Sheila Guides You to the Good Stuff

June 7, 2009

Bloggers hit the Pacific Business News front page

Pacific Business News front page featuring the HTA blogger's tourI’ve just returned from a 10-day “fam tour” (familiarization tour,  sometimes called a press trip) to the Hawaiian Islands with a diverse group of bloggers who were sponsored by the state’s Hawaii Tourism Authority and organized by Cilantro Media.

Our trip made the front page of the Pacific Business News, and in the fight for the legitimacy of bloggers and wired writers/photographers/videographers as information sources, that’s kind of a big deal.

More thoughts to follow, but the bottom line is that I see our “So Much More Hawaii” tour as a breakthrough in the use of social media for tourism and travel organizations.

It shows that bloggers can provide legitimate insights into a destination.

We can also reach an audience that might not be swayed by glossy brochures, advertorials in newspapers that we don’t read or TV ads on programs that we don’t watch (because we watch TV on Hulu.com instead.)

Seems a little strange that economic desperation is largely driving this interest in social media, but we’ll take what we can get.

Just So You Know Disclaimer:  The state Hawaii Tourism Authority through Cilantro Media paid my way to Hawaii for the So Much More Hawaii bloggers tour, and also paid most of my expenses while I was there.

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8 Comments

  1. I guess it seems a bit like trolling, but I was initally curious. I have since checked with some of the other bloggers who agreed to take part in that tour, and don’t see the disclaimer that at least you were honest enough to post (haven’t checked them all).

    Please keep in mind that any of your writing about Hawaii is now tainted by the ethical issue that accepting a large up-front payout brings with it. Unfortunately, having taken the lucre, short of returning the cost of the trip, you’re stuck with it. No need to answer my question, I can look up airfares and estimate hotels and meals myself I suppose. Would a New York Times travel writer agree to take such a trip? I don’t think so.

    Comment by Curious — June 10, 2009 @ 2:54 am

    • Hi Curious,

      No, a New York Times travel writer would not take such a trip. I do not write for the New York Times. When I write for publications that do not allow comped travel, my articles are entirely out of my own pocket. That’s good enough for me. Some would say that I have no obligation to explain myself to you, but hey, blogging is different. In my opinion, a good blogger always tries to respect legitimate, reasonably polite readers and answer as many of their comments as possible.

      As I said in this post yesterday – Are blogger fam trips a good idea or are they Jurassic PR? – I’m personally wrestling with “blogger ethics” issues and as I go along, trying to make the best decisions for me and for my blogs.

      I disclose any freebies, and let my readers decide the usefulness of any blog posts based on that freebie. You think that anything I write from a freebie is “tainted.” OK, click away and don’t read it, then. Vote with your eyeballs. I have many readers who do not think that it matters, and others who read the items but with their antennae up for me excessively sucking up. Let people make their own decisions and don’t preach to them.

      News flash – there IS NO “code of ethics” in blogging other than what individual bloggers come up with for themselves. The readers, in many cases, vote for our ethics and credibility by reading us, or not. There is currently some discussion about establishing an ethics code of some sort, but we are all independent operators and I don’t see the cats agreeing to be herded in any way.

      The complete and unfettered independence is the great blessing and curse of blogging, for bloggers and for readers.

      Comment by Sheila Scarborough — June 10, 2009 @ 11:07 am

  2. Just wondering how much they paid you to write about Hawaii. Maybe I should become a travel blogger too.

    Comment by Curious — June 9, 2009 @ 11:44 pm

    • They didn’t pay me a salary, they paid me “in kind” – airfare, lodging and expenses while in the islands. I’m paid by my two travel blogs for the Hawaii content that I post there.

      Comment by Sheila Scarborough — June 9, 2009 @ 11:56 pm

      • So they bought you a vacation in Hawaii. And now you’ll write about Hawaii. How long was your stay? Did they buy your food? Entertainment? This is a fair question, if you’re going to write about Hawaii in the future. But I am curious about how much it takes to buy a travel blogger.

        Comment by Curious — June 10, 2009 @ 12:35 am

        • Mr. Curious, I sense you’re just here to be a troll, and you won’t be fed if this goes on much longer.

          I clearly disclosed that Hawaii Tourism Authority paid for airfare, lodging and expenses. I was not there on “vacation,” I was there to write about my experiences, and I did and will continue to do so since I have a lot of material that isn’t published yet.

          If that bothers you, I appreciate your input. Noted.

          Comment by Sheila Scarborough — June 10, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  3. Thanks A Maui Blog (and mahalo for being one of our local blogger hosts in the islands!) Happy to promote things that I believe in….

    Comment by Sheila Scarborough — June 7, 2009 @ 12:46 am

  4. Yey! It’s about time we get serious about Social Media here on Hawaii (especially Maui 🙂 – Thank you for all your help in promoting our beautiful islands 🙂

    Comment by A Maui Blog — June 7, 2009 @ 12:29 am


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