Welcome to our series of interviews with local (and sometimes national) leaders in the social media and technology industry that will be featured on Social Mediarology. Today’s interview is with Troy Thompson of Travel 2.0, a Denver-based blog and digital consulting company focused on the travel and tourism industryTravel2dot0.com @Travel2dot0
Troy Thompson – Travel 2.0
Troy has been involved in interactive marketing for the past 13 years. After starting his career at NASCAR in Florida, he was integral in launching their interactive department in the late ’90s. After nearly a decade with NASCAR, Troy moved to Arizona to become the Advertising Manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism. During his time at AOT, Troy headed up the social media division and recently moved to Denver to manage Visit Denver‘s interactive marketing department, including social media, mobile, SEO and more. Earlier this year he decided to break out on his own and dive into tourism technology consulting.
The Travel 2.0 blog started while Troy worked for Arizona Tourism as regular email updates about interactive marketing to the AOT staff and quickly evolved into a blog that could reach people far beyond the Arizona Office of Tourism. Now, thousands of people throughout the world read the Travel 2.0 blog each week and Troy is considered a thought leader in the interactive travel and tourism community.
The consulting arm of Travel 2.0 launched in June, 2010 and focuses on social media strategy/social media audits, mobile strategy including iPhone applications, statistical analysis, training and tourism marketing plan development.
What are some current and upcoming trends in the travel industry as it relates to technology?
The two trends we’re in right now that are still progressing are mobile and location based services (LBS). They certainly go hand in hand, but mobile feels a lot like it did in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when everyone realized the web wasn’t going away so they started to shift more budget and create functional websites. I see this a lot within the mobile space. It’s following a very similar pattern where people are saying “I think this mobile thing is going to stick around, I think the iPhone is going to be a solid platform to build on” and they’re shifting some dollars over to address that need. The challenge is that you don’t want to fall into the same trap we all did when we built our first websites – looking for the cheaper option, just doing the basics and not thinking long term. I think a lot of us built a website in 10 years ago and have had to rebuild the site every couple of years, and I think we’re now getting to the point where people are thinking more long term and more strategically about what the site is and what it needs to be. I’m hopeful that we’ll start to take that same approach with mobile – thinking long term rather than short term. While I think there will be a lot of transition within the mobile space in the next decade or so, building a good base at the beginning will help set you up for success in the long run.
As far as location-based services go, Foursquare seems to be the media darling of LBS.
If 2009 was Twitter’s year, it’s fair to say that 2010 is shaping up to be the year of Foursquare. I think with the recent launch of Facebook Places, LBS’s will just become more important, particularly for the travel industry.
The fact that you’ll be able to have geographic information about your visitor while they’re in your area becomes very powerful. Right now, while the tools aren’t there to completely take advantage of that, those tools will surely come about soon. Taking advantage of a one-on-one communication with someone visiting your local Art Museum will be just as easy as setting up an email campaign or a Google Adwords campaign.
The final trend I’m seeing is tracking. It’s been the big demand of everyone, not just within the travel industry, but everyone who’s been involved in the mobile or social media field. How do we track all of these these things and connect the dots between websites, SEO, mobile marketing, social media marketing, and how do we get the accurate tracking to be able to quantify the ROI that we’re putting into these new spaces. I feel like that’s coming along. It depends on how much information the consumer wants to give out about themselves, but I think that’s an area where we’ll see some more big strides over the next two or three years.