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Twitters current and potential use for the tourism industry

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 IntroductionTwitter was made primarily for social networking. It is a free service that enables people to communicate and stay connected through exchange of short and quick answers to simple questions. Twitter users can send and even read each others’ message updates which are known as tweets.

Through the internet it is a totally free service but through the mobile phone the short messages may incur some fees charged by the phone service providers. This service is primarily used by families, friends, and co-workers who want to keep in touch with each other through exchange of information.

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In addition to that it can be used by the public as a means of communication. Twitter provides flexibility as it allows the sender to maintain privacy when necessary.

A sender can restrict the delivery of the tweets to specific individuals who in most cases include friends, family members and work colleagues, or can allow open access in which anyone can receive the tweets.

Since its discovery in 2006, the use of twitter has been growing considerably. This can be attributed to the increased internet accessibility in many nations and the growing number of people who are computer literate. In addition to that its low cost and simplicity could have led to its fast growth.

It is being used in politics during campaigns, in mobilizing people for protests, among others. Twitter has many uses in the society, however, this paper is meant to explore the current and potential use of twitter in the tourism industry.Twitter as a marketing toolFor marketing purposes twitters can be used as a way of tracking and directing attention to a particular product or service provided by a certain business (World Tourism, 2009). Twitter provides an individual with the capability of monitoring the behavior of people and at the same time enables communication through active networking.

In a business it provides a channel for connecting the current and potential customers with the products or services provided by the company. In addition to that, it allows an individual or organization to infiltrate deeply into the lifestyles of interested entities thereby assisting in building loyalty and persistence.Furthermore, Twitter can be used for traffic generation by directing more people to specific websites. This is because it allows placement of links within conversations and profiles which can be used for directing visitors to specific websites.

However, since most users of twitter are web savvy, targeting specific groups of people is usually difficult (World Tourism, 2009). In addition to that determining the level of the potential interest of specific groups of people is difficult.State Tourism and Convention BureausTwitter can be helpful in state bureaus as it provides a cheaper way of marketing tourism in a country. Through tweeting a country can market its heritage worldwide and thus expand its tourism sector.

Currently, according to a study by Quantcast (2009) Twitter reaches more than twenty two million American citizens every month and thus provides a great opportunity for tourism bureaus to communicate with millions of potential visitors. With Twitter the tourism offices can deliver their marketing messages to potential visitors whose number is in millions per month. Twitter as social networking tool provides a great potential in expanding the industry.State bureaus and other tourism organization begun tweeting in 2007 and the number grew greatly in 2008.

This can be attributed to the growing twitter popularity and the cost effective marketing strategy provided by tweeting. More people are continuing to use tweeting as a method for social networking and this number is expected to grow with time.There are several ways in which Twitter can be used as a tool for marketing and thus enhance the tourism industry.Online advertisingTwitter can be used for internet advertising as they provide the capability for organizations or individuals to place links to their websites.

Bureaus can use Twitter to advertise certain tourist destinations which are new or are experiencing low visitations by placing websites directing individuals to the websites of these destinations. The number of people using Twitter daily is great and continually increasing as more people get to know about tweeting and thus sign up. By placing website links on Twitter, many individuals will click on the links and in turn visit the sites. Through links more people will be aware of the many tourist destinations worth visiting in their countries and if possible abroad.

In spite of different people having different taste or preferring different things, through placement of different links the chance of getting more people to visit the destinations will be greatly increased. If the state bureaus can place links on Twitter effectively many people will become aware of the wide variety of tourist destinations within the country and in turn increase the market of the tourism industry.Additionally, state bureaus can send messages through the internet to their followers on matters concerning the tourist destinations which are in season and thus the best for visiting. Inadequacy in knowledge about tourist destinations can lead to low tourism as people will not be aware of the best places to visit and the special rates being offered by visiting certain tourist destinations.

To add to that some people might be stranded as they do not know which places to visit. Through tweeting, state bureaus can send messages to people about certain destinations and in turn market the destinations. Similarly, bureaus can update their tweets to ensure that they contain the latest information such as special rates offered for visiting certain places and thus assist individuals stranded in choosing the right tourist destination. Some places might be the preference of individuals but because of the high expenses are not affordable to many people.

