The Industry Insider brings you the latest in tourism-industry news. We’ll continue to bring you the top stories bi-weekly, and you’ll notice a couple of new segments in this edition, including social media and guest service tips. We also want to hear from you. Let us know topics that would help you the most.
Arkansas Tourism Launches New Mobile Website
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has launched an updated version of its mobile website to help travelers on the go get the most out of The Natural State.The revamped Arkansas Tourism mobile site, found at http://www.arkansas.com/m/, features six buttons on its main page that link directly to valuable travel information.
- "City Listings" provides attraction, dining and lodging listings for nearly every city in Arkansas.
- "Deals & Coupons" lets visitors find travel deals and packages around the state for an affordable weekend getaway or a week-long escape.
- "Lakes & Rivers" makes it easy for anglers and boaters to find Arkansas's recreational waterways.
- "Events" connects visitors to a searchable database of upcoming events around the state.
- "Things to Do" is a searchable database packed with fun Arkansas activities.
- "Trip Ideas" contains a wide variety of trip itineraries that show off the state's highlights.
The new mobile site takes advantage of new technology to revolutionize the way visitors experience Arkansas. The "Near Me" feature uses GPS to find visitors' phones and show them attractions, restaurants, lodging and more that are in the vicinity. "My Stuff" allows users to plan a trip on a home computer and access it later on a mobile phone.
The new mobile site also includes links to the Arkansas Tourism Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels so visitors can connect with their destination on the go.
Potential visitors can check out the new and improved Arkansas Tourism mobile website now and start planning an affordable weekend getaway or a full-on family vacation in Arkansas.
Prettiest Painted Places Sought
The Paint Quality Institute is conducting a competition to find the “Prettiest Painted Place in America.” It is looking for towns and neighborhoods that have exceptional community-wide curb appeal that can be attributed to their exterior paint color schemes.
A community in Arkansas could top the list! To nominate a pretty painted place, visit blog.paintquality.com/ppp/.
Deadline for entries is Friday, August 31. Sixty finalists will be selected in September, and 12 winners will be announced in mid-October.
Little Rock Volunteers Help Visitors
Downtown Navigators can be found in Little Rock’s River Market District Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. from June to August. Navigators are volunteers who provide visitors with restaurant, shopping, nightlife and activity information.
This group has been trained in large group assistance, observation and listening skills, health and safety awareness, history and geography of downtown, and customer service skills.
Sponsored by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Navigators wear recognizable yellow and green shirts and can be found from the Old State House, along Third Street and throughout the River Market District.
Commission Approves Fall/Winter Website Plan
The State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission approved a more than half-million-dollar website development and marketing plan for fall/winter at its June 21 meeting. Several new features are planned for Arkansas.com, including a trails database, a Trail of Holiday Lights page that can be updated by participating communities and the integration of Foursquare, a location-based mobile application. Opportunities for industry participation will be shared in future editions of the Industry Insider.
Crystal Bridges Tops New York Post’s Cultural Attractions
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art topped a list of “six game-changing cultural attractions to check out now” that the New York Post published in June.
Jennifer Ceaser, who created the list, writes, “this striking museum that recently debuted in downtown Bentonville – the home of America’s most omnipresent big-box retailer – will win over even the most skeptical Manhattanite.”
The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City, Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle and Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience in Belfast complete the list.
See the full article.
Garvan Woodland Gardens Recognized As Spectacular
A popular senior magazine, Bottom Line Personal, cited Garvan Woodland Gardens as one of “five of the most spectacular” in an article featuring “Glorious Gardens” in its May 1 edition.
Joan Rattner Heilman, a seasoned travel writer and columnist based in Mamaroneck, New York, included the following gardens in this order as her top five picks to visit for 2012:
- Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, IL Midwest)
- Garvan Woodland Gardens (Lake Hamilton, AR South)
- Portland Japanese Garden (Portland, OR Northwest)
- Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix, AZ Southwest)
- Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA Northeast)
Garvan Woodland Gardens, operated by the University of Arkansas, is the only botanical garden representing the southern United States to make the list.See the full article
Hospitality Hot Tip
Are you familiar with the attractions in your community? Are you up to speed on upcoming events? If you answered no, you may be providing less than superior guest service to Arkansas’s visitors.
Visit arhospitalitytips.com to see Kristine Puckett, guest service expert for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, explain how “knowing your stuff” contributes to a customer’s experience.
Social Media Savvy
According to a new study titled “The Social Habit 2012: How Americans Really Use Social Media,” more than half social networkers are between the ages of 12 and 34, but the greatest growth is among those 45 and older. In addition, 54 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have a profile on Facebook, while 13 percent of Americans have a LinkedIn profile and 10 percent are on Twitter.
Where is your audience? Which network are they using? Finding and using this kind of data is key to getting started in social media.
It is important to prioritize resources carefully in all aspects of your business, and the same is true for social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ are just a few of the social sites that allow you to reach out and engage customers. Get your feet wet in the social media world by researching where your customers are and then devoting your initial effort to the most appropriate network or networks for them.
A number of experts and practitioners like Dave Fleet, Vice President of Digital at Edelman Toronto, believe social media marketing efforts should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timebound. They should have specific, well-defined business objectives; be designed to drive a specific action or activity; and, most importantly, they should be achievable – nothing too “pie-in-the-sky.” If possible, they should also take place over a defined period of time to allow for better and more accurate measurement.
Once you have set your goals, conducted your research and built a loyal following in the key social networks for your target demographics, you can consider expanding your reach – and the necessary resources – on additional sites as you grow and learn.