A Conversation with Amie O’Shaughnessy

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Amie O’Shaughnessy, who spoke at TBEX last week, talks to us today about creating her popular luxury travel site for families, Ciao Bambino! and what it takes to succeed in social media in a contemporary digital landscape. (She also offers some tips on how to travel with kids–great advice for any family summer traveler). Check out her site here and enjoy the interview!

You’re the Managing Editor for the family travel-planning site Ciao Bambino!. After you came up with the idea for the site, what were some of the first things you did to get your name out there? Was this site your first step into the travel writing industry?

My first step to get exposure for Ciao Bambino was to hire a small PR agency to help me get the word out about our new family travel brand. It worked! Our launch was picked up in Departures Magazine and Urban Baby, among other places, and the “phone” started ringing off the hook. But this was back in 2004 before social media and affordable access to press release distribution were options.

Yes, prior to starting Ciao Bambino I managed partnerships for a software company out of London. It had nothing to do with travel writing, but the year I took off to travel the world after this job set my new career in motion.

In your opinion, how does family travel differ from independent travel? What makes it unique, and how do you communicate that on your blog?

Traveling with children can be complicated, particularly when kids are young and require equipment and “stuff.” Even simple things like the set up of a hotel room can make or break a trip with kids, not to mention that some hotels simply cannot accommodate more than 2-3 people in a room.amie2

To be honest, we don’t have to do much value selling on our blog, as our readers – parents – understand that they have specific needs that can only be addressed through a trusted resource. Although independent travelers also seek credible tips, the stakes aren’t as high.

If someone near and dear to you asked you for advice on starting a travel website, what would you tell them?

Be true to yourself and the way you like to travel. Our appeal as travel bloggers is our authentic voice. When you write about things you don’t really care about, your readers can tell.  Although it’s important to write for the ‘bots’ as search is key for traffic, don’t sell out the personality of your content.

What are you hoping to do with your writing in the next few years and how do you see your income stream changing?

We’ve covered all the basics on Ciao Bambino in terms of the “top” and “popular” destinations with kids. I’ve always pushed the envelope with my family and we’ve had life-changing experiences together. I want to inspire families to travel to explore new and unfamiliar places together through our stories, while giving them the tools they need to get there through our tips.

We will continue to partner with likeminded bloggers to craft engaging campaigns for brands. We also monetize family trip planning services on Ciao Bambino successfully.

What will you be speaking about at TBEX?

I’ll be on a panel about “Can Social Media Work for Luxury Brands.” The conversation will be about how luxury social media is different and how bloggers can partner with brands successfully in this special category. It’s right up my alley as my personal passion is upscale travel for families.

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Amie O’Shaughnessy is the editor of Ciao Bambino! and lives in Lausanne, Switzerland with her son, husband, and dog.

Interview conducted in May, 2013 by Kristin Mock.

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