A very big thank you to TBDI for inviting me across to Rome for their excellent Digital Warm-up Rome and the 3-day Amazing Ciociaria blogtour organised in conjunction with Unidustria.

TBDI created by TGG Italia specialises in connecting bloggers and online influencers with the Italian tourism industry.  They’ll be holding their annual must-attend travel bloggers event in Rimini from 8th to 10th October 2015 and it’s open to international bloggers who are seeking assignments within Italy.

“Create Worlds not Ads” was a great soundbite that stayed with me from Mirko Lalli’s Future Trends presentation, something I’d love for all my clients to remember when sending me through briefs and editing copy.

Digital Ambassadors

The Expo2015 exhibition hosted in Milan is wonderful news for that city, but where do its visitors go afterwards?   We watched a heat map showing that destinations Tuscany, Rome and the Amalfi Coast remain the hubs with still much work required by Italy to build awareness and increase footfall to the alternative experiences offered by lesser known regions, especially to non-Italians.  It was fascinating to hear later in the evening how Lazio considers travel bloggers as important as the early travellers who went on the Grand Tour, sharing their stories of Italy once home and encouraging fellow travel pilgrims to follow in their footprints.  I think there are a few cities in the UK that could benefit from a similar initiative and embrace their local bloggers as ambassadors.

The Blogging Investment

From Blogging to Business was a useful presentation by Abruzzo4Foodies‘ Emiliana Dell’Arciprete, one of the TBD Italy committee organisers who reminded us that, for the time they take to be invested in, blogs have to be more than a vanity project.  This was enhanced by VisitMantua‘s Lorenzo Bonoldi’s presentation, Affinities and Seduction: the love story (online) between a tour guide and his followers.

One of the images that stayed with me from the conference was Pope Francis enjoying a selfie being taken with one of his fans.  In his presentation Alfredo Monetti talked about the new Mocal, those smart mobile swinging, self-publishing powerhouse travellers – 40% of Facebook content is travel related!  20% of travel bookings are created via a mobile device, last-minute ones made on-location no doubt higher.  Travel related companies who want to stay in business can simply no longer afford not to imaginatively create content in the language(s) that attracts and influences these travellers across ALL social media platforms to win their travel purchases.

Out on the #AmazingCiociaria blogtour up at the famous Monte Cassino Abbey, we the bloggers were introduced to the Abbot who showed how on trend and brand aware he was when a selfie stick was pulled out by Maria from Heart in Rome with a request for a group portrait.  Next time I have a potential  client umming and ahhing about the importance of  the ‘mocal’ and social media with a reluctance to adopt and learn smart new skills  in order to reach them, I am going to request they look at these photos I snapped below, and invite them to follow the lead of the Church and the Abbot in embracing technology.  If nuns like those below are on holiday with a tablet and smart phone, who do businesses think they are communicating with if their platform stops with a brochure website?