Canmol, The Wales Marketing Awards 2013: Early Bird
23 May 2013. Registrations of interest are invited for the 6th Annual Wales Marketing Awards, organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing in Wales. Canmol, the Welsh for 'Praise', is one of the most prestigious awards in the Principality and interest, participation and sponsorship has increased year-on-year since 2008. This year, for the first time, the Awards will be presented in nine sector categories, plus the well-established 'New Marketer' and 'Outstanding Contribution' Awards. The official launch is scheduled for 13 June and a new web site will be published shortly. For an early start, register for updates here. The deadline for entries is 31 July 2013 and the Awards Ceremony will take place in Cardiff on 4 October.
Social Media Marketing World 2013
22 May 2013. Social Media Examiner, organisers of April's international conference in San Diego, have published a useful digest of actionable points that were flagged up during the sessions. Many of the identified issues have been covered in various ways by Share Wales, but the précis is a useful reminder. Click here.
12 May 2013. Our thanks to Pembrokeshire author Brian John for the following scam warning.
The scam centres on an official-looking letter from a German company relating to the 'Publication of companies and VAT Registration Numbers in the UK Corporate Portal 2013'. The scam letter states: "As part of the changes to the EU economic package, obligating all companies to provide their VAT Registration Number on various documents since 2010, we as a publisher of leading internet portals are required to update our database. We therefore request that you check the information on page 2 relating to your company and provide us with your VAT Registration Number."
The small print shows that if it is completed and returned it will incur a charge of £797 a year for at least four years for the information to appear on a website hosted by the company. This is a variation on 'false invoicing' scams which incorporate online business entries without consent and are followed up by demands, solicitors' correspondence and debt collection agency letters. For more on scams and how to report them to Scambuster Wales, click here.
Carmarthenshire Tourism Summit
24 April 2013. Last week's annual trade event at Parc y Scarlets included a DTBP funded seminar on search engine marketing by Gareth Morgan of Liberty Marketing. The slide presentation has some useful practical tips. Click here.
Alan Walks Wales
18 April 2013. Alan Dix, Visiting Professor at Cardiff Metropolitan University, sets out along Offa's Dyke on his 3 month walk around the periphery of Wales. Alan will be taking time out from the Offa's Dyke long distance route and the Wales Coast Path to deliver talks, consider IT development and meet communities and academics. The agenda is twofold:
* To bring personal experience to bear on the IT needs of walkers and the limitations of mobile technologies were coverage is wanting.
* To work with local communities to understand how IT might address their needs, and the fundamental challenges this raises for research. For more on Alan Dix and to follow his journey, go to Alan Walks Wales.
The need for free public wi-fi to fill gaps in roaming connectivity in Wales has been a recurring subject on Share Wales, as have the issues facing local communities and the benefits of collaboration. We look forward to Alan's findings with interest.
Google Earth to digitally map tourism hotspots
8 April 2013. Google Earth has announced that it will be mapping parts of Snowdonia using the same technology as was employed in the Grand Canyon. Rather than using aircraft- or car-mounted equipment, the rapid-shooting cameras will be deployed on the backpacks of a team working there way through the area on foot. The news was revealed at the third annual Outdoor North Wales Forum organised by Tourism Partnership North Wales at the Glasdir Centre in Llanrwst and has been welcomed as a future boost to tourism by Dewi Davies, NWTP's Regional Strategy Director.
Facebook launches "Home"
4 April 2013. Due for launch in the US on 12 April, Facebook Home claims to be a totally immersive smartphone homescreen that will give priority to the services used by Facebook users and simplify access to the social medium. The new configuration will be available to Android Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich, but not Gingerbread. The international roll-out will come later, as will a tablet version.
Where "Home" is in place (and HTC First is already pre-installing) Facebook is likely to become the default communication channel, with all of the benefits to tourism of on-the-move social sharing. For a snapshot of just one perspective of the implications, see our article of 3 April, "Rural Communities: The pub's the hub". For more on Facebook Home (including a video demo) see today's article on TechCrunch.
Anglesey Heritage goes social
30 March 2013. Anglesey Heritage has launched a new volunteer-led web site which features user-generated content and aims to make full use of social media. Go to Anglesey A Bridge Through Time.
