Kym & Kaye Bernardi have owned and operated the BIG4 Shepparton East Holiday Park for 14 years. 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.
For the latest in our series of Hume region business case studies, we spoke to Ben Kraus – owner of Beechworth’s award winning Bridge Road Brewers.
Bridge Road Brewery started in 2004, moving to the old coach house on Ford Street and opening to the public in 2005. Today, the Beechworth brewery also operates as a bar and pizzeria, and their beer is sold around Australia. At the 2012 Australian International Beer Awards, the brewery brought home ten awards for their products.
Web and social media
The Bridge Road Brewers website has been a key part of the brewery marketing strategy since they opened, providing brewery and beer information, an online store, and links to the business’ social media profiles.
The brewery is listed on several information portals – however, Ben notes that it can be difficult keeping information current across all of them. Beechworth now has three different online directories, leading to a lot of duplicated information.
Staff are very active on social media, using Tweetdeck to manage their Twitter and Facebook accounts. They also receive alerts from keyword searches – listening for public discussions about Beechworth, their beers and the brewery name. The latest print run of beer labels now have the Bridge Road Twitter and Facebook accounts listed, in addition to the website.
The brewery has been trialling Google AdWords for around six months. They generally don’t target people who are already searching for the brewery, as Beechworth is far enough away from the major cities that it needs a special trip to come and visit. Instead, the AdWords campaign focuses on people who are looking for information about buying beer online – directing customers to the online store.
Currently, online direct sales are fairly low in volume, but the store infrastructure is now in place to handle higher demand for this in future.
Beer tourism attracts some very serious beer fans, who plan trips based around brewery visits – much like the visitors to the region’s vineyards and wineries. These fans tend to be very active on social media – letting people know where they’re going, picking up extra cartons for friends back at home, and reviewing the places that they visit. Websites like the Crafty Pint and Brews News cater to fans of the craft beers and microbreweries.
Like many of the businesses we’ve interviewed for the Digital Hume project, Bridge Road Brewers are listed on TripAdvisor. Generally, the brewery staff check review sites after busy periods like school holidays and long weekends, when many more customers are visiting the town. These also tend to place the most pressure on the business, when the brewery is most likely to book out their dinner tables. TripAdvisor is one of the most popular websites for restaurant and accommodation reviews, but Ben notes that the size and number of reviewers on the site can cause problems. When anyone can leave a review, there are no controls over whether those people actually visited the business – potentially letting inaccurate reviews bias potential visitors.
The review websites, blogs and forums used by the community of craft beer fans are generally seen as more valuable to the business, as they get exposure for the brewery among an audience who are more likely to travel out to the brewery, order online, or sign up for a Posse membership. As with any small business, it’s important to understand your target market and know where to find them online.
For the latest addition to our series on local government in Victoria’s North East, we spoke to Emma Keith – Tourism Development Officer at the Rural City of Wangaratta.
Key facilities in the Wangaratta council all have active social media platforms, chosen to complement their existing promotions. These are being used to build and engaging with local audiences, and to reach out to prospective visitors. Wangaratta’s visitor information centre currently uses a YouTube channel, lists their walking tours on TripAdvisor and Facebook, and has begun dabbling in Twitter and Pinterest. Similarly, the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre has built up a successful Facebook presence, with over 900 followers and 1,000 location check-ins. They have taken a personable approach, sharing ‘behind the scenes’ photos and stories with friends of the Arts Centre.
Another example of successful online activity in the region is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail – a cycling route connecting Wangaratta, Rutherglen, Beechworth, Myrtleford and Bright, linking visitors to local food, wine and accommodation. The trail is actively promoted on many social media channels, such as TripAdvisor, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Emma notes that the local wine makers are very active in regional promotion, particularly through initiatives like King Valley Prosecco Road wine trail. Wineries like Dal Zotto, Pizzini and Brown Brothers use Twitter to share stories from the region, helping to raise awareness of the region, and engage people during their stay. “When they come to the vineyard, they feel like they are already part of that conversation – like they already know the people behind the cellar doors.” The council has also heard of local wineries using Twitter to organise direct sales to B2B and wholesale customers.
While many of Wangaratta’s arts and tourism promotions are highly active on social media, Emma also discusses ways to help those who are still lagging behind. Some businesses are reluctant to start as they feel that setting up and learning to use a social media account may be too complex or time consuming. Improving access to social media training and mentoring helps to overcome this barrier, giving businesses the confidence to get involved in this new economy.
Wangaratta Council is beginning a 12 month project on YouTube that will encourage local residents to contribute user generated content in the form of a 90 second video grab. These give people the opportunity to share the “best things in their own back yard” in their own words. For this, the council hopes to act as facilitators – allowing people to talk within the community, instead of sending official messages in to them.
The council also began trialling Facebook ads earlier in 2012, for tourism promotions around the NAB Cup match to be held at the Wangaratta Showgrounds. They created a series of ads with destination-focussed imagery, designed to inspire and motivate different groups, improving attendance at these events. Initial ads targeted fairly broad demographics, aimed at people in Melbourne and regional NSW. Local operators saw an immediate increase in demand, with some selling out events across the long weekend. The range of statistics available from these campaigns provide a great deal of insight to council into the demographics for these events, such as the location, age, and other interests of the people involved. These can be used to further refine the promotion of other events in the region.