Tag Archives: eTourism Summit 2014

eTourism Summit 2014 Takeaways

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The “fire hose of information” delivered at #eTS14 is not meant to put fires out, but rather to start more fires burning. Stoke your at-home fires with these top takeaways curated from 22.7K Twitter impressions across the cyberspace that was #eTS14.

Thunderous themes:

  • Be human, not corporate
  • Interact with people
  • Be a story instigator; content is still king
  • Mobile, mobile, mobile
  • China, China, China
  • Music videos: the next frontier for DMOs
  • Free FB lunch is over; use pay-to-play wisely
  • Empower the under-35s 
  • Re-visit and prioritize your SMART KPIs
  • Steal good ideas and scale them to suit

More Key Learning Points

Social Media Platforms

Facebook: Reachpocalypse is real and can only be fought with a compelling content strategy directed at sharing by a committed fan base. Be conversational, use other people’s good content, feature outstanding visuals of food and scenery. Watch for organic to drop to zero and a buy button to appear.

Twitter: is growing up fast. It’s fundamentally changed how we watch TV to make it interactive in real time, explains Brian Carr. One billion conversations are happening every 48 hours; 280M users will likely peak at 300M and 78% use on mobile will rise to 81%. Promoted tweets by keyword and tailored audiences mean it’s time to strategize on a clever campaign. Use Twitter analytics and experiment with Twitter Cards to drive traffic to your website, Lead Generation Cards to capture user interest and emails, App Cards to prompt a download. 

Pinterest: resonates as a visual bookmark which has key impact during dreaming stage. Different to other channels, it’s not about past or present, but future. Works best when you think of your content as actionable, creating travel tips, itineraries, must-dos, free things, etc. It’s OK for a business to start with 24 boards, populated with 20 vertical images on rich pins. Enid Hwang’s tip: omit hashtags, they may penalize you. 

YouTube: 71% of travel searches on YouTube are for specific destinations, trumping search at 58%. Seeing Y-o-Y growth at 179%. Destinations and attractions account for 40% of all travel video views. Talk to your visitor centers, address what people want to know when developing video content. Google’s Shaun Aukland says, “Video is the next frontier.”

Google: Importance of search through the five stages of travel: Inspiration/Planning/Booking/Experiencing/Sharing. Note that if all advertising were to move to mobile-only, that’s OK, since 50% of all travel-related searches are now on mobile. “The importance of mobile is the single most important thing you can take away from this conference,” suggests Shaun Aukland. He emphasizes that the  “under-35s understand this stuff naturally,” and management from the governor’s office right on down should “listen to them, give them budgets and let them lead.” 


  • Best-practice example: Memphis video kills it in one minute with poetry and a voice over that rivals Richard Burton. – (filmmaker Peter Bragiel, In Transit)
  • Audio is 50% of your presentation. Use music to convey desired mood of video. – (Marla Johnson, Aristotle)
  • The story must be the foreground, the destination is the background. There’s nothing unique about eating out, a nice glass of wine, a swimming pool. Golfers already know where the golf courses are.
  • Remember that Vimeo is where Millennials are hanging out. “Subscribers are currency. Forget views. It’s about how many people have relationships with you.” – (Peter Bragiel, InTransit)

      *  “What are your top 10 Google and YouTube searches? Are you answering those questions with video? Start.”  – (Shaun Aukland, Google) 

  • You can even do it in-house. Too many ideas? Break up the topics into short, separate videos.
  • “Must. Do. More. Video.” – (Melia Dicker, Visit Mississippi)
  • “Like a home video?” Fly the producer over!” – (Peter Bragiel, InTransit)

Social Media & Advanced Social Media Marketing

  • Create a social media culture in your organization. Your chief storyteller and best brand ambassador may be sitting right next to you. – (Gathan Borden, Visit Louisville)
  • Get to your community’s bloggers. You don’t have to be first to the punchline, but do pass the good stories along.
  • Join the Instagram conversation. Among Millennials with smartphones, 43% are using it. Thursday is the biggest day. – (Katie Cook, Visit Austin)
  • “What’s even better than targeting your customer? Finding other ones just like them.” – (David Fluegge, Colorado Tourism)
  • Keep your Facebook and personal pages separate. Business Manager is the solution. – (Josh Collins, Visit Williamson County)
  • Start “thinking like a publisher.” Facebook is. – (Mo Sherifdeen, Travel Oregon)
  • Advanced analytics, custom audiences, lookalike, tracking pixels, using your own mailing list: tools are your friends. “Spray & Pray approach won’t work.” – (David Fluegge, Colorado Tourism)
  • “Native beats banner.” – (Jessica Cox, MMGY Global).  Native advertising is here to stay, so join the crowd, use it wisely. – (TJ Salo, DreamPlanGo)
  • Focus on one KPI at a time or you’ll end up achieving nothing. – (Tess McBride, Sparkloft Media)
  • Consider targeting email unsubscribers to continue conversation elsewhere on social. – (David Fluegge, Tourism Colorado)

