Last week, we attended the Social Media and Tourism Symposium event in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. We attended two years ago and loved it.
It’s a conference focused on showcasing current digital marketing trends in tourism and innovative campaigns implemented by destination marketing organisations.
I usually do a wrap-up post with key insights learned as a way to give those interested in the travel industry and travel blogging a few helpful takeaways.
ROR not ROI – Return on Relationships is where it’s at
— Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog) July 22, 2015
“Long-term relationships will get you the best returns”. I was stoked to hear this as a common theme throughout the two days as it’s what we feel is the benefit in working with us. Chris Chambers fromTEQ also spoke about the importance of ambassador style partnerships. My presentation also had this as a theme (see below)
Destinations are the sum of all their stories
This was quite the theme across several speakers. I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve seen millions of inspirational pictures, both online and in brochures and magazines. They inspire me and give me new ideas for travel, but the only way I ever follow through with a particular travel experience is because I’ve connected to it via a story, usually through someone I know.
Nobody struggles for inspiration when it comes time to travel.
We’ve all got bucket lists that can wrap around the earth a hundred times. The reason those bucket lists aren’t getting shorter is because of all the challenges and limitations, like fear and a lack of money, that tell us we can’t make it work.
What people need are the stories to connect to so they gain the belief that it’s not that hard and they can do it too.
Help future travelers overcome their barriers
Moving on from that. I loved hearing Andrew Smith from Tourism New Zealand speak about this in his talk on Smarter Digital Marketing.
They discovered people were struggling with the simple things like how do you get from A to B? What’s the best way to travel? What should I see and do when I get there? Is this a good place for kids?
That’s why our destination highlights and tip posts do so well – it’s making the travel experience easier for people who want to travel.
The majority of travellers aren’t experienced or long-term and they want things planned and the barriers overcome before they set out. The destinations who help them do this best will attract the more travellers.
I listened to a podcast recently with Ramit Sethi and B.J. Fogg. They had an interesting conversation about how the tiniest of barriers can stop us from doing the simplest of things.
They spoke about it in terms of what’s in your fridge. B.J. mentioned that after he does his grocery shopping, he dedicates an hour to prepping all his vegetables for the week. He cuts it up and puts it into containers. That way when it comes time to make his lunch, he just grabs some pepper from this container, carrot from that one, chucks into in the bowl and has a yummy salad.
Studies show that most people don’t cut up the veg and so that simple barrier stops them from making healthy food. They’re more likely to grab fast food. I mean, who doesn’t eat a piece of fruit sometimes because you can’t be bothered peeling it or chopping it up?
What tiny little barriers get in the way of you doing the simplest of things?
Pure New Zealand have done a great job of listening to the barriers of their potential travellers and creating a great video series to help them.
Check it out here:
Notice how you connect with that story. You immediately think I can do that.
That’s the power of sharing personal stories and the logistics of how to do things. They have a Kombi Diaries video series if you want to see more.
You want travellers who stay longer and spend more! – Andrew Fraser #SoMeT15AU
— Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog) July 22, 2015
Video is hot
I loved this presentation from Aaron from Destination Think. The message: “Stop worrying about producing hero type movies to go for the big viral hit. They don’t usually share the personal stories and is a bad use of your resources”. Go raw, unproduced and short. These are the types of videos that do the best, especially on the newer style of platforms like Periscope and Vine and Facebook video. Facebook are trying to overtake YouTube, so they’ll show your vids if you upload them direct onto their platform. If you’re going big production make it relevant, fun and engaging. Who pays attention to the safety briefing on a plane? Air New Zealand is so clever they make you want to watch the safety briefing on YouTube in your spare time. They sell New Zealand as a destination within the story brilliantly too:
Speaking of Periscope
It was happening a bit at the conference. I periscoped showing my presentation on the big screen five minutes before attendees arrived to listen.
And I periscoped almost all of Cory Gale from Tourism NTs session on the Hypermeet campaign they ran early this year (and that we attended – God that feels like forever ago!) That was all about promotion the destination through time lapse videos. Full credit to photographers who have the patience to do this.
I even asked a question on behalf of one of the scopers listening in, which I thought was really cool. The future is here.
Check out this awesome timelapse video from Matt Vandeputte that was created from the NT’s hypermeet and timelapse campaign:
We are @ytravelblog on Periscope. We scope our current travel adventures + behind the scenes of our biz with tips + the odd wine time wth Caz and Craig
Social media is not about instant conversions
Our friend and Instagram professional, Lauren Bath gave a great presentation as usual (and filled with beautiful images). She shared a few case studies of a couple of campaigns she worked on.
She shone a light on the fact that buying followers and likes is becoming a serious problem in the Instagram world and it’s up to destinations to do their due diligence when assessing who to work with. I shared the same message in my talk in regards to travel blogging. The dodginess sucks, but it’s real. Choose correctly and there’ll be few, if any, problems.
I also loved how she shared the importance of showing the real story. If you turn up in Austria during the summer and it snows, then don’t be afraid to share the reality. You can still tell a worthy story with the truth!
