Tourism, Bowen Island and other stuff that comes to mind

UK Travel Marketing mirrors Australian endeavours
June 11, 2008, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This article mirrors from the UK to what was documented in an earlier posting regarding Australian Tourism Marketing on Facebook. Amazing how times have changed so rapidly!

Social networking is taking over email, says Facebook director
June 10, 2008
TravelMole’s Dinah Hatch reports that – in the United Kingdom – time spent on social network sites has now surpassed time spent emailing, according to Facebook’s UK director Blake Chandlee.

Chandlee told delegates at the Eye For Travel Travel Distribution Summit in London recently that the average user of social networking sites spends 302 minutes a month on sites such as Facebook, TripAdvisor and Bebo, while they spent only 179 minutes emailing. “If you are only planning on using traditional media to market your product you are only going to be successful some of the time,” said Chandlee. “You need to think how you can add value to the customer experience using these sites. Some 52% of all 25 to 34-year-olds in the UK are on Facebook now and in the last 30 days in the UK, 28 million events (people making arrangements to meet up) have been created on Facebook.”

“There are 10.5 million people in the UK with a profile on Facebook and 100,000 of them have a travel profile, Chandlee continued. “They can be targeted and a whole new level of marketing opens up.”

But’s CEO Ian McCaig warned that caution should be taken before companies jump into the social networking environment in an attempt to market their product. He explained: “There must be a level of sophistication and consideration because interruptive marketing in this environment does not work and alienates the customer as well as potentially damaging your brand. “You need to check that your marketing is not popping up in an environment where a transaction is not taking place and people are just talking to each other. Intruding on social networking with your brand in an irrelevant situation is not welcomed.”

Author: TOURISM staff
Organization: Canadian Tourism Commission


What DO they want?
June 10, 2008, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Business travellers want comfy bed, fast internet
June 9, 2008
A recent survey of business travellers by Radisson Hotels and Resorts reveal that comfort and technology (and a TV remote) are tops for relaxing business travel.

Half of Boomers and nearly that many Gen X/Y (48 percent) think a comfortable bed is the most important hotel feature, and more than one third of both groups indicated the quickest way to get stressed was through a slow or nonexistent hotel Internet connection.

Both Boomer and Gen X/Y business travellers chose “in-room spa” as their top dream hotel amenity (Boomers 56 percent, Gen X/Y 58 percent) and “hot shower” as the best way to unwind at the hotel (Boomers 38 percent, Gen X/Y 33 percent) and agreed that mini-bars (Boomers 69 percent, Gen X/Y 62 percent) and aromatherapy (Boomers 12 percent, Gen X/Y 13 percent) are the top amenities they don’t need.

When asked what they don’t want anyone to know they do on a business trip, both groups noted “watch TV all night” (Boomers 23 percent, Gen X/Y 20 percent) as a top guilty pleasure, although Boomers rated “eat junk food” (27 percent) as their other bad habit.

Author: TOURISM staff
Organization: Canadian Tourism Commission

Congratulations Peter Armstrong
June 4, 2008, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am so proud to have known Peter Armstrong since he knocked at my door when I was Director of Sales of Delta’s Airport Inn back in 1976.  He wanted to talk about Guest Service and how he could change the vistor to Vancouver’s experience onboard a sightseeing tour.  He has continuted that comittment to Quality Service ever since. 

You can to to and click on the souvenir section/library to order the book TRIP OF A LIFETIME which tells the story of Rocky Mountianeer.  It is a wonderful 15 year history of this ‘overnight success.  Tomorrow is the day that they will welcome thier ONE MILLIONTH GUEST onboard. 

‘This is one of the most deserved awards given out in the history of Canada’s tourism Industry.   Congratulations Peter!

Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame inductees honoured
June 3, 2008
Canada’s tourism products and services are among the best in the world, in no small part because of committed people like the five individuals inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame at an intimate reception at the Westin Hotel, in Ottawa.

