Can a Blogger Help Your Destination? 3Qs with Leslie Koch | Forward Motion on DMO Grant Program
May 31, 2011
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Can a Blogger Help Your Destination? 3Qs with Leslie Koch
Forward Motion on DMO Grant Program
NTA at Pow Wow and ATA—Photos
The Path to Contact—Plus a Money-saving Offer!
Uncertainty Surrounds Proposed Traveler Tax in Florence
Where’s Your Fantastic Photo? We’re Still Collecting for NTA HQ.
Members Prefer Courier to Competition Nearly 3 to 1
4 Tips for Flying with Fido
Save the Date, 9/9: Tourism Cares for America Volunteer Day
Members Referring New Members: Thanks and Welcome!
Industry News and Updates
NTA Job Center
After reading a glowing description of a destination on a travel blog, you might wonder how you can connect with a blogger for your destination. Here’s one now—with plenty of advice.
Leslie Koch is a freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. After leaving a corporate marketing career in 2008 to backpack around the world, she visited 17 countries and 5 continents in one year. In 2010 Koch founded Downtown Traveler, an online magazine for urban adventurers, featuring articles about travel, arts and culture. Find her on Twitter here. (@LeslieTravel)
Q. Why is the voice of the blogger important in the travel and tourism industry?
A. The travel and tourism industry is increasingly courting bloggers because they provide immediate, in-depth and influential coverage. You may wait for months to see a brief mention of your destination in a magazine, but bloggers will start their coverage almost immediately. Many bloggers post live updates, photos and videos to Twitter and Facebook during Fam trips.
Bloggers are engaged in a two-way conversation with their audience. They respond to reader questions and even create follow-up posts based on reader feedback. If there are misperceptions about your destination, this is a great way to address them.
Q. How do DMOs find bloggers?
A. Twitter is the nerve center of the online travel community and is a great place to find influential bloggers. Here’s how: Search for your destination or region (e.g., #Brazil) to see who is sharing information. If a post is getting a lot of "retweets," chances are it came from a user with a large network. Once you identify a blogger who may be a good fit, make your first contact on Twitter.
Retweet their posts, ask them a question related to your destination, or give them a shout on "Travel Tuesday" (on Twitter using the tag #TT or #TravelTuesday). Then follow up with an e-mail message; if the blogger is familiar with you from Twitter, they are more likely to respond.
Q. Does the DMO always sponsor a blogger?
A. DMOs should always offer to sponsor a blogger. Unlike staff writers, bloggers do not have the option of expensing their travel costs; a Fam trip may be the only way they can afford to visit your destination. Sponsored trips are one of the main perks of blogging, which is not a lucrative profession.
A blogger is looking for an amazing experience that will excite and inspire readers. We want to showcase unique offerings and introduce our followers to hidden gems.
There’s more to this conversation on our Web site. Click here to get more answers about bloggers.
Discussions continue in Washington, D.C., on the introduction of new federal legislation that would provide matching grants to U.S. destination marketing organizations to help promote domestic tourism. Steve Richer, NTA’s public affairs advocate, is working on the idea with Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), sponsors of the Senate and House versions of the 2010 Travel Regional Investment Partnership Act, along with other travel sector organizations.
"Eighty-five percent of tourism receipts in the United States come from domestic travel," said Richer. "Including indirect spending, U.S. travel and tourism produces $1.2 trillion in spending."
Richer said domestic travel and tourism is critical to not only the U.S. economy but also to the majority of NTA members. "So we’ve been focused on helping our friends in the House and Senate move forward this critical legislation," he said. "I hope they will soon introduce a new bill to give much-needed support to U.S. destinations."
NTA members: Keep reading Tuesday for updates.
NTA was well-represented at U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow last week in San Francisco, and members were always stopping by the NTA booth. Members and staff pictured in front of the NTA booth are (l to r) Haybina Hao, NTA director of international development; Paul Nakamoto (NTA board member), of Roaring Camp Railroads; Catherine Prather, NTA senior vice president; Ted Bravos (NTA member), of International Tour Management Institute Inc.; Jim Reddekopp Jr. (NTA board vice chairman), of Earth Bound Tours; Pilar Laguana (NTA member), of Guam Visitors Bureau; and David Yu, NTA’s chief representative in China.
NTA President Lisa Simon (left) was in Dakar, Senegal, last week for the Africa Travel Association Conference. Simon moderated a panel of speakers for a seminar titled "Working with Tour Operators on Both Sides of the Atlantic." Earlier in the week, Simon signed a renewed strategic partnership with ATA, allowing NTA to bring more education and product information to members interested in African nations.
It’s just 61 days till Contact (August 1–3 in Newport, Rhode Island), so it’s time to register and begin making your travel arrangements! Whether you travel by land or air—or both—here are some basics you need to know in order to arrive at our Contact host hotel, the Newport Marriott.
