Youth Marketing Insights » tripadvisor http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 How Social Media Made – and Saved – My Trip http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/06/03/how-social-media-made-and-saved-my-trip/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/06/03/how-social-media-made-and-saved-my-trip/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2009 01:57:37 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=111

So part 2 of my travel posts, this time I wanted to focus on the role of social media in travel, at least as relevant to my trip (it is my blog after all).

I think this is really interesting trend, WOM recommendations are the most useful when travelling and the interactive nature of social media is escalating access to this sort of information. I found it incredibly useful in the planning of my trip, avoiding tourist traps, booking our “flashpacker” places, and now sharing about my trip with friends.

To put it in context in my recent travels through Vietnam – a vastly developing tourist destination – we found it hard to find information in some of the more traditional outlets – guidebooks, travel outlets and writers, we didn’t even try walking into a travel agent. While of course we had our trusty Lonely Planet, many a backpacker’s bible, from what we could gather it was published in 2007. That is a long time in a country like Vietnam. Restaurants were closed, prices astoundingly higher, places touristed out to the max. While it remained very useful in terms of identifying regions to travel to (and love the sayings in the back…and the “notes” pages, how many card games did we keep track on that?!), we ended up double and then triple checking references through other sources – most notably online (wikitravel, tripadvisor, travel blogs, etc), as well as good old fashioned chats with people we met along the way – on and off line.

Below I have shared a few specific times when Social Media made (and sometimes SAVED) my trip:

  • It’s real time. When we went to Cat Ba Island to go trekking, of course it rained for several days straight so we could not access the trail we had intended. However never fear because one drizzly morning we met a couple of Swedish backpackers who put us on to a blog (cna’t remember the name for the life of me!) that recommended a nice motorbike ride that we could still check out some amazing panorama views. We downloaded the customised map and off we went. Few channels – specifically online and in-person – can have that real time advice.
  • Often disagree with a reviewer. One review (ie in a guidebook or newspaper article) is subjective, that is why I like to read many reviews. On sites such as tripadvisor or Travel Fish (for SE Asia) I found it is easy to discern from tones or content of reviews which you most identify with. To me certain things matter in flashpack hotels – clean bathrooms for one. I don’t care about the continental breakfast – so if someone is banging on about paying a few dollars for brekkie – I skip right on. I felt I knew exactly what I was getting into when I walked into every hotel.
  • Connecting with locals. Social Media has opened our borders far and wide – who knew until I posted my trip to Vietnam I had not 1 but 2 followers that live there! One gave me some great advice for cocktails when landing in Saigon. Another Aussie friend of mine sent me the name of a few tailors in Hoi An from her trip. This I realised only at the end of my planning when I posted status updates that I was leaving….next time I will do this more thoroughly and search by location on social media sites to reach out.
  • Bragging…I mean sharing. And for my final Vietnam Travels post (coming next week), I will provide links to my Flickr pages so I can share with others via my blog, Twitter and friends networks my experiences as well. More to come on this front…..

There has been for quite some time now discussion of how valuable social media channels are in regards to marketing for travel organisations. In fact there are excellent examples such as the power of strategic blogger outreach programs including Tourism Australia who invited The Sartorialist to come play Down Under, promoting the location; activities, weather, etc via Twitter updates (@The_Maldives); or marketing campaigns such as the great example from Tourism Queensland for The Best Job In The World. However what is exciting is some of the advancements in how to monetise this engagement, which seems there is more activity and examples of happening already. It will be interesting when the tools and software can search out the greater web to find people planning or discussing a trip to customise relevant information. Imagine if I post on my Facebook that I’m leaving for Whistler in 3 days and a hotel chain in Canada can monitor my post and follow-up with relevant information on deals and transport when I land, maybe even suggest an dinner reservations? This intelligent targeting really highlights the power and potential to drive revenue through the social web. I know that this is happening now, especially on platforms such as Twitter, take for example Air New Zealand which notifies followers of flight deals (ie @flyairnz) and partner deals. I’m surprised more don’t do this already…..OR maybe the problem is I don’t travel enough….think I have just worked out a way to justify some work trips as “research” :)

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