Marketing aim / vision
Successful marketing of the region is critical to increase awareness and demand for Aboriginal tourism product in South West Victoria. Creating an engaging brand and supporting it with the right marketing activity, resources and, ultimately, product delivery will build the reputation of the region as a ‘must do’ tourism destination.
Promotion of the region and its specific Aboriginal tourism products through marketing activities will provide the opportunity to inspire more visitors to come to the region, stay longer and spend more. Developing a set of sales and marketing tools that convert higher proportions of visitors will help position the region as an inviting and attractive place to experience living Aboriginal culture in Australia’s Aboriginal food basin.
The marketing of the region will provide visitors with various pathways to experience Aboriginal culture, land and story. Not only will tourism product offer an insight into the development of human culture and way of life in the past, but also provides a uniquely contemporary fusion of heritage and living culture.
Competition for share of visitor wallet and schedule is high – however, Aboriginal tourism in South West Victoria has the advantage of proximity – both to Melbourne (a key destination for international visitors and a key departure point for visitors to the region) and to another ‘bucket list’ tourism destination, the Great Ocean Road.
The marketing plan must integrate with and link to existing marketing platforms and campaigns through a globally and nationally recognised brand; digital promotion and engagement tools; social media and PR; Trade and Industry marketing and distribution channels.
KEY MARKETING OBJECTIVE
Grow visitor numbers, time in region and spend.
What is Aboriginal Tourism in the context of South West Victoria?
Aboriginal tourism is travel directed towards experiencing the arts, heritage and special character of Aboriginal Country in South West Victoria. This is a supplementary (and complementary) layer to any non-Aboriginal cultural tourism that is offered in the region, such as the Great Ocean Road attractions. Integrating Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultural tourism will be a central to supporting the growth of Aboriginal tourism in the region, and benefiting the whole tourism sector and the wider community in the area.
Brand and Positioning
The main role of the brand and marketing communication is to drive an emotional response to inspire visitors to experience the region through the lens of Aboriginal culture and heritage.
South West Victoria must be positioned as the destination to experience living Aboriginal culture within a setting that encompasses world-class food and wine as well as aquatic and coastal experiences.
What is an Aboriginal experience?
There is a limiting perception of Aboriginal tourism which focuses on the iconic (witnessing painted-up dancers; learning to throw a boomerang) but which does not encompass the depth and breadth of Aboriginal history, heritage and culture.
Part of the marketing of South West Victoria as the place to experience living Aboriginal culture is positioning it as a richer and deeper experience: about the traditional knowledge that is relevant today; about the links to culture through story and lore; about food and connection to Country. Challenging pre-conceptions about Aboriginal people and how they lived before colonisation, and challenging prevailing portrayals of how they live now in a way that invites interest and engagement will be central to the success of Aboriginal tourism in the region.
Central to any marketing of the region must be the development of an iconic and valuable stand-alone Aboriginal Regional Tourism brand.
This brand must have the potential to become a globally recognised symbol of authentic Aboriginal tourism and should clearly articulate the desirable and memorable nature of Aboriginal tourism in the region:
· The fusion of ancient and modern Aboriginal lifestyles - history, stories and experience of Aboriginal living culture in the region
· The rich and fertile Country and the story and lore that belongs to it – “experience more than the desert in Australia’s Aboriginal food basin”
· The unique Aboriginal experiences available and the connecting cultural narratives of the songlines
· The living culture and connection with Country going back 60,000 years
The core brand must be designed to complement other tourism brands already in use in the region such as the Great Ocean Road master brand and the Aboriginal Victoria and the Visit Victoria brand family. The design and realisation of this brand must be placed firmly in this context.
The key elements of the new brand should work together with these broader brands to maximise overall growth opportunities for the region, but also sit independently to clearly identify the unique nature of the Aboriginal tourism offering in order to provide optimal brand and visitor awareness.
Individual product brands should also sit within this product hierarchy to visually identify them as part of the Aboriginal Regional Tourism story.
Commission the development of a Regional Tourism brand to sit within the brand hierarchy and relationships.
