The Story You Didn’t Know You Were Telling

 

 

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Did you know you’re already an ambassador for peace? If you use your travel blog to spread insight and understanding about the places you’re visiting, that’s exactly the role you’ve taken.  Every time you write a post, you are enlightening others about a new culture and way of life, with the power to break down stereotypes, build tolerance, and promote a more peaceful world. Your goal might be to review an adventure activity or a 5-star resort, but in between the lines, your readers are finding so much more.

To help you maximize this important role, here are 5 tips:

  1. Put your guidebook away.  After you’ve hit all the checklist tourist stops, it’s time to create your own adventure.  By allowing yourself to veer off the carefully curated tourist path, you’re seeing an uncensored slice of life.  It’s these experiences that provide a deeper understanding of how people live, work, and play.
  2. Have candid conversations with locals.  Now that you’re on your own path, connect with the people who are the heart and soul of the community.  Find opportunities for conversation by taking a yoga or cooking class, striking up conversation with someone at a pub or café, or simply by getting lost and asking for directions or recommendations on where to go.  These casual conversations build your understanding for what life is like from a local perspective, and seeing life through someone else’s eyes is the foundation for spreading tolerance.
  3. Acknowledge your stereotypes and be open to proving them wrong.  As you venture out into the community, you may have some preconceived ideas of what people are like. It’s natural to have generalizations like New Yorkers are always in a rush or San Diegans are always laidback.  These aren’t necessarily bad, but they don’t describe every person and they only tell part of the story.  By acknowledging your own bias, you become more objective in your observations and you’re helping your readers break past cultural divides.
  4. Talk about your experience while you’re still having it.  Traveling can be inspirational, jarring, thought provoking, and everything in between.  Sharing what you saw and what you’re feeling with someone else can help you process your experience and find your angle.  When you stay at an HI USA hostel, you’ll be surrounded by a community of travelers who want to share and learn from you.  You’ll also benefit from other travelers’ recommendations and perspectives.
  5. Celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace. Held each year on September 21, this important day is honored around the world as a day of peace and cease fire.  As an ambassador for peace, take pride in what your blog has the power to do by commemorating this important day.  For ideas on how to celebrate, or to get involved with other like-minded travelers, learn more about Sleep For Peace, an effort led by HI USA and celebrated by HI hostels around the world.

Millions of people are influenced by travel bloggers like you around the world.  As an ambassador for peace, we hope you embrace the important role you can play in creating a more tolerant world.

Note:  Hostelling International USA (HI USA) is a TBEX Sponsor

Author Bio:  Hostelling International USA (HI USA) is a nonprofit, member organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to foster a deeper understanding of people, places, and the world around.  It’s our commitment to promote a dynamic community of global citizens who have the wisdom and humanity to actively make the world a better place.  As the nation’s leading hostel brand, HI USA hosts more than 1 million overnights annually, with guests from more than 100 countries.  For over 80 years, HI USA has provided a network of affordable hostels in converted mansions, reinvented lighthouses, and historic urban buildings all across the country. Visit www.hiusa.org for more information.

 

Welcome These TBEX North America 2015 Speakers

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We are announcing a few more speakers for North America today, and I hope you find a speaker and a topic that catches your eye. This isn’t the end of speaker announcements, so keep an eye out for more coming up soon. Will we see you there?

Adriena Daunt

Adriena Daunt has 15 years of experience leading public relations strategies for tourism brands globally. In her current role with Tourism New Zealand in Los Angeles, she manages PR across six countries in the Americas.

Adriena will be speaking in the industry track about Film Tourism.

Amie O’Shaughnessy

Amie O’Shaughnessy is the Editor  of Ciao Bambino, a leading global travel planning resource for families with children of all ages. Amie founded Ciao Bambino over a decade ago with a mission to enable families with kids of all ages to fearlessly explore the world together. Ciao Bambino pairs an award-winning blog and hotel reviews powered by a team of Family Travel Experts with a boutique, in-house travel agency. Amie is on the Editors Council of SATW and a board member of the Family Travel Association.

Amie will be speaking in the Commerce track about ways to use travel planning as a revenue stream.

Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen  is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel website that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. By day Chris has worked for years in technology startups in Silicon Valley. Chris now owns and runs BloggerBridge.com which is a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts.

