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Mr. THOMAS STEINMETZ E-Communication in Tourism


Publisher, eTurboNews

Ladies and gentlemen dist. Members of the panel,

It is indeed a great honor to be speaking to you this afternoon, on this momentous occasion celebrating the significance of the advent of the Internet, here at the World Tourism Organization’s TourCom conference.

I am the publisher of eTurbo News, based in Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA.

I can attest to the pivotal role the Internet has played not only in tourism, but on a general scale, including dissemination of information regarding conflicts, disease, and international affairs significant not only in the way of conduct business but in our lives altogether. And today, as we assess the significance of this technological

breakthrough in the industry, we are reminded of the new role of the media and its responsibilities, which in recent months have been magnified through the Internet.

Through the Internet debates form in such a way that previously unheard voices are now given the forum to do so, which is one of the pillars of eTurbo News’s existence.

In 1999 and 2000 my company was hired by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism to represent Indonesia as a privatized tourism office to the USA and Canada.

Reports of unrest in Indonesia resulted to travel warnings devastating to the tourism community in that country. Hotel occupancies went dramatically down, airlines including the very own Indonesian Garuda cancelled flights from North America.

With the help of the industry in the Asean countries and large associations in North America we developed a contact database of key companies selling travel to Asia and

started sending by e-mail our own information to respond and inform the travel industry about the travel warnings to Indonesia.

This was very effective. I remember one occasion where Arthur Frommers reported about our side of the travel warnings and declared Indonesia as safe, despite the

ongoing negative reporting in much of the mainstream media.

Due to budget crisis in Indonesia we were unable to continue our representation but had a significant tool left.

A database of 16K travel agents.

This was the birth of eTN as a global travel trade online media.

eTurboNews started APR 1, 2001 with 16K readers and now reaches 200,000 travel trade professionals and 3,200 journalists in more than 200 countries around the

world 5 times a week. We have representatives and journalists given us immediate information in 95 countries around the world.

With editors and a sales staff around the world we are the typical example of how a small company can operate with help of the Internet on a global scale.

The Internet is a phenomenal tool for the industry. An excellent way of communicating for companies any size to reach a much broader audience.

No longer would just around the corner companies be able to compete on a local scale, now consumers and travel agents can easily compare and buy land arrangements from a tour operator in Botswana – fA small hotel in Hong Kong can now advertise and reach consumers and trades in Europe for example.

Small online media like eTurboNews can now compete with the big media giants and generate independent information.

We developed a product Travel-Telegram where tourism offices, hotels, or tour operators can send their own information to our readers who opted to receive

promotional messages.

This is very effective and spontaneous . Companies are able to instantly change their promotions, tourism offices can send their own newsletter to a national or global audience. For this service our advertisers can choose the region they want to send their information to. Many tour operators send their own virtual brochures through links to a PDF Acrobat file.

eTurboNews also started TravelWireNews. TravelWireNews reaches the same readership as eTurboNews including 3,200 journalists, but all articles are press releases sponsored by the company posting them, while all articles in eTurboNews are non advertorial and written by our own team members.

What is so wonderful about the electronic media, is that results can be measured in a way no other media would have the possibility to measure it.

Every day we know how many editions of our newsletter or advertising send outs were delivered. We also know how many and who actually open and read the e-mail

and we know how many and who read each article or click on links provided in the article or the advertising.

This allows us and of course our advertisers to change the content to the most effective way.

eTurboNews enjoys a very attractive average opening rate daily of about 35% and over a weeks time more than 70% of our readers actually opened and read at least

one article.

Readers are very active and participate. We receive an average of 1000 responses a day and in time of crisis like the bomb attack in Bali, the earth quake in Iran, this

number or responses can easily ten fold.

One commercial send out paid by the Hong Kong Tourism Board announcing the end of sars ad a 82% opening rate.

The wealth of information would be beyond a person living in the 70th ; imagination.

The more Internet users get access to broadband, the more possibilities there are.

Online presentations, Databases, movies, phone, to name a few; the possibilities seem infinite.

The percentage of broadband Internet users in the travel trade is one of the highest of any industries, because most of the airline reservation systems now use Internet

broadband systems to provide their service.

There is no stopping. Internet as global communication along with wireless and cell technology has changed the way anyone can now operate on a global market place In time of crisis information is available from the source; communication and help coordination can be established immediately.


Spam, is becoming a major nuisance and is hurting legitimate e-mail broadcasts.

Spam can be kept under control very easily. Sophisticated spam control mechanism is available, but many consumers do not know how to effectively use it.

Legitimate e-mails can end in a spam box and get lost. Legitimate contracts or travel confirmation can be erased, because they landed in a spam folder.

Educating consumers on how to effectively use spam-blocking software is necessary and a challenge, but also a business opportunity for consulting company.

Another challenge is that the consumers may not know who exactly the supplier may be. An entire business operation is likely to only be virtual, no physical office; which

increases the danger of fraud. The danger of fraud and to get more information on business partners is a challenge and again an opportunity for organizations such as

the Better Business Bureau or watchdog intelligence companies to get involved on a global scale. This is also a challenge for global media companies, like eTN, to fact

check stories on the other side of the globe. We at eTN still feel it is important to have a representative and our own journalist in countries we frequently feature.

The time of faxes and the need for personal visit may make the Internet impersonal.

The broadband technology of online meetings brings it back as to be a virtual personal marketplace.

So, on the question whether the Internet is just a passing fad or a bona fide tool for the industry, the obvious answer is the latter. But to make certain that its features

and its challenges are addressed, education must also be concomitantly enforced along with its use. That is why this gathering by the World Tourism Organization is

commendable for it is directed at achieving just that.

Conferences such as TourCom pave the way for the industry to share information and ultimately educate each other

about today’s various communication channels and how to address their growing demands.

Thank you and questions, discussion.

Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.