Plymouth Citybus launches app
25 March 2013. A Plymouth bus company has developed a smartphone app to reduce queuing and increase driver efficiency by reducing cash transactions. The launch was supported by a marketing campaign targeted on the 18-34 demographic suggested by the company's consumer profile and Ofcom statistics on smartphone users. The Marketer, journal of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, has published a case study: click here.
21 March 2013. We have received reports of a current scam, possibly targeted on the tourism trade, whereby operators are contacted by telephone and asked to make a payment to renew their Internet domain names. In some cases the payment is for a domain name the operator doesn't own, in others for a domain that is already registered and paid for. Be aware; and don't be misled if the demand seems to come from a Wales-based company. This is a variation of the "false invoicing" scam that we covered in 'The season of the scam' in November 2012.
4G reaches Pembrokeshire
21 March 2013. Breaking news is that a 4G mast is being erected on the roof of the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven. Good luck to the workers on what is an exceptionally wet and windy day, even by Pembrokeshire standards!
The National Tourism Awards for Wales 2013
13 March 2013. If you only enter for one award, this might be the one to go for. Organised by Visit Wales and the Wales Tourism Alliance, the closing date for entries is 15 May 2013. The award ceremony and dinner will take place on Thursday 21 November 2013 at Venue Cymru in Llandudno. To enter, click here.
Social media case studies
27 February 2013. Links to a couple of interesting of interesting posts discovered on Linked In. "Share my Namibia reaches 14 Million+" and "The World's Biggest Social Media Team" - the latter from Tourism Australia.
4G licences awarded
20 February 2013. Ofcom, the communication industries regulator, has announced the winners of the 4G mobile spectrum auction. Everything Everywhere [EE], awarded the first 4G licence in 2012, has secured additional spectrum to extend its coverage. New licences have been awarded to BT, O2, Vodafone and Hutchinson 3G.
4G offers much faster download speeds but reports suggest that take-up of EE's 4G service has fallen short of expectations, forcing a cut in prices in January of this year. Whether disappointing take-up to date was due to limited coverage, high subscription charges or the cost of upgrading mobile devices is an interesting question - the answer is probably a combination of all three. The extent to which coverage has been a factor may now become clear as both geographical coverage and the number of providers increase. On the other hand, will consumers hold back as the result of Ofcom announcing plans for the release of additional spectrum to support future '5G' mobile services?
Rural initiative delivers superfast broadband
14 February 2013. A Lancashire community has created its own fibre optic broadband network with download speeds of more than 700 mb/s. B4RN [Broadband for the Rural North] is a not-for-profit organisation supported by a share issue taken up within the Forest of Bowland and the Lune Valley. Shares and contributions have funded the purchase of necessary equipment but the much more costly business of installation has been minimised by voluntary labour and by wayleaves granted by local farmers. This last has allowed cabling to be installed across fields, thereby avoiding the roadwork expenses incurred by telecoms companies. B4RN is being promoted as a new model for rural areas that fall short of the financial viability criteria of mainstream suppliers. Click here.
Walk Cambrian Mountains 2013
10 February 2013. Bro Tregaron has published an online guide to the Cambrian Mountains Walking Weekend, May 3-6 2013, along with other guided walks based on Llanidloes and Llanwrtyd Wells. Click here. The publication uses Snack Tools, one of the growing number of free development web sites for entry level and upwards.
Rio creates QR mosaics
1 February 2013. Rio de Janiero has begun embedding QR code mosaics in its streets to help guide visitors around the city. Rio is known for its pavement mosaics and the codes sit well in the urban landscape. The city is the latest of several 'Wikipedia' towns. The first, in early 2012, was Monmouth in Gwent with the creation of MonmouthpediA and the placement of some 1,000 QR plaques around the town. For the Share Wales Toolbox 'How to Guide' and videos, including a MonmouthpediA case study, click here. For a BBC News report and images, click here.
Facebook video sharing app
29 January 2013. Yesterday Facebook updated its iPhone app to allow video recording and sharing. Coincidentally, on the same day we posted "And now .. Instant video postcards" on the Share Wales Blog, prompted by Twitter's launch of their Vine video editing and sharing app. For the Facebook upgrade, click here.
GB Tourism Survey
28 January 2013. Summary of results for October 2012 from Wales Tourism Alliance. Click here.
Pictures in a landscape
28 January 2013. A little bit off our usual digital patch, but we liked the idea! Images taken by photographer Bob Mitchell, as a record of the last of the slate industry in North Wales, have been pasted into the landscape and at quarrying sites. The area is bidding for Unesco World Heritage status. The project has been supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Snowdonia National Park Authority and the Welsh Government. Click here.
Augmented Reality: The bigger picture
25 January 2013. An interesting article from Frost & Sullivan examines the wider implications and potential of augmented reality (see our post of 6 December: Augmented Reality: what goes around...). "Studies show that nearly "3 billion AR apps" are expected to be downloaded by 2020. AR has and will radically change and extend our business and mobility options, social interactions and experiences in the future - resulting in unimaginable repercussions on a user's interactivity with his immediate environment." It is always useful to see how technologies that are relevant to the tourism sector are being used elsewhere. Go to: Augmented Reality: The New Virtual Commerce.
The Virtual Tourism Observatory
21 January 2013. Following the completion of a feasibility study in 2012, the European Commission has announced that a prototype of the Virtual Tourism Observatory will be completed in the first half of 2013. The Observatory is intended as a resource and centralised knowledge base for policy makers and will:
* Provide a statistical database to inform decision making and identify areas where data is missing or incomplete.
* Provide regular reports on recent developments and serve as an early warning system for the tourism sector.
* Monitor policy developments in Member States and provide a best practice handbook.
For (slightly) more click here.
Facebook launches Graph Search
15 January 2013. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new tool which will allow users to search through Facebook for 'friends' who share particular interests. This is being seen as the next step by the social giant to capitalise on it's massive database by stemming the drop-out rate (see below) and retaining visitors on the site, thereby improving the performance of it's revenue streams.
This is an interesting development for tourism marketers. Our visitors, especially higher spending and year-round visitors, often have specialist interests that determine their buying decisions. These interests are not mutually exclusive - a walker might also be a wildlife enthusiast, a history buff, an amateur photographer or all of the above. A fast route to identifying these interests on Facebook would allow us to shift from generic posts to precisely targeted content on the basis of known susceptibilities. A subject for a Blog article, perhaps? Watch that space ...
At present Graph Search is only available in a limited beta programme. To see a video on how it will work, and to sign up for early bird notification, click here.
It remains to be seen how Facebook customers will react to this latest manipulation of their data. It cannot be totally coincidental that, in December 2012, 600,000 UK users cancelled their subscriptions as the media frenzy gathered pace around Instagram's forthcoming changes to it's terms of service after it's acquisition by Facebook (see Instagram and other animals). Regardless of how well Facebook privacy settings protect content, the public are now deeply suspicious of 'big data' and the potential for exploitation.
Consumer Electronics Show 2013 Las Vegas
12 January 2013. Yesterday marked the end of this 3 day global event. The most comprehensive coverage we have found is on CBS's Cnet. Click here.
Wiki joins the travel scrum!
12 January 2013. It is anticipated that 15 January will see the official launch of Wikivoyage, the new travel site from Wikipedia. The site has been developing in beta mode since September 2012. Users of Wikipedia will be familiar with the page layout and user generated content (and the occasional consequential inaccuracies?). A useful article from Skift Travel IQ explains Wikivoyage's stated objectives (predominantly as a provider of hard travel information) and its non-objectives (many of the functions of existing travel sites are excluded). Worth reading before submitting material for moderation. Click here.
Jessops in administration: are there indicators for tourism?
9 January 2013. The UK's only national high street photographic retailer has gone into administration. The retail chain has lost share of the professional photographic market to online sellers in recent years. More importantly, perhaps, the amateur segment that makes up a significant amount of sales has been migrating away from conventional equipment to smartphone cameras as quality of image capture has improved. Not the least useful feature of mobile devices is the ability to share images via social networks and wi-fi. The drift towards real-time photo-sharing has been recognised by such major manufacturers as Nikon, Canon, Samsung and Sony, all of whom have fought back with wi-fi enabled compacts over the past year. The benefits of instant image sharing for tourism have been one of the consistent themes of this web site and scarcely require repetition. But it should also be recognised that the convenience of smartphone cameras is creating interest and participation in photography at an exponential rate: I recently stumbled across the statistic (and have since lost the source) that every month more photographs are taken globally than were taken through the whole of the twentieth century. As participation increases (and as amateurs embrace instant editing apps such as Instagram and Flickr and browse the content on these sites) so do critical faculties develop. The result is that the bar is being raised for tourism traders using photographic content in marketing media - print, web sites, blogs, social media and the rest. Quality, creativity, originality and photogenic locations will grab the attention of potential customers. Short on expertise? See our online photo-sharing resource, the Share Wales Flickr Group (but please give a photographer's credit for any images used).
