41 responses

  1. Michael Hodson
    May 18, 2011

    Really proud of this article for you — it is the solid kind of reporting information that is going to make blogging a more realistic profession for some of us. Could be a column in the NT Times or such, but is here on your website… which is better in my book!

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 18, 2011

      Thanks Michael– I appreciate your feedback. I’m enjoying your Jordan posts!

      Reply

  2. Maria A
    May 18, 2011

    Great interview, really exclusive. I love the quote about bloggers: “It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend you trust, as opposed to reading a recommendation in a mass-produced magazine.”

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Thanks Maria. Immediacy, detailed coverage and influence seem to be the main advantages of inviting bloggers on trips over traditional media.

      Reply

  3. Jodi
    May 19, 2011

    Interesting interview and great to get more background on the wider goals of the JTB in inviting us, beyond the obvious of getting more tourists here. It’s a testament to their selection that despite seeing many of the same sites, each of the writeups is markedly different and in the voice of the particular blogger who visited. I look forward to reading more of the posts as they go up!

    Reply

  4. Sherry Ott
    May 19, 2011

    Good interview – I have actually been wanting to hear about the campaign from the Jordan tourism side. Excellent!

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Hi Sherry, thanks for your comment on my Q&A with the Jordan Tourism Board. It’s clear from Nayef’s answers that his team values bloggers and considers them highly influential!

      Reply

  5. Jeremy Branham
    May 19, 2011

    Congrats on the interview and to all of you for the efforts you took to share more about Jordan!

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Thanks Jeremy! Glad you enjoyed my Q&A with the Jordan Tourism Board.

      Reply

  6. David Whitley
    May 19, 2011

    I think it’s great that the fact you’ve been given a free trip to Jordan has in no way influenced the way you portray Jordan’s appeal to the general public – or how useful blogger trips to such destinations are. Bravo. An excellent piece of work.

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Thanks for the comment on my Q&A with the Jordan Tourism Board. In your career as a freelance travel journalist, you must have attended quite a few press trips. How has your coverage been influenced by sponsored trips or experiences? I’d be interested in hearing your perspective.

      Reply

  7. Shannon O’Donnell
    May 19, 2011

    Love hearing Nayef’s point of view first hand on why the bloggers were brought there and how he thinks the campaign is going – Jordan really is emerging as one of the most innovative and progressive Tourism Boards out there in terms of tapping into the current social and online trends! 🙂

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Hi Shannon, thanks for your comment. It’s hard to be on Twitter without noticing a post about Jordan– they are certainly getting the word out!

      Reply

  8. Jeanne @soultravelers3
    May 19, 2011

    Fantastic article and thanks so much for including us at Soultravelers3. We’re very proud to be the only family bloggers invited to Jordan and we’re here now and have loved it as a family travel destination.

    I think it was a brilliant move on the part of the Tourism Board of Jordan and I know our audience has been very excited about Jordan..even just from our tweets and Facebook photos.

    This is definitely the wave of the future and innovative tourism boards are figuring that out. We were also the first bloggers to be invited to Bhutan by their TCB just before arriving in Jordan and both we and our readers loved that experience as well. Recently we were interviewed by the BBC about how social media is changing travel and the smarter tourism boards are using it to their advancement.

    I see it as a real win/win in so many ways..great for our audience, great for the countries and a great experience for us! Jordan is such an amazing place, I am happy that this campaign has worked so well!

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Thanks Jeanne. You raise a good point– the impact of your blogger trips to Bhutan and Jordan on your audience. It sounds like they’ve enjoyed learning about countries they might not have known much about before your posts.

      Reply

  9. Ted Nelson
    May 19, 2011

    It is great to hear the impact that travel bloggers have from someone who is not a blogger. We sometimes spend so much time high-fiving each other that it is hard to substantiate our work outside the blogging community. Great questions and great interview.

    Reply

  10. Cam
    May 19, 2011

    Really enjoyed this post! Agree with Michael’s comment, the piece is well done!

