Aside from the alarm clock going off at 5:30am, this event hosted by the Belize Tourism board was right up my alley. A full line up of marketers, photography, social media and tech expert – people who make a living figuring out what travelers want – all in one room. I boarded the 6:30am, SURPRISINGLY PACKED, San Pedro Belize Express water taxi to make my way to the city.
Who knew that the sun rises at around 5:30? Good grief!
The boat was express to Belize City and took just over an hour…fastest I’ve ever seen. I de-boarded and took pictures of the lobster boats. I honestly just can’t help myself. They are beautiful but just imagining 5 or 7 men headed out for 4-5 days on just this…it’s incredible. With all the little dug out canoes (or dories), there is little room for much else.
I made my way over to the Biltmore – a few miles and $15bzd by taxi. As always, if I like the taxi man, I take his name and number. You never know when you are going to be in a rush for the boat, in need of a ride! He promised he’d be back at my beckoning.
I was a bit early but there was a good crowd at the marketing summit. We were given some folders, marketing materials and a few extras…and the meeting got started with a whirl wind of presenters.
I am certainly not going to go through it all here – I’m not sure I could if I wanted to. But here is what grabbed me.
- Technology is growing exponentially. No, you do not need to be on the cutting edge, but you should be moving forward. If you are not, you are slipping back.
- Millennials (you are allowed to groan if you are sick of hearing that word) – the people that reached adulthood around 2000 – can not be ignored. Sure they might have the stigma of being self centered and glued to their technology, but they are also a HUGE group with disposable income LOOKING ACTIVELY for experiences. Experiences exactly like those that can be found in Belize.
- People now trust a friends’ recommendation (a real friend, a virtual friend, a blogger friend) much more then they trust a logo. Copa Airlines talked about an extremely successful marketing campaign – to ‘sell Panama’ – with bloggers from around Latin America and the USA. Not just travel bloggers but lifestyle, fashion and adventure. They knew their objective, who they want to reach and they went after it.
- Here was my groan moment: SNAPCHAT. 7/10 millennials are on Snapchat – they love the casual, real time aspects. There are tons of fun ways to use it. My goal for this summer is to try it, to use it.
And I plan to have Maddie Edwards, 10 year old blogger from ITravelBelize.com, help me. She sat next to me at the conference and, in so many way, rocks my “old lady style of thinking”.
She was even called up to the front (with no prior warning) to talk about THE NEWEST FAD – Groan x 100 – Pokemon GO and she was spot on about how it could be used in the future to market.
- Most importantly, KNOW YOUR BRAND. KNOW YOUR STORY. Who is going to love your place or your tour? Who is going to hate your spot? “IF YOU THINK YOU ARE FOR EVERYONE, YOU ARE PROBABLY FOR NO ONE”.
Interesting stuff. People are visual.
Karen Brodie from San Pedro did a talk on photography…