Print in a Web 2.0 World

Print is dead! Long live print.

In an increasingly web-centric environment, the role of print publications is changing. Miles Media’s discussion document “Print in a Web 2.0 World” provides a fresh look at print visitor guides for 2009 and beyond. This paper offers DMOs a range of resources, research and recommendations to consider. >>Full Story (Registration required)

Thoughts// In the “Web 2.0″ era, print can sometimes get to be an afterthought…I mean why worry about “pictures and text on paper” when you can play with cool stuff like widgets and tweets?  DMO’s and other tourism providers know however that print publications are still relevant and remains a key driving force for both inspiration and planning.

The topic of how print publications evolve because of technology was a “hot topic” at the recent ESTO conference in Florida.  While none of the states expressed doubts that print was “going away”, many lamented the lack of research or recommendations on how print guides should evolve.  Miles Media’s (they work for Florida, Pennsylvania & Wyoming among others) Enter Print in a Web 2.0 World is therefore a timely white paper that offers some salient recommendations and case studies on how you can blur the lines between print and digital.  Key findings include:

  1. Integration - DMOs need to update their whole media and publishing plans and take a “holistic” view in their storytelling approach. DMOs need a publishing strategy that combines the strengths and synergies of print and online, working together. Make the stories immersive and use multiple formats and media to extend the experience. For example, if your print story is about “best chowder” on the coast, drive folks online to watch videos of the writer enjoy that pipping hot bowl of chowder, feature other stories from the location on the blog, and provide that recipe in the next e-newsletter.This also is a nice way to tie in your social media efforts to the story. Use “local experts” in the surrounding area to blog and write about their favorite restaurants and invite residents and visitors to submit their own!
  2. Mobile - Mobile content is finally approaching the mainstream market. Over the coming 5 years it can build on print’s role as a portable, accessible source of travel information. 17% of American Leisure Travelers reported in July 2008 using a mobile phone or PDA to access travel related content – mainly maps and flight information (for now). Make the content available mobile and make it available in a way so that it’s easy for itinerary building. Check out our Earth Day post about Just Go Guides for one way to do this.
  3. ‘Don’t Get Stuck in the Middle’ – Print guides need to have a clear role in the travel decision process eg: as a rich, experiential magazine style publication (to sell the destination) or as a practical/portable guide for use while traveling. It is possible, but increasingly problematic to fulfill both objectives in one single guide.
  4. Speed – Traditionally, print guides from states and destinations take 1-2 weeks to get to their destination. In the age of instant gratification and compressed planning cycles, this seems ancient. Give folks multiple ways to order publications including real time, first class etc. And don’t be afraid to charge consumers for enhanced delivery.
  5. Green - In the light of the overwhelming public opinion, this seems faily obvious but print guides for 2008 & beyond also need to be more sustainable. Review the print run & page count (eliminating waste & saving resources) and then looking at certified environmental options in paper and printing.

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