My presentation at WTM 2011 (image courtesy of Oliver Gradwell)
On 7th November 2011, I gave a presentation at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London about the value that travel bloggers can provide to the tourism industry to help increase brand visibility and sales. My presentation was part of a session organised by Travel Bloggers Unite and WTM, and I was honoured to share the floor with Janice Waugh from the Solo Traveler blog and Jaume Marin from the Costa Brava Tourism Board.
After several years of attending WTM as a travel blogger and having the feeling that I had to knock down walls to get heard, WTM 2011 turned out to be an uplifting experience. Judging by the enthusiastic response to my presentation, it’s clear that the value proposition offered by social media, and specifically, travel bloggers, is starting to turn heads in the tourism industry. For the first time at WTM, presentations and panel discussions on social media and blogging were included in the official WTM programme. The response was quite overwhelming: my session with Janice and Jaume was oversubscribed and many people were turned away. For those who didn’t get to attend the session, here are my slides, including a short explanation for each slide:
Slide 1: Travel bloggers are multi-skilled and driven by their passion for travel
: The #Tuscanyblogtrip in March 2011 is a good example of a small project that reached a global audience. Organised by a social media consultant/blogger
based in Milan and Casa Gentili
, a bed and breakfast near Pisa, five travel bloggers, including myself, tweeted and blogged our way through Tuscany. Our tweeting grabbed the attention of our global audience as well as the local media. We were in the newspapers before long. An excellent example of the reach that social media can provide was our cooking course: we tweeted as we followed the course, taking turns to knead, take pictures, mix the sauces and chop vegetables. Our tweets received 225,000 impressions and we replied to questions via Twitter from followers in Colombia across to South Korea! Our blog posts were published in the next few months. Some of these were featured by National Geographic Intelligent Traveler, Lonely Planet and EasyJet.
Slide 3: An increasing number of people search the internet and social media for articles on personal travel experiences when they research their holiday. Having an online presence, as blogs do, ensures longevity of the content and makes it searchable. In this example, a guest on board an Alaska cruise tells Frommer’s how he researched the cruise beforehand and found Velvet Escape blog posts about the cruise via Google.
Slide 4: Search engines increasingly base search result rankings on social media mentions (i.e. how often a page has been tweeted, liked or +1′d). As travel bloggers promote their posts via social media, many of their posts rank high in certain search results (depending on the targeted keyword/phrase). Collaborating with travel bloggers provides the tourism industry with a great opportunity to ensure that search results for their destination include high-quality, relevant articles that accurately describe the experience.
Slide 5: Travel bloggers can also help to influence consumers’ decision-making via interactions with their readers on their blog or social media. The example given is my tweet from the #InCostaBrava blog trip. One of my followers asked me several questions about the restaurant, then made a booking to celebrate his wedding anniversary there. Another example I provided was a lady who asked me about the Alaska cruise (where are the quietest cabins? What is the food like? What is the level of fitness required for the shore excursions?) before she made her booking.