4 ways the tourism industry relates to hustling the web: Blog about the Travel Manitoba Conference

Posted by on Apr 13, 2011 in Uncategorized | 39 comments

I spent this past Monday at a Travel Manitoba Conference which brought together some of the leading minds in the tourism industry to speak with the stakeholders about how they canĀ  improve their businesses.

As a travel writer and someone that works with tourism companies on their marketing it helped to crystalize some of the timeless things that tourism operators need to consider.

1. Seek first to understand your visitor to improve their experience:

The owners of Meandher Creek Pumpkin Patch talked about how important it was to understands the wants, fears and worldview of their visitors. They had to figure out that an outhouse was inappropriate for school groups of 100 or more; they learned that parents fear losing their children in a field of corn so they installed an appropriate P.A. system. Another fear their customers had was, “will it be expensive,” which was addressed by a ‘la Carte pricing and clear posting of admission charges.

By putting themselves in the shoes of their visitors they were able to alleviate any concerns that visitors had which drove viewer visits and satisfaction.

The same goes for web strategy; understand your visitors, know their worldview, understand how they want their information delivered ( website, Facebook Page, mailing list ) and you are well on your way to making sure their experience is positive.

2. Let your guests tell their stories so that you can share yours: In tourism word of mouth advertising is the bomb!

It’s important to make visitors a part of a story; Keynote Speaker Nancy Arsenault talked about the Titanic exhibit in Victoria. Each person that enters the exhibit is given an identity of one of the people on board when the boat sank.

When you enter the exhibit you are given a boarding pass that tells you your name, where you’re from, your home etc. You can go and visit the room that you would be sleeping in and enjoy the same experiences.

After wandering around the boat you are forced to plunge your arm into an icy tub of water to simulate what it would’ve felt like to be submerged in the icy Atlantic.

At the end of the exhibit there are two giant lists on the wall; one side is for the living and the other is for those who perished.

These experiential based tourism activities are the types of events that you will discuss after the fact on our circle of influence both online and off.

Involve your visitors in the story there is a great chance that they will talk favorably about you amongst your friends.

KLM is doing a great job of this on their Facebook Page by encouraging people to share their stories about their best bike adventure and offering free flights. Restaurants can do this on Twitter by letting their Followers choose a new menu item or what band should play on the weekend.

3. People don’t travel because hotel beds are comfortable; they go because they have an emotional need:

No one goes to Vegas because of the buffets. They go because they have an emotional need to connect with their friends, disconnect from the real world and have wild times that they will always remember.

When someone comes to your zero-footprint eco-resort they are coming because they want to make the world a better place, meet like minded people and enjoy a vacation while leaving a positive legacy to the area they are visiting.

These rules apply on the web as well. People head to Twitter because they have an emotional need to connect, learn and discuss. People watch your viral Youtube video because they want to laugh. Examine your visitors emotional needs and satisfy them. That’s how you win.

4. Part of what we must do to create world class tourism offerings is to believe that you can and have the vision.

Back to my friends at the Pumpkin Patch. Their business is located on a farm 100 KM from any serious population ( Brandon pop. 50,000 ) but they have managed to create a sustainable business that attracts thousands of people every weekend during the fall.

No focus group or business plan would have ever said that this type of endeavour would have ever worked. But because the founders had a vision and a belief, they were able to create it. They didn’t put up another mini golf course and batting cage just because that was status quo for tourism over the past thirty years. They believed in something bigger and better and made it happen. Barely anyone grew wine in the Okanagan; it was all fruit.

Someone believed in it and now the wine industry is one of the most important economic drivers in the area.

This relates to the web because often clients come to people like me because their old ideas and concepts are no longer effective. When creating an internet strategy its important to think out of the box, WAY out of the box sometime. The guys at Blendtec who blends iPhones with their blender certainly were navigating uncharted territory when they produced their first video.

Status quo often needs to be changed.

A few other random points that I would like to share:

2 / 3 of all of your brands touch points come from other people and word of mouth. This means that most of your PR efforts are being performed by other people. Are you giving your fans an easy way of making this happen. Do you offer your visitors the ability to easily share a blog post? Do you have a video of your product so one of your super-fans can send their friends an easy to consume example of your product in action.

Mine Flickr or Google Images to find out what experiences people that visit your area. enjoy. Click the above link and you will see the search results from Manitoba Tourism on Google Images. You’ll see polar bears, The Forks, Northern Lights, Boreal Forest, Churchill, fishing and beluga whales. We could’ve done a study group but I’d say that those are the things people cherish and remember about our province.

Mexican Perogies. Holy shit. Refried beans with Bothwell Cheddar Jack Cheese deep fried and dipped in Sour Cream. Sooooo good. Coming to a table near me very soon.

Thanks to Travel Manitoba for a great conference and all the interaction from my people on Twitter including @bdnebrown , @Therielsharon , @Denezy , @Catenrmnp , @shelzelkowich , @tourismdauphin , @roncantiveros , @carsonsamson , @bridgemktg , @Kharazny for connecting with me that day on Twitter.

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