Tag Archives: eTourism Summit

Why We Created DigMe

Midtown Manhattan and Central Park, New York City

#DigMe15: June 10-11, 2015,  Affinia Manhattan Hotel, NYC


Over the 15 years we’ve been producing eTourism Summit, we’ve observed evolutionary shifts in online marketing for the travel industry.  Critically, budget dedicated to digital marketing among attendees has crept up from zero to an average of around 40 percent. Meantime, organic engagement for SEO and social is plummeting down through the single digits.

Modern Maturity

Google, Facebook and other platforms have business models that built a critical mass base of users before lowering the boom by requiring us to pay to reach the same audience we previously reached for free. As each platform matures, an entire subset of new services offering sophisticated analytics, data tools as well as a slew of digital media providing measurement in granular detail try to enter the travel B2B marketplace.

It’s Complicated

What began as simple pay-to-play ad forms such as PPC search, banner ads and boosted posts, now includes video marketing, intent marketing, contextual marketing, data-driven marketing, aggregators and multiple forms of native advertising. They’re all sold by a bewildering number of “networks” claiming to have the best audience methodology for targeting travelers in various stages of the sales funnel. 

Many new platforms use an auction format enabling marketers to bid against one another to target various audiences. This looks like a mix of public exchanges, mobile advertising, private exchanges, attribution technology and trading desks, essentially algorithm-controlled robots. Together, all this has given rise to what is now called “Marketing Science” — which is programmatic buying, retargeting and ever more granular measurement that adjusts in real time. 

Traditional Agencies Losing Business to Specialists

Four industries with the highest online sales are travel, finance, automotive and retail. However, marketing travel stands alone, since it’s the purchase of an experience, not a product.

As performance-based marketing has grown, “traditional” agencies have lost their importance, especially in digital marketing, as they focus on the branding, campaign creation and buying media from existing sources with whom they already have relationships.  An ad agency media buyer, which is often an entry level position, can be tasked as gatekeeper of the media budget, but has very little knowledge of what works within the travel vertical and why. Their media buys often result in increased website traffic but the bounce rates can be 2-3X normal. 

In the last several months, scores of new companies have been knocking on the doors of travel marketers and their agencies, who for the most part, have neither the time nor the contextual understanding to evaluate them and their promises effectively.

Connecting the Dots

Our vision for DigMe is: A one-stop venue where travel marketers bring their agencies to get updates on the most important pay-to-play providers, as well as to evaluate new innovative technology and tools that will help them to “Spend Smarter.”

At the Heart of the Matter

While eTourism Summit draws on San Francisco’s energy as the epicenter of innovation, its DigMe spinoff puts roots down in New York City, at the hub of the world’s media ecosystem. There’s nothing else remotely like DigMe; it’s designed specifically for digital travel buying professionals. 

DigMe Format:

Day 1:

A full day of 15-20 minute presentations to provide updates from a well-curated group of digital marketing thought leaders and executives.

Day 2:

A deeper dive through concurrent sessions:

   Room A: Speed Dating for Information:  Attendees take 10-minute one-on-one appointments with digital media companies and qualified experts. 

   Room B: Rotating Round Tables: These are built around top specific pain point topics identified by delegates. 

Who Should Be There?

+ Independent hotel companies and their agencies
+ Attractions and their agencies
+ In-destination service companies and their agencies
+ Local sightseeing companies and their agencies
+ Dining and theater booking companies and their agencies
+ Cruise lines and their agencies
+ Destination marketing organizations and their agencies


Photo credit: Andrew Mace, flickr CC 2.0 license


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Latest Update: 16th Annual eTourism Summit 2015


We’re delighted to announce that eTourism Summit 2015 will be held on October 21-23, 2015 at San Francisco’s Wyndham Parc 55 Hotel, one minute from Market Street, two minutes from the cable car turnaround and three minutes from Union Square. Our negotiated delegate rate is $249, a good deal off the $344 daily rate showing for those dates. Registration is open with a super early bird offer.

We’re sharing more news from eTS today. Based on our latest Advisory Council meeting and your feedback from eTS14, we’re working on the following key topics and goals built around your “pain points.”

