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The year 2014 marks my third visit of the prestigious Vienna Travel Trade Show “ReiseSalon” held at the Hofburg Palace, one of Austria’s top event locations. Entering here, you immediately feel enchanted, lured away to meet high-end travel partners spell-bound by the imperial ambiance of what used to be, Franz & Sissi’s very own palace. Add tweeting New Media Advocates who “grow vines” & follow the protocol of group pictures & Selfies all the way to Genuss Reisen Österreich, Austria’s gourmet hotel cooperation, and you get some quite delectable, refreshing meeting moments in a unique atmosphere.
Clear there, so far!? 😉
“Dear Travel Bloggers. Be upfront about who you are and what your business model is. (New) Media Services are worth their money. The industry has to be(come even more) professional!”
It does remain an interesting fact to be talking about the business model of your own blog and digital media strategy among several partners at the ReiseSalon here in Vienna. Genuss Reisen Österreich earlier this year have started convening international travel bloggers to visit their gourmet hotels Riegersburg, the Gut Pössnitzberg and the Stainzerhof working together with the Styrian regional tourist board. A little later, “Creative Travel in Mostviertel“, a “pilgrimage blog trip along the Via Sacra” as well as the Kleinwalsertal mountain destination in Vorarlberg have successfully hosted travel bloggers as expert digital storytellers to their respective destinations: Creativity that shows itself through well-written travel articles, inspiring news photography & videos yielding sustainable online travel echo. Even the Lower Austrian “Klösterreich” association of monasteries in 2014 chose to work with international travel bloggers, besides the ongoing culture travel campaign of visiting Burgenland in the very East of the country.
The success of such cooperation work between travel bloggers as “journalists of the new digital media age” and stakeholders in tourism marketing essentially depends on being transparent and open-minded about setting goals (“talking the same language”!), taking the trouble to actually defining those goals by involving all partners concerned and reporting on them so as to achieve the famous win-win situation for everyone. Only in this way can we all move forward as an industry, I believe.
… as may be seen in this “epic landscape video” depicting the beauty and inspiration from travelling around South-Eastern Europe:
Online Reviews: “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”. And what essentially remains to be said about the online review business.
As I mentioned beforehand: It is an exciting moment to be talking about travel education & online travel research in the “Brave New World” of the digital, global market place. The Internet for sure has made many things easier, but also added lots of layers of complexity. All the more trust, quality, relevance & reliability are still THE essential qualities to have, especially when communicating online. Back in 2013, I have already been asked by talk master & radio moderator Peter Agathakis to join a panel session at the ReiseSalon travel trade show, with “travel bloggers & journalists discussing the future of (online) travel writing”.
This year’s panel talk has us discuss the business of online reviews together with such prominent panel guests as Ulrich Cramer (Holidaycheck), Tom Breckwoldt (Tripadvisor), Thomas Brenner (Austrian Hotel Association “ÖHV”) as well as Christoph Norden (Tourist Austria International). Exciting: I am here to represent the travel bloggers‘ point of view!
So here is what I have to say summing up this panel discussion for you:
- Check it. Get real. And make up your own mind. Like in a mosaic, the image of a hotel or rated travel service is made up of many single (subjective) reviews, ultimately always depicting a picture of reality. No intents of fraud or falsified opinions will ever be able to contradict those in the long term, and if confronted with such intents as a business owner, you “must call the police” and take legal action, as both Ulrich Cramer (Holidaycheck) and Tom Breckwoldt (Tripadvisor) agree. Help and assistance are provided by the respective teams of both companies.
- “Trust is what you take to the bank.” How often have I heard or mentioned this phrase before – at our travel blogger session at the CastleCamp in Kaprun for instance and also during this year’s international travel blogger conference of the “Social Travel Summit” in Leipzig. Equally important for us as bloggers as for the business of managing online reviews is to know your own message, to follow it through at all times and to continuously communicate to readers that honesty, personality & relevant information is at the forefront of all your efforts, both online & offline.
- Our vision for the future: Online reviews & online travel writing, Quo vadis? Last but not least, Peter Agathakis confronts us with what still lies ahead for all of us. Christoph Norden goes on to argue that we might well be looking back at this age as the “Online Middle Ages” one day. Tom Breckwoldt looks at the vision of Tripadvisor’s founding father Steve as being followed through into the future where relevance and usability for the community meet new technologies at an ever increasing rate. I agree with him in the sense that knowing the original motivation of human beings – that is, recommending relevant things among friends & family, sharing subjective opinions and experiences and finding those relevant, tailor-made information for you – automatically means you are going to be successful, both now and in the future. Once more, it shows: Quality, reliability, relevance & competence simply pay off – both in business and in life. Long-term, that is!
A toast to transparence therefore, and the exciting times we are living in! 😀