San Francisco, Calif. — The year was 2013. eTourism Summit delegates arriving a day early were treated to a (mind-blowing at the time) private field trip to Twitter and Google headquarters before Twitter attended eTourism Summit (building on their earlier visits in 2011 and 2012) to explain to tourism marketers what this curious digital animal was all about.
“Think of hashtags as word-of-mouth,” explained Dan Greene, then Director of Online Sales @Twitter. He encouraged thinking about large-scale events where it made sense for a travel brand to “interject yourself into conversations.” Attendee reaction was mixed. Reducing a thought to 140 characters felt like a challenge to some, others embraced the update in the spirit of penning old-fashioned “Wish You Were Here!” postcards.
Twitter traction for the concept introduced in 2006 had recently grown, thanks to core users and key events such as SXSW, FIFA World Cup, the death of Michael Jackson, a tweet from the NASA space station, and the Arab Spring.
@eTourismSummit sent its first tweet in October 2008, about 2.5 years after co-founder @Jack sent the first tweet ever. (Good news: Although Jack Dorsey’s first tweet sold as an NFT last year for $2.9 million, ours is still available!)
Early DMO Adopters: By mid-2009, some CVBs had already caught on. An eTourism Summit email highlighted a study by Development Counsellors International that showed Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay were the top U.S. destinations to market their cities (54% of these tweets were for upcoming event promotion) via Twitter in May 2009.
More DMOs Tweet: By 2010, research published by eTourism Summit showed more top Twitter-friendly DMOs had embraced the channel. The largest following was on @VisitChicago with 10K; @VisitPhilly had 7K. Also active: @PureMichigan, @VisitSavannah, @VisitMusicCity, @ColumbiaSC, @VisitPA, and @VermontTourism. An interesting approach from @VisitFlorida, “often tweeting questions people have asked on their Facebook discussion board and directing users to respond to the person on Facebook.” And @ScottsdaleAZ had “taken travel content production to a new level by uploading photos and videos to their Twitter profile.”
The Chorus Grows: By the 10th anniversary of Twitter in 2016, we reported on “The Tweet Elite,” 25 mayors (or mayors with social media staff) who had mastered Twitter. According to Development Counsellors International, only 112 of them had more than 1,000 followers, led by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former Mayor of Baltimore. (Note: Although out of officer since 2016, @MayorSRB now has 118.7K followers.)
Looking back, co-founder Jack Dorsey, who was an undergrad at NYU at the time, explained the origin of the “Twitter” name:
…we came across the word ‘twitter,’ and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.”
Video, Video, Video: In 2014, Vine was introduced to eTourism Summit, a 6-second looping video that lasted only two more years before Twitter shut down this $30 million product investment. Periscope, a video streaming app that was a Twitter acquisition at $100 million in 2015, shut down last year.
The Next Chapter: In November 2021, Jack Dorsey resigned as CEO, handing the role over to a long-serving 37-year-old software engineer who had worked his way up to Chief Technology Officer. Now, less than six months into his promotion, it appears that he may get sacked following this week’s buyout.
Don’t feel bad. The Economic Times of India reports, “Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal is set to receive $42 million if terminated after Elon Musk deal.” As for co-founder @Jack? He pockets $974 million cash on the @elonmusk deal. Sounds good.
Flashback: Just for fun, watch this classic video clip from 1994 when TODAY show hosts (L to R: Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, Elizabeth Vargas) on NBC-TV were trying to figure out what the internet is. And by 2000, eTourism Summit was founded to take the travel and tourism vertical there.