California tourism site gets facelift

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 4.30.10 PMVisit California has unveiled a sleeker site for the state’s direct marketing organization (DMO). As a former California girl myself, it’s refreshing to see the digital portal align itself more closely with the natural beauty and excitement of the Golden State. Visit California will be the crown jewel in a media marketing plan costing $100 million a year.

A curated gallery of California’s abundance of experiences, the new offers compelling content that better embodies our dreamer lifestyle… The site includes big, bold images that bring the California experience to life, showing consumers the abundance of what the Golden State has to offer. –Caroline Beteta, president & CEO, Visit California.

This is the website’s first overhaul in 10 years. While online travel agents remain the most popular source for travel planning, destination websites are the second most-used source for researching leisure travel in the United States. The new site represents a commitment to establishing the California brand in the digital space. The new model also serves to lure international visitors to the state.

[It’s] a vehicle we can use to inspire people and convert, especially in international markets, such as Brazil and China, where they typically have limited understanding of California beyond Hollywood and Disneyland. [We want to] show people sides of California they haven’t seen before, and to do so in a way that’s shareable. – Lynn Carpenter, vice president of marketing, Visit California


Travel advertising: Trends taking off in 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]

What’s in store for the travel advertising industry in 2015? If there’s one thing we love here at Strauss Media, it’s a good infographic. The folks at Expedia Media Solutions and PhoCusWright did not disappoint.

In 2015, expect to see:

Robust Growth: Travel display ad spend will top $395 million in 2015, compared with $366 million in 2013.

Increased Social and Video Advertising: Eighty-five percent of advertisers are using Facebook to reach consumers; a clear win when you compare it with statistics for Foursquare/Twitter promoted tweets (46 percent) and Twitter lead generation cards (45 percent). Additionally, the number of travelers who used online video for travel planning has steadily grown, reflected in the tripling in social and video ad budgets between 2011 and 2015.

Trends on the Horizon: Social ad targeting and retargeting technologies will be on the rise. Forty-six percent of marketers claim social media is effective at generating brand awareness, while 28 percent of marketers identify social media as useful in driving leads or purchases.


KLM gets local with new employee-run Twitter account for travelers

It’s easy for companies to grow stale on social media – but not Dutch airline KLM, which continues to dominate social media. Its latest venture is LocalEyes, a Twitter account and webpage offering tips from local employees.

Every week, the company chooses an employee to take over the LocalEyes Twitter account and tweet about local traditions and culture, cozy coffee shops, hotel recommendations, and more.

This week features Stockholm tips by KLM employee Madeleine:

After a week, all the tweets are rounded up and posted to the LocalEyes website. The Twitter account is then handed off to the next employee for another dose of hyper-local recommendations in a new city.

Past KLM social media experiments include destination info mashup site MyDreamCatcher, social gifting service Wannagives, a space flight contest called Claim your space in space, and trip tips via a social graph-based application called Must See Map.

Kudos to KLM for keeping the travel industry on its toes.


Sixty Things You Should Know About Social Media in Travel

Via Tnooz, by Julie McNamee from Webnwords.

Here’s a selection of mostly social media tips that I picked up from World Travel Market in London this week.

Social media’s “Dirty Little Secret” (Social data)

Sarah Kennedy Ellis – Sabre Labs

1) Instagram is the place to be for brands – people engage with brands 40 times more on that platform than they do on Twitter, and 20 times more than Facebook. Great for brand engagement.

2) Photos aid conversion – another good reason for making use of Instagram.

3) According to Sabre Labs research, more men submitted photos with their check-ins on FourSquare than women.

4) 60% of smiley faces and exclamation marks were used by women on check ins.

5) Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a great research tool, eg for analysing the subject matter of a large number of photographs.

6) Small companies with small budgets can access 10% of Twitter’s feed for research purposes.

7) A good way of searching Instagram is by hashtag #.

Facebook – Future of travel marketing

Lee McCabe – Facebook

8) Facebook marketing is all about:

  • Efficiency
  • Multi-channel (across devices)
  • Identity

9) Facebook tools include Facebook Exchange – re-targeting within one hour of leaving the website.

10) Facebook Connect – for increased conversion rate with easy one-click logging in, plus lots of profile information.

11) The travel journey includes and is helped by Facebook:

  • Dreaming – is kicked off by viewing friends’ photos
  • Planning
  • Booking
  • The experience – is shared with updates and photo sharing
  • Reflecting – the photos kick off friends’ dreaming

12) Mobile’s is clearly where it’s at – an increasingly so in the future

13) 45% of the world’s population are forecast to have a smartphone by 2015.

14) For the first time, digital media consumption has overtaken TV in the US – driven by mobile.

15) There are 874 million mobile daily active users of Facebook.

16) Match the people on your CRM database with their Facebook profiles to find out more about them and connect with them.

