Talktourism Moderation & Forum Development

Talktourism.ie has been a functioning discussion forum website for just over two years now and I do beleive that it is achiving the aims & objectives that it set out to achieve.  As I may have mentioned before the success of the site is down to those who regularly contribute to the site and of course those who regularly review the site for latest news & updates about what is going on in the industry.

Through our own efforts and that of bodies including Fáilte Ireland, Green Box and others there is a significantly higher level of online presence among Tourism SME’s over the last couple of years.  Its encouraging to see regularly updated websites and blogs which are providing useful information for tourists and locals alike.  Although significant gaps remain with Tourism SME’s whom are not willing to engage with the opportunities that are available on the internet. 

As the reccession bites even harder, the home holiday market is becoming more and more important! Potential domestic tourists will be seeking regularly updated information about special deals and things to do and this can be easily accessed via the internet.  The power lies in the hands (literally) of each and every Tourism SME to attract increasing numbers of tourists.

As Talktourism has developed and grown, we have attracted ever increasing numbers of spammers seeking opportunities to promote their pharmaceutical products and various other services that most of us don’t need.  Most of the time our moderators are quick to remove unwanted predators and ban them from the site (but, not always as were only human 🙂 ).

In addition to the spammers, are those whom are sometimes difficult to decifer whether they are genuine or not.  Usually they are promoting international tourism services which is not a crime, but are not genuinely interested in engaging with the forum and other forum users.  They are purely increasing their web presence through our forum. Depending on the content, we generally delete /ban them, but often give some an opportunity to engage with the forum and tell us what they are about.  Rarely have we seen anyone actually contribute to meangingful discussion on the forum from an international perspective. Although that does make me think of two notable exceptions being ‘NZBR’ from New Zealand and ‘MargaretinBavaria’ who have genuinely shared their experiences with Irish based members.  Everyone is a winner when meaningful discussions are ongoing, as everyone is gaining knowledge and the contributors are gaining increased web-prescence.

On Talktourism we have categoriesed these style of spammers simply as ‘Nonsense‘.  We do have a system for members to report other members for inappropriate use which can be accessed by clicking on the red triangle symbol with ‘!’ appearing in the top right of each topic posted on Talktourism. If you think someone is misappropriately using our site, please follow the links and inform us.

Overall the challenge remains to encourage further engagement from tourism enterprises.  We would be happy to address this challenge, but the only way that we can do this is with your feedback and ideas

Its good to talk and hope to hear more from you soon!

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Shortlisted for NetVisionary Award 2009

Talktourism.ie has been shortlisted for a National Award in the ‘Online Tourism Award’ category of the Irish Internet Association and Enterprise Ireland Net Visionary Awards 2009.

We are truely delighted and honoured to be shortlisted and in the final reckoning with some of the best known names in the tourism industry Ireland.  We do recognise that the success of the site todate has been down to the members whom regularly visit and contribute to the site.  Thanks to all members!

The best websites in Ireland are included in the shortlist for awards under 15 different categories and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Dublin on the 21st May.  The winners are selected by the general public who can vote online and we would welcome your support by logging on and voting for Talktourism.ie in the ‘Online Tourism Award’ category.

 If you wish to read more about what our Talktourism members have been saying, then check our online discussion about the Net Visionary Shortlisting. 

 Overall there has been a number of interesting discussions on Talktourism.ie over the last couple of years.  The majority of these online discussions result in a shared learning and better communication about business opportuinities for tourism entrepreneurs as well as new contacts being established.

Here is a selection of some good examples of our recent member discussions which clearly are assisting tourism entrepreneurs to develop their online knowledge and presence. Topics include; Website Creation, Fáilte Irelands Web-check, Tourism Blogging, encouraging tourism entrepreneurs to enter awards such as the Innovation Awards and as recently as yesterday a discussion was started on how B&B bookings are performing in 2009.

 

On a final note; most visitors to talktourism.ie do not realise that another network operate on the forum and meet regular to advance their Web2.0 skills.  This group is a dedicated group of tourism entrepreneurs who have grasped the opportunties that are freely available online and have their own ‘Talktourism Web2.0 Network’ which facilitates ‘peer to peer’ learning.  This is where the future lies and hopefully with the assistance of Fáilte Ireland’s commitment to this area, more of rural Ireland will be actively marketing online through the various Web2.0 social media.

 

We would welcome any comments you have on our website.

Tourism Blog? Why bother?

What is a blog? A blog is a personal diary and that is what most blog readers want to see; an honest no nonsense commentary on a theme that they have an interest in.  Blogs present an opportunity for all web-users to share their own individual knowledge on a subject or perspective on the world around them.  It’s a way to communicate freely and openly.

 

For small tourism enterprises; a blog provides opportunities for them to increase their profile among current and potential clients.  Indirectly, blogs have proven to be highly ranked among search engines and often attract more unique visitors than there primary business web-site. This experience has been borne out by the novice bloggers that have been recently engaging with the blogosphere and sharing their knowledge through our Talktourism Web2.0 Network.