Increase Digital Marketing Budgets:

Help increase your digital budgets by launching an outreach to those higher up the decision chain: CEOs, CMOs, and Marketing Directors and their agencies. The focus is on providing them with better understanding of digital marketing and better resources to evaluate third party vendors. We’ll also include international boards from Asia Pacific Region who have U.S. West Coast offices.


We are in the process of creating a special pre-conference VIP day by invitation on Monday, October 21 for CMOs, CEOs and tourism boards to include:

  • Morning briefing at Google’s San Francisco office
  • Lunch and executive roundtable exchange at Airbnb HQ
  • Afternoon with Twitter
  • Evening: Bay Cruise (open to all eTS15 attendees)

Increase Networking at ETS:

Since networking is a key reason that people to attend eTS, we’re working on an optional 4-hour “UnConference” session, a brand new format in which participants design their own sessions around topics they choose. Yes, the inmates may be running the asylum…for four hours!


  • We’re working with a company now in stealth mode to debut their beta networking App that simulates Tinder for business. All eTS attendees will be able to easily find others based on specific preferences.
  • Bar Crawls: We’ll reserve spaces at some of the best bars within walking proximity of the hotel around specific topics so attendees with similar interests can meet one another.

Provide Complimentary Consulting Advice:


“DigMe” will be expanded to a full afternoon on October 23,  with tables provided for attendees to meet sponsors and experts in 1-2-1 appointments based on specific “pain points” they’ve provided in advance.

And, we’ll include website critique sessions based on consumer comments available to a limited number of attendees.

What’s Next:

  • The burgeoning field of Marketing Science
  • How Oculus Rift, recently purchased by Facebook, transformed British Columbia into a video game
  • New platforms like Imgur, now attracting over 140 million users/month

Lastly, to file under “You Heard it First Here” —

DigMe Takes On The Big Apple:

The “DigMe” spinoff of eTourism Summit rolls into New York City on June 10-11, 2015 at the Affinia Manhattan hotel.  Just as eTourism Summit updates attendees on all aspects of digital marketing for destinations and attractions, DigMe Summit will bring together experts and thought leaders focused on digital media and marketing science: Programmatic buying, retargeting, data driven marketing and measurement for travel.  Yes, it’s “Humans vs Robots.”

One of our targets will be the marketing/ad agencies with travel and hospitality providers — those that want to learn about the newest digital media options, updates from the key social and search platforms, trading desks, real time buying.

We’ll be asking you about your own agency during the next few weeks.

Until then, best wishes from our team to you and yours for this festive season and for a great start to 2015.  

Jake Steinman

Founder and CEO

NAJ (North American Journeys)

office: (415) 339-0578                  mobile: (415) 235-0724

www.thetouroperator.com          www.rtosummit.com 

www.activeamericachina.net      www.etourismsummit.com



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10 Top Reputation Tips from TripAdvisor

Interview with Andrew Wiens, TripAdvisor

At the eTS14 roundtable with Andrew Wiens, TripAdvisor

Based in Los Angeles, Andrew Wiens is International Sales Manager for DMOs at TripAdvisor, an eTourism Summit 2014 sponsor. His media background includes working with large country-level DMOs as well as with smaller city-level partners. We talked to Andrew, a self-admitted tech addict,  during eTourism Summit 2014 in San Francisco, where he offered the following short and sweet advice targeted at DMOs and attractions for good internet reputation management. Take ten from Andrew. 

Andrew Wiens, TripAdvisor

1.  Take ownership of your listing. It’s free and it’s easy.

2.  Upload quality photos; you simply cannot have too many.

3.  Respond to each negative review without being defensive. Shoot for 100 percent coverage.

4.  Recognize positive reviews with a genuine thank you. Aim for 30-50 percent as a minimum.

5.  Remember that you’re speaking to two audiences: the person who wrote the review as well as the rest of the world.

6.  Be original with every response to show you care. Never cut and paste replies.

7.  Match your tone of voice in a reply with the tone of the comment. Be formal when addressed that way, more relaxed when the writer’s style is informal.

