Tag Archives: Phoenix Design Week

eTourism Summit, 2011

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.

Related blogs:

About the eTourism Summit

DMO Strategy: Technology or Inspiration? By

Digital Strategy vs. Digital Skills By Greg Satell

Video from my trip:


Traveling via iPhone and Social Media

So I just got back from a day trip to Phoenix for a Adobe CS5.5 workshop. It was a last minute decision to go, but I’m glad I did. Not only was it a great workshop and a good networking experience but it was also a Social Media experience in traveling with an iPhone.

Going down to Phoenix, Arizona, a two hour drive from Flagstaff in Northern Arizona is a necessity when living in a small town and trying to maintain a big city career as a graphic designer. If you want to stay up on current trends and fresh on the current software and technologies you need to participate in all the events you can. Webinars are great but you sacrifice face time and valuable networking. I have found maintaining contacts in Phoenix a valuable resource and refreshing source of inspiration. Plus you can’t beat the real life exposure to the city. It is alive with networks of communication that speak to you the moment you enter; roadway signs, city transport advertising, architecture, radio airwaves and fashion trends all seek to get your attention and inspire or motivate a mind in need of new motivation.

Twitter Converstation between Mikerdzign and Mountain_O

With my iPhone prepared I planned ahead the night before and asked on twitter for the best app to use as a navigation tool. I go to phoenix a few times a year and typically get lost or thrown off course at least once or twice. Thanks to @Mountain_O, a friend in the Flagstaff community of tweeps, I was referred to Mapquest, I’ve heard of it before but had not used it until now. So I tried it, plugged in my destination, along with a destination to a nearby lunch venue and lastly to a friends house from the event so that I would leave no room for error. Mapquest turned out to be a great tool and friend; the soothing female voice giving directions became quite comforting. Even though I’ve been to Phoenix a thousand times I never fail to take the wrong off ramp or get detoured by construction and end up in some undesirable neighborhood off the freeway where I feel like I need to lock the doors and not make eye contact for fear of starting a gang riot. Upon reaching my destination, a half hour early, I found I had time to do the necessary Foursquare checkin with an added photo of the brilliant architecture of the ASU Building of Design and Architecture where the event took place.

In addition to planning my route the night before I also purchased tickets online the night before via Eventbrite and was able to use my iPhone as a ticket at the registration table. The workshop itself was put on by AIGA Arizona and featured Brian Wood, an Adobe Certified Instructor. The course audience was mostly AIGA members from what I could tell but a few others had made it from the outskirts with one person from Winslow and another from Tucson. Upon entering and taking a seat I immediately went to my twitter account to find where the discussion would be taking place online. All I could find is the comments from various AIGA members using the @aigaarizona twitter handle. The first thing I look for in a seminar like this is a hashtag so that I can follow along with my iPhone too see what others are saying about the instruction, it also helps to push out quotes and thoughts to my friends back home and to network before and after the event is over. Twitter in defense to those who think “it’s a distraction during meetings or rude”, is in my opinion a great way to become even more a part of the discussion and for an outsider to learn a little about those sitting around you. As the discussion began I kept an eye on my twitter account but there was not really a lot being said, and if it was I was missing it because I was not a part of the networks within the room who most likely knew each other so I decided to tweet: “This #adobe workshop needs a hashtag @aigaarizona #justsaying.” Immediately I got a response from @MarkDudlik well known for writing an open letter to the Phoenix design community, calling for unity and forward thinking and thus inspiring Phoenix Design Week. Mark put out a suggestion that we use the hashtag #adobeaigaaz which seemed good enough to me. At the end of the event I thanked Mark even though no one had really used it besides us, however he did say they would continue to use it for all the following workshops. So in a way I felt I had contributed in a small way to the groups’ presence on twitter and hope it will become a future resource to keep all tweets in one unifying stream so outsiders like me can participate while attending, or if we can’t attend but want to know what’s going on.

Foursquare tip of nearby restaurant.

The next phase of my iPhone enhanced day would be to find my next destinations via Mapquest which I did seamlessly and of course to foursquare each stop. The amazing part of foursquare is that you are able to see what and where your friends are while out and about and I came across several Phoenix friends’ trusted spots along with tips and recomendations. It was quite a cool experience going into a restaurant and getting a tip on what to order from a familiar face. It was also cool to see that many of my Flagstaff friends were also in town that day and as a matter of fact some were nearby, given more time I would have chatted them up via twitter, but I was in a rush to get to my buddy’s house where I would be able to recharge my battery sucking device and visit “IRL” (in real life) without digital intervention for a while (unless you count that we watched the new Star Trek on his Blue Ray T.V.)

My last endeavor of the day would be on my way out of town where it became necessary at the oncoming sunset to find the nearest Starbucks. This usually does not require a digital device as there is one on every corner, but when you find yourself scouring parking lots and hitting every red light and every store front people-crossing you decide that an immediate source of information is better than endless searching, so I downloaded the Starbucks app and sure enough there was one just down the street from where I was. Upon leaving, Mocha-Coconut Frapucchino in hand, I Foursquared: “Time to head back up the hill. (@ Starbucks) http://4sq.com/k25BXf” and received yet another tip of a nearby restaurant from a foursquare friend as well as a message from a twitter friend @Azdurawrap, to have a “safe trip”.

All in all it was a great day participating in virtual and real life experiences where I was never for a moment alone. The voice of my trusty Mapquest companion kept me on the right path. I received tips and suggestions of my Foursquare friends. I helped provide a place to stream tweets about the future AIGA Arizona events and oh yeah I attended a great workshop via @AskBrianWood and @aigaarizona.

Jim Nissen president of AIGA Arizona

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