 

Over the last year or so we on have been advocating new approaches for tourism SME’s (small to medium enterprises) to become active online and promote themselves through various Web2.0 online tools.  Some tourism SME’s have engaged with the new technology with varying degrees of success and most are delighted with the obvious increase in web-traffic which has been generated through their blogging.  To date the increase in web-traffic has not shown significant results in terms of actual bookings, but all the Talktourism bloggers are confident that they will reap rewards in the months and years to come.

 

Tourism blogs are a tool to communicate with the wider general public about the person / the family behind a small tourism business and provide potential tourists with an insight to the experience that they would expect to find when they use those tourism services.  It is a great way to develop relationships with prospective tourists in advance of their decision to make that booking.  It also serves as a way to build brand loyalty and can encourage past guests/tourists to return because they are being kept up-to-date with new facilities, events and activities going on with the tourism enterprise and/or in the wider local area.

 

One of the most important elements of a successful blog, is that it is updated regularly and provides the reader with a reason to return because it continues to interest them.  In order to attract new visitors, it must appear through links to other recognised blogs or websites which complement the blog content.  Another element of attracting new visitors to your blog is to ensure that it has appropriate ‘tags’ which can be picked up by the search engines and these tags should also appear within the content of your blog content.

 

If you want to read more about the Talktourism blogs please see our Blogroll (in right column) and if you find a blog that interests you, please add a link from your own blogroll or website.  The most interesting blogs are those that present themselves in a genuinely honest manner and keep their blog going through regular updating. If you want to start or improve your blogging and attract more potential tourists to your website and ultimately through your door, then I would recommend that you check these blogs our blogroll.  We also would hope that you would let us know what you think? 

 

If you want a no nonsense guide on ‘how to blog’ then this blog is for you.  Another useful resource is the Irish blog awards, which is also an excellent way to find the best of blogs available in Ireland and should be a target for all budding Irish bloggers for 2010. 

 

The Irish Internet Association has prepared a draft paper on ‘Business Blogging’ which I would recommend reviewing if you want to make the best out of your blog!

  

Good luck with the blogging and don’t forget to link with each others blogs and websites! If you have a small to medium tourism enterprise and have recently started blogging, let us know and we would be delighted to add you to our Blogroll.

Talktourism – in the beginning

Talktourism? What is it? www.talktourism.ie is a discussion board web-site which was launched in April 2007 in county Cavan on a beautiful spring day.  Talktourism is Ireland’s only discussion board web-site which is dedicated to tourism businesses in Ireland and provides them with an opportunity to meet online and share experiences/knowledge.

 

I am the site developer / administrator and with some help from the Talktourism members, I also moderate the site.  I have been a tourism development officer working for Cavan Monaghan Rural Development for the last nine years and to be honest I really enjoy my work!  Not everyone can say that, But its TRUE!

 

Over the last four or five years I have been able to access funding through an organisation called Border Action to organise and develop various training initiatives to assist the development of the tourism sector in counties Cavan / Monaghan.  For those that haven’t heard, we are based in two border counties in the Republic of Ireland and as a result of our location on the border, these counties had suffered from many knock on problems resulting from the troubles in Northern Ireland. I have grown up through the seventies and the eighties and I do appreciate the peaceful environment that we all live in and may it long continue.

 

So with the funding in hand, we set about assisting the tourism sector develop in Cavan/Monaghan, but at every available opportunity we brought tourism providers together from across the border in Northern Ireland and other border counties to participate in numerous training events!  The more we brought people together from the various tourism sectors, the more they learned from each other and the more everyone appreciated that they ALL shared common problems and issues. 

 

Of course in the last four-five years, we have put a lot of effort in to increasing individual tourism businesses skills to become effective on the internet and to have ebusiness strategies in place to ensure that they are all attracting more and more tourists!  All of this was great, but I really wanted a way to harness the learning that was experienced at each training event, encourage the tourism providers to share their knowledge, communicate and perhaps even work together.  This provided me with the idea that a discussion board would help them to continually learning from each other and become more effective in web-based marketing. SO with the help of a number of key local tourism agencies the seed was sowed and www.talktourism.ie was born. 

 

So that’s some of the background! But where I am going to go next? Well, I think I will bring you to some of the places that I enjoy visiting in the border region, North and South.  The place that I work is based in a wonderful setting in an Agricultural College and I live only five minutes away from work… I always feel good about this when I hear the traffic reports on  the radio in the evening, with all those commuters stuck in rush our traffic in Dublin. J

 

I enjoy mountain biking and a couple of times a week after work, I go out cycling the quite country roads of the counties of Cavan, Fermanagh and Monaghan.  This the best way to finish a day, when most are still stuck in rush hour traffic!  I hope to bring you a video of a typical cycling clip, but in the meantime I have uploaded the view of a fisherman enjoying the peaceful evening on the lough, which is the view out the back of my house. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9jVbVpMmUY 

 

If you’re in the business of tourism, perhaps you could check out our www.talktourism.ie and tell us something about the place that you live… Its good to Talk!  Be back soon!