Getting Your Message Out

Word-of-mouth no longer spreads from one person to another. It can go around the world in a matter of seconds. Times have changed.

For marketers, and specifically travel Internet marketers, understanding and capturing that was the theme of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Travel Internet Marketing Strategy Conference at the Arizona Grand in Phoenix on Dec. 3.

Around 100 people involved in the travel and hospitality industry — from hoteliers to marketers — attended the one-day event. Dr. Bill Carroll, senior lecturer at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, moderated the program.

Cindy Estis Green helmed the first session, The New World of Social Networking. Estis Green talked extensively about the research that led to her latest book, The Travel Marketer's Guide to Social Media and Social Networks.

“We are now in the midst of the conversation economy, and we are asking how do we connect with the consumers, and how do we put ourselves in the picture,” Carroll says.

Patrick Campbell, senior manager, e-commerce at Best Western International; Leon Corbett, advertising and direct marketing manager, Visit Florida; and Jill Howard-Allen, online marketing manager, Southwest Airlines helped answer those questions by discussing ways their companies utilized social media like My-Space, YouTube and other interactive applications.

Andy Tress, regional vice president of sales, YouTube, explained how marketers could use online video content to communicate their message during his Taking Web 2.0 to the Next Level presentation.

During lunch, attendees broke into small groups for breakout discussions about destination marketing; mapping, local and mobile marketing; rich media; and trademarks and search marketing. Highlights were shared with the entire group after lunch.

Mike Pusateri, chairman, Vantage Strategy Consulting, talked about balancing offline and online marketing during his Online Branding-Emerging Strategies in Search Intelligence session. Search engine marketing, he says, is critical for the travel industry because more people come to travel sites from search engines than in other industries.

The conference wrapped up with a lively session discussing the day's events. Carroll became more and more involved as the topic became how to better teach the next wave of students about the importance of travel marketing.

HSMAI will host the 10th Travel Internet Marketing Strategy Conference in April in Chicago. For more information, go to www.-hsmai.org.

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