Marketing Travel: a role for bloggers

2009 October 12
by velvet

twitterMy good friend Stephanie (@TravelDesigned) is in Mexico right now and tweeting about it. She has more than 2,000 followers who are following each and every step of her Mexico trip, from her taxi ride from the airport to the sights along the way, and from her first step into the Dreams Tulum resort to the luxurious toiletries she found in her junior suite. She has already received various inquiries from her followers for a trip to the Riviera Maya and staying at the resort. The exposure this resort, and the Riviera Maya in general, is receiving is invaluable.

DREAMS Tulum Twitter-reportThis is a great case study for the travel industry of how the power of Twitter can be harnessed and utilised to market a product. Following Stephanie’s example, travel agents on fam trips can add significantly more value by tweeting about their experiences.

Travel bloggers

The travel industry can also sponsor trips for travel bloggers, an established community on Twitter, to market their hotels, tours or a destination in general, and provide feedback. Many travel bloggers on Twitter already have sizeable follower numbers and are seasoned in the workings of Twitter. The opportunities to showcase a product do not end on Twitter. Travel bloggers will be blogging about the sights, accommodations, food and their experiences. These articles are more often than not marketed on a variety of social media platforms like Twitter, facebook, Flickr and Stumble Upon. In addition, many bloggers also produce regular newsletters. Imagine the reach this will generate!

The possibilities for the travel industry (tourism bureaus, hotels, tour operators, airlines, etc..) to enlist the services of bloggers are endless: a new airline route, a (theme) day in the city, an event, a new tour, and many, many more.

What do you think?

Update (8th November 2009): Another excellent example of real-time marketing by a group of bloggers on a sponsored trip is currently underway. @PrincessCruises is hosting a group of US travel bloggers on a week-long cruise around the Caribbean. Check out the hashtag #FollowMeAtSea on Twitter for real-time reporting on the cruise. The publicity this trip is currently generating is massive. When the travel bloggers return home, more publications in blogs and newsletters can be expected.

Velvet Escape (@velvetescape) offers travel writing and travel marketing services while Velvet Connect (@velvetconnect) offers social media advisory, community-building/management and networking services.

10 Responses leave one →
  1. October 12, 2009

    I think using Twitter in this way is a ‘win’ for everyone.

    Travelers enjoy learning about destinations and/or living vicariously through the travel of others. They can do so in real time with Twitter.

    Agents can use Twitter to share their travels, differentiate themselves from other agents and develop loyalty with customers.

    Bloggers already tweet about our travels and travelers, our followers on Twitter, follow our trip and share in the experience. I have over 3000 followers. Because of the nature of our work, it is likely that most bloggers have more followers than agents do, so sponsoring bloggers to travel makes sense.

    Follow me on Twitter @solotraveler

  2. velvet permalink*
    October 12, 2009

    Thank you for your comment Janice. When I was on the Amalfi coast last week and sent various tweets and pics, my followers were re-tweeting my tweets and pictures. Many fellow Tweeps were as excited as I was about the sights. There are definitely opportunities for bloggers and the travel industry to collaborate. I too believe it would be a win-win proposition.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  3. Rachelle permalink
    October 12, 2009

    It’s so true! Everytime I go on a trip I tweet what I’m doing in real time. People enjoy following along like a mini-tv travel series on Twitter. I get great feedback on what to check out where ever I am traveling as well as a ton of questions from people following along. Twitter is a great way for companies in the travel industry to start a buzz.

    Great for @TravelDesigned to be in Maya Riviera! I was just there in August. Mexico needs some help overcoming the swine flu notices being blown out of proportion. I had a great time, didn’t get sick … didn’t even meet anyone that was sick. The beaches are gorgeous and the water as blue as the sky.

    –Rachelle
    aka @Travelblggr

  4. October 12, 2009

    In principal this is a great idea and I agree wholeheartedly. I’d like to add a few thoughts. We all know that not all writers and travel agents are born equal. And just because someone has a lot of followers doesn’t to my mind make them a good candidate for tweeting. I like to look at how the followers are acquired and whether these folks tweet and retweet with discretion.

    Then I put the responsibility into the hands of the PR and Tourism Boards. Sending out tweets about their destination is not enough. To be ahead of the game they should have their eyes wide open in terms of identifying candidates to sponsor and then …most importantly … will they encourage these reporters to tweet about the negative as well as the positive. And, when you, the writers, are guests will you feel uncomfortable tweeting about something that doesn’t appeal to you knowing that your host is reading your comments in ‘real time.’ It’s really hard for most people to be honest in this type of situation. This opportunity is not as simple as it sounds for both the writer and the destination.

    That said we should all be thinking about ways this instant travel reporting can take place honestly and how it can happen in a sponsored situation.

    Thanks for this post, Keith and for giving me the opportunity to think about it and comment.

  5. velvet permalink*
    October 12, 2009

    Thanks Evelyn for this wonderful comment. I do agree 100% with your thoughts. Not everyone can do it well and it is important to be selective. That’s where I see Velvet Connect playing a role – in recommending people who I know will do a great job in communicating effectively.

    About the ‘honesty’ factor. I thought very hard about it when I wrote this post and I took comfort in Stephanie’s tweets about having to pay significant sums for internet access at the resort. There should definitely be room for constructive criticism which both parties can discuss. I think the sponsoring party can definitely benefit from the feedback provided.

    Thanks once again for your comment. I really appreciate it.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. October 12, 2009

    Hi Keith,
    I recently was invited on a fam tour by Biltmore Estate to visit Asheville NC and of course tweeted about the experience. I think the trip was a valuable exercise for both myself and Biltmore. I had previously visited the city on a very short visit and felt that I had not had enough time to really experience everything. Biltmore was interested in an expanded review of their estate and the city.
    My one caution is the bloggers must clearly state when and if a trip has been sponsored and by whom.

  7. velvet permalink*
    October 12, 2009

    Hi Dian,
    Thanks for your comment. Agree with you there. It should be clear when a trip is being sponsored and I would add, the blogger should have sufficient room to also comment on less positive aspects (in a constructive manner).

    Cheers,
    Keith

  8. October 13, 2009

    I agree with Dian that writers would need to be honest and straightforward upfront about any comped stays/tours/meals they received. That said, this would give travel bloggers more fodder for their blogs, force hospitality services to up the ante and provide potential visitors/users honest critiques of the services and amenities they can expect to experience.

    Let me know if your idea goes anywhere ~ would love to be included on that list of trusted Velvet Connect travel bloggers. :)

  9. velvet permalink*
    October 13, 2009

    Hi JoAnna,
    Oh, you’re definitely on the list! :-)
    ps/thanks for the comment.
    Cheers,
    Keith

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