Tag Archives: casestudy

Prepare Your Business For The Opportunities With The NBN

Fergal Coleman – Director of Symphony3 recently presented on the how businesses can prepare for opportunities presented by the NBN.

Below are the slides of the presentation. Some great information there on using the NBN, how your business needs to change and what are the benefits.

After you view the slides let us know via twitter how you have OR plan to prepare your business for the digital economy.

[slideshare id=22101633&doc=digitalbusiness-broadband-20may20130519-130528224135-phpapp02]

Run through some of our diagnostics to prepare your business for the NBN.

Case Study: BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park

For the latest in our series of Hume region business case studies, we spoke to Kaye Bernardi - owner of the BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park.

Business overview

Kym & Kaye Bernardi have owned and operated the BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park for 14 big4-shepparton-east-logoyears. They are an independent member of BIG4 Holiday Parks franchise, which has parks all around Australia. They currently have 23 self-contained cabins, 12 ensuite  powered sites, powered caravan & tent sites and 12 mobile homes. The park predominantly caters for the family market. Both Kym & Kaye have made significant capital investment into technology and their park ensuring it has some of the best family friendly facilities like giant jumping pillow, solar heated pool, synthetic grass tennis court, pedal go-karts, recreation room and camp kitchens.

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Case study: Watson’s Mountain Country Trail Rides

For our latest case study, we spoke to Michael Watson about how Mansfield’s Watson’s Mountain Country Trail Rides have developed an online presence for their business.

Business overview

Watson’s Trail Rides is a family business, and has operated from our property in Mansfield for the past 30 years. Most of our customers come from two sectors: domestic “free independent travellers” and school groups. We also have regular bookings from international and corporate groups. As a small business, it’s been important for us to be in control of our web presence. If our events, availability or other details change, we need to be able to change the content of our site quickly.

Which web or social media technologies are you using for your business?

  • We manage our own website. This is a central place for people to find out about our business, and we update it several times a week.
  • I also keep an eye on our website analytics roughly once a month. That lets us see how many people look at the site, and where they come from.
  • We have been using an online booking system on our website for about four years now. Around half of our bookings are made online.
  • Over time, we’ve added other tools. YouTube was one of the earliest, allowing us to show people what it’s like on our rides.
  • A more recent addition is our Facebook page – helping us to promote the business on social networks, in addition to our website. We use the page to keep people updated on what the business has been doing, and have photo galleries from some of our major events.
  • TripAdvisor had been very handy for us. It’s more commonly used for accommodation, but has a growing number of event and experience listings. I was wary about putting customer testimonials on our website, as they rarely feel authentic. TripAdvisor acts as an impartial third party – by linking to their reviews, we can show people directly what customers have said about the business.

What have been the benefits of using these?

Our online presence helps people to discover our business, provides them with a personal experience of who we are and what we do, and also takes care of around half of our bookings. It can sometimes be hard finding time to manage it all, but it’s extremely valuable for us.

Operating in an industry that traditionally doesn’t have a strong online presence has its advantages. There aren’t a lot of trail riding companies out there, compared with much more active sectors like tourist accommodation. That helps us to remain visible in search engines, without being drowned out by hundreds of other sites.

Do you have any tips for other business managers wanting to get online?

If you don’t think that your business needs a web presence, think about things from the perspective of your customers: when and where are they likely to want information about your business? For a tourism operator, much of the planning that goes into a family holiday will take place at home, after working hours – when your business won’t be able to answer enquiries directly. Your website can help people discover your business, and also helps answer a lot of questions the customers will have.

You can find out more about Watson’s Trail Rides via their website or Facebook page.

Connecting local producers with customers at Walker Events

Mansfield’s Walker Events is an events management business with an environmentally friendly ethos at its core. We spoke with business owner Alli Walker about how she uses social media and the web to promote her business. 

Business overview

We started in 2009,  and run a suite of three core events, aimed at promoting the many facets of sustainability. These are the monthly Mansfield Farmers’ Market, the twice yearly Sustainable House Tours and the newly introduced Regional Farm Gate Tours. Our customers are mostly Victorian, with a mix of locals, regional and Melbourne-based.