“These five Canadians have made remarkable contributions over the years to the tourism sector and to their communities,” says Randy Williams, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “All are an inspiration to their peers, role models for young people entering the sector and outstanding examples of what can be achieved through tourism in Canada.”

TIAC is proud to announce this year’s inductees are Peter Armstrong, Walter Smith, Jean-Marc Eustache, Guy Lalibert√© and The Hon. Charles Lapointe.

Peter Armstrong
Founder of Rocky Mountaineer Vacations
As the founder of Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, Peter Armstrong has seen his organization evolve from a small entrepreneurial start-up company into one of Canada’s leading tourism providers. He helped revitalize train travel in Canada, offering visitors the “World’s Leading Travel Experience by Train”. His commitment to excellence extends beyond the visitor experience; the company has also been recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Employers.

Google Tourism
June 4, 2008, 5:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Google takes on Destination Marketing
June 2, 2008
In a post last week in Business Week, Catherine Holahan talks about an interview she did with Rob Torres, Google’s managing director for Travel where she gets the skinny on Google’s plans for the “$90+ billion global travel ad and sales market. Google has set its sights on Travel Destinations as a revenue opportunity.

As Holahan outlines in her article, Google is trying to take back control of the “advertising” opportunities around what is now primarily user-generated content posted by the general public to the leading video sharing site

Google’s Rob Torres says, “the goal of Google’s travel division (aside from generating revenue!) is to give users a destination where they can research travel plans, read user reviews, and see user uploaded videos and photos…already, about 50% of travelers use some sort of online social media site to research their plans…why not give them a one-stop shop for travel information.”

So Google’s quest is to “help” travel destinations and the associations and tourism boards that run them by helping them distribute canned and “advertorial” web video spots, on – and then lead users to other content including paid search ads, instead of encouraging advertisers to purchase ads around user generated content.

Check out the example that Holahan refers to in the article – New Zealand, which to date has had 884,621 views! In addition, they have posted 40 other videos to YouTube. Currently when you do a search in for the term “New Zealand” the top result is the destination’s promotional video – not the user generated videos posted by users.

According to Marion Edward in “Mouth/Mouse: Social Networking and the Travel Industry, “YouTube has already grown to serve more than 100 million video views per day and is receiving more than 65,000 video uploads daily…with a user base ranging from 18-49, spanning all geographies.”

There are however tourism destinations already actively posting videos to YouTube and other video sharing sites such as Yahoo! Video,, and, but user generated content seems to still be the most watched videos. I am sure that Google will make some changes to the algorithms that uses to serve up search results. This medium then becomes less of a social network and more a “pay to play” advertising vehicle.

My take? Google wants to make sure that they are capitalizing on the revenue opportunity the You presents – which is fairly minimal if destinations are simply advertising in conjunction with user generated content, and many are not yet comfortable with that. Advertisers seem to still want “control” over the message and have not fully embraced “endorsing” or accepting the reality of user generated content and reviews, and the role they now play in the buying cycle of travel.

“Fueling Google’s travel plans is consumers move to researching and booking vacations online… In 2007, more travel sales were booked online than in person”, says Google’s Rob Torres. “That means travel marketers, many of whom already spend millions on search ads and the like, will likely shift more of their budgets to the Web…rather than try to convince travel marketers to advertise on user-generated videos, they can sell sponsored destination pages on YouTube where travel marketers can post their own videos and influence or control what types of content users upload. Then Google can also sell other forms of advertising, such as search ads, to drive traffic to the site.”

Will users who consume embrace an advertising message over user generated content? Is there room for both? I guess we will see!

Author: Alicia Whalen
Organization: A Couple of Chicks E-Marketing

Bowen needs one of these….drastically!
May 24, 2008, 4:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

From the CTC Tourism Daily, May 24th, 2008

Boutique hotels: good for the good times?
May 22, 2008
Boutique hotels have been all the rage in the lodging industry. Developers want to build them. Guests want to stay in them. Travel writers want to wax on about their virtues.

