Developing your business in the social space was a cornerstone for three seminars at the Cayman Islands Tourism Exchange, 2012.
Firstly, Stephen Broadbelt walked local businesses through the TripAdvisor Business site and spoke about how owners and managers could utilise the popular network to best present their business listings.
He spoke of the importance of responding to traveller reviews – good and bad – in a professional, civilised and humble way. If someone had reported a bad experience, addressing the issue was important. Staying silent or attacking the reviewer were not advised; rather, taking the time to apologise and to thank them for their feedback could act as a kind of positive advertisement for other people visiting the site.
The forums on TripAdvisor were a little different, said Mr. Broadbelt, who is a past president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. He said that it could be something of a bear pit and advised not to step in too clumsily because people they may tear you to pieces. However, monitoring of reputation and looking at what questions people were asking a couple of times a week were important.
And whilst some businesses did try and cheat the ranking system by putting up fake reviews, TripAdvisor had various systems and software to counter this.
Mr. Broadbelt then showed the mobile app that TripAdvisor has released, which gives location data dependent on where the customer physically is and which restaurants and amenities are close by.
Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association noted that the association has a direct contact with a TripAdvisor representative, which could prove useful for specific queries members had in the future.
Social media focus
On Tuesday, 1 May the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort hosted two comprehensive workshops regarding social media. A three hour morning session led by author and expert Patrick Schwerdtfeger and how to use it to attract new clients. It is all about content, he said, but often businesses were unfocused and therefore ineffective. Using Twitter, Facebook and especially YouTube were key. Videos, in particular, were a very powerful tool which could take on a life of their own, he said.
The afternoon was spent in the company of Murray Izenwasser, strategy practice lead and founder of Biztegra. That company is an organisation of marketers that works with businesses to help define effective online strategies, then develops web, mobile and social media tactics to achieve stated goals. The session showed what the major social platforms were, the best way to engage with them and how to integrate these into an effective contemporary marketing mix.
The 2012 tourism event attracted the most wholesalers and delegates since 2008 and following the seminars for local businesses, overseas participants went on site visits and gained updates regarding the industry and what Cayman currently has to offer.