Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Always On – Challenges for eTourism in a Changing World

I am currently in the beautiful city of El Gouna, Egypt, attending the 2nd International Tourism Online Marketing Conference. El Gouna is also called the Venice of the Red Sea for its beauty, peacefulness and its scenic beachfronts, however, I must admit that so far I have unfortunately not seen much more but the conference venue.

The conference was opened yesterday by Mr Amr Elezabi, CEO of the Egyptian Tourist Authority (see foto below). In his opening speech to the approximately 250 participants he emphasized the importance of eTourism for Egypt and other Arabic and African countries to tackle the issues of communication and information, knowledge transfer, eTourism and eMarketing.

A great number of international eTourism experts from all over the world will give presentations on a variety of topics (see detailed conference program) over the next 3 days and share their expertise with the conference participants. I had the honour and the pleasure to moderate the first session this morning which was titled “E-Tourism Today” and then give a presentation myself in the second session on “Online Advertising”, and I would like to share with you the most interesting and important statements from this today.

The first presentation dealt with the “Challenge of Change” and was held by the change consultant Michael Jackson. “What?”, you might wonder now, “Michael Jackson at an eTourism conference?” But of course it was not THE Michael Jackson (and how could he?) but the other Michael Jackson, which he calls himself ironically. Although one could say that the king of pop was also a good example of change.

Michael pointed out how the speed of our lives has changed over the past 20 years due to a dramatic increase in communication through email, web-applications, smart phones and social media applications such as Twitter and Facebook. The challenge for us is to be “always on” in order to stay informed and competitive. We live in a world that is going to be more collaborative than ever before in history and especially businesses can benefit from these developments. A good example for collaboration, which was presented by Karl Wöber from Modul University Vienna, is the Tourism Information System TourMIS (www.tourmis.info/) which is a free platform for the tourism industry to exchange marketing knowledge about cities and destinations and contains also several benchmarking functions. Michael Jackson concluded that those who do not use or have the technology such as iPhone, Blackberry or Android will be left behind. That can be seen as rather bleak scenario because it creates a digital gap between those who have access to the technology and those who have not and in turn increases the information gap. This issue is also dealt with by the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as Alex Rayner, eTourism advisor to the UNWTO, explained.

Lee Hunter, Marketing Manager with Google, shared his insights into technology changes and trends with the audience. He identified three drivers for technology change:

  • Ubiquitous connectivity (rember – always on!)
  • Democratization of the tools of production (shift from social media to business media)
  • Falling costs of communication

These changes have also led to new basics in eTourism and eMarketing:

  • Relevance of the marketing communications in order to harness increased customer engagement
  • Precision in targeting the customers (e.g. through local geotargeting)
  • Deeper connections with customers
  • Constant innovation: be nimble and willing to adapt and experiment.

My presentation dealt with “Search Engine Marketing” (SEM).The two most frequent activities on the Internet are sending emails and searching for information (see foto below). About 80% of all journeys start with a search query in a search engine (mostly Google) and therefore search engine marketing has become increasingly important over the past few years. Moreover, tools such as Google AdWords require only little technical understanding but focus rather on marketing and content issues. Another asset of SEM is that it gives marketers a better control over the budget and the performance measurement of marketing campaigns.

The key success factors of a successful SEM campaign are:

  • to define the conversion goals of the campaign
  • to find the right keywords from the consumer’s point of view
  • to write appealing ad text copies
  • to monitor and optimize the campaign performance
  • to invest time and endurance (learning curve!)

If your are interested in SEM, you can download my presentation on Search Engine Marketing. (pfd, 580 kB)

In the following days topics such as Distribution 2.0, Branding 2.0, Tourism Education, Email Marketing and Content Management will be covered on this conference.

So keep visiting my blog for more insights into the eTourism research and industry.

You can follow the proceedings of the conference (in German) on www.twitter.com/guenterexel

1 comment:

  1. Back in Cairo after our E- tourism and E- marketing Conference, I am still feeling the glow of the past week. Those of you who attended can attest that El- Gouna City was exciting and event full from start to finish.

    Thanks to all of the attendees, speakers, and sponsors who helped make our The 2 nd Arab International E-Tourism & E-marketing Conference, great success!
    We appreciate all of your support and look forward to another great conference next year.

    We had outstanding programming: sessions, seminars, workshops and ask the experts consultations on a wide range of topics of interest .

    I would like to acknowledge and thank all of those who made the conference a success , Thanks for the amazing presentations you presented, I really enjoyed them .

    Dr . Jamie Murphy , Dr . Daniel Fesenmaier , Dr . Karl W. Wöber , Alexander Rayner , Michael Jackson , Satvinder Sandhu , Jens Thraenhart , Dimitrios Buhalis , Anders Mogensen , David Horrigan , Khadijah-Hanine Lakkis , Lee Hunter , Abd El rahim Allam , Bicky Carlra , Christian Maurer , Damian Cook , Mohamed El-Sayyad , Andrew Princz , Boris Kapitanovic , Matt Jerwood , Diego J. Lofeudo , Yehia Abu El Hassan , Memphis tours team , My Son Mohammed , the management of Mövenpick Resort & Spa El Gouna , El gouna management , Ghada Amin , veronique paque , mayar abdelaziz ,

    Many thanks to our conference sponsors, advertisers and contributor , The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism , The Egyptian tourism authority , and the Journal of Information Technology and Tourism (JITT), the Egyptian Ministry of Communications , Amadeus ,ACTE, Expedia, Msn Arabia , arado , Travel daily news ,Etida , El-gouna ,Maktoob ,Yahoo, CIT ,Atbd, and Egyptian ministry of commerce .

    I'd also like to thank the session organizers and moderators, workshop instructors, seminar leaders, panelists and our keynote speaker, I heard many positive comments from attendees about the excellence of our programming this year.

    And a heartfelt thanks to all conference attendees.

    Hossam Darwish