But Robert Mandelbaum asks on if boutique hotels are popular with their owners? How has boutique hotel financial performance stacked up to industry-wide benchmarks as the lodging industry has progressed through the ups and downs of the recent business cycle?

To answer these questions, PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) has analyzed the revenues, expenses, and profits from a group of boutique hotels which provided their year-end financial statements to PKF-HR for the firm’s annual Trends in the Hotel Industry survey. The sample consisted solely of properties that provided data for each year from 2000 to 2006 (most current data available).

While boutique revenues have exceeded industry averages, so have operating expenses. From 2000 through 2006, total expenses have run approximately 55% greater at boutique hotels than the typical US hotel when measured on a dollar-per-available-room basis. Fortunately, the boutique sample achieved unit-level profits that averaged 57% greater than the total Trends sample.

In general, boutique hotels achieved superior gains in revenue and profits during periods of prosperity, but also suffered to a greater degree during the depths of the 2001 through 2003 industry recession.

From 2000 to 2003, US hotels averaged a decline in total revenue of 15.1%, while profits fell off 36.2%. Unfortunately for boutique hotel owners and operators, the declines in performance were much worse. During the industry recession, the typical boutique property in the Trends sample suffered declines of 25.0 % in total revenue and 52.9% in profits.

Conversely, from 2004 through 2006 boutique hotels enjoyed a quicker pace of recovery than the industry at large. During this period boutique properties saw their revenues grow 36.6%, while profits increased a very healthy 75.5%. The recovery for the typical US hotel was more gradual. Industry-wide growth averaged 26.7% for revenues and 45.8 % for profits.

The volatile performance of this lodging segment can be partially attributable to the urban location of most boutique hotels. In general, urban areas, especially the major gateway cities suffered the most during the 2001 to 2003 industry recession. Fortunately, these same cities have recovered strongly since then.

The “first generation” of boutique hotels had some common development characteristics, writes Mandelbaum. They were frequently constructed within the shell of a historic building and located just a few blocks off the prime heart of the central business district. By receiving historic structure and urban re-development tax credits, these boutique properties were able keep their overall development costs in-line, and devote a large portion of their development budgets to interior design. This moderation in development cost, along with superior market performance, combined to provide a favorable impact on the return on investment.

In recent years, most boutique hotels have been built from the ground up and don’t possess the antique charm historically associated with boutique properties. Instead, they thrive on the desire to be hip, modern, trendy, and full of the latest technological and entertainment amenities. In turn, development costs have escalated, but justified by the strong historical financial performance of this sector.

Given the historical elastic performance of the boutique hotel segment, Mandelbaum notes, it will be interesting to see how these unique properties perform when industry performance is basically flat. PKF-HR believes boutique hotels will continue to enjoy the strong performance premiums they’ve historically achieved, but without the wild cyclical oscillations seen in the past.

Author: TOURISM staff
Organization: Canadian Tourism Commission

Facebook and MySpace take over "down under" marketing!
May 12, 2008, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

WOW….this is a huge departure from regular Tourism Marketing, and for a destination like Australia to do this shows a major vote of confidence in ‘social networking’.  What’s next?

MySpace to change face of Aussie tourism
May 9, 2008
Jessica Hurt writes in Australia’s The Advertiser in Adelaide, that the days of television advertising as the main tool for attracting tourists to the land down under are long gone. Before setting off on a big adventure, many travellers are now likely to book their trips online, check out reviews from other holidaymakers, scroll through accommodation and travel sites and then keeping friends up to date with their trip through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

And now the impact of these sites is about to be put to the test, Hurt argues. From this week onwards, the world’s largest social networking site, MySpace, will be used to lure the lucrative youth market to Australia, from countries including Britain and the US.

Tourism Australia announced the campaign at a market briefing with local tourism operators in Adelaide recently. Targeting the all-important 18 to 30-year-old market, the interactive campaign will aim to stimulate travel to Australia as well as promote Australia’s working holiday visa program run in Britain, the US, Canada and Ireland.

