by Ron Mader
Let me recycle something I recently wrote on Lonely Planet. Here’s a curious stat: There are 16 baseball teams in Mexico all of which have Facebook pages. There are 32 states in Mexico (including Mexico City not technically a state but let’s throw it in) and of these entities only 6 or so have real Facebook pages (not the profiles which have confused so many tourism officials). Frankly, the model of tourism information distribution is woefully obsolete. Mexican baseball league insisted that all of the teams become social media-savvy. And tourism? Not so much …
Today for example there is a big tourism conference taking place in the Riviera Maya. We can read about this online Twitter (hashtag #wttc2012) but there’s no live-streaming video.
What grade would you give Mexico tourism officials? I’d say in the past sexenio, it deserves an “F” as leaders have failed to provide answers to travelers and locals. There are exceptions, of course. I have found six states’ tourism offices on Facebook, including Oaxaca and Chiapas. That said, the vast majority of officials at the city, state and overseas branches use media and social media in particular as bullhorns, and that is the least effective means of engaging the audience, locals or visitors.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d give Mexico tourism an “A” for what is offered. What’s woefully behind the curve are the practices of tourism officials using a ‘business as usual’ model when the current climate is anything but usual.
Let me quote a speaker from a New Zealand conference (whom I happened to hear thanks to the miracle of livestreaming) which reflects the task at hand: “Our biggest challenge in digital literacy is moving organizations to a position where they can work with the community that is digitally enabled. ”
Let me extend a challenge. Before the end of May, please show me which state and city tourism offices have Facebook channels. Bonus points for the entities that use Twitter. Double bonus points for the examples in which officials respond and answer questions in a timely manner. Officials can improve, but they may need encouragement from locals and visitors, so that the communication flows in two directions. Mexican baseball has figured out how to engage its fans. Hopefully, Mexican tourism can take a few pages out of this playbook.