Buzzwords: we're all guilty
9 January 2013. We are grateful to Tony Dowling at Real Radio Wales for sharing the following on Linked In. The Buzzword Report 2013 from PR agency Twelve Thirty Eight lists all the things journalists hate about press releases, jargon and PR practices. But even if a media strategy isn't part of your marketing toolkit (and perhaps it should be) this report makes an interesting, amusing and (we guarantee) a blush-making read. Click here. If the cap fits, try to change it!
2 January 2013. Now is the time when industry observers stick their heads above the parapet with speculations on the coming year. This can be a risky business in the rapidly changing digital world, but we have selected a couple of Internet posts that give a flavour of the issues that are likely to warrant consideration in 2013.
The first, from Eye for Travel, presents the key results of a broad, tourist trade, canvassing exercise. Click here.
The second, from Social Media Examiner, looks specifically at the social networking environment with 21 predictions from 21 specialists. Click here. For less speculative data on the way marketers are using social media, SME are offering free copies of the results of their current Social Media Marketing Industry Survey to all participants. To take the survey, click here.
To keep up with current issues and trends it is worth signing up for feeds or e-mail updates from Share Wales. Go to top right of out Blog page.
e-Crime Wales: Managing your Facebook privacy settings
20 December 2012. e-Crime Wales have produce two How-to videos on Facebook security. The first focusses on managing access and privacy, the second on the Facebook Timeline and what you should share on it.
Tablets selling at 1 per second
20 December 2012. British retailers are reporting that in the run up to Christmas tablet device sales are running at one per second. This highlights the trend towards "single user -multiple devices - multiple uses", but sales have also been influenced by the introduction of new models at the budget end of the market. Several tablets are now on sale for less than £200. The Android operating system is bracketing the low-price sector, with the Google Nexus 7 selling from £159 down to the Hannspree HANNSpad at £88.
Adobe Acrobat User Group for Wales
19 December 2012. The organisers of the official Adobe Acrobat User Group in Wales (Cardiff) are looking to build membership in 2013. The Group will offer an opportunity to meet people from a wide spectrum of users and at all levels of experience. Click here. A meeting is planned for early in the New Year.
Online reviews: Positives trump negatives?
19 December 2012. Research conducted by the British Psychological Society suggests that the impressions created by positive reviews linger, even when later reviews are unfavourable. "It's a finding that could help us be more objective when reading review pages, and it will surely also be of interest to marketeers and PR professionals hoping to give their products an advantage." Click here.
Welsh Government to buy Cardiff Airport?
18 December 2012. A snippet from the Wales Tourism Alliance. A better shopfront for tourism in Wales? Click here.
Innovation Wales: Welsh Government response to consultation
18 December 2012. The Welsh Government’s response to the call for evidence on a new innovation strategy for Wales has now been published. Click here.
The best time to share content
18 December 2012. An interesting series of infographics from Marketingtech examines the peak times for social media content sharing disaggregated by medium, type of device, type of content and viral effectiveness. Click here. For a related matter, see our November article Social Media: when less is more.
Flickr launches iPhone app
14 December 2012. Flickr, the image sharing web site, is the latest online resource to offer a handset-based photo editing and sharing application. The all-new app is currently available for iOS devices and allows correction, cropping and enhancement of images together with instant sharing across social media or by email. The free app is available from the Apple App Store or can be sent to your mobile device from here.
In August 2012 we reported on the gradual replacement of the travel postcard by "instant postcards" from mobile devices (click here) and have stressed the benefits of free public wi-fi in this context. As instant photo-editing becomes more and more widely available, the more will users share their results with family and friends and add user-generated content to the marketing mix.
Reminder: Share Wales Flickr Group: The Share Wales Flickr Group now has around 150 members and well over 1,000 images available for sharing. To view, click here. For full Group Guidelines and to join, follow the step-by-step here.
