Yesterday evening I attended a free workshop in Perth called 'Social Media Tourism Networking Evening'. We are very lucky around here that Perth and Kinross Council organises several events/workshops in the winter months that are beneficial to people in the tourism industry. The speaker was a gentleman called Rene Looper who has vast hospitality experience and is now involved in social media workshops. The presentation was about all the media channels now available like twitter, facebook, you tube etc and how they can benefit your business and help you interact with your potential guests. I like to think I am quite 'with it' in technology terms as I already do these things, but as always I picked up a huge amount of new ideas.
We are now going into our 15th season here and it amazes me how technology has changed since we started out here and how guests booking patterns have changed. When we moved here in 1997 I never had a computer and the world wide web was just in it's infancy and only a handful of people used e-mail. I am fortunate in that I have a 'techy' little brother who set me up with a .co.uk address and basic website in 1998. I took the initiative to learn about websites and have the software that enables me to 'do' my own site now.
In the early days all my bookings came in by telephone, people passing by or using the local information office. How things have changed now the telephone is replaced by e-mail, passing trade has been replaced by mobile phones and obtaining information about my b&b is accessed using the internet. People can now plan and book their whole holiday with a click of the mouse and know they have somewhere to stay instead of having to cut their day short to stop and look for accommodation. An informative website is essential now, as is the ability for potential guests to book online. I can interact with potential/past guests on Facebook and Twitter and they can read about my 'going's on' here on my blog. Another powerful tool is Trip Advisor and I know a lot of my guests check me out on trip advisor before booking with me, luckily I have positive reviews, 'touch wood'.
It will be interesting to know what the next 'big thing' will be.