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Time to join the Twitter party

November 20, 2011

(Published in TTG 17.11.2011)

TTG’s third annual Travel Tweetup, to coincide with WTM this year, saw record numbers attend and reflected the growing importance of social media across all sectors of the travel industry. Matthew Parsons reports

Social media was the hot topic at this year’s World Travel Market, with the exhibition even staging a separate “Social Travel Market”
on the third day.

As a result, it was no surprise that TTG’s third annual WTM Travel Tweetup attracted more than 200 travel industry tweeters, including representatives from Travel Counsellors, G Adventures, GoCruise and InterContinental Hotels Group, as well as bloggers from across the globe.

The event, hosted by DoubleTree by Hilton for the second year, represents the growing trend of “fringe events” that take place around WTM each year – and the growing importance of social media within the travel industry.

Similar events that took place during WTM included a Coast to Coaster blogger tweetup on Visit Florida’s stand on Tuesday, while in the evening a “blog camp” took place in central London that explored the relationship of bloggers with the travel industry and aspects such as fam trips and marketing.

During WTM, seminars included “Supercharge your blog”, “The perfect mix: Where social media fits into travel marketing” and “The perfect travel tweet”, which aimed to discover how to make the best use of 140 characters in promoting your travel company or your blog.”

“There now seems to be a regular build-up of these events, even before and after WTM,” said Alastair McKenzie, who spoke at the blog camp, and recently co-founded Travelllll.com. “These fringe events have now established themselves around WTM.”

In the flesh
The value of face-to-face networking was highlighted during Monday’s Travel Tweetup.

“It was definitely worth it – to be able to meet some connections from Twitter ‘in the flesh’,” said filmmaker Cailin O’Neil, while Charles Yap, director of global brand social media communications at InterContinental Hotels Group, said the event was “priceless” as it was “like seeing your Twitter stream come to live, eating and drinking”.

Haja Rasambainarivo, vice-president of Madagascar-based Asisten Travel, said: “We enjoyed meeting with several travel bloggers. A lot of them were interested in the lesser-known destination which is Madagascar, and are planning to visit us soon.”
Meanwhile, the evening was able to provide a relaxed atmosphere for pitching.

“As a north American blogger it was great for networking,” said Ayngelina Brogan. “I met a lot of European bloggers I was unfamiliar with and was able to introduce myself to PR and industry people in a casual setting. It was this casual approach that made it my favourite after-hours event. The opportunity to meet industry peers without anyone giving a hard sell of their blog or their client is perfect. I’d love to see more events like this.”

The event also proved useful to new players to the market: Kieron Turner, who blogs at donteverlookback.com, said: “This was the first networking event we’ve been to since we started our blog. It was great to finally meet a variety of our fellow travel bloggers for the first time. The venue was outstanding and the various competitions throughout the night kept things interesting.”

Emma Wilkinson, from Timeless Travel, added she found it useful to pick up tips on anything from search engine optimisation to the use of videos on your website: “I learnt just how important SEO is, even though Google advises that original content is still more important. I had noticed that a huge amount of US websites for hotels were constantly repeating keywords, which doesn’t make for great reading, but increases traffic to the site. I have to start making sure our site has more keywords in content.”

The event took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton London – West End, and two lucky delegates won weekend stays at a UK DoubleTree
by Hilton property.

Find out more at ttgdigital.com/events/ttg-tweetup-with-doubletree and see overleaf for more pictures.

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