The Success of Travel Blogging and Social Media - First Hand Experiences
Travel Blogging is not new! In fact, it's been around for many years in some form or other. The same goes for the combination of social media and travel blogging.
Since the advent of social media, travel bloggers have been using a variety of platforms to promote their posts and photography as well as initiate discussions with a broader public. There are many travel bloggers who have benefited greatly from this blogging/social media combination for years.
In the past year or two, the travel industry has started to take more notice of the value that travel bloggers can provide through their blogs and social media channels. Developments in 2011 have been especially impressive, with tourism boards and travel brands around the world organising blog-trips and innovative campaigns in collaboration with bloggers.
It's a new business and different to what we had seen so far. That is why it's often referred to as "new" media. New things need new rules. Or rather, "new" works much better, if we use it with the aim of realising its full potential. It's up to us all to see where we will take travel blogging and social media in the next few months/years.
As with anything new, developments in the travel blogging world have been met with a wide range of reactions, ranging from unbridled enthusiasm to vociferous skepticism. Not everyone has worked with the "new" yet and therefore might have many questions and concerns. Who better to tell you about it than the ones who have already been blogging and using social media for quite a while and who use it successfully?
For example, the development of Traveldudes.org in 2011 was quite spectacular. There are over 90.000 followers on Twitter and whichever social media ranking site you use, Traveldudes is always positioned in the top. In addition, the site's content growth, including traffic and its worldwide ranking was very satisfying. We get many requests to promote destinations via blog trips, through our social media channels as well as via banner advertising. But also the Traveldudes' community itself gets bigger and bigger. Travelers and travel bloggers share their experiences with others and the quality of the content is really good.
In January 2011 we've also started the Travel Talk on Twitter. With the first session, till now, it is the biggest travel event on Twitter. The #TTOT hashtag reaches more than 2 million followers and creates around 25 million impressions on Twitter each Tuesday!
We wondered how travel bloggers, people in the travel industry and social media enthusiasts liked the year 2011. So we decided to ask them!
Here are their responses:
Rachelle Lucas says:
thetravelbite.com | @rachellelucas
On my recent trip to South Africa, we were the first group of bloggers they worked with. Both PR teams said after working with us, they preferred bloggers to traditional print media for the following reasons ...
1 ... we were easy going and flexible when unexpected things occurred
2 ... we had a genuine appreciation and enthusiasm for the entire experience
3 ... we were more fun to be around
4 ... most importantly ... they see results/tweets/posts/stories immediately.
We all got along so well that everyone had a great time ... and consequently ... we all have awesome stories to write and share.
Steve Miller says:
qiranger.com | @qiranger
Until recently many have missed out on Asia’s greatest secret: Korea. It’s something I'm passionate about changing. Since starting my travel video blog to describe the wondrous sights and culture the “Hermit Kingdom” has to offer, Korea has experience a travel boom. Now I partner with the Korean Office of Culture and Information Service to provide insight to those abroad. My popularity has earned me a regular spot on Seoul’s largest English radio station, where I discuss travel in and around the peninsula. The dynamic way of telling stories related to the destination captivates my followers and inspires them. In fact, several have moved to Korea after reading my articles and watching my videos. But I won’t stop there. Several months of the year, I roam the planet chronicling my adventures for my global audience.
Dave and Debb say:
theplanetd.com | @theplanetd
It's an exciting time to be in the industry of travel blogging. Companies are starting to take notice of the influence and personal relationship that established blogs have with their readers. Big tourism boards and brands can work together with travel blogs to give their business a human voice connecting with their clients in a more personal way.
As the industry grows, it is fun to experiment with different ways to create partnerships and develop relationships. We have enjoyed an amazing year of brainstorming ideas with companies that we believe in and trying new things. From working with American Express Canada and partnering with Intrepid Travel to taking part in ground breaking campaigns with the Jordan Tourism Board and even visiting the head office of Expedia.com in Seattle to listen to their ideas about working with travel bloggers in the future, there is no better time to be in this business.
We can’t wait to see what is in store for our industry in 2012.
