The Role of Blogs in a Tourist Marketing Strategy<br />Natalie Guse<br />Business in Motion<br />http://www.businessinmotion.weebly.com <br />firstname.lastname@example.org <br />The Role of Blogs in a Tourist Marketing Strategy<br /><ul><li>Introduction</li></ul>Competition between communities for tourist dollars is fierce. Communities are always searching for a competitive advantage. In this competition communities are constantly looking for new media and communication tools for reaching their target market, Communities seeking a competitive advantage in tourism marketing were early adopters of the Internet as an adverting media (Reedy and Schullo 2004). From ads on travel websites over building own websites to the use of search engine marketing communities sought the latest venues to promote themselves as destinatios (Reedy and Schullo, 2004). Therefore its should not be surprising that communities were early adopters of blog marketing as a tool for promoting their communities. This paper focuses on role of blog marketing in tourism and how travel destinations can use blog marketing as part of their marketing strategy to attract more tourists to their destinations. This paper shall describe the use, development and benefits of blog marketing in the tourism industry. <br /><ul><li>Tourism Marketing</li></ul>Place or tourism marketing is a growing area of study. In practice, if undertaken effectively, place marketing can contribute greatly to the economy in terms of attracting tourism, students of tertiary education, economic immigration. (Simon Anholt, 2007). It can also enhance the attractiveness of a place’s exports. Pender and Sharpley (2005) identify the differences between tourism marketing and other marketing areas as:<br />Principal products provided by recreation/tourism businesses are recreational experiences and hospitality. <br />Instead of moving product to the customer, the customer must travel to the product (area/community).<br />Travel is a significant portion of the time and money spent in association with recreational and tourism experiences, <br />Is a major factor in people’s decisions on whether or not to visit your business or community.<br />Tourism as an important economic factor<br />Tourism marketing is an important sub-field of marketing because of the major role tourism has in many local economies. Tourism has been a important for keeping many regions alive economically and many local businesses are dependent on tourists. (Middleton, 2001). The chart below shows how tourism growth of California outspace competing destinations in 2007. As it is said in the paragraph above, the tourism industry creates 911,800 jobs. It should be a main goal, to maintain the status as Nr. 1 travel destination and to increase the number of visitors. <br />Source: US Department of Transportation, May 2008<br />Because of the economic importance communities spend significant amounts of money on attracting new tourists from year to year or increase the duration of stay for returning tourists. The competition pressure has driven many communities to take advantage of the modern communication to full extent possible many communities pioneers in Internet marketing (Reedy and Schullo, 2004). The San Diego Tourism Marketing District Management plan for example contains a entire section on the use of the Internet to promote San Diego to its target markets. (Coalition of lodging business owners and managers, 2007). <br /><ul><li>The Internet
The World Wide Web</li></ul>Until the early 1990s, the Internet was used only for data interchange by academics, corporations and governments. The development of graphical interfaced browsers like Netscape transformed the Internet into a rich communication media. Today access is not limited to computers, but can be achieved through other means, such as WAP. (Reedy and Schullo, 2004) <br /><ul><li>The Internet as a marketing tool</li></ul>Since 1996, the Internet has captured significant public attention. Exponential growth in Internet hosts and personal computer adoption has led to dramatic increases in online activity. Information and communication technologies provide a powerful tool that can bring great advantages in promoting and strengthening the tourism industry’s strategy and operations. The Internet, and the World Wide Web in particular, has revolutionized the promotion and communication functions of tourism. They empower personal marketing campaigns and one-to-one marketing. Instead of addressing broad audiences through mass media, such as television and radio, tourism organizations are developing personal relationships with their customers, so as to understand their needs and make sure that they address them through personal communications. The Internet has multiplied the speed and reach of interactive communications, opening opportunities that were only fantasies two decades ago. (Nash, 2000). <br /><ul><li>Blog Marketing</li></ul>A new form of communication on the Internet are Blogs, short for Weblogs. This new form of communication allows consumers to express their own opinions in yet another way. Blogs are a new and original cultural phenomenon, reflecting more the changes and needs in society than simple realization of technological possibility. As of April 2007, Technorati, a major blog monitoring service, claimed to be tracking more than 75 million blogs. “If we keep up at this pace, there will be over five hundred million blogs by 2010”, Web contrarian Andrew Keen (Sohn 2008) has stated. Blogs are simply online journals consisting of a mix of text, links and maybe graphics. Bloggers are usually people who are strong believers in something and listening to what they are saying in. Blogs can provide insight into