Travelling is an intensely social activity- it’s all about getting out and interacting with the world- and with other travellers- so it is no surprise that travel has become an important part of Web 2.0 social networking culture. Travellers will increasingly turn online for advice, recommendations and contacts provided by their fellow travellers and social network contacts. User generated travel content, reviews and information- often provided directly from travellers during their trip is seen as vastly more credible, reliable and personal than content from a travel supplier or destination website. You will find more and more clients are reaching you via links provided by members of their social networks.
The biggest and best social network for travellers is without doubt WAYN (Where Are You Now?)- which allows travellers to converse, share experiences and opinions online. This phenomenally popular site grew from 45,000 to 4.1 million members in one year (2006) and now has over 15 million members.
WAYN enables its users to create a profile and upload photos. Users can then search for like-minded travellers and link them to their profiles. Members can then send and receive messages to their online friends using email, discussion forums, eCards, SMS and WAYN instant messaging.
WAYN allows users to locate visually where each of their friends is situated around the world- and to thereby find out more about a destination they wish to visit, finding another member online from that destination and getting a first hand summary of what to do, what to see and what to consider when visiting, and they can also find out which friends have already visited a certain destination so they can get quick travel tips and ideas.
Trip Advisor specializes in travel reviews. The site allows users to both read user reviews of hotels and destinations and to publish their own- in order to make a much educated decision about where they stay and what they do. User reviews of this nature have become an integral part of travel research and sales and a positive Trip Advisor review is a powerful marketing tool- and a negative review can be an excellent way to be educate about your own product and address negative issues. The amount of reviews on the site rose sharply from 10 to 15 million in 2007-2008 and there are also now user voted awards programmes for destinations.
Many destinations are now partnering with Trip Advisor to access and utilize their reviews. Destination websites can now embed the latest travel photos and updated reviews in their own sites via a free, simple to use Review Widget.
Lonely Planet- best known for their budget friendly travel guides, have created an online forum for travellers called The Thorn Tree – named after the famous cafe in Nairobi where travellers leave messages for one another posted at the base of a tree, now re-created virtually. The focus here is on discussion on destinations and advice for fellow travellers, a trusted and powerful form of online word of mouth.
There are also links to related Lonely Planet guides and products for sale, travel stories and video- and to the highly successful Blue List. This feature allows users to give their recommendations for the best hotels, tours, destinations and experiences which can then be tagged and aggregated into “Best Of…” lists. Content can be searched by an easy, intuitive “tag cloud” system.
A good collection of blogs, searchable by destination or subject, can be found at Travel Blog complete with photos, forums and online services.
Backpacker Focussed Ball of Dirt lets independent travellers publish their itineraries online and update it along the way with blogs, maps, photos and video- and to stay in touch with friends and family at home.
For online tourism professionals- join TravelMole. This a global online community for the travel and tourism industry. Its aim is to bring together travel professionals by providing the relevant news and services they need in their day to day work. Their website provides travel and tourism professionals via daily trade news reports, networking and job opportunities, topical discussion, searchable archives and reference directories, as well as free newswire bulletins.
E-Tourism Frontiers Resources
Staying ahead of the game in the dynamic world of e-tourism can be a real challenge, especially for those of us in emerging markets. E-Tourism Frontiers aims to provide tourism and ICT professionals with the resources and guidance they need to succeed online. The material in this section is a general overview of the topics covered and resources provided in our training courses.
To gain full understanding and make maximum use of these resources, join on of our training seminars, which provide attendees with intensive hands training in online sales, marketing and management skills for both destinations and tourism companies. Our trainers are experienced professionals with extensive experience working in online tourism around the world, including first hand experience of working in emerging markets. We use live demonstrations of working websites and technologies and will give you the skills, resources and support to begin making changes to your business and use the web to improve your organization and business. For full information on our training seminars please see our training section.
The following is a basic overview of the topics that we cover, complete with more information and advice on each area:
What Does Social Media mean for Tourism?.
Online Travel Trends.
Social Networking and Travel.
Travel Social Networks.
New Technologies for Tourism.
Customer Relations Management (CRM).
Gathering Customer Data.
Website Design & Management.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Content Management Systems.
E-TOURISM FRONTIERS Who We Are
E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world.
Our aim is to open the developing world’s tourism trade to the world of online travel distribution and marketing- a sector in which the region has been left far behind- with very little inventory available to the online travel shopper. This situation threatens the sustainability and diversity of Tourism and the communities and environment that it supports.
We hold pro-active business driven conference events and training seminars featuring leading online tourism companies, experts and trainers- as well as regional road-shows targeting the travel trade, destination managers and National and regional tourism offices in all emerging markets, including the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
The success of our events speaks for itself and is changing the way both the public and private sector do business, manage their resources and market themselves globally, and creating new business relationships with leading international players and technology providers. We work with a range of major international sponsors to be sure that these events are of the highest international standards, as well as accessible and affordable to the complete spectrum of tourism players, including Small to Medium Enterprise (SMEs), Community and Eco-Tourism projects.
Our sponsor partners to date have included major global brands includingMicrosoft, VISA, Safaricom, Vodacom and Coca-Cola and many more together with regional tourism and ICT authorities. Our events have been attended and opened by Ministers and Vice Presidents- and attended by a diverse range of tourism players, from Multinational CEOs to University tourism students.
This article is quoted from E-TOURISM FRONTIERS.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Magnussen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’. Please join the online Views On Tourism network and discussion group in order to achieve personal goals as well as encourage a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh and South Asia. Read more about this group and how to become a member here.