New community education program for travel destinations

Three companies have partnered to work on a project to improve the use of technology and social content for travel companies worldwide.

Travel site, TripAdvisor, in partnership with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and E-Tourism Frontiers announced the launch of a new initiative to improve the way destinations use digital tools and content created by travelers. Known as DATA (Destination Academy with TripAdvisor), these regional events will bring together invited destinations to discuss the growing importance of digital platforms, tools and user-generated content in travel planning. With more and more consumers relying on content from ‘fellow travelers’ to plan their trips, it is vital for destinations to understand how this can be incorporated into their marketing strategies. DATA events will include training sessions, guided discussions, best digital practices, as well as analysis and trends from TripAdvisor.

The inaugural DATA event will be held in Singapore on November 27 and 28, 2014, and TripAdvisor will be partnering with PATA to host 20 regional Destination Managers.

Sarah Mathews, Destination Marketing Senior Manager, APAC, TripAdvisor, said, “We are delighted to partner with PATA to launch DATA, a highly innovative and dynamic programme specially designed for destinations. As the world’s largest travel site with nearly 315 million unique monthly visitors, we see that engagement with destinations is key, so that they can leverage the positive power of travelers’ reviews, opinions, and content in their marketing strategies. Travelers today want to hear from other travelers and see genuine, experience-driven content, and we can help destinations achieve this.”

Damian Cook, the CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers, said, “While many regard online as impersonal, the human face of travel is really becoming more important online. We’ll be looking at the evolution of destination management in a user controlled market. The value of local, real time content is now hugely important and sites such as TripAdvisor are seeing this change and ensuring that travel content has a genuine human presence. We want to show destinations how to connect and leverage user-generated content but also to build more adaptive destination strategies for the future.”

PATA CEO Mario Hardy said he was delighted that Singapore would host the first DATA event: “We know that travel to Asia has increased significantly in the last few years. According to PATAmPOWER, the Association’s next generation business decision-making tool, international visitor arrivals (IVAs) to Asia grew at an annual growth rate of around 6.9% between 2009 and 2013, with Southeast Asia and South Asia leading the pack with double-digit growth. Therefore, we want to equip destinations in the region with the most up-to-date knowledge, trends and research so they can incorporate the best use of social media into not only their marketing campaigns but in how they connect with travelers on a daily basis.”

The events will also offer destinations the opportunity to hold DATA events in their home countries to educate and empower their travel trade.