what is good or bad about the products. (Barlow, 2008) Destination organizations shall use blogs to see what people have to say about the location they are trying to market. Secondly, location organizations may advertise their locations and services to the virtual communities with blog-ads, which refers to placing advertisement on personal blogs. (Sohn, 2008) A blog is a personal homepage with more enhanced connectivity than an HTML-based Web site. In the blog system, individuals communication activities automatically form networks through which they can move from one blog to another without manually adding hyperlinks to each page. Once a communication network is formed, information may flow easily through it. The blog-ad is an attempt to expose the information of products and services to consumers interconnected by networks. <br /><ul><li>Applications of Blogs to Tourism</li></ul>There are millions of tourism blogs on the World Wide Web. Google finds 11,400,000 entries for the key word “Tourism Blog”. The Internet is a place of opportunities – it offers people the way to express their anger, their joy and their satisfaction concerning a product, a travel experience of a service. That creates a lot of opportunities, but also Threats.<br /> <br />If people aren’t satisfied with their travel experience, they more likely tend to write down their anger or tell their friends about the bad experience, they made. This is a threat to any destination. Especially when new travelers do their research on the Web and discover a lot of negative feedback and blogs on the web. Everybody wants to spend a great time during their vacation and they tend to do research. Furthermore there are millions of travel blogs on the Web – that is a Threat too. Travel organizations have to make sure, that they appear in the Blog Sphere at all. It is important to do Blog Marketing and make sure, that travelers are able to find Blogs about that particular destination on the web. <br />On the other hand, there are also a lot of great opportunities. Travel organization can create own blogs and motivate their travelers to write down their opinions on this particular blog. Travel organizations can also place ads on personal blogs, to attract more tourists as well. Blogs can be a great opportunity to market a destination. But there is another opportunity. In order to develop a long-term strategy for a destination, a travel organization has to do research. It is important to know, what the travelers like and dislike. Doing research by scanning the travel blogs, written about the destination, is an excellent way to create a Strenght and Weakness Analysis. <br /><ul><li>How can travel organization use blogs in a beneficial way</li></ul>The question to be asked is, how travel organizations can use blogs in a beneficial way in order to attract more tourists. The following proposals and actions can be used in order to increase the positive Blogs on the Web. <br />Launching an own travel blog<br />An easy way is to launch an own blog on the web. This blog can contain information about the travel destination, restaurants, tips and a lot more. This blog can also be used as an information source for travelers coming to the destination. The advantage of an own blog is, that the travel organization has the chance to control, what is in the Blog. They can scan the written blogs, can track them and also use it as a research tool. The organization can also create a lively network and try to create a good position in search engines, by using affiliate marketing and other tools in order to market this particular Blog site. The Blog site can also be given to travelers coming to the visitors bureau. The travel organization can motivate them to write down their blogs by giving them a present or a discount on a tour or anything. <br />Creating an ambassador program<br />This is a new trend in the tourism industry. Hamburg in Germany for example has created an “Embassador program”. These destinations are looking for Ambassadors to market their place all over the world. These ambassadors have the duty, to write blogs, to write comments on any given internet platform, to mingle with people all over the world telling them about the beauty of the destination, they live in etc. Embassadors are citizens of that particular region or town. They volunteer and they have an interest in promoting their place. A good way to increase the positive blogs is, to launch an own ambassador program. <br />Surveys<br />Annual surveys can also be used in order to increase the number of positive blogs. If a destination knows about the weaknesses, they can develop strategies in order to make the destination more service-oriented and more beautiful. That – in an ideal world – creates a higher satisfaction rate. <br />Quality of Service<br />This point is related to the “Surveys”. Annual Service Training for hotel employees, tourist information stuff and all people, occupied in the tourism sector, can increase the Quality of Service in a particular destination, which leads to a higher satisfaction rate. There are also many actions that can increase traveler’s satisfaction with a place, such as local events, infrastructure, orientation systems, friendliness, safety and cleanliness in a destination. <br /><ul><li>Summary
Communities are engaged in fierce competition for tourist dollars. As a result of this fierce competition communities are often on the cutting edge of new marketing techniques. This is why many communities were early adopters of the Internet as a communication tool. Blog marketing is the latest Internet marketing tool to be used to create competitive advantage in the market place.
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