From chatbots to virtual reality, there’s no denying digital technology is changing the face of the travel industry every single day. Though technology can be overwhelming at times, Summit delegates have been empowered to learn about how its many capabilities can enhance their businesses and destinations in a positive way.
During Digital Media CAT Scan: Live!, digital media expert Sree Sreenivasan offered on-site critiques of Summit delegates’ websites and social media accounts combined with actionable tips to help enhance their online presence — both as organizations and individuals. “We’re all doing the work and service of our companies or organizations but we also need to work on our own social,” he said.
The session, which Sreenivasan led from an app on his phone, was highly interactive and moved quickly. Delegates were asked to download the LinkedIn app as they walked into the session and within the first ten minutes were connecting with each other via bluetooth. Using a QR code, they downloaded the session’s slides. They also reached out to one important person via text or Facebook just to keep their digital networks healthy. Delegates also generously offered up their social profiles and websites, and Sreenivasan suggested best practice solutions for branding opportunities, outreach using hashtags, and concise communication. “In digital, clear is the new clever,” he said.
Sreenivasan’s tips served as a jumping-off point for standing out among all the digital noise, but he also offered sound, general advice for utilizing the digital space. “Connect with people when you don’t need them so they’re there when you do need them,” he said, encouraging delegates to use social media to build trust, generosity, confidence, and transparency. It’s also a great place to interact without pretense, Sreenivasan suggested. “Social media lets us connect with people without asking for something.”
Business owners can also extract a lot from the unseen side of their websites by leveraging audience data to learn about traveler interests, motivations, and trends. Understanding how people conduct travel-related research and planning helps demystify what and how to present offerings and experiences.
“Even in this day and age, when we have access to all this data and we have all these amazing tools in terms of analytics, we’re still in the dark about what we can expect in the future,” said Luke Bujarski, founder of LUFT Group. During the concurrent session Integrating Social Listening Techniques to Destination Marketing Strategies, Bujarski explained some ways destinations can demystify information made available through social tools and data. Christina Beckmann, senior director of strategy + impact for the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) / Adventure 360, presented a case study of how a social listening project conducted on behalf of Lake George, New York, revealed important audience insights allowing for smarter destination marketing strategy during the session as well.
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Any online data mining begins with three key questions: who, how, and why. Bujarski suggested destination representatives ask these questions with an eye on the past, present, and future to begin collecting relevant data. Using a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and web data, destinations begin to get a sense of the tendencies, behaviors, and moods of a desired audience. “Once you apply the right research methods to build an understanding, then try to align strategy with that,” he said.