Got Mobile Apps?

I compare today’s mobile application technology to the iconic slogan “Got milk? It does the body good.”  However, my slogan would be something like “Got mobile apps? They are convenient time savers that provide instant access to a plethora of information using smartphones and mobile devices.”

Know Before You Go

Are you looking for the best travel deals for your next trip to San Diego?  If so, you may want to consider using a travel & tourism mobile application like TripAdvisor to help you plan your trip. TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site, according to  The site provides all sorts of travel information for travelers.  You can use the website and mobile application to book flights, car rentals, hotels, and vacation rentals.  You can also read and write consumer reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions as well as view photos and receive advice on any destination in the world.

TripAdvisor also offers these free travel mobile applications:

City Guides (offline maps, reviews and tours)

SeatGuru (seat advice, flight status, and more)

GateGuru (airport maps, stores, tips, weather and flight status)

The Fork (make reservations at the best restaurants)

The TripAdvisor mobile application is easy to navigate and includes all the necessary travel tools.  I especially like the “Downloaded Cities” tool for those of us who want access to a particular city’s travel and tourism information without having to be connected to the internet or having to wait on 3G and 4G connections.  For example, if you are traveling to San Diego, and want to “know before you go” you can simply login to your TripAdvisor mobile application account and download your destination city to your smartphone or mobile device.  After download completes, you can launch your destination city’s travel information without having to connect to the internet.  How clever and convenient is that?  Give TripAdvisor’s free travel mobile application a try today and see for yourself.

To learn more travel and tourism tips and insights, checkout the TripAdvisor Blog.

What travel sites and/or travel mobile applications do you currently use?  Feel free to leave a comment.


Differentiation: Social Media Strategies

What comes to mind when you think of San Diego? I’m sure you’ve listed things such as the tranquility of the aqua blue Pacific Ocean, pristine white sandy beaches, an abundance of sunshine, tropical climate, spectacular mountain and ocean views, and attractions, just to name a few.  But have you thought about the various hotels and resorts that are located throughout the city—Downtown, Coronado, South Bay, La Jolla, North County?  San Diego offers visitors a choice of 270 economy and luxury hotels & resorts that will satisfy everyone’s style and budget.

Although San Diego has a plethora of hotels and resorts to choose from, I have two favorites: The Grand Del Mar and the historical Hotel Del Coronado.

The Grand Del Mar, a triple 5-star luxury resort located in Del Mar just minutes from the coastline (north of downtown San Diego), was recently awarded the coveted TripAdvisors Travelers’ Choice Award 2015 and is TripAdvisors’ #1 Luxury Hotel in California.  The brand continues to be a top performer, year after year, in multiple industry categories and rankings.  They clearly know how to roll out the red carpet for their customers.  It’s no wonder that they are a favorite among so many customers.

The legendary Hotel Del Coronado, a 4.5-star luxury beach resort, has been awarded various distinctions including AAA’s Four Diamond Award, 2014 and TripAdvisors’ Certificate of Excellence, 2014.  This iconic brand has hosted U.S. Presidents, dignitaries, and celebrities alike for more than 125 years.  The Hotel Del is nestled on beautiful Coronado Island—named as one of the Top Beaches for Families in 2014 by Family Vacation Critic—located just a short distance from downtown San Diego (take a drive over the San Diego Bay Bridge or jump on the ferry).

Now that I have given you a bit of background about these two award-winning luxury resorts, keep reading below as I delve into their social media strategies.  My goal is to compare and contrast their social media efforts to date as well as discuss how these two brands use social media to differentiate themselves while advancing their strategic goals.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is essential and not having a social media strategy in place, prior to launching a social media page, is like flying a plane without a compass—going nowhere no time soon.  Additionally, marketers must align their social media strategies with the company’s business objectives, by doing so, they will be able to clearly implement social media activities that support a strategic function.  For example, The Grand Del Mar and Hotel Del Coronado’s business objectives, generally speaking, is to increase brand awareness, increase customer satisfaction, decrease costs, and generate revenues and profitability.  Social media marketing can help meet those objectives.

