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Thailand’s tourism industry turned to social media and travel blogs to send the message that the country is safe for visitors

July 11, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Experts believe there has already been a shift in attitudes and foreigners are more likely to travel to Thai destinations now than when the current political unrest began.  

CYMERA_20140602_153648However, tourism companies in Thailand still see the need for active publicity of the country and say they’ll need to work together more cooperatively to increase visitor numbers in the current political climate.

Despite the current political situation in Thailand, Digital Innovation Asia (DIA), together with its partner, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, decided not to cancel the scheduled Blogger Matchup event and go forward. Digital Innovation Asia added a free Social Media Forum in the morning that was attended by nearly 200 attendees in order to help the industry understand the importance of social media and digital, especially in challenging situations like these.

DIA Mandalay1Representatives from some of Thailand’s major travel and tourism organizations said the emphasis should be more on promoting the country than individual companies.  Marcos Cedana, Director of E-Commerce at Minor Group echoed the sentiment on a panel with representatives from Inter-Continental Hotel Group, Onyx Hospitality, Dusit International, and Centara Hotels & Resorts: “In situations like this we need to come together and collaborate in order to create confidence and drive demand for Thailand as a whole”.  During the separate DIA Council Meeting which brings together the most senior digital marketing executives from Asia’s hotel brands, tourist boards, airlines, attractions, cruise lines, retail, as well as academia, the discussion continued with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The tourism industry also acknowledged the need to harness the power of social media and blogs to spread the message that Thailand is still a safe place to visit. More than twenty-five international travel bloggers went through an extensive blogger outreach process to be invited to attend the Digital Innovation Asia Conference at the Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit to share their insights on online media with representatives of Thailand’s travel sector.

DIA Mandalay2“Many travel bloggers have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers who trust their opinion,” blogger Michael Turtle of timetravelturtle.com said.

“When these bloggers say something, people online take notice. Thailand is suffering from an image problem at the moment but the perception of potential travellers doesn’t match the reality on the ground. Inviting key digital influencers like travel bloggers to see the effect on tourism for themselves and share it with their followers is crucial.”

IMG_23676574253186The Digital Innovation Asia event included presentations on social media and online publishing in the morning highlighting the concept of the Social Traveler, Blogger Marketing, as well as how to leverage Google tools to create engagement online.  In the afternoon, Digital Innovation Asia organized its unique Blogger Matchup networking session where representatives from tourism companies could meet bloggers from around the world via a speed-dating format.

Digital Innovation Asia founder and president, Jens Thraenhart, made the decision to continue with the event despite concerns arising from the political unrest, and explains: “Bloggers and self-publishers are today’s storytellers, and their credibility with their loyal followers can make an impact to tell the truth about the reality of the situation.” He continues: “Leveraging the authentic storytelling nature of bloggers, self-publishers, and key opinion leaders can also be powerful in other crisis management situations, but also for branding, product launches (ie hotel openings), as well as content creation.”

One week after the DIA Social Media Forum and Blogger Matchup in Bangkok, Digital Innovation Asia produced the second E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp in Myanmar.  The first one was held in 2011 in Bagan in conjunction with the Leaders Symposium for Sustainable Tourism, and this year’s event was hosted in partnership with the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Mekong Tourism, UNWTO in conjunction with the Mekong Tourism Forum and UNWTO Conference on Heritage Protection. Sessions included Social Media, Distribution, and a presentation by Tripadvisor. DIA is planning a series of E-Tourism Asia Boot-Camps all over Asia, in collaboration with the respective national tourism organizations and ministries.

The next events organised by Digital Innovation Asia – the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp and the DIA Awards ceremony held in Bangkok – have been scheduled for September 2-3. The DIA Awards will be held the evening of September 2 at Levels Club on Sukhumvit Soi 11, entrance is free, and nominations can be submitted until August 15th at www.diASIAawards.com. The E-Tourism Asia Boot Camp will be on September 3rd at the Marriott Sukhumvit 57 Thonglor. The morning session will be free for consumer-facing, non-technology companies, subsidized by DIA and TAT on a space available basis.  To register and for more information, please visit www.diASIAevents.com. 

DIA is endorsed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), ASEAN, PATA, and Mekong Tourism, and supported by media partners including 4Hoteliers, eGlobal Travel Media, TravelDailyNews.asia, TTR Weekly, Travel Mole, and Bangkok 101.

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