Territorial Web Marketing: how destinations are promoted on Facebook

27 04 2010

Alright, I don’t like too much Facebook. But it is true that is one of the most important vehicle of information and it’s easier to keep conversations on it than Twitter (not than FriendFeed, but is not so diffused). And so it’s easier to stimulate UGC among tourists and residents.

This morning I was watching different tourism organizations doing their “job” on Facebook: Wales (from Visit Wales), Spain (from Spain.info), Italia (perhaps from the tourism ministry, but absolutely not sure, there are no links what so ever) and Riviera delle Palme (from the Tourism promotion service of Savona). First difference that comes to the eye is the language: English for Wales (“of course!” somebody would say, but is not so obvious), English and Spanish for Spain (!), English and a bit of Italian for Italia, and just Italian for Riviera dell Palme that of course have a smaller organization, but not less important I would say. There’s not much Welsh in the Wales page, there’s a lot of Spanish but almost everything is in both languages in Spain and there’s not much English in the Italia page, where seems that the most important thing is to catch fans and post pictures. And here comes another difference, definitely more interesting: contents.

Wales and Spain try to communicate with their “fans” (tourists, residents, lovers) not just telling them how nice is the country or what to do, but trying to generate contributes: a two ways communication, where the tourism organization listens to the stake holders and share their contribution. I really like it. I can see a nice picture and think “oh, I really want to go there” just like we all  do when we see a travel agency window, or I can read  what people say and think “I really like people from that country” and there, I think, I will go. Residents are one of the attractive factors for a touristic destination. There can be lots of shows, events fairs, but people make of a destination attractive. On both pages most of the pictures are from other people who not just comment but mainly contribute.

Italia  has lots of pictures on its page, and as far as I’ve checked, there’s no request of pictures, news, “what to do” to the followers, just “please add us as fan, and share it with your friends!”, that sounds really “spammy”.

Riviera delle palme is a small reality. The area that it represents is small compared to the others. But still is an area that could generate good flows of tourists and has lost attractiveness with foreign tourism. So publishing in english could be a good thing and definitely needs to focus more on the communication among tourists, more than advertise a single event like a new web site or the participation to a tourism fair.

Last difference that I’d like to mention is the connection trough the Facebook page and who manage it: Wales posts many links to their VisitWales blog or a specific VisitWales web page. Spain mainly to their website. Riviera delle palme sends its visitors to friends website, most of them related to events. I couldn’t find any link in the Italia page.

Now: I know we have the most beautiful country in the world (as it’s written 10 thousands times in the Facebook page) but what if nobody comes to visit it?! Just repeating it doesn’t make attractive. Pictures are nice, but not lived. They don’t show how nice can be to spend some time in Italy. Who has done it can.

Concluding: I really like Visit Wales work (not a big news!). I do like how Spain approaches the tourism web marketing. Riviera delle Palme needs to improve, but seems on the good way. Italia needs to show first who manages the Facebook page, then we can say what could be done.

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Wales Watersports: stimulation of the web 2.0 for tourism

17 11 2009

A small example of how Social Network interaction works and could produce good results for your business or your business area.
I received an e-mail telling me that Wales Watersports was following me on Twitter. All right, let’s see what kind of things does Wales watersport I said to my self: I check their twitter account and I see that they are looking for bloggers. Sorry? Looking for bloggers? Why is that? Ok, let’s check on their website. Mmmhh, is a website for the promotion of watersports and marine leisure tourism in Wales, and the company Wales Watersport International Ltd is appointed by Visit Wales (official website and a previous post) as its official marketing and promotional partner for the watersports and marine leisure tourism sector in Wales. They have a blog (still not very attractive, but I think they’re working on it: change the address –http://waleswatersports.blogspot.com/ – might be a good fist step) and a twitter account and what they’re doing is just look for people that want to share their experience so to create good content on the blog and (generally speaking) on the web. Good web responses, a good presence of an area and the activities offered can stimulate the demand and the touristic flow, operating at first on the brand knowledge (a problem for Wales as I’ve seen in my year here). That’s why actions to reduce the digital divide, to help people use internet and the social network to share their experience on the web are very important. The word of mouth power can be increased at the nth degree (Visit Wales understood that when they’ve opened Wales1000things, about three years ago).




Visit Wales and web 2.0: a public office working on Social Networks

10 11 2009

On Monday the 2nd of November I’ve been to the Third Tourism Summit, organized by the Wales Tourism Alliance. The summit was interesting for many different reasons, but I went there mainly because of the presence of the Visit Wales Digital Marketing Team. I followed from the beginning the experience of VisitBritain (here, in Italian) because it was a nice case of touristic promotion made by a government agency (considering how many problems Italy had with Italia.it), so I took the chance to see who’s behind Visit Wales, how they work and what they do. (here the explanation of what is Visit Wales in relation to the Welsh Assembly Government)

A big difference between VW ad VB is the domain .com. VW has changed his very first page in January 2009 to increase the usability and the content flexibility:
  • In VW.com the touristic offer is segmented in order to orientate the visitor to what he’s looking for: golf, walking, fishing, business, and the generic domain .co.uk. There is a section where people can choose the different languages (I might be offended because Italian is not present!) and great attention is paid to the social networks with links to the facebook, twitter and you tube accounts, even if there are no sharing links in the web-site contents;
  • In VB.com the page shows many countries’ flags re-directing the visitors to their language web-sites.
The first thing that impressed me when I’ve seen it was the simplicity, but is a shame that the same template is not available for the other languages. Perhaps this is because the best part of welsh tourism is from other UK countries (Usa and Canada as well I guess, considering the accurancy of the dedicated web sites). Apart from the German web site all the others are less attractive and structured. Wouldn’t be better to consider also other markets where the potential demand is high? As well the sentence in the middle of the page “For those looking for holidays in Britain, Wales has so much to offersuggests the subordination of the Welsh tourism to the British one.

Answering to the questions I wrote before, behind VW there are three functional departments, one of which includes the Digital Marketing Team. Lead by John Munro and Bethan Richards the orientation to the web2.0 is very high: a Facebook page with more than 47 thousands fans, a Twitter account with more than 15 hundreds followers, and a blog with topics about the holidays. Very important is the attention paid to the network they built: answers to the Twitter followers including documents from summits so to keep the customer loyalty and the web response high, increasing the brand awareness.
In the era of Social Networks the “word of mouth” communication has become “share” (just as the links you can find everywhere to post on FB, twitter, diggs, ect…) being there is important but much more important is to take part.. or share!
(more information on the digital team business framework, the action carried out by VW against the digital divide in the tourism promotion will follow soon)