Positioning the region as a key Aboriginal tourism experience will require a focus on its strengths (both currently and as they develop in line with the vision for the region), and leverage current visitor perception of the region, as well as align with Tourism Australia’s insights into the drivers of visitation:
· The songlines that traverse the whole region and interconnect to form a cohesive and engaging whole
· Aboriginal connection to the spectacular natural attractions through culture, lore and story
· Aboriginal use of native plants and animals in bush food and medicine (and in modern gourmet food products)
· Aboriginal traditional land management practices in rich, diverse and challenging landscapes and geography
· The diversity of authentic Aboriginal experiences available from more superficial (catering to the observer segment – galleries, retail, performance) through to the immersive, longer, more premium product (guided stays on-Country).
There may be a broader negative association with Aboriginal people and culture. This will be more difficult to overcome – however, a positive approach to positioning the culture in the region as rich and textured is likely to be the best message. 
Positioning against the Northern TerritorY
To differentiate the region from the Northern Territory as a destination to experience Aboriginal tourism, the marketing should also leverage the existing tourism brands to position the area as a region that offers Aboriginal experiences that are just as authentic but in a setting that provides a much wider range of holiday options:
Commission research into how Aboriginal tourism in South West Victoria can be best positioned against other Aboriginal tourism in the country (especially Northern Territories).
Key positioning themes
Tourism Australia has identified key themes which attract International visitors to Australia. These themes are delivered strongly by an interlinked tourism experience which connects Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal tourism in the region and which provides a unique value proposition to attract International visitors to the region.
These themes are:
1. Food and wine
Positioning the area as a food and wine region and adding in the “Aboriginal food basin” concept provides a point of differentiation and value.
Marketing the region as a gourmet region will complement the current focus on natural landscape. Traditional food is intrinsically linked to Country, and provides a way to understand culture in a very personal way. In addition, ‘foodies’ are more likely to spend more time in the region as they experience the area meal by meal.
2. Aquatic and coastal experiences
The Great Ocean Road and surf coast provides some of Australia’s best aquatic and coastal experiences – and adding the layer of the Aboriginal stories and experience could make this more meaningful.
3. Authentic cultural experiences
Providing an Aboriginal cultural experience that is unique and authentic but which also sits within the context of other valuable tourism experiences is a key differentiator for visitors of the region.
4. Iconic Journeys
The Great Ocean Road is already positioned as an iconic road-trip – however, adding the dimension of the songlines as the ‘journey into living culture’ can provide two ‘journeys’ in one.
Commission International visitor research to gain insight into the drivers and barriers of tourism in the region and how far and what Aboriginal tourism product may motivate them to consider the region.
Establishing the brand
Elements that are required to establish and grow a strong Aboriginal Regional Tourism brand will require:
1. The creation of the Aboriginal Regional Tourism Governing Body to guide, manage and govern the brand expression and usage over time
2. The songlines project to provide the structure for developing product and the pathways to provide visitors a guide into the region
3. Ready for market product (this can develop over time)
Challenges and opportunities
Geography – International visitors
“The vast majority of international visitors do not leave the eastern seaboard”
One of the key challenges cited by Aboriginal tourism operators in Central and Northern Australia is that visitors are not motivated to travel past the east coast.
This is a significant opportunity for South Western Victoria as it is more accessible to those visitors, does not require as much travel time and provides multiple tourism experiences in one region.
Geography – domestic visitors
The proximity to Melbourne and the iconic Great Ocean Road allows easy access to many domestic visitors, and an opportunity to position Aboriginal tourism experiences as value-adds or bolt-ons to other holiday types (family holidays; road trips; surf trips).
Ancillary benefits: safety and comfort
Tourism Australia identified safety and comfort as a key ‘head’ or rational decision making driver for International visitors.
IBA’s study into Aboriginal tourism also identified concerns about safety and comfort as being a key barrier stopping International visitors from engaging with Aboriginal tourism.
This represents an opportunity to position Aboriginal tourism in South West Victoria as a uniquely safe and comfortable Aboriginal tourism option – close to Melbourne, set in a far less challenging environment (fertile rather than desert country) and accessible in comfort at a number of different levels – from the mere ‘Observer’ to a more ‘immersive’ experience.
