There's gold in them thar tweets

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Bill MaloneyI've read that 2010 is the year when more than 50% of Web access will be via a smartphone or PDA rather than a PC or laptop, and I believe it. After a recent Saturday morning round of golf, I noticed that my foursome, all middle-aged, were looking at their handhelds, apparently mesmerized.

What surprises me is that few people I know are embracing the media revolution in their business lives as enthusiastically as they are in their personal lives. Some of us have developed a social media strategy to reach out to clients who are addicted to their BlackBerrys and iPhones, but even beyond the obvious LinkedIn and Facebook applications or tweeting travel specials, there are business-to-business opportunities in social media that can have a tremendous impact on your professional life.

What if I told you that each week there is a large international gathering of people who talk only about travel and that you can attend, no matter where you live? Each Thursday, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, there's a Twitter event -- a tweet-in -- called "Travel Night In."

This ongoing event was created by three women who love travel and see the Web and Twitter as the forum to promote their business, meet new contacts, learn about destinations, get help with client issues and oh, "BTW," get some new clients for their business.

Their "travel store" is www.zipsetgo.com, a website that contains blogs, destination information, attractive deals, a booking engine and easy access to the community they have established around themselves and travel. You can register for newsletters, follow their tweets or link to their Facebook pages.

To join in a Travel Night In discussion, sign on to Twitter at 3:30 next Thursday and place #TNI in the search box. Each week the hosts announce a topic (on July 22 it was the Travel Bucket List) and they post 10 questions. Participants are not only Americans; Europeans, Africans and South Americans are all well represented.

It's a gateway to explore social media and travel, and who knows where it will lead you? More customers? More friends? One more reason for your friends to say, "Put down that phone and look at me!"

See you at a future Travel Night In.

Bill Maloney has more than 30 years of industry experience as a supplier and agent, serving most recently as CEO of ASTA. He is a principal of WAM Strategic Development in Alexandria, Va., and serves as a senior consultant to Partner Concepts in Annapolis, Md.
This column appeared in the Aug. 30 issue of Travel Weekly.

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