       *  “A sense of place is the filter I put every piece of content through. How strongly does it evoke a destination?” – (Talia Salem,  Brand USA)     

Attractions Social Marketing

  • Change happens. “Be tolerant of chaos.  Let the ground move under your feet every single day.” – (Geoff Drake, Monterey Bay Aquarium)
  • Make your organizational chart flat. Employees such as mountain climbers and aquarium explainers are hearing fabulous comments from the public every day. Use compelling, appealing assets from the top of the world to the bottom of the ocean. “Cute baby otters works, too.” – (Geoff Drake and Theresa Ho, Yosemite DNC)
  • Attractions now have the upper hand with flash sale sites. – (Bob Schwartz, Boston Duck Tours)

       *  Vary your content, tone of voice, even grammar and punctuation for each social media platform according to user demographics. It works. – (Amie Wong, California Academy of Sciences)     

  • Mobile bookings means massive opportunities in the tours and activities space, even a storefront within the app. – (Michael Berman, Peek and Alex Bainbridge, TourCMS)

Small Budgets, Limited Resources

  • Maximize Twitter hashtags, Instagram and Pinterest when there’s no money. – (Leslie McLellan, San Jacinto Valley CVB)
  • Video need not be expensive. Maintain the rights and use contest entries.
  • Q: If you could have only one staffer on social media, what skill set? Designer? Photographer? Writer? A: “Don’t overlook a sense of humor.” – (Marla Johnson, Aristotle)  Tip: Check out graduate school of journalism students to find all 4-in-1.
  • Prioritize your channels, prioritize mobile.
  • Develop a tone of voice. (Tucson got 824% FB organic reach with “Advice From a Cactus” post.) Use other people’s content. (ScenicWA got 2500% organic reach with one-a-day image feeds.)

MICE Marketing

  • Look in the right place. You’ll find this audience on LinkedIn. – (Mandy Volpe, UniqueVenues)
  • Use website landing pages for specific types of meetings.
  • Push notifications will be the email marketing of tomorrow.

Experiential Travel

  • The sharing economy is here to stay. Embrace it, work with it.
  • Restaurateurs see EatWith.com as complimentary (appreciation of good food and company), not competitive. – (Guy Michlin, EatWith.com)
  • International visitors wanted to “live like a local.” Now they want to “meet the locals.”
  • The physical distribution of Airbnb changes a visitor’s experience with a destination, since they primarily live an average of 5 days where hotels are not found. – (Andrea La Mesa, Airbnb)

Out-of-the-(Tool) Box Thinking

  • We have street view. We have satellite view. Why not drones? Drones are the something in-between. 
  • Not perfect is the new perfect on Snapchat. You don’t have to maintain the image of a perfection to get engagement. Watch developments: Snapchat Stories, Our Stories and Snapchat geotags…not to mention ads. – (Martin Stoll, Sparkloft Media)
  • Bitcoins have a higher and more steady demand than Expedia anticipated, and “none of us should be ignoring this innovation.” – (Michael Gulmann, Expedia Media Solutions)
  • Google CEO recommends Googlers to work one day/week out of mobile exclusively. Grounds the consumer experience, invites innovation. – (Shaun Aukland, Google)

Media Buying

  • “Data and creativity are the Montagues and Capulets of advertising. They’ll start working together with formidable results.” – (John Durham, Catalyst S+F)
  • “Mobile advertising is in its infancy,” at currently only 2% of all ads. – (Scott Swanson, Opera MediaWorks)
  • Fasten your seat belts, but you don’t have to drive your data as crazily as the big box retailers do. – (Chris Smuthy, Sojern)
  • “The real purchasing strategy lies in the why and the how – not the where and the who.” – (Sabrina Wilson, Ad+Genuity)
  • Evaluate ROI during campaign, not just at completion.
  • Use call to action words appropriately; different ones apply to awareness, inspiration, consideration, activation, re-living.
  • “Invest in storytellers. In Louisiana’s best content, you can just smell the food.”- (John Durham, Catalyst S+F)

