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Day 2 – Travel Perspective at WTM: live

Day 2 – Travel Perspective at WTM: live

Steve Keenan

November 6, 2013

By Steve Keenan and Mark Frary

Coverage of the first day of our social media seminars at WTM.
Read the blog from all our sessions yesterday
Seminars for Thursday can be found here.
Livestream of Travel Perspective sessions today
Hashtag: #WTMTP13

3pm: Right! Off to our seminar with the UNWTO Social Silk Road session in The Platinum Suite, kicked off by Alla Peressolova, head of UNWTO’s Silk Road programme – pictured here. Find them on Twitter here.

We ran a blogger challenge at WTM last year and found a winner – Jonathan Powell, editor of The Flaneur. He’ll be talking aobut his trip to Armenia as a result – but first up, Suzy from the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia. It was the first time they had hosted a blogger, she says, and it was eye-opening.

Blogs are there all the time, she added, and “it seems to be everywhere.” Jonathan met Armenian bloggers- and now the NCFA is including bloggers in its 2014 campaigns.

Jonathan says stories came easily in Armenia, from the Revolver Bar in a hotel (with guns) to stringy cheese, artisans in Dilijan plus the art, monasteries and landscapes, The local bloggers gave a completely different perspective, he said. “It was a great idea to introduce us to local bloggers.”

Give bloggers information, reading ideas in advance, contact details for other bloggers, wifi access and free time, he said. Also, show the differences, give time to explore and let us experience things – not just observe.

Thanks Jonathan! Now, we did a survey of the Silk Road countries and there use of social and Mark is presenting results… Most important channel? Facebook. OK, but Instagram up there with YouTube with 42% of countries utlising the image channel. Interesting – and head of blogs. (In a session yesterday, Sabre said Instagram earns 40 times more brand recognition than FB, and 20 more than on Twitter).

We asked about bloggers – and two-thirds do not (Viva Armenia!). But 70% say they will… We’ll be posting the full survey in a week or so. We’ll let you know.

Panel discussion – joining are Giorgi Sigua, head of The Georgian National Tourism Association. “We already recognise the role of social media and social marketing is much higher than TV or outdoor advertising. We spend 60% of marketing budget on social rather than TV.”

And Akhtanuz Zaman Khan Kabir, chief executive of Bangladesh Tourism Board – his country joined the Silk Road programme in 2012. “We think of Silk Road as a brand and want to strengthen its role.” The country is using students to write the board’s blog and is planning a Silk Road/Bangladesh blog, while running campaigns with warn.com and Tripadvisor.

The World Youth, Student and Education Travel Confederation (WYSE) is represented by director general David Chapman. Its survey of 34,000 travellers shows social media in the Top 10 of information sources pre-trip. Family/friends remains top (and probably always will do) but use social to validate their opinions.

Information sources on the road sees social media rise to 7th – but daily communication on the road see its shoot to the top of the list, with text and email joint second. “They are actively mini-blogging – this is the beer I just drank. One of the most important things I can say is the importance of wifi. Hostels recognise it as a free channel for publicity.”

2pm: Congratulations to The Escape List, which won our Fresh Challenge today, beating off five other travel start-ups to take a £5,000 prize courtesy of Sabre, which will also help mentor the winner. And many thanks to our judges – Paul Smith of Ignite, Sally Broom of Tripbod, Lee Hayhurst of Travolution, Timothy O’Neil Dunne of Vaultpad and Sabre’s Joakim Everstin, Innovations Manager.

12.30pm: We’re currently running our Fresh challenge – six companies and individuals have five minutes each to pitch their fresh travel ideas to a panel of experts. It’s live streaming

11.50am: How to create a travel start-up… There are a large number of hands go up when moderator Kevin May asks how many people in the room are planning a start-up. Don’t, is the advice of Timothy O’Neil Dunne of Vaultpad. Walk away – better, run.