With China representing the biggest growth market for Australian tourism, it is increasingly important to provide marketing materials and visitor information in a multi-lingual format.
Building multi-lingual capability into information delivery methods will provide a significant opportunity to capture non-English speaking visitors.
Low levels of interest and participation in Indigenous tourism
Positioning Aboriginal history and culture as a shared Australian heritage through targeted marketing and educational campaign is a key message to demonstrate the benefits of participating in Aboriginal tourism to the broader community. The scope and breadth of Aboriginal tourism operations in South West Victoria will be central to the narrative of ‘something for everyone’.
The buying cycle
1. Building positive awareness and recognition of the Aboriginal culture and history in the region
One of the key barriers to the growth of Aboriginal tourism in the region is a lack of widespread perception that this is an area rich with Aboriginal heritage and culture.
Creating and promoting a story of the living culture (through food, art, craft); the connection with country through the songlines (as an alternative lens through which to experience the natural landscape which is such a drawcard in the region) and the rich history and heritage (with Budj Bim and Moyjil representing some of the oldest evidence of human settlement in Australia) will build awareness of the Aboriginal connection with the region over time.
This will require brand awareness campaigns both domestically and internationally; a focus on upskilling trade; production of content and resources (film, VR, case studies, itineraries, digital booking tools) – all of which will require significant investment.
2. Inspiring desire to visit
To complement awareness, significant desire-driving campaigns should be developed. These can be centred around events, festivals, specific times of the year (school holidays; eel season; special events like a celebration once Budj Bim achieves World Heritage Listing) or can be an additional layer in campaigns with other foci such as the Rip Curl Bells Beach surfing event, or the Great Ocean Road running festival: promoting Aboriginal product as supplementary experiences while in the area.
3. Converting desire to visitation
High conversion rates are based on two elements:
· Desire – the pull to want to visit
· Ease – removal of the barriers to visitation
It will be critical to provide an easy, user friendly and slick way to research, plan itineraries and book experiences and accommodation which also provides content that inspires consumers to want to visit.
Providing an online information hub will not only promote the region consistently but will also serve as a ‘one stop shop’ for all the information and action needed prior to a visit.
4. Delivering excellence to drive repeat visits and referrals
Visitor experience will drive repeat visits and word-of-mouth referrals. Ensuring quality experiences that meet visitor expectation will generate its own momentum.
Visitors who initially ‘dip their toes’ in the more superficial ‘Observer’ type experiences are more likely to progress through to deeper and more profound experiences on return visits if the initial experience:
· Is high quality
· Identifies the ‘songlines’ journey and promotes the other experiences that are available to complete the story
· Is positioned as part of a greater and more substantial whole
The buying cycle in action
For example, a visitor on a day trip to the Great Ocean Road may stop at the Visitor Centre and view an arts and crafts exhibition that introduces the history of the region and tells some of the story. They may be prompted to download the app, where ‘Uncle David’ or ‘Auntie Beryl’ tell some of the stories of the Twelve Apostles and describes the songlines that connect to the area.
The visitor is now aware of the Aboriginal connection to Country in the area, and knows that there is deeper knowledge and history still to experience and learn.
This visitor is more likely to return and explore some of the other Aboriginal product in the region, and is more likely to refer other people to investigate Aboriginal tourism options when they plan a visit to the region.
To activate this approach, the hubs or nodes where tourists are engaged at an entry-level should then be leveraged to drive greater engagement through connecting other, deeper experiences with the overarching cultural narrative.
The current ‘hero’ products are linked through this narrative and can also direct visitors to smaller providers with unique product offerings. Incorporating existing product into the broader narrative is a key component of creating a cohesive brand and marketing story – and therefore underpins any visitor acquisition activity.
The region must be marketed to several distinct segments of visitors. An approach centred on reaching the right people, at the right time, through the right channel, with the right content and message will be important when designing all marketing messages and campaigns.
Whether a tourist only has a day or wants to spend a week in the area, there are offerings for everyone - from the “observers” who want to see Aboriginal culture outputs (art; dance; exhibitions); through the “intrigued” who want to have some experiences (such as bushwalks or bush food) to the “immersive” segment who want to spend time in high-concept, exclusive, profoundly engaging experiences to dive deeper into the culture and spirituality of the place.
