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You Might Be In Tourism If….


… by Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray

One of the things we love about blogging is the publishing flexibility. You can either go deep into a niche topic, cover a broader field or, heck, “kitchen sink” it with whatever has you fired up at the moment.

We generally advise picking one focus area so readers know what to expect when they seek out your work, but sometimes that means that people skip over really good blogs because they think the insights won’t apply to them.

Our niche area, for example, is tourism – the industry that attempts to attract tourists and visitors to a destination, usually funded by a town, city or region via some sort of tax on your hotel bill.

So what, right? Unless you’re really into that, or a big traveler, why should that interest you if you blog about parenting or history or food or business or technology?

Well, you might be in tourism if….

  • Friends who come to visit your town ask you for “the good places where locals go.” 
  • Out-of-towners ever walk through the doors of your business.
  • You are a food enthusiast, artist, crafter, microbrewer, winemaker or anyone who makes things that are bought by visitors to your town.
  • You’re involved with economic development, historic preservation, downtown development/Main Street programs, a museum, a historical society, your local Chamber of Commerce or state/local government.
  • Your town is located on a heritage highway or scenic byway.
  • You write reviews and tips for your local restaurants, coffee shops, stores, art galleries, etc on Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla or TripAdvisor.
  • You’re a gardener who supports a popular local botanical garden, nature preserve or park.
  • You’re a meeting planner who needs to know where to find good conference or meeting venues.
  • You’re a Civil War or Renaissance Faire re-enactor in your local area.
  • You upload cool photos of your town to your local city government or Visitors Bureau Flickr Group Pool.

….and finally, you are involved in tourism if anyone has ever stopped you in your town and said something like, “We’re visiting and need directions to get to ____. Can you help?” or if they’ve ever handed you their camera and asked if you wouldn’t mind taking a photo of them in front of one of your local landmarks.

Does any of the above sound like you?

Or would you rather just attend no-BS BlogWorld sessions on creating better video content, integrating social media into your overall marketing plan, zero-budget social communications or social photography like Foodspotting and photo walks?

Either way, sounds like you’d enjoy this year’s Tourism and Travel Track, Room 150C Thursday through Saturday.

And hey; take a good photo with that visitor’s camera, okay?

Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough are BlogWorld’s Tourism Track leaders; this year they’re double-billed with an outstanding Travel Track run by Mary Jo Manzanares.

Becky and Sheila co-founded Tourism Currents: online education that helps make sense of social media for destination marketing. Keep up with them on @TourismCurrents.

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One-Person Social Media Marketing with Zero Money


Session: Budget? What Budget? One-Person Social Media Marketing with Zero Money
Speaker: Leslie McClellan

At BlogWorld LA, Leslie McClellan says her session will be fun and upbeat session as she shares how you can successfully market your destination/business using very little money, instead leveraging social media.

This is the first time Leslie is attending BlogWorld and she’s excited to network and meet some of the people she’s networked with online.

Hear what else Leslie has to say:

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Learn more about BlogWorld LA and register Here!

RoundUp: Fall Tourism Tech Conferences


… by Sheila Scarborough

The fall conference season is always hopping, but the embarrassment of riches means that some tough decisions must be made about which events to attend (unless you have an unlimited budget and lots of people, so you can send someone to all of them. Right. We didn’t think so….)

Although we’re obviously biased towards the BlogWorld tourism track, we recognize that it may not work for everyone, so here’s our best effort to help you decide who to send where …

If you want maximum opportunity to connect with a wide variety of bloggers and other online publishers, plus attend focused educational panels and hear industry speakers on social media for tourism, then BlogWorld and New Media Expo West in Los Angeles, CA November 3-5 is your best bet.

Sessions will be intermediate level (with other tracks having beginner options) so #BWELA is the place to send your staff members who are somewhat new to the social Web (zero to 18 months.) We are also offering “speed dating” appointments between tourism/hospitality organizations and bloggers. There is at least one dedicated hospitality speaker for those who run resorts or other lodging.

