Virtual Reality at RNC, Best Tourism Websites, Pokemon Go Fever

Virtual reality to be used to promote tourism at RNC

Credit: Oculus/Tech Insider

Credit: Oculus/Tech Insider

TourismOhio plans on utilizing virtual reality headsets at this month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. A large bus filled with virtual reality headsets will be parked outside the Quicken Loans Arena where the RNC is being held. In that bus people will be able to ride Cedar Point’s rides and tour the Columbus Zoo – without ever leaving the bus.

TourismOhio research shows not many RNC visitors will extend their stay or explore much outside of the Cleveland area, so the virtual reality headsets are being used to entice them back by showing what Ohio can offer. Read more

Summer Travel Interest, Snapchat Video Views Rise

Summer Travel Opportunities Increase for Domestic Locations

While the threat of terrorism and disease are serious matters, fears over these two concerns may lead to an increase in domestic summer travel this year. According to the ADI Travel Survey 2016, interest in domestic summer travel and traveling within one’s own region rose 8% over the previous year.Domestic Travel

Lower gas prices are also being cited as helping to increase the interest in domestic summer travel, though survey respondents did say they planned on spending less on their trips this year. Still, this increased interest could lead to a better summer for U.S. DMO’s. Read more

Pure Michigan Social Media Workshops to Be Led by TwoSix Digital

Pure Michigan Social Media Tourism WorkshopTwoSix Digital is proud to partner with Pure Michigan on one of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry’s first comprehensive statewide educational programs.

These workshops will guide members of the tourism industry through a series of social media best practices and tactical applications. The agenda will include discussions on trends, best practices, content marketing and promotional strategies. Those interested in participating can register now at this link. Attendees will also learn more about Pure Michigan’s cooperative online marketing opportunities.

“We are excited to bring this program to all the members of the Michigan tourism industry. Social media marketing is increasingly influencing how travelers discover, plan and share their trips,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan. “It’s important for Pure Michigan to provide these types of learning opportunities to our industry partners to continually enhance our efforts throughout the state. We’re glad to have TwoSix Digital help lead the way with this comprehensive educational program that is a first-of-its-kind in the industry.”  Read more

Ad Spending on Facebook, Reactions & Hawaii Tourism

Facebook Q4 ad spending soars

Facebook Ad SpendingWhile the overall economy may not have ad a banner quarter Facebook didn’t have any problem selling ads in Q4 – more than doubling over the same time the previous year. The social network reportedly made $5.64 billion off of ads.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg noted that mobile placement buoyed the ad spending and now account for 80% of total ad revenue on Facebook. Facebook has a reported user base of 1.59 billion each month.

Hawaii tourism breaks records

Business is apparently good if you’re in the tourism industry in Hawaii. Tourism to the islands reportedly jumped to 8.6 million people last year. That’s up from 4% over the previous year with consumer spending also rising to a record $15 billion.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports a rise in direct flights from its biggest sources of visitors (U.S. mainland, Australia and China) helped lead to the banner year for the Aloha State.

Facebook Reactions coming to U.S.

Facebook users have long asked for different ways to engage with posts besides the iconic “Like” button. The social network seems to finally be listening and has announced six emoji, called Facebook Reactions, would be coming to allow users new ways to interact with content.

The new emoji: angry, sad, wow, haha, yay and love were beta tested in different countries but should be rolling out to the rest of the world in the coming weeks.

Facebook worked with sociologists to carefully select the emotions that would be most appropriate for the content people engage with.

Facebook Reactions


International Tourism, Online Travel Sites, Worst Passwords

Uncertainty looms for international tourism in 2016

International tourismDespite strong grown for the past six years, 2016 may mark a downturn in international tourism. In a recent report the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts that international tourism may only grow at a rate of 4% this year – down nearly half a percent from the 4.4% rate seen in 2015. If that report proves accurate that will mark the slowest growth rate since 2009.

UNWTO does identify some reasons for the lower rate prediction, noting that safety and security are among the biggest concerns for travelers.

2015 saw 1.18 billion people travel internationally, up from 256 million during the height of the global recession in 2009.

Study: online travel sites aren’t just about prices

There’s more to what consumers want on travel websites than just the best price. According to a survey by reservation and ecommerce system supplier Atcore, it’s a combination of factors that most consumers look at when deciding who they’ll go through to book travel.

Those factors come down to price, selection, ability to specify details, easy of use and booking several parts of a trip in one spot. The survey found that most sites are lagging on what they promise – according to survey participants.

47% of those surveyed listed booking multiple parts of a trip, advanced search options and filtering to be “must haves” for them while recommendations and trip suggestions were ranked important by only 7%.

Worst Passwords

Worst PasswordsPassword management company, SplashData, has revealed its worst passwords of 2015. We know this is necessarily news, but it is always fun to read. This data is based on more than two million passwords that were leaked last year. There’s some good news and bad news: we’re getting a bit better about making our passwords longer – but not necessarily better. Here are the top ten worst passwords of 2015 and their ranking compared to 2014:

  1. 123456 (Unchanged)
  2. password (Unchanged)
  3. 12345678 (Up 1)
  4. qwerty (Up 1)
  5. 12345 (Down 2)
  6. 123456789 (Unchanged)
  7. football (Up 3)
  8. 1234 (Down 1)
  9. 1234567 (Up 2)
  10. baseball (Down 2)

It’s worth noting that some very topical passwords rounded out the top 25, including starwars and solo. SplashData notes that, for now, the best defense against hackers or thieves is to create a long and random password that is hard to guess.