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 26, 2011

      Thanks Cam! Appreciate your feedback on my Q&A with the Jordan Tourism Board.

      Reply

  11. Kevin Revolinski
    May 19, 2011

    This is a great idea for an interview and I really like what it reveals. It’s nice to see tourism boards thinking ahead and keeping up with the times. The advantage to blogs and webzines seems so obvious, yet some organizations are still hung up on print media. What’s the value of an article that comes and goes one month and is only available if you obtain one of 100,000 physical copies and happen to read that page, compared to something that will be there for years which I can find directly in 0.3 seconds on Google in my home or office? The blog connects me immediately to the author if I have a question. Plus there’s the writer’s ability to update, expand, revisit the piece, plus the reader’s (and writer’s) chance to re-Tweet it, Stumble it, etc. Plus the “Google juice” it can drive to the destination, the tour providers, hotels, and the tourism board itself. Kudos to Visit Jordan for getting it!

    Reply

  12. Charu
    May 19, 2011

    Excellent post and great reporting Leslie.
    Very proud of you! Glad you could be on site to showcase this truly magnificent country.

    Reply

  13. Jeff Titelius
    May 19, 2011

    What a great article in support of the credibility that bloggers provide to the ever-changing and evolving journalism landscape. It’s wonderful to read how we are valued by such leaders in the tourism industry!! Excellent article Leslie!!!

    Reply

  14. Dalene – Hecktic Travels
    May 19, 2011

    Have been eagerly reading everyone’s posts on Jordan, and am so glad to see that the Jordan Toursim Board is seeing such great results. Their strategy and thought put into the selection of bloggers is really commendable – as is the work done by the bloggers! A wonderful testament to what the community can provide when engaged properly.

    Reply

  15. John in France
    May 19, 2011

    Great article. Jordan are obviously well ahead of the pack on this form of promotion – a model for other country tourism agencies.

    Reply

  16. santafetraveler
    May 19, 2011

    Great interview, Leslie. And the photos are terrific.

    Reply

  17. Nellie
    May 20, 2011

    Insightful interview! I’ve read so many articles from the bloggers’ point of view about how blogger press trips help promote a destination, but never from a tourism board’s perspective. This gives us a good idea of why they are sponsoring us bloggers on these trips and helps us get a better understanding of where we stand. I’m looking to my trip to Jordan – in a week’s time. It’ll be my second time there, but I can’t wait to revisit one of my favorite countries in the world. 😉

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 20, 2011

      Have a wonderful trip! Look forward to reading your posts.

      Reply

  18. Todd | Todd’sWanderings
    May 20, 2011

    Great interview Leslie and it really nails down the value of bloggers. It is great to hear from Tourism Boards themselves on why they are using bloggers and how they measure success. Like Micheal, I’m proud of you too, BUT I also think you should write a similar piece for a major paper like the NYT, but indicate the story broke first on your blog 🙂

    Reply

    • Leslie Koch
      May 20, 2011

      Thanks Todd! Actually, I pitched this story to several traditional publications and got no bites. Seems like they weren’t interested in a story about bloggers becoming mainstream… or perhaps they don’t value the work of bloggers enough to have them contribute. If you have any NY Times contacts, I’m game!

      Reply

  19. Scott – Quirky Travel Guy
    May 20, 2011

    Great reporting indeed. It’s cool bloggers and tourist boards can work together on mutually beneficial arrangements like this. And that monastery pic blows me away!

    Reply

  20. Lori Henry
    May 21, 2011

    Great post! You can add me to the list of bloggers who was on a sponsored trip to Jordan this year, although I was there as a travel writer for both my blog and TripAtlas.com.