Keith Jenkins says:
VelvetEscape.com | @velvetescape
2011 was a big year for the Velvet Escape luxury travel blog. Branding, content and improved positioning as a luxury travel blog were important themes. The new blog design was launched in September and traffic more than doubled, surpassing 200k page views the following month. The year was a string of highlights: blog trips, interviews with BBC Travel and Nat Geo, speaking engagements at travel blogger conferences and travel trade shows, and enthusiastic responses from readers. It was also very encouraging to see an increasing number of tourism boards and travel companies reaching out to and working with travel bloggers. For me, the year's biggest highlight was successfully planning and executing the iambassador social media campaign with seven bloggers and the Jordan Tourism Board in December. I have a sneaking suspicion that 2012 is going to be a fabulous year for travel bloggers!
Reine Gammoh - Tourism Board Jordan says:
visitjordan.com | @visitjordan
2011 saw Jordan placed firmly on the digital map. It was the year JTB pushed its social media strategy to another level. Travel bloggers played a central role in our strategy by helping us raise awareness of Jordan to new heights and cementing our online presence. We started working with travel bloggers for their immediate coverage, unlike working with traditional print media, in order to get the word out that Jordan was a stable and secure destination. We also wanted a diversity of observations about Jordan, so we invited a number of different types of travel bloggers. The feedback was intense, immediate and very positive so we decided to invite more bloggers, spanning different niches and interests. This has resulted in many people referencing blog posts and expressing their excitement about booking their trips to Jordan. As well, Jordan has been placed on many top travel lists for travel in 2012, from Conde Nast Traveler to National Geographic and CNN. We finished off the year with yet another successful campaign with travel bloggers, the GoJordan campaign, which also garnered many positive responses from future travelers to Jordan. We are beyond satisfied with our collaboration with bloggers and will continue with bigger and better projects and collaboration in 2012 and years to come.
Oliver Gradwell - Travel Bloggers Unite says:
travelbloggersunite.com | @tbloggersunite
Where to start! It has been such a busy and successful year for travel blogging and a lot has happened since our first conference in March 2011. I am immensely proud of the endeavours that travel bloggers have undertaken to progress this industry.
Take TBU Innbsruck for instance;
- we had 104 delegates (70 bloggers).
- 18 million twitter impressions over a 2 week period of the conference, using the hashtag
- we reached over 400,000 unique people on twitter
- making an average of 45 tweets per each on of the above
More impressively is the Return on Investment figure from the tourist board. The support we received from the various supporting tourist boards came to approximately £25,000 gbp. Innsbruck looked at all the tweets above, the amount of blog articles & readerships, youtube videos, photos etc... and calculated THEIR R.O.I figure as 37.5 to 1. That means the £25,000 investment generated a return of... £937,500!!
TBU created the event, travel bloggers created the value!
2012 and 2013 are going to be very important years for the future of travel blogging. If bloggers continue the way they are going, then they will become a standard part of a companies marketing strategy.
Roni Weiss says:
roniweiss.com | rwsocial.com | @roniweiss | @rwsocial
As a social media consultant, I find people mention Twitter and Facebook when SM comes up, but they forget about blogging. A blog is how an organization/person can tell their story in their own words in a way that can be seen by the whole world. Everyone has a story. Being able to share that through blogging/social media allows people to become connected to whatever it is you might be doing. Find things that people will be interested in, embrace the human element, be responsive and interesting and you'll not only thrive in social media, you'll develop deep, new relationships.
Michael Hodson says:
GoSeeWrite.com | @mobilelawyer
For me, there were so many great things 2011. My first amazing blog trip to Jordan and a long-term relationship with their wonderful tourism board. My first few posts that went viral (50k views). Talking to more travel bloggers that are serious about making a full-time living in this emerging profession. The formation of a social media consulting group with a few great friends. The sky is the limit and it is great to be a witness on the ground floor of it all.
Sandrine Pailloncy - Tourism Board Poitou Charentes, France says:
visit-poitou-charentes.com | @VisitPCharentes
Like a lot of brands and tourist boards, our strategy is mainly based on web marketing and PR. We work closely with traditional media and still do but we have noticed the growing influence of travel bloggers so we decided to organize a blog trip last September with the help of our PR agency. They did a nice job contacting and selecting key and influential bloggers. I have to say that I was impressed by our guests. By their passion and their professionalism. By the results. We finally
managed to reach a huge audience, which is really good for us. Sadly, we don’t have the popularity of other destinations, even if we truly believe in our assets so we see working with bloggers as a long-term and valuable relationship. They were able to create a serious buzz while they were in the region, then provided stunning images and posts on their blog and even now, I am still seeing mentions/recommendations via their social media network.