And then is comment is particularly true within the travel industry
— Caz Craig Makepeace (@yTravelBlog) July 22, 2015
Sure in industries like fashion, you can probably get an instant conversion. But, who makes a decision about travel in an instant? You can dream in an instant, but it might take you months, if not years, to actually get there.
Build the long-term reputations, which will give you the long-term returns that come with trust.
Sharing an authentic travel story to highlight your destination
This was the theme of my talk – offering an alternative to traditional press trips or group campaigns (an alternative, not replacement!!!). And no, I don’t mean that when travel writers or travel bloggers attend press trips or campaigns, they don’t write honestly or authentically. It was quite apparent through my 40 minute talk that I meant authentically as in the reality of the travel experience as the normal traveller who’s reading the content would have. Real travellers don’t get ferried around by a tourism host from place to place, getting only snippets of an experience before moving on the the next one. They’re on the ground finding their way around themselves and truly absorbing themselves in the moment.
We shared how we worked with travel desitinations successfully in this way, where we controlled and told the story as we experienced it.
In particular, I shared my experience of Uluru. Had we visited that on a press trip, we probably would have raced in and out to experience as much as we could in that region in a short space of time and would have had to grapple with trying to get a relevant story out of that.
It makes sense to run a press trip like this – the tourism board is maximising time and exposure. But, it’s hard to completely absorb an experience for what it’s truly is in this way.
Instead we visited Uluru on our own time and schedule. We travel slow so we extended our stay for 8 days. We truly got to experience Uluru.
We walked, and cycled around it, we saw sunset and sunrise from every viewing platform at Uluru and Kata Tjuta. We really experienced the region and as a result fell in love and connected with it far more deeply than we would have racing in and out.
We now can share with our readers the true experience.
Go here. do this. If you’re short on time, do this instead. This is the best place for sunrise, sunset. If you’re kids are young, we recommend cycling rather than walking Uluru. Don’t go to Uluru for two days, it’s worth more. Get up early, rest during the heat of the day or swim in the pool. Save money in these ways. yada yada yada.
And because we loved our in-depth time there so much, we’ve shared so many photos and stories on the area and will continue to do so like … forever. It wasn’t a job that had a finite end and output. It was a life-changing travel experience we had as a family.
Here’s another case in point.
Another blogger I know went on a press trip to Kakadu. She raced in there straight from Litchfield Park on a tour to briefly catch the sunset, get attacked by mosquitoes and then raced out the next day.
She wrote a blog post about Kakadu being an awful place. Her blog post was entirely accurate and honest to her experience and so nothing wrong with it.
But I hated reading that post, purely because I know it’s not the true Kakadu and it would turn people away visiting. I wouldn’t in a million years recommend anyone to experience Kakadu in this way. It’s one of my favourite places in Australia, and besides Uluru, I think the most sacred and spiritual place in Australia.
When you collaborate with travel bloggers who are telling their own story you get a much better return on that relationship.
We spent five days in Kakadu truly absorbing the region (Five days is still not enough time). We can tell people it’s so much more than a quick sunset and a battle with the mosquitoes.
It’s about experiences
Someone during the conference said that “People don’t go on holidays to have a shit time!” It’s so true. Travel is about experiences. That’s why I love being in this industry – its’ purely about helping people have the happiest experiences of their lives.
Our motto is travel more, create better memories. I love being in the position to help people follow their dreams and pursue happiness. I find it way more rewarding than my career as a teacher.
So the question is, how can we help the consumer, or the reader have an outstanding experience? I love this quote from David Willcox
Listen to your peeps
The #SoMeT team always win the award for best listeners.
During the last session of the conference a few of us we were chillin on the beanbags at the front and a sent a few tweets out about how great a drink would be at this time – so what did they do? Sent around beer and wine for everyone! Right on.
Of course that started something that didn’t finish until 3am #notthirtyanymore
Caloundra – the #SoMeT15AU destination
It’s was great to get back to the Sunshine Coast (our old home region) for the SoMeT venue. Caloundra is at the Southern end of the Sunshine Coast and here are a few of our tips.
- The Oaks Oasis Resort is a great place for families to stay in Caloundra. The kids will love the water park feature, spewing the girls weren’t with us (well not really!!) .It’s also an easy walk into town. We stayed here courtesy of Oaks resort and Visit Sunshine Coast.
- Coffee Cat on Kings Beach is a great place for lunch. The Pick: Mediterranean chargrilled roasted vegetables w pesto, hummus & sweet potato crisps. Truly sensational. One of the best melas I’ve had in a long time.
- LA Promenade Cafe is the place for a mobile office. Water views and good coffee. I sat here catching up on work for half a day. Very serene.
- Tides Restuarant is where a group of us went out for dinner. On the expensive side, but I can recommend the barra as being exceptional.
- Head to the Drift bar below when finished. Ask for my bottle of wine still sitting in the fridge waiting for me to come back after dinner to finish it. I did but it was closed!
More posts on the Sunshine Coast
Good news announced at the conference for those wishing to fly direct here
That came about as the CEO Simon Latchford shared