As destination marketing organizations (DMOs), their international offices and their trade partners work together to promote their experiences and services, strong collaboration is essential to ensure that all stakeholders’ needs are met. Through digital-first marketing, the London, UK office of Visit Victoria (which changes its name from Tourism Victoria as of July 1, 2016) has added value to its trade partnerships, putting the organization in a strong position to shape the strategy behind its campaigns.
Claire Golding, Regional Manager UK & Europe at Visit Victoria, explains. “As a DMO you normally would talk to your key trade/tour operator partners and work with them in partnership, but it would only be on platforms that are core for that tour operator. We felt that everyone does that, so we wanted to do something different and be much more integrated in our approach.”
“We look at what the campaign could be and then we bring the partners along with us on a marketing journey.”
One unique aspect of these partnerships is that Visit Victoria’s UK office has used non-traditional methods, such as developing a highly-engaged Facebook community, to help the Australian DMO better support their partners’ strategic goals. While still assessing results, Golding says that their “digital assets and the success we have seen from the engagement and reach is having a positive impact on our work with trade partners.”
Golding says that part of this positive impact comes from the benefits the partners receive from these digital initiatives, such as opportunities for conversion from their marketing efforts. “For example, adding trade consumer offers and links back to our trade partner’s site not only provides that conversion opportunity, and supports the customer booking journey, it also enables us to increase dialogue with our operators and helps us to further develop their Victoria product offering and positioning.”
Golding, who worked closely with Richard Branson and the team at Virgin Atlantic for ten years from launch, has been integrating partners into impactful tourism marketing projects for the past eight years. Some of the organization’s most impressive campaigns in that time have utilized a variety of large partners.
Take for example Visit Victoria’s recent road-trip-oriented blogging and campaign platform, a project that included a major airline (Qantas), a digital agency, a PR agency and renowned British travel influencers.
“It started with an overarching strategy. For us, our key message and focus is great road trips, supporting the need to satisfy our objectives of positioning our amazing experiences, our product and content out there, and driving regional dispersal through great stories.”
From there, Golding incorporated Qantas and settled on objectives supporting the airline’s core platform, encouraging bookings, whilst also driving traffic to visitmelbourne.com. Visit Victoria’s multiple agencies were also included, and with a unanimous buy-in, the groups created both the platform and direction of the content.
“We view everyone as an extension of our team, developing our ideas together and working cohesively. That’s the inclusive way we work.” Says Golding. With a UK office of just two employees, Golding’s ability to get the most out of partners is paramount to the success of the organization.
Other projects initiated by Visit Victoria UK highlight the results of a collaborative organization.
For example, in 2014, Visit Victoria UK and Qantas worked with the Royal Horticultural Society, Victoria’s Royal Botanic Gardens, and in partnership with another DMO – Tourism Northern Territory – to produce a stunning Australian-themed display that was awarded “Best In Show.” This successful campaign provided a huge boost of awareness to the partners. When coupled with a targeted content buy with media partner The Telegraph and supported by leading UK tour operator Trailfinders, who provided the conversion opportunity, the campaign completed the customer journey from start to finish, making it a resounding success.
“As a DMO we have great relationships with partners. They vary from third-party organizations to media platforms like The Telegraph or The Daily Mail, which are major national newspapers with substantial digital platforms and following.” Aside from traditional media, Golding says, “We might be talking to a camera supplier, a radio station, a car company or a media partner and through all these different people, ideas are born. It’s like a spider graph. You stick all those great ideas on a piece of paper and see how the dots join. That’s really how it starts.”
Visit Victoria’s head office also recognizes the positive impact of the UK office’s work on these partnerships. Melanie de Souza, Director of Marketing (Acting) says, “The UK market is a critical market for Visit Victoria not only in terms of volume but also because of their propensity to disperse and tour in regional Victoria. The UK market is performing well for the State and has experienced a 12.2% increase in visitor numbers to Victoria over the last 10 years, and a 38.5% increase in visitor nights over that period. Underpinning these results are strong relationships with airlines, travel industry partners and the media with a big proportion of our efforts focused on digital channels.”
The result of this valuable collaboration is unique and impactful campaigns that drive UK residents to visit Victoria.