So I was invited to have a talk among the LGU officials and tourism officers during the 14th Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippine (ATOP) National Convention last October 2-6 at Legazpi City, Albay.
I prepared a talk on “Social Media and the Present Trends Destination Marketing.” Since a lot were asking for the full manuscript, here is it.
Note: The talk is better understood with the presentation from Prezi. You can pan and zoom freely using the mouse. Just click next to go to the next slide.
Magandang umaga sa mga Tagalog. Maayong Buntag sa tanan mga Bisaya. Maayong aga sa mga gwapang Ilongga. Naimbag nga bigat sa mga kabsat kong Ilokano. Marhay na aga sa mga Bicolano. Good morning everyone.
Before anything else, I just want to say my thankfulness to all the tourism officers and staff here that I previously met and maybe asked when I was in your respective towns/provinces. I want to say KUDOS to all that the help you guys has given through the years.
So our topic for this morning is “Social Media and the Present Trend in Destination Marketing.”
Social Media in one HEAVY word and so to simplify let’s describe it in one word- INTERACTIONS. It’s an interaction among people in which they create, share and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Sa madaling sabi, kapag meron kang Facebook, you are into Social Media. And social media is not only for the sosyals and famous- even balut vendors use social media. Kapag meron kang Candy Crush, eh wag ka muna humingi ng life, later nlang after the talk. Okay?
Social media differentiates from traditional media (like TV, Radio, Newspaper, Magazine, Flyers, etc) in many aspects such as quality (interactive and multimedia), frequency, usability, immediacy and permanence.
Social Media when applied to Destination Marketing or Tourism is a way of gaining tourists/visitors through the use of the internet. It’s a way of gaining more tourist arrivals using the internet.
Let’s see for example- Australia’s Queensland Tourism
VIDEO: The Best Job in the World
But rather than advertise the campaign just through traditional means, the tourism board asked prospective employees to post one-minute application videos to YouTube, from which the 50 finalists were selected.
The result was a virtual chain reaction that bought the campaign more exposure than any traditional ad campaign could: Applicants started Facebook groups in support of their efforts; friends posted links to the videos on the micro-blogging site Twitter; a flurry of resulting visits overwhelmed the campaign’s website, crashing it on multiple occasions.
Aside from TV coverage from every news service from the BBC to CNN, radio and newspaper coverage, the campaign has been the catalyst for special online discussion groups, bulletin boards, blogs and websites, with applicants critiquing their competition, having detailed discussions and swapping ideas and tips.
It’s not surprising that the campaign has largely relied on public relations and social networking activity. It’s captured the imagination of the world and to date it’s generated more than $70-million in publicity value, according to Queensland Tourism.
What are the social media sites? Do you know?
As of 2010, Top 5 in the PH
6th is Friendster. That’s okay since the survey was done 2010
I guess today it’s Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram and Blogs.
So What are the Trends in Social Media?
Before I proceed let me tell everyone that “TRENDS” ….listen… are like “RELATIONSHIPS” they change quickly. I would also like to add that trends are like celeb sex video scandals. They become viral. Trends are good if we use it to our advantage but if we are driven by trends then it will be counter-productive in our end.
That said, we must be vigilant in following trends. Better yet, my proposal is that WE SET THE TREND. How about WE (as frontliners in the tourism business) SET THE TREND?
I’ll tell you a story…
Four years ago, there was an employee who’s sick and tired of his 7am-5pm job. He found his job tiring and very very dragging. It’s unfulfilling and the politics in the office he cannot bear. So after much thought, he said I’m done with this. I will follow my dream and pursue my passion. This employee got his last “sweldo” and took off from there. His dream? To travel. But since he doesn’t have work, he was limited. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dream of traveling. So slowly he started to go and explore on his own. He started at his hometown and from there added nearby places. Since his friends were also asking for the details of his trips and how he did it with less budget, instead of answering the same questions again and again, he started to write about his journeys- places he visited, food he ate and transportations he used. He started to have a following, since he wrote it on the blog.
Months doing that, other travelers found what he is doing and started exchanging ideas and sharing tips. Once he was traveling in CDO and he met a researcher from GMA7. He was telling her what he is doing and why he is doing it. That conversation was proved to be an important one since after 4 months, that researcher contacted him again asking him if they can shoot him for an episode with Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.
