Like many industries struggling to adapt, travel is ideally positioned to leverage the emerging Web 2.0 trends to maximize what are typically tight budgets. The beauty of social media is the ability to harness the power of the community. What better marketers for a destination could be found than satisfied and converted visitors? I would say none. There is no more powerful recommendation than a referral from a trusted source. When you aggregate these individuals, what you have is a credible community. Steve Rubel, among others, notes the launch of yet another Travel 2.0 style website. Right now I’m seeing the creation of plenty of these kind of sites and likely there will be some consolidation and attrition as time goes on. What should travel marketers do?
While most traditional marketers are still discovering Search Engine Marketing, those with limited budgets and forward-thinking execs are already participating, creating, and aggregating within the new Social Media realm. These are the folks not committed to the status quo or tied to some arcane financial arrangement with a monstrous analog marketing and promotion program (old-style agencies, printers, truckers, mailhouses, call centers, etc.). Of course, the old media still has some relevance, but there is no doubt that those days are numbered.
There is the big fear of giving up control in what is a very comfortable one-way communication system. There is the fear of hearing “bad reviews”. There is the fear of having to become a real and credible expert. But mostly it is the fear of irrelavance. After all, with a community of real experts aggregating themselves, who needs a paid mouthpiece? The fact is, pushing out messages is over. We need to embrace two-way communication if we want to remain relevant destination marketers. It’s not like we have actual control of our products and services. What we can do is guide the conversation, position our brand within the universe of products, and take advantage of user-generated content.
Here are three articles which have really peaked my attention:
Embrace Fragmentation – The demassification of media is not something bad. After all, isn’t ‘target marketing’ something we are supposed to be doing? Web 2.0 can only make this activity more efficient.
The fabric of real communities in American life is slowly being rebuilt with virtual threads in online communities. Those threads are the building blocks of a new social ecology in which brands can both derive critical insight on consumer experience as well as serve as markers of identity in both the real and virtual landscapes. In combination with behavioral targeting techniques, these kind of data form living consumer profiles that can be mapped in digital media and mirrored in traditional media.
Will Social Media Optimization become mainstream? – Cameron ponders the future of Social Media Optimization and some of the obstacles that need to be overcome.
Get Your CMO to Spend More Online! – This is great for those that have yet to free themselves from the shackles of traditional media.