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TOURISM

Travel firms tap into social networks via blogs

Tourism companies are turning to travel bloggers as a route into the vast global market of social network users, industry insiders say.

At Berlin's ITB tourism fair this week, bloggers and tourism professionals were brought together at a "speed dating" event to swap tips and further their cooperation in a highly competitive sector.

Catharina Fischer, of the German Tourism Office, said blogging opened up an effective and inexpensive way "to generate content, do marketing on social networks, expand one's presence, and all in different languages".

With the likelihood that a blogger will post YouTube videos or photos on Instagram to illustrate their post, it is easier to create a buzz on the Internet, via Twitter or Facebook, bloggers and companies say.

In today's world of real-time news and constant information, blogging, where an individual writes online about their own experience, offers an immediacy that traditional media and guide books cannot.

Marion Schumacher, of the Mövenpick hotel chain, also pointed out that a blog "is more subjective. It's often a first-person account by the blogger from their own experience."

"Bloggers mostly post their blogs online before, during and after a trip" which then remain on the Internet to be read time and again, explained Anja Beckmann, of specialist communication agency Red Mod.

The guidelines on collaboration between bloggers and the travel industry still vary and have not been formalised — some bloggers plainly state when a trip is financed by a travel company, while others do not.

Angelika Schwaff, a former head of international communication for an airline, launched her blog "Reisefreunde" ("Travelfriends") because she was always having to search back through business cards when asked for hotel or restaurant recommendations.

After around a year, her blog had attracted thousands of readers, and in 2012 she decided to leave her job and become a professional travel blogger — still a privilege for the very few — and consultant.

Today she says that 99 percent of her trips are down to partnerships with the travel industry but insists she retains her independence and always makes clear in her blog who has financed what.

"Even if they (partners) invite you on a trip, I make it very clear at the beginning in my letter of intent 'you don't buy my opinion'," she told AFP.

But for travel-lovers, blogging is a good way to fund their passion if they strike deals to get the travel or accommodation costs covered or are paid to provide photos or videos that can be used by the partner company.

Some agree to place adverts on their blog too.

But the role of the blogger and mutual benefits of blogging for a travel company can still be hard to define.

Sebastian Canaves, who is behind the off-the-path.com blog and works as a marketing consultant, grumbled about the avalanche of press releases he receives despite not being a journalist.

Even if the contours of blogging remaining relatively fluid, however, Yvonne Zagermann, of the blog justtravelous.com, said much had changed in blogging in the last two years.

"The blogosphere as a whole has made great progress in its professionalisation," she said.

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TOURISM

Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

https://twitter.com/cr15b/status/1447491633486995458

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.

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