How Bloggers Can Work With Tourism Boards

Pittsburgh by the River

I had the pleasure to take part of the last day of a tour of Pittsburgh, put on by Visit Pittsburgh. I missed the first few days, which brought the rest of the tour group to see even more of the city, but I had the opportunity to visit a historical museum, a few local attractions, and a Lucky Duck amphibious vehicle tour of the city by land and by water. The experience was great, and because Kristin Mitchell and team at Visit Pittsburgh found some swell bloggers to talk about their experiences in Pittsburgh, they’ll no doubt get some nice write-ups.

The process got me thinking, however. I asked a few people tonight what they’d want a blogger to know about their city. Norm Huelsman had two versions of what he wanted to talk about: the more likely nostalgic tour, but then he also mentioned it would be interesting to talk about how Pittsburgh is really broken into hyperlocal experiences, like the various neighborhoods within. John Carman had a few ideas of his own, too. After talking and thinking a bit, here’s my initial thoughts. I want yours.

How Bloggers Can Work With Tourism Boards

If a city needs a louder voice, bloggers can act in that capacity, but the question becomes, what message does a city want to amplify? And how could we help? I think it’s easy to think the answer is to write a great blog post that tells people to come to Pittsburgh (or wherever). That’s bloggers acting like PR or that weird syrup of PR meets media that we often find ourselves being.

How about we do something more powerful, more meaningful? What if we helped cities express themselves and share their voice? My first thought was to ask the people of Pittsburgh what they want to share with the world. That’s one way to think about it. My next thought was to give them the tools, show them how, and get the most authentic voice.

My last thought was that it’s a combination. We’ll all tell the story in different ways. What I saw that caught my eye wasn’t part of the tour at all. The tour was great, but I found a story a few hours after the meeting.

My voice as a visitor with a whole different kind of readership might tell you about the story of innovation and technology investment I noticed while talking with Jim Jen, Meredith Benedict, and Mike Woycheck of AlphaLab, a startup incubator helping seed companies find their footing and launch out into the world.

My post about tourism bureaus and bloggers sparked lots of ideas, and it’s been on my mind since. Some people might show me the culture. Others might want to see the food, and that’s not wrong. Grace Piper would be a great person to share the food stories of a city. But what else needs to be said?

Of course, as always, I’m here to ask you. How do you think bloggers should interact with explaining travel and tourism?

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • http://www.soultravelers3.com Soultravelers3

    Hi Chris! Thanks so much for this post and your previous one on this topic. Like you and so many here, I think it is essential conversation.

    I think the combination of local bloggers and travel bloggers adds a greater dimension to any place. That, will bring more people!

    There was a mention of London in a few comments, including one from a native and my friend Pam mentioning how expensive it is.

    We have started our third year of traveling the world as a family and two areas that we focus on in our blog is finding family educational opportunities while traveling and living large on little with lots of keys on how to do that, even in expensive cities.

    We spent months in the UK this summer, including London on very little money, had a great time and found endless educational opportunities for families! London has been smart by making all their museums free, so that worked well for our goals and I would love to see more cities follow that example.

    We have visited 4 continents, traveled over 50,000 miles, visited 27 countries… and spend 25K a year in total expenses for a family of 3! We find we can travel the world for much less than living at home ( and we have been mostly in “expensive” Europe).

    Like many travel bloggers, we blog about what we learn and experience while we travel. We have introduced our readers to new places to add to their list of “must-see”‘s, given them new ideas on how to explore places that they know ( like how to live large on little even in expensive places), and challenge them on how to find fun educational enrichment through family travel.

    Each blogger will bring their own voice which can not help but add to a sense of place, if it is a high quality blog.

  • http://wordsofabrokenmirror.com Alina Popescu

    I believe the stories that are not related to the traditional tours are the ones that need to be told and promoted. And locals would know them best. They know that the best restaurant in town is pretty hidden and no tourist will ever find it, that one of the most authentic place to see isn’t on any tour, etc. Tourists might also discover them when deciding to just forget all recommendation and just wander around a city/region driven by their gut feeling.

