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May 12 2013

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Using social media for travel information

happybirds4MediumI love social media.

I particularly like twitter. The 140 characters you’re allowed in tweets might be restrictive sometimes, but generally you can get your point across. Particularly – and here’s the important point to all of you in the tourism industry – if I want to find out something about where I’m headed.

On my last outback trip I did an interview with ABC radio in Broken Hill about my use of social media on the road. They picked up the story because they also use social media and had come across me on twitter – see, it does work!

A lot of the people I follow on twitter, and a lot of my followers are travellers. And I plan on sharing my knowledge – and theirs – again on this trip.

Before we went to Broken Hill last time I sent out a tweet “Looking for the best camping place in Broken Hill for Wed/Thurs nights. Any suggestions?”

Broken Hill camping request

I got back two responses from camping grounds themselves (good use of social media there), some recommendations from travellers, and some recommendations of where NOT to stay.  I decided on the place with the most recommendations, and no poor reports. And we loved it.

Broken Hill camping response

But it’s not all about what to do – it’s also what to avoid. I often go away for weekends to the Hunter Valley for Day on the Green concerts. Of course, the next morning there’s always a cafe breakfast – and judging by how busy all the cafes are, a lot of other people have the same idea. Last time we were there we picked a cafe, which we promptly walked out of. Hunter Valley coffee

The resulting tweet went out to my 1,800 followers and was retweeted by six people – some of whom I know were also in the Hunter Valley and looking for somewhere to have breakfast, as were, possibly, their followers. So that’s not just my business they missed out on, but also potentially hundreds of others. And next time I’m in the Hunter Valley (next weekend) I will remember the poor service in that cafe, and possibly retweet why I’m not going to eat there. That’s a lot of potential business to lose.

And yes, I know I can do this with people I meet in real life, and I do, but social media gives you access to a lot more people than you would meet, and therefore a lot more information.

My day usually starts something like this:

I wake up early, lie in bed snuggled under the doona and catch up with the news online via online newspapers and the #discover section of twitter. I’ll tweet or facebook things I think are interesting. I read through what the people I’m following have to say in my newsfeed and have a conversation with some of them. I also send a “thank you for following” message to all those that started following me in the previous 24 hours. Then I get on facebook and catch up with friends.

Depending on what’s been happening this usually takes around an hour, but could take up to 2. Lucky I work for myself so don’t have to get up at any particular time. Though if I wake up at 5am (which I often do), I’m still out of bed and starting to work by 7am.

If I’m on the road (and in a service area of course), I can check the state of roads, sights I want to see, what’s open or not, what other people’s experiences of the places are, and get local knowledge of where the good coffee is. I can have lots of information about the day ahead before I get up, sometimes before the sun is up. Travellers do wake up early!

Broken hill coffee

But it’s not all business – I’ve made some great connections on twitter with people that I like to keep up with just because they’re interesting, and because they’re interested. Enquiry

So here’s to the next trip, and many twitter conversations to come!

 

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