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Travelers around the world are reading TripAdvisor reviews, downloading local discovery apps, and asking friends for recommendations, all while missing out on one of the most knowledgeable sources of local information in a destination: Destination marketing organizations.

These groups have an enormous opportunity to make themselves matter to everyday travelers via social media, but few are taking advantage of it.

Of the more than 450 destinations listed on Skift’s social data dashboard SkiftIQ, only 12 marketing organizations reply to travelers’ tweets in less than two hours.

Of course, two hours isn’t fast enough for a tourist looking for a real-time information, but it’s step towards providing same-day information to people traveling to or already in a city.

The tourism boards included in the below list have sent at least two tweets a day during the past 14 days and reply to tweets in at least two hours.

DestinationSkiftIQResponse Time (Minutes)Tweets Per Day (14 days)Ratio of Tweets:RepliesFollowers (Thousands)
Visit Seattle6326414.550/5015.9
Visit Melbourne566671680/2032
Welcome to Yorkshire477953.590/1053.6
U.S. Department of the Interior708978.770/30147
Visit Pittsburgh45610719.680/2017
Visit Florida72211017.380/2066.5
Visit Spokane4291165.480/207.26
Explore Georgia67411725.160/4035.7
Travel Oklahoma5361174.680/2011.4
Visit Baltimore478118490/1032.3
Tourism Calgary67112235.850/5024

Room for More Engagement

Despite their relative speed, only ten to 20 percent of most of these organization’s tweets are replies.

The majority of tweets are prepared, and most often scheduled ahead of time, via Tweetdeck. For example, 94 percent of Visit Florida‘s and Visit Baltimore‘s tweets are sent through the platform.

Exceptions include Explore Georgia and Visit Seattle, which send an almost equal number of standalone tweets and replies.

How It’s Done

On average, Visit Seattle employees respond to travelers’ tweets within an hour, or 64 minutes. Visit Seattle’s Twitter account is just as active on the weekends as it is on weekdays and is actually more active at night than during the day.

But sending that many relevant and close to real-time tweets is not easy.

To achieve such authenticity and speed, three to seven staff members must man the organization’s social media channels at all times, explains spokesperson David Blandford.

In addition to Twitter, Blandford says the organization also receives questions and “some very specific requests for information or tips from prospective visitors” on Facebook.

Virtual Visitor Center

Another tourism board committed to helping travelers online is Explore Georgia.

Lauren Cleland, new media specialist for the Georgia Tourism Division, is the brand’s voice on social media.

“I view the Explore Georgia Twitter account as a virtual visitor center,” she tells Skift. “People seek us out with questions ranging from, ‘Who serves the best BBQ in Macon?’ to ‘I’m on I-75N. What city should I stop in for the night?’ I strive to respond as quickly as possible to every Georgia travel question that comes through, no matter the day of the week or hour of the day.”

On average, Cleland responds in two hours no matter the time or day.

According to SkiftIQ, approximately 30 percent of Explore Georgia’s tweets are sent on the weekend and 60 percent are sent after daytime work hours.

Almost half, or 40 percent, of the account’s 25 daily tweets are responses to travelers.

But it takes more than just monitoring mentions to stay as engaged as Cleland. She explains,

“In addition to closely monitoring our Mentions and the #ExploreGeorgia hashtag stream, I also use Hootsuite to monitor relevant hashtags like ‘Georgia + trip,’ ‘Georgia + vacation,’ and even seasonal searches like, ‘Georgia + Christmas.'”

It often requires a team of social media managers to effectively monitor and respond to travelers tweets in real time, but it’s an investment necessary to stay relevant today.

Photo Credit: Visit Seattle's social media team engages a traveler via Twitter.