Archive for the ‘Travel and tourism’ Category

Sound marketing advice for tourism operators

Tourism Australia’s latest round of research has led to a profile of the travellers most receptive to – and most likely to book – Australian travel experiences.

Described as ‘experience seekers’, what’s really interesting is Tourism Australia’s advice to tourism operators on how to communicate with them when marketing the experiences they offer.

In its recently released Australian Experiences Industry Toolkit, Tourism Australia explains that “copy should be conversational in tone …, addressing the reader directly as you would in a conversation”.

The tone “should be informal, relaxed and not too polished”.

They talk about telling stories that “highlight ‘authentic’ and unique experiences”, and teaching something new about the destination.

They advise tourism operators to “share local secrets that only Australians would know… and offer an insider’s knowledge on travelling to and within Australia”.

This is an excellent description of the kind of communication that’s going on right now online, via email, blogs and social media sites – the perfect media for direct, conversational and authentic communication with lots of opportunities to share inside knowledge, expertise and news.

Tourism operators are increasingly using online media to market directly to their audience, as travellers increasingly search online when they are planning and booking their holidays.

Tourism Australia’s own research (published Feb 2007) shows that over 70% of international tourists to Australia researched and booked their holidays online in 2006. And the figure for domestic tourists is over 50%.

This is why we’ve developed services specifically for tourism operators to publicise and market online more effectively – and capture the huge proportion of those ‘experience seekers’ searching the web.

Ningaloo Blue and their new look website

We’ve been having a great time working with Ningaloo Blue, the overall winner of our PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Award.  Getting a publicity campaign up and running while launching a new blog-enabled website during one of the busiest whale shark seasons on record has certainly made it interesting! So, here is an update on what has been happening. WebsiteThe new new website at was launched in May. Keyword research was used to identify the sorts of queries that are being used, to maximise the opportunity for Ningaloo Blue to be found. The site structure was redesigned to make it easier for travellers to find out about the different adventure travel options available at Ningaloo.   

The site was indexed rapidly by Google, and has already started drawing traffic on some of the new keywords.  It will take a while to get better rankings on some of the highly competitive travel keywords, however we are confident we will get there.  This is the sort of strategy that will pay long term dividends for Ningaloo Blue, as the cost of pay-per-click search traffic on the competitive keywords is already significant, and will only increase.  

Once strong rankings are achieved, they should be able to be retained on the strength of content rather than advertising spend. The blog is getting good visibility including through Technorati, where it has a blog authority ranking (Technorati), a good result for less than a month’s exposure. The new blog helps capture some of the excitement of swimming with the whale sharks – this year has been a fantastic season, just this week they had two days where they swam with 10 or more separate whale sharks.

Ningaloo Blue are already seeing enquiries coming in via the site, including a query from a New York journalist wanting more information on the whale shark tours, and queries from travellers seeking advice on getting to Ningaloo. This is great news for Ningaloo Blue, who are aiming to raise awareness of the tours in the US and Europe as well as getting a better profile with independent travellers.

Their publicity campaign planning started earlier this year, and has already been delivering results. As a result of the publicity campaign, the West Australian and Sunday Age have featured Ningaloo Blue in their travel news, and the high-ranking global news site,, has expressed interest in Ningaloo and requested information on tours that include Ningaloo Blue’s whale shark tours. Whether this results in coverage or not we’ll have to wait and see, the awareness-raising is invaluable.Please let us know what you think about the new site through email or comments, all feedback very welcome.

The domino effect of online news

Seen yourself in the local paper lately? Feel good? Before you sit back and bask in your fame, check whether the story is also appearing online. Otherwise your content won’t go much further than the paper’s immediate readership.

This might be enough for a micro-business servicing a tight local area, but in our experience, most businesses – whatever their size – can benefit from reaching a much wider audience.

We always submit our press releases to online news sites and post them on our own site to attract online searchers and browsers. There are both dedicated news sites such as and and specialist sites with news sections.