Celtic Quest finalist in CIM Marketing Excellence Awards
3 December 2012. After an eventful award-winning year (including a Chartered Institute of Marketing Wales Marketing Award) Celtic Quest Coasteering have reached the finals of CIM's National Marketing Excellence Awards. Owner/manager Cleo Browne must be doing something right! To find out what, check out the interview recorded for Share Wales in February of this year. View it in our new Toolbox or the Blog. Our congratulations.
Another scam heard from
26 November 2012. A heads-up from Mid Wales Tourism: "New Warning! - We've had a letter in the office today from BOBI Best of British & Ireland - please be careful this is NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE OFFICIAL ORGANISATION - PLEASE READ THE SMALL PRINT. Where you sign to confirm your details you are signing up to be charged 1271 Euros - Please be careful! this is a world wide scam which all looks very official with a UK postcode on the front of the letter but they're based in Mexico". And see Share Wales, 1 November: The season of the scam.
Data not included?
20 November 2012. If you are upgrading your hardware and selling, recycling or otherwise disposing of your old equipment, make sure that your data doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Merely deleting files and clearing Internet history is not enough to guarantee security - the data are simply lost to view and remain retrievable by determined searchers. A useful article from Yahoo! explains how to delete information stored on your laptop, PC or Mac for ever. Click here.
Facebook tests free wi-fi
9 November 2012. Facebook is currently running a small trial in the USA whereby the social network supplies free public wi-fi access for a business's customers. Participating traders from the retail and catering sectors have been provided with a router that enables customers with Facebook accounts to connect by using the 'Check In' feature. The router is free of charge and works off the trader's existing wi-fi network. Once checked in, users are directed to the business's Facebook page before gaining general Internet access. Typically, they may be exposed to advertising or a short survey as part of the access process.
Should the trial result in a general roll-out, customers will benefit from wider free public wi-fi and businesses will add a new promotional route into the social network. Worth keeping an eye on, we think, although the question of data access and sharing rears its head as with all such schemes. For more details, click here. And see our slightly updated August article Wi-fi connectivity: become part of the solution.
8 best practice tips for QR codes
8 November 2012. Although QR codes are now commonplace, not all are being used to best advantage and in many cases seem to have no clear strategic or tactical purpose. As with all things technological, the questions to ask are, "Do I need it?" and "How can I make best use of it?". Econsultancy have published 8 useful tips on QR codes, a timely reminder that even the largest businesses sometimes fail to answer these questions: click here. And see our June 2012 article on QR codes and small businesses.
Apps help visitors explore castles
6 November 2012. Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service, has developed two bilingual apps to help visitors explore the stories behind Conwy and Denbigh Castles. Trails around the two walled towns have been developed as games that incorporate challenges and point collection. Both apps allow users to send virtual postcards. For information, click here.
Coastal Tourism Strategy progress
2 November 2012. PDF progress reports on the Coastal Tourism Strategy are now available from the Destination Management Wales web site. Download English (E WEB) or Welsh (W WEB) versions here.
Creativity is king.
1 November 2012. The Troll Bridge just across the toll bridge. Click here.
Pembrokeshire scores with cross-media exposure
1 November 2012. International media coverage on the back of high profile film locations, landscape quality and more than a few local bloggers. Read here.
4G roll-out in Cardiff
30 October 2012. Cardiff is one of a number of UK cities - and the only one in Wales - to see the introduction of 4G mobile. The new fast wireless broadband is currently provided exclusively by EE - formerly Everything Everywhere, formerly Orange/T Mobile. Other companies will be rolling out 4G services in 2013. All of these services will require a 4G enabled device, which will, no doubt, accelerate the launch of the next generation of smartphones. Some industry commentators have suggested that take-up might be held back by cost factors. Contracts are sure to be more expensive in the early days; and faster downloads may result in users exceeding their allowance, leading to bigger service bills. No doubt these initial problems will be resolved as competition increases.
In the meantime, some areas of Wales are still lacking wi-fi connectivity of any kind. Once again we are repeating our plea for free public wi-fi (see Postcards from the Coast). "More and more our visitors are expecting to find free wi-fi, in hotels and guesthouses, pubs and restaurants, visitor centres, TICs and across the wider spectrum of visitor services. And as more and more visitors make use of public wi-fi, so do unprompted recommendations and referrals add authentic substance to the destination marketing effort. The greater the free wi-fi network, the greater the benefits."
