Is blogging the future tool of leisure marketing?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 01:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts to introduce first-ever bloggers conference in Asia on 18 November The experience of travel is changing as tourism grows, the world globalises and technologies shorten temporal and spatial difference. The phenomena of travel blogging adds a post-modern reflexivity to contemporary tourist practices as journey now uploads their personal experiences to the Internet as they go along Viewed collectively, the large volume of travel stories published on the Internet present a detailed picture of our travel habits: what we do, where we go and our thoughts and feelings along the way. It has also been recognised that the blog space produces its own particular recollections of travel. The blogger’s transcribing of events is influenced by the “performance of the self” intrinsic to personal writing in social media where the author seeks to emphasise characteristics seen as beneficial to their online avatar. As such the blog narrative does not simply represent a timeline of the journeyer’s travel experiences, but rather reflects a selection of events carefully chosen and structured to present a favourable picture to the audience. The ability of travel bloggers to impact travel decisions has increased tremendously in the recent past. Opinions expressed in blogs (often run by individuals) have created more impact than traditional media. Bloggers can effectively reach out to a captive audience, communicate specific messages and in turn influence travel decisions. Why not harness this influence and use it to educate travellers about your brand offerings? There are few reasons why travel bloggers can be more effective than traditional media familiarisation tours. 10 reasons for you to engage with bloggers 1. Bloggers can produce multiple reports as opposed to one article written by a visiting journalist after a media familiarisation tour. 2. Bloggers have a full control of what they write unlike other traditional press where several approvals are required for a single article. 3. There is no waiting time for the article to be published and it can be published real time. 4. Most printed articles can become dated soon unlike blog posts on Internet where the article can be found even after several years. It will also help to optimise the search engines. Articles, videos, photos, etc., shares and more shares, everywhere. The search engines will take more interest in your hotel, bar or restaurant giving it greater presence and visibility. Remember Search Engines like Google are attracted by fresh and quality content and keywords used in your articles or the comments left by readers. 5. If you pick the right blogger (like the ones coming to TBC Asia), their coverage is far greater than any other traction all media. 6. Posts made by bloggers are considered to be unbiased and impartial. Hence it has more word of mouth effect comparing to general exposure in traditional media. 7. Great tool to understand hospitality industry and clients. 8. Own content to share on social networks. If you are able to create good quality content, this can be shared on all your social media profiles and is the best way to create curiosity. 9. Engage with influential bloggers. Thanks to your good quality posts you will be able to be in direct or indirect contact with other bloggers from the tourism industry. 10. Get involved with subscribers and potential customers A blog helps getting involved with your brand followers and their content, through subscriptions. The above factors have been further cemented by findings of Google traveller research 2013. Bloggers to promote different needs in the industry It is interesting to note how the bloggers have got segmented based on different interest groups. This will allow marketers to focus on relevant bloggers for their businesses. And work with them to create exposure. All professional travel fairs recognise the bloggers from following areas. Luxury Cruise Family Adventure Food Independent It is also worth noting that bloggers from outside travel verticals will also be relevant sometimes. Photography and videography bloggers are among key when promoting an experiential brand. For travel marketers this has created additional opportunity to stay focused and relevant to a new user group. The number and variety of target market that covered through the connections made through attendees to the event. Nowadays Google favours content that is algorithm friendly and will be appreciated by its user as interesting and relevant to the success. This has had a huge impact at the blogosphere where hundreds of thousands of bloggers making a living out of writing relevant stories and preparing them with paid links. Three points to remember when engaging bloggers 1. The blogging traveller is tethered to being in places that have internet connectivity When writing a blog, one needs to frequently use the internet for posting and upkeep. The experiences of travel are numerous and often unplanned, and it is the blogger’s task to transmit these to his audience. 2. A blogger habitually assesses and frames experiences as potential blog post The travel blogger is a storyteller who relates their experiences to an online audience. The duties of this role include posting regularly to maintain one’s presence, and the blogger’s imperative to frame their personal events in a way that conforms to typical travel blog discourse. It is my contention that these practices affect a given journey as the traveller is at times taken out of the ‘moment’ — the experience of travel — and put into the shoes of the narrator. 