17) Graph search is getting better at targeting hotels and restaurants that you really might like (with the help of friend recommendations).

How travel bloggers impact the booking funnel

Debbie Hindle – Four bgb

18) The traditional marketing funnel is: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action

19) The new marketing funnel (c/o Xavier Blanc) is:

  • Reach
  • Engage
  • Activate
  • Nurture

20) Your customers don’t care about you as a brand. They care about themselves.

21) Content marketing = creating the information your customers are passionate about.

22) Example of an effective campaign is the #Feelmorealive campaign by adventure travel company Exodus – blog posts, photos, videos – lots of content by bloggers and lots of shares.


23) Another is the Liming Appreciation Society for St Vincent and the Grenadines – a group of bloggers invited to provide posts, imagery and video. 60% of searchers have viewed one of the videos before booking. The most popular post was shared 2,000 times.

24) Traditional marketing is about telling the world what a rockstar you are. Content marketing is showing the world what a rockstar you are.

Travel blogging

Keith Jenkins – Velvet Escape

25) The value of bloggers? Niche experts, personal experience, immediacy and an audience.

26) The booking funnel is:

  • Inspiration
  • Influence
  • The Final Nudge

27) As a blogger, one photo Jenkins posted (of ice floating) was viewed 2,000 times and resulted in four bookings for a travel company overnight.

28) Bloggers are good for giving tips and sharing ideas on where to go/what to do.

29) The feedback from people who have taken their advice is invaluable for the company concerned.

30) When engaging a blogger, have specific objectives in mind. What do you want out of the relationship?:

  • Brand exposure?
  • Online content?
  • To drive engagement?
  • To grow your social media followers?
  • To make sales?

31) Monitor the results of your blogging campaign by

  • Using tracking codes
  • Using vouchers or downloads
  • Using tracking systems
  • Keeping track of blogger posts

32) Agree the number of posts, tweets etc with the blogger before you start.

Nicholas Montemaggi – Emilia Romagna Tourism Board

33) Needed a way to make people more aware of Emilia Romagna, so came up with the idea of Blogville – providing an apartment for the use of bloggers from all over the world. The tag line was “Eat, feel and live like a local in Italy”.


34) Only cost to the tourist board was for the apartment – bloggers paid their way.

35) Master of the house present at all times to help and advise the bloggers.

36) Campaign carried out over 2 years – 120 bloggers and 500 blog posts, 3.8 million Twitter users reached and 700,000 visitors later…

37) Example direct benefit – a Chinese blogger went on a cooking course and wrote a post with lots of photos. The organisation who ran the course reported 2 bookings from China overnight!

38) Important: Spaghetti bolognese isn’t a real dish – it’s tagliatelle ragu! :)

Lee Stuart – Caliber

39) Bloggers bring authenticity and honesty.

40) Brands and PR companies should look for focused blogs – not necessarily big blogs.

41) Look at the kind of keywords the bloggers rank for – there’ll be a ready-made audience for your product if it fits that keyword.

42) Bloggers are hyper-local.

43) They can act as guides to your destination.

Are you mobile?

44) The cost of marketing an app is going to be much more (and much more important) than building the app.

45) Tip for the future – we’re going to be seeing mobile-only companies in future.

Social media masterclass 2013

Alan Young – TrustYou

46) 81% of online reviews are positive (according to TrustYou stats).

47) In the UK, 49% of online travel reviews are on, 37% on TripAdvisor.

48) The more reviews you have the more likely you are to benefit from them.

Debbie Hindle – Four BGB

49) Kuoni has wifi in its shops so people can check TripAdvisor when they’re discussing booking a holiday.

50) When coming up with your new holiday campaign, think about you want your customers to feel. Eg, how did you feel on your first holiday?

51) Viator have pages worth of information on each of the locations they feature. They have lots of useful stuff to keep visitors on your site and make it more likely you’ll book with them. They also reward customers with treats and rewards and have conversations with them.

Google and travel: Sharing best practice

Sarah McDonald – Google head of travel

52) Airbnb has a great guide to Brixton that gives lots of authentic, interesting information about the area.

brixton airbnb

53) The questions everyone asks themselves when choosing something.

  • Is this product what it says it is?
  • Is it right for me?
  • Is it at the right price?

54) Video can address some of these questions. For example it can give a street view from inside the hotel and a better feel for what your hotel is and where it is.

55) YouTube isn’t as good as Twitter and Facebook at helping consumers find relevant material. Brands should take not and learn to optimise videos.

56) An excellent site is Visit Brasil – consumers can make their own wishlists on what they want to hear about and the site will give hand back relevant information.

57) Have a common experience across all channels.

58) Use relevancy and urgency like the big hotel booking sites do.

59) The journey isn’t just online or offline – there are touch-points on both for a lot of people.

60) 89% of social media users share holidays photos while away – even if they don’t share the rest of the year. Connect with them when they do it and continue to talk to them when they come back. Reach out at every stage.