30 October 2012. TripAdvisor reports more than $637 in revenues for 2011, with 20m members, 50m unique monthly visitors and more than 60m posts. The site has obviously emerged as a power player in the hospitality industry, but controversies continue (see the news item immediately below).
B&B wins victory against TripAdvisor
12 October 2012. In what has been heralded as a landmark judgement, a B&B owner from the Outer Hebrides has been cleared to pursue a small claims action over what he claims to be 'false and malicious' criticisms posted on the review site which the company refused to take down. The US based company had previously denied that it was subject to UK law but later conceded that it could be sued in Scotland, albeit in a higher court that would have involved the claimant in considerable expense. Richard Gollin, the owner, appealed, and the case is now expected to be heard in Stornoway within the next two months. If Mr Gollin is successful, the verdict might create a precedent for cases outside Scotland.
A spokesman for TripAdvisor said: "It's our top priority to ensure the content we feature is authentic and we dedicate significant time and resources to that end, including a host of over 25 sophisticated filters, a team of detectives, and our community of over 56 million users who help us police reviews. If an owner feels they've been subjected to an unfair review, we urge them to contact us immediately".
In the short term a successful outcome would be good for traders who have been targeted maliciously on this or other review sites. In the longer term it would benefit the trade as a whole and, ultimately, TripAdvisor itself - elimination of malicious content can only increase the credibility of review sites (see our March post "Driving Traffic with Traveller Reviews"). Full report on TravelMole.
Hackers target smartphones
10 October 2012. Unsurprisingly, malicious attacks and cyber thefts are spreading to smartphones and other mobile devices. More surprising is the fact that mobile users are far more lax in observing the basic security precautions that are becoming second nature on home- and office-based computers. Is YOUR mobile device password protected? Do you store sensitive information on your smartphone - online banking details, social media passwords and the rest? According to a report on Yahoo! News, more than 50% of us now own a smartphone, 64% of us access the Internet at least once a day and 44% of users don't use a password to protect their device. The growing wave of threats include fake or cloned 'apps' and rogue wi-fi connections. The price of the freedom offered by mobility is eternal vigilance!
Internet Explorer vulnerability
17 September 2012. Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer versions 7, 8 and 9 may be vulnerable to attack by hackers due to the presence of a newly discovered bug. Customers have been advised to download a piece of security software to protect against infection until such time as the root cause of the problem has been eliminated from the browsers. The free utility rejoices under the name of The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit [EMET] and can be downloaded here. A cursory reading of the description suggests that EMET may be problematic for users without considerable technical knowledge. Industry sources are suggesting that users should switch to alternative browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, etc., at least until such time as Microsoft has dealt with the issue at source.
Regardless of current threats, it is always good practice to check Windows Updates regularly for recommended updates and security patches. Better still, configure your system to receive Windows Updates automatically. The Microsoft web site carries a range of security solutions and is well worth the browsing.
If you suspect that your equipment has been compromised (and see our 15 September post "Public Health Warning: Email management" and "The threat of botnets" below) it is worth running Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool in the first instance. And, given the invisibility of some malware, perhaps it is worth running the tool anyway! Malicious attacks and ecrime spread mainly through the lax security of Internet users, We all have a responsibility to protect, not just ourselves, but the whole online community.
Finally, please use our Forum as an early warning system for security issues.
The threat of botnets
17 September 2012. On 15 September we posted Public Health Warning: Email management following an apparent surge in malicious emails that attack recipients' Address Books. But the problems are far greater than personal inconvenience. There is now a massive industry built around 'botnets', networks of invisibly compromised computers used for toxic or criminal activity and offered for hire by cyber gangs. Our earlier article outlines some fundamental security steps. For more on botnets, see Yahoo! News.
Planning regime relaxed for superfast broadband
13 September 2012. New Culture Secretary Maria Miller has announced that the planning applications will no longer be necessary for some aspects of the infrastructure required to roll out next generation broadband. SSSI sites will stay protected, but planning and conservation bodies have voiced concern that ancient monuments, conservation areas and listed buildings have been overlooked. Click here.
Death of the postcard
August 2012. Tnooz, reporting on a survey carried out by mobile provider O2, has culled a few interesting statistics. Between 30% and 60% of UK travellers (2,000 sampled) now use mobile devices (SMS, email, social media) to keep in contact with home. Click here. The same source links to a telling graphic on US mobile usage, from www.tripl.com. Of especial interest is the combination of photographic content with geo-data or check-ins. Click here. And see our March 2012 Scene Setting and May 2012 Instant Postcards posts.
