Tourism: Festivals are Powerful Economical Tools

Learning about festivalsDan McConnell DDB Worldwide just spoke here at the Hawaii Tourism Authority Festivals and Events conference I am attending (and tweeting and blogging too.)

“Upgrading your web site” is only about 10% of what the internet has to offer today. Yet many of our Hawaii web sites are still web 1.0, not 2.0. So that means we have a long ways to go together to compete effectively. Our speaker also teaches at the University of Washington and encourages CEO’s to embrace blogging and social media. Dan’s company gets it: the most recent blog post is featured on the home page.

Festivals make your marketing dollars go farther.
We are planning an unconference, Podcamp and Wordcamp combined, that we hope to use to bring together the tech leaders from around the world and connect them with locals to share culture and knowledge. We hope the local business and tourism community will collaborate with us to showcase our beautiful state and akamai kama’aina.

The following points help tell us the full story, as festivals and events draw visitors while the internet is the key player in making it happen.

Secret Draws: Beaches, Outdoor Locations, and Information
* Outside the mainland, beach/resorts are the most popular destinations
* Outdoor venues by far the most popular
* Travelers want local culture; what is a community all about?

What more can I say? We have this here in Hawaii, best in class.

Beach Walks has proven this over and over again. People come by searching for Hawaii and they return over and over again because we share a slice of real life – good and bad weather, local people (not just celebrities), local sites (not just perfectly staged sunsets.)

The Internet is Where It’s At. Where Are You At?
* The internet is the most influential method of travel planning; can’t play it up enough.
* Most travel planning self-serve online.
* Cable and internet are very important to 25-44 year-old group
* 70% of online users also watch TV while online.
* Internet spend increased over 18% from 06 to 07.

Yet we in Hawaii are behind the curve. How many of our tourism, PR, communications, and advertising execs blog or podcast or twitter? Virtually none. (Please LMK if you do and I don’t know about it! I want to give you free buzz and free hugs.)

This conference did have online payment and registration, but no other internet follow-up. There could have been follow-up to attendees, reminders or links to maps and parking info, a listing of attendees so we can network with each other, post questions for the speakers, etc.

On-site, no mention of web site resources for the conference. Power point slides were printed and enclosed in our packets which is very helpful to have; however most will be ʻōpala by 6 pm today. They could be posted on online for wider distribution, archival access, for sharing virally, and to practice sustainable green best practices.

Where is money being spent?
* Festivals and events get about 10% of the total marketing spend
* Traditional advertising dollars going down; cable specialty shows garnering higher rates by delivering a targeted audience.
* Outdoor is the million dollar baby; spending is increasing; people like to get messages while they are outdoors.

Dan’s final advice? “Be local, think global. Concentrate on the internet.”
Since there are no sessions today focused on building internet skills and awareness for the attendees, I hereby offer my skills as a trainer. If you are in tourism and want to attend a program to see how the internet on steroids can help you, please contact me! I will organize it and guarantee you will leave ready to blow your kids’ minds about how tech savvy you became.

The time is now. You can learn to use these tools. I personally guarantee it.