1, 2, 3, 4,000,000,000

August 12, 2009

If you’re not convinced by social media or fail to see what the fuss is about, check out these numbers, taken from a presentation by Craig Thomler.
•    2/3 of the global internet population visit social networks
•    Visiting social sites is the 4th most popular online activity – ahead of personal email
•    Time spent on social networks is growing at 3x the overall internet rate
•    There are 3,600,000,000 pictures on Flickr (about 1 photo for every 2 people on the plant)
•    Twitter grew by 1382% from Jan 2009 to Feb 2009
•    We spend 5,000,000,000 minutes on Facebook each day
•    If Facebook was a country, it would be the 8th most populated in the world

Social media websites are replacing traditional leisure outlets – TV, press and magazines. You can’t ignore the numbers, social media is big.

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Hotel search comes to Twitter

August 5, 2009

If you think Twitter is just for aimless chat and has little or no business value, the launch of a new hotel finder application called TwiHotels might change your mind.

The premise is simple: use the pull down boxes at TwiHotels.com to build your search, which is automatically posted to your Twitter profile. The idea is that your followers see your query and post suggestions based on their experience.

Their followers can join in, and you receive a range of hotel suggestions built on real-life feedback. You can read more about the possibilities here.

So let’s take this one step further.

An application that searches Twitter for comments about hotels that suit your search requirements can’t be too far away.

An app like this will combine the power of an aggregator like Hotels.com, with the independent reviews of TripAdvisor – powerful stuff.

So what are you doing to make sure you’re represented on Twitter?

Social Media breathes life into the traditional travel press

July 15, 2009

They did this really quietly,  but TripAdvisor has launched new functionality that allows travel companies to link online newspaper reviews to their TripAdvisor listings.

This is big news for anyone working in travel public relations. In the ‘old days’, a press review would appear once, it might get talked about, then it would disappear.

Now, there are more and more ways of showing authentic newspaper reviews in places where your customers can continue to see them.

What a powerful package. Now, when customers land on TripAdvisor to find out about our holiday accommodation, there are independent reviews from customers and positive press coverage from national titles. Plus, they can see text descriptions, pictures and even video (both customers and corporate).

Rather than wiping out the relevance of newspapers, social media is giving press a new lease of life by massively increasing opportunities to see their coverage.

I can see a time, especially for small properties, when they can dump their own websites in favour of their TripAdvisor listing.

Reviewing the review sites

July 12, 2009

I’m a fan of review sites on the web, they really help me cut through the noise when making a purchase (I can takes ages making a decision to spend money when left to my own devices).

And I take this into my work life, constantly monitoring the ratings our holiday parcs receive on TripAdvisor, engaging with posters and following up with our managers to react to comments.

We display every TripAdvisor review through our website, and because the reviews are 100% transparent – whether good, bad or ugly – they are becoming more important than our own customer questionnaires which are reviewed in house.

So when they work well, I believe customer review sites are  a one of the most engaging social media tools for travel companies.

But when they don’t work well, they are just unfair. I’m frustrated by the number of review sites that rank highly on Google, even when their reviews are years old. I see it all the time – reviews that are out-of-date, but easy to find. It’s a strange quirk of search engines that they score so well.

Of course I respond to the reviews when I find them, but what if the damage is already done?

How about an independent review site for independent review sites, so users can see at a glance how good the content is, forcing the review site to keep its own content current?

Welcome to Travelminds

July 12, 2009

This is the first ever post on TravelMinds…  and I’m probably the only person reading…

Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

This is a blog for public relations professionals who work in the travel industry. I’m an in-house public relations manager, so I want to share ideas, ask questions, discuss hot topics, that nobody else in my office really cares about.

I’m overawed by the changes in the public relations sector as social media takes hold, but I can’t seem to engage with the tech focused blogs and webzines that proliferate my RSS reader.

So this is an attempt to plug into the knowledge of travel PR specialists across the world. Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you enjoy taking part.