The On the Record reader-response column in the June issue of Leisure Group Travel received more answers than we could print. Here are additional responses from CVBs and tour organizers on how they use online marketing tools to promote business:
Cleveland’s Online Strategies
Positively Cleveland, Cleveland’s convention and visitors bureau, utilizes an integrated system of online marketing tools to help establish the organization as an authority on Cleveland and to offer visitors a seamless experience by providing content that’s just a click away.
We offer two websites for Cleveland visitors: www.positivelycleveland.com for the leisure traveler and www.clevelandmeetings.com for meeting and convention planners. Visitors to both sites can learn about the city, book packages, use a mapping tool and chat with a Visitor Center Concierge Ambassador.
We create microsites for our Cleveland hospitality partners and meeting planners to supplement their event marketing with helpful visitor information about Cleveland’s big-city amenities like food, lodging, transportation, attractions and events taking place while they’re in town.
Events, city developments and hospitality partner news are shared across Positively Cleveland’s multiple platforms, with each posting tailored to the needs of account followers. We operate two blogs (FleeToTheCleve, and ClevelandMeetings). We’re also active on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. In addition, Postively Cleveland has photo sharing accounts with Pinterest; Flickr; and Instagram.
Interaction is the prime directive of our social media strategies, with visitors receiving individual attention and customized suggestions. Visitors can share their own Cleveland images, leave a message and receive real-time responses from a live Cleveland specialist, who is passionate about his or her hometown. We also utilize location-based social network FourSquare, www.foursquare.com/positivelycleve, to leave tips and photos around various locations in the region and to create city itineraries.
Email is another online marketing tool through which Positively Cleveland communicates with its audience. We create the quarterly Cleveland Plus Tour Tips, a group tour e-newsletter; Destination Cleveland Plus, a bi-monthly e-newsletter for meetings and conventions; Exchange, a monthly partnership newsletter; and Visit Cleveland Plus, our leisure tourism e-newsletter.
Positively Cleveland uses online marketing tools and extensive social media integration to reach new customers, inform visitors and retain our loyal following.
Alexandria’s Online Connections
At the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, we do the following:
- Create a monthly themed email blast with itinerary suggestions and package ideas, often based around a hotel’s location.
- Use LinkedIn groups for some solicitations, as well as occasionally getting some prospects from others who post looking for something.
- Visit reunion planning websites and reach out to folks who have either booked something in the DC area already or have in the past.
- Provide motorcoach information and easy online permit registration at www.visitalexandriava.com/motorcoach
Our new website design at www.visitalexandriava.com/groups includes an online group tour RFP that planners can fill out so that we can create a lead to distribute for them and downloadable new collateral—dining guide, hotels & accommodations, unique venues & experiences—that will help them plan a successful tour.
Group Sales Manager
Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association
Expressions of Gratitude
When I saw your request, I immediately thought of Alan Lininger of the Quality Inn Gettysburg. I just sent Alan an email last week, complimenting him on his use of Facebook to promote his business and thank his customers at the same time. He posts pics and thanks the companies that stay with his property. That is an excellent way to keep your name out there while publicly thanking the good folks you do business with. It’s one of my favorite uses of Facebook and although I have hundreds of industry friends, it seems we see far more grumbling than gratitude.
Regular Email Blasts
When booking tours, I look at hotel reviews under Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc. I use attraction and other websites because it is so hard to get hold of sales people as right now everyone is working with limited staff. I use e-mail a lot. We do e-mail blasts every two weeks, not every day or weekly.
Leisure Time Charters & Tours
One Valuable Disk
I just returned from the MO Bank Travel Conference, where I received a CD from Grand Central USA (comprised of Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas & Oklahoma). I put it in my computer out of curiosity to see what was on it and was pleasantly surprised. The CD contained PDF’s of attractions, hotels, parks, etc., in different areas of each state. What a wealth of information in one small disk instead of digging through piles of profile sheets. Bravo to them!
Brenda Eaton, Elite Advantage Director
Doing Homework Online
To me the websites for various venues are the best source of information. For instance, with hotels I can actually take a virtual tour to see the rooms and public areas. For restaurants I can study the menu selections and also see what the restaurant looks like and if it is group-friendly. Sometimes it is helpful to also read the comments that other guests have made about a certain location.
Patti Manville, Tour Coordinator
Eagle Bank & Trust
Fairfield Bay, AR