    For example, the best day I had in Amsterdam was when we just wandered around the city and stopped and visited whatever happened to be on our way. Also, in NYC, the best place to eat was a small diner hidden by construction works, close to our hotel. We went in because it was raining and it was the closest place possible. No one was recommending it.

  • http://wordsofabrokenmirror.com Alina Popescu

    I believe the stories that are not related to the traditional tours are the ones that need to be told and promoted. And locals would know them best. They know that the best restaurant in town is pretty hidden and no tourist will ever find it, that one of the most authentic place to see isn’t on any tour, etc. Tourists might also discover them when deciding to just forget all recommendation and just wander around a city/region driven by their gut feeling.

    For example, the best day I had in Amsterdam was when we just wandered around the city and stopped and visited whatever happened to be on our way. Also, in NYC, the best place to eat was a small diner hidden by construction works, close to our hotel. We went in because it was raining and it was the closest place possible. No one was recommending it.

  • Anonymous

    I was part of this press tour with Chris, and here are a few thoughts.

    This tour was done very well. Here are a few key things that made it work:

    1)Because it was arranged in cooperation with the new media/blogging community of Pittsburgh who helped figure out our itinerary.

    2) We were also lucky to have an extremely sophisticated thinker about Pittsburgh, blogger Jim Russell, on the tour with us. He gave us a multi-layered take on the history and cultural geography of Pittsburgh.

    3) Along with taking us to some really fascinating places, they gave us time to chill, blog, and wander around unchaperoned which led to cool serendipitous discoveries and interactions.

  • http://jonnygoldstein.com Jonny Goldstein

    I was part of this press tour with Chris, and here are a few thoughts.

    This tour was done very well. Here are a few key things that made it work:

    1)Because it was arranged in cooperation with the new media/blogging community of Pittsburgh who helped figure out our itinerary.

    2) We were also lucky to have an extremely sophisticated thinker about Pittsburgh, blogger Jim Russell, on the tour with us. He gave us a multi-layered take on the history and cultural geography of Pittsburgh.

    3) Along with taking us to some really fascinating places, they gave us time to chill, blog, and wander around unchaperoned which led to cool serendipitous discoveries and interactions.

  • http://www.uniquetake.com rick byerly

    tourism boards need to promote people and blogs from their own areas to be the go to people to find out what’s going on in an area. with pittsburgh, for example, there are a lot of people who live in the area who don’t know the depth of the art scene and local govt and tourism related efforts may not even know as well.

    rick byerly

    fine art photographer, pittsburgh pa

    pittsburgh art events
    http://www.PittsburghGalleries.blogspot.com

    uniquetake photography
    http://www.uniquetake.com

  • http://www.uniquetake.com rick byerly

    tourism boards need to promote people and blogs from their own areas to be the go to people to find out what’s going on in an area. with pittsburgh, for example, there are a lot of people who live in the area who don’t know the depth of the art scene and local govt and tourism related efforts may not even know as well.

    rick byerly

    fine art photographer, pittsburgh pa

    pittsburgh art events
    http://www.PittsburghGalleries.blogspot.com

    uniquetake photography
    http://www.uniquetake.com

  • Pingback: 10 Essential Steps For Launching A Group Blog

  • http://thingsyoushoulddo.com juliemarg

    If you want to work with tourist boards, you have to offer them something that helps them achieve their goals. Their goal is not to tell the unvarnished truth it’s to motivate people to visit and spend lots of money in their area. It’s not to show people the small off the beaten track establishments, unless those establishments have joined the tourist board. It’s not to show people how to spend as little as possible while visiting, it’s to motivate them to spend as much as possible.

    As readers we’re looking for the off beat, the quirky, the truth. But it’s silly to think that the raison d’être for tourist and convention boards will change.

  • http://thingsyoushoulddo.com juliemarg

    If you want to work with tourist boards, you have to offer them something that helps them achieve their goals. Their goal is not to tell the unvarnished truth it’s to motivate people to visit and spend lots of money in their area. It’s not to show people the small off the beaten track establishments, unless those establishments have joined the tourist board. It’s not to show people how to spend as little as possible while visiting, it’s to motivate them to spend as much as possible.

    As readers we’re looking for the off beat, the quirky, the truth. But it’s silly to think that the raison d’être for tourist and convention boards will change.