Which web or social media technologies are you using in your business?

  • We started off with a farmer’s market web page – this was used as the portal for all information pertaining to the market. Stallholder enquiries and applications are all handled online through the web page.
  • As the other events grew in their following and strengths, we created a second web page for Walker Events. This allowed us to introduce devotees of the farmers’ market to the other facets of our business. Both web pages are updated on average once per week and cross-promote each other.
  • Both web pages are attached to a MailChimp database, allowing people to sign up to our email newsletter. This is used for promoting all facets of the business. Using MailChimp takes away a lot of the work (subscribers/unsusbcribers, etc) involved with keeping the database up to date.
  • Twitter and Facebook also play a large part in the marketing of the business. The farmers’ market has its own Facebook business page which is used to communicate general foodie news and promotions as well as market information.  Twitter is used as a means to create relationships with producers, other markets, people interested in food as well as media contacts.
  • We are just starting to use YouTube to record different experiences – we have a business YouTube channel which is another way to showcase our experiences.
  • As a business that prides itself on being environmentally sustainable, being a part of the digital space in such a big way helps us to reduce the amount of paper and other resources that we use.

What have been the benefits of using these?

We embraced digital marketing from the very beginning, simply because it was something that could be managed in-house. The media contacts that we have made online have been of enormous assistance with PR and marketing.

Contacts made through Twitter have created some huge benefits for the business, as well as for individual producers who attend the market. In particular, one of our producers was “introduced” over Twitter. This was noticed by some high-level chefs, and as a consequence is now supplying product to several hatted restaurants.  Word of mouth recommendations are vitally important when it comes to local produce and the use of Twitter in this instance was hugely successful.

What benefits do you think the NBN will have for your business?

At the moment, slow internet and frequent drop outs that can occur through our wireless internet connection mean that something that should take half an hour ends up taking half a day. Constant and controlled broadband access will make many of our tasks much easier.

Do you have any tips for other business managers who may be looking at getting online?

Don’t be scared! There is no need to jump into everything all at once – start slowly. Ask questions. Read books and blogs. Attend workshops and professional development. Keep learning and make the most of the opportunities that are available.

You can connect with Walker Events on Twitter at @MansfieldFM, and on the Mansfield Farmer’s Market Facebook page.

Improving client communications at Lindsay Park Racing

Lindsay Park Racing operates a state of the art racehorse training facility in Euroa. The Hayes family have been training champion racehorses since 1947, but are also drawing on the latest web technologies to help staff and horse owners to communicate more efficiently. We spoke with Jason Timperley, Racing Manager at Lindsay Park.

Business overview

We provide a ‘one stop shop’ for racehorse training needs at our Euroa property, covering all breaking in, pre-training, training, veterinary and transport needs for our owners. Our staff also assist with all aspects of racehorse sales. Although the majority of Lindsay Park’s racehorse owners are based in Australia, we have a large number of owners all around the world – particularly in Asia and Europe.

Which web technologies are you using at the moment?

  • Our website acts as a central hub for current owners and prospective customers to find out about our facilities, trainers, horses and race highlights.
  • Client communication is a big focus for us. Owners all have a secure login that gives them access to up to date information on their horses through our website, allowing them to see notes from the trainer of each horse.
  • We’re also using social media services like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to help spread the word about what we do.
  • Our staff now use a mobile app to record voice messages about the condition and performance of each horse, sending these directly from the stable to the owners. This greatly reduces the time required to update multiple owners about each animal.
  • We’ve started shooting video footage around the stables, giving the owners weekly updates from David Hayes, and showing some details from our training sessions.
  • Trainers are shifting away from paper-based systems to web-based software, using iPads to enter daily work schedules directly into the company database.

What benefits have been gained from using these tools?

By making the online experience as interactive as possible, we have been able to provide a better experience for owners who can’t come in personally to see the horses that we’re training for them. That gives us a stronger connection with the owners, and also lets us show them new horses for sale.

By providing the best possible experience for our owners, we hope that they will also spread the word about our services – bringing in new buyers from around the world.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the NBN arrives?