Custom Newsfeeds, TripAdvisor Bookings, Airfordable

Facebook adding custom newsfeeds?

Facebook Custom NewsfeedsWe’ve reported quite a bit on the ways Twitter is copying Facebook, but now it looks like Facebook may be taking a page from Twitter’s playbook. Category-specific newsfeeds similar to Twitter’s lists have been experimented with since October, according to some reports, but now appear to be rolling out a bit more widely.

In an example tweeted out by Laundry Services’ CEO there appeared to be 13 categories including style, travel and headlines. These feeds seem to include updates and posts from friends and pages being followed – as well as pages that aren’t being followed by someone, but the feeds do appear to offer some customization.

One big point worth noting is that, in the example tweeted out, no ads appeared – but some analysts expect that to change if this new newsfeed option rolls out to the wider Facebook audience.

TripAdvisor offers instant bookings in most popular locations

As TripAdvisor has increased its ability to allow for instant bookings instead of sending visitors to third-party sites so too has its ability to cover the most popular destinations in the world.

A December study by financial firm PiperJaffray found that TripAdvisor’s Instant Bookings covered a whopping 92% of the most popular hotels in the most popular markets in the world. That number is up from only 76% in September and is thinks to the partnership TripAdvisor forged in November. The study involved the top 500 hotels in the top 100 markets.

Airfordable wants to make it…well, affordable, to fly

AirfordableDepending on where you want to go flying isn’t exactly what many would consider “cheap”. However, new startup Airfordable wants to change that and get more people to fly by paying for their tickets in installments.

Airfordable has a $2,000 maximum on tickets it allows right now and does not charge interest like a credit card would – but it does charge a flat 20% service fee it spreads out across all payments. Travelers must pay for one third of the ticket’s cost up front and select if they want to pay off the ticket in biweekly or monthly installments. The founder says she wanted to make traveling easier for those without credit cards or who can’t normally afford to fly. Airfordable says many of its users are people who have used it to plan trips for major life milestones, like honeymoons or anniversaries.

Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Dave Serino PresentingThe 2015 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held in Grand Rapids earlier this week. The event was attended by travel and tourism marketers, CVB’s, hoteliers, exhibitors and everyone else in between. The conference provided the perfect backdrop for these people to come together to discuss and learn from different practices around the industry. The keynote was delivered by the first winner of NBC’s The Apprentice, Bill Rancic, who had some inspiration words for everyone in the room. Attendees were also treated to a great presentation on visual storytelling by Sheila Scarborough with Tourism Currents.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley was on hand to announce a venture between Pure Michigan and Google to provide 360-degree imagery of more than 40 locations across Michigan using a mounted camera called the Google Trekker. Check out the short video overview below to get a better idea of the technology and how it’s used.

Additionally, some exciting news and information on the state of Michigan tourism was presented by David West, Vice President of Travel Michigan. While we could provide an exhaustive list of some of the fascinating points made, some of the key takeaways mentioned:

  • #PureMichigan is the number one travel hashtag used in the entire world
  •  Pure Michigan ad campaign generated $6.87 for every $1 invested in 2014
  • A record 113.4 million visitors came to Michigan in 2014, spending a record $22.3 billion

Dave Serino TweetsTwoSix Digital was also represented by founder and strategist, Dave Serino. Dave gave a presentation called “How to Create Content that Converts & How to Build an Audience That Engages.” The presentation touched on a number of ideas and worked to inform people of some of the free tools at their disposal to help reach the right audience and get them to advocate for your brand.

In all, the event was a huge success in the eyes of attendees, which was made evident by the social media stats from the three day event which included more than 680 tweets and more than 6 million impressions. You can check out those stats and see what people were saying in the Pure Michigan Tourism Conference Twitter Report. We’ve also created a Twitter list with everyone from the conference who used the conference hashtag, #PMGCT2015. We will see everyone next year in Lansing!


Michigan Bicycle Tourism Marketing Plan Unveiled

Michigan Bicycle Tourism Marketing PlanAs Michigan becomes more and more friendly to bicyclists, the opportunity to reach out to another kind of tourist presents itself. Seeing this opportunity, the Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan Promotion, Marketing and Communications Implementation Committee, coordinated by Dr. Sarah Nicholls of Michigan State University, created a report to identify and analyze the role bicycling tourists can play in Michigan’s economy. The initial report and data that was collected was developed into an actionable marketing plan that the Michigan bicycle community can utilize to target this tourism segment.

The marketing plan covers three main objectives that represent the following areas – Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, a Comprehensive Online Portal and Education Initiatives to help tell the stories of biking in Michigan.  The plan also includes tactical recommendations that the industry will be able to being implementing immediately.  The plan will also serve as a template for future initiatives with other tourism industry niches.

We’re proud to share the completed report with you below and to announce that it will be presented and handed out at the 2015 Pure Michigan’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Grand Rapids during a session on Monday, March 23rd.

Michigan Bicycle Tourism Marketing Plan