Chris will be leading a session on how to use the speed networking program, BloggerBridge and how to maximize its use to connect the industry and bloggers.

Chris Ducker

Chris Ducker is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author of the bestseller, “Virtual Freedom”. Originally from the UK, Chris has lived in the Philippines for 15 years where he hosts the annual Tropical Think Tank mastermind event and has founded several businesses, which combined house over 300 full-time employees. He is also a popular business blogger and podcaster at ChrisDucker.com and founder of Youpreneur.com, an exclusive entrepreneurial community.

Chris will be speaking in the Commerce track about building the business of you.

David Griner

David Griner is the digital managing editor of Adweek, and oversees the New York-based publication’s online news team and the popular Adweek Blog Network. Reaching millions of readers a month, Adweek.com has grown into one of the leading marketing, media and tech publications in the U.S. David formerly served as VP of Digital Content for marketing agency Luckie & Company, where he helped lead several tourism-related accounts, including Alabama Tourism and the Asheville (N.C.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.

David will be speaking in the Industry track.

Diana Laskaris

Diana Laskaris has loved eating, traveling and telling stories since she was a tiny tot, making fabulous cakes with her E-Z Bake Oven and carrying them all the way to Grandma’s house. Now Diana is a professional member of the James Beard Foundation, Les Toques Blanches Du Monde, and The World Gourmet Society. She is co-founder of Food Travelist, which connects food travelers around the world with great brands, destinations and experiences.

Diana will be speaking in the Community track about how to accelerate the building of your community.

Jen Leo

Jen Leo writes the nationally syndicated Web Buzz column for the Los Angeles Times, co-hosts the podcast “This Week in Travel” – available on iTunes – and is best known for editing the award-winning Sand in My Bra series published by Travelers’ Tales. Jen also co-founded the family travel-focused Twitter party KidsNTrips.com, as well as BestKidsApps.com, a popular website that reviews children’s iPhone and iPad apps.

Jen will be leading a session for first time TBEX attendees.

Kathy McCabe

Kathy McCabe is the host and executive producer of the new PBS travel series, Dream of Italy. The series is based on her award-winning, 12-year-old subscription travel newsletter of the same name. Kathy  was named one of top 12 Twitter Travel personalities in 2012. She previously worked in USA TODAY’s travel section and began her career in journalism at ABC News in New York, where she was part of the Emmy-Award winning investigative team.

Kathy will be speaking in the Content track about how to create a travel series for PBS.

Sue Reddel

Sue Reddel escaped corporate America after 25 years in global advertisng and created her own dream job as an agency consultant for global brands. She traveled more than 150,000 miles in 6 months and became an expert in smart travel in the process. Sue co-founded Food Travelist to share her knowledge with others and connect with those who love to explore culture through food during their travels, near and far. She has been an adjunct professor in the Integrated Marketing Communications program at Roosevelt University in Chicago since 2008.

Sue will be speaking in the Community track about how to accelerate the building of your community.

Still More Speakers for TBEX Asia 2015

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We’ve got another round up of speakers for TBEX Asia 2015 to share with you today. The program is shaping up, and we update the session page every day or so, so check regularly.

Please join in in welcoming the following speakers:

Alexandra Baackes

Alexandra Baackes is a travel writer and blogger with a passion for sharing colorful stories and energizing images. A New York native with a background in design, she’s spent the past four years living and traveling around the world, and sharing her globetrotting tales with a loyal audience of blog readers. Alex has returned to Thailand over and over again since 2009, making it a home away from home — and thus a meaningful location for her first speaking position at TBEX.

Alexandra will be speaking about brand/blogger relationships.

Andrew Chow

Andrew Chow is a passionate social media and public relations strategist, entrepreneur, speaker and author of Social Media 247 and Public Relations 247. Based in Singapore, his insights into social media strategy, public relations and entrepreneurship have made him a popular speaker across Asia, His mission is to educate professionals on how to leverage social channels for tangible results. Andrew’s career of 27 years has seen him work with an array of clients including BBC, Abbot Medical Optics, Singtel and Sony Pictures.

Andrew will be speaking in the Industry track on using social media for crisis management.

Katie Hammel

Katie Hammel is Viator’s Senior Travel Editor. She manages the Viator blog network and Viator’s blogger ambassador program.

Katie will be speaking about brand/blogger relationships.