Sabine de Witt of Blanco Tekst is asked for pitfalls. “Some are only researched in Europe. You need a motivated team. Important you scale your model and idea – if it can’t grow with you, stop. You should budget for PR and marketing.

Benji Lanyado built Picfair – “I’m chasing people with money around London. Looking for three more staff – I want users and images, so I need a better developer and someone who can be full-time marketing and community manager. Then need to work out weakneses – biz development. Need someone to come in and kick my arse.

Thierry Wong of Umapped – He did 15 years in financial services. “Are you willing to quit your job?” Do you leave your job and security…. Try and find a co-founder. It’s hard and lonely. Good to find someone else who is as passionate as you are. A lot of cities trying to build tech hubs. Lot of our fees have been to lawyers. Also getting mentors. Pitch contests or apply for grants. Not about winning about getting practice to pitch in a safe environment.

Timothy – where are opps? I’d like to see hard data – tell me something valuable to me. We have hoards of data and nobody shares – come to me with specific data elements they understand and apply it. Don’t believe in inspirational ideas – give me proof.

Do you need a big go to do a start-up? Sabine – nice to have funny founder who’s everywhere but it’s not about funny guy. It’s about the product. Benji – if you’re going to get knocked back regularly and mess something up, then not so much an ego but it helps. Thiery – thick-skinned.

Which do you admire – Tripit (Thierry), RometoRio (Timothy), Air BnB (Benji), foursquare (Sabine).

11.15am: John O’Nolan of Ghost is up next… “It’s just a blogging platform….

Travel, technology and publishing – the three keys in his life. But he’s never been interested in beaches – what gets him out of bed is… curiosity. W”anting to know what’s out there, in other cultures, that I can learn from.” It’s a bottomless pit – when you start travelling, you just can’t stop.

Technology impacts travel in huge ways. Open source. It powers the whole world we live in but – as a show of hands indicate – few people are aware of it. The first open-source operating system, GNU,was in the 1970s. A chap called Linux came along in the 1980s – “possibly the most important innovation in the history of mankind.”

The www followed and Linuz fuelled its growth by offering free software. As the web expanded on Linux servers, people started collaborating. “Without this free hippy software, the web would not look anything like it does today.”

It helped build Facebook and WordPress – and brings us up to date with publishing. “No greater influence in the world than the blog. CNN is a blog. So is The Guardian and kids in bedrooms. “It’s not just publishing for sake of it – it can affect change.”

WordPress had become technology-focussed. So he sat down and thought ‘WP Lite’ Which became Ghost…. Check out the website and read John’s blog – it’s fascinating. And the number of people wanting to ask John questions afterwards bears testimony to that.

10.30am: Sarah McDonald, Industry Head of Holidays at Google is up shortly. Good news for those of you who can’t make it – it will be livestreamed on WTM’s YouTube channel. They say.

Google has four industry heads of travel, by sector – hotels, OTAs, air. And Holidays, recently rebranded from Tour Operators. And this is Sarah’s area so expect lots of stats of the research and booking process. Here we go – “Travel content is done, really. Video is the holiday brochure of the future.”

Where do we find travel information? Radio – 7% is at the bottom of the pile, with newspapers one up the ladder (12%) and travel agents at 18%. People need emotional stimulus. Well, we all do really. STA and Thomas Cook get credits from Sarah. Travel industry weak again, she says, until now (marketing having been pushed aside by SEO).

And AirBNB, which must be everybody’s favourite online travel company – which put Brixton on the map in a way that has never been done before, she says. Good point. “I came away after two minutes with enough information to make a decision.” Fact: YouTube search not as good as Google search.

Social – the one time that people come to life and share. Suppliers can ‘own’ that experience too and share with them. And you can continue to talk to those who have converted to that holiday. Eg., reach your consumer at every stage of the New Customer journey.

One last question for Sarah – which of Google’s vast array of tools is most important? Search aways Number 1, she says – but video so important for small businesses, for people to tell those stories. A local pizza shop can do it – so surely travel companies can? And it’s available at a cost you used to think was prohibitive.

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