If HuffPostTravel can declare that the "Old Travel Show is Dead, Long Live the New York Travel Festival," then we might be right in declaring that "Travel Destination Articles Are Dying, Long Live Social Media Travel Content."

So, when a senior editor at Technorati  told me that, going forward, all travel-related content had to have a social media spin, had to be presented via a Social/New Media filter, I knew the travel content game had changed. No more colorful destination pieces?

And then I read about a Travel Trends Blogger Conference in New York this month, further proof of the nichification of travel content, and the trend toward travel trends.

And then this: Travel Writing is Dead from the nihilistic publication 3am Magazine.

No more straining for appropriate adjectives and stumbling over cliches.

Technorati, after all, has millions of unique visitors a month, and while the content site is not especially known for its travel articles, the Technorati Travel home page is petty vibrant with article Tweets typically running in the 20-50 range in any 24-36 hour period and many, many Facebook shares.

Personally, I had been noticing the movement away from high-page views for destination content (The 'Wow' of the Caribbean), and the increasingly high numbers of page views for travel articles with a travel news/trends/social media orientation. like "SocialMedia Powers Family Travel Tends". In many cases the disparity was dramatic.

It seems descriptions of blue waters, great dining experiences, famous landmarks, cozy inns, and distant places can be found almost anywhere in our totally Googleized world. Friends and friends of friends share images and tales on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, and the many review sites.

But content on family travel trends or how new technologies will enrich travel or how airline booking sites can personalize their information and flex with a customer's specific travel needs, are more sought after.

For us, our "Is Socialgraphics Travel's Next Big Social Media Thing" simply generates more comments and engagement.

On the other hand, content on how a specific Caribbean island reaches out to its visitors and co-creates the island travel experience through social media works.

It's simply more relevant to today's traveling digital natives who are "in touch," and sharing useful, relevant information at every stage of their decision-making process and travel experience. They are co-creating travel, and today's travel content reflects that change from the passive travel article, to one that highlights the engaging, Social media dynamic of travel today.

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  • Well, if you're in Switzerland next week, give me a buzz.

  • Likewise everyone! Great discussion! Much appreciated!

  • Maria, Allan, thanks for the stimulating conversation. A benefit of these kinds of media :)

    Maybe we'll meet up some day!



  • Hi guys ... I realize my situation may be unique because I have an 8.5 year old blog (my "vanity" site, if you will), but I got very involved in the social media world by happenstance, very gradually and very organically.  Yes, in some cases, data is very important -- in the case of advertisers or affiliate programs that want to see your visitor numbers and number of followers -- but for example, how important is it that I get 1K visitors to a page for keywords on a great article? Not much, if you consider that I have actually "sold" hotel rooms on Twitter alone, with folks telling me they've gone to a hotel just because I recommended it.  I might not get many comments on my site, but I'll get 50+ likes on a post on Facebook, and each and everyone those is sincere.  Trust is much more important than data and that kind of organic influence has enabled me to do great things, like my Trail of the Pirates, which was a fun, documentary-style written series on pirate history in Florida, which I developed myself and was 100% supported by CVBs and the state travel office.  I didn't have to pay a dime.

    I don't monetize my blog, but it opens huge doors for me that are monetized and I prefer to keep it that way. I rarely, ever, ever do anything sponsored on there, travel or otherwise. Because I'm very blunt and honest in what I write, people appreciate that.  Numbers really don't help or "count" for me (excuse the pun).  Influence trumps numbers, at least in my case.

    Allan, I come from a mixed bag of old school and new media ... I trained as an academic writer long before social media even existed and then got into magazine writing by chance and that happened to be a travel magazine so my journalism career was a freak accident, if you will.  But then I started blogging, joined social networks, created a community, and the rest is history.  So I've learned to take advantage of both world and I think that for any freelancer today, it's really important to develop a portfolio (on a blog) and to build community so you have something to show even when those paying clients drop. Plus, it's fun, anyway. I love inspiring my audiences and also learning from them.

  • Kaleel - when I say space is at a premium I am arguing for my case. I mean that the easy-to-sell crap shallow pieces writers got so comfortable selling no longer have a home outside their own vanity sites. The writers I meet who have trouble making a living and/or finding markets haven't adjusted their way of doing business.

    Data is important, but now, how to measure the actual results, how to determine how many of the people who read or saw the piece actually acted on it and spent money? That's the trouble many destinations, properties and CVBs are having.

  • My 2cents, Maria, though you wrote directly to Allan, is to see my opinion in my answer to him . Data rules.

  • Allan, again, IMHO, it is not about, " I'm going somewhere, how about a piece?" It's about what travel trends, news, developments, tools are current and that the READERS want; not what we writers want to write about or some editor thinks is cool.

    Candidly, the "influencers" today are/is DATA. Data massaged by companies like Truelens, Google, Living Social, etc etc., that know what we want even before we do. Our travel behavior and choices, as data, become the influencers.

    Further, the writer of an article is probably at the very bottom of the feeding chain. The incredible rise of mobile with smaller screens dictates fewer (by far) words and way more images. It's already being argued that video motivates buyers 42% more effectively than print or text. And you're arguing against your own argument when you say, below, space is at a premium...and previously suggest editors will be looking for 3-5,000 word pieces! :)

  • Hi Allan, your question is a very good one. Influence can't be measured by numbers, but only by reputation.  Having a million followers doesn't make you an influencer. Having a a certain number of followers (whatever that number may be) who really trust your word and care about what you say makes you an influencer. And this comes only with time, consistent publishing, authentic engagement and commitment to your audience, much of which can be done through social media.

    I totally agree that there are way too many b.s. "sponsored" posts out there that sound like regurgitated press releases. But not all bloggers fall into that category.

    I still pitch to editors the old school way sometimes ... landed me a gig with an outdoors magazine recently just from a cold call.

  • How do you know anyone has influence? Most destination reps I've spoken with struggle with that. Does having a large number of followers equate to "influence" or just a large number of followers? In the old days we discussed this in terms of mass market vs target marketing.

    As for disclosure rules, those only apply to US-based bloggers. 

    One of the issues which isn't discussed when we speak about declining print markets is the sheer banality of the content being published (in print and on-line). Pre-recession it was easy for a writer to drop a line to an editor and say 'I'm going here, how about a piece...' But space is at a premium so things have to be better honed vs people who take a quick press-trip and become the 5-minute expect on things from that country or region.

  • Not all bloggers are amateur writers and social media is a way to market to your audience.  You're really missing out if you don't use social media these days to engage your readers.  I'm a perfect example of that.

    As well, a blog is simply a publishing platform, an empty-vessel, and not reflective of the content. While it is true that a "personality" might sell a destination more than quality writing, the truth of the matter is that journalistic integrity has nothing to do with it -- although I hate that, of course. I'm all about journalist integrity. But PR companies don't really care, do they?  They want to maximize exposure for their client.

    Also, when I was writing for print magazines, I never had to disclose. I do now, on my blog as per FTC regulations.  But I always got "free" press trips back in the day.

    I have been on press trips recently where some of the other content producers can't write worth a damn, but they have a great deal of influence. So if you can write worth a damn, then you have the best of both worlds and I would encourage others to take advantage of it.

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