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July 16, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Tweeting from the tour bus

Although I’m here in London right now, I’d like to back track a bit and go back to my week in Ireland. Usually my Irish reminiscing involves green mountains and Guinness, but for now my memories involve 1) a bus tour (something I never thought I’d daydream about) and 2) social media (sadly not surprising, as I ponder this subject daily).

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Dreams of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher

During my stay in Killarney I saw numerous bus tours promoted in shop windows, with offers such as two for one, student discounts and, a deal-maker for yours truly, free WiFi. My first thoughts of bus and free WiFi revolved around the email checking convenience, but then as I wandered along to the park (paying more attention to PR thoughts than staying on the right path, naturally) I started to realize that free WiFi is critical for effective word-of-mouth marketing in the tourism industry.

With free WiFi, passengers (if it’s a vehicle) or travelers can easily share travel photos with hundreds or thousands of people via social media. When I don’t have WiFi, I can’t my use iPhone except for texting. But give me access to that beautiful online mobile world, and you better believe I’m going to tweet, post and Instagram my heart out to show friends, family and followers the joys of traveling abroad.

And tourism companies can capitalize on my pretty-picture sharing, too. All they have to do is post the WiFi password on a big sign of their @CompanyName, #CompanyName and Facebook page in the bus (or car, or wherever travelers may be), and encourage passengers to include them in social sharing.

Most customers will gladly include the company in tweets and posts (aka promote them) if they’re enjoying the trip, and therefore share the beautiful tour destinations alongside positive endorsement via @ or #. Then the magic of word-of-mouth marketing begins, because as friends or family see those wonderful pictures (and are dying to plan the exact same trip), they will keep that tourism company in mind and, most likely, go on the same tour.

It’s simple: provide WiFi, share a Twitter handle/Facebook page, and encourage passengers to interact over social media throughout the trip. After that, let the social media and word-of-mouth marketing world do what it does best by raising awareness, giving third-party credibility and, most importantly, increasing business. Unfortunately, the company that took us out to tour Connemara, Galway’s Lally Tours, didn’t use this tactic. They were a great tour company, not annoying and telling jokes the whole time (a huge plus), and had they promoted social media I’m positive I would’ve sent a tweet their way.

Here’s a look at some of the tweets I would’ve done if Lally Tours from Connemara made the wise choice to be @LallyTours of #Connemara.

 

Connemara, Ireland Can’t get over the breathtaking scenery @LallyTours is showing us in #Connemara … I’m never leaving #Ireland. Ever.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland  @BritSchallert and me at #KylemoreAbbey. Thx for a great ride through #Connemara countryside, @LallyTours!

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