Twitter for Tourism

Coming off busy few months of speaking to groups about online marketing strategy, I must conclude that this year the big burning question is Why Twitter? The Facebook phenominon has continued to evolve. I remember when there were only one or two people in a room that would admit to being on Facebook. Now audiences happily admit to their addiction to and even share stories about their experiences and successes.

    The verdict is still out on Twitter it seems. Although we have run across some great Twitter success stories over the past few months, there are also some very confused marketers who are wondering why they signed up and what they are supposed to be doing there.

    Last week in Halifax, we met the tweeting “Hotel Dog” as an example (aka or @thehoteldog as she is known as in Twitterland) who is a chocolate lab at the Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has been tweeting now for a few months to a loyal following and is even now featured on the home page of the hotel’s main website .

    She gets fan tweets, fan mail, and has become an attraction unto herself at the hotel. Having a dog like Cocoa (her real life name) as a concierge also allows the hotel to engage with an audience of dog lovers who may also like to travel with their dogs. The Best Western Chocolate Lake is pet friendly of course. Now there is a great use of Tweeting in Tourism to engage a consumer audience!

    I too keep hearing the research that reports that only 5% or less of North American’s are actually active on Twitter and that other social media channels like Facebook continue to expand to audiences that now include all demographics etc. etc. (It has now been confirmed though that my 82 year old Grandma Ivy is not the oldest Facebook user in Canada – but she is one active social networker!)

    Interestingly I put a call out to my “tweeple” this afternoon asking the question (in 140 characters or less of course so please excuse the grammer)

    Tweet: “Looking for feedback…Twitter working for B2C or just a great place for networking and B2B? thoughts?”

    This is the beauty of Twitter – one can shout out to their peeps and get some great feedback fast. A second validation for Twitter to consumers came from the“>Fairmont Empress Hotel Tweeter who responded with the following via Twitter: “BOTH…success has to due with part instinct and part response. I get excited when I see RT of special offers & events posted.”
    With more than 900 followers I think it is working for Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel.

    Specifically I was looking for some comments about measuring the ROI of Twitter for a business to consumer audience. When we are asked in our workshops whether or not someone should be Twittering, the answer is always “it depends.” I can definately attest to the power of the Tweet for building professional credability, business to business networking, and for me and many of my fellow tweeters – fun!

    Then we come to the most recent news that Search Engines and will index not only Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages and profiles, but also Tweets and updates in the very near future.

    Wow – now there is a game changer!

    The implications to this are too much to discuss in one Blog post, but it will definately shake things up in the future for businesses that rely on the web to reach their consumers (are there any that don’t anymore really?) Check out this “Marketing on the smart web” Blog post by Joe Buhler who discusses some of the implications in some more detail.

    In summary – at this point I will stick to the mantra that you should not jump into any form of social networking intiative for business (or personal for that matter) without a full understanding of the channel and the people using it.

    But I will say that the indexing of real-time results from status updates and tweets is reason enough to take a good look at all social networking vehicles as perhaps a necessary marketing and PR focus in the future.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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