Iain Mallory says:
malloryontravel.com | @MalloryOnTravel
I am a late arrival to the ‘new media’ and travel blogging scene, last year really being my only experience. There are many that have been around from the beginning that have forged the path we are now beginning to prosper from. I at least feel they are owned a huge thank you for establishing links to the relevant travel related agencies. My exposure has been for just over a year with marketing on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook from December 2010 and the new website in March of last year.
The success that I have already received has been nothing short of remarkable. Interest from PR agencies and tourism boards has resulted in a number of press trips throughout Europe and the promise of more. The first trip to the Aveyron region of France was really exciting, and to join a large trip to Catalan too. Being the first from the personal travel website publisher to work with the Greek Tourism Board was probably the highlight. It demonstrates how far we have come in a very short time, and the potential of ‘new media’ as a viable alternative to traditional media. There are exciting times ahead for all involved, if prepared to work hard to achieve their goals.
Andrea Spirov says:
InspiringTravellers.com | @InspirngTrvlrs
We've had what I consider fantastic success with our blog this year. How do I define that? First of all, we met so many amazing people through our website that I could never have imagined possible prior to creating it. Travel blogging is the perfect way to meet diverse, interesting and like-minded people. From a statistics and numbers perspective we had over 80,000 pageviews and well over 40,000 unique visitors to our site this year. That helped us to get a few chances to review some wonderful properties and participate in our first press trip. We're hoping to have an even better year in 2012!
Benjamin Reed says:
adventureswithben.com | @adventureswben
There are three types of companies who change... those that change because they've bottomed out, those that change because they are in 2nd place and need to move ahead, and those that change to stay ahead of the pack. In a world where purchasing decisions are rapidly evolving and changing, the future success of travel & tourism suppliers will be dependent on them to evolve and change just as quickly. According to a recent study, 31% of consumers use social media to seek friend referrals for brands/products. As bloggers with thousands of regular readers, we can help your clients and your business reach those consumers by telling a compelling and vivid story about your brand - that is of course if you are agile enough to change and work with us.
Jeff Jung says:
CareerBreakSecrets.com | @CareerBrkSecret
In 2011, I had the chance to work with G Adventures on a Career Break awareness campaign in Canada. One of the things I loved about it was that we used a mix of traditional and online media to talk about the 2011 G Adventures Labour Day Survey which measured Canadians' attitudes toward work-life balance and desire to take a career break. G Adventures set up a campaign website called DitchtheCubicle which was filled with videos and posts giving career break advice. This was a true collaborative effort and it was very successful. Having a blog was a great way to be found and demonstrated the value I had to bring to a large company like G Adventures.
Laura Porter says:
golondon.about.com | @AboutLondon
While wonderfully fulfilling, writing a travel site can be quite isolating and you can be left wondering at times if you’re really helping your audience. Blog comments can give more feedback than a print journalist can ever receive but even more important this year has been social media which has brought me an enormous group of friends who offer instant feedback, share further ideas and simply want to chat about a city that’s special to many. Writing articles and blog posts will continue but being able to offer tips on twitter and answer questions on Facebook has allowed me to showcase my knowledge to a wider audience. And as I’ve been helping readers I’ve picked up lots of new writing jobs and have made some excellent work contacts. Also, travel tweetups are a wonderful invention and have meant I’ve now met many travel bloggers and travellers I may never have found without social media.
Nicholas Montemaggi - Tourism Board Emilia Romagna, Italy says:
emiliaromagnaturismo.com | @ertourism
As a Tourist Board, we have invited a group of bloggers to participate to our first organized Blogtrip in the Emilia Romagna Region #DeliciousEmRom in October 2011. The results were, and still are, amazing! Blog articles, photos, videos, but most of all, the "live" engagement of the travel bloggers with their followers and readers on the different social networks during the blogtrip were really impressive! An important thing that we have found out during the trip was: give the bloggers free time and you will get the best out of them!