After the episode was seen on the national TV, his fame grew and more followers of his blog came. Not only that, it became an avenue for him to get invited for familiarization tours among many areas in the country of which he enjoyed. So he was traveling for free and enjoying the sights. He continued writing his exploits and following his dreams. He never regretted his decision of quitting job since then.
Clever as he is, he started to set a trend in traveling. He said, If Cebu Pacific says, “EveryJuan flies” then maybe I can say “EveryJuan can travel.” And so his website became a go-to site for travelers who doesn’t have that much but wants to visit this place or that. He was crazy enough to challenge himself to explore the Visayas for 14 days spending only P250/day. He brought hi hammock with him and ask the locals for a place where he can set up his hammock for free. He didn’t mind spending the day at the beach. Mas gusto nya pa daw sa pagitan ng dalawang puno kaysa sa hotel matulog. After that successful challenge, he traveled further and went journey around Mindanao for 16 days. This time he has more money in his pocket so he said he will try to spend less than Php400/day. Again, the challenge was a success. What he did was to make real-time updates via Twitter and Blog. Chronicling on his website what happened everyday. And during his 8th day of traveling around Mindanao he was interviewed by Travel Living Channel. Amazing!
So this poor guy was surprised to be enjoying his travels. What more, because of the many traffic on his blog, advertisers started to contact him. He accepted advertisers and before long he started to receive US Dollars, Euros and GBP. Sosyal!
He used these to add to his travel funds and last year he challenged himself to do something next to impossible- travel around the Philippines for 100 days non-stop the cheapest way possible. That 7am-5pm employee now stands in your front now.
Here’s the video from ANC after that EPIC 100 Days Journey
VIDEO: ANC Interview
Almost four years ago, I started the trend to travel the Philippines on a very low budget. I don’t want to sound mayabang, I know some have done this before me but if you ask travelers out there where they get their infos when traveling or backpacking the Philippines they will point you to www.journeyingjames.com. Now let me use the past experiences I have to share you my proposals for SETTING THE TREND IN DESTINATION MARKETING IN THE PHILIPPINES.
I Have 4 Proposals
Proposal 1: Plan Long-Term. Do Conservation Now.
Let’s have a simple activity. Think of your province’s/town’s number 1 destination/highlight.
Then try asking yourself this, “If I continue doing what I am doing, would people still come and visit this attraction say 20 years? 50 years?”
Let me try asking you guys. I want a lady, someone from the Visayas.
Now I want a guy. Someone from North Luzon.
Conservation is the name of the game now. Sadly when I visit faraway towns with nice heritage churches, I always see renovation and adulteration of the unique design. I saw a church in Negros, a beautiful coral stone church now laden with red bricks.
We have to mention what Naga locals did when they oppose the cutting of 651 big trees to expand the highway. You see people don’t mind traffic when they see beautiful big trees hovering over them.
Another issue worth mentioning here in the interest of conservation. Anyone here who has been to Donsol swim with the whalesharks? I want to say props to the organized system.
Now who has been to Oslob swim with the whalesharks? Let ask ourselves if the locals continue to feed the whalesharks there in 20 years what will happen? I think in 5 years they will start importing bolinao and maliit na hipon to be able to supply the feeding.
I’m now living in Mati City, Davao Oriental. Yes, Bisaya na po ako. Ambot kung nag-apil ug province and city naming dire sa convention. But in my new hometown, we are proud of Dahican Beach. Now Dahican Beach is a home to the critically endangered dugong, to the whalesharks, dolphins and pawikans. Not only that, Dahican boasts of fine white sand and waves good for surfing. And now because LGU and private sectors are seeing the potential a lot are building resorts. But there was this instance where one of the owners of the beach front property wanted to apply for a excess land titling and foreshore lease agreement. But applying for this would mean that the turtle hatchery that’s in front of his property would be demolished. I was concerned and so I posted a blog and used social media especially Facebook to fight this greed. Thank God DENR-CENRO Mati freezed the approval. I then said on my blog
Maybe in 3-5 years we would see a chain of resorts and hostels filling the 7km white sand beach. Some bars and restaurants by the beach would rule the night (like those in Boracay) and the pawikans for which this beach got its name would be gone. Come to think of it, do you really want another Boracay or Panglao? I hope it will not be turtles etal. versus beach party goers.