If you’re flying to Contact, book your flight into T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Warwick, Rhode Island. Continuous airport shuttle service (see schedule below) will be provided from the airport to the Newport Marriott beginning on Sunday, July 31 (return service to the airport will also be provided). PVD offers a wide variety of airlines and service areas including:
Air Canada 888.247.2262
Markets served (non-stop): from Toronto
Cape Air (seasonal) 800.352.0714
Markets served (non-stop): from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket
Continental Airlines/Continental Express 800.525.0280
Markets served (non-stop): from Cleveland and Newark
Delta Airlines/Delta Connection/Northwest Airlines 800.221.1212
Markets served (non-stop): from Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Raleigh Durham, Washington-Reagan National
Southwest Airlines 800.435.9792
Markets served (non-stop): from Baltimore-Washington, Chicago Midway, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale
United Airlines/United Airlines Express 800.241.6522
Markets served (non-stop): Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles
US Airways 800.428.4322
Markets served (non-stop): from Charlotte, NY LaGuardia, Philadelphia, and Washington-Reagan National
Rail Travel (Discount available!)
Amtrak is currently offering 15 percent off the regular adult rail fare when you book travel on their Northeast Regional line (not valid on Acela Express). To take advantage of the discount, click here. Your destination will be the West Kingston Amtrak station.
To get to the Newport Marriott from the West Kingston Amtrak station, you have two options:
- Complimentary shuttle service: This is the same service that will be used to transport air travelers from PVD to the hotel. If you’re traveling by rail, shuttle pickups MUST be previously scheduled (unnecessary for air travelers). To schedule your pickup, contact Katrina White at +1.401.278.9100, extension 150, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Airline Express Limo: If you arrive outside of the scheduled complimentary shuttle times (see schedule below), you will need to make a reservation with Airline Express Limo. Reservations are required and can be made by calling +1.401.295.1100. The fare is $69, plus tip, and $4 toll for up to three people, if you’d like to split the cost among a group.
Contact Complimentary Shuttle Service Schedule:
Shuttle service from PVD to the Newport Marriott will begin on Sunday, July 31, and continue through Monday, August 1. A Contact representative will be at the airport to direct you to the shuttle. The shuttle will leave the airport at the top of each hour during the following times:
Sunday, July 31: Noon to 6 p.m. (last departure at 6 p.m.)
Monday, August 1: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last departure at 6 p.m.)
Safe travels, and we’ll see you at Contact!
Officials in Florence, Italy, have announced plans for an accommodation tax, effective July 1, according to the European Tour Operators Association. The tax will be based on 1 euro per person, per night, per star of category for up to a maximum number of nights. If the tax is enacted, a family of four (children under 10 will be exempt) staying in a 4-star hotel for four nights would pay about US$90 extra.
Alarmed at the hasty implementation date, tourism professionals are hopeful that any accommodation tax would be offset by a reduction or elimination of coach permits for groups staying in the city, ETOA said, but no such trade-off has been confirmed.
NTA member Luca Arioli of Florence-based Intertravel said nothing is certain yet, including whether tour operators would have to cover the tax.
"A lot will depend on how an operator works: if they work directly with the hotels or if they work with a receptive like us," Arioli said. "I believe we will not charge the tour operator for this tax if they already have the booking in place, but until we know exactly how the tax will work, it is hard to tell you what we will do."
Arioli said with so much confusion surrounding the tax, he foresees a "long run" before it becomes effective. To read the ETOA story, click here.
We’re thinking this photo will look great at NTA headquarters. Since moving into news offices in April, we’ve been surrounded by blank walls, and we’re asking you to help us fill them. This gorgeous shot of Rainbow Bridge National Monument in the Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was sent to us by Robin Marquis of ARAMARK Parks and Destinations.
We still need plenty of pics to decorate our space and invigorate our staff. Between now and next Tuesday, June 7, we’re accepting photos from members of destination shots: iconic landmarks, scenic landscapes, natural wonders, etc. Where’s yours?
- To submit your best shot, go to flickr.com and click "Sign In" at the top of the page.
- To log in, use the following info. Yahoo ID: ntaoffice2011; password: ntapics.
- Click "Upload Photos & Video" at the right of the page.
- Click "Choose Photos & Video," then upload your high-resolution JPEG photos one by one.
- After each photo has uploaded, click "add a description" (below the photo), type in where the photo was taken and list your company name, contact name and e-mail address.
From all photos submitted, the NTA staff will select a variety of destination types and locations. All photos that adorn our walls will be identified by location and source. Questions? E-mail Doug Rentz.
"Our team of writers interviews member destination and supplier representatives for every story we publish, so the info Courier offers is the freshest available," said Penny Whitman, Courier editor-in-chief. "This makes Courier an important one-stop resource for tour operators and travel planners."
Having experienced the value of that "one-stop resource" in his marketing efforts, Gene Peimann, Missouri Botanical Garden Tourism Manager, agreed. "Our tourism department came of age when we began advertising in NTA publications," Peimann said.
