As the sizzling summer heat wave continues to stretch across much of the United States, I thought it might be a good idea to look at how the travel industry is utilizing both social media and online newsrooms to more effectively reach out to potential customers.
Although some organizations continue to focus on using their online newsrooms to target solely journalists, several savvy communicators have begun to leverage the power of a "socialized online newsroom" to help provide compelling and useful content to consumers. By doing this, you can create a targeted message and engage directly with your potential customers. In effect, you become the publisher. In our recent Social Media News Survey report, we saw that more and more people are using social media to monitor, consume and share your organization's news. It only makes sense for you to create content for these news consumers.
Several studies have already been conducted showing how social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are dramatically impacting people's travel choices. Trip reviews (both positive and negative), recommendations, and destination photos and videos have all become commonplace across the social media universe, especially on channels like Flickr and YouTube. Organizations like VRBO and HomeAway are using Twitter as a way to reach out to potential customers. Even travel agencies and booking websites such as Expedia are going full throttle with their social media engagement efforts, providing coupons, deals as well as customer service from within their various social networks. There are a lot of good examples in the travel industry of this trend.
People are always asking me for good case study / best practice online newsrooms and the following sites, in my opinion, provide a good framework for how best to integrate social media into your online newsroom. Two key factors include ensuring that all of your online newsroom content is "shareable" so that people can quickly pass along the information in their social networks, via email, or repost on their blog AND generating frequent multimedia content. Relevant content. And a lot of it.
Vail Resorts, for the past several years has managed a very good social media online newsroom that focuses on providing great content to their consumers, sharing that content on their various social platforms, and allowing others to easily share or embed that content into their own networks. Their online newsroom is colorful, with a rotating carousel of updated stories and eye-pleasing graphics.
They've integrated their Twitter account, @VailResortsNews, directly into their home page and also have the ability to publish directly from the online newsroom to their various networks of Twitter and Facebook accounts including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Heavenly resorts, as well as a corporate, international, and real estate online newsrooms. Additionally, they are very active in engaging with their followers on Twitter. It is not enough to just "fire and forget" content into your Twitter stream automatically. The real value comes in subsequently engaging with your followers, responding to their questions, and ReTweeting others who have said something nice about your organization or posted a photo from their trip.
Vail also maintains a network of online newsrooms for nine of their other properties under the brand RockResorts, which includes additional resorts in Colorado, but also several international vacation spots. Where these online newsrooms shine is in providing a vast archive of multimedia content including photos, logos, and video. They also have created targeted content for their potential and existing customers.
With headlines like "Book early for the best winter deals at RockResorts" and "Value-Packed Getaway Offers Free Night" you can see that they are including content targeted towards not only journalists, but also at the casual travel consumer who might be searching Google or monitoring Twitter to find some great travel deals. This mixture of content marketing and social media can be very effective to help generate new leads, provide information to potential customers, and ultimately to help increase the awareness of your organization within social media channels. The online newsroom can be the centralized location to help you manage all of that.
The Florida Keys online newsroom is another good example of communicators leveraging their large multimedia database by providing a simple, easy-to-navigate gallery of pictures and videos. With more than 100 web-ready (and high-resolution) photos ranging from bridges and roads to coral reef and destination shots, the Florida Keys online newsroom is a go-to site not only for journalists, but also for possible vacationers. And, the team at Newman PR is also very active with the @KeysNews Twitter account providing tips, facts, and links to stories about travel, Florida, and the Keys. They frequently link to their online newsroom stories from their Twitter account, but also make sure that they provide additional information such as calendar events.
A lot can be learned from studying how some travel companies are effectively using social media and online newsrooms to provide a wealth of compelling content to interested news consumers. Vail Resorts, Rock Resorts, and the Florida Keys all continue to provide great content and over the years have begun to effectively integrate their social media efforts into their online newsroom with solid results.