TOO MANY IRISH tourism agencies build silos and cultivate link farms. Both of those business practises can return results but sophisticated tourists--the ones most likely to have the budget to visit Ireland's most expensive holiday destinations--use community maps and gain information directly from travel advice sites. While not taking away from anything Ireland's main tourism agencies offer, I hope Failte Ireland and Tipperary Tourism start sprinkling social networks with their content. It takes some foresight. It also involves mustering support from internet-savvy partners (e.g., photobloggers and geotaggers).
If you zoom around Yahoo's mash-up of Ireland, you'll find references to tags that point to strip maps people have made for their trips to Ireland. They include places like Dubin, Limerick and Moher. If you unpack some of those maps, you'll discover Irish on short breaks who have made some of those maps. Those are the people Irish tourism agencies need to target. Do it right and enthusiastic bloggers will sprinkle all the appropriate internet dust on images, places and reviews.
I work in a state-funded place with an outreach function. I'm still waiting for signs that the facilitators want to learn more about newsfeeds, geotagged images or online communities that attract people to Ireland. Instead, most of the meeting agendas involve silo-building adventures.
Some of those packed silos will return results. I have family on both coasts of the US who are planning to come to Ireland because they see broadcast images of the landscape and because the queen-sized Irish tourism portal allows easy access to detailed information on accommodation, action-packed activities, driving routes and festivals. These are good things. They would reach millions more if mashed up with Yahoo geotags and location-based service data that are targeted for mobile phone users.
Clonmel Nationalist -- "New Tipperary Tourism Website First of Its Kind" (23 Dec 06)
Yahoo's Tagged Map of Ireland.
Also seen by IrishEyes -- "Cool Composite Maps"