Tech­nol­ogy has seen mar­keters re­work the way they en­gage with tourists, shift­ing from pull to push strate­gies

The Australian - The Deal - - First Up - An­drew Baxter is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Publi­cis World­wide Aus­tralia

Tech­nol­ogy has seen mar­keters change how they en­gage with tourists, shift­ing from pull to push strate­gies

TWENTY years ago, tourists vis­it­ing the heart of Aus­tralia would take a shot of Uluru, race home, get the photo de­vel­oped, and be one of the first of their friends to show it off. In to­day’s more con­nected me­dia world, in the click of a but­ton you can find thou­sands of pic­tures of Uluru from ev­ery an­gle pos­si­ble. Now tourists want their own unique ex­pe­ri­ence. The abil­ity to ex­plore and dis­cover some­thing new, and share it in­stan­ta­neously with their friends.

Tourism mar­ket­ing over the past 20 years pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing ex­am­ple of the swing from brand en­gage­ment to con­sumer en­gage­ment; from pull strate­gies to push strate­gies. Tech­nol­ogy and more savvy con­sumers have made mar­ket­ing more com­plex in the past five years, yet one thing has re­mained con­stant: fa­mous cam­paigns are the most ef­fec­tive. The chal­lenge for mar­keters is to find the bal­ance be­tween that push and pull; be­tween push­ing con­sumers at those many mo­ments of decision to pur­chase a prod­uct or ser­vice, and pulling those con­sumers to­wards that brand with fa­mous cam­paigns to in­crease the like­li­hood of them pur­chas­ing it.

Tourism bod­ies and com­pa­nies are scram­bling to use tech­nol­ogy to drive con­sumer en­gage­ment. There is a strong link be­tween so­cial-me­dia shar­ing and hol­i­days – the in­stant ver­sion of yes­ter­year’s hol­i­day slide show. Tourism Aus­tralia, Tourism and Events Queens­land and North­ern Ter­ri­tory Tourism are just three of the bod­ies that have em­braced this on so­cial me­dia feeds such as In­sta­gram, Google+ and Face­book. They share both trav­ellers’ pho­tos and pro­fes­sional ones, high­light­ing the beauty and the un­ex­pected of the re­gions, the things you can do there, en­cour­ag­ing con­sumers to chat about them and in turn push them to plan and book a hol­i­day.

Qan­tas’s was one of the first so­cial-me­dia led e-com­merce sites in the world. It is a site with great con­sumer en­gage­ment, do­ing the re­tail­ing of tourism – the sales, the prices, the pack­ages and the events – very well.

To­day’s smart­phone pro­vides a great op­por­tu­nity for tourism bod­ies and com­pa­nies to en­gage with con­sumers to in­crease their spend while they are on tour. Smart­phones and tourists lit­er­ally go hand in hand. Aus­tralian start-up Wine Hound has de­vel­oped a smart­phone app that helps tourists nav­i­gate ev­ery wine re­gion in Aus­tralia. If you’re head­ing to the Yarra Val­ley you can pre­pare and save your itin­er­ary to take in your choice of winer­ies and events, and Google maps will guide you through it. If you find a win­ery, or a wine or two you like, you can save them as a favourite so you don’t for­get them later. Winer­ies can have their wines listed on the app with a mo­bile-com­merce site link en­abled.

North­ern Ter­ri­tory Tourism has em­braced another great push strat­egy to en­gage lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors via their smart­phones. By of­fer­ing free Wi-Fi in the main thor­ough­fares of Alice Springs in ex­change for the tourist’s email ad­dress, NT Tourism can then send them rel­e­vant mes­sages at rel­e­vant times to push peo­ple to tourism op­er­a­tors and des­ti­na­tions they may not oth­er­wise have known about.

Tech­nol­ogy ad­vances are driv­ing an in­crease in push strate­gies for tourism mar­keters to en­gage the con­sumer close to the point of pur­chase. Yet, 20 years ago, tourism mar­keters spent most of their bud­gets on pull strate­gies, in en­gag­ing con­sumers with the brand, us­ing that emo­tional side to draw you into hav­ing a hol­i­day in Aus­tralia ver­sus over­seas. Fa­mous tourism cam­paigns such as “Beau­ti­ful one day, per­fect the next” or “You’ll never, never know if you never, never go” or “You’ll love ev­ery piece of Vic­to­ria”. Filmic and iconic images of the Rock, the Bridge and the Reef. And fa­mous cam­paigns have since proven to have a 72 per cent suc­cess rate in be­ing ef­fec­tive, far greater than the per­cent­age for ra­tio­nal cam­paigns.

The trap for to­day’s tourism mar­keters is in look­ing to swing some of their fo­cus back to this clas­sic pull strat­egy. In 2014 the prospec­tive tourist has moved on in what they want out of a hol­i­day. And that means they are no longer swayed and en­gaged by the brand-build­ing post­card images of the Rock, Bridge and Reef. It’s why Tourism Vic­to­ria’s cur­rent cam­paign, “Play Mel­bourne”, is the most fa­mous of to­day’s cam­paigns. And also the most bal­anced be­tween push and pull, be­tween con­sumer en­gage­ment and brand en­gage­ment. And it’s also why both the fed­eral and NT gov­ern­ments see so much po­ten­tial for tourism in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory. There are so many places and things to do up there, beyond the Rock, that are cry­ing out to be dis­cov­ered, ex­plored and shared.

Whether it is tourism or any other cat­e­gory, in to­day’s dig­i­tal age mar­keters not only have to use tech­nol­ogy to en­gage con­sumers through strong push strate­gies and tac­tics, but bal­ance that with strong pull strate­gies that drive big be­havioural shifts with con­sumers via fa­mous brand-build­ing cam­paigns. Those who find that bal­ance will suc­ceed over those who don’t.

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