However, through special rates the places might become affordable to a large number of people.Educating peopleAlthough Twitter restricts the size of the messages to a maximum of 140 characters, some bureaus have used it adequately to educate people on matters concerning the value of tourism. For instance, this year during the national travel and tourism week conventional bureaus and other tourism related organizations used tweets to educate people on the values of traveling (Huber, 2009). Through tweets people understood the importance of traveling locally and internationally.

The tourism industry contributes greatly to the society by improving the livelihood of a large number of people as it provides them job opportunities. For instance, in United States of America (USA), tourism supports more than 18 million jobs and contributes more than $530 billion to the economy (National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, 2003). By getting more people to understand the value of tourism through tweeting, the tourism industry will expand. The growth can be attributed the high number of people who supports tourism and thus would not allow it to collapse as it would cause much damage to the society.

Educating people using Twitter has not been utilized adequately as bureaus and other tourism organizations used it mainly during the national travel and tourism week. In many nations and in the world as a whole a large number of people are not aware of the importance of tourism. This has made many people not to travel and visit the beautiful sceneries within their countries. In many countries there are a large number of tourist destinations which are dormant or receive very few tourists and yet the country has a very large population.

Twitter reaches millions of people monthly which imply that in month it can educate that similar number of individuals. If the state bureaus can utilize it effectively and wisely millions of people will be aware of the importance of tourism and thus the tourism market will be expanded both locally and internationally.Improving strategiesThere are many organizations and bureaus dealing with tourism in a nation and especially in a large country like USA. If more bureaus can start tweeting and follow other tourism bureaus the market for tourism will be greatly expanded.

Some bureaus might be having well planned strategies for marketing tourism while others may not thereby leading to a slow expansion of the tourism industry in certain states. Through tweeting state bureaus can adopt new strategies which are working in improving tourism from other state bureaus and organizations, thereby expanding the tourism industry in the country much farther.Furthermore, through tweeting tourism organizations and bureaus can improve their strategies and enhance the tourism industry. Twitter allows sharing of messages as its users can view other users’ tweets.

This therefore provides an opportunity for bureaus to view other bureaus’ tweets and thus evaluate their progress. Through sharing of ideas and opinions on matters concerning the tourism industry, bureaus will be able to improve their current strategies and thus improve their services to the tourists which will in turn enhance the tourism industry.Additionally, through Twitter which is a micro-blogging site, tourism organizations and bureaus can organize seminars for marketing tourism in the country and globally. Seminars allow face-to-face conversations and thus individuals can lay down their ideas and support them adequately.

Through the seminars ways of marketing the tourism sector can be discussed and strategies put in place which will enhance tourism. In addition to that through the seminars bureaus can improve their strategies in order to meet the current needs in the tourism industry. The tourism industry changes with time and thus new strategies will be required for bureaus to perform well.Organizing competitionsRecently, tourism organizations have been using twitter to organize contests for marketing the tourism industry.

This was observed during the travel and tourism week in USA, where some bureaus organized contest on matters concerning tourism and the winners were awarded with attraction tickets, hotel bookings and packages (Huber, 2009). Through the contest prizes the tourism industry was boosted as more people were given an opportunity to travel and view the beautiful sceneries within the country. In addition to that, through contests more people became aware of the wide variety of tourist destinations available and thus were provided with many alternative options of destinations worth visiting. This can be attributed to the questions asked or the basis of the competition.

The competition involved tourism industry and thus individuals were therefore required to do research and much reading on matters concerning tourism for them to win the contest. Through research a person’s knowledge on matters concerning tourism is expanded and hence can visit more destinations. This is because individuals are provided with more tourist destinations to choose from and in addition to that are able to evaluate the best affordable hotels for reservations.Twitter can be useful in marketing tourism through organization of contest.

In competition there is usually a very large number of people who are participating in the competition and others who are watching. Competitions bring people together with one purpose and thus provide a good opportunity for marketing tourism. If state bureaus can utilize the benefits provided by Twitter in organizing contests the tourism industry will be expanded greatly. Competitions should be organized regularly and not annually to maximize the benefits provided.