    Reply

  21. Nayef
    May 22, 2011

    Thank you all for your kind words. We, at Jordan Tourism Board, definitely appreciate the reach and value of bloggers, and I hope that my colleagues in the tourism industry will follow and realize the potential of this new and influential medium. No doubt we appreciate the interactivity of this medium, and I will be doing all I can in promoting this initiative among the leaders in the tourism industry.
    Keep up the good work and I thank all of those who have posted their blogs on our beautiful country and helped us show the true Jordan. Hope to see more of you visiting Jordan soon.
    Once again thank you all.

    Reply

  22. Juno
    May 24, 2011

    Wonderful piece Leslie! I see this press trip to Jordan really impacts you-in a very good way. It’s an upcoming marketing source and another way of travel and blog.
    Insightful post!

    Reply

  23. oliver
    May 26, 2011

    tht monastery in petra really looks awesome…

    Reply

  24. Hal Peat
    May 27, 2011

    Leslie – time for you to stop being disingenuous.

    What has been the most powerful and dynamic and change-creating use of social media to this date in human history? Simple: the ability and empowerment of vast populations to undercut dictatorial regimes in the sourcing and distribution of information and thereby enabling the challenge to those regimes.

    Nowhere do you even once mention this. David Whitley has a point, which I’ll be not diplomatic about: this isn’t just about a “press trip” influencing editorial content – it’s about press trips that are motivated and designed to counterract progressive political and social change in the real world. That is exactly what this is Nayef al-Fayez is intent to accomplish – the whitewashing of a dictatorial regime which made purely cosmetic governmental changes – recycling an old PM into office in March – and this is the PR end of the same stratagem by the Hashemite regime. Do they beat and kill protesters as much as the regimes in Syria or Yemen are doing right at this moment? You can be sure they would if the protests accelerate in Jordan as much as they have at these other flashpoints.

    I don’t see one single indication that any of the travelbloggers were going to look at the real world other than to go on a junket and then “report” oh look at that Petra monument, I saw that in “Indiana Jones”. In other words, divorced and devoid of any acknowledgement of real world is issues. It works for both parties – an effective PR camouflage campaign by the Jordan Tourism Board and a cheap junket by a bunch of travel bloggers who are otherwise good at raising questions of “travel ethics when it’s not them off on a binge into the Middle East.

    So much nonsense and fluff write about social media, apps and community, but you conveniently ignore the 800 lb. gorilla tha represents the most historic and central use of all those tools and that is summarized in the Arab phrase for:

    “The people want the overthrow of the regime.”

    Reply

    • Nayef Al-Fayez
      June 7, 2011

      Hal –
      While you are entitled to your opinion, I have to respectfully disagree with you.
      Social media did in fact play a role in the Arab Spring; however, this was not the point of this post by Leslie. Leslie wanted to highlight the use of social media, especially by the Jordan Tourism Board, as part of our mission to promote Jordan as a tourist destination.

      You claim that it is “whitewashing a dictatorial regime” yet no one has ever called Jordan’s regime dictatorial, and they would be WAY off if they did, as Jordan is a constitutional monarchy. Not only that, but not a single protest called for the ouster of our King during this time; most of the protests were about economic reforms, which is something that people all over the world are expressing and Jordanians are enjoying those same exact rights of freedom of expression. Jordan has and will always be a safe destination because of its people and its leadership that is respected regionally and worldwide.

      You also claim that if things were to escalate in Jordan, they would get violent. Throughout the very minor protests that have happened in Jordan (which are in NO way comparable to others in the region), the police PROTECTED the protestors and even gave them water and juice to keep them hydrated. I find your claim unfair and uneducated. You can even refer to Michael Hodson’s post about that here:
      http://www.goseewrite.com/2011/04/friday-the-new-saturday/

      Furthermore, to address your unjust words to the bloggers, we stand by our decision to host these bloggers. It was a continuation of our work as a tourist board and part of our online marketing strategy to host press trips, so it was not an attempt to “whitewash” anything. We have hosted these trips in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

      The bloggers we hosted got to meet real people, got to go down to the streets, got to go to people’s homes, so not only did they get to see the real Jordan, they got to see it in a way traditional press trips do not. They spoke to real Jordanians, ate dinner with them, and talked to them about their lives. Each and every single blogger hosted has written a disclaimer on the posts, indicating they were hosted yet their opinions were not influenced in any way. What is more, they were free to write whatever they wanted – the good and the bad!