Abigail King says:
insidethetravellab.com | @insidetravellab
“Anyone can start a blog.” That’s something I’ve heard time and time again as a criticism of blogging – and then by extension the whole of social media. Anyone can create a twitter account, a facebook page or a youtube channel as well.
Yet, why on earth is that a bad thing? That’s freedom of speech. That’s democracy. And in that setting, those writers whom readers appreciate the most will rise to the top. We’re witnessing a subtle, incomplete yet poignant shift in power from a select few to a broader and broader pool. And that’s incredibly exciting.
Janice Waugh says:
solotravelerblog.com | @SoloTraveler
I've been travel blogging for 2 1/2 years and it's been a thrilling journey. Numbers increase. Emails of thanks arrive. Revenue grows. It's all good - really good. But, the absolute best moment was in December when I ran a very easy give-away. I had 12 small gifts on offer. To qualify to win, people simply had to leave a comment with their thinking about the “gift of travel”. The result was amazing! 94 people wrote long, thoughtful comments about how fortunate they are to travel. 94 people (and I only knew one of them) explored the “gift of travel” idea from many different angles. There are travelers who have no interest in my view on travel. And, fortunately, there are many who do and will take the time to share their views with me as well. It’s this ability to make a real connection that is the wonder of travel blogging and what makes it so valuable to travelers and the travel industry.
Angelika Schwaff - Germanwings says:
germanwings.com | @germanwings | ichweisswo.blogspot.com | @ichweisswo
I live in both worlds, my daily job is being a senior PR manager for an airline. This put me in the lucky position to be able to travel a lot. I started a private travel blog one and a half years ago, together with my fiancée, who is - as a TV reporter also a frequent traveler. Travel blogging is more than just a couple of freaks who want to publish something on the internet. It is about a community of real enthusiasts, real people who share real experiences. The best bloggers work professional but are able to communicate the thrill of traveling like an amateur. A great mix! From my PR perspective, this means I love to work with bloggers as I know their opinion mean a lot to their readers. Travel blog readers know exactly what they can get – not only recommendations but also an answer if questions come up. This is the idea behind social media and it find it’s perfection in travel blogging.
Shannon O'Donnell says:
ALittleAdrift.com | @ShannonRTW
The internet era in the past decade has increasingly boiled down to facilitating easy communication and the open sharing of ideas-- this couldn't be more true within the travel industry too, and my personal success have been through using social media and technology to personally connect with locals and expats in each new destination, as well as connecting arm-chair travelers with direct conversation about the places they dream of visiting :)
Caz and Craig Makepeace say:
ytravelblog.com | @ytravelblog
Blogging and social media has brought us so many opportunities and much success. We love being able to share our travel stories and travel tips to inspire others to experience the world. This is the greatest reward we receive from the work we do at our blog. Personally it has brought us many fantastic experiences such as being official Qantas Correspondents to the Great Crusade two week Rugby World Cup tour of New Zealand. We've also worked with Tourism Gold Coast and New Zealand to highlight both of these destinations, spoken at blogging and travel writing conferences, and had a private breakfast with Jeremy Stoppleman, founder of Yelp. We love working with brands, PR companies and tourist boards to help achieve their objectives as well as bringing value to our readers. I think exciting times lay ahead for the creative and valuable way bloggers can work with brands.
Interesting article: What is the ROI of Social Media?
Hjörtur Smárason says:
RavingRavens.com | @hjortur
It's all about storytelling!
Travels are all about good stories. Good stories that get people interested. Good stories travellers can experience and most importantly, good stories travellers can share with their friends. Good travel marketing is good storytelling and the best amplifier for a good story is social media. Never before has it been as easy and effective to spread the word - and visuals - of a good story. Research has shown that 14% of consumers trust advertising, while 78% trust peer reviews - and peer storytellers are travel bloggers. They are good storytellers, have good credibility as peers and have the rank on search engines to be found, which makes them a very attractive option for travel marketers. Good storytelling and use of social media has been very fruitful for my wife and I, winning the greatest holiday in the world - 365 hotel nights at Radisson Blu.
