tourism bc, Travel & Tourism

Travel Bloggers talk User Generated Content

By William Bakker | 09.20.06 | Comment?

My colleague Janice send this article about a panel of travel bloggers organized by Budget Travel Online. There’s some great content in here about some of the things that are debated internally at Tourism BC these days.

User Generated Content, can we trust it or do we need a voice of authority?
Erik Olsen, editor of Gadling.com hit the mark:

So, as far as the kind of stuff we do, which I think is more editorial in a way, more magazine feature-ish, for lack of a better term, you do need some editorial filter. But the contribution of other people is utterly necessary as well, or at least it’s utterly beneficial and it gives a sense of community in the sense of people contributing who are out there and you don’t have the voice-of-God-control over everything, which is why a lot of people have this feeling — why they don’t like mass media so much, because they feel like there’s too much control. So, it’s not quite anarchy, but it’s in the middle somewhere.

Harnessing collective intelligence is a powerful thing and with an “editorial filter”, harnessing this power can be achieved within creative standards. TurnHere is a good example of this. It’s YouTube for destination videos with an editorial element. It ensures a certain quality standard. For site like YouTube, such standards are not needed. Just like any other development in the early history of the internet, the only successful strategy is to embrace change. Because in a future of user generated content, who will be the official source?

How should Tourism Boards deal with Travel Bloggers?
Mark Johnson from HotelChatter.com about how not to do it:

I have a good story about that. Early on with HotelChatter.com I was trying to get advertisers so I could do this full time and make a living, and the Florida tourism board — I ran into them at some conference or something — and they said, “We love HotelChatter and we want to advertise on it.” I was really excited about that. And then they said, “But you can’t write anything bad about Florida or any hotels in Florida.” So, anyway…

So what is the right approach? Erik Olsen again:

One of the dirty secrets — I speak for myself — one of the dirty secrets of blogging is you got to get stuff up all the time. It is a lot of work and finding good information for people that warrants them coming back is tough. So if somebody e-mails me stuff that is useful I will very often use it.

And an unidentified person from the audience:

I can say from experience we once tried to break news using you guys because we didn’t think it was newsworthy enough to get into a newspaper. I think it is much more difficult to get into a newspaper that has limited space as opposed to online. It was just a fantastic bang. We learned a lot from it. What it did was show the influence that you guys have with mainstream media.

But a word of caution from Randy Petersen from flyertalk.

I can get e-mail that is not relevant to my space, and then it goes into my rules file. And there may come a time that you may have something pertinent to my space, but unfortunately, I decided the other 800 times or 40 times or whatever it might be, you were not paying attention to whatever my space is.

They also share the number of traffic they receive:

No matter how you value a visitor, that’s a lot of exposure. So tourism marketers better take bloggers seriously and play by the rules of the blogosphere. It’s like what Josh and Rob told me the other day; “consumers have taken control and they’re not going to give it back”.