Gimme a keyboard and an Internet connection, world!I see it in the packed social media-related workshops and presentations at travel and tourism industry conferences.

I see it in my email IN box, overflowing with “Look! Here!” pitches from every travel-related marketer you can imagine.

I see it in advertising campaigns like Starbucks VIA instant coffee, which distributed their product to travel bloggers in hopes that the bloggers would talk about it.

The marketing and public relations din has only grown louder – is your decibel meter picking it up?

They want what bloggers have.

They want access to our “authenticity,” our “communities” and our “conversations.”

They want access to our Twitter networks (so they host us on Twitter cruises.)

They want us to talk about them and link to their Web sites.

They want us to be their Fans on Facebook.

They’re realizing how much travel-related video gets uploaded to YouTube every day.

Bloggers, wired writers, new media….whatever you want to call us, we’ve gone from marginal to magnificent in the nearly four years since I launched my first travel blog.  It’s been an interesting shift to watch; as a writer who prefers to publish online but would like to be paid decently for that work, I never forget what businessman David Bullock said to us at a Chicago blogging conference a couple of years back:

“We want what you have, what you have right in your DNA….the ability to communicate on the Web. Don’t ever sell yourself short. We WILL pay you for it.”

Don’t get me wrong;  I’m a marketer, too.  I make money teaching tourism people how to access people like me.  They want to know. They have stories to tell about their destinations, and they’re seeing that this is the “new” way to tell them.  That’s great, as long as they also understand that (most of us) are not in it with any expectations of making big money.

I blog and connect and exchange ideas with you down in the comments because I love to travel and talk about travel with others.  I’d do it even if I wasn’t paid; in fact, that’s exactly how I started.

It’s rather ironic to enjoy this suddenly-elevated view from the catbird seat – by doing what we love, without any particular expectations, the class nerds are now in the running for Prom Queen.

We already “get it.”  We already know how to connect with like-minded folks in an organic way, using the same free/low-cost social media tools that some corporate marketing departments are just figuring out.  We may not have deep pockets, but we are more nimble and have more room to be creative.

Even backpackers can rock the social Web to market their travel dream, and a small Dutch company can put together one of the first AR (Augmented Reality) mobile apps for city travel before the biggies have figured out what hit them.

So, thanks so much for reading and supporting this blog over the years. Thanks for reading our “parent,” the excellent Perceptive Travel webzine (which is going strong because no, the travel narrative is NOT dead.)

By reading our posts and keeping me, Nia, Alison, Liz and Tim company with your links, comments and stories, you’re auto-magically in the right place at the right time in travel and Web history.

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.