Many print publications have an online version and feed into one another, while broadcast news is becoming challenged by user-generated sites like YouTube – something you have to take seriously if your target audience is within the Y generation.

Getting your content onto these sites will help to bring you higher up in the search rankings more often, and there’s the domino effect that doesn’t come from traditional media so quickly.

For example, as one of the most respected news sites for the travel industry, eTravel Blackboard content gets picked up by numerous other travel sites, spreading news around the industry and the travel community at large. And this can happen very fast.

Two of our Hidden Jewel winners now have their press releases on this site (Anangu Waai! and Bookabee Tours), and it will be interesting to watch the domino effect in action.

So if you’re after the domino effect and your local newspaper doesn’t have an online component, consider a different media outlet next time, and look at specialist news sites too.

Ningaloo Blue and their new site

Ningaloo Reef Whale SharkNingaloo Blue has gone live with the Ningaloo Blue Adventure, their new blog-enabled website. Its peak season right now up at Ningaloo, with lots of whale sharks in attendance. Read Kat’s latest blog entry to get the latest.

The site has been launched in parallel with their existing website. Why have two websites? Well, we will be measuring how effective each of the websites is in terms of drawing traffic, establishing a conversation (initially email subscriptions) and converting readership to bookings.

Naturally the existing website has a head start (the new site has only just been launched, and has been indexed already), so its going to be interesting to see the comparative performance.

Our focus has been on getting the content right. The main objective of the site is to generate bookings for tours. We did some research into where those bookings might come from, both in terms of geography and also buyer personas. Then we did our keyword research, and sifted through the evidence. We know the keywords that drive the current traffic, and we were able to contrast this with new keyword sources.

The site provides a lot of information for prospective visitors to Ningaloo. It also provides a great target for search engines looking for result pages on specific keyword searches. The organic search results will naturally take time to materialise – six to twelve months is realistic. But we have also started triallling some search marketing with Google AdWords. Analysis of the site will be undertaken with Google Analytics and Advanced Web Rankings.

For now, bookings are being fed to the old website. Potentially a direct booking form may improve conversion on the new site, however we’ll get a view on traffic and conversions first.

As a blog-enabled website, it has been designed to get Ningaloo Blue up and running with:

  • Search Marketing (PPC) – AdWords search campaign based on keyword research
  • Content Marketing – blog facility to add ongoing content about the tour experiences, with RSS and email subscription facilities. Ningaloo Blue can add new web pages or update existing pages whenever they want.

In addition, the site is online marketing enabled, meaning it is ready for:

  • Email Marketing – the site has self-managed facilities to enable email subscription boxes to be added (menu bar or sidebar, as well as within a page). With an AWeber autoresponder account, Ningaloo Blue can easily add multi-part emails, for example, to educate about the wide variety of adventure travel opportunities in and around Exmouth.

We’ll describe a few more of the features in subsequent posts.

Can’t wait to see how the visitors respond to it. Please drop on by and let us know what you think!

Weblogs and Service Industries

Marketing a product is quite simple. First of all, you have something physical to work with. Your customer can see it, feel it and when it comes to a physical entity, there isn’t alot of room for misunderstanding. Let’s face it, if it looks like a fish, tastes like a fish and smells like a fish, I’d put my money on it being a fish.

Marketing a service, on the other hand, can be a lot more difficult. Services very rarely have a tangible aspect as part of their core offering. Services are largely experiential and, as such, can solicit a wide range of responses. So, how do you communicate the benefits or features of your service? Even worse, how do you communicate the benefits of your service to a person you have no physical contact with?

Business blogging is a tool that allows you to throw off the restraints of factual advertising and tangibility. With a business blog, you have the ability to express all the feelings and emotions brought about by interaction with your service.

This is not to say, however, that you should disregard information on the tangible (and intangible) aspects of your service. That’s what your website is for! When a blog is created as a complement to your website, you are ensuring that every facet of your service is being covered and the true experience of your service is being communicated to your customer.

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