Maggie Wu

Maggie Wu is the founder of Fly with Maggie, a conscious and successful effort at enriching the travel sensibilities of modern Chinese travellers. Through her work, Maggie covers a wide spectrum of thoughts that highlight the adventure aspect of travel and the exclusivity of luxurious and exotic getaways. Her goal is to bring like-minded people together and providing with great ways to enjoy culturally rich experiences. With eight years of marketing and PR experience, Maggie is now an entrepreneur creating her own travel brand/

Maggie will be on a panel about the challenges and opportunities about blogging in Asia.

Matt Ridings

Matt Ridings is the former CEO of SideraWorks, and is an entrepreneur, business strategist and speaker who has worked in digital on both the agency and enterprise side since 1994. He ran interactive for the marketing agency of record for such established brands as Levi’s, Cisco, and British Airways as well as the launch of ventures such as Jet Blue and RedSpark. His work over the last 10 years has focused primarily in developing innovation cultures, change management initiatives, and specialized market research.

Matt will be speaking in the Industry track on market research and data.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins has worked in the travel and media industry for 15 years, working as a travel journalist, editor and publisher, In 2006 he founded TravelMedia.ie, a travel specialist PR and representation company. TravelMedia.ie work with airlines, tourist boards, travel agents, hotels and other travel suppliers in Ireland, the UK and Europe. Michael sits on the International Advisory Committee for the French Tourist Board in Paris, advising them of global trends in media, PR and tourism.

Michael willbe speaking in the Industry track about how to integrate media experiences to maximize global trends.

Mitch Canter

Mitch Canter is a digital strategist, WordPress developer, and web designer. He currently works for UpTrending, a Silicon Valley based web design agency. Mitch is also an internationally renowned speaker, traveling across the world to teach people about WordPress and the technologies of the web. He is also a “sometimes-podcaster”, video and text blogger, technology enthusiast, wanna-be swashbuckler and “spoony bard”.

Mitch will be speaking in the Industry track about site usability.

Samantha Wei

Samantha Wei is the co-founder (along with Yeison Kim) of the travel blog My Tan Feet, originally started as a way to document her expat life in Costa Rica and her travels around the country. The blog transitioned into a way to help other travelers experience Costa Rica, as well as to help expats who are considering moving the the country. The blog is now her full time job, sustaining her living expenses and travel habits.

Samantha will be speaking about how to develop an affiliate program.

Yeison Kim

Yeison Kim has a degree in business administration and more than ten years of tourism experience in both the field and in the office. He has mixed his passion for travel, technology, and business in co-founding the travel blog, My Tan Feet (along with Samantha Wei). The blog has now become his full time job, alongside some additional work at internet marketing, web design and consultations.

Yeison will be speaking about how to develop an affiliate program.

We’re still wrapping up a few remaining speaker spots and details and should have the final speaker announcement for you next week. We’re very excited about how the program is shaping up and hoping you’ll find sessions that can help you improve your craft, grow your business, create community, and meet your business goals. See you there!

 

Pre-Bex Activities for TBEX Asia in Thailand

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To help all of our TBEX Asia 2015 attendees Discover Thainess, our hosts have put together pre-bex activities around key themes of  Thai Fun, Thai Festivity, Thai Food, Thai Way of Life, Thai Wellness, Thai Arts, and Thai Wisdom. With multiple options within each of these themes, we know you’ll find your own personal way to discover your own special Thainess.

These activities will be offered on October 14-15th, you’ll be finished in time to attend the opening night party on the 15th), and there is also a selection on October 18th. (Please note that Blogger FAM trips will be on October 19-21; information coming soon.)

Please read and understand the following terms and conditions before signing up for one of these activities.

  • Only registered conference attendees can sign up for tours. Pre-bex activities are open to both blogger and industry attendees and are offered on a first come, first serve basis. No guests, companions, or plus-ones are permitted.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older to participate in these activities.
  • You must sign up with the same email address used as when you registered for TBEX Asia 2015. If you haven’t done so yet, head over to register now so you won’t miss out on your top choice activity. If you are not registered for TBEX Asia 2015, your sign up will be cancelled.
  • You must sign up individually for your selected activity; you cannot sign up on behalf of another person.
  • You may only sign up for one activity per person. If you sign up for more than one, both sign ups will be cancelled and space will be released. Choose carefully. The activities will be opened up for additional signups closer to the event date.
  • If you make an error in your selection, you should log into your Eventbrite account and cancel the erroneous selection. You can then sign up for your preferred selection.
  • Our hosts have additional tours and activities that will be added next week. We didn’t want to hold off of announcing what we have any longer as we know that many of you are waiting for these details to finalize your travel plans. Please check back frequently as we’ll update these activities as more become available.

