American in Italy, culture, events, italy, tuscany, Uncategorized, working in italy

#BTO2012 – Day one, Online tourism in Italy

Day one “Collaged”

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending part one of a two-day conferance called BTO for the first time, as mentioned in my November list of events. In its fifth year,they moved locations from the Stazione Leopolda to the fortezza da basso, which often hosts various events and conferences. BTO – or “Buy Tourism Online” deals mainly with themes related to the relationship people have with travel, with an eye to people’s behaviour and the influence of external factors. Some of the key points being discussed are mobile apps, online reputation, tripadvisor & it’s affect, revenue management, social commerce, sustainable tourism and travel web marketing. Travel Web experts, hoteliers, bloggers, storytellers, and those working in regional tourism boards filled the seats to the point that there were no seats – really no seats,  in fact I didn’t even get one at the main hall opening event.

Here is a live-streaming option for those who can’t physically attend, and I highly recommend watching this great introductory video Intoscana made for the event, click here to watch.

BTO lomofied

Why is attending BTO important to me? Besides the fact that I often blog about Italy and travel – I also happen to work for a pretty awesome website called Insidersabroad which is an online english-speaking community in Italy, France, and Spain. The site is centered around a  special extensive directory for businesses to connect directly with their potential clients, with use of forums/blogs and classefieds in addition to the directory. It’s important for me to see the current trends in the country I live in and what matters to local businesses in the online spectrum. A lot of my clients don’t necessarily have the time or energy to put into being active online and I try to make it as easy and straightforward as possible.

A lot of my work means putting on my social-media consultant “hat” and suggesting online-marketing plans/ideas for businesses to garner the “right” kind of attention. I think we all know that nowadays your online footprint is tantamount for a business.  Being current with technology, reviews, a nice website, blogging,  and social media activity is the 2012 version of “word of mouth” or passaparole. As proven on so many statistical slides during BTO, people are using the web more than ever to book their vacations, especially in Italy. If your business isn’t online,than for most people – you don’t exist.

As a blogger, the organizers were generous enough to offer me a free two-day pass to this cool event and you better believe I made sure to wake up early and get my butt on bus 23 to the fortezza {and stopping for a cappuccino}. Luckily I wasn’t alone, I met up with some awesome Italian bloggers from various tours and events that were also there like Alessandro from Girovagate & Serena from Mercoledi tutta la settimana, while also meeting some  new people who I have read about, like Alessia from @bellablogging. Another reason I love attending these sort of conferences is that everyone there seems to “get it” when it comes to technology/social media so I have this feeling of being among “my people.”

What did I attend? First off I stopped by “Internet Better Tuscany – Numbers and trends of Tuscany” which provided a good statistical base to examine tourism here and in the world in general. Obviously everyone loves Tuscany {& Italy} and that probably won’t end anytime soon even though the numbers note Switzerland and Scandinavia all have the highest numbers for natural beauty, transparency, quality of life etc. What they don’t have however is warm weather & chianti della rufina ;-). Clearly, you can’t have it all…or can you? Afterwards I hopped over to ” tourism of the future {Futurebrand}. To sum it up in a sentence – Carlo Petrini quoted, “from residents themselves, from their quality of life, from the capacity to be happy, from their care of the land they inhabit. Tourists will come, as a consequence.”

Before I left something from a small unknown-to-me region of Italy really did blow me away thanks to  http://www.basilicataturistica.com/. What was it?  This absolutely charming video that shows us that getting your audience to smile throughout 2 minutes and 30 seconds is perhaps the best way for a region to promote itself. This video does exactly that. I love it.

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