This was my first time to the eTourism Summit and first time to San Francisco. My last conference was Phoenix Design Week a high powered design conference in Phoenix Arizona. As much as I like to network and grow in my native design industry, having worked for the Flagstaff CVB for the last 4 years I have an added responsibility to learn more about the industry of tourism. My supervisor suggested the eTourism Summit…I’m thankful she did.
In the world of travel/tourism visitors are exposed to a host of options for designing their getaway; from Trip Advisor, Yelp and Urban Spoon, to mobile apps like Tripit, and social sharing sites like Twitter and Facebook. Destination Marketers are presented with challenge of harnessing the various media options out there in one centralized media hub and projecting it out in the proliferation of devices that are on the market today.
I’m not going to try and sum up what I learned or sound as if I have all the answers from a two day conference but I did learn to appreciate the challenge destination marketing organizations (DMOs), face and am all to familiar with ecommerce’s widening grasp of the marketplace. As a graphic designer I have faced many of the same technology expectations. Clients want you to be able to provide the next greatest technological thing; they want speed, they want it cheap and they want it done yesterday.
For DMO’s the next step is finding the team that can provide the answers, whether it is an internal team or working with an agency, you need to build a collaboration of trust and communication that leads to solutions. Some of my suggestions are to be careful not to pigeonhole yourself into a solution that isn’t adaptable. Take the reins of social media and engage with your community, build your networks and be transparent. Brainstorm, plan and empower your staff to work together, every voice counts.
Some of the key themes I pulled from this conference were collaboration and building from what you know. Expand on your key resources and leverage your assets. Build with user generated content and partnerships. Get to know Google Adwords. With all of these don’t be afraid to experiment and be creative.
An interesting article on some of the same concepts suggests new tools for the evolving digital landscape:
As digital technologies create a continuing disruptive environment, old methodical, systematic and proprietary approaches must be augmented with new skills.
Here’s some of what’s needed:
Integration: In the analog world, things moved slowly enough that people with diverse abilities had time to learn to collaborate as new technologies developed. Digital technology, however, moves at dizzying speed and people of varied talent and expertise must find a way to work together on the run.
Today, points of operational interface need to be the primary focus of managing digital activity.
Partnerships and Frenemies: The world is changing so fast that nobody can really keep up with it. We’re all a little bit lost. Therefore, it is important to be able to develop mutually beneficial partnerships, in the form of licenses, standards and joint ventures, even with competitors. No one can do it all.
Empowerment: Another consequence of the digital age is the multitude of capabilities involved, which means management knows very little about each individual speciality. Control has become an illusion and the lunatics really do run the asylum.
If people aren’t empowered to share their views, an important part of the strategic picture is lost. Even worse, since very few people understand the work of highly skilled specialists, those with coveted skills will often simply do what they think is best and not tell anyone. Why fight to get your voice heard when you and you only control what you actually do?
— Digital Strategy vs. Digital Skills, 2010 November 3
One last final thought from the perspective of a lone graphic designer is don’t forget the visual landscape that you are entering. As consumers navigate the web they may want speed and functionality above everything else but in light of this last weeks events we cannot forget the importance of brand. Steve Jobs taught us that it’s not just the speed and functionality but also the visual exterior that counts. We live in a different world because of Jobs and his company. One where people identify themselves with every accessory they own. From not just your Nike shoes or beverage of choice but now people identify with their peripheral devices. They arm themselves with gadgets and take sides for what they believe in. Jobs created a brand of computers that had style, people weren’t just working on a computer they were given the choice of colors they proudly touted their devotion in a Microsoft dominated world. The Mac was never just another personal computing device and your web, mobile or social media strategies should never be just tool’s that offer speed. They should reflect your company and give the consumer a feeling of presence, they should know exactly where they are in the digital landscape and feel comfortable knowing it. I want speed if I want to order wings but I also want to know where I’m getting them from so I can go back or so I can shout it out on social media. I want the quickest solution with the most information and to be able to purchase tickets, make a booking and get solid advice from one place but I also want to know it’s a reliable source that I can trust.
If there is one thing I’ve learned form attending both of these conferences it’s that there are a lot of people out there with the same expectations, fears, concerns and ambitions and they are all trying to stay up to speed. Be sure you are not neglecting the true value of who you are and what you offer and not becoming just another technological fix with bells and whistles.
Video from my trip: