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!

Advertisements

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.

Web2.0 Network

I am excited about the prospect of our second Web2.0 Network workshop which take place tomorrow afternoon.  I have to be honest, I am depending on the input of the participants of this workshop to make it a worthwhile day. 

Half dozen of Talktourism members from Cavan and Monaghan have met once before in a workshop held in a ICT training suite and facilitated by a professional web-developer/trainer.  I am going to facilitate this workshop and we are basically going to share each others learning from what has and has not worked in attracting greater traffic through to each individuals web-sites.

These talktourism members are all dedicated tourism SME’s and they all have equally progressed significantly on the online environment from a base of little or no knowledge in 2007 to being regular bloggers and proactive users of various social media tools. 

As a facilitator and trainer, the greatest barrier has been the initial fear of ICT and technology generally.  With a little training and confidence building, it is amazing to see the progression that has been made among a group of rural tourism providers.

There is one other element that I forgot to mention; There is a shear determination among these tourism entrepreneurs not only to succeed, but to ensure that the wider tourism businesses from accross Cavan and Monaghan succeed.

I am looking forward to sharing some examples with you here soon.