People in these countries will be able to designate Australia as a category on their web page and upload their own photographs from their Australian holiday to share with other users. The campaign will run over 12 months and is being launched in Ireland and Britain this week and rolled out to the remaining markets early in May.

Tourism Australia managing director Geoff Buckley believes the way to reach the youth market is to “talk to them in their own language, and through the media they prefer; online communities like MySpace provide an authentic environment for young travellers to share their own stories,” he says.

As well as a new mode of communication, we could soon see a new tourism branding for Australia. Not since Paul Hogan put a shrimp on a barbie in the famous ’80s tourism ads has Auatralia managed to brand itself so well, writes Hurt. In March, 2005, a bikini-clad model named Lara Bingle helped launch the controversial “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.

Tenders are out for Tourism Australia’s global creative and media buying agencies. The results are expected to be known by August. The future of the “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign is expected to be decided around that time.

The new MySpace page will harness social networking by including interactive elements such as a “widget” that users can drop and drag their “top friends” into. Friends of the profile will be able to upload their own photos and video content to the site, as well as being able to upload features from the Tourism Australia page on their own MySpace profiles.

According to Nielsen Online, nearly half the Australian population has social networking profiles and, in the next 12 months, half of the non-users indicated they would be signing up. Tourism Australia’s general manager of trade development, Matt Cameron-Smith, noted social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, could be valuable tools for marketing Australia as a tourism destination.

Author: TOURISM staff
Organization: Canadian Tourism Commission

Attracting New Customers
April 15, 2008, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Attract new customers for any travel business published in the Toronto Globe & Mail (pay particular attention to "what the experts say section:

Shifting a bike tour into higher gear

The challenge: Attract new, younger customers. The plan: Become an industry expert through media outreach. The payoff: A new generation of customers ready to travel


Globe and Mail Update – March 3, 2008 at 10:30 AM EDT

BikeHike Adventures, a Vancouver-based adventure tour company, has been organizing sports-themed vacations for its actively inclined clientele for more than a decade. Veteran traveller Trish Sare, BikeHike’s 42-year-old owner and operator, founded the company in 1994 after wandering the world for the better part of 15 years.

National Geographic Adventure magazine has recognized Ms. Sare as one of the best adventure tour operators in the world. In November, the magazine’s team of adventure editors and travel writers voted BikeHike the second-best biking outfitter on Earth.

The typical BikeHike explorer is active and outdoorsy, aged 25 to 55, with a disposable income large enough to absorb up to $3,000 for a two-week vacation (not counting airfare) that may well find them sleeping in a tent.

While Ms. Sare’s expeditions are physically challenging, she says her customers are “just regular mortals in good physical condition” who work out a few times a week.

bike inside The Globe and Mail

Still, it’s a safe bet that weak-kneed culture vultures won’t be signing up for BikeHike’s nine-day “high-energy extravaganza” (biking, hiking, rafting, kayaking and rappelling) in Brazil this year, or the coast-to-coast “muscle power” expedition in Costa Rica.

In the midst of Ms. Sare’s fairy-tale existence, a few storm clouds have appeared on the horizon. “Things are changing,” she says, explaining that she’s traditionally relied on word of mouth to bring her new customers.

“Our clients are getting a little older, and maybe they’re starting to look for a little more luxury and something a little softer.”

If she is going to keep her business going in the right direction, she needs to revitalize her customer roster with younger people who will keep coming back year after year, instead of relying on those loyal travellers who have been with her from the start.

While Ms. Sare doesn’t want to give up the adrenalin-based adventures, she has decided to change her business plan to include family excursions and “wellness trips” centred around yoga and meditation. “I wish I had an answer as to why we haven’t grown faster. I don’t have a business background, so I learn as I go,” she says, explaining that her bookings have plateaued at about 100 customer trips a year.

What the experts say

Hill & Knowlton Canada’s senior vice-president, Kadi Kaljuste, says Ms. Sare should mention the National Geographic award on every piece of paper BikeHike produces – be it pamphlets, letterhead or business cards.