SIGN UP FOR THESE ACTIVITIES WILL OPEN AT 10 AM PACIFIC TIME ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 23rd

A very BIG THANK YOU to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and their partners for putting together this great group of activities.

Ready? Go take a look at the TBEX 2015 Asia pre-bex activity and post-bex activity pages. Then get ready for sign up to open. Remember – only ONE activity (in total) per person at this time.

NOTE:  Information about multi-day blogger trips will be announced separately.

Applications for TBEX North America 2015 Blogger FAM Trips Now Open

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UPDATE:  The deadline for application for these Blogger FAM trips has been extended to September 8th, 5 pm Pacific Time.

 

The application for the Blogger FAM trips are now open. The dates for the trips are October 25-28th, and you will return in time to participate in the opening night party on the evening of October 28th.

The trips are planned around three themes:  Food Journey, Thrill Seeker, and Luxury Lauderdale. You will find general information about these trips on our Blogger FAM Trip page.  Additional information will be provided to all invited participants.

These trips are by invitation only following an application process.

Do not apply for a Blogger FAM trip until you have read and understood the following information:

  • You must be a blogger or other content creator to participate. No industry representatives are allowed on these trips. No spouses, partners, or friends may accompany the blogger on these trips (unless they have applied and been invited).
  • You must be registered to attend TBEX to apply for these trips.
  • All participants in the Blogger FAM trips must be 18 years of age or older. No children of any age are permitted on these trips. There is no family themed trip available.
  • If you blog as a couple or group, each person must apply separately for the trips. Please understand that space on these trips are limited and there is no guarantee that you can be accommodated on the same trip. There is no group or couple application form.
  • You may select a first and second choice of trips.

The deadline to apply for these trips is September 4th, 5 pm Pacific Time.

At that time, the application process will be closed, organized, and submitted to our hosts in Fort Lauderdale. They will go through their selection process and advise us bloggers selected to participate. We will extend invitations to bloggers just as soon as we get this list. We understand that you need to make travel plans and arrangements, and everyone involved in the process is committed to expediting the process to the extent possible.

Go apply for the Blogger FAM trips here.

Kei Shibata to Keynote at TBEX Asia 2015

kei_shibata_photoWe are excited to announce that Kei Shibata will keynote at TBEX Asia 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Talking about TBEX gives us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of interesting people, and after talking with Kei we knew that his knowledge of technology and travel, along with his infectious way of sharing it , was something that we wanted to share with you.

Kei co-founded and runs Venture Republic Inc., the company that owns Japan’s largest online travel search engine and online travel guide media “Travel.jp”. As CEO, he took the company public in 2008 (2177. JASDAQ) after 7 years of operations.

A seasoned executive with extensive knowledge of online media, online travel and e-commerce, Kei is responsible for driving the company by shaping its strategy, making commercialization efforts and building organization.

While running the company, he serves as an active investor and board member of various tech startups including Flocations (Singapore), Telunjuk (Indonesia) and Allstay (South Korea). Previously, Kei worked at Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan’s leading trading & investment firm.

He received a BA of Laws from Keio University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He also serves as co-founder of WIT (Web in Travel) Japan, President of Venture Mitakai at Keio University, and Executive Committee Member of Harvard Business School Club of Japan.

Please join us at TBEX Asia 2015 to hear Kei talk about the intersection of travel and technology, his predictions for future growth, and what that means to travel bloggers.

See you there!

Situation Update of the Explosion Incident in Bangkok

Shortly before 7 pm on Monday, an explosion occurred in central Bangkok. Our immediate concern was with our friends and partners in Bangkok, along with their colleagues and families. We were also concerned about the safety of the many TBEX community members who are living in Bangkok. Preliminary inquiries lead us to believe that our friends and community members are all safe and accounted for.

While much in still unknown about the situation, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has provided us with a statement about the situation.

Bangkok, 10: 00 hrs. (GMT+7)

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to convey the deepest sympathy and condolences to all the victims of the blast and their families at this traumatic time. The thoughts and prayers of the Thai people are with you.