  • http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/ Tim Russell

    Interesting posting Chris. I live and work in a city (Saigon) that doesn’t have a tourist board, just a local tourism ‘authority’ staffed by clueless government types who know practically zero about tourism. Thus, there is no destination marketing whatsoever. For those of us working in tourism & hospitality, this is bad news. Means we have to do it all ourselves.

    The pieces below, designed for visitors to the city and the sort of thing you’d expect a tourist board to put out, have been very popular:

    http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/a-visitor%e2%80%99s-guide-to-saigon-taxis/
    http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/10-reasons-to-visit-ho-chi-minh-city/

  • http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/ Tim Russell

    Interesting posting Chris. I live and work in a city (Saigon) that doesn’t have a tourist board, just a local tourism ‘authority’ staffed by clueless government types who know practically zero about tourism. Thus, there is no destination marketing whatsoever. For those of us working in tourism & hospitality, this is bad news. Means we have to do it all ourselves.

    The pieces below, designed for visitors to the city and the sort of thing you’d expect a tourist board to put out, have been very popular:

    http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/a-visitor%e2%80%99s-guide-to-saigon-taxis/
    http://heartofsaigon.wordpress.com/2008/07/17/10-reasons-to-visit-ho-chi-minh-city/

  • http://www.planeta.com Ron Mader

    Tourism boards will work independent bloggers, flickerers, twitterers if we give them an incentive to do so. Perhaps the best way to encourage national, state and local government websites is to work with them to create a buzz. How to work with them? Perhaps we could offer incentive in the form of awards.

    It makes sense to encourage government leaders to provide the basic information for visitors. Yes, we would like to see more current information on government portals about local services, upcoming events and things visitors should know before they arrive. We would also like to see more details about ecotourism, responsible travel and indigenous tourism services. A plus would be an understanding of the Web2 channels, including Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

    As an incentive for government websites, Planeta.com hosts the Ecotourism Spotlight Award for portals that are innovative, engaging and informative. Nominations for the 2009 Award open in May.

    We are also updating an Index of Tourism Portals and adding a link to this essay as recommended reading.

  • http://www.planeta.com Ron Mader

    Tourism boards will work independent bloggers, flickerers, twitterers if we give them an incentive to do so. Perhaps the best way to encourage national, state and local government websites is to work with them to create a buzz. How to work with them? Perhaps we could offer incentive in the form of awards.

    It makes sense to encourage government leaders to provide the basic information for visitors. Yes, we would like to see more current information on government portals about local services, upcoming events and things visitors should know before they arrive. We would also like to see more details about ecotourism, responsible travel and indigenous tourism services. A plus would be an understanding of the Web2 channels, including Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.

    As an incentive for government websites, Planeta.com hosts the Ecotourism Spotlight Award for portals that are innovative, engaging and informative. Nominations for the 2009 Award open in May.

    We are also updating an Index of Tourism Portals and adding a link to this essay as recommended reading.

  • http://www.maketravelfair.co.uk Stephen Chapman

    Interesting topic and thread of comments. I think local blogs are a real asset to areas keen to encourage tourism and they should definitely be recognised more by tourist boards, but is this idealistic? Probably, but should tourist boards change their attitude?

    Like Juliemarg mentions above – Tourist boards need to see something in blogs that will help them to achieve their goals, and their goal is to motivate people to visit and spend lots of money in their area.

    The type of places I like to read about in blogs are off the beaten track, the small local secrets, not the places I can go to spend all my money. I think that unless tourist boards can see the obvious value in promoting destinations as a whole, rather than focusing only on what brings in the big money they will be reluctant to support this type of blogging.

  • http://www.maketravelfair.co.uk Stephen Chapman

    Interesting topic and thread of comments. I think local blogs are a real asset to areas keen to encourage tourism and they should definitely be recognised more by tourist boards, but is this idealistic? Probably, but should tourist boards change their attitude?

    Like Juliemarg mentions above – Tourist boards need to see something in blogs that will help them to achieve their goals, and their goal is to motivate people to visit and spend lots of money in their area.