Consequently, through the contests the number of Twitter followers for the bureaus will be increased as the winners will be required to be followers. The scope of the tourism market will be expanded as more followers join the bureaus’ Twitter. With more followers, the bureaus can farther expand the tourism market through tweeting by providing updates on tourist destinations which are affordable and of preference for certain seasons to its followers. Updates are essential for individuals as they assist them in making right choices of places worth visiting.

HotelsMost hotels have not utilized twitter effectively to market their services and thus improve the tourism sector. Some hotels sign up for twitter only later to abandon it, while others do not update their services regularly as required. However, there are a number of hotels which are using twitter to market themselves and in turn market the tourism industry.Fairmont hotelsCurrently, the hotel has more than three thousand, five hundred followers on Twitter and the number is expected to grow with time as the hotel continues to improve its services (Kirk, 2009).

The followers of Fairmont hotels are provided with ‘suite tweets’ which contains updates and special offers from the hotel as well as news concerning the general hotel industry. In cases where the hotel opens up new hotels in certain place, its followers are the first to know. Twitter enables the hotel to market itself as well as market the tourism sector. Through tweeting the general public understands the stability of hotel industry and which hotels provide quality and affordable services.

In addition to that they are provided with advanced information on matters concerning the hotels found in certain destinations.Furthermore, the hotel provides prizes to its followers through contest. The prizes mainly include hotel stays among others. For instance, in the early months of this year, the hotel used Twitter to give its followers a three night hotel stay through a competition (Shallcross, 2009).

Through contests the followers of the Fairmont Hotel are maintained and increased in number.The Westin BonaventureThe hotel has been using Twitter for marketing its services and has a significant number of followers. For quite a number of times, Twitter has been useful in promoting the hotel through competitions. For instance, in April this year, the hotel offered twenty five lucky followers free room nights as a way of promoting the hotel (Kirby, 2009).

Through the contest the hotel impressed more customers and thus increased its market scope.Hotel Casa Del MarThe hotel has more than one thousand, three hundred followers using its twitter service (Casa del Mar, 2009). It primarily utilizes Twitter for property updates as it provides tips to its followers from various property experts. In addition to that its Twitter followers are provided with special hotel rates which include hotel reservation discounts (Kirby, 2009).

Four Seasons ResortsIt provides its followers with updates concerning its services. For instance, the followers are provided with Spa offerings updates, cleaning tips from the hotel’s world class staff as well as new services offered by the hotel such as the pool concierge. To add to that the Twitter followers are provided with lessons concerning the best ways of preparing and drinking Mate. Currently, the hotel has more than two thousand three hundred followers (Kirk, 2009).

The Citizen HotelIts Twitter followers are provided mainly with information about the local area events and fun, thus marketing the California state as a travel destination. In addition to that its restaurant provides updates on the organic and inventive menu to the Twitter followers. This hotel has more than one thousand two hundred followers (Kirk, 2009).Design HotelsThe hotel utilizes Twitter primarily for promoting its services by using special links directing the users to their website.

In the recent days, the hotel has about one thousand four hundred followers and follows more than two hundred and seventy people (Valinhas, 2009).As observed above most hotels that utilize Twitters do not maximize its benefits. The value of Twitter is in its ability to provide connection between the consumers and the business on a personal level, however, most hoteliers focus on promoting their products and services and for news announcement. There are several uses of Twitter which hotels need to exploit and market themselves and the tourism industry.

Promotional palaceTwitter can be used to promote the hotels through organization of competitions and special rates.CompetitionsMost hotels are not utilizing Twitter more often in organizing contests for marketing their services and the tourism industry. Contests are essential as they bring people together thereby providing a good opportunity for marketing a business. Through competitions a business can sell itself to a large number of people within a short time and will spend little money in the process.

Twitter is a free service and thus provides a very cheap method of organizing competitions. Hotels can invest more in organizing competitions through Twitter and thus market themselves in return. Although the hotel might spend some money in prizes for the competition, the benefits provided outweigh the money spent in organizing the competition.Furthermore, through the prizes offered the hotel business as well as the tourism industry will be greatly expanded.

This is because individuals will be provided with prizes which include free hotel stays, new hotel packages, among others. Such prizes will provide people with an opportunity to analyze the hotel services and this could in turn increase the hotel’s number of customer. Additionally, since the prizes can be retrieved from any hotel, people will provided with an opportunity to visit more tourist destinations of their choice. This is because most hotels have branches spread in different places which are composed of different tourist attractions.

