Gathan D. Borden

Marketing guy working in the tourism industry, disguised under the title of "Director, Brand Marketing & Advertising" - I share my thoughts on a myriad of topics.

HELP LOUISVILLE BECOME THE “TASTIEST TOWN IN THE SOUTH”

If you been remotely close to a TV screen or any social networking site, you’ve noticed that our city, Louisville, has been racking up the culinary accolades. Most media outlets are saying that the city is experiencing a culinary renaissance, so to speak. And they couldn’t be more right with the most recent accolade of being named one of the “Tastiest Towns in the South” in 2013 by Southern Living Magazine.  However, it’s not enough for us to be named one of the ten; we want to be the best. Now last year, we finished in second place, so this year, we want your help to make us number 1.

“But I’m just an individual, how can I help the city be named the #1 tastiest town in the south?” I’m so glad you asked, so here’s how.

VOTE DAILY. Each city is asking their fans to vote for them daily. Per contest rules, you can only vote once per day per email address. So if you do nothing at all, at least vote for us. Follow this link to vote: http://lou.ly/1km

SHARE YOUR CULINARY PHOTOS. If you are on Instagram, tag your culinary photos with #tastylou and be sure to follow us on Instagram under the name of GoToLouisville. Nothing says “we love our food” more than a great shot of Louisville cuisine.

SHARE THE VOTING LINK. Take the link, and copy it into your status updates on all of your social networks for us. And if you need help crafting a message, I’ve got it taken care of for you. Simply copy and paste this: “Vote for Louisville as the Tastiest Town in the South, http://lou.ly/1km

Remember to vote and share, the city will thank you in the end.

4 THINGS TO DO IN LOUISVILLE OVER THE HOLIDAYS

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

There’s nothing like the holidays to bring joy into our hearts and put our lives into perspective. It’s that time of the year where family comes home, college friends whom you haven’t seen in years stop in to pay a visit, and gifts are given…in abundance. While most of us take time off during the holidays, we tend to get stuck with the “what-to-do” syndrome. Luckily for you, Louisville is chock-full of things to do over the holiday season, and if you need some family fun, or just a night out, I’ve got a quick list to help guide you along the way.

Do the Urban Bourbon Trail. Yea, so I started with bourbon…you knew it was coming! In Kentucky, we are responsible for producing 95% of the world’s bourbon supply, and in Louisville, we make about one-third of the world’s bourbon supply! That alone gives us reason to celebrate America’s Native Spirit by raising a glass at some of Louisville’s world-famous bourbon bars. The Urban Bourbon Trail is a cocktail and culinary experience that takes you to 14 (and growing) bars and restaurants across the city that embrace bourbon as a lifestyle. All of these places have 50+ bourbons and cook bourbon-inspired cuisine. It comes with a Bourbon Country passport (that is free and can be picked up at any of the 14 participating locations or the Louisville Visitors Center), in which each stop will stamp your passport. Once you get 6 stamps, all you have to do is turn in your passport, and you get a free t-shirt along with your Official Citizen of Bourbon Country certificate. So if you’ve got bourbon fans in the house, it’s definitely worth a sip. MORE INFO.

Visit “Christmas at the Galt”. If you’re like me, and you’ve got kids, doing the Urban Bourbon Trail with your 4 year-old might be frowned upon. In that case, check out the Galt House. They’ve got a holiday experience there for all ages, and it features KaLightoscope Christmas as the main attraction. You can go see the world’s largest Gingerbread Village, catch the “Colors of the Season” dinner show filled with songs and dancing or check out some arts, crafts and other Christmas souvenirs in the Mistletoe Marketplace. It’s definitely an enjoyable time to spend with the kids - and bring the grandparents too. MORE INFO.

Take in the arts scene. One of the things I appreciate about Louisville is its love for the arts. For a city our size, we are blessed to have so many performing arts venues and museums at our disposal. The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory has the “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” exhibit on display that pays tribute to the classic television special. You get a behind-the-scenes history of the show, artifacts used in the production, and a look at all the winter sports that Charlie Brown and the gang played. You also can have some fun with the hands-on activities. Across the street, you can see some multi-cultural holiday celebrations at both the Frazier History Museum (where kids 17 & under are free until January 1, 2012) and the Muhammad Ali Center. Their displays highlight how different communities celebrate their holiday traditions. Actors Theatre and some other museums have activity going on too, so throw in a nice lunch or dinner and your day is set.

Dine at a new restaurant. And speaking of dining, restaurants just seem to be popping up every day in Louisville. I recently heard a statistic that for every 3 restaurants that close, there are another 5 that will open up! That is a staggering number for a city the size of Louisville. Most of us probably do the family dinner thing, but maybe you might want to switch it up this year and do something different. There really are too many restaurants for me to recommend; nevertheless, I’ve got a list of 6 spots for you to try. They are not on here by any other measurement than my “I think you should try it” scale. So here they are:

Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar: Southern/BBQ style coupled with classic seafood favorites.