Thai authorities have stepped up security at key locations in Bangkok following the explosion that took place on Monday (17 August 2015 around 19.00 hrs.) at the city’s Ratchaprasong Intersection. The explosion is currently under police investigation. The spokesman of the Royal Thai Police stated that there have been a total of 22 casualties and 123 injuries as of 18 August 2015 at 07.00 hrs. The concerned authorities are contacting the families of victims of the blast and helping the injured to get medical treatment in local hospitals. The Thai tourism industry has mobilised the support of its members to assist and facilitate tourists affected by the incident, such as providing interpreters and helping with immediate travel arrangements.

The Royal Thai Police have requested that locals and tourists exercise caution when out and about in Bangkok. The Police have also increased their presence and put extra security in place at all of Bangkok’s key tourist areas in response to the incident. Citywide patrols are in place to ensure the safety of locals and visitors to the Thai capital.

Meanwhile, overall life in the city is continuing as normal. All public services and banks are available to the public. As for tourist businesses, other tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and shopping malls remain open, while transportation links, major roads and airports continue to operate. This includes Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain and MRT services and both Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi International Airports receive domestic and international flights.

In addition, events that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is supporting remain as scheduled, such as the “Way of Silk, the Way of Thai: A Tribute to Her Majesty the Queen” silk exhibition in Bangkok during, TBEX Asia 2015 during 15-17 October and the nationwide Loi Krathong festivities in November, as well as all other domestic and overseas marketing activities.

TAT is monitoring and assessing the situation in Bangkok and will be providing regular updates.

Fort Lauderdale Hotels Announced for TBEX North America 2015

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We’ve got hotel information for community members who will be joining us in Fort Lauderale for TBEX North America 2015.

Our headquarters hotel will be the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, and we’ll have special rates available for those who want to stay there. This is the closest hotel to the Convention Center and is within walking distance (about 500 steps). We will have that information updated to the hotel list ASAP.

We have a diverse list of other hotels that have offered special TBEX pricing and amenities ranging from $109 to $159 per night. All official TBEX North America 2015 hotels offer free wifi. Some offer kitchens in the room, complimentary airport transportation, and/or complimentary breakfast.

The map above is for general reference only. Most of hotels are within walking distance to the Convention Center, some as close as three blocks, others a bit farther at about half a mile (or so) away. Since definitions of “walking distance” may vary, we suggest that you use your preferred mapping program to see how close your hotel is to the Convention Center using the “walking” route. We have mapped out the official hotels here.

There is no public transportation to the Convention Center.

NOTE:  Our hosts have provided the list of negotiated deals for your consideration, but please note that you are not required to stay at one of the official TBEX hotels.

8 Key Elements For an Effective Hashtag

When it comes down to storytelling, travel brands have a clear edge over organizations in other industries: we sell experiences, memories. And whether people travel for business or leisure, they tend to share these moments on social media, in real-time, via their always-on mobile devices.

One of the big trends that has been shaping how travel stories get told is through repurposing of this content, whether it was originally shared on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Destinations, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, attractions… every stakeholder in the hospitality realm can tap into the potential stemming from photos and videos shared online.

But how do you find the good stuff? How can you even know if people are talking about you on their blog or via their social accounts? One word comes in handy: hashtag!

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8 Key Elements

There are obviously many elements to consider when implementing an effective online campaign, across platforms such as your own website, blogs, newsletters, social media and even offline. But having a compelling hashtag is a key component that should not be under-estimated.So here are eight important elements to consider when you are about to choose a hashtag or launch a campaign centered around one.

Easy to remember

While this may be rule #1, it is often forgotten. Or perhaps I should clarify: a hashtag should be easy to remember for users, not for the marketing person that came up with it. A good example? Discover Los Angeles launched its campaign highlighting the fact there is something to do every day of the year, it came up with #LA365.

A word of caution when using acronyms: they may be easy to remember, but they can also mean different things to different people. For example #TIFF which could stand for Toronto International Film Festival… or just a short for Tiffany…

Intuitive & Significant

To segue from the previous point, a hashtag should be intuitive… for users, first and foremost. When the village resort of Mont-Tremblant, in Canada, wanted to focus on a strong hashtag across its various social networks, it realized users were already using #Tremblant. Thus, it went ahead with this hashtag.

