Digital Innovation Asia (DIA) – DIAsiaTourism Bangkok 2013

I just returned from Bangkok and although I fell sick on the first day I arrived (no more street food for me!) I’m glad I didn’t missed out on the event.

For the uninitiated, Digital Innovation Asia (DIA) is a new initiative promoting excellence and knowledge sharing when it comes to leveraging digital, social, and mobile in the travel and tourism industry to promote the complete Asian Visitor Economy.
Basically we gather and discuss about digital and tourism, which in this time of the century would involve social media platforms, bloggers and mobile.

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The first day saw discussions on creative supplier – blogger relationships as well as effective calculation of ROI from blogger engagements, as well as ways of creating effective bloggers campaigns, topics of which I’m pretty familiar with; considering that I’m both a full time blogger as well as the founder of a blog advertising agency.
I find inputs from the international travel bloggers enlightening, and seasoned “supplier” like Tourism Authority of Thailand does seem to have engaged bloggers effectively for their “Amazing Thailand” campaign, which has seen good traction both online and offline.

1st session: Google Thailand Amy Kunrojpanya & panelist of international bloggers discussing abt Bridging expectations between bloggers and travel suppliers & how to form creative supplier-blogger relationships.

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2nd session: Mr Tanes Petsuwan, Director – Europe, Africa, Middle East Market Division, TAT sharing on how Tourism Authority of Thailand runs one of its media trips. For Thailand, he breaks it down to 6 key themes; Thai food, Thai martial arts (both as sports and as art), Thai life (culture), Thai elephants (nature & wildlife), Thai wellness (massages, arts, hospitality).

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4 networking sessions per day (3 breaks and a lunch) ensured plenty of opportunity for key attendees to network and exchange insights. After every sessions, a 10 minute Q & A session allows attendees to feedback and lay to rest any queries they may have.

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Spot me? 🙂

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And of course, opportunity to mingle and take loads of pictures!

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The 2nd half of the day was the Bloggers’ Match-Up – a speed dating style session which allows bloggers and travel suppliers 8 minutes to connect, with a chance to deepen the discussion over drinks and discuss later on.
With the increasing amount of bloggers tainting the reputation of others due to them asking for freebies and demanding free press trips and discounts, there is a need for facilitation and accreditation process to help travel supplier to connect with credible, experienced bloggers to promote their product and service.

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I couldn’t agree more with that. Bloggers asking for free trips are common in Malaysia. Heck, not just Malaysia but in South East Asia. I have heard directly from many PR friends in hotels of bloggers emailing consistently asking for a free stay and demanding to be hosted. It is ridiculous as these bloggers will not cease harassing the PR personnel in charge until their request are met. If the PR replied that it is a busy month at that period, the said blogger/bloggers will request for the next month and so on. Some demanded complimentary meals throughout the stay and spa.
After 4 days of mingling and discussing with these experienced international bloggers, we have this to say:
We would like to advise PR of hotels/resorts to stand firm and not give in to such demands. In fact, if such bloggers gets in touch with you, then as the PR team of a reputable hotel you should realize that these are not the type pf bloggers you would want to work with in the first place!

In my opinion, the PR team should do their homework as well. It is not that difficult to check on the blogs’ PR rank, Alexa or at least check on the blogger’s influence via the Twitter, FB, FB page, Instagram following.
Do they have a youtube channel? Check on the average views of the videos they post. Ask for their Klout scores.
Ask for a screenshot of the blog UV (unique visitors) DAILY. Look at their shares on FB – how many comments and likes are generated? Or is it just purely them spamming their page/FB profile but no one bothers?
Fans can be bought (via ads, etc) for FB pages so don’t be taken in with the big numbers.
Some bloggers has a widget on their site that shows the numbers of “Total Visitors to their blog since they started blogging”. That’s grossly inaccurate. The numbers may be impressive; say 1,000,000. But do calculate how long they have blogged.
If 1 million page views are for a blog of 8 years versus 1 million page views for a blog of 1 year – which blog has more readership?
All of these combined should give you a good indication of how influential this blogger is and whether hosting him/her would actually bring you the PR value you seek.
Most likely than not, these bloggers don’t!
And of course, you should be checking the blog itself; the writing style, the command of English/whatever language they are writing in, the comments section, the quality of photographs.
If you see more photos of their face and their friends than the food/product/place they are supposedly reviewing, then some warning bells should be ringing in your head.