Sample speakers: Caroline Bean from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., Shanna Smith Snyder from the Abilene (TX) CVB, Brian Matson from the Fargo-Moorhead CVB and Doug Anweiler from Authentic Seacoast Resorts in Nova Scotia.

Who should go? BlogWorld is perfect for your staff networking/schmoozing fiend who is also getting really good at social media (or who wants to get to that level.) Don’t forget – discount pricing (50% off) ends on Thursday!

If you want to mix it up with tech- and social media-savvy tourism peers at a small conference of the very geekiest CVBs, DMOs and Tourist Boards, then the Symposium on Social Media in Tourism (SoMeT) in Tunica, MS November 9-12 would work for you. This is where your communications person goes who is WAY ahead of the rest of the office, and who needs to stay at his or her “A” game for the benefit of your destination.

Sessions are advanced and geared to those who execute your strategy. Very “inside baseball.” No significant hospitality component.

Sample speakers: Katie Cook from the Austin CVB, Tom Martin from Converse Digital and Anne Hornyak from Sparkloft Media.

Who should go? SoMeT is great for your geekiest staffer who was on Foursquare and slinging QR codes months before anyone else.

If you’re looking for high-level discussions of travel and tourism technology as a whole, consider the eTourism Summit in San Francisco, CA September 29-30. Lots of strategy and integration discussions. A bit more international flavor than the others, looking at technology beyond social media.

Sample speakers: Google Travel head Neil Coleman, empowerMINT Director Christine Shimasaki and Head of Consumer Engagement and Marketing for Tourism Ireland Bryan Harte.

Who should go? eTourism Summit is a good idea for your Director who is trying to keep that 30,000 foot, integrated marketing view amongst insanely rapid tech and social media changes.

So, divide and conquer if you must, but try to take advantage of as many fall learning opportunities as your budget will allow (and we sure hope that includes BlogWorld!)

This post is by Sheila Scarborough, co-founder with Becky McCray of Tourism Currents, online education in social media for tourism and hospitality. Together they are the track leaders for the BlogWorld tourism track.

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Hear it From Experts on the Ground


Learning something new is always a mix of figuring out the theory and grappling with the reality….and not always in that order.

In a perfect world, you go to school, you ask questions, you take some notes, you practice and then there’s that day when you need to take Stuff I Learned (“A”) and apply it to Stuff I Gotta Do (“B”.) More often, we’re tossed into situations to figure it out as we go along, and it helps to get tips and advice from people who’ve been there on the ground, mud-wrestling with tricky things like anyone else.

Their expertise comes from applying theory to reality, every day.

In the Thursday, October 14 Tourism track, we’re really excited to bring you four co-panelists who have real-world, practical application experience to share with you at BlogWorld.

** Ann Peavey saw the possibilities of social media – particularly Twitter – as a personable, friendly way to connect visitors with her beloved city of Seattle. She represents the Seattle CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) as @SeattleMaven and will share how she uses dashboard tools like TweetDeck and keywords to be a virtual concierge for her city.

** Jeff Hurt is a meetings expert at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting and he’s worked with businesses and tourism organizations large and small to show them how to use social media to make on- and off-line gatherings much more useful and enjoyable. He knows how to drill down and find helpful resources and people, and he’ll show you how.

** Mike Bersabal brings current crisis communications expertise from his work at the Pensacola, Florida CVB during the recent BP oil spill – follow him @Mike_VstPcola or @VisitPensacola. In response to the disaster, Florida tourism used social media to give visitors a more complete, up-to-the-minute view of beach conditions, and Mike will talk about that experience plus give tips about incorporating bloggers into your media outreach.

** Stephanie Molina and the Beaumont, Texas CVB regularly win awards for their imaginative and forward-leaning approach to destination marketing. They’re already experimenting with QR codes and are fearlessly curious about what will entice visitors to their part of Southeast Texas. Follow her as @Beaumartian and @BeaumontCVB and hear Stephanie share her recent experience with adding online video to her tourism “toolbag,” then dive in to hands-on video work with cameras generously provided by conference sponsor Kodak.

