Queensland Government presented the Destination Q Forum in Mackay in October 2016 and once again the importance of getting digitally connected was a key message to tourism businesses and digital excellence tips were shared at the forum.
At the Destination Q Forum in Mackay in 2016, once again a key message from Minister Kate Jones and many other speakers was that it’s of paramount importance that tourism businesses provide excellence throughout their experience delivery including their interactions with their target markets in the digital environment.
As the traveling consumer becomes increasingly tech savvy, including older travelers who are the fastest growing adopters of social media, the pressure mounts for businesses to catch up with modern technology so they can communicate with potential customers in ways that will attract them in their early dreaming and planning phases of their travel purchase cycle.
Equally important is the need for tourism businesses to have mobile friendly instant booking and customer service facilities online so they can secure the traveler’s interest in their product, make the sale and turn them into a loyal advocates. Advocacy through reviews and social media engagement has become critical in tourism marketing today and we heard in the Destination Q Digital workshop how online word of mouth is driving business success in the case studies presented.
Liz Ward, CEO of Tourism Tribe and Digital Coaching International led the Creating Digital Experiences workshops and introduced three speakers: Kaylah Buckman, Digital Content Specialist, Tourism and Events Queensland; Jan Claxton, Ocean Rafting Safari with tour operations in the Whitsundays and North Queensland; and Jess Quinlan, Senior Sales Exec, TripAdvisor in Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific. Real-life case studies espousing priority strategies and tactics relevant to the five stages of travel of Dream, Plan, Book, Experience and Advocate were presented. The case studies demonstrated what digital excellence looks like at different stages of the travel purchase cycle and communicated a consistent message that if you focus on your role, your customer and the unique experiences you offer, you’ll get great value from your digital efforts.
In Liz’s summing up of the workshop to the 300 plus delegates at Destination Q she explained five key take-outs and digital excellence tips for all businesses:
Focus and Plan
Truly know your experience and be authentic; focus your efforts around your unique experience; plan your digital approach and allocate resources, train and empower your staff
Customer Path to Purchase
Understand the journey your target markets take and through search, websites, content, distribution platforms and difference mobile devices, do everything you can to ensure the path is not broken and your customer has a quality experience when engaging with your business throughout their digital journey.
Content is the Driver of Your Digital Success
Invest your time and resources into developing interesting content that is relevant to your target market, showing people enjoying your experiences is essential; content must be up to date on all platforms (this also relates to Path to Purchase point above); images and video and critical; empower your staff and encourage customers to create content; there is a need for more bookable tours and attractions online.
Enable Content Sharing
Create interesting, inspiring and relevant content that your followers want to share: create sharable moments incl. amazing locations, experiences, customer service, surprise and delight; tag your posts to let partners and interested groups find and share your posts eg. #meetmackayregion #thisisqueesland #seeaustralia; collaborate to grow your destination digital footprint by sharing and engaging with your regional colleagues’ posts.
Get Ready for China
Chinese travelers use different social platforms e.g. WeChat, Sina Weibo and Mafengwo and those platforms have different features to Western platforms; learn about the Chinese traveler and adapt your experiences, services and staff to suit; create content in language and respond in language
Through discussions at Destination Q it was clear that awareness of how important digital marketing is across the industry is growing and that the pace of change in technology is continuing to increase, but it was also clear that there is a significant gap in industry adoption and consumer expectations. Digital capability building remains a priority and industry leaders and businesses should be stepping up to put strategies in place to ensure our destinations are competitive online.
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