hi Sheila,

    Currently you are linking to our old domain, http://www.sftravel.com and I was hoping you could change this and link to our new domain at http://www.sftodo.com We’d appreciate your help as the old domain was transferred.
    Thanks,

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