Tourism and Social Media – Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island - Lighthouse

Recently, I was lucky enough to travel around Prince Edward Island (PEI) and was extremely impressed by how the various tourism groups, attractions and cities made such great use of social media, especially Twitter. As a traveler and social media consultant, what they were doing impressed me on many levels.

Most of the social media teams I virtually came across realized the importance of using social media as marketing tool, from the initial info-gathering months before my departure, to the post-trip compliments from various people, tourism boards and attractions.

In June, when I made the decision to go to PEI for the first time, I tweeted at Tourism PEI and within a span of 10 days, I was introduced to events on the Island, various tourist outfits and other groups that I could communicate with – all that from one tweet asking their tourism board for some suggestions.

Initial Tweet to @GentleIsland

When I reached out again a month out from my trip, I posted the following tweet and that opened the floodgates to many conversations for the coming weeks.

 Month away tweet

By way of tagging various others in tweets, I was introduced to @PEIPotatoes, @PEIFlavours, @OutdoorEx, @IslandFroYo, @Joeysfishing, locals with suggestions of their favourite places and further conversations with @GentleIsland.  Through those conversations, I was able to narrow down my choices, plan activities better and get some feedback and suggestions from others.

Before Twitter, the planning process would have taken longer and I would not have been able to access people outside of my immediate circle by word-of-mouth.  Now by using social media for something like tourism, where word-of-mouth is so important, you are able to widen your circle of experts to the networks of people who might only follow one similar profile, like that of @GentleIsland.

When I was just days away from my visit, I decided that Twitter was a good way to check in with places I wanted to visit to see if they would be open and could make other recommendations.  This led to a great Twitter conversation and relationship with @PEIBrew, that would continue throughout my travels on the Island.

 @PEIBrew and @CharlottetownPE

Once I was on the Island and enjoying the suggestions of @PEIBrew, the tweets and tags inspired @CharlottetownPE to join the conversation, which continued right until I was back in Toronto.

 @GahanBeer and @PEIBrew and Pumpkin Ale

It was these conversations during my trip around PEI that really made me feel like I was welcome and part of the Island family, even if just for a moment.  This may sound crazy but as someone travelling alone, I felt that I was travelling with others,  because @GentleIsland, @CharlottetownPE, @PEIBrew and @GahanBeer were interested in what I had to say and what I was doing.

It’s amazing what a difference it can make in your travels, knowing that someone is interested and cares about you having the best time that you can.  Not just a love-them-and-leave-them, out of sight and out of mind.  These social media teams really tried to make you feel at home, even if that’s not what their main goal was.

 Thanks PEI Tweet

Twitter is one of the best tools for customer service, when used the right way.  Much positive power can come from using Twitter, especially for small businesses.  But so much negative can also come from not using it properly or ignoring those that are trying to reach you through it. I will say that I did develop negative feelings towards the companies, many larger ones, that ignored my tweets when I tried to reach out to them.

PEI seemed to recognize the importance of social media, especially Twitter, to engage with potential customers and visitors in real time.  And by doing so and tagging others in the tweets, that opens the door to small and large business es working together towards the same goal: Putting PEI on everyone’s radar as a great place to visit.

This experience with social media (Twitter) and PEI tourism has really opened my eyes to what potential there is when I visit other cities and countries.   Do others do it just as well or maybe better?  Would love to see others try.


Hashtags truly do bring people together

TweetHashtagWe know that the Hashtag (#) is used to bring people interested in, or searching for, a similar topic together online.  Maybe you are looking for info/conversation on #audi or maybe #mcdonalds or just the #followfriday or #FF.  This helps us as we search for similar areas of interest.

But, recently that little hashtag connecting me with a friend that I hadn’t seen in ages.  I was at the Canada 3.0 conference here in Toronto.  I decided to tweet about how much I enjoyed the social media presentation by Jason Townsend from NASA. In that tweet I included the event hashtag #cda30, which is normal practice at conferences/events these days.  And it was just because of that simple little hashtag that my friend, who unbeknownst to me, was at the same conference and following the hashtag of the event, connected with me.

Within minutes, I had a tweet from her informing me that she was also at the conference and that we should connect for lunch.  And that was it, a date for lunch that day was made.  A few more confirmation tweets back and forth and an hour later we were sitting down to lunch and catching up.  I know that this revelation isn’t new and it’s far from a unique situation, but I found it very interesting.

Did you know that the hashtag was only created on August 23, 2007, by Chris Messina.  Many people were not even on Twitter yet at that point, nor heard of this ‘Hashtag’.  Now this little number sign or hashtag can bring people together online and in person.

I think about the process that would have had to take place years ago to have made that lunch between two friends at the same conference happen.  It might have just happened because of a chance meeting of paths crossing.  But most likely, not at all.

Remember, it’s that simple act of tagging and hashtagging that can be life changing just through the connections that you can make.  Remember to do it, but do it well.

Thank you Chris Messina and your hashtag!