Tag Archives: wangaratta

Regional promotions – social media and tourism at the Regional City of Wangaratta

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.

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.

Explore the future at the NBN Discovery Centre on Friday,11 May 2012

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Would you like to discover firsthand how the National Broadband Network and the high speed digital economy will change the way we live?

The Hume RDA are offering you the opportunity to visit the NBNco Discovery Centre and RMIT to experience the future digital economy for yourself.

Join the Hume Regional Development Australia Committee in a free day program that includes:

1. A visit to the NBN Co Discovery Centre, Docklands, including:

  • A 45 minute presentation from NBN technology experts
  • Hands on interaction with future NBN –enabled technologies
  • Experiencing how we will live, work and educate in the future
  • Learn how we will manage our health and environment in the coming years
  • Exclusive question and answer session with senior NBN Co representatives

2. A tour of the RMIT Advanced Manufacturing Precinct

Coach travel to and from Melbourne will be provided. Coach departing Wangaratta at 9am with stops at Benalla,
Seymour and Euroa (returning approximately 7pm)

When: Friday 11th May 2012

Cost: Free (lunch not provided)

Seats are limited so book your seat today by contacting Jenny Brown. Jennifer.Brown@dpcd.vic.gov.au