Terms of service: didn't read
August 2012. Does this describe your normal practice when signing up for Internet services? We are all tempted to click the 'Accept' box without ploughing through the reams of legalistic jargon that specify the rights and operating parameters of suppliers. A new project (from June 2012) aims to grade web site terms and privacy policies against a number of criteria, including your right to leave the service, copyright, government information requests, retention of 'deleted' images and much more. This is a collaborative project but the results are free to all. Go to tos-dr.info.
Twitter restricts third party applications
August 2012. Following on from Twitter's severance of its relationship with Linked In (scroll down to July 2012) developers must now seek the company's explicit permission for new apps that intend to serve more than 100,000 users. Apps which have already reached the threshold will be allowed to double their customer base before permission is needed. As with the Linked In disconnect, this latest step is to encourage developers to build apps using Twitter's own software. For more, click here.
Schedule your Facebook posts
A little bit of organisation and forward planning can save a lot of time. Facebook business pages allow advance scheduling of Facebook posts without using third-party tools that fall foul of the Edgerank Algorithm. 8 tips and a step-by-step from Social Media Examiner.
Don't forget email marketing
July 2012. In the rush to build a social media presence we are sometimes in danger of forgetting, or sidelining, tried and trusted older marketing tools. The marketing mix is a toolbox of mechanisms that should be integrated to deliver specific messages to specific markets. While social media, blogs, etc, help create flavour, texture and stimulate content sharing and conversations, email can be used to deliver hard sales offers to signed-up audiences. For a few short tips on dos and don'ts for hoteliers, click here.
Twitter marketing tools
July 2012. CIM's 'Social Media Benchmark' (see below) gives Twitter poll position in the social media league table, with 79% of companies using Twitter as part of their core marketing. Social Media Examiner has published a guide to five Twitter Tools that help refine your Twitter strategy and provide a competitive edge:
1. Manage your Twitter community
2. Find questions people are asking
3. Find the best time to tweet
4. Maximise your visibility
5. Find influencers who tweet your blog
For step-by-steps and screen shots, click here.
How companies are using social media
July 2012. The Chartered Institute of Marketing has published the results of its latest 'Social Media Benchmark' survey. The survey shows the degree to which social media are being used as a component of core marketing; how marketers rate their organisation's competence and capability; their use of data collection and, importantly, their understanding of and compliance with data protection legislation; how companies monitor their social media activity; and, throughout, the barriers that prevent fuller exploitation of social media.
This is the Second Wave of the Social Media Benchmark programme, which is published at six-monthly intervals. For the infographic, and to access First Wave results (Autumn 2011) click here.
80% of travellers looking for 'real life' reviews?
July 2012. Destination UK reports that, according to research carried out for the new travel guide web site Toowist, online reviews are now more important than the opinions of family and friends for 80% of travellers. No detail on the size of sample is given, and you might think, "They would say that, wouldn't they". We couldn't possibly comment. Only 3% of respondents said they preferred printed material and more than 90% think that better deals can be had if they are armed with information before making a booking. 75% of respondents had used smartphones and tablets to research holiday and travel information.
Most of this conforms to identified trends, and certainly most review sites seem to be addressing the problem of malicious or self-serving posts as a route to credibility. From the trade's point of view, online reviews can be a way of identifying and dealing with weaknesses, as well as gathering kudos. Canny operators will have a strategy in place to deal with online reviews, good or bad: see our March 2012 article "Driving Traffic with Traveller Reviews".
Denbighshire leads on EU digital project
July 2012. Denbighshire County Council was the lead partner in an EU-funded project involving Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Brittany. The project developed location-based digital solutions for the five regions using a mixture of mobile-friendly technologies. For an insight into how visitors can use their smartphones in holiday destinations, watch the video.
As part of the project, Denbighshire also produced a place book: 'Special Places in Denbighshire'. To browse, click here.
The Welsh Government Digital Tourism Programme offers assistance towards the development of innovative digital projects and digital communities. Go to the Share Wales Assistance page.
EU Cookie Law: Guidance from the Information Commissioner
Google brings affordable tablet to market
July 2012. Google is going head-to-head with Amazon and Apple with the 'Nexus 7' tablet, due to hit the streets ahead of Microsoft's 'Surface' (scroll down to June). At an affordable £130, this product is likely to extend the already growing tablet market and bring more users of mobile platforms on line. For more, click here.
