Expert urges Tourism Australia to engage into social networking

15:58, June 13, 2010      

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Australia's tourism industry on Sunday has been told to jump on board the new social networking rage, or risk losing business and being left behind, local media reported.

Foursquare is a social networking tool that allows users to track the location of their friends through the Global Positioning System (GPS), and share information and reviews about businesses and attractions in their areas.

It is also a game, with players picking up badges and the title of mayor by visiting cafes, restaurants or hotels and tourist attractions that give them the chance to reward repeat customers with discounts or gifts.

And now it is about to have a huge impact on the tourism sector, and indeed on all businesses, social media commentator Laurel Papworth said.

"Foursquare is word of mouth in its purest form," Papworth told the Australian Associated Press.

"When you click on, you write a review or make a statement, ' The service is great here', or 'Great coffee - terrible cakes'.

"And remember, this is all mobile: you're not in front of your computer, you're on your mobile phone and your comments can be linked automatically and published instantly on Facebook and Twitter.

"It also puts a pin in a map so that people can click on this pin on your Facebook status update or on Twitter and see where you are physically located."

Papworth said businesses were starting to wake up to the promotional power of the Foursquare game.

"Businesses are asking people to show their mayor badges and they're giving people a free coffee, or 10 percent off," she said.

"Foursquare has done a deal with CNN with secret location badges for the World Cup soccer so if you go to any of the big ESPN hotel lounges around the world to watch the World Cup and you check in, you could suddenly get a special badge, but the locations are secret so you never know if you're going to get a badge which gives you World Cup goodies."

Tourism Futures Convenor Tony Charters said this was "must have " information for anyone involved in marketing a brand or destination in the tourism industry.

"While part of the industry has engaged social media, this is clearly the future of communication and a key decision-making influencer," Charters said.

"The Tourism Futures Roy Morgan industry survey shows over 50 percent of respondents from across the industry are using social media for internal communications and marketing.

"The entire tourism industry needs to understand and embrace this new space."

Papworth will brief operators on the potential of Foursquare and other developments in social media at the Tourism Futures national conference in Brisbane from July 5 to 7.

Source: Xinhua


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