Eddie Merlot’s: One of the best steakhouses around.

Hillbilly Tea: The trendy cafe in downtown.

 Troll Pub Under The Bridge: Classic pub food, located under the 2nd street bridge.

Garage Bar: Wood-fired pizzas and craft beer.

Ghyslain: A french-style bistro filled with chocolates, pasteries and breads.

And with that said, HAPPY HOLIDAYS people. Whatever religion you are, or however you celebrate the holidays, remember the most important thing is family and love, so be sure that you are spreading nothing but peace and positivity in Possibility City.

5 TIPS THAT WILL HELP YOU TWEET BETTER

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. Well let me give you the answer. Yes, you should be tweeting. Tweet your little hearts away. Matter of fact, in the world of travel and tourism, I view Twitter as a modern-day concierge service, or an extension of your call center. So I’ve got 5 tips on how you can Tweet better as a member of the tourism community. Whether you are a CVB/DMO, attraction, hotel, restaurant or any other business for that matter, I think these will help you in your quest to conquer Twitter-verse.

 1) BE SERVICE-ORIENTED AND NOT SALES-DRIVEN.

 Let’s be honest folks, how many of you have ever made a business transaction across Twitter? Not me. I think you have to be real careful when having conversations with people on Twitter as to not go for the hard sell. It’s a turn off. Instead use Twitter to be more of a customer service option. As a CVB on Twitter, people are always looking for recommendations and ideas, not a sales contract. Always offer advice, recommendations and tips to those you respond to. In return, they will come back to you and will also recommend you to their followers as a “knowledge-expert”.

2) SEEK OUT CONVERSATIONS ABOUT YOUR COMPETITION.

Chances are that if someone has been to a neighboring city or any other cities in your region, they probably have your city in their competitive mind sets. So if you see that someone had a good time in a neighboring city, why not reach out to them and suggest they come visit you? If you can tie in what they did in that neighboring city to what you can offer in your city, then you’ve really got a great conversation starter. For example, you can start a conversation as easy as this: “Hey @_____, saw you had a blast in _____ at the MLB game. We’re the Home of the Louisville Slugger & just an hour away. Come see us too!” (Yes, I used my destination.)

3) ADD LINKS TO YOUR TWEETS.

Social media is about engagement. Make sure you add in links, photos and videos to your tweets as often as you can, so that your followers can get a real sense of the message you are sending out. Adding links, photos and videos is also a great way to see what people are clicking on, not to mention it’s a great way to drive traffic to specific URLs.  In the end, you can view and see what links, photos and videos people are clicking on the most, and then that will give you a blueprint of successful tweets for you to mimic in the future.

4) USE A WEB-BASED AGGREGATOR.

One of the cool things I love about the Internet is that you can find just about anything you want by typing in words. On Twitter, you can do the same thing, by using the ‘Search Twitter’ function. But that can be very time-consuming. I recommend you get a web-based RSS feed and news aggregator. These aggregators are a great way to get all of the information to come to you, so that you don’t spend your time typing in searches all day. Me personally, I use Google Reader. I have all of my ‘search twitter’ functions filtered into my Google Reader by topic. I can click on a category, see the actual tweet, click on that tweet and then reply or retweet as necessary, all with a few simple clicks. So when folks are tweeting about my product, I can pretty much reply to them, even if the tweet is a few days old, as Google Reader will keep that information for me until I decide to delete it myself.

5) CREATE TWITTER LISTS.

Use your twitter lists to create niche followings in the Twitter World. Twitter lists allow you to organize others into groups, or “lists”. Once your list of Twitter followers gets to a certain number, it is very hard to keep track of the tweets you deem important in your timeline, so Twitter lists is a great solution to that problem. As a CVB, we have Twitter lists of our attractions, hotels, events and festivals in Louisville, local media, travel writers, and conventions and tradeshows in Louisville, just to name a few. One of the other cool things about Twitter lists is that you can follow a list without having to following everyone on that list individually. You can give your followers recommendations of niche categories and suggest they follow these lists for more information on certain topics. How’s that for customer service?

In the end, tweet as often as you like. I am not going to tell you how many tweets a day you should send, because if you add in the RTs, the @ replies and your own tweets you want to send, the numbers can add up. However if you start to notice that no one is responding or you are losing followers, then maybe you are tweeting just a little too much information. Remember, there is no such thing as a social media guru…my thoughts are simply that, MY THOUGHTS! The key to Twitter is creating long-lasting open-ended conversations, Happy Tweeting folks!

11 THINGS THE TOURISM COMMUNITY SHOULD BE DOING ON FOURSQUARE

By now, we are all witnesses of the power of social media. And as new social apps continue to hit the market, we as marketers are charged with staying on top of the game. One of my favorite social apps is Foursquare. There’s plenty of discussion about if destinations should be using Foursquare, and there are plenty of arguments to hear on both sides of the puzzle.

