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QACP - Quebec Association of Convention Professionals Toll free: 1 888 969-1307
Phone: 450 969-1307
Website : www.congres.com
Mail : info@congres.com

Business Tourism in a Social Media Era

Business Tourism in a Social Media Era

March 22, 2019

While a recent publication by the Réseau de Veille en Tourism noted that "80% of Quebec travellers used Facebook during or after their stay"1 and that "social networks are the prefered platform for tourism marketing,"2 it doesn't seem to be as clear for business tourism, which doesn't target the same clientele. 

However, what about business tourism in Quebec? In 2011, it was estimated that it generated expenditures of more than $972 million in the province. In fact, 68% of the economic spin-offs were from foreign tourists, so about $661 million in "external" money3. For the tourism industry, this is an important market segment, but one that requires different marketing and communications strategies. Business tourism clients are very different from those in leisure tourism.

So, an important question remains. What is the impact of social media on business tourism?

The Special Case of Business Tourism and Social Media

"Today's business traveller is increasingly adding leisure aspects to their travels if the event they are attending (convention, conferences or symposium) isn't doing it for their destination to increase interest in participation. The bleisure aspect becomes very important, even during business travel, and social media, especially Instagram, can contribute to making a destination attractive. This is especially the case when events add 'Instagramable' moments during business travel events," noted Frédéric Gonzalo, speaker and strategist with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing and communications.


Frédéric Gonzalo 

"Social networks have the power to reach a range of clients," confirmed Aude Lafrance-Girard, General Manager of the Hôtel Château Laurier Québec City. "It is crucial to use them to increase knowledge about the destination and establishment. However, the priority is to incite travellers to come and visit the destination, whether for business or leisure tourism."


Aude Lafrance-Girard

"Social media are notoriety tools," she continued. "I believe they can be used to highlight your skills hosting a client's event so they might say, 'If I go there, my corporate event will be perfect.' So it helps build your credibility."

On the other hand, while the virtual era of social media makes it necessary for a destination to be visible and attractive, this is not the first communications tool that will be used by different business tourism actors to reach their clients. However, the vast majority of them use social networks, regularly updating their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn profiles.

"Over the past several years, many changes have occurred, and social media is increasingly popular for communications departments in tourism offices. Most associations and tourism offices now have specific resources attributed to managing them. I immediately think about Tourisme Mauricie, Trois-Rivières, or Destination Sherbrooke, who prioritise business tourism and use social media to talk about their destinations," continued Frédéric Gonzalo.

Concerning Destination Sherbrooke, many communications strategies have been implemented over the past several years to reach business clients. However, Amélie Boissoneau, Communications Coordinator-Promotion-Business and Sports Tourism, believes that social media is important, but better for targeting leisure clients.


Amélie Boissoneau  

The Power of Networking and Business Tourism

"About three years ago we noted that Facebook was not the most important platform for business tourism communications. Facebook is more an inspirational communications channel," noted Mrs. Boissonneau. "From time to time, we will post messages targeting business clients, such as our 2016 promotional video that promotes our rooms, infrastructure and services. We simply used it to inspire potential promoters, and it works."

The communications coordinator also stated that her team also uses the LinkedIn platform to communicate with business tourism clients. "Destination Sherbrooke focuses on this platform using a content strategy. Once a month, we give visibility to our infrastructure, the events we are hosting, our services, etc. Facebook and Instagram are reserved for what we call 'inspirational' content. For example, we publish beautiful pictures of the destination. A destination has to be visible on these networks. If the destination is beautiful and attractive, it can't hurt, whether for business or leisure tourism."

The general manager of the Château Laurier Québec City shares this opinion. "The best performing social platforms for leisure tourism are Facebook and Instagram. Their main role is to increase notoriety and to inspire. However, for sales and conversion, especially for business tourism, LinkedIn is best."

"On the other hand, I would say that for business tourism, the priority is not the communications channel but the message," reflected Aude Lafrance-Girard. "In our field, I believe that people want to learn about the person they are talking to. These personal links become very important, even more important than with the company itself."

The Hôtel Château Laurier Québec City's social media strategy focuses more on individuals. Each delegate, in their task list, must add to their personal LinkedIn account and create content in the form of a blog about their expertise and department. The content is then posted on LinkedIn, published in the newsletter and on the hotel website's blog.  

This applies to the QACP, which also places a lot of focus on the individual. The personal profiles of the QACP management team on social networks are important sources of information for the industry. Recently, the QACP added a content creation and social network management resource for Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. While it is important to be visible on social networks, to promote members and publish the most recent news about the organisation, these are not the primary tools used to communicate about business tourism. Networking and personal contacts remain the two primary sources of information for industry actors.

"Event organisers like to work with people they can trust. Despite today's technological tools, face-to-face meetings allow them to build this trust relationship. So many things are in play when it comes time to choose a location for their next event, and the organiser needs to be reassured. Beyond photos or videos they may have previously seen, inspection visits remain very important. So yes, social media is important, but you still need to invest time and money in the good old ways of prospecting to attract business tourism clients," stated Ginette Bardou, General Manager of the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals.

Mrs. Lafrance-Girard shares this opinion. "Social media, newsletters, blogs, all these communications strategies used to create content, contribute to raising a client's curiosity, to come and visit us. However, the sale will take place face-to-face. No one will choose the location of their next event without meeting the person who will take care of it, nor without having seen the location in person. To conclude a sale, face-to-face can't be beat. The other tools will influence the decision, but the client will generally be convinced in person."

***

The Right Words to Say It

If you would like to learn more about business tourism, consult the Vocabulary developed by the Quebec Association of Convention Professionals (QACP), which standardises the terms used, communicates them to its network of qualified organisations and professionals, and contributes to standardising the basic terminology in this business sector. The vocabulary is available at www.congres.com and helps differentiate business from leisure tourism.

This text is the third in a series prepared by the QACP, the sectorial tourism association that participates in the growth of business tourism in Quebec by promoting alliances between actors in the field, developing strategic knowledge and creating business opportunities for the industry.

***

Information
Ginette Bardou
General Manager
QACP
Telephone: 1-888-969-1307
info@congres.com

Sources are in French only

 

1 2 LENOIR, Aude, Réseau de veille en tourisme, Chaire de tourisme Transat, http://veilletourisme.ca/2016/08/01/pme-tourisme-4-bonnes-pratiques-medias-sociaux/ et Chaire de tourisme Transat de l'ESG UQAM, « Comportement Web des clientèles touristiques : connaître les habitudes de voyage des consommateurs », mars 2015

3 Gonzalo, Frédéric. « Social Media Best Practices in Travel», fredericgonzalo.com, 1er juin 2014. http://fredericgonzalo.com/2014/01/14/le-tourisme-daffaires-ce-neglige-non-negligeable/ 


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