Archive for category Tourism

New York Public Library reaches out through social media

We generally associate Foursquare with commercial applications, but it can also be a great tool for non-profit public services such as libraries and museums.

One of the most pro-active non-profit users is the New York Public Library, which uses the location-based social media platform to encourage people to discover various sections and branches.

Users who obtain the badge will get a one-year Foursquare Friends Membership which will provide them with special perks. Additionally, mayors at various locations will be included in a drawing for tickets to LIVE from NYPL events and behind-the-scenes tours of the Map Division. Non-frequent visitors benefit from a host of Tips on its Foursquare site, to fill them in on special events at each NYPL venue.

The NYPL has embraced social media across the board. It’s the top public library in the world on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr Flickr, had produced a series of hit viral videos and even has an iTunes site. Ironically, the 100 year-old library hopes that by embracing social media it will encourage people to continue reading books well into this century.


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Thailand’s ‘Amazing’ social media presence

Amazing Thailand mobile app menu.

Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination isn’t only due to its rich culture, divine cuisine and opportune geography. It has well-organised tourism authority that doesn’t trade in clichés and recognises the diversity of the millions of tourists from around the world and their reasons for visiting.

Tourism Thailand has an excellent online presence centred around its Amazing Thailand website that’s chock full information and tools including travel planners, interactive maps and hotel finders and all important special deals.

The Amazing Thialand campaign recently won a Pacific Asia Tourism Award for its “social networking” campaign left by its Facebook site which has more than 150,000 friends.

This fun page is informative and entertaining. It features a Flash game relevant to coming events, currently Songkran Champion, a shoot ‘em up with water pistols – Songkran is a festival where Buddhist monks sprinkle water on worshippers, though in some parts it has evolved into an all out water fight.

Wall posts are engaging and there are plenty of pics and Youtube videos. In the Notes section you’ll even find Thai recipes and job vacancies for anyone seeking an expat lifestyle. There’s also a link to the highly praised Amazing Thailand mobile apps for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad. The apps feature destination and event guides and food and accommodation information. They also have a Google Maps driven location guide to help you find attractions, and allow you to share your experiences via the Facebook and Twitter sites.


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Irish jig goes viral

Social Media Marketing 101 dictates that said that you can’t simply make an ad go viral. However, a good idea and a well-executed plan will certainly help.

This video of a flashmob striking Sydney’s Central station is currently doing the rounds and has attracted plenty of interest helped of course by St Patrick’s Day. Rather than a bunch of uni students dancing to Rick Astley, it was a well planned Irish Dance spectacular starting with one boy who was gradually joined by more and more dancers dressed in business and school attire much to the amazement of commuters. The performance entertained the crowd at the station and the video has attracted more than 130,000 views in two days.

It’s very well filmed and edited which gives it away as a viral ad, which is confirmed at the end when the Tourism Ireland logo appears. My only criticism, from a marketing point of view, is it goes a bit too long. I reckon quite a few viewers would have moved on before the Tourism Ireland brand appears at the end.

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If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to check in

Standing with my arm in the air gripping a hand hold on a swaying train carriage, my wandering eyes noticed that many of my fellow commuters clutching smart phones were doing a lot more than just texting or listening to music. That’s when it hit me: with such a captive audience why don’t transport operators promote ways for passengers with smart phones and tablets to interact with advertisers or the transport system itself?

It could be as simple as a poster with a Twitter or Facebook address to encourage people to provide receive more information about products, or enter competitions, that appeal to commuters – such as travel, recruitment, coffee/lunch deals. Alternatively the transport operator could promote its own Twitter feed or app* for passengers to receive the latest travel information or provide real-time feedback.

One transport network that has embraced social media is 2009 San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which uses Twitter and Facebook as a means to keep passengers informed and interested its services. But the jewel in the crown of BART’s digital campaign was its pioneering use of Foursquare.

In March 2009 BART became the first public transport organisation to partner with Foursquare to encourage patronage on the network by creating badges for users who checked in at stations before and after catching trains. The idea proved an instant success.  The Foursquare partnership also allowed BART to learn more about its users through the places and businesses they checked into before and after using the system and revealed what many people were using public transport for.

All this information could prove valuable for businesses that want to advertise at nearby stations to attract non-Foursquare users and, paradoxically, get some ads back on trains walls.

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Your own online Idaho

You know an online tourism campaign is doing it right when you find yourself wanting to visit the destination in question within moments of viewing the website. Bonus points if you’ve never really given that place a second thought.

Take the US state of Idaho. Till now I knew it as a place of potatoes and the where Ernest Hemmingway lived and ended his final years. But the Idaho: Adventures in Living web site changed all that in an instant and proved a very inviting source from which to learn more.