Special ratesHotel can utilize Twitter effectively in expanding their business by offering special rates to its Twitter followers. These special rates may include discounts on hotel reservations, extra services, among other. By individuals being Twitter followers of a certain hotel, they will be susceptible to the discounts and other special offers provided by that particular hotel. Through the discounts more people will afford hotel stays for many days and in addition to that will be provided with the capability to visit more destinations where that particular hotel has branches.

Hence, the tourism industry will in turn be expanded. Some people might not visit some destinations because the hotels located in those places are expensive but with discounts the hotels will be made affordable.Furthermore, through the Twitter special rates the hotel will expand its scope of marketing. The special rates will attract more people thereby leading to more Twitter followers for the hotel.

Through placement of news concerning tourism and hotel industries in the Twitter, more people will be aware of the industries and thus expand their markets.Internet advertising or media outletTwitter can be used for posting news and updates about the hotel and the services offered. Tweeting will make more people to be aware of the new services offered by certain hotels and even provide information concerning the Hotel’s progress in the hospitality industry. Since the number of people using the Twitter service is great and growing, the hotel will influence many people.

Similarly, since Twitter allows its users to place links in their profiles, it can be used as a tool for marketing the hotel industry. Hotels can place links to their websites in the Twitter and thus expand their marketing scope as more people will be directed to their websites. Twitter is available to millions of people and thus through placement of links a hotel can rip the benefits offered as its market will be expanded.Customer service and brand improvementTwitter allows individuals to have conversations thereby connect with each other.

The hotels can interact with their customers and in turn build consumer loyalty. Through Twitter the hotel can be befriend its customers and maintain the friendship which will in turn lead to persistency as customers will be coming back for services. This is because through conversations the hotel can gain customer trust and thus the customers will be confident of the services by the hotel. Trust is essential for a hotel to be competitive in the hospitality business as its customer number will increase greatly.

Conversations provide a good way of sharing ideas and opinions between individuals which in turn can be helpful in solving problems an individual is experiencing. Twitter can be of much assistance to hotels in improving their brands. Through conversations the hotels will be able to track and monitor their brands in the market and hence evaluate their performance. In case of low performance the hotel can improve its services to meet the customer needs.

Furthermore, since Twitter provides a two way conversation, the consumers can share their ideas and opinions concerning the brands offered by certain hotels and how they can be improved. This will provide the hotels with an opportunity to improve their brands and hence attract more customers.Additionally, through Twitter hotels can eavesdrop or listen to actual conversations concerning their brands in real time and hence react to complaints in time thereby getting more people interested in their brands (Morris, 2009). To add to that, hotels can get into actual conversations and use their bargaining powers to convince more people to utilize their brands.

Through tweeting many hotels will be able to improve their brands and hence become more competitive in the hospitality market.Viral marketingThis strategy involves utilization of the available social networks to foster brand awareness through viral processes which are self replicating. Since Twitter enables users to re-tweet other user’s tweets it can be utilized for viral marketing (Vaynerchuk, 2008). The strategy facilitates and encourages people to pass on marketing messages to other people thereby creating a growth potential for the messages’ influence and exposure (Wilson, 2005).

Similar to viruses, this strategy rapidly multiplies the message to thousands and even to millions thereby increasing the message’s exposure. Through viral marketing using Twitter as the social networking tool, hotels can expand their brand’s market to a very large extent. Many people will become aware of their brands thereby increasing their customers as more people will become interested in trying out their brands. Twitter reaches millions of people in a month, but with viral marketing this number will be multiplied thereby leading to more people being influenced.

TouristsLearning toolThrough Twitter more than three million messages are delivered each day (Lake, 2009). Through the messages posted in Twitter, individuals can learn about the hotel industry and the tourism industry. For instance, people who have been to certain hotels and received poor services may put their complaints on the Twitter thereby making them available for other people to see. On the other hand, people will use Twitter to praise hotels which provide quality services.