8.  Be sincere. A sincere response to a negative review sets you up for an even better review.

9.  Don’t over promise. The fastest way to a crappy review is to over promise and under deliver. 

10. Be authentic. “Authenticity is everything. The second trust goes away, you’re the next Myspace and you’re gone.”

– Laurie Jo Miller Farr, contributor

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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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10th Anniversary of E-Tourism Summit To Be Held in…

New York, New York

E-Tourism Summit 2009 - New York

…New York, by a slim margin.

First, thanks to everyone who voted in our impromptu poll on the location of the 2009 E-Tourism Summit. While everyone is entitled to an opinion about where the tourism marketing conference should be held, the democratic, but unscientific, voting process helped us decide on a location.

As the polls closed last night at 5pm PST, NYC was ahead by a nose (51% to 49%) over San Francisco to be next year’s host for the E-Tourism Summit.

That got us thinking and considering the possibility of holding both an East Coast and West Coast edition of the conference. No final decisions have been made on dual shows, but consider this a “Save the Date” announcement that the 10th Anniversary of E-Tourism Summit 2009 will be held in New York City, tentatively at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, October 12-13th.

E-Tourism Summit 2009
October 12-13th
Marriott Marquis Hotel
New York City

Again, this is tentative and we will be providing additional details in the future. But for now, mark your calendars and add the conference in your travel budget…E-Tourism Summit 2009 will begin to take shape.

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E-Tourism Summit 2009 – San Francisco or New York

Thanks for voting, the poll has closed. It’s NYC by a nose…

According to most, this year’s E-Tourism Summit 2008 was not only a success, but also one of the highlights of the online marketing conference calendar.  With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that several of you have searched for various keywords such as ‘E-Tourism Summit 2009’ or ‘where is the 2009 E-Tourism Summit.’  In the interest of setting your calendar and travel dates for 2009, we need your help to determine a location for next year’s conference.

San Francisco or New York?

Let’s breakdown the options:

San Francisco: The unofficial home of the E-Tourism Summit and the NAJ Group, as well as the host for the 2008 edition of the conference.  Mild weather, great food and close proximity to some of the best interactive minds in the country.

New York: The unofficial capital of everything and an east coast location for the E-Tourism Summit, a plus for our friends back East.  Cooler weather in the fall, more great food and access to numerous Fortune 500 companies.

Which city would get your vote?  Pick your selection by using the poll option above.

Thanks for voting, we will see you in San Francisco…or New York.


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E-Tourism Summit Reviewed on Travel 2.0 Blog

Read the review of E-Tourism Summit on the Travel 2.0 blog…released today.

As most of you know, I had the pleasure of speaking at and attending the e-Tourism Summit last week in San Francisco.  So, for the readers of Travel 2.0 who could not be there or did not follow us on Twitter, we felt a quick review was in order.

Read the complete story on the Travel 2.0 blog.

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E-Tourism Summit Google Field Trip Photos

On tour at the Googleplex.

On tour at the Googleplex.

Last Friday a contingent of 25 E Tourism Summit attendees were hosted to a tour of Google headquarters and lunch at one of the 19 world class restaurants on the company’s Mountain View campus by Dan Greene and Paul Coutts, two of our E-T presenters from the Google Adwords Travel vertical team.

Whether it was having lunch in the main cafeteria, watching employees blow off steam playing beach volleyball or taking their dogs for a walk around the 23 building HQ, I couldn’t help but notice how much it resembled a college campus, only the people were YOUNGER…or at least seemed so.

Photos inside the buildings were forbidden, Tressia Gerhke from TravelPortland captured quite some of the ambiance and feel and her trusty camera and uploaded it onto snapfish.

Here’s the link to the photos. You’ll need to register.

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Email Marketing Club for E-Tourism Summit Attendees

I received this from Tressia Gerhke, online marketing manager of Travel Portland, and a fellow ETS attendee and wanted to share it.

Recently, I joined a group called www.emailmarketersclub.com. This is a group of over 1500 email marketing professionals worldwide where people can go for resources, networking, whitepaper resources and more.It’s free to join and I’ve found it to be a great resource to share my knowledge about email marketing with others and it’s also a great place where people go to get advice from a variety of people.


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Comments (Pros and Cons) about the E-Tourism Summit

Here are some preliminary comments we received from E-Tourism Summit attendees the day following the event.

You may also find comments from attendees that may have been slightly inebriated at the reception on our E-Tourism Summit YouTube channel.