      Moreover, if you need the opinions of those not invited by our tourism board, you can check other travelers’ views on Jordan that they have written about. Here are just a couple:
      http://engagingcultures.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/is-jordan-safe-heres-what-we-found-out/
      http://www.ottsworld.com/blogs/acts-of-kindness-in-jordan/

      And if you would like the opinion of travelers who were in Jordan earlier this year, here are testimonials from over 100 of them from all over the world, expressing their views on Jordan:
      http://www.visitjordan.com/testimonials

      We believe wholeheartedly in the power of social media and of the bloggers. They are a great addition to the tourism industry and we stand by this new emerging tool. We wish them all the best in the industry and hope more people give them the respect they deserve.

      Reply

      • Leslie Koch
        June 8, 2011

        Thanks for sharing these links and providing more background. As you mentioned in the Q+A, part of the appeal of bloggers is that we write honestly about destinations we visit. If I had detected anything that made me feel unsafe in Jordan, or implied there was unrest in the streets, I would have mentioned it in my posts. In response to Hal’s comment: I think it’s important to understand that every Middle Eastern country is different; Jordan is not Syria or Egypt. Have you been to Jordan recently and experienced the current political climate? If not, I suggest you go… you might be surprised by what you find.

        Reply

      • Hal Peat
        June 12, 2011

        Leslie – The facts of the matter about Jordan itself is there for anyone who really wants to know: the king and the king alone as an *absolute* monarch appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. He also appoints part of the parliament there. The parliament has the least say in the governing of that country. The people were protesting both for economic and political reasons and requesting changes both economic *and* political in these existing conditions. Your sponsor Mr. Nayef al-Fayez is again playing very fast and loose with the truth when he now goes on to state that protests have only been about economic issues. They have not. Also, that there was “no violence”. There was. In fact, repeatedly so and reported to the world on news casts broadcast nationally in this country in March and April on the major 3 networks and BBC America during that period.

        I have nothing at all against truly independent media travel to any country – as long as the person reporting or describing is doing so in a way which is not heavily compromised by fully-covered press/blogger trips in a volatile situation such as exists in the Middle East. That’s the distinction I’m making. There are only 2 reasons a press trip ever happens – a positive one, to promote an opening, a change, some kind of annual event; or a negative one – to counteract the negative perception or questions that the viewing public receive from headline news from a region. Jordan and the JTB falls into number two, no matter how they try to spin that. The visitor numbers over the past 5 years but especially within the past 5 months reflect that. I wish the ordinary people of Jordan only the very best of a better future. They certainly deserve better.

        Reply

  25. Nayef Al-Fayez
    June 15, 2011

    Hal-
    I’m not exactly sure if you have ever visited Jordan for you to so “authoritatively” give such strong opinions on it, but I would like to clarify a few things. We, as the Jordan Tourism Board, are not a political entity – we promote Jordan as a travel destination to the world. None of our promotional efforts, or anything else we do for that matter, is ever politically motivated. As such, I would not like to get into a political debate with you.

    As for our way of promoting Jordan, and for your strong dislike of press trips, they have always been part of the way we promote Jordan. Regardless of the events of this year, we did not host these press trips to “counteract the negative.” Jordan was unfairly grouped in to the turbulent region when things were not escalated as they were in other countries. You speak of reforms…not only is the King fully supportive of reforms, but the political and economic reform process has been going on since 1989, led by the late King Hussein, with the full support of the Jordanian people. The protests you speak of that occurred this year, were because people were demanding a faster reform process. The protests were never about a regime change; our King works hand in hand with the Jordanian people, which is why you would never see things escalate in Jordan.