    The type of places I like to read about in blogs are off the beaten track, the small local secrets, not the places I can go to spend all my money. I think that unless tourist boards can see the obvious value in promoting destinations as a whole, rather than focusing only on what brings in the big money they will be reluctant to support this type of blogging.

  • Pingback: » Another new local travel knowledge site - Make Travel Fair UK

  • http://www.WanderingEducators.com jessie voigts

    this is a great topic for conversation. we’ve got two trips scheduled in the next few months and have contacted the major tourist boards so that we can share events, attractions, and restaurants with our readers on our site, http://www.WanderingEducators.com.

    here’s what happened:

    chicago – contacted both tourist boards (and the chinatown organization) several times – NO response.

    minneapolis (actually, explore minnesota) – lots of help and really getting us into both major attractions and off-the-beaten-path events.

    you can bet that minneapolis (a cool city in and of itself) will get a lot more face time on our site, and many more recommendations, than will chicago. explore minnesota gets a lot of credit from me.

    why don’t more tourist boards pay attention to these sorts of things? we have a large readership and a highly educated audience.

  • http://www.WanderingEducators.com jessie voigts

    this is a great topic for conversation. we’ve got two trips scheduled in the next few months and have contacted the major tourist boards so that we can share events, attractions, and restaurants with our readers on our site, http://www.WanderingEducators.com.

    here’s what happened:

    chicago – contacted both tourist boards (and the chinatown organization) several times – NO response.

    minneapolis (actually, explore minnesota) – lots of help and really getting us into both major attractions and off-the-beaten-path events.

    you can bet that minneapolis (a cool city in and of itself) will get a lot more face time on our site, and many more recommendations, than will chicago. explore minnesota gets a lot of credit from me.

    why don’t more tourist boards pay attention to these sorts of things? we have a large readership and a highly educated audience.

  • http://www.holidays-mauritius.travel Mauritius WHL.travel

    It would be a great concept but I believe that it will NOT work in countries where special interest groups are not able to hijack the Tourist Board/Blog.
    Even worse scenario is where Tourist Board have become a Political tool or a few persons private playground to favor some take holders.
    Take Mauritius, Why does the Tourist Board and the Tourist Authorities not list all Accommodation providers from the B&B to the 5 star Resort to the little tour operator on their website?
    This way they would support the every stakeholder equally and if there should be a tip to one of the sites; should it not be in the favor of “The Other Side of …..” promoting the country hidden asset such at the little Eco & Adventure operator, the off the beaten track lodge/guest house rater the big hotel group or the Resort part of an International hotel chain. I mean it not be course of Hilton or Taj that I travel to a country without saying that these hotel have not right to be part of a Tourist Board/Blog.

  • http://www.holidays-mauritius.travel Mauritius WHL.travel

    It would be a great concept but I believe that it will NOT work in countries where special interest groups are not able to hijack the Tourist Board/Blog.
    Even worse scenario is where Tourist Board have become a Political tool or a few persons private playground to favor some take holders.
    Take Mauritius, Why does the Tourist Board and the Tourist Authorities not list all Accommodation providers from the B&B to the 5 star Resort to the little tour operator on their website?
    This way they would support the every stakeholder equally and if there should be a tip to one of the sites; should it not be in the favor of “The Other Side of …..” promoting the country hidden asset such at the little Eco & Adventure operator, the off the beaten track lodge/guest house rater the big hotel group or the Resort part of an International hotel chain. I mean it not be course of Hilton or Taj that I travel to a country without saying that these hotel have not right to be part of a Tourist Board/Blog.

  • ridwanzero

    If you really did find a working formula that made you, say $1,000 a week online on average and it kept producing income no matter what, would you want to sell that idea to a bunch of noobs for $47 a pop and expect to retire on the proceeds? No way, man! It does not compute. It does not add up. And it does not make any sense to do that. I certainly don’t go shouting from the rooftops how I make my money online. Hell, I don’t want the competition taking a slice of my pie and neither would anyone who really does make good cash online.

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  • http://www.affordablewriting.net/essay-writing.html Essay Writing

    Amazing !!
    i read complete Article, this article is very informative

  • Anonymous

    Great info indeed

  • Pingback: How to Work with Tourism Boards « DBH Blog

  • Pingback: How to Work with Tourism Boards | David's Been Here