And how frequently do they blog? Do they only blog when there are freebies? Some only update their blogs when there’s a sponsored meal/stay/movie/party. Check on that and you’ll be surprised at the quality of bloggers now.
Take it a step further and check on when they started blogging. A mere few months ago? A year? 4 posts a month?
Come on, how much readership do you think these bloggers has with 4 postings a month? Or if they just started blogging few months back?
And AWARDS? These are overrated in my opinion. Most awards nowadays are by voting/LIKES, which means they can cheat/buy votes. But its always good to have awards – just take them with a pinch of salt.

This doesn’t only applies to the travel industry (which covers tour operators, airlines and resorts) but every industry. This applies if you’re a restaurant owner, a tech company or you’re simply the person entrusted with the task of engaging bloggers/social influencers for your brand.
Please select wisely!

To end the exciting first day of #DIAsiaTourism was the DIA Tourism Awards Night. This was held at the Bed SupperClub in Sukhumvit 11, one of the hippiest part of Bangkok. I stayed right opposite last September in Aloft Bangkok – Sukhumvit 11 and thus I was familiar with the area.

Food and wine was free-flowing the whole night. In fact, the wines are by a Thailand winery! Delicious (but hell spicy) snacks made their way round. Guests mingled, took photos, sipped wines while waiting for the highlight of the evening; who are the winners of the 4 awards namely; Most Engaging Website, Most Impactful Campaign, Most Creative Use of Technology and Most Inspiring Content.

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And the winners are:

Tourism Malaysia

Tourism Authority of Thailand – The Little Big Project

e-Visa Cambodia (CINet Technologies)

Air New Zealand – Safety Video


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And that’s a wrap for the first day of Digital Innovation Asia (DIA) – DIAsiaTourism Bangkok 2013! 🙂

Pictures credit to: DIAsiaTourism Facebook page and where applicable.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Definitely not just in Malaysia but all over Asia Pacific. I think it’s alright if bloggers reach out to PR agencies but they have to provide solid numbers and evidence of “influence”. I really like the solid tips you’ve provided and the other thing to look at is not just the numbers but the quality of community they’ve built, how they tell their stories and how it ties back to the brand.

    You definitely are on of those top-notch influencers whom I admire greatly, Becky!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Thanks Jonha!! That’s a big compliment coming from a digital strategist like yourself!
      Yup, all the numbers to back it up and also the quality of content, which any PR should be able to see for themselves before engaging any blogger for their brand or for PR agencies; their clients. I felt that even PR agencies are simply taking the lazy way out by charging their clients for bloggers’ engagement but not doing solid groundwork in their selection of online influencers.

  2. Sean Eat Drink KL

    sounds like quite a lot of practical information and ideas to process from a conference like this. would be a cool event to hold on maybe an annual basis ya 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      I hope it would be annual too! And it’s a great opportunity for people like me to learn and improve myself. Who knows, next year in Malaysia maybe? 🙂

  3. Latoya

    This is a great synopsis of the event. It was nice to have met you. Since I’ve worked with tourism boards in the U.S. I understood the importance of this conference. Attempting to market to other countries and groups of people is important in order for any business to grow. Tourism in particular is a special case unto itself because every few months the faces of the visitors change. Great coverage!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Hi Latoya! Nice meeting u too 🙂
      I agree it was a very well structured conference and we have Jens to thank for that!
      Wow, tourism boards in US – I have much to learn from you.

  4. Michael Hodson

    If PR people want accurate numbers regarding bloggers and want to find true professionals, I suggest they join the Professional Travel Bloggers Association as an industry member —

    Similarly, any bloggers out there that want to be members and be part of a great non-profit association promoting professionalism on our ranks — we are taking members from every part of the world, blogging in any language. Come on and join!

  5. Felicia

    You are definitely going places babe. Good for you. You certainly have the experience from many years in blog advertising and blogging to back it up.

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