Recently, I was lucky enough to travel around Prince Edward Island (PEI) and was extremely impressed by how the various tourism groups, attractions and cities made such great use of social media, especially Twitter. As a traveler and social media consultant, what they were doing impressed me on many levels.
Most of the social media teams I virtually came across realized the importance of using social media as marketing tool, from the initial info-gathering months before my departure, to the post-trip compliments from various people, tourism boards and attractions.
In June, when I made the decision to go to PEI for the first time, I tweeted at Tourism PEI and within a span of 10 days, I was introduced to events on the Island, various tourist outfits and other groups that I could communicate with – all that from one tweet asking their tourism board for some suggestions.
When I reached out again a month out from my trip, I posted the following tweet and that opened the floodgates to many conversations for the coming weeks.
By way of tagging various others in tweets, I was introduced to @PEIPotatoes, @PEIFlavours, @OutdoorEx, @IslandFroYo, @Joeysfishing, locals with suggestions of their favourite places and further conversations with @GentleIsland. Through those conversations, I was able to narrow down my choices, plan activities better and get some feedback and suggestions from others.
Before Twitter, the planning process would have taken longer and I would not have been able to access people outside of my immediate circle by word-of-mouth. Now by using social media for something like tourism, where word-of-mouth is so important, you are able to widen your circle of experts to the networks of people who might only follow one similar profile, like that of @GentleIsland.
When I was just days away from my visit, I decided that Twitter was a good way to check in with places I wanted to visit to see if they would be open and could make other recommendations. This led to a great Twitter conversation and relationship with @PEIBrew, that would continue throughout my travels on the Island.
Once I was on the Island and enjoying the suggestions of @PEIBrew, the tweets and tags inspired @CharlottetownPE to join the conversation, which continued right until I was back in Toronto.
It was these conversations during my trip around PEI that really made me feel like I was welcome and part of the Island family, even if just for a moment. This may sound crazy but as someone travelling alone, I felt that I was travelling with others, because @GentleIsland, @CharlottetownPE, @PEIBrew and @GahanBeer were interested in what I had to say and what I was doing.
It’s amazing what a difference it can make in your travels, knowing that someone is interested and cares about you having the best time that you can. Not just a love-them-and-leave-them, out of sight and out of mind. These social media teams really tried to make you feel at home, even if that’s not what their main goal was.
Twitter is one of the best tools for customer service, when used the right way. Much positive power can come from using Twitter, especially for small businesses. But so much negative can also come from not using it properly or ignoring those that are trying to reach you through it. I will say that I did develop negative feelings towards the companies, many larger ones, that ignored my tweets when I tried to reach out to them.
PEI seemed to recognize the importance of social media, especially Twitter, to engage with potential customers and visitors in real time. And by doing so and tagging others in the tweets, that opens the door to small and large business es working together towards the same goal: Putting PEI on everyone’s radar as a great place to visit.
This experience with social media (Twitter) and PEI tourism has really opened my eyes to what potential there is when I visit other cities and countries. Do others do it just as well or maybe better? Would love to see others try.
© 2013 – 2017, Anne-Marie Marais. All rights reserved.