Expedia Hosts Travel Blogger Day in Seattle, WA

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Expedia Executives Host Blogger Day 2011

Expedia Blogger Day

While I’m not comparing Expedia President Scott Durchslag to Jerry Maguire, the sports agent in the 1996 film played by Tom Cruise, the phrase “help me, help you,” did come to mind during our Monday afternoon meeting at Expedia corporate headquarters this December.  Expedia executives brought together travel bloggers from the US and Canada, as well as Korea and Japan, to discuss Expedia initiatives and open the doors to joint ventures.

“There is an opportunity for the travel industry to be more innovative, really embracing technology,” said Durchslag during a recent PhoCusWright conference moderated by USA Today panelists. Continuing on that theme, Durchslag put his money where his mouth is by flying in bloggers who specialize in travel, social media and technology to open the lines of communication between bloggers and Expedia.

Durchslag, a world traveler and mountain climber, believes that, “travel is transformational. I’m a traveler first,” noted Expedia’s president. During our meeting, Durchslag outlined a five point plan:

*building a new booking engine

*providing a mobile experience

*adding a social element for travelers to share reviews

*creating a “place market”

*introducing a program that rewards loyalty

The future of travel is web 3.0 and web 3.0 is all about the power of place,” noted Durchslag.

"Expedia Scott Durchslag"

Expedia President Scott Durchslag shares his five point plan with travel bloggers

Adding the social element to travel

Travel blogger Spencer Spellman recently partnered with Expedia to launch a weekly Thursday Twitter chat called #Expchat to engage with the travel consumer. This is one way Expedia is branching out to the travel blogger world. Kim Mance appeared in a video for Expedia on the company’s Facebook page announcing their offers with Groupon. As I offer “Insider Tips” on this “What a Trip” blog,   I hope to partner with Expedia to promote their activities offered online. In fact, it wasn’t until I booked my airfare and hotel to Seattle, via Expedia, that I became aware that the world’s largest online travel agency even offered activities.

Kim Mance – A Message For Expedia’s Facebook Fans!

"Expedia"

Travel writers and bloggers visit Expedia headquarters in Bellevue, Washington

Travel companies slow to embrace bloggers

I am excited to see Expedia’s enthusiasm toward travel bloggers, but I’m not naive in thinking that the travel blogger path is laden with gold. In a Tnooz guest post, Travel Blogger Gary Arndt noted that travel advertisers continue to avoid bloggers. “There are enormous economic potential waiting to be claimed by advertisers, but no one is picking up the ball,” said Arndt. ” I’d like to think that somewhere in a conference room there is a meeting being held where someone is deciding between advertising on blogs vs magazines and newspapers. The reality is, however, blogs aren’t even part of the conversation at this point.”

What’s your take on travel bloggers working with large companies? Will 2012 be the year of the travel blogger?

Expedia Blogger Day 2011 Participants

Justin Bachman, Bloomberg Business Week

Harriet Baskas, Stuck at the Airport

Dave Bouskill & Debra Corbeil, The Planet D

Nancy D. Brown, What a Trip & Writing Horseback – Your Guide to Horseback Riding Vacations

Julia Dimon, Travel Junkie Julia

Johnny Jet, Johnny Jet

Chris Gray Faust, Chris Around the World

George Hobica, Airfare Watchdog

Hitomi Kumasaka, Social Media Labs

Kim Mance, Galavating

Sherry Ott, Otts World

Spencer Spellman, The Traveling Philosopher

Rich Whitaker, Travelllll.com

Article and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.

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16 Responses to “Expedia Hosts Travel Blogger Day in Seattle, WA”

  1. Sherry Ott says:

    I love the Jerry Maquire reference! Nice recap Nancy! It really was a ground breaking day for me – and I really hope it moves us all in the right direction!

  2. @Sherry
    It was great seeing you again in Seattle. Last time our paths crossed was in NY during the Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) conference. As I said, I am encouraged by our Expedia meeting and hope to keep the conversations moving forward.

  3. A nice summary of the day Nancy. There’s a lot that I could say here that I didn’t say in my post, but really I hope other brands see this and the relevance for their company. Sure, smaller and lesser known travel companies have recognized bloggers, but I’m talking about brands with huge marketing budgets that are already spending thousands if not more on sponsorships, commercials, and so on. It’s a relatively small investment to tap into bloggers/writers in the travel industry and you’re connecting with people who often have a much more targeted audience than an ad space for example. It’s an ever-changing landscape and I’m excited for what 2012 holds in our industry.

  4. For me getting taken seriously as a travel blogger means earning a living. At the moment it seems like press trips are the currency and aim of many travel bloggers. While trips are a great perk, they don’t pay the bills. PRs get paid for getting exposure for their travel brand clients but bloggers are supposed to be grateful for getting a “free trip”.

  5. @Spencer
    Thanks for your comments Spencer. I, too, hope that large and small companies reach out to travel bloggers to establish partnerships. Personally, I need to see a return on my investment within this industry above and beyond press trips.

  6. @Karen
    Amen, sister. As both a travel blogger and PR professional, I don’t understand why it is so difficult to make a living as a travel blogger. My bank does not accept editorial exposure as a form of currency for my mortgage payment, nor does my utility company. As travel bloggers, we need to change our business model and establish meaningful partnerships within the travel industry, as well as outside the industry. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Nancy, I happened upon Jeremy Head’s article about travel blogging – free travel or a job with no pay? publlished in December 2009:
    http://www.travelblather.com/2009/12/a-free-holiday-or-a-job-with-no-salary.html
    Doesn’t seem like that much has changed since then?

    I wonder if a web design company/accountant would accept a job with a client, a travel brand, who told them they had no budget to pay them for their serviices but could offer them a “free trip” instead?

  8. @Karen
    While the life of a travel blogger/writer may seem glamorous, with unlimited opportunities for travel, at the end of the day, we all need to pay our bills. I look forward to partnering with companies who take my journalism profession seriously. I see these relationships as a win for both my personal brand and theirs.

  9. I wouldn’t mind working with big travel companies either. ;-)

  10. @Gerard
    Sounds like you and Q are going to have quite an adventure and career break ahead of you. What a trip!

  11. Hi Nancy
    Nice Summary… I was curious what Durchslag meant by “place marketplace.” I also wonder how much Expedia can broaden its scope beyond hotels without going to far.

  12. @David
    As I didn’t have a chance to ask Scott Durchslag more about the “place market” concept, I’m hesitant to elaborate further. His quote “web 3.0 is all about the power of place,” gives you an idea of what he means.
    I also don’t want to speak on behalf of Expedia regarding your comment about expanding their scope beyond hotels. I will say that their booking capabilities include the “complete package” i.e. airfare, hotel, rental car, attractions and they also offer cruise ship experiences.

  13. Hi Nancy
    I appreciate the response. What I meant by Expedia going too far is that by trying to expand into different markets they may actual distract users and dilute the value of the core offering. For instance, I have never been impressed by Expedia’s vacation offerings as the prices seemed on the high side although I use them frequently to book hotels and flights. When it comes to places it will be interesting to see where Expedia goes.

  14. @David
    Thanks for the clarification.

  15. Azucena Hadian says:

    This is my first time pay a visit here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Great…Nancy….
    I think it is nice day for you.
    you are lucky that you join Blogger day.
    I wish this will be new experience for you……..
    thanks for give that information……………..

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