“There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.”Nicholas Butler Murray (1862 – 1947) educator, former president of Columbia University

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Filed under Attractions marketing, Digital Tourism Marketing Trends 2015, DMOs, eTourism Summit San Francisco, Facebook, Google, Instagram, KPIs, Native Advertising, Pinterest, Snapchat, Social Media Platforms, Storytelling, TripAdvisor, Twitter, YouTube

Contribute to the Countdown: eTourism Summit 2014


We’re adding daily updates to our digital pointers list called “60 Ideas and Tips for the 60-Day Countdown,” leading up to the 15th Annual eTourism Summit, October 8-9, 2014.

In case you’ve missed any of the latest tidbits…or, even better, if you’ve got one to share, get in touch on our Facebook page.

53 Days To Go: Forget About Free Lunch

Facebook executives state it succinctly: “Think of us as a publisher.” That’s pretty darn clear.

52 Days To Go: Always Live in Beta

Shifting sands. Just when you think you get it, they’ll change it. As Lee McCabe, head of travel at Facebook said, “If it works, it’s obsolete.” Clearly applies to Google and the other platforms.

51 Days To Go: Manage Masterfully

This stuff is not for interns. “Social media coordinators need the skill set of a Harvard MBA grad…who can juggle, too,” according to Martin Stoll, Sparkloft Media.

50 Days To Go: Stake Out Your Space

Are you joining our Attractions Track? Make sure you do these 3 things: “Claim your free real estate on: 1) Google Places with photos, 2) video for 360º Google Maps Business View and 3) optimized mobile.” – Shaun Aukland, Google Account Executive.

49 Days To Go: Play it Again

Destinations can rock by attracting viewers through music videos. Marla Johnson at Aristotle Inc. works with DMOs and a Grammy-winning songwriter to develop great original tunes.

48 Days To GoSharpen Your Pencil

Content Marketing in 2014 is as different from Content Marketing in 2013 as day is from night.

47 Days To Go: Rope Them In

Visit Tucson generated a remarkable 400% organic reach via Facebook using a post featuring dude ranches. We’re going to find out how.

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The Countdown Begins













Among all the conversations and interviews, RSS feeds, emails, tweets and Facebook content that reaches our desks everyday, a few simply stated pearls of wisdom shine more brightly. These are the gems that steer us as we collaborate with experts on our forward programming to #eTS14.

That’s why we’re curating “60 Ideas and tips for the 60-Day Countdown” leading up to the 15th Annual eTourism Summit, October 8-9, 2014.

Attendance update: As of today, we have 16 spots left for eTourism Summit.

In case you’ve missed any gems this week…or, even better…if you’ve got one to share, get in touch on our Facebook page.

60 Days To Go: Locals = Organic Engagement

There they are! Just look out your office window. Residents of your own fair city are evangelists-in-the-making, as we heard from Seen in Cincinnati and Montreal Moments at #eTS13.  Allison Cooper, Visit Tucson, puts it well, “Your target market for Facebook fans are locals with civic pride who like to brag about where they live to their out-of-town friends.”

59 Days To Go: How to Find New Influencers

A wise suggestion from Nate Huff, Miles Media, “Harness the power of your community. Underemployed event planners, bloggers, photojournalists and videographers make great partners.”

58 Days To Go: Curate Like You’re Hanging Art at the Met

Like a museum, it’s not about filling halls and walls. “Curate your content like a museum would. What you don’t post is as important as what you do post,” points out Martin Stoll, Sparkloft Media. Free lunch is over; you’re paying to distribute your news. “Look at your social media platforms as niche publishers,” is the advice direct from Facebook executives.

57 Days To Go: Top Trends for 2015 from MMGY’s Media Supervisor

MMGY Media’s Jessica Cox calls out these 2015 “trends that continue to change the way we plan, buy and consume media.” She foresees an even bigger focus on Attribution, plus continuing conversations around Viewability, Cross-platform media, Native advertising, and Programmatic buying. Are you ready?

56 Days To Go: How to Budget For Interactive Marketing in 2015

According to Lynn Carpenter, Chief Marketing Officer for Visit California, it should look like: 70% spent on bread and butter proven programs; 20% on innovative new ideas and 10% on bleeding edge experimental programs. Does that formula work for smaller DMOs and attractions as well?

