On the first morning of DMAI 2010 I listened to an interesting session on sustainable tourism: A Sustainable Future. The session was moderated by Dr Jonathon Day who is an assistant professor at Purdue University. On the panel were Jeff Miller from Travel Portland, Maureen O’Crowley from Seoul Tourism Organization, Scott from Salt Lake City and Steve Moore from Greater Phoenix CVB.
The panel was exciting for two reasons. Firstly, I arrived in tourism by accident as a result of a passion for travel. In a past life I studied environmental law at Oregon university in Eugene, just south of Portland. Second, there were many overlaps between the discussion and everything we’ve been doing in social media. I’ve selectively chosen a few below.
Jeff emphasized the importance of having a focus and solid commitment to sustainability. He briefly discussed a campaign that Travel Portland had built around a compassion coupon. Success in social media marketing is entirely built around segmentation and micro-focus. Less successful social marketing focuses on the tools first: “we have an iPhone app and started a facebook page’. Focusing on your consumers and your objectives is key.
Scott talked about leading by example, keeping it small and aligning with people in the community who are already working on sustainability. In social media, the best way to justify it’s value to stakeholders is to find the early adopters in your community and partner to run a low investment pilot campaign. Keep the pilot campaign small and minimize the investment.
Steve Moore mentioned the Sheraton in Seattle and their industry-leading efforts to cut down their environmental footprint. They allow guests to opt-out of room services and donate a portion of the savings. Interestingly, I’d discussed exactly this with Kisha Post from the Sheraton when she was also telling me about what they were doing with TripAdvisor reviews. I also received a personalized note in my room asking me to take the time to review their organization. Progressive organizations tend to be progressive in both sustainability and social media.
Changes like these represent both a challenge and an opportunity. Sustainable tourism and social media present a leadership opportunity and a chance to engage your community.