Social Snapshot

Social media marketing can be applied to any business plan.  So, how does The Grand Del Mar and the Hotel Del Coronado utilize social media?  Let’s take a look at their social activities.

Both luxury resorts are visible on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.  Below is a snapshot of the Hotel Del Coronado and The Grand Del Mar’s audience reach.

Hotel Del Coronado

Facebook: 85k followers

Twitter: 12k followers

Instagram: 4k followers

LinkedIn: 1853 connections

Google+: 1265 followers (views not displayed)

YouTube: 234 subscribers

The Grand Del Mar

Google+: 3.5 million page views (followers not displayed)

Facebook: 12k followers

Twitter: 4k followers

LinkedIn: 1167 connections

Instagram: 1147 followers

YouTube: 97 subscribers


It is clear that both luxury brands predominantly utilize Facebook and Twitter to reach their target market.  Hotel Del Coronado uses Facebook to engage with fans and has successfully promoted its “Fun Fact Fridays” campaign—the resort shares stories about the history of the Hotel Del (increasing brand awareness).  Fans are encouraged to share their stories and memories via Facebook and/or on the Hotel Del website’s “Coronado Hotel Social” page under Share Your Story tab.  Additionally, the resort uses both Twitter and Facebook to keep fans up to date on what’s happening at the famous Del and/or within the city of Coronado, to promote new products and services, relevant content, and high-quality photos of the hotel grounds and visitors, alike.  The Hotel Del utilizes Facebook very well to differentiate themselves and takes the necessary time to engage and interact with fans (improving customer satisfaction) by responding to fan comments and concerns, consistently.

In review of The Grand Del Mar’s social activities, Facebook is the resort’s go-to social site to engage fans and to promote products, services, upcoming events, high-quality photos of the resort, and the latest news about the resort—awards and accolades.  The Grand Del Mar is an exceptional resort with outstanding facilities, services, and employees.  The resort’s social activities are aligned with the overall business strategy of “improving the guest experience”.  The Grand Del Mar uses social media to differentiate itself from other hotels and resorts by simply promoting its outstanding services and awards.  Fans are encouraged to engage and interact via the resort’s social pages.  Also, the resort consistently engages with fans/customers and encourages them to participate in customer surveys and other campaigns.  For example, the Grand Del Mar has recently been nominated as a Top Hotel in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards.  Fans who take the survey will have a chance to “win a $10,000 dream trip to the destination of their choice,” according to a recent post on The Grand Del Mar’s Facebook page.

Lastly, the Hotel Del Coronado and The Grand Del Mar are both on the right track as it relates to social media marketing.  Engaging and interacting with fans is key.  Hopefully, they will also incorporate the social site, Pinterest into their social media strategy as there are 70+ million users on the site.  By the way, I haven’t been paid by any of these brands to endorse their products or services.

For more on how to develop a social media strategy, read “Social Media Strategy Development” courtesy of the Social Media Academy.

What are some of the strategies that you utilize in your social media marketing efforts?  Please leave a comment.

Social Media & Tourism: Connecting the dots with photos

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of people who freely share photos of their most recent travel destinations on social media?  Okay, I admit, I’m am one of those people who freely share photos on social media of beautiful places that I have visited, or in the case of San Diego, reside in.   The adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is very true.  There is something intrinsically moving about a photograph and especially when it is shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Whether it be two people holding hands while walking on the white sandy beaches of San Diego at sunset, or a picture of a pina-colada cocktail with a pineapple and an umbrella, graphic images call us to action.

