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2012 The Year of ...

24 December 2011
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Lawrence Smith suggests tourism operators consider an adaptive approach to marketing in 2012. One which allows for change and assimilation of new technologies and trends. Here, he outlines some of the trends.

Even with the holidays now somewhat of a distant memory, it’s not too late to sit back and ponder on what 2012 will bring. I’m not thinking the Mayan calendar and the end of the world, but rather what will happen in the online world, and how will this affect our tourism businesses? Here are a few thoughts on what will definitely happen, and what could.

First up on the definite list. The iPad 3, rumored for release in March. Without question, it will be faster and have a better display, and will no doubt be adopted by millions as with each previous release.

Also without question, millions more people will view sites on tablets. They will have different expectations, certainly around video and images. You’ll need a content strategy that differentiates between computers, tablets and mobile phones.

What else? Facebook will hit one billion users. That’s a lot of people! Are you on Facebook yet? Are you building your fan base, targeting new followers by interest, and checking your stats on Facebook Insights?

More importantly, do you have a plan on what you will do, and why? Without question, if you don’t have an active social media strategy, someone else is engaging with customers and generating business where you could be.

So, will Twitter die? Nope, by all accounts Twitter is doing well and many people are suggesting it’s becoming “mainstream”. Ahh, how I love Twitter - you should join me!

OK, so Google+ will die then? Sorry, no. It’s too big and important for Google. They will continue to grow and add services at a very rapid rate, in an all-out effort to claw back some of Facebook’s traffic.

The nature of search is changing, and Google wants feet in every camp. Sure, it may not yet be boom times yet on G+, but they will keep trying, hard. You can’t ignore Google.

Online advertising? Well, think about the stratospheric rise of Facebook, and apply a similar idea to advertising online. Whether it’s Google Adwords or Facebook, some would suggest it’s now the most important channel.
But remember, it’s a very fluid medium and you have to test and change constantly. It’s no longer a case of print the ad and review it in a month; you should be aiming for a review every three days.

iPhone 5? Let’s hope so. Yes, almost certainly the iPhone 5 will be released this year, and this will continue the inexorable growth in the importance of mobile.

Don’t have a smartphone (or an iPad) yet? Well, it’s time to go out and get one: iPhone or Android it doesn’t matter. What does matter is you need to understand why smartphones are changing your world, and how mobile has fundamentally changed travel.

Transparency. OK, this isn’t really a technology, more of a trend. With the proliferation of social media and mobile, there’s no longer anywhere to hide, and “the truth” is even more important. As an organization you need to be open, honest, empathetic, and “human”. Corporate is out.

And then there’s augmented reality, QR codes, Pinterest and goodness knows what else.

Which will be important; that’s hard to say at this early stage.

So for 2012, consider an adaptive approach to marketing, one which allows for change and assimilation of new technologies and trends.

There’s no question that you’ll need to evolve and innovate at greater speed; by combining flexible processes, with modern infrastructure and quality partnerships. Waiting until it’s too painful not to change is simply not an option.

So what will 2012 bring? Change. More mobile, more social media, and more online advertising; plus more opportunities we’ve yet to hear of. The old adage is that the definition of insanity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results. In 2012 plan on change; it really is time.

Lawrence Smith is the chief cabbage at Cabbage Tree Creative. www.cabbagetree.co.nz

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