We’d like to expand our capability to work with video content, as it has an important role in helping to share what happens at our properties. Live streaming of training sessions would help to showcase the work and expertise that goes into preparing horses for their races. There are also regular events, like our Yearling Parade, which we’d love to stream live footage of.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies?

Embrace the social media environment – get out there and start learning how it can help your business. We’ve gradually added new tools to our business, starting with Twitter late last year, and building up our Facebook content a few months ago. They have helped us to make contacts, and generated a lot of extra publicity for us.

You can find out more about Lindsay Park Racing via their website, Facebook page or Twitter account. If you know of an innovative business in the Hume region, please get them to contact us via our contact form

Fishbowl PR shares insights into effective online communications

Fishbowl PR is a specialist public relations company, founded in 2010 by Birgit Schonafinger. The company is based in Beechworth, and works with clients from across north eastern Victoria.

Tell us about your market and customers

Our major market segments are medium to large businesses, government agencies and not-for-profits. We work with clients to improve communication with their stakeholders – in most organisations these include staff, customers, government agencies, community groups and the media.

Part of our role at Fishbowl PR is to develop communication plans: identifying who will communicate what messages, when and how.  A constant part of the business is educating prospective clients about just what public relations is, how it can benefit them and how it differs from, but works in conjunction with their marketing activities.

Which web technologies you are using in the business?

  • Our website is our main online presence. Here people can get a quick snapshot of our expertise, order services and make inquiries, learn more about public relations and connect with us on social media sites.
  • We advise clients on using social media, and tools that can help them to manage their social media presence.
  • We can also recommend monitoring tools which pick up any mentions of the client’s business name online – allowing our clients to see who is talking about them, and what they are saying.
  • We undertake training through online webinars, and use online phone conferencing facilities for our business meetings.
  • We have experience with TripAdvisor – a major travel website, where customers rate and recommend accommodation providers and restaurants.
  • We also use e-newsletters and surveys, through systems such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Survey Monkey.

What benefits have you gained from using these tools?

The obvious benefit of developing an online presence is being easy to find. Our social media presence has also helped us to win clients by drawing on personal recommendations through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn; demonstrating the power of those connections, both online and in person. It also illustrates the power of being endorsed by a third party, and how we trust other people’s recommendations.

We have also found online webinars to be a great training tool, reducing our travel time and costs while helping us keep up to date on the latest in communication practise.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the NBN arrives?

We see the NBN offering greater access to high quality video conferencing, online meetings and training options.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies?

Businesses should undertake some research on their target audiences for marketing and PR purposes. Once you understand your audience’s preferences, you can choose the best tools to reach them with – don’t just choose a tool that you like and hope they will come.

That research helps shape your communication plan, which should consider your resourcing levels and ability to manage your chosen tools. Developing a social media policy in advance can help determine who is going to be able to say what on behalf of your business online. Once a business invests those resources, monitoring is important to help them to find out which tools are working best.

Do you run a business in the Hume Region that uses the internet effectively? Send us your insights and opinions via our contact form.

Wangaratta Gateway Hotel Embraces The Digital Economy

Website: http://wangarattagateway.com.au

The Wangaratta Gateway Hotel is privately owned and operated by the  Jones Hotel Group. It is known for its personalised service, stylish accommodation and superior facilities. Located in the heart of Wangaratta, the 4.5 star hotel boasts 76 accommodation suites and apartments, the largest north east Victorian conference venue and event facilities and a stylish restaurant. For 20 years, Wendy Lester has owned and operated the hotel. Not only has she undertaken a large physical extension to the facility (in 2008) but she has also extended the Hotel’s presence online. She recently told us about her experiences.

Tell us about your market and customers
Our 5 major markets are Corporate, Leisure, Conference, Groups and Functions. Our customers are largely corporates, and we have a very high percentage of return customers. Our clients are mainly from Melbourne and regional Victoria including locals.

What are your Key Challenges?
A major challenge is keeping up with the technology that our clients experience in City locations. The expectation from clients is that we offer the same services as our city competitors. To do this we must embrace web technologies and the digital economy.