3. The blogger’s experience of travel is mediated by their interaction with their perceived audience Research has shown that a blogger’s motivation to post online is in large part due to their reciprocal relationship with the audience who bestow them with social capital as a condition of their interaction with blog content (Papacharissi and Eastman, 2012; Rettberg, 2008a). Within the networked environment of social media, popularity is in large part judged by the metric of “attention,” the more that the author gains, the better the ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ which an audience confer upon the blogger are, in this way, a quantitative measure of online success. ROI of a blog trip – case study of Flander At WTM social travel market last November Dr. Frank Cyborg unveiled the results of Flanders blog visit strategy. “We have received 12m unique visitors, 273posts, and other opportunities. Accordingly Flanders ROI of the mini campaign is 1 on 100. This exercise not only proved worthwhile financially and establishing relationships with bloggers but also in helping visit Flander stall to understand and buying into the concept of social media as the driving market force. Approach taken by Flander tourism was a radical step matched by few other world recognised brands such as Aclor, Hortz and Emirates. In a time of reduced budget spending on traditional advertising channels, bloggers can be an effective tool to make a big online noise for your brand.
 “This is a world first”: Craig Martin An interview with the President of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts in partnership with SriLankan Airlines will be hosting Asia’s first-ever Travel Bloggers Conference (TBC Asia) on 18 November, at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo. In organising the above, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts together with the Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA) selected 50 of the best travel bloggers who will also tour around Sri Lanka prior to the conference as a pre-conference tour. Speaking about the event, Craig Martin, the President of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association, was interviewed. Following are excerpts: Q: What are your sentiments about speaking at the Travel Bloggers Conference? A: I am very excited about attending the first TBC Asia conference, hosted by Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and SriLankan Airlines. This is the first time the PTBA has partnered with the conference and we look forward very much to coming to Sri Lanka and seeing everything the country has to offer. In addition to the formal conference, we provide learning opportunities in writing, photography, videography, embedded in a trip around the country. To our knowledge, this is a world first and we thank our airline sponsor, SriLankan Airlines, and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts for the opportunity to bring some of the world’s best bloggers to your shores. Q: What are the topics of discussion? A: TBC Asia will cover a wide variety of topics of interest to the tourism and new media sectors. Both industries are seeing a convergence of the passion and skills that we seek to nurture at this event. On the business side, we will be discussing how Sri Lanka and the Asian region can improve tourism by working with professional bloggers. We will also be catering to innovative, upcoming Sri Lankan bloggers and providing professional development for those more established names coming from overseas.
  It is interesting to note the research conducted by Nielsen on the effectiveness of blogs. Nielsen created an experiment to measure the relative impact of content from users, experts, and brands themselves. The organisation created a lab testing situation to judge just how different types of content perform for 900 individuals that were matched as consumers to the content types to which they would be exposed. This was not a travel specific test but, nevertheless, one can draw some conclusions relevant to travel. The experiment reveal that expert content (blogs) was more effective than user reviews or branded content in persuading consumers about the worth of a product since most marketers are struggling to establish “believability” in their communication, blogging can be an excellent cost effective tool for all leisure brands. (Dileep Mudadeniya is Head of Brand Marketing – Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts and Vice President – John Keells Group, one of the leading hotel management services in Sri Lanka. He was the first Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and also held the position as the Head of Quality Standards, Licensing, and Investment of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. He has served the public sector of Sri Lanka working extensively in the areas of travel and tourism and mass communication for over 15 years. An alumnus of the University of Colombo (B.A), an Attorney-at-Law, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he is a Chartered Marketer and has an MBA in Marketing. He was the winner of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award (TOYP) 2010 for the public sector.)

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