Johann Thorsson - Dohop says:
dohop.com | @dohop
We are great fans of Social Media and blogging. Dohop has given most of the popular platforms a try and for us Facebook is by far the most successful venture, both with regards to the number of fans (just under 6000 international) and with regards the the number of referrals over to Dohop.
We use Twitter as a tool for making and maintaining contacts. We have made connections there that we would otherwise not have made (including Traveldudes). Our favorite Twitter memory notably "accidentally" inviting @earthXplorer over to Iceland for a few days of travel and fun. We also appreciate the speed of Twitter, more than once an issue with Dohop has been brought to our attention on Twitter.
Google Plus is still en enigma to us though.
Andrew Hickey says:
thebrooklynnomad.com | @BrooklynNomad
My blog and social media has provided me with some amazing opportunities over the last three years. I've seen some amazing places like Hong Kong, Italy, Switzerland, UK, and more. Plus I landed two full-time jobs, with my current role being the social media manager for G Adventures. I have also made some world class friends and contacts in the travel industry thanks to tweeting, facebooking and google-plussing away each day. Cheers to more success to others in 2012!
Rosemarie John says:
travelandbeyond.org | @TravelnBeyond
Travel blogging is very subjective. Many people find it useful and a platform for travellers to seek our a true and fair view of a particular destination or to view photos from a different perspective... At least that is the feedback I've got from my readers. Whether its profitable, money wise is a whole different ball game. I for one have not seen any income from it - I could be going about it all wrong but that's a different issue. However, South East Asia for the exception of Singapore hasn't understood the power of social media as much as it should. The upside though is that travel blogging has open doors to professional writing and new experiences - you could say that, that's my silver lining.
Juan Llantada - DMO Land of Valencia says:
e-turismo.blogspot.com | @joantxo
No doubt conversation is still very important to humans. Therefore social media will still be important for brands. Pioneers times in social media has passed away and now enterprise and brands that before the crisis avoided to get involve with social media now they are staring at this scenario as a defiant game: in this general crises some have get profit out of social media and if some big brands have get that profit, what is the reason for me not to get involve and try to get that profit too?
Corinne McDermott says:
havebabywilltravel.com | @hvbabywilltrvl
The turning point for me and for 'Have Baby Will Travel' was attending business school, and creating a business plan. Having clearly defined marketing, operations, and financial plans means my mission of inspiring, motivating, and helping families travel with their babies, toddlers, and young children will stay on track. Turning my website into a business by treating it as one, has given me a new perspective on what's important, and it's easier to not be distracted by things that don't fit in with my overall vision.
Mariana Calleja says:
mytravelthirst.com | @TravelThirst
Blogging success to me? Definitely reaching my own goals at first. (Statistics talk but they might not be the only and best parameter) During 2011 I was able to grow up and have my own domain, more than only a blog & having tons of great feedback for that: successful! Having constant contact with my travel network, being loyal to them, BEING THERE. Is amazing how interesting and cool this can be, how you meet people and you arrange things through and WITH them. Successful for me is having so many people liking and reading my style and being loyal all the way around to me.
JoAnna Haugen says:
KaleidoscopicWandering.com | @joanna_haugen
One of the most rewarding things about being an active travel writer and blogger has been the opportunity to answer questions about and advise people on travel-related decisions. Readers and people sometimes ask questions like what they should pack or which company is best for a certain tour or type of transportation. But sometimes I get inquiries about things like whether someone should spend their hard-earned time and money to visit Ecuador or Guatemala. Travel is a privilege to most people, so when potential travelers consider my opinions important and relevant because I am a travel writer and blogger, I definitely feel like the time, effort, cost and outreach I invest in my projects really makes a difference.
Diana Edelmann says:
dtravelsround.com | @dtravelsround
2011 I was able to witness the power this tight-knit travel blogging community has.
After I spent a week in Thailand and learned about the abuse of elephants in the profitable tourism industry, I set out on a mission to educate travelers and bloggers alike. Within days, my articles, which appeared on The Huffington Post and World Nomads, received thousands and thousands of hits, hundreds of re-tweets and likes and shares on Facebook. In fact, months after these stories went live, travel bloggers continue to show their support and their influence, regularly sharing the stories with their audiences.