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You will also want to make sure the hashtag is significant, meaning it resonates to its target audience. Such is the case, for example, with #DallasBIG, reinforcing the notion and campaign message that everything is big in Dallas (or Texas, for that matter!).

Multilingual

Not always an easy task to cater to different languages, but as a born and raised Montrealer in the French-speaking province of Quebec, I know how important it is for brands to appeal to as many travelers in their native language as possible. That was the thinking behind #QuebecOriginal to promote the destination, with a hashtag that works as well in French or in English (or even in Spanish).

Brand-related… or not!

Here’s another trap we marketers tend to fall into: we always want to make it about us, with reference to our brand. Me, me, me, me! Of course, having a hashtag relating to the brand name should help enhance its awareness, but must we include the whole DMO or hotel name, for example? Not necessarily.

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Many destinations will infer their name subtly, like #AlwaysSF (in San Francisco) or #MTLmoments (in Montreal), but Marriott Hotels launched a successful campaign around the #TravelBrilliantly hashtag, and continues to spread it across its various social accounts.

Think offline

Even if you came up with the best, most intuitive and easy to remember hashtag, not everybody thinks the same way online or offline, in particular across different cultures and languages. It is therefore important to help travelers discover and use your hashtag, rather than leaving them on their own.

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This can mean including your campaign hashtag on destination brochures, at the reception desk, in the elevator or on table tents, on interactive walls during festivals and events or even at photographic hot spots across town. This is what Tourisme Montréal has been doing since 2013 with its #MTLmoments initiative, placing red frames across the city in popular spots, now boasting more than 200,000 media tagged on Instagram alone!

Research

Before launching a campaign and placing all your bets on what seems like a winning hashtag, please do some research to see if your stroke of genius did not occur already in the past. Perhaps many times, and by many users… and sometimes in a context that could be harmful to your brand!

How do you know if a hashtag is already being used? Simply try it in the search box in Twitter or on Instagram and see what comes up? There are more sophisticated tools that can allow you to go back in time to see mentions around a keyword, but a simple search usually will do the trick.

Short & Simple

This is a rule of thumb that remains valid across pretty much all social networks, but even more so when it comes to hashtags. Less is more, folks. Some scientific (ahem!) research published on AdWeek in 2014 said the ideal length of hashtag was 6 characters, but in my experience anywhere between 6 and 15 characters is a valid range. More than that, well, is just not user-friendly in particular on Twitter where we have that 140 characters limit, not to mention if you want to be retweeted.

Consistency

Last but not least, it can be tempting to come up with subtle variations according to seasons, or perhaps niche products or audiences, yet it usually pays to stick with a strong, consistent hashtag. Just like a brand should stick to a strong tagline or signature, travels brands ought to find the right hashtag and run with it consistently through time.

This doesn’t mean a destination won’t want to run individual campaigns with #restaurantweek or #operafestival for example, but ideally this will take place concurrently with the destination, hotel or attraction core hashtag as well.

What are some of your best (or worst) experiences with hashtags in the travel sphere?

TBEX NOTE:  Come see Frederic speak at TBEX North America 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale. His session title is:  Why Travel Brands Must Embrace Visual Storytelling.

Author bio:  Frederic Gonzalo is passionate about marketing and communications, with over 19 years of experience in the travel and tourism sphere. Early 2012, he launched Gonzo Marketing and works as a strategic marketing consultant, professional speaker and trainer in the use of new technologies (web, social media, mobile). He writes a regular column on etourism for TourismExpress and PAX News magazine, and collaborates to influential sites such as Social Media Today, Business2Community, Skift, Tnooz and ehotelier. He was ranked most influential blogger for etourism and travel in the province of Quebec (Canada) and among most influential bloggers for marketing & social media in Canada in both 2013 and 2014.

From 2008 to end of 2011, Frederic was Vice-President, Marketing at Groupe Le Massif. He spearheaded Marketing, Sales & Communications for Le Massif de Charlevoix development project, crafting the strategic planning to turn the ski hill of Le Massif into a year-round destination including on-hill accommodations, introducing a touring train between Quebec City and La Malbaie, and the opening of the hotel La Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul (summer 2012).

Between 2005 and 2008, Frederic worked in the loyalty and relationship marketing fields, first at VIA Rail Canada where he was at the forefront of the VIA Preference Program for frequent train travelers. Then, with Fido Rewards, where he worked on the relaunch of this unique loyalty program in the Canadian telecom industry landscape.

