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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May 24, 2009

So Much More Hawaii – talking travel story with blogs

Beach Office (courtesy Scott Ableman on Flickr CC)Next week, my 9-year-old son and I are heading west from Texas to spend 10 full days in the Hawaiian islands, all because of blogging and Twitter.

Through my tweets, writing and particularly my travel blogs, I’ve gotten to know Christine Lu of Cilantro Media and several people who work in tourism for the state of Hawaii.  They’ve gotten to know me and my enthusiasm for social media in tourism.

To connect digital creatives with a beautiful place, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is bringing a group of prominent bloggers to Hawaii to “talk story” about what we find on Kauai, Maui, the Big Island and Oahu. I’ll be the blogger who mostly covers family travel.

The tour is called So Much More Hawaii (full Web site up in the next day or so. Meantime, add your best pics to our Flickr pool.)  (Update – here is the So Much More Hawaii blog/microsite that includes our content plus that of local bloggers.)

I was on Christine Lu’s China 2.0 tour in November 2008,  and social media is a common theme in her life for creating those connections.  She writes:

“The upcoming ‘So Much More Hawaii’ tour is meant as a proof of concept that through social media, first-hand insight of Hawaii can create content and outreach that influences those to understand Hawaii better and want to visit the islands…key bloggers in different vertical niche markets [will] experience the islands as a group, with separate sector focuses. Each one has a sector they are known for covering and their visit to Hawaii is meant to share this with their audience.”

Other bloggers on the tour include:

As we all know, the economy is down around the world. The Hawaii tourism industry is in crisis right now and the outlook is grim.  I applaud Christine and others for seeking new, more effective ways to use social media to showcase the islands for potential visitors.

Here are some of the blog posts already online about So Much More Hawaii:

Keep an eye not only on this blog but also on the Perceptive Travel Blog, my Twitter stream and the @HawaiiHTA stream (we’re using hashtag #HawaiiHTA.)

Just So You Know Disclaimer:  The Hawaii Tourism Authority through Cilantro Media is paying my way to Hawaii, and also paying most of my expenses while I am there including lodging.  I am contributing to my son’s expenses. The point of the trip is to bring experienced bloggers and communicators to the islands to talk about what we see; my primary focus will be on travel with kids. No one has told me that I cannot post negative information. No one has told me that I must say positive things.  I will be as objective as I can possibly be.

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