NB: This is a contributed article by Julie McNamee from Webnwords. Follow McNamee on Twitter.

Tracks on the tracks

It takes about 30 minutes for London’s Gatwick Express, a fast train, to run between Gatwick Airport and the London Victoria railway station.

In 30 minutes, you can also be completely transported in a different way, not by rail, but through music. Gatwick officials created an innovative music experience, titled Express Tracks, by commissioning three wildly differing artists to score the view speeding past the windows. The landscape’s nuances become more pronounced to travelers, punctuated by emotional cello notes and thumping beats.

Indie band The Milk, dubstep producer Benga, and Oscar-nominated composer Philip Sheppard took on the challenge.

Customers buy a train ticket online, download one of the three tracks to the iPod, and hit play as the train creaks away from the station, transforming a humdrum experience into something magical.

For more information, visit

Rad ad to travelers: Drop everything and go

Whoever crafted this compelling campaign for the adventurous at heart deserves a gold medal (or at least a few frequent flier miles).

Behold: Departure Roulette / Heineken Dropped.

The company plucks airport travelers en route to their flights and asks if they’d like to tempt fate and push a button, activating a departure board that spits out a random destination. Seems like fun, until you take into account the rule that defines the game: you must commit to leave for that destination at that very moment. Hey, you’re already packed. That bachelor party can wait, right?

Several hardy travelers took the plunge and scattered across the globe to far-flung locales like Morocco, Cambodia, and Alaska, documenting their journeys for Heineken.

Bon voyage!

Socially Smart: Turkish Airlines

Though companies engage in social media marketing every day, it’s rare to reach that pinnacle achievement. Yes, folks, we are talking about going VIRAL! (In a good way, not a sickbed sort of way.) How have hospitality and tourism companies been managing their social media campaigns? We’ll examine several businesses over the coming months and see how they’ve done.

First up: Turkish Airlines. At Strauss Media, we’ve had a soft spot for Turkey thanks to an extended visit to Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, and Ephesus. If you ever make it to Turkey, the enormous, awe-inspiring Hagia Sophia in Istanbul should be at the top of your to-see list. A close second is the ancient city of Ephesus, remarkably preserved down to a backgammon table etched in marble.

So of course we were Turkish Delighted (sorry) when Turkish Airlines unveiled a TV ad that went viral last year. In it, basketball phenom Kobe Bryant and soccer star Lionel Messi battle to win a young fan’s heart, but ice cream triumphs at the end. Check it out:

At last count, the ad had nearly 105 million views – definitely an effective use in the digital marketing sphere. What digital campaigns has your company successfully executed?

15 Digital Media Resources You Might Have Missed

Reblogged from Mashable: From an innovative 23-year-old Vine creator to a “digital detox” summer camp for adults, here’s a roundup of the latest digital tricks, tips, and other news of note. – S.S.

By Elisha Hartwig
Another month has flown by, and we’re really hoping all those April showers will (finally) bring us May flowers. With graduation and Mother’s Day quickly approaching, it would be easy to miss out on the latest updates in tech and social media — but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

As always, we at Mashable have rounded up the most noteworthy features to keep you informed, so read on to learn about new Facebook features and cool digital tools to make your life easier.

Screen shot courtesy of The Grid, Kelby Media Group

Have app, will travel

If you’ve got time to travel and a healthy dose of adventure, a new app promises flight discounts if you let it pick your destination.

GetGoing, a San Francisco startup, offers savings of up to 40 percent to users who book a flight through the service. The catch: GetGoing does the choosing for you.

In a system called “Pick Two, Get One,” users pick two destinations from search results and the app makes the final choice.


GetGoing asks for your nearest airport and your search criteria: city, region name, or “experience,” which ranges from “Family-Friendly Travel” to “Skiing Exotic Destinations.” Choose your travel dates and the app does the rest for you, lending an element of surprise to the process.

Says Alex Vernitsky, co-founder and CEO of GetGoing, “You can easily find places that are affordable, that are fun for you to go to. That was the very idea: to get people who want to get on the road and see the world, and enable them to do it at a big discount.”

The savings come from the app’s relationship with airlines, many of which have empty seats to fill.

Currently GetGoing is only available for leisure travelers.

Will you check out this new app for your next adventure?

Marriott introduces new tech-friendly hotels


Marriott beckoned to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of tech-savvy travelers weary of overpriced, spotty Wi-Fi access with nowhere to put their USB cords and lo, the Moxy Hotels brand was born.

The company recently announced the innovative budget-friendly hotel chain, which features free Wi-Fi connection, built-in USB ports in each wall socket, two “Plug and Meet” meeting spaces, 56-inch televisions for presentations, large writing walls, and complimentary computers. Guests can even check in with their smartphones. Aimed at the ever-wired Millennials, Moxy will open in Western Europe in 2014.