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A Digital Reflection of a Dominican Destination

This guest blog is by Adam Wallace as part of our themed content hosted the first week of each month, with December focusing on hotels and resorts. Adam Wallace is an online marketing consultant specializing in travel and hospitality. 

November 17th. After the rain.  A classic light post, reflected, on Calle El Conde in the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.  A moment captured in the digital space on Instagram.  A detail of a place and a piece in the building of a digital destination.
What is the life of a place?  What will inspire you to go somewhere new? How do you find it?  What does the discovery process look like?  
In the past several months I have had the opportunity to explore these questions for the creation of a digital destination for the colonial city in Santo Domingo.  Following my work with the Roger Smith Hotel, Eddie Lubbers of the Dominican Travel Network introduced me to the Zona Colonial and explored with me how we could bring this place to life online through social media and a dynamic online presence.
It was on the shores of this Caribbean island, that Columbus first landed in the “New World” and today you will find that these 500 years of history blend with a vibrant modern life.  In spite of this, at first sight there was little online about the Zona Colonial. It is not so well known and does not have mega-resorts, so won’t be featured on the large online travel agency sites such as Expedia and Orbits.  Without that digital exposure and without big business marketing dollars, the challenge is to put this place on the map (and the web) through word of mouth and the creation of an online image that inspires travel. 
In exploring the Zona Colonial I found that the stories unfolded themselves, that one person led to the next and that there was an active and connected community.  The degree to which local business owners have committed to building an active online presence for their businesses was impressive and exciting.  From the popular music venue and cultural institution, Casa de Teatro and their community on Facebook and Twitter to the mouth-watering photos on Facebook of dishes by chef Saverio Stassi at the first tavern of the Americas, Pat’e Palo and the highly engaged community of bar owners on Twitter.  In October, I was happy to be a part of the launch of Social Media Club Santo Domingo, which will develop online and offline connections between those actively engaged in social media marketing. 
It is not only businesses that are active, but individuals as well. There have been over 18,000 check-ins in this neighborhood of Santo Domingo on Facebook (that’s around the same as the East Village in NYC, for perspective).  With all of this activity, there is a great opportunity to bring the pieces together and show culmination of the details that create the experience of this place. 
A few months ago, we set out to develop an online destination that reflects the people, places and stories that make the Zona Colonial special.  This week we celebrated the launch of and officially launched the Zona Colonial project on Facebook and Twitter.  It is clear that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that there is an energy that happens when people come together.  Our hypothesis is that this energy is palpable, that it spreads through word of mouth and will be more inspiring to travelers than any big box travel site.
(and by the way, even El Conde, the street with the reflection has a voice)

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