The rustic-looking homepage uses on-screen space well. There’s a slide show showing promotions and images of the state’s diverse natural beauty, plus a host of things to send your mouse to including maps, special deals, 360-degree virtual tours, and the obligatory places to stay, go and do – which are divided into useful sub categories.

The website is backed up by an active social media campaign called the Great Idaho Getaway Sweepstakes, which gives entrants a chance to win monthly prizes such as resort stays with complementary theme park and tour tickets. You can enter via Facebook, Twitter or email – entering all three ways increases your chances.

Idaho Tourism is also pretty busy on Twitter with both its @visitIdaho and @Idahowinter accounts, the latter keeping snow conditions and special ski pass deals. There’s also an entertaining Visit Idaho Facebook page replete with information and deals, fan photos uploaded by satisfied travellers and YouTube videos including it’s the Great Idaho Getaway, an entertaining reality presentation about a family’s vacation through the “Famous Potatoes” state.

This is an excellent example of a tourism campaign that lets the product do all the talking and gives it every opportunity to be heard.

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Twitter flies high at Gatwick

Twitter’s use as a customer service tool is nothing new. I’ve occasionally tweeted my dissatisfaction with my telco or broadband plan, only for someone from the relevant companies to tweet back and offer to help.

Social media is a great way to gauge what people are saying about your business and to engage with them in return. However, building a social media presence takes time. So what’s a quick way to encourage people to use Twitter to provide real-time feedback?

Gatwick Airport came up with an award-winning answer. London’s second-biggest airport has signs and monitors in its terminals asking patrons “Are you on Twitter? Get in touch with us @gatwick_airport and let us know about your experience at Gatwick today”.

The airport already responds to comments on Twitter, however it claims this takes it one step further by actually integrating social media into the physical space of the airport, allowing feedback to customers when they need it. It’s a brave move considering airports are conducive to anger or stress.

The scheme, which is intended to run 24/7, recently earned a gong at the Econsultancy’s Innovation Awards 2010 in the Innovation in Online Customer Service category. As the judges remarked it’s “a great way of transforming something boring into something interesting”.

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What goes online in Vegas…

If ever there’s a travel destination that was going to embrace social media in a unique way it’s Las Vegas. Last year it did just that with a social media scavenger hunt. Run by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority during US National Travel and Tourism Week, the Las Vegas Social Media Scavenger Hunt involved 30 venues including stores, hotels and casinos that provided special deals to participants such as accommodation offers, two-for-one specials, merchandise and discounted show tickets.

Each venue had three-hour window to communicate a clue to participants via Visit Vegas’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. Participants had to be friends or followers of at least one of the accounts. Once they received a clue they had to show up at the venue and become a Facebook/Twitter friend/follower of that business in order to receive their reward – some of the venues offered bigger prizes to the first few people so show up.

This is an excellent way for businesses to use social media to not only build brand awareness, but to get people in store and build a customer database. While it proved successful for a mega tourist destination like Las Vegas (with tourists and residents taking part), I can imagine it working a treat for smaller destinations in Australia such as food and wine precincts. It could also be an effective tool for business associations or councils to attract residents to local shopping strips.

The key for such a scheme to be replicated is planning and promotion well before the event. All the businesses involved would have to be keen partakers and be aware of their obligations.

And it should be tailored to suit the kind of businesses involved. Large hotels have the staff to deal with a couple of hundred people coming through their doors in a three-hour period. If the hunt involves small businesses perhaps provide a longer window of opportunity or choose prizes that require little effort or paperwork to arrange, like show bags.

Finally, be sure the terms and conditions are straight forward so all participants know what is required in order to claim a prize.

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Inspired social media

Post-GFC economic woes and Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruptions saw Iceland suffer a drop in tourist numbers of around 22 per cent, or about 100,000 visitors.

With the help of a quirky, yet stunningly filmed video campaign Iceland Tourism turned to social media to help the country kick start its 2010 summer tourism campaign.

Social media was used to funnel traffic to the video on the Inspired by Iceland. Unlike many national tourism campaigns that are rarely seen in the promoted country, the people of Iceland were encouraged to get behind it and to use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the word – in effect being viral marketers.

The campaign also features a separate series of videos featuring international celebrities including Viggo Mortensen, David Byrne, Stephen Fry Yoko Ono and Dame Kiri de Kanawa talking about their personal Iceland experience, which are posted on the Inspired to Iceland site and Vimeo. Visitors to the former are also invited to relay their own experiences and share the video, wallpaper and e-cards via email.

It’s too early to tell what kind of impact the campaign has.  However, since its launch in June 2010 Iceland has been named top travel destination by Lonely Planet, USA Today and CNN’s travel website CNNGO.

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