As for me, I hereby declare that it is okay for a destination to have a Foursquare account. Matter of fact, I think destinations are missing the boat if they are not using Foursquare. Foursquare is all about exploring the city, so who better to explore the city and leave recommendations than the people who market, promote and sell the city itself?

I view Foursquare as an extension of your Visitor’s Guide. If you are unsure about Foursquare or where to start, I’ve got 11 tips for you, which I think will help you along your social media journey:

  1.  If you are an attraction, hotel or restaurant, update your information to make sure your address and phone number are listed correctly.
  2.  If you are a CVB/DMO, make sure the addresses and phone numbers of your partners/members are listed correctly. 
  3.  Under your listing, be sure and put your place of business in a category.
  4. Under your listings, be sure to tag your place business with any descriptors that are applicable (i.e. restaurant, hotel, attraction, bar, lounge, etc.)
  5. Leave tips for your place of business as recommendations for people once they check-in at your venue. Word your recommendations in a friendly/concierge voice, not corporate speak. Type them as if you were the doorman at that place of business and someone walked in off the street and asked “What can I do/eat/get here?”
  6. Actively seek “friendships” of those people who are checking in to your place of business.
  7. As a CVB/DMO who is checking in, make your shouts be engaging commentary about the venue you are checking in to. TIP - Nothing is more engaging than asking questions.
  8. If you are a CVB/DMO, link your Foursquare account to your Twitter profile. If your Twitter profile is linked to your Facebook Fan Page, you’ve just updated three social sites with one check-in.
  9. Claim your place of business, and offer check-in specials (for CVBs/DMOs, use your Visitors Center as a place to offer check-in specials).
  10. Add the Foursquare venue widget to your Facebook fan page to create another layer of brand engagement with your consumers. It will show how popular your venue is and people can also read the recommendations.
  11. Add the Foursquare logos/signage in your place of business as reminder for people to “Check In Here”.

Remember, there is no such thing as a social media guru…my thoughts are simply that, MY THOUGHTS! Have fun exploring the world…Happy Foursquaring!

5 SOCIAL MEDIA THINGS THE TOURISM COMMUNITY SHOULD BE EXECUTING

“Facebook Me.” “Tweet Me.” “Did you YouTube it?” How many of us have said those words? It wasn’t too long ago that these words didn’t exist – these days, they are a part of daily dialogue and discussion.

The social media space has forever altered the way in which we connect with family, friends and businesses. Furthermore, it has forever changed the way in which we let someone in on our everyday experiences. How many times have we found ourselves sharing photos, stories and videos of our travels or the travels of our family and friends? These photos, stories and videos allow us to visualize ourselves in those locations. They create memories. They create conversations. They engage. And I think that is the key word in all of this social media stuff – ENGAGEMENT.

Engagement establishes a relationship with the future traveler that makes their decision to come visit your destination simple. Engagement allows the traveler to be that online mouthpiece that all destination brands covet. Online engagement spreads directly to offline conversations, which all leads to increased word-of-mouth marketing. And we all know that word-of-mouth recommendations weigh heavily in the decision-making process.

If you are a CVB or DMO, I think it’s quite obvious that you need to have a presence in the social media space. Given that there are hundreds of social networking sites, many ponder “What sites should I be on?” So, here is my list of the 5 social media recommendations that the tourism community should be actively participating in (alphabetical order):  

Facebook: The premiere social networking site to date. It’s a no-brainer. Be sure that you have a fan page set-up and that you don’t over-share. Keep your posts interesting and engaging.

Flickr: Flickr is a great place to stock images of your destination for sharing purposes. It is a great resource to find professional images of various attractions, events and restaurants that you can use for content-sharing purposes on your various social media sites. And a little secret too…it is also a great resource to find new imagery for marketing collateral, without the fee of professional photographers.

Podcasting: Podcasting is a great way to highlight your destinations in episodic form, which can create repeat viewers. Nothing can sell a destination like a video, so make it entertaining and informal. Here’s a tip…use a service like Tube Mogul, in which you upload your video once and push it out to over 20+ video-sharing sites.

Twitter: Twitter is a great place to see what people are saying about your destination. You have the ability to search tweets directly and respond to the conversations that are taking place.  Use the search Twitter function or the hashtags to find those conversations. Here’s a tip…act as a concierge on Twitter. You don’t have to sell, just be there as a resource of information.

YouTube: YouTube is a great place to store your video library, to include commercials and promotional videos. It is also a great place for user-generated content by the people who love your destination.  Be sure to set-up a specific channel for your destination.

Remember, there is no such thing as a social media guru…my thoughts are simply that, MY THOUGHTS! What works for some, doesn’t work for others. It’s all about exercise and execution.