    Again, I would like to stress to you that blogger press trips are a trend in marketing strategy for almost all tourist boards, and we believe the bloggers we hosted were able to showcase the real Jordan, and especially that it was safe, in real time!

    Thank you for wishing us all the best, we wish you the same.

    Reply

  26. Hal Peat
    July 4, 2011

    Mr. Al-Fayez,

    You state “I would not like to get into a political debate with you” – and then that is mostly what you actually do.

    In point of fact, Mr. Al-Fayez, you are a direct employee reporting and answerable to the Minister of Tourism (Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh Minister of Tourism, or whoever presently occupies that position) who in turn of course is a member of the present Jordanian government. So to be stating that you are neither a political entity nor that you are talking politics has nothing to do with reality.

    As to the rest of your deliberate distortion of fact (to put more politely):

    “….and for your strong dislike of press trips…”

    Not at all what I said. I said that press trips are fine – but anyone can stage a press trip, it can represent one event, one hotel, one commercial interest, but when it represents the agenda of a government in a region in crisis, then it represents a very questionable agenda. So you definitely are not the same as just another private party and definitely not the same as just another tourism board staging a press trip. In other words, press trips are part of any working travel journalist’s life – including mine, by the way – and we make distinctions.

    “Regardless of the events of this year, we did not host these press trips to “counteract the negative.”

    Yes you certainly and obviously did – and the evidence is right there in what you said next:

    “Jordan was unfairly grouped in to the turbulent region when things were not escalated as they were in other countries.”

    In other words, your government got called out in the international media and you sought a cheap and easy tactic to try and put a different spin on it with that blogger trip. Your Minister of Tourism was in a huge, huge panic, and ordered you to “counterract” the facts that were being reported about Jordan with some cosmetic effects in the online media through bloggers. In “real time” – exactly so, you were in fact desperate so that’s why you needed instantaneity in the online media where you could create the illusion of “everything normal and happy in Jordan”.

    “You speak of reforms…not only is the King fully supportive of reforms, but the political and economic reform process has been going on since 1989, led by the late King Hussein, with the full support of the Jordanian people. The protests you speak of that occurred this year, were because people were demanding a faster reform process. The protests were never about a regime change; our King works hand in hand with the Jordanian people, which is why you would never see things escalate in Jordan.”

    Why are you talking again predictable political propaganda when you started out saying that you don’t want to talk about politics? Clearly also your English is very third-rate if you don’t understand that “regime change” means democratic change. Which is exactly what your blogger trip is part of a wider agenda to stall and prevent.

    As to your cheap and childish little insult that you start out with when you state:

    “I’m not exactly sure if you have ever visited Jordan for you to so “authoritatively” give such strong opinions on it…”

    All I can tell you in response is no, I haven’t ever visited Jordan, Mr. Al-Fayez, but on the other hand there’s still a lot of other places in this world with much bigger problems I haven’t visited either. I haven’t visited Haiti for instance, but I trust the facts in the news enough to have donated and worked for Haitian relief. By your own reasoning, however, I’m acting “authoritatively” about a place I haven’t visited and ooops! I shouldn’t have given that donation or cared about Haiti. I haven’t visited Japan either and so ooops! again – that must also mean I shouldn’t have given a donation or cared about the Fukushima catastrophe this spring.

    By your own line of reasoning, since you yourself have been to the United States but clearly know nothing about either democracy or how it works, nor have the least respect for it, I guess that also demonstrates that visiting a place in person doesn’t necessarily provide any understanding of what you see and hear.

    Reply

  27. Hal Peat
    July 15, 2011

    This may be considered in most instances an old thread, but the events on the ground continue to unfold contrary to what this Mr. Al-Fayez and his bosses falsely claim. In fact, the truth on the ground as of this date July 15, 2011 is as follows in the latest news report from Jordan:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/15/syria-jordan-protests-violent_n_899815.html

    Reply

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