I have yet to talk to the Mayor and City Councilors in this place but if they would ask me what to do, I like for them to preserve this beach as it is. Freeze any development being done along the beach and support the Amihan sa Dahican even more. Because when you support them it means saving the beach, the pawikans, dugongs, whalesharks and dolphins. What more, we make Mati City and Dahican Beach unique from all other tourism sites that prides themselves with state-of-the-art facilities or 5-star accommodations because we have what they don’t have- a pristine beach as it is, unadulterated and with teeming ecosystem.
I’m excited what DENR, CENRO and the LGU will do with all of these. But whatever they do, I would continue doing my share- picking up plastics on the shore and continually inform the public of the importance of these marine creatures. I will even say that I will fight for it to my very last breath.
Let’s pick the last example before I go with my 2nd proposal
The Historic Town of Vigan World Heritage Site
Brief description: Established in the 16th Century, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia. Its architecture reflects the coming together of cultural elements from elsewhere in the Philippines, from China and from Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that have no parallel anywhere in East and South-East Asia
Vigan the only UNESCO World Heritage City in the Philippines won the World Heritage Centre’s highest award for Best Practice in Sustainable Conservation & Management of World Heritage Properties.
This recognition was conveyed to Secretary-General Virginia Miralao of UNESCO Philippines and Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Medina by Director Kishore Rao of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Vigan’s Heritage Conservation Program prevailed over twenty-eight submissions of best practices worldwide.
Acceptance Speech delivered by Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina during the Closing & Awarding Ceremonies of the 40th Anniversary World Heritage Convention in Kyoto Japan on November 8, 2012-
WE ARE HONOURED AND AT THE SAME TIME 0VERWHELMED BY THE RECOGNITION ACCORDED TO US FOR BEST PRACTICE IN WORLD HERITAGE SITE MANAGEMENT. THE JOURNEY THOUGH WAS LONG AND ARDOUS ESPECIALLY FOR A SMALL CITY LIKE VIGAN THAT HAD VERY LIMITED MATERIAL RESOURCES. THIS LIMITATION HOWEVER DID NOT HAMPER NOR DISCOURAGE US TO MOVE FORWARD.
WE FOUND HOPE FROM OUR MOST IMPORTANT WEALTH, OUR PEOPLE AND OUR HERITAGE. BEARING THIS IN MIND WE USED OUR HERITAGE CONSERVATION PROGRAM AS THE MAJOR TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT. WE SET FORTH TO ACHIEVE THE FOUR OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAM WHICH WERE; FIRST TO FORTIFY THE SENSE OF IDENTITY AND PRIDE OF THE COMMUNITY ON THEIR HISTORIC CITY ; SECOND TO INSTITUTIONALIZE LOCAL PROTECTIVE MEASURES AND DEVELOPMENT PLANS; THIRD TO FORGE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL LINKAGES, AND; FINALLY TO DEVELOP VIGAN AS A TOURIST DESTINATION WHERE TOURISM PROGRAMS ENRICH AND CONSERVE THE PEOPLE’S CORE VALUES AND TRADITIONS. STRATEGIES SUCH AS EDUCATING OUR RESIDENTS STARTING WITH CHILDREN, THE YOUNGEST SECTOR OF OUR COMMUNITY ON HERITAGE APPRECIATION, LINKING LIVELIHOOD AND EMPLOYMENT TO CONSERVATION, CULTURAL MAPPING, ESTABLISHING CULTURAL TOURISM DESTINATIONS AND FESTIVALS AMONG OTHERS.
WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT BY CONTINUING TO CONSERVE OUR TANGIBLE AND INTANGIBLE HERITAGE, VIGAN’S GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT WILL BE SUSTAINED.WORTHY OF MENTION IS THAT PRIOR TO VIGAN’S INSCRIPTION TO THE WORLD HERIAGE LIST IN 1999, THE PERCENTAGE OF POVERTY INCIDENCE WAS PEGGED AT 40.5 PERCENT. TODAY WITH THE MULTISECTORAL INTERVENTIONS IT HAS SIGNIFICANTLY GONE DOWN TO 12 PERCENT. THE VIGAN EXPERIENCE SHOWS THAT BY MAXIMIZING THE PARTICIPATION OF STAKEHOLDERS IN SHARED RESPONSIBILITY, WE CAN USE THE LEGACY FROM THE PAST, THAT IS OUR TREASURE TODAY TO PREPARE A BETTER TOMORROW FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
You see, Conservation Pays Off. Just be patient. Plan conservation now, it’s not too late. Send the trend now.
Proposal 2: Think Global. Act Local
The phrase ‘Think Global, Act Local’ was first used in the context of environmental challenges – in order to improve our impact on the environment, it is more effective for an individual to reduce their own energy consumption than wait for global action. How about in the context of Tourism?
Last year DOT launched “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.” After the launch, in no more than 48 hours, Pinoys started to share their ideas of more fun in the Philippines. It simply answers the question, “Why Should I go to the Philippines?” Actually in less than an hour after the launch the hashtag became the top trending topic worldwide.
One made a generator where you just place your photo and type what phrase you want to use saying that this or that is more fun in the Philippines.
The Result? Thousands and thousands of photos uploaded on Facebook saying that its more fun in the Philippines. It became a trending topic in the social media and we all know that its one of the most successful campaign of Dept of Tourism.
Why? Because when it comes to destination marketing, the best medium of information are the locals themselves. When locals begin to participate in the promotions, expect people coming in. Why? Because the locals are the most trusted ones when it comes to local tourism.
Your best medium is your locals. When locals have no ifs and buts in promoting their hometown and province you have a steady arrivals of tourists, fully-booked hotels and resorts, thriving businesses and healthy economic activity. Your locals can make or break your tourism development.
I remember years ago when Puerto Princesa City is just starting to pick up on tourism. The city is already asleep by 7pm, this was 6 years ago. But PP knows that they have something to offer to the world. And so they jack up promoting the PP Underground River. Before you can just go there and with a minimal fee experience caving. Actually there was even a project initiated by former Mayor Hagedorn bringing busloads of college and highschool students for free to the famed UR. In that case almost every young people in Puerto Princesa and Palawan knows the experience of going inside the belly of the earth. And when these students get out of Palawan they have something to share. When visitors ask the locals, the locals know. They can easily share the highlight and how to go there. This increases visitors confidence. PP Tourism and LGU maximized their locals and created a solid base of promoters and champions of local tourism. What more, some of these students were trained to become guides themselves because of the many tourists arrival.
Now Palawan is a major destination in the country.
Sometimes I meet locals from this place or that and when I ask him/her if he/she has been to this or that, the answer is NO.
Start exploring your own backyard. It’s really sad when fellow Filipinos like to go more to HongKong or Singapore than in Bohol or Cebu. That’s why I like the idea of ABS-CBN Choose Philippines. I’ll show you a video
VIDEO [Piliin mo ang Pilipinas] optional
Before we go to the 3rd proposal, let me just add this very important note that I discovered through the years. When you ask most kids to choose between McDo and Jollibee, 85% of the time Jollibee wins. Why? Because J got the children’s market. I don’t know why but I think they kids love a bee costume more than ronald Mcdonald. The result? When kids choose J over M, J wins the market- not only of the kids but also the parents. You get the kids, you get the whole family. Easy. In tourism marketing we can also use this.
The question, “Is your tourism branding kid welcoming?”
There’s a very good example of this kind of marketing. Let’s watch how Turkish Airlines tried to reach the kids market.
VIDEO Messi and Kobe Bryant
Proposal 3: Competition is Out. Collaboration is In.
Remember the example I used earlier, “It’s more fun in the Philippines?” When this is applied in the province this would mean competition. So DOT did another hashtag #1forFun which I think needs more promotions because wherever I go I see #itsmorefunin________. It is not fun anymore if its like that. Everyone says its more fun, its more fun but the truth is that they just want to ride on the popularity of the campaign.
So what do I mean about Competition is Out and Collaboration is In?
Competition is so 80’s and 90’s. When everyone wants to be in the Guiness Book of World Records. We are now living in the 21st century and the name of the game is Collaboration. Even in the music scene, we always see an artist collaborating with another artist.