From 1995 to 2005, Frederic worked at various levels of the hospitality and travel sector, including front line in various Club Med resorts (1995-1998), managing PR & Entertainment at the winter resort of Valle Nevado, Chile (1996-97), sales agent at inbound tour operator Receptour Canada (1999), Sales representative for international markets at Tremblant (1999-2000) and finally managing international market development for VIA Rail Canada (2000-2005).

Another TBEX North America 2015 Speaker Announcement

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We’re please to announce another group of speakers for TBEX North America in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Auston Matta

Auston is a blogger and freelance writer and has contributed to Edge Travel, Man About World, Gaycation Magazine, and more. He grew up in Phoenix, later moved to Chicago and in 2012 sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband. When he’s not traveling or writing about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid.

Auston will be speaking in the industry track about marketing to the LGBT community.

Chris Gray Faust

Chris Gray Faust is Senior Editor at Cruise Critic, where she oversees all of the website’s destination and port content, as well as news coverage and blog. Creator and publisher of Chris Around The World, Chris has won a Lowell Thomas Travel Writing award for blogging and has worked as a staff writer at the (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA TODAY, where she served as travel editor. She has a journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master’s degree from Brown University.

Chris will be leading a session on how to write a review.

Dave Bouskill & Deb Corbeil

Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil founded ThePlanetD after cycling the continent of Africa. Now well-known travel personalities both online and in mainstream media, they make regular TV and radio appearances as travel experts. ThePlanetD won Gold Medal for Best Travel blog at the Society of American Travel writers, and has been featured in major international media outlets such as The Today Show, BBC Travel, Canada AM, National Geographic and more. Dave won SATW’s best Photo Illustration of Travel, and has been named one of the top travel instagrammers by publications such as USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Forbes, and more. Dave and Deb have worked closely with destinations on major campaigns, and have worked with dozens of brands and tourism boards on individual travel projects.

Dave and Deb will be speaking in the industry track on strategic blogger-brand campaigns.

Jessica Woodbury

Jessica Woodbury has been blogging since 2001 and had a previous career as a lawyer before she pivoted to digital marketing. Jessica was on the SEO team at Wayfair.com where she started the innovative Homemaker blogger program. She is now at Commision Junction helping bloggers monetize and build their businesses through affiliate marketing. She still blogs regularly and is a contributor for several sites including the Huffington Post.

Jessica will be speaking on affiliate marketing.

Katie Hammel

Katie Hammel is Viator’s Senior Travel Editor. She manages the Viator blog network and Viator’s blogger ambassador program.

Katie will be speaking on how to be the blogger that all brands want to work with.

Marko & Alex Ayling

Marko and Alex Ayling, vagabonds and brothers, are known online as the Vaga-brothers. They’re travel videographers, photographers and writers – globally-engaged storytellers on a mission to explore the planet by connecting with other young people and inspiring viewers to do the same. They produce a weekly online travel show aimed at young travelers who are interested in discovering the world through its cultures.

Marko and Alex will be speaking about building a YouTube channel and community.

Rachelle Lucas

A foodie with a zest for life and passion for travel, Rachelle Lucas has been blogging since 2007 when she started documenting her life as an innkeeper. As her wanderlust grew, she sold the inn to pursue travel writing full-time and has since been to over 40 countries in pursuit of the tastiest meal. She’s been recognized in PEOPLE Magazine, USA Today, and Trip Advisor.  as one of the Top 25 Culinary Travel Blogs to follow.

Rachelle will be talking about how to use your community presence to become a paid Twitter influencer.

Syed Balkhi

Syed is the founder of WPBeginner (the largest free WordPress resource site) and List25, a fairly large entertainment site with over 1.4 Million subscribers and 245 Million video views. Syed’s work has been featured in Inc, Fox Business, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Washington Post, and countless other well-reputed online magazines.

Syed will be speaking about content strategy.

Sharon Gourlay

Sharon Gourlay is a travel blogger, internet marketer and passionate about working online and being location independent. She is a permanent nomad and shares her travels with her young family with the world, as well as how she makes an online income.

Sharon will be speaking about SEO.

Look for additional speaker and program announcements about TBEX at Sea, TBEX Asia, and TBEX North America, all coming up this week.