We don’t have all the answers, but we’ll do our best to show you how to find them, so you can get blogging and social media out of the theoretical cloud and down to using it well every day in your communications work.

Sheila Scarborough is a writer specializing in travel, tourism and social media. Along with Becky McCray, she is the co-founder of Tourism Currents, an online community focused on social media and technology training for tourism professionals. She’s at BlogWorld because she likes to go where the geeks are. You can follow her at Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff and on Twitter as @SheilaS and @TourismCurrents

Image Source: US Marine combat engineer digging out in Silico Creek, Panama (courtesy DVIDSHUB on Flickr)

Go Where The Geeks Are: Why Tech Events Matter for Tourism And Travel


Panel: Tourism Currents workshop on social media for tourism
Speakers: Sheila Scarborough and Becky McCray
Date/Time: October 14, 09:45 – 5:00

Those who want to connect with visitors online need to speak their language, understand their communication tools and appreciate their culture and etiquette. Your CVB (Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) cannot make smart decisions about destination marketing in a digital environment unless youíre smart about how your visitors function in that environment.

To really comprehend how wired people use social media and technology – particularly mobile devices, in ways you probably don’t expect – you have to be immersed in their world. Saying hi to your teenager on Facebook (IF she’ll friend you back!) only gives a partial picture.

You need to do what networking expert Thom Singer calls, “Run With the Herd of the Nerd.”

Tech events are one giant market research opportunity. Watch how people use Twitter, see how they shoot photos and send them immediately to Facebook from their phone, note how they conduct quick hallway interviews with handheld video cameras and how they look for ideas on where to eat and party (hint: it’s probably Yelp/UrbanSpoon or Gowalla/Foursquare, not a brochure from a hotel lobby rack.)

This is why we’re excited to bring tourism organizations to BlogWorld; it gives them the chance to connect with some of the thousands of bloggers, podcasters and other online content creators who can help spread the word about a town, city, heritage highway, state park or downtown cultural district.

We’re designing a hands-on, no-fear social media seminar that will introduce tourism folks to our “geek world” and show them how it can upgrade their communications work. Rather than have people come to this huge tech event and be rather overwhelmed, we will take the time to give them the lay of the land, and show them how to listen online and how to connect with the people who will want to talk about their town and help tell its stories.

There is no other event that gives tourism professionals both an in-depth educational session plus the opportunity to meet thousands of online publishers, in one economical package in one place.

(And pssst: you can get 20% off of a BlogWorld pass with the code TC20. Jussayin’.)

The flip side is that many bloggers have no idea that there are organizations that exist solely to promote tourism and travel to wonderful places.

Are you a travel blogger? There are CVBs that would love to meet you.

Are you a food blogger? Plenty of CVBs would be happy to tell you about their wine trails, restaurants and agritourism opportunities on local farms.

Are you a parenting blogger? There are tourist boards who are full of ideas for family-friendly fun in their town.

Are you a craft or quilting blogger? There are tourism folks who can show you amazing craft shows and quilt trails.

Tech and social media stuff moves fast, and organizations need to keep up in order to make intelligent decisions about whether to incorporate the latest whiz-bang thing into their marketing efforts. Don’t feel intimidated, though; we feel strongly that technology is for everyone, not just wired geeky types.

At events like BlogWorld, you will be surrounded by the future of communications….right now….today.

Sheila Scarborough is a writer specializing in travel, tourism and social media. Along with Becky McCray, she is the co-founder of Tourism Currents, an online community focused on social media and technology training for tourism professionals. She thinks everyone ought to have a passport and experience jet lag. You can follow her on Tourism Currents and Sheila’s Guide to the Good Stuff. Sheila is also on Twitter @SheilaS and @TourismCurrents

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