Google's Android software is the No. 1 operating system for smartphones, with about 1 million Android devices activated every day. The year so far has seen rapid expansion of mobile products alongside feverish technological development - as predicted in our March piece 'Phone Wars'. The wars go on!
Has Google's Penguin nibbled at your web ranking?
July 2012. In April and May of this year we flagged up Google Penguin, the latest algorithm in the search engine's fight against web spam - cheating links, facile and spammed comments and forum posts, and other attempts to achieve high rankings. A concise guide from Jan Klin takes you through the steps of reviewing your linking strategy: click here. If you are unsure whether you have fallen foul of the Penguin, a simple guide from BDB consultants tells you how to check and what actions to take: click here.
Twitter Abandons Linked In
July 2012. Tweeters will no longer be able to share their Twitter posts with the Linked In professional network. The partnership was set up in 2009. The move by Twitter seems intended to encourage developers to build apps on Twitter's web site and to ensure better brand consistency.
Linked In users will still be able to post updates to Twitter from Linked In, but not the other way around. For more, click here.
Microsoft announces 'Surface'
June 2012. Microsoft has entered the mobile hardware wars with the pre-launch announcement of its 'Surface' tablet. The new device is expected to go on sale in the autumn/winter of this year. It will use the upcoming Windows 8 Pro operating system, which has been designed with tablets in mind. Microsoft's 'Surface' is a direct broadside against iPad and seems intended to establish a niche for the company in the expanding mobile computing market. As with all new developments, we can expect the 'Surface' to increase overall take-up of mobile devices through new purchases, along with product upgrades by existing users. As competition between manufacturers and operating systems intensifies we might expect something of a shake out in the not-so-long term. Regardless of this, the market for mobile platforms will continue to expand and cannot be ignored by tourism marketers.
Wi-fi Connectivity - Are you part of the solution or part of the problem?
June 2012. A recent consumer survey by Deloitte found that 37% of shoppers who had tried to use a mobile app in a retail outlet had been unable to access the Internet. While high street retailers are realising the potential of apps to engage customers through coupons, product information, price comparisons and the rest, their investment is wasted without free in-store wi-fi. So what has this to do with tourism?
Our store is our destination and mobile devices are, more and more, the technology of choice for holidaymakers. Search engines, web sites, apps, mapping - all provide information on the range of products available to our visitors, allow on-the-spot decisions and encourage instant recommendations through their personal and social networks. But these benefits exist in direct relation to wi-fi access. The greater the free public wi-fi coverage, the greater the destination marketing benefits; and the more in tune individual businesses are with the promotional possibilities of "social local mobile" [SoLoMo] the better they will perform. For more on SoLoMo scroll down this page to a basic 3 step guide. For a real-time example, click on Postcards from the Coast.
.wales and .cymru
June 2012. In what has been called the biggest Internet land-grab in history, it seems likely that the UK Internet registry Nominet has secured .wales and .cymru as top level domains. This will enable businesses in Wales to identify themselves more closely with the Principality - the only current regional option being .co.uk. The Nominet submission has been supported by the Welsh Government, who anticipate that .wales will be used by web sites targeting English speaking and global audiences while .cymru will be more applicable to Welsh language web sites. Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has revealed that there have been no competing claims for the Welsh domains. Icann plans to roll out the new domains in batches of around 500 from March 2013 onwards.
After Google Panda comes Google Penguin
The Penguin update is Google's next salvo against webspam - cheating links, facile and spammed comments and forum posts, and other attempts to achieve high rankings. To review your linking strategy, see a concise guide from Jan Klin: click here.
One Tablet generates as many visits as four Smartphones?
Tablet trends and predictions from Econsultancy. Click here.
3 Steps to determine if Social Local Mobile is right for your business
Open local conversations with your customers using SoLoMo. For a handy guide from Social Media Examiner, click here.
Google in Wales
Back in March we announced the launch of a twelve month programme of free consultations and workshops by Google, supported by the Welsh Government - click here. To view a video of the launch event click here.
The Getting Welsh Business Online team visited the new Google HQ offices and met most of the Welsh people that work there - click here.
To sign up for Google Juice Bar or Google Workshop events, click here.