The problem with us Filipinos is that we have this culture of “crab mentality” and gaya-gaya. When a bbq stall starts to gain lots of customer, the kapit-bahay will start building his own bbq stall. A month after, you would see at least 4 bbq stalls.
Let’s put that in the PH Tourism scene. One province sets a trend and says, “Come here, we have the longest zipline in the PH.” After some months another province will build their own zipline facility making it longer than the first one and building it higher- so they can promote “Longest and Highest Zipline.” After some years, almost all towns has their own zippiness tagging it with “the longest” “the highest” “the shortest” “the fastest.” For those who have zippiness, let me tell you this from the bottom of my heart, “As a traveler, I don’t care if its the longest or the highest or the most dangerous, what I care is the experience and how the locals treated me when I ask how much is the rate or where can I find a good restaurant.
Or take a look at this, Siargao says, “The Surfing Capital of the Philippines.” So others wanting to have that Capital in their promotions tag “The Surfing Capital of Northern Luzon” or “The Surfing Capital of Bicol” I don’t know if this really gets tourists what I know is that Surfing capital is just “S”
Another example would be this effin tagline I always hear when asked about a nice beach- “the next Boracay” or “The Boracay of the South” “The Boracay of the North.”Mind you, if Boracay continues the non-stop destroying of nature and building of resorts, it will be a complete mess 5-10 years from now. I have nothing against Boracay, I have been there lots of times but its the perfect example of non-sustainable tourism. And it’s sad that locals are the least of concern.
Actually, its funny, no LAUGHABLE to read what Laguna wants to be under its name- The Resort Capital, Detroit and Silicon Valley of the Philippines.” Sorry Governor but whoever thought about this should start simplifying the tag. In social media, simplicity is genius. Maybe we can start rebranding our towns and provinces taking away words like “home of the _______” “the longest, the highest, the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious __________” or “the gateway” “the capital.”
Why don’t we try something unique and stop copying. Better yet, create tour packages that not only promotes your own place but also gives the visitor an option to visit the next town. Because let’s face it, no one town can offer it all. Focus on the intrinsic beauty of your town and be best at it. After that, try to find the beauty of the next town then start promoting it too. Travelers want to cover as much as possible. So imagine 5 towns promoting each other- that’s five times more powerful, five times more engaging and budget would be lesser as five towns can share on the spending.
One town marketing to 100 people gets 100 people
Five towns marketing to 100 people gets 500 people
That’s why I really support OTOP. One Town, One Product. This discourages competition and promotes collaboration.
Lastly and the most important of all,
Proposal 4: Make Tourism Voluntourism. Put Heart in the Equation.
Create opportunities for people to help and change the lives of the community they visit. Because if you do this, the destination will not only be remembered as a photo from the computer’s hard drive but as an experienced cherished in the heart. A story worth passing on the the next generation.
I want to share some of my projects in the past- making tourism voluntourism.
VIDEO [Gubat Sorsogon] 2mins
VIDEO [Project Jomalig] stop the vid after 6mins.
Segway to their theme “Strengthening Local Governance Through Tourism Development”
Tourists now want a deeper and meaningful vacation not just a post-card perfect photo souvenir.
Be BIG and LOUD online- that is were the action starts.
So to cap it all, let’s start the trend because we are the frontliners in the tourism sector. And by doing these four proposals
Plan Long-Term, Start Conservation Now.
Think Globally, Act Locally
Stop Competition, Start Collaboration.
Turning Tourists into Voluntourists
We add value to the community we live in. We strengthen the locality we are in. We not only give satisfaction to the visitors we serve but also provide livelihood to the locals we love. After all, that’s why we encourage tourism. Diba may kasabihian, “May pera sa basura.” In our case, “mas malaki ang pera sa turismo.” And so when we add value to the community, we help build better a better Philippines not only for ourselves but also for the generations after us.
Because in the end, no one will be interested in how much wealth you amassed, but rather on how many lives you have touched.
Dios Mabalos, Daghang Salamat, Maraming Salamat po sa pakikinig.
Let me just promote the blog before I leave the stage- www.journeyingjames.com
For my past talks you can check the links below: