5 Takeaways from the National Travel Conference in San Francisco

Occasionally we are invited to attend industry conferences with clients to learn and evaluate trends and new technologies in marketing strategy, social media, marketing tips, analytics & website design. (Psst – These all extend beyond the travel industry.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Posted by Jeremy Winter.

Occasionally we are invited to attend industry conferences with clients to learn and evaluate trends and new technologies together as partners. Michael Bird and I were lucky enough to join Iowa Tourism in San Francisco for the 2017 eTOURISM SUMMIT and we could not have had a better experience. Besides building several new friendships, sampling exceptional cuisine, and marveling at historic architecture, there were some incredibly valuable takeaways that relate to just about everything we do here. (Psst – These all extend beyond the travel industry.)

Here are my top five takeaways:

  • The Ultimate Analytics. Undoubtedly, the coolest technologies we learned the details about were biometric sensors for synched eye tracking, electroencephalography (EEG) and galvanic skin response (GSR). This is like Google Analytics on steroids. With EEG and GSR you generate a heat map of what their eyes are focusing on within the page and how that content is making them feel. It is incredible.

    Don’t go shutting down your analytics accounts just yet; there are still several hurdles in the way of making this tech the new king. Because participating users have to wear specialized devices (which are incredibly expensive) and are hired to participate in what is essentially a glorified focus group, the sample sizes are still very small, so the data gathered may not be indicative of the real world. With time and advancements in display technology this may be something utilized on a larger scale in the future.
  • Moving Forward in Web Design. Speaking of the future, I could not pass up the session titled “Future of Website Design: Designing Websites For Tomorrow”. Who doesn’t like to know how they are doing? Topics ranged from ADA efforts, image optimization between mobile and desktop displays, responsive design and adding and/or removing information based on device. It was all good news for us in this session because most of these topics are already part of Spindustry’s process. I left feeling exceptionally confident about the steps Spindustry has been taking for years in order to be ahead of the curve on every aspect the panel covered.
  • Video Content. Videos were a huge topic throughout the conference. There is no question videos are here to stay, so it is exceedingly important to produce the right kind of video content. With so much noise throughout our social marketing channels today, we like to talk about how purveyors of “bite-sized content” are having more success cutting through that noise. In general, the shorter the better, and the analytics back that up. At its most basic level, consider the animated GIF. Who doesn’t love them? They are short, sweet, and carry one message or idea at a time (which is usually a cat). Videos should follow that formula.
  • Content Geared Differently for Each Social Channel. Now that we are focusing on “bite-sized content” for our social channels, can we blast the same short video content across our social media channels and wait for the high-fives and pats on the back to roll in? Nope. Good content on the wrong channel makes it harder to digest than the slop they served in the Alcatraz cafeteria. (Yup, we went and the history nerd in me was completely enthralled. I highly recommend it.) Ed Harris, Chief Marketing Officer of Valley Forge CVB, gave an incredible presentation on their social strategy centered around Snapchat stories. These stories bleed into different iterations of that content for different social media platforms based on the demographic differences associated with that medium. Each platform was given a modified feeling and angle geared for that specific audience.
  • Human Feedback. My final takeaway, and likely the most important for me, was the occasional reminder that human feedback is hard to top. We had a private session where a panel of remote users would access your website, perform a series of predetermined tasks, and narrate their thoughts while performing those tasks. The session was only 20 minutes long but was enough to fill five pages full of notes and ideas. This was an incredibly valuable reminder that human feedback is gold, and opportunities to garner this type of feedback should be sought after more often.

One of the greatest things about attending any industry conferences is that they break your cyclic pattern of go-to ideas and methodologies in favor of new concepts and new technologies that you can begin utilizing for your organization or your clients the day you get back to the office. I couldn’t wait to log in and begin putting our fresh ideas to work immediately upon returning.

We are ready to put these new strategies to work for you! Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have, and we would be happy to help. 

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