55 Days To GoWhat About Facebook and Real Time Comms?

Krupa Patel, Facebook, hinted that “B2C two-way communications is a future Facebook strategy.” Does this mean Facebook engagement evolves to brands communicating with followers via real time chat on Facebook Messenger? What will it cost?

54 Days To Go: Do You Eat Wheat?

“Programmatic buying is the gluten of advertising.” It’s a buzzword everybody uses, but few understand, according to Jimmy Kimmel (who is not a speaker at #eTS14!) as reported in AdAge. Could programmatic buying have different meanings for different uses?

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Announcing a Facebook ‘Post with the Most’ Competition







Enter the search for the Facebook post with the best organic reach

(Photo: Gunnar Richter)

(Photo: Gunnar Richter)

SAUSALITO, CA — The 15th Annual eTourism Summit held in San Francisco on Oct. 8-9, 2014 is launching a competition among its delegates to find the Facebook post with the highest percentage of organic reach. 

The prize winner receives a complimentary registration to eTourism Summit.*

Since Facebook’s latest algorithm changes, reports abound that organic engagement has plummeted.  However, several organizations are reporting that they have been able to sustain, even to grow beyond pre-2014 levels.

“Many marketers have the wrong followers for the algorithm changes, or the wrong content or both,” stated Jake Steinman, CEO of NAJ Group, which produces eTourism Summit. The contest invitation to delegates is now open.! We’re looking forward to your entry.

Competition Guidelines:

1. All entries must include a PDF screen capture of the Facebook post as well as the Facebook insights results.  

2. Reach must be purely organic and cannot include paid boosts.

3. Eligible entries must include posts that were uploaded after April 1, 2014.

4. Must be a destination, hotel, or attraction with a minimum of 3,000 Facebook followers. 

5. Winner determined by percentage of total followers reached per entered post.

Email one entry per organization to: jake@visitnaj.com by July 31, 2014.

 *In the event that the winner is already registered for eTourism Summit 2014, a credit for the same value toward a future registration or the option to bring a colleague to #eTS14 will be extended.





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eTourism Summit 2014 Expands its Attractions Track

At eTourism Summit, we’re continually staging a full-blown “Listening Tour” to stay a beat ahead of whatever’s coming down the pike before it reaches the junction of DIGITAL MARKETING and TOURISM. Our delegate feedback from last October signals a green light on expanding the Attractions Track at #eTS14.


The Magnetic Attraction of Attractions and Q&A with Viator

 Over the course of our lifetimes, the world’s greatest attractions have come to realize that simply unlocking the doors in the morning is no replacement for a marketing strategy.             

 In other words, they used to think that if people cared about the treasures of the Louvre, the depths of the Grand Canyon or the mystery of Stonehenge, they’d just show up. 

These days, attractions marketing is a great deal more sophisticated than printing a brochure and running a gift shop. However, one thing hasn’t changed: Attractions attract. 

With a Finger on the Digital “GO” sign

We spoke with Kelly Gillease, Vice President Marketing at Viator to learn more about the latest.


We’re pleased to begin by recognizing and thanking Viator for their sponsorship of the Attractions Track at the upcoming 15th annual eTourism Summit.

eTS:  Kelly, tell us about how you came to Viator. 

KG:  It was a sequence of internet startups, from Hotwire to Expedia through its acquisition of Hotwire, then to Yahoo that led me to Viator, which was funded and poised for expansion in 2005. 

eTS: What are the top three trends attractions should be most aware of in their marketing?Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 12.19.05 PM

KG: There are currently two topics that outrank any others. 

First, in the decision and buying process, the shift to mobile is absolutely essential of as yesterday. Since travelers have a guide and a booking engine in their pocket, finding things to do has moved away from the desktop. 

Second, attractions should harness the power that mobile provides once visitors arrive. While I have seen some attractions do a good job of this, I’ve never seen one who has done an excellent job. Attractions should start with free Wi-Fi, and then be really smart about the possibilities of helping visitors to share their experiences online in the moment.     

eTS: What are the top challenges that attractions need to confront?

KG:  The quality of experience on mobile websites means attractions must think through the operational aspects, too. For example, printing and ticketing requirements need to be optimized and simplified.   

eTS: How can attractions better partner with hotels, activities, tours to sell more product?

