Photo by shayd johnson on Unsplash

One of the best parts of this job is meeting and learning about new businesses; the fact that we get to positively impact their success through digital strategy is the payoff. To make things even better, sometimes we get to travel to interesting new places and work directly with those businesspeople for intensive workshops where we pack weeks of strategy, training, and planning into just a couple of days.

That was that case this week, as two of us (Flynn and I) hit the road to work with 50+ businesses in the the travel and tourism industry over a 48-hour period. He headed to the Fraser Valley, while I posted up just outside of Victoria, and we huddled together with some of the best hospitality, tour provider, and cultural businesses in the region. They were there for the opportunity to focus on their digital strategies and learn from our curriculum, but what they likely didn’t realize was that they’d end up learning as much from each other as they did from the workbooks.

Meanwhile, we’re up at the front soaking it all in. There’s something so inspiring about watching managers and executives who typically work in isolation — depending on their own search engine skills to solve their problems — opening up their wealth of knowledge to each other, creating solutions and opportunities to collaborate.

Flynn and I learned from our attendees about guest behaviour, online booking challenges, and even some success stories from the social media front lines. Rather than horde all of that good stuff, we’re sharing it here in hopes that we can continue to spark conversation and ideas, even outside of travel and tourism.

Lessons from the Road

First, we’ve got the one that everyone wants to talk about: Instagram. Whether you’ve got 100 or 100k+ followers I can promise you this: You’re pretty sure that you could be doing it better. Here are a few common IG themes that we heard:

There was a lot of curiosity about the new email and data rules that we’re operating with brought on by GDPR and CASL. It seems that there is a lot of awareness that the rules have changed, but exactly what those rules are is unclear. The result is that a lot of brands are standing on the sidelines, choosing to do nothing with their lists rather than make a mistake.

Fortunately there are some clear, straightforward resources out there to help – we shared them with our groups, and we’ll share them here as well:

Content marketing was a key point of discussion. It’s been such a buzzword for so long that there’s a misconception that we’re somehow supposed to just create blog posts, videos, and photo galleries and push them out into the internet, praying that they somehow return with business results for us. Fortunately, we had some very smart content marketers in the rooms with us who shared the following lessons that they learned:

There’s a mountain of insights and advice that I could share here, but I’ll limit to one more: Using social listening and alerts to clear up misinformation.

A few instances had come up where blogs had misreported information, or even news reporters had posted simple facts about a business incorrectly (hours of operation, links, policies, etc.). Those posts had created major problems for the front line staff who had to let people know that they’d been misinformed, or worse, people showed up when the doors were closed.

To combat misinformation online, we heard that businesses are setting up multiple sources of alerts that would let them know every time their brand was mentioned online, and they were making that a priority. Here’s a few methods:

This is the stuff that I love seeing – when businesspeople feel confident enough to share their experiences with each other, and find that in nearly every room there’s someone who’s experienced the same struggle that they’re going through and can help them to find a solution.

As we closed our session, I called that out to my group, and I’ll call it out here as well: There’s no reason why that active collaboration and support needs to end when we walk out the door. Who are the businesses and businesspeople in your industry that are working on the same challenges, and how can you all support each other?

You can start that conversation on your own, and if you’d like to explore what it would look like for us to lead you in a workshop where you train, develop, and facilitate constructive conversations either within your team, or in collaboration with other organizations in your industry, we’d love to hear from you: