PhocusWright Conference, 2009, Blogger Summit – Travel Blogs

Elliott Ng will represent UpTake during the PhocusWright 2009 Conference, Blogger Summit Town Hall on Wednesday, November 18th at 9:00 a.m. Ten topics were suggested by the panelists for discussion during a planning meeting a few weeks ago. We decided to collect the best posts and examples about each subject and showcase them. We hope this series lends itself to more insightful discussion during the Town Hall presentation.–Patricia Jenkins, Editor

Why do people blog, or read blogs? If you restrict the discussion to travel blogs, it gets rather interesting. Here’s a breakup and some examples of the different types of travel blogs, which should offer some answers as to their utility for both consumers and the industry.

UGC Blog Networks – Where every traveler and blogger is also the consumer. Examples include TravBuddy, Bootsnall and Real Travel.. Members publish travelogues, and others read it. Provides authentic destination and attraction reviews for consumers, and this aggregated UGC database is what travel content providers are looking at as a source for travel guides.

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Company Owned Blogs – These blogs aim simply to inform and interact with visitors, and engage the community. Examples include Worldhum, Gadling and Jaunted. As far as consumers are concerned, they get the latest travel news, reviews and trends.

Worldhum belongs to the Travel Channel which Scripps is buying from Cox Communications, Gadling is part of the Weblogs Inc. Network which belongs to AOL, and Jaunted is part of SFO Media which in turn is a part of Conde Nast. Inspite of the tangled corporate web, these blogs are stand-alone, in the sense that the business model is based on revenue from ads, and not as part of a larger strategy to promote the parent company.

Travel Company Blogs – Where the blog is part of an overall corporate strategy for brand promotion and marketing. Examples include UpTake’s blog network (more details here), and the Oyster Hotel Reviews blog.

Of special note is the photo fake-out section on the Oyster blog, where they show side-by-side pictures of promotional images put out by a hotel, and the real ones taken by Oyster’s own reviewers. This section on their blog has gained Oyster lots of free publicity and media references.

Consumer Travel Blogs – Focused on issues important to real travelers – complaints, problems with service, solutions to make travel easier, etc. Examples include Christopher Elliott’s Elliott.org and Darren Cronian’s Travel Rants.

These blogs form a bridge between consumers and the industry, and offer an outlet for consumers to voice their complaints and get some response from an errant company.

Corporate Blogs – Blogs run by corporate executives of a travel company as part of a marketing strategy to improve brand visibility, put forward a human face as a representative of the company, and aid traffic acquisition.

Best example is the Marriott on the Move blog authored by Bill Marriott, which has accounted for $5 million in sales for Marriott International.

More examples include Arthur Frommer Online, which is providing a whole new level of visibility to Frommer’s Travel Guides; and Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein’s Why Not blog, which aims to take visitors into a behind-the-scenes look at Royal Caribbean’s ships.

Goldstein has been providing running commentary on the progress of ‘Oasis of the Seas’ – the world’s biggest cruise ship which set sail from Finland on its maiden voyage, and is expected to berth in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Nov 13.

These corporate blogs also provide an excellent platform for the company to convey its vision to, and communicate with, the company’s own employees.

DMO Blogs – For blogs run by Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), the main objective is to introduce the destination to prospective visitors.

When the information comes via a blog with an individualistic voice and offers something more than the usual boiler-plate, it makes the DMO – and the destination, seem that much more attractive.

Examples include Visit Florida’s Travel Insiders blog network, GoPhila’s uwishunu.com and San Francisco’s Foodie411 blog.