Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Google tourism specialist to speak Wednesday in Idaho Falls

John Thornton, destination marketing specialist for Google, who will speak this morning at the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn as part of the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism.
The Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism began today at the Idaho Falls Shilo Inn, but most of the day was taken up with meetings and presentations. The main attraction is Wednesday with an impressive slate of speakers, many of whom will be offering knowledge and advice about social media.

Having never dealt with an actual person from Google, I am particularly interested to hear the presentation from John Thornton, a destination marketing specialist for the company who advises on strategy, new media and digital advertising. Before joining Google, Thornton worked at RKG, a large search engine marketing agency in Virginia. He has extensive experience in digital marketing for the travel industry, working for resorts, airlines and travel agencies, as well as local, state and national tourism boards.

Eager to hear what he might have to say, I found this link --  http://us.sometourism.com/google-john-thornton/ -- from the Social Media Tourism Symposium last fall. A lot of what he had to say could be applied to social media in general.

“Discover your story, build your audience, deepen enagement, make better videos. Try and make … snackable content. Don’t just educate and push – listen – YouTube is actually a two-way medium. Show that you’re paying attention to the comments and reply to videos posted by the community and your credibility and view counts will rise. Be timely. Don’t respond two months later after the community has moved on.”

“Your brand is only whatever I [or others] decide your brand is. Your brand is not whatever you want it to be.”

He also offered tips for what destination marketing organizations need to do on Google+:

  • Create and verify your Google + page – put your URL in the about section, contact your Google rep to verify the page
Enable social extensions in Adwords – extend endorsements to Search and realize an average 5-10% search ad CTR uplift.
Add the Google+ badge to your site – For top sites, the G+ badge increased follwers by 38%

  • Comments are not conversations – be sure to nurture interactions and conversation as you would on other channels.

Here is a link to the full schedule: http://commerce.idaho.gov/tourism-grants-and-resources/idaho-conference-on-recreation-and-tourism-2013-idaho-falls-.aspx