If a picture is worth 1000 words, how valuable is YouTube to your destination?

I recently read that YouTube is second only to Google in terms of where people search for information. Younger people talk about using YouTube and typing in a subject and watching the videos that appear, instead of doing a Google search. So I decided to try it. Look what came up when I searched for ‘Adirondack Hotels’. Now the Sagamore is a big property with lots of advertising dollars, but places like the Big Moose Inn are family run and are always budget conscious. And once you click on the property, there are additional videos to watch about the destination – you can really get a feel for the property by the videos and the comments. I worked at an old-time resort on Big Moose Lake called the Waldheim, which is still in operation. One of their guests has taken it upon themselves to produce a video of the Waldheim and post it. You can see that past visitors and staff have added their memories as well. And the Waldheim didn’t have to spend a penny.

So – two thoughts for today: if you are in the tourism industry, do a YouTube search on your business and destination, you might be surprised. Secondly, get a video camera and start shooting. Encourage your customers to do the same.

Social Media for Tourism Businesses- Ignore at your Peril

Newspapers, televisions, websites. At one time, all these means of communication were new and untested. People said they wouldn’t last, or they were a waste of time. Then they quickly became the preferred method of reaching out to new and existing customers and the advertising world changed. That is what is currently happening with Social media- sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Foursquare. Have you ignored them up until now or are you embracing them in your marketing strategies for 2010?

Many tourism  business owners say the same thing- I have no time. I am so busy running my business that I don’t have time to waste online looking at what everyone else is writing on their Facebook page, or tweeting about. However, that is where many of your customers are spending their time. Over 400 million people have a Facebook page and 50% of them check it at least once a day. Here are some other interesting facts about Facebook users:

  •  The 35-54 year old demographic is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in 2009
  •  The 55+ demo is not far behind with a 194.3% growth rate
  •  The 25-34 year population on Facebook is doubling every 6 months
  •  There are more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook
  • The largest demographic concentration remains the college crowd of 18-24 year olds (40.8%) which is down from (53.8%) six months ago.

Twitter is a fast growing application as well. People write short (140 characters or less) sentences, or share links to online information. The perception is that people just write silly things like “I am drinking coffee and reading the paper”. True, some people do, but I suggest getting an account and ‘follow’ people in the tourism industry such as  @usatourismboard, @travelmediaguru , @nytimestravel , @sallykberry (that’s me!)  and tourism businesses at your destination. You can establish yourself as an expert in your business sector, and have a new way to reach out to customers. Research has shown the websites that have links to Facebook and Twitter accounts are seen as more professional and reliable businesses.

These social media accounts are free and there are many organizations that are currently offering social media courses to help you get started. Set yourself the goal of becoming familiar with these applications before the end of the year and you will be giving your business a competitive advantage.

@Zappos and @dhbook- A social media marketing experiment

I recently received an email from one of my blog readers who told me she loves reading my blogs because she always learns something. Well, I will let you in on a secret – I am learning right along with you!  I often see an article or hear about something that catches my attention and I do some additional research and share it with you. Or something happens to me that I think will be of interest to everyone and perhaps give you an idea for your business. So thanks for the encouragement Lisa!  I hope you all find my blog helpful and are willing to share it with your friends and co-workers.

Today’s blog post comes from a Tweet I saw recently from Tony Hsieh ( pronounced Shay), CEO of Zappos. He has written a new book called Delivering Happiness, which will be coming out in June . In his post he asked bloggers to contact him if they would like an advance copy of the book in return for reviewing it on their blog. I clicked on this link and filled out a simple form describing my blog content. I was also impressed with the webpage- a countdown to the book launch, and social media links to the book’s own Facebook and Twitter pages.

Well, I received my copy in the mail yesterday! What a nice surprise! So of course I sent out a Tweet mentioning that fact, as did many other bloggers who received their copy. The Facebook fan page for Delivering Happiness already has more than 670 fans and the Twitter page has over 1500 followers!  The book is being released on June 7th-a little over 6 weeks away. I think this will be a classic case of Viral marketing  that will be talked about for years. Think about it – he has leveraged social media efforts to get everyone speaking about the book. There is no real cost to his Twitter and Facebook efforts, and the blogger’s participation is only the cost of an advance copy of the book. We will all be blogging about the book the week of June 7th. There is no need to ask bloggers to only say positive things about the book- Tony knows that one of the strengths of social media is that everyone is allowed their opinion. And negative reports will be just as valued as the glowing reviews – it will show there is a democracy in this project.

So this is a great marketing strategy to watch. Strategies like this take time and planning but are the future of companies like yours and mine.  Look for my post on this book the week of June 7th . I can’t wait to start reading!