As the organizer, I would rate the event a 6.5 to 7.0 on a scale of 10. Several of the presentations were uneven, which may have been my fault for not being more clear in the instructions that were sent to the speakers and, as you’ll see from the comments below, we took a bit of a drubbing for the room logistics.  That, we promise, will improve next time.

Your comments:

I found the information good but a little too basic in some cases. For next year I think some round-table discussions and more case studies wold be very helpful to CVBs. I really enjoyed Google. Thanks again for another good conference.

-Maresa Thompson, Interactive and Design Manager, Albuquerque CVB

Thank you for another fabulous Summit. This year’s event was wonderful and the presenters were all outstanding. If I had to critique one area which disappointed me, this would be my inability to take advantage of all three workshops. It was tough to have to choose just one when each were equally important to me.

We (Dave, JP and I ) look forward to seeing you again next year.

– Linda Davis, VP Hotel Marketing Group

I thought the conference was excellent and will immediately make sure we have budgeted to attend next year.  I’m looking forward to implementing the many great suggestions and strategies that were shared during the info-packed sessions.  My only complaints, if you can hardly call them that, is that I was brain dead by the second to the last session (one) and (two) I didn’t have any downtime to take care of business back on the east coast unless I missed part of a session (which I hated to do because the info was so valuable).

Your staff is outstanding. Liz was not only attentive in terms of the conference details; she also was a great ambassador for San Francisco.

I would recommend not providing tote bags as they are not necessary and wasteful; or perhaps providing eco-friendly bags that can be used for grocery or market shopping instead of plastic bags.

Thank you for a fantastic conference!

– Mary L. Fugere, CMP, CTIS, Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau

First of all, thanks to you for providing eBrains a great sponsorship opporunity…a great investment.  Looking at the conference from an attendee for a moment, I probably am passing on to you items that you have already heard, but just for the record.

Content was great…timely, relevant and targeted appropriately *If I’m a user, I think I would like to know a bit more about “what’s this going to cost me?”  I’d be interested to know if your attendees do want to know more about costs…

I know you already know this, but the room set up is really critical and having a room that is much more like where the luncheon was held, would make a better environment for folks.  We’ve all had those challenges.

– Larry Dickerson, Partner EBrains

This was the first E Summit for me and I enjoyed the content of all the sessions I attended.

I would suggest you hire a professional meeting planner to cure some of the logistical problems or at least pay more attention to some very practical issues which were wanting in this E Summit.  First, it is very frustrating to attend any conference where there are endless powerpoint presentations where the rooms are set up with rounds instead of classroom.  Half the people at rounds have to write on their laps or try to use the table while looking over their shoulders at the screen.

In addition, I enjoyed the hotel, but the meeting rooms were not adequate for the conference.  The problem of course is the dimension of the room for visibility of the screen and speakers.  You can’t be the distance from the front of the room that you had in your conference and still not have to look through rows and rows of people who are on the same level as you.  Squeezing everyone up close is a nice gesture, but not the cure.  Rent space meant to handle that size group with adequate AV dimensions so the people at the back can see just as well as those in the front.   I would also suggest that all the presenters provide their power points in advance and you print and include them in your booklet.  It is a lot easier to make notes on the powerpoint instead of trying to copy what is on the screen, take notes and try to listen to the speaker.  I know this was a tech type conference, but the low tech portion was a bit below what I expected.

My own needs were more than met with the substance of the sessions, I found the presenters to be at least average or far above, the commercial messages from each were tolerable.

I would attend again, if I knew you had cured the operational issues.

– David Rosenwasser,Director, St. Charles, MO CVB

This was our first time attending the Summit. I was looking for a “jump-start” into these topics, and your program really nailed it. Even though we are not a DMO or VCB, almost all of the content was applicable to our business — a domestic niche tour operator. The quality of the presenters was excellent, especially considering the relatively small size of the audience, and I made a few potentially valuable contacts. We’ll be back.

– Dan Wulfman, Tracks & Trails

It was so well done and a real “eye-opener” for me.  I can apply some of the points presented to my day to day operations of both departments that I direct. An educational program that makes a mark!

Kudos to you and staff.

– Sandy Leucania, Daytona Beach, CVB

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