What web technologies are you using in the business?

  • Our Website, http://wangarattagateway.com.au is the central hub of our online presence. It allows clients to book rooms directly, to purchase gift vouchers, send e-postcards, and to join our mailing list. We are also on many 3rd party websites for reservations which we manage via a channel manager (Levart)
  • Google Analytics to track activity on the website
  • We use webinars for online training (example software include GoToMeeting.com and Webex.com)
  • Review sites such as Tripadvisor.com
  • We have an iPhone application that is linked to our Property Management System (PMS)
  • We use the Choice Hotels Online University  for training
  • We are currently developing a social media strategy to allow us to start strategically using tools like Facebook

What benefits have you gained from using these tools?
We have seen a  massive increase in online bookings (as with the rest of the industry). We get better rate parity and we can promote last room availability. We can promote a room on 30 different sites and when the room is sold  it is removed from all sites. Our booking tool also allows to move rates around a lot more, ensuring we optimise our pricing.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the high-speed broadband arrives?
Anything that increases our speed will be great for us as well as our clients. I think our conference market will see the most benefit.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies?
Make sure you develop and update your site on a regular basis.

Do you run a business in the Hume Region that uses the internet effectively? Send us your insights and opinions.

Wodonga ski shop embraces ecommerce to drive new business

Paul Oberin opened Paul’s Ski Shop back in 1979. He talks about his experience developing an online store.

Tell us about your business.

The business was started on a small budget in a seasonal business that relied on good snowfalls, as well as good economic times.

Paul Ski Shop - 50% of retail business now done online

Paul Ski Shop – 50% of retail business now done online

Initially we hired snow ski equipment during the winter, but we then branched out into into water sports equipment and we are now open all year round. Prior to the internet we relied 99% on the local market and did ok in good years, struggled in bad snow years or when the weir was down to below 12%.

Launching my online shop saw a huge change to our customer base as my customer base was now Australia-wide and even though many of the locals now shop online and my bricks and mortar shop is quieter with walk in traffic, we are doing well online.

I see my biggest challenge is keeping my prices low enough to get the sale, yet keeping profit high enough to afford the promotion of the online shop, it is a fine line, and the goal posts keep moving.

What web technologies do you use in the business?

We use an online shop to sell our products online. Our shopping cart along with PayPal allows us to process all of our payments online.

As we also do specialised boot fitting, ski hire and snow tours, so our site contains pages with detailed information on these services.

I need to be able to make changes almost every hour of every day, so first of all I had to have control of the domain for my website, I had to find and learn to use file transfer software, image editing software, and to a small degree how to write code (initially in HTML now I use Php to make minor changes). The benefit of learning these tools is that I keep costs down as I don’t have to pay a web developer everytime I make a change. It also means I can make changes to products and prices often and promptly many times every day. This is crucial as the website must contain accurate and uptodate information in order to maintain the trust of customers.

I understand my business better than anyone else, so therefore I am the right person to make these changes.

How do you plan to use high speed broadband in your business when the NBN arrives?

Higher speeds will offer me many advantages, the main one will be managing my online shop much more efficiently due to the quicker speeds. In addition with faster speeds I can offer video clips instead of photos for my ski equipment tuning section, and my ski boot fitting.

My shop security system, runs off a web-based monitoring system. However the images are low quality and high speed broadband means greatly improved images and flow of motion, meaning better security for my business.

I use email now as my main method of contact between my suppliers and also my customers. Sending pictures or getting images of product is very slow at present – with the NBN this will no longer be an issue.

What advice do you have for other businesses who want to maximise their use of web technologies?

  • Get a lot of good advice before jumping in.
  • Speak to similar businesses that have a system in place that works well
  • Do not wait until NBN is here, you can still get many benefits right now and will also be more aware of what can be done, when the faster speeds are here.

I am currently doing around 50% of my retail sales online. A huge number of retail outlets in Australia do not even have an online shop. They are missing out on a lot of business in my opinion.

We welcome thoughts and comments on this and other case studies.
Do you know any other businesses using the internet effectively? Complete the case study form and we will review their case study with a view to publication on this blog.