Through the search engine provided in Twitter, individuals can plug-in brand names, personal names, company names and even topics in order to get comments posted by other people. Twitter enables people to learn of the hotel services and hence can choose the best hotel to use when visiting particular locations.Additionally, individuals can learn about certain destinations of their preference through comments posted on Twitter. Some individuals may put comments concerning certain destinations which they have visited thereby providing an opportunity for other people to learn about the conditions at certain places.

There are some tourist destinations which might be seasonal while others are not. In addition to that some destinations may have barriers such as muddy roads, extreme cold weather, too windy among others. Muddy roads can make the destinations inaccessible and thus visiting the place might be a waste of time and money. Extreme cold weather will require heavy clothes and thus visiting the place will not be fun as individuals will prefer to stay in-doors.

While too much wind will make the destination boring to some people as they will not enjoy the scenery enough as expected since they might be required to cut the journey short. Through Twitter people might learn about the weather conditions or expected barriers in certain destinations and thus prepare themselves in advance.Group formationTwitter as a social network tool can be used for formation of tourist groups as it enables people to communicate and thus share information. Individuals planning to visit certain tourist destinations can benefit through tweeting by forming a group prior to visiting the place.

Group formation is essential for tourists and especially when visiting destinations abroad. Individuals feel more secure when in company of others as in case of problem occurrence one can easily be provided with assistance and hence the problem will be solved in time. Consequently, because of security assurance, tourists in groups have the capability to visit a wide range of places where single individuals might not visit.  Hence, through Twitter individuals are provided with a good method for group formation which in turn enhances tourism.

This is because most individual prefer group tourism as it provides much fun and at the same time is much affordable.CommunicationTwitter can be used as a good communication tool for tourist to interact with tourism providers. Through tweeting tourists are provided with a tool for putting across comments about the services provided by certain tourism organizations. Some tourism organizations might be providing services of low quality and in turn losing customers.

Through Twitter these organizations can learn about the complaints and thus find better ways of improving their services to maintain their customers and even attract more customers. On the other hand, tourists can utilize Twitter to praise tourism organizations which provide quality services thereby leading to maintenance of the services and provision of better services. Similarly, tourists can use Twitter to comment about the services provided by certain hotels and in return provide an opportunity for hotels to improve their services. Twitter can therefore be used by tourists to ensure that they are provided with quality services by the hotels and tourism organizations.

Reminding toolTweeting can be used for reminding tourists about their trips or traveling plans (Trapani, 2007). Through their mobile phones, individuals can be alerted when their friends update their accounts and thus become informed. To get reminders individuals are require to use the website to authorize their mobile phones and hence subscribe to the Twitter feed (Belshaw, 2007). Through tweeting tourists can be reminded and hence not forget about their trips or the places they are planning to visit.

In addition to that tourists can be reminded by tourism bureaus about the tourist destinations which are in season and the requirements for visiting certain destinations.ConclusionTwitter provides many benefits to the tourism industry. It is essential for state tourism and convention bureaus to maximize the use of tweeting as it can expand their businesses. Tweeting provides a cheaper method for organizing seminars, contests, improving strategies among others which are important in expanding the tourism industry.

Consequently, to the hospitality business it can be of much benefit. There are some luxurious hotels which have adopted Twitter, but are not using it to the maximum. If hotels can maximize the use of Twitter, these hotels will become much competitive in the hospitality business and in addition to that their businesses will expand at a faster pace. This is because Twitter reaches millions of people and thus provides a good opportunity for marketing businesses.

Additionally, tweeting is beneficial to the tourists as it provides them with an affordable means of communication where they can lay out their complaints and comments concerning the tourism industry. Through tweeting, tourists are educated and in turn their knowledge on matters concerning the tourism industry is expanded. However, in spite of the much benefits provided by Twitter, it is essential to evaluate it before utilizing it. This is because Twitter provides minimum privacy and in addition to that it is difficult to target specific groups of people.

Individuals using Twitter should therefore use it in a strategic manner to ensure that its benefits are exploited to the maximum.  Word count: 4521.                   Reference listBelshaw D., (2007).

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com/wmt5/viral-principles.htmWorld Tourism, (2009). 17 ways you can use twitter a guide for beginners’ marketers and business owners. Retrieved June 23, 2009 from http://www.world-tourism-news.eu/news/a17-ways-you-can-use-twitter-a-guide-for-beginners-marketers-and-business-owners/

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