She should also make sure her company’s voice mail mentions the designation to help entice first-time callers.

“Larger companies can simply order more letterhead,” Ms. Kaljuste says. “For smaller companies, it can be cost prohibitive to dump what you have. You can get stickers done to put on all of your printed materials – it’s a simple fix.”

Ms. Kaljuste also sees opportunities for Ms. Sare to reach out to younger travellers by becoming something of a celebrity. She says Ms. Sare should approach tourism authorities – national, provincial and municipal – and offer herself up as an example of a successful operator.

She should also seek out speaking opportunities, as a way of prospecting for new leads.

“She can offer herself up as the poster child of excellence in adventure travel,” Ms. Kaljuste says.

She should find other industry awards – why not try for entrepreneur of the year, Ms. Kaljuste asks – and do whatever needs to be done to ensure BikeHike makes it to the top of the National Geographic rankings again next year.

She warns that media hits have a best-before date. Ms. Sare did the right thing when she sent out a press release to let the world know about the designation, provided she had a good media contact list. She says every small-business owner should have a “living, breathing list” of important media publications, and know what is being written about them.

“It has to be sent to the right people – there’s the mainstream media, regional dailies, trade publications, blogs,” she says.

Maggie Fox, founder of Social Media Group in Dundas, Ont., agrees that Ms. Sare stands a good chance of becoming something of an Internet celebrity in her field. Thousands of potential customers are reading travel blogs each day, and who better to write one than someone who zips around the world non-stop?

“Most people talk on and on about the one trip they took last year, but this is her life,” Ms. Fox says. “She could have one of the biggest, most influential travel blogs on the Internet. She has the stories; she has the pictures. That’s a lot of interesting stuff to talk about that a lot of people would be interested in reading.”

Ms. Sare already has a blog on BikeHike’s website, but it’s only updated once a month. If a business is going to bother, Ms. Fox says there needs to be an investment of time and resources. If it’s done right, it should lead to more customers.

“You’ll never save on labour with social media because it takes time and effort to participate in online communities,” she says. “But if you’re comparing it to a media buy, it’s a lot cheaper.”

Essential to any website, Ms. Fox says, are assets such as photographs. She’s “shocked” there are so few images for prospective customers to look at when they visit the BikeHike site, and says it’s likely one of the easiest things to fix.

Ms. Fox also strongly encourages Ms. Sare to find bloggers who are already covering her industry. She suggests using Google’s blog search feature to root them out, and then checking them out at Technorati – a website that shows how influential a blog is by counting how many other pages use it as a link.

“Find those people,” she says. “Leave comments that are in context. Add value, start to form relationships with these people.”

Readers tend to place value in what their favourite bloggers write, so Ms. Fox says Ms. Sare should consider offering an influential writer a free trip.

The blogger would be expected to file regular updates to his or her site – a word-of-mouth coup that could lead to more business.

If she’d rather not let a stranger travel the world on her dime, she could turn to her repeat customers and have them file regular dispatches from their next trip.

“She’s not sending these people to Disneyland,” Ms. Fox says. “This is really interesting stuff that people will want to read about.”

Of course, things can go wrong online.

It’s essential that she not flood bloggers with advertisements or quick one-liners. If you annoy them, the effort could backfire.

“It’s like a conversation,” she says. “You don’t just walk up to a group of people while they are talking and say, ‘Hey, look what I am doing.’ It’s off-putting. It all has to stem from legitimate – and I’m going to emphasize that – legitimate relationships. She can’t spam them with content. She has to really make it a marketing effort to get out there and read that stuff and figure out who’s talking about what, and contribute.”


Become an expert

People browse blogs looking for expert opinions about things that interest them. Start a blog, and become the trusted source of information.

Tell your story

A website has to be more than a lot of text explaining what a company does. Use photos and video to present a realistic picture of what you are offering.

Know your outlets

Every small business owner should have their own list of relevant media publications that cover their industry.

Take advantage of awards

If you receive an important industry designation, make sure you tell people.