Our community is a beautiful thing -- we know the strength we have when we want to exercise it to make waves -- and understand the responsibility that comes with that. In 2012, I am expanding the focus of my blog, as well as traveling more. I hope it is the year of the Travel Blogger and more entities realize the value and the magnitude our words can have not only on other travel bloggers,but on travelers and would-be travelers as a whole.
Heather Cowper says:
heatheronhertravels.com | mybloggingjourney.com | @heathercowper
Travel blogging for me means that I can share my travel experiences with potentially millions of people who find my articles in different ways; through a Google search, Twitter, Facebook or Youtube. I can explore my own creativity and be the presenter of my own travel video or podcast without having to persuade any TV or radio station that I've got something worth saying. Now my blog's established I get invited on sponsored trips too and I have a network of blogging friends all over the world.
Idil Elveris says:
travelmind-idilka.blogspot.com | @idilika
I have two great stories. First, some of the articles in my blog got published in a newspaper’s travel section. It then led me to write a full page story in the same newspaper in a non-travel related matter.
Second, recently I approached three different boutique hotels in Istanbul and said I wanted to stay for one night to write a review about their hotel at my blog. I picked the hotels according to the concept I wanted to reflect of Istanbul. I also asked whether they had a discount for media. All replied positively in less than 24 hours. Me being part of social media was enough to be considered as media. I picked the first respondent.
Carrie Finley-Bajak says:
CruiseBuzz.net | @CruiseBuzz
F. Scott Fitzgerald said “the reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” As far as I am concerned, there is plenty to say about travel. Blogs and micro blog sites are the perfect vehicles for sharing ideas and swapping travel stories. At any given moment, I can be engaging with people in Tahiti, Hong Kong, Vail, London, or Stockholm: happening now in 140 characters or less (even more with Google+). Because of social media, I have made some amazing friendships and I have had a chance to explore, discover and share. I mostly write about cruising, ships, and places near the sea.
Ted Nelson says:
travelingted.tv | @travelingted
Social media has made it easy to connect and share my passions with like travelers, friends, travel media, and complete strangers. I have made great new virtual friends and have amassed a small following who loyally read my blog and share my links. It has also enabled me to be taken seriously by travel public relation professionals who have offered complimentary travel merchandise and trips in order for exposure on my blogs and social media outlets. In short, blogging and social media have been very very good to me. :)
Alex Berger says:
virtualwayfarer.com | @AlexBerger
2011 was spectacular. It started in Argentina and came to a close in Denmark. As the year began I was in my 3rd year as director of research for a finance company in Arizona. The job was great but only let me work in two 20 day trips a year. It was enough to give me a lot of fantastic material to write about but still somewhat limiting. As the year progressed I made the decision to explore my dream of living abroad through a two year masters based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It's an exciting opportunity which allows me to continue to blog about travel while tapping into new and exciting areas of interest - studying and living abroad - which I can then share through my blog, twitter and other outlets. I've always been a huge fan of social media, but the trips I've taken this year, and the role social media has played in both building my travel blog, and in helping me through the process of re-locating long term to a new country has been significant. I've had the opportunity to work with a number of major brands I've always had a lot of respect for, signed my blog's first syndication agreement with a major paper, and enjoyed doing my first radio interview. Social media has been the major driver through it all.
Mathew Long says
LandLopers.com | @landlopers
I started my travel blog, LandLopers.com, almost two years ago as a way to help my friends with their travel adventures. Since then the site has mushroomed in popularity and I have found my true passion in life. 2011 was an amazing year of growth for me and the site, not just from the number of visitors (which grew by 400%) but by the number of partnerships I've been fortunate to be a part of. Lufthansa, Jordan, New Zealand, Australia, AMResorts, Eurail, InterContinental Hotels and many other companies and destinations have wanted to work with me and help as I spread the message of making travel a priority in life. I know that 2012 holds many more exciting adventures for me and many other travel bloggers as we continue working with the travel industry not to replace any existing efforts, but to augment their message and take it to millions of people around the world.
Interesting article: What is a Travel Blog?
Share your 2011 experience as a comment beneath!