KG:  We talk to lots of smaller attractions and non-profits that lack the immediate resources required for developing an app, producing multi-lingual landing sites, micro-sites and other opportunities that present as weaknesses. In partnering with Viator, for example, we can help them achieve better global distribution and get a slice of the big pie, which in turn creates sales and allows them to scale up over time.   

eTS: What’s new inside Viator in 2014-15 that you’ll be sharing with us in greater detail at the eTourism Summit in October? 

KG:  We’re looking forward to sharing details about better tech solutions for consumers to buy deals, sales and last minute tickets from the attractions we work with.  


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eTourism Summit and the 15 Year Itch

Cake Ingredients Credit: pfctdayelise via Wikimedia Commons

Personal musings on a milestone birthday

From  Jake Steinman, Founder and Chief Cakemaker

In 1999, TravelCom held one of the first web-centric technology and
marketing conferences.

The objective was to bring together all sectors of the industry in an
effort to understand how the worldwide web would affect the distribution
and marketing of travel products. Companies of the moment — Expedia,
Travelocity, AOL — plus new web crawlers like Yahoo! and Excite.com –
joined airline and hotel executives and 1,200 delegates to thrash it out.

Little did we know…what a difference 15 years makes.

I was there to learn how to market and improve content for our new B2B
website, www.thetouroperator.com, that aggregated trade
destination trade content for tour operators on one site.

We saw an opportunity for a niche conference focusing strictly
on tourism through the web, targeted at our existing client base of DMOs,
hotels and attractions. In its first year, the new eTourism Summit tapped
speakers from AOL, Expedia, Travelocity and Lycos, but managed to attract
only 39 paid attendees.

While we now run a sell-out conference, we don’t lose sight of our objective:
to feature cutting edge content presented in an intimate venue so delegates
can benefit from updates and exchanges delivered by a wide range of leading
experts in tourism marketing.

Here’s a preview of what we have in store for October 7-9, 2014,
when we look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

What’s New….Only at eTourism Summit

Happy 15th Birthday! Credit: Vikas Bhardwaj via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a tentative List of Topics to be covered at the 15th Annual eTourism Summit.
It’s a partial list of presenters…we’re still baking the birthday cake and straightening the candles.

What’s new in SEO & SEM: Laszlo Horvath, ActiveMedia
What’s new from Google: Shaun Aukland, Google
What’s new from LinkedIn: Gail Messick, LinkedIn
What’s new in Mobile: David Poteet, Nomad Mobile Guides
What’s new from Facebook Targeting: Jessica Roberts, Facebook
What’s New from Facebook Organic Engagement: Martin Stoll, Sparkloft Media
What’s new from Twitter: Brian Carr, Twitter
What’s new from Pinterest: Enid Hwang, Pinterest
What’s new in Email Marketing Techniques: Tim Brechlin, What Counts
What’s new in Attribution Marketing: Cree Lawson, Founder, Arrivalist
What’s new in Big Data for DMO’s Intent Marketing: Sylvia Weiler, Sojern
What’s new in B2B Marketing to Meeting Planners: Jeremy Fairley, DMAI
What’s new in Blogging: Catherine Heeg, Customized Management Solutions
What’s new in Snackable (6-sec.) Video: Ian Padgham, Origiful
What’s new in Responsive Website Design: Marla Johnson Norris, Aristotle
What’s new with Instagram: Elena Ferranto, Sparkloft Media
What’s new in Content Marketing: Chris Adams, Miles
What’s new from YouTube: Bing Chen, YouTube
What’s new in ROI Measurement: David Bratton, Destination Analysts
What’s new with International: Jiri Marousek, Brand USA
What’s new in Marketing to Chinese Visitors: Evan Saunders, Attract China
What’s new in Attractions Marketing: Kelly Gillease, Viator
What’s new in Reputation Management: Steve Paganelli, TripAdvisor

ALSO….Just Announced! 

Field Trip to Google HQ, Oct. 7: Optional pre-conference Field-Trip to Google’s HQ in Mountain View, CA, which will include a workshop, tour and lunch (approximately from 9:30am-4:00pm). Open to eTourism Summit paid attendees only. RSVP required, limited to 100 participants, first-come, first serve. CLICK HERE to RSVP, or for any questions.

Field Trip/Reception at Twitter HQ, Oct. 7: Optional pre-conference Field-Trip to Twitter’s HQ in San Francisco, CA, followed by a reception (field trip: 3:30-5:00pm; reception: 5:00-6:30 pm). Open to eTourism Summit paid attendees only. RSVP required, limited to 100 participants, first-come, first serve. CLICK HERE to RSVP, or for any questions.

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