the very long tail
The Long Tail of Responsible Travel, Conscious Business and Ecotourism

related: marketing, storytelling, workshops
slideshare: upgrade your world (14,000+ views)
editing: Exploring Ecotourism

Long Tail = Selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items

Background

We love the long tail! It expresses the nature of customized travel, including responsible travel, conscious business and ecotourism.

The phrase The Long Tail was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article to describe the strategy of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. Those buying the hard-to-find items is the customer demographic called the 'Long Tail.' To the right is the long tail, to the left are the few that dominate (also known as the 80-20 rule).

Chris writes: "Everyone's taste departs from the mainstream somewhere. The more we explore alternatives the more we are drawn to them."

The good news -- long tail business is quite profitable -- particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. That said, it doesn't happen automatically. The process is enhanced when different players understand how to amplify one another's interests and passions.

Usually used in business settings, the long tail has applications throughout the social web. Traditionally people have been encouraged to be homogeneous - to fit in, to conform - but the social web encourages people to express themselves in a unique manner.

Travel and Tourism

We argue that ecotourism and responsible travel ought to be developed and sold in a similar fashion as practice shows travelers are seeking specific options in specific places.

However, due to the lack of proper accounting -- the small mom and pop businesses and community ventures -- the long tail of ecotourism and niche tourism is not as appreciated as the mega success of businesses such as Amazon.com which Anderson uses to illustrate his theory.

Take a look at the operators featured on Planeta.com -- World Travel Directory -- and you will find a world of independent services. The trick - on Planeta.com and in any association of any kind - is teasing out the story from operators who generally rather 'do' than tell the world what they are doing. This is why we focus so much energy on developing storytelling tips. Hotel owners, guides and operators tend to excel on the ground. Digital literacy remains a challenge, particularly for those in remote locations or with limited skillsets (example: typing).

Quotes

Instead of conceptualising an ethical consumer, it may be more helpful to think about ‘consumer social responsibility’. This differs from the ‘ethical consumer’ construct because it recognises that consumers’ decisions are influenced by many factors and that the social component of a product is just one. What’s more, it doesn’t attribute a broad and generic ‘ethicism’ to individuals, who are likely to have far more subtle social preference delineations than we give them credit for.
- Timothy M Devinne, Do you really care? The myth of the ethical consumer

Some journalists and authors do not wait for a random press trip but will choose you. It is in your best interest to organize trips for independent media, particularly if you wish to build long tail exposure aimed at niche markets.
- Ron Mader, How to host a press trip

People don't just come to a home page. Pay attention to the long tail phenomenon.
- Greg Hubbs, Transitions Abroad



Excerpts from The Long Tail

Everyone with those white earbuds is listening to what amounts to his or her own commercial-free radio station. Culture has shifted from following the crowd up to the top of the charts to finding your own style and exploring far out beyond the broadcast mainstream, into both relative obscurity and back through time to the classics.

The Long Tail starts with a million niches, but it isn't meaningful until those niches are populated with people who want them. (p. 52)

Most encyclopedias start to fossilize the moment they're printed on a page. However, add Wiki software and some helping hands and you get something self-repairing and almost alive. - Daniel Pink (p. 67)

Essays on Long Tail

El Concepto 'Long Tail' aplicado al Ecoturismo
How Google could kill the Long Tail of travel
Say Goodbye To The Long Tail Of Product Resellers, At Least On The Internet

Wiki

Marketing
Communication
socialweb
Workshops

Wikipedia

Long Tail

Recommended Listening

'Blockbusters' trump the 'Long Tail' - Entertainment ‘blockbusters’ continue to rule the roost.


Elsewhere on the Web

Longtail - delicious
Long Tail
Long Tail Olympics
How RSS thickened my long tail
http://www.empoweryourpoint.com/2008/11/the-long-tail-on-slideshare-and-a-second-chance-for-ichart
http://www.thelongtail.com/the_long_tail/about.html
Long Tail Tourism: Implications of the distributed business model for the tourism and travel industry - Alan Lew
The Long Tail of Tourism - Tourism Company
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~alew/docs/Alan_Lew_Long_Tail_Tourism.html
http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2009/10/the-long-tail-of-trav...
http://canadiantourism.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-is-long-tail-of-to...
http://www.tourismtide.com/2008/04/the-long-tail-of-travel-niche-to...;
http://www.geog.nau.edu/publications/Long-Tail-Tourism-Lew.pdf (PDF)
http://www.springerlink.com/content/02k6202206087140
http://www.niemanlab.org/2012/08/coming-in-the-side-door-the-value-of-homepages-is-shifting-from-traffic-driver-to-brand
http://ecoturismogenuino.ning.com/profiles/blogs/el-concepto-long-tail-aplicado

Questions

How does the longtail apply to travel searches?
How does the longtail approach apply to rural tourism, ecotourism, specialty travel?
How does the longtail approach affect the perception of a country?
How should press trips be conducted with a view toward longtail interests?

the long tail phenomenon

Piechart (New Zealand and Australia Forum)
Stats for your account | flickr

Upgrade your world: How to integrate Web 2.0 tools in promoting European Ecotourism from Aivar Ruukel on Vimeo.


Buzzword Bingo: Longtail