Steve Keenan, online travel editor from the London Sunday Times summarizes Valencia’s unique approach to a media/blogging fam
A few weeks ago the Valencia Tourism Region hosted a blog trip (#blogtripF1) and it could very well be the new standard for DMOs to model their traditional media trips or media fams after. I was fortunate enough to be invited on the trip.
Valencia Tourism invited a mix of traditional journalist, travel bloggers, social media travel, web technology and web design professionals. These people of all ages, with diverse skill-sets and interests where hosted on a four day event centred around Valencia and the Formula One Grand Prix.
It included all the hallmarks of a traditional media trip. Visits to the best restaurants, the top sights, attractions and accommodations. The trip included private guides and behind the scenes tours, all well organized as you can expect from any respectable DMO.
Making the media trip social
Valencia Tourism innovated the traditional trip by creating a place for these professionals to collaborate, discuss, debate and most of all develop new relationships. Social Media professionals are social by definition and unlike traditional journalists who are more driven by exclusivity, bloggers understand their individual success is strengthened by the success of their relationships and their network.
Taking advantage of educational opportunities
The place to kick-off the discussion was at a conference where attendees presented a topic related to their area of expertise (videos of presentations here). The event was attended by many local, national DMO’s and operators. A great way to get Tourism Valencia’s stakeholders access to the knowledge in the group.
Fostering the creation of networks
Over the next few days we got to know each other very well. There was enough time and opportunity to do so. We discussed and debated all topics digital travel professionals are interested in. And everything was tweeted in real time of course, creating a surge of Valencia exposure in real time, across many people’s personal and professional networks.
Creating remarkable experiences
Remarkable experiences turn into social objects, shared in social media. These are the things worth blogging, tweeting and Facebooking about. There were plenty in Valencia. Walking on top of a shark tank, eating the best Paella, incredibly photogenic modern architecture, random bars, more great food and of course the F1 race.
Remarkable experiences was also the subject of my presentation, summarized in this interview
Build in surprises
Exclusive access, or including things money can’t buy will generate even more conversations. The trip offered personalized surprises such as a visit to the F1 paddock, a ride down the track in the safety car and even a drive in a converted 3-seater Formula One car for some.
The tally so far? By the last count I’ve heard a while back a few dozen blog posts have been written, 61 YouTube videos created, 363 people tweeted 1,558 tweets reaching over 2 million people all around the world while articles in traditional media are being written.
But the real value is not just the immediate exposure but the fact that Valencia sits at the centre of a strong network of travel bloggers and tourism professionals including their expended networks. Valencia will always be top op mind when I connect with any of the new friends I’ve made.
Promoting by focussing on building networks and putting yourself in the middle of it. That’s the future. Valencia has re-invented itself over the last years with new tourism attractions, infrastructure and mega-events. They’re doing the same with destination marketing.
Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences – Photo by Sherry Ott
Every year Google launches over 500 improvements to its search algorithm. There’s a lot to learn from this video for modern day marketers.
Focus on your end user
It all starts with a focus on the user. “Google has made a huge investment in understanding what works for users (3:25)” because “when you align Google’s interests with user interests, good things happen (3:17)“.
Aligning business objectives with user objectives should sit at the core of any online marketer principles. Without it, you’re sure to fail.
Keep improving what you have
Google is obsessed with improving their search product; “we get excited when we hit on an idea what helps a lot of users (3:37)“. Continuous improvements sits at the heart of their culture.
Traditional marketers spend almost all their efforts before they launch because it’s hard to change things after. Online marketers need to spend the majority of their effort post launch. You receive instant results and it’s easy to change things.
This includes websites, social media, search, email marketing, etc.
Base decisions on data, not opinion
In too many organization, decisions are made based on opinions. Usually a senior person doesn’t like something or receives pressure from a stakeholder with an agenda and want something changed. Or a real problem is being dismissed because it’s invisible (a technology upgrade for example). Rarely does anybody actually look at the data in detail.
At Google, “a problem identified and hypothesis created (0:35)” and subjected to “rigorous scientific testing (0:53)“, using a trained panel called raters (0:59), live experiments (1:14) and analyzed by a search analyst (1:14). The decission to make the change is then held in a “launch decision meeting (1:47) by the leadership, based on data with an unbiased view”.
Implementing this at your organization
These are some key elements of Google’s success. But even when you’re not Google with a large team, here’s what even the smallest organization can do:
What about all this BS that technology and social media stop people for having real and genuine relationships? Social Media is making my life, and my relationships with people better every day.
Here’s my story.
My wife and I adopted our daughter two weeks ago from Japan. It was an amazing experience. But hard as well. We had to wait for two weeks in Tokyo for paperwork to processs. Anybody who is a parent knows how weird those first few days are. Being in a strange city where you don’t know anybody without a real support system can be tough.
But it didn’t feel like that at all. Skype allowed us to have our family in Canada and the Netherlands share the moment when our daughter got placed with us live. It was like they were there with us.
And over the next two weeks, people checked in all the time, we never felt alone. There was always somebody to see and talk to.
All our friends made us feel very connected and supported with an outpouring of well wishes and excitement from our personal networks on Facebook.
Even my Twitter followers, some of whom I don’t even know in person, were amazing in their support.
This wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened 10 years ago. And it was all free.
Social Media and technology connects people and builds stronger relationships with more people over larger distances. Because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s artificial or incomplete.
It’s just different, and it’s awesome.