Social media within the travel and tourism industry is on the rise as people have grown accustomed to sharing their destination photos and travel experiences with others online. This is great news for the travel and tourism industry and especially for tourism agencies, cities, and states who have implemented social media strategies into their marketing plans.  Social media is not only vital, but is a cost-efficient way to promote tourism, engage with visitors/tourists, and increase the number of visitors.  Businesses within the travel and tourism industry are now beginning to utilize social media and they are connecting the dots with photos—visual images.

Did you know?

  • Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans
  • 33% changed their hotel
  • 10% switched resorts
  • 10% changed agent/operator/website
  • 7% holidayed in a different country
  • Post-vacation, 46% of travelers post hotel reviews
  • 40% post activity/attraction reviews
  • 40% post restaurant reviews
  • 76% post vacation photos to a social network
  • 55% “liked” Facebook pages specific to a vacation

For more statistics, checkout the 2012 & 2013 Social Media and Tourism Industry Statistics, as reported by Stikky Media.

Welcome to Voyage San Diego BLOG!

It’s official!  Voyage San Diego (aka, me, Darla) is now blogging about beautiful San Diego, “America’s Finest City”.  For those of you who currently follow me on social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you already know how passionate I am about living in this great city and being surrounded by sparkling white sand beaches, aqua blue Pacific Ocean, pristine coastlines, breathtaking panoramic views, spectacular romantic sunsets, perfect year round temperatures, diverse cultures, amazing cuisines, and so much more.  I must say, the beauty of Southern California, specifically San Diego, has definitely inspired me to not only pick up my camera to capture every moment, but also to write a blog to share some travel insights, for those who are planning on visiting San Diego, and to discuss how the travel and tourism industry can benefit from using social media.

What is Social Media?

Merrriam-Webster Dictionary defines Social Media as forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).

Social Media Tools

So, you have an upcoming special event but you’re not sure as to how you should go about promoting it.  You’ve considered using traditional marketing such as print advertising, direct marketing, TV and radio, however, you are now interested in adding social media to your marketing campaign.

With there being a sea of social media sites, where does one begin?  Facebook and Twitter would be a great start for promoting your special events while interacting with consumers/tourists.

Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media tools—Facebook #1 with 900 million unique visitors per day, and Twitter #2 with 310 million unique visitors per day—according to eBizMBA’s ranking which averages each website’s Alexa Global Traffic Rank and U.S. Traffic Rank.  Although both social media sites are free to set up as well as fairly easy to access and have some similarities, they are very different in how the tools are used.

What is the Difference?

Facebook’s platform is designed for users to connect with family and friends while engaging in ongoing discussions, constant status updates, sharing photos, milestones, and other information.  Facebook can also be used to directly interact with consumers in two-way conversations via personal pages, fan/business pages, group pages, as well as to share important updates/news, build relationships, and increase brand awareness.  Facebook is a great tool for consumers and brands alike.  While brands promote their products, services, and special events, consumers have an option to “like” brand pages, join groups/conversations, and post comments.

Twitter’s platform is designed for users to create content that is 140-characters or less, stay up-to-date on the latest news and trends.  Users can follow, interact, and retweet posts as well as “tweet” updates in real-time.  Twitter conversations are more so “happening now” and followers are able to stay abreast of what is going on. For example, many people use Twitter to receive the latest news, promote their favorite sports team, artists, celebrities, brands and/or to simply promote whatever they are interested in (hobbies, careers, affiliations, etc.).  By posting “tweets” or “retweets” in Twitter using either mentions (@) or hashtags (#), your tweets will reach a greater amount of other twitter users, especially if your tweets are set to “public” where others can view the tweets without having to follow you.

Facebook and Twitter are powerful social media tools that should be integrated into your marketing campaign.  If you use both tools, together, you’ll have a greater opportunity of reaching an abundance of people.  To learn how you can use Facebook and Twitter to reach more customers, checkout “Practical Tips to Reach More People on Social Media” by Ann Smarty.

What are your thoughts about social media?  Which platforms do you prefer?  Feel free to leave a comment.