The very mention of ‘blog trip’ on Tenerife and eyes light up and hands are wrung (okay maybe not the hands, but on occasions it looks damn close) as if the phrase ‘hidden treasure’ just floated in on the breeze.
All sorts of people have shown interest in blog trips – some with Tenerife’s interests at heart, others, I suspect, with their own interests in pole position. It’s easy to understand why. An intelligently planned blog trip can generate positive publicity to a massive international audience. It represents the sort of priceless PR that you just couldn’t achieve using any other medium.
But every coin has two sides. A badly organised and executed blog trip can be as effective as a soggy match or worse, do as much harm as good.
Not so long ago Andy wrote a blog about why a successful officially organised blog trip to Tenerife was an unlikely concept. Three months down the line and there have been a few ‘blog trips’ to Tenerife. Some organised through official channels, others privately.
Was she right or did the organisers of Tenerife’s blog trips prove her wrong?
The Official Blog Trip #1
Not a full blown blog trip as it was very specialised and aimed at promoting the volcanic aspects of Tenerife. There wasn’t a lot of social media activity and interaction with anyone not involved with the actual trip was minimal. The worst aspects of the trip were related to some of the images that were generated. We’d just returned from the ultra successful Costa Brava blog trip where travel bloggers teased the world’s taste-buds with sexy photos from one of the best restaurants in the world, culinary creations from one of the best chefs on the planet and even pans filled with vibrantly coloured prawns in a fishermen’s hut. The quite unappetising images of Tenerife’s cuisine from this trip on the other hand must have given the impression that the islanders specialise in gruel plonked on a plate with as much care as I put food in the cat’s bowl (less…the cat has standards). If I was offered in prison what was on show, I’d cite the Geneva Convention.
Result: A terrible advert for Tenerife’s cuisine and very limited social media exposure – which was probably just as well.
The Official Blog Trip #2
Gary Arndt of the Everything Everywhere travel blog arrived on Tenerife recently. His visit was mentioned in the local press and by official channels on Twitter and Facebook. On the face of it, it could be viewed as evidence that Tenerife’s authorities were getting a handle on social media…except for one thing. I suspect that had they not been involved with Gary’s visit, Tenerife’s tourist board wouldn’t have had a clue that a well known travel blogger was visiting the island.
The reason for this assumption? At the time of Gary’s visit there were other travel bloggers on Tenerife who completely escaped the attention of Tenerife’s authorities despite their numerous tweets about the island. Worse, there was a very successful and highly respected travel writer on the island at exactly the same time who was completely ignored in social media channels by Tenerife’s tourism board.
Result: It spoke volumes about a total lack of awareness and understanding by Tenerife’s official bodies of social media and the travel writing & blogging world.
The Private Blog Trip #1
In the last 12 months various blog trip models have evolved. One of these is the travel company sponsored blog trip. A UK travel company employed what appeared to be a potentially inspirational approach – travel bloggers out there should cover their eyes at this point. They didn’t use a travel blogger, they used a family blogger. It’s a brilliant concept.
One of the criticisms levelled at some travel bloggers is that their audience isn’t necessarily the same as a mainstream travel company’s or a tourist board’s. But a family blogger’s audience is other families…and we all know that families take family holidays. This is a much more lucrative market than say backpackers.
But day one revealed a flaw in the concept. As a travel writer you become adept at researching places before you go, sussing out where all sorts of essential things are when you arrive. You view locations through many eyes, remembering that your audience has all sorts of varying tastes. You also make sure, where possible, you have the means to broadcast your experiences as you go along.
Day one revealed that the family blogger didn’t employ the same approach to travel, made a sweeping (and incorrect) generalisation based on limited experience and was unable to track down the most basic destination information. They were a good and well liked family blogger, but they didn’t possess the skills of a travel writer or travel blogger.
Result: Hardly any destination tweets during visit, so no real time feel of their experiences. And subsequent blogs were of limited use to other potential visitors as they focussed on too narrow a subject matter.
The Private Blog Trip #2
Sarah and Terry Lee of LiveShareTravel researched the location before they arrived and utilised local contacts with a thorough knowledge of the destination (i.e. us). They were totally prepared and had a strategy for what they wanted to do that would meet the needs of their market (businesses and visitors). Tweets, photos and blogs were posted regularly during their visit to generate interest and their posts were re-tweeted by other respected travel bloggers. They mixed mainstream with cultural, visited resorts, theme parks and places of historic interest and, as a result, promoted a highly attractive image of Tenerife using words, photos and video during and after their trip. Once again, interaction from official sources was absent during their visit to Tenerife.
Result: a successful blog trip that painted Tenerife as a very desirable destination for people with a variety of tastes.
During the same period there were various other travel bloggers and writers visiting Tenerife. In just about every case they were ignored by Tenerife’s official online representatives. Social media is a tool for two-way communication. Tenerife’s tourist authorities don’t seem to have grasped this and are still using it in a conventional and outdated manner as a means for sending information one-way (note: Costa Adeje are the exception to the rule on Tenerife and are actually using social media to interact with others). Cut & paste messages to Tenerife’s blogging community neither engages with them nor is evidence of interaction. Unless they change, any forays into the blog trip arena are doomed to failure.
Tenerife’s tourist board has plenty of tools and expertise at their disposal regarding social media and the online travel and tourism world. But until they begin to listen and learn, things will never progress.