Higher Education and Travel Industry Headed to SES London 2009

According to the organizers of SES London 2009, it looks like attendance will be up this year. While this may come as a surprise to some, Matt McGowan, Publisher of the conference series in addition to its sister sites ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, says, “Attendance figures are up 11% compared to last year, which is not surprising as businesses invest more of their budgets in digital marketing.”

He adds, “Whatâ’s noticeable this year however is the increase in representation from the education and travel industries. Delegates from these two sectors have increased by 10% (Education) and 16% (Travel). Many of Europeâ’s leading universities are sending people to SES London – from web managers to researchers. Similarly, established travel companies and tour operators are, as always, well represented, but this year has seen an increase in representation from the smaller, more niche, travel companies. The figures suggest that these two sectors will see significant growth in digital marketing spend this year.”

On this side of the pond, universities have seen grad school applications and enrollments increase as government funding and endowments have declined. This prompted Brandeis University to announce it would close the Rose Art Museum and turn it into a study and research center.

So, I can see why higher education on both sides of the pond is interested in finding more cost-effective ways to drive traffic to college and university websites than mailing out more college brochures. One of the first things Iâ’d recommend is registering for the Google Online Marketing Challenge, which is open to any higher education institution, anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, here in Boston, weâ’ve had 49 inches of snow dumped on us – more than double the normal snowfall at this point in the winter and even more than the normal snowfall for the entire winter season. So, I can also understand why the travel industry sees search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) turning “the winter of our discontent” into “glorious summer” in the coming year.

Despite last yearâ’s economic conditions, travel spending by domestic and international visitors in 2008 increased 5.2%, to $778.2 billion, according to the Travel Industry Association. Heck, I canâ’t begin to describe the looks I get from my wife when I lamely explain that I “have to” go to London to speak at conference, blog about the event for Search Engine Watch, and conduct video interviews from the show. Hey, itâ’s a business trip.

So, when we all get together Feb. 17-20, 2009, at the Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, I need a little help. For the European universities in attendance, my daughter is planning to spend a semester abroad next year. What do you have for an art major? And for the travel companies who will be at SES London 2009, my wife is looking for someplace sunny, where she can forget about the sleet, wind and bitter cold. (If Iâ’m lucky, she might even bring me along.)

Iâ’m speaking at the sessions on Online Video Update – The Next Wave, News Search SEO, and Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Mentions Online. Just come up after the session and introduce yourself.

If we haven’t met before, Iâ’ve been called “the bearded guy you’d vote least-likely-to-be-in-public relations” by one industry observer. Or, I’m the bearded buy below who was interviewed by Li Evans of Key Relevance at SES San Jose 2008.

VSEO – Video Search Engine Optimization – with Greg Jarboe

Oh, and if you are from an art school in a sunny place like Spain or Italy, let me know all about the programs you offer. Who knows, I may even be able to come back from SES London 2009 a hero, instead of a zero.

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