Courier has a print circulation of 6,000, along with bonus digital circulation, and offers original, first-run articles with in-depth product features, destination coverage, business trends and industry news. NTA also offers special advertising rates for members, ad placement within features when possible, and complimentary URL links in the digital version of the magazine. As part of NTA’s member benefits, all members, including the association’s 1,500 tour operators, receive a complimentary subscription of Courier.
With the performance of advertising dollars becoming more important every day, marketers are looking for ways to reach a highly targeted audience. Lou Seiler, NTA member and director of marketing at Casa Loma, said he is reaching that target market through Courier.
"We find Courier to be a very cost-effective way to keep an ongoing presence in the tour operator community," said Seiler. "The special feature issues that we target give us direct access to high-value prospects in a way that other media just cannot do."
If you have clients interested in taking a pet along on their flight, they will quickly discover it’s an expensive proposition. According to a story in the New York Times, the surcharge for your pet’s airfare can exceed that for an unaccompanied child. Here are four suggestions to pass along:
- Know the rules and regs. Make sure you know about any specific requirements or limitations before you arrive at the airport, including prohibited dog breeds, acceptable air temperatures, and kennel size.
- Don’t wait to book: Airlines allow only a limited number of pets in the cabin, so don’t get shut out.
- Get your pet ready for travel. Acclimate your pet to the carrier in motion by placing it on the floor of the car. And just before the flight, tire out your dog with an extra-long walk or run.
- Consider alternative transportation and accommodations. On Pet Airways, which serves nine U.S. destinations, pets fly in a climate-controlled passenger cabin; a flight attendant checks on the animals every 15 minutes. And a growing number of kennels, including Best Friends Pet Care and PetsHotels, offer upscale amenities that range from bone-shaped wading pools to TVs tuned to animal shows.
For the full story, click to the New York Times (tiered subscription).
Be sure to mark September 9 on your calendar for Tourism Cares for America Volunteer Day at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. The park, surrounding the site of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army, commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation and honors the ability of citizens to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times.
Professionals in the travel and tourism industry will pull together at the event to recognize the national day of service in honor of the 9/11 victims.
The growth and diversification of your association has many benefits. It helps give NTA a stronger voice in the industry and provides you with expanded product and potential business partners.
The following members have taken an active role in NTA’s recruitment efforts by referring a new company that joined the association:
- Lisa Itel of Travel Oregon referred new member Erick Trashsel of Sunriver Resort.
- Philip Sheldon of Alyson Adventures Inc. referred new member Mario Leon of Greenway Nature Tours.
- Greg Eckhart of Travel Portland referred new member Tara Thomas of The Old Spaghetti Factory.
- Joleen Haran of Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau referred new member Rich Martin of Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown.
- Brian Butterworth of The Red Lion Inn referred new member Jessica Shandor of Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort.
- Mike Capodanno of Switzerland Tourism referred new member Martin Oester of Engadin St. Moritz Tourist Organization.
NTA says thanks to our referring members and welcome to our new members!
- Within months, new rules issued by the Obama administration will allow Americans wide access to Cuba, already a mecca for tourists from other nations.
- The Corporation for Travel Promotion’s new CEO, Jim Evans, laid out first-step plans during a talk at International Pow Wow.
- As states across the U.S. face huge budget gaps, their tourism offices find themselves fighting for funding. One has already lost the battle.
Gilmore Entertainment Group, a leading live show entertainment company in the Southeast for 25 years, located in Myrtle Beach, SC, is seeking a Group Sales Director. Gilmore Entertainment’s flagship theater is The Carolina Opry Theater; productions include The Carolina Opry, Good Vibrations, The Carolina Opry Christmas Special, and LIGHT laser shows.
Position involves leading company’s group sales department including its marketing and sales.
Skills and Experience:
- 10+ years experience in the Group Sales Industry
- Established relationships in the travel industry including motor coach, tour operators, travel agents, etc.
- Familiarity with various group travel trade organizations
- Passionate salesperson
- Excellent organizational and planning skills
- Works well with a team as well as independently
- Ability to build and maintain partner relationships
- Positive public persona and networking skills
- Thorough knowledge of Microsoft Office
- Easily use technology for corresponding, networking, tracking, reporting, etc.
- Innovative and Creative ideas for increasing sales, productivity, and/or efficiency
- Achieve annual growth goals in group sales attendance and revenues
- Develop and implement strategies and tactics to achieve targeted growth goals
- Continually reinforce a customer-centric view in all strategic ideas
- Work with Marketing department to create annual marketing plans
- Implement marketing plans
- Track results of marketing efforts
- Prepare and present monthly status reports on sales and marketing initiatives
- Identify opportunities to build partnerships and cross-marketing programs
- Work with executive committee to establish pricing, policies and procedures that support sales goals
- Travel to trade shows, conventions and tourism related events as needed
- Involvement in community chamber and take advantage of local networking opportunities
For more information and to apply email GroupPosition@GilmoreEntertainment.com.
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