Marketing to ‘observers’ should focus on presenting opportunities to witness Aboriginal culture in performance and art or through presentations or short tours.
Marketing to the ‘intrigued’ should focus on offering shorter, more involved experiences to get a deeper perspective on Aboriginal connection to Country.
Marketing to consumers who prefer immersive experiences should focus on the depth of engagement offered by longer and more profound, bespoke product.
Engaging the education segment will help deliver consistent and predictable visitor numbers as it can be delivered outside peak tourist seasons.
A strategy which targets key decision makers (other teachers, head teachers, parents) will deliver increased engagement over time. This could include:
· Residential professional development sessions for teachers and head teachers in the region to enhance their knowledge and confidence in teaching the curricula
· Send information packs to each school in the region
· Provide teacher information packs to parents who visit the region to take back to their teachers
Tourism Australia has defined its international target market as the ‘High Value Traveller’ – a psycho-graphic segment defined by behaviours, attitudes and interests. This target segment is a group of visitors looking for unique and authentic experiences: food and wine; nature and wildlife; aquatic and coastal experiences
These visitors choose Australia for rational reasons (safety and security; value for money) and emotional reasons (world class nature, food and wine and aquatic and coastal experiences); and are looking for authentic experiences and to immerse themselves in local culture.
This is a sweet-spot for the Great Ocean Road Region as these drivers are all applicable to the region.
· Develop or engage a marketing agency to develop a detailed marketing plan identifies how to engage each customer segment (through above the line advertising, social media, online influencers, digital marketing etc.)
· Fund and resource the deployment of marketing campaigns to target each market segment
Accessing the international market will require working closely with the Australian Tourism Export Council. Joining as a Regional Tourism Organisation will provide to access distribution channels in key overseas markets
In addition, participating in International trade fairs and showcases will be important to building an internationally recognised brand and reputation as a key tourism destination.
· Join the Australian Tourism Export Council as a Regional Tourism Organisation
· Explore International trade fairs and identify key targets over time
Developing relationships with retail travel agents, wholesalers, inbound tour operators and online travel agents to promote and sell Aboriginal tourism in the region to the domestic market will help access the indirect market.
A strong online presence, supported by well-resourced and data-led marketing and an innovative and user-friendly tool-set will support engagement with the direct market.
· Develop a domestic indirect distribution strategy
· Establish engagement with third parties
Great Ocean Road Tourism Authority
Develop co-operative marketing campaigns with the Great Ocean Road Tourism Authority and Visit Victoria to deliver a richer, multi-layered experience to visitors and build the reputation of the region as a holiday destination.
Visitor information centres
Visitor information centres are a key channel to reach independent travellers – especially those on road trips or weekend getaways. Developing an outreach and engagement program (including famils) for tourist information centre staff, as well as providing engaging collateral will deliver increased visitor levels.
A large proportion of visitors to the region arrive on bus tours. These visitors have low levels of autonomy once on the trip, so to access them (to increase spend and / or drive return visits:
· Drive a change in demand with direct, brand marketing both into the countries of visitor origin; and onsite marketing to drive return and repeat visits
· Influence the tour company to change the itinerary by providing information, collateral and training to the tour companies themselves
For many independent travellers, the only touchpoint they have with third parties is booking accommodation. To reach these travellers:
· Conduct regular industry events that include real estate booking agents to increase awareness and knowledge of the available product
· Partner with accommodation booking sites and real estate agents to provide information (either online or in packs at each site) about family friendly activities
· Design and build a comprehensive channel strategy including co-operative marketing campaigns with the Great Ocean Road Tourism Authority; Visitor Information Centres; Tour companies and accommodation booking services.
Building demand for Aboriginal tourism in the region has three main layers:
1. Balancing supply and demand
For this plan to be successful, market demand must be throttled to match market readiness of the product. This will take careful management. Each campaign should incorporate a small-scale test-and-learn phase to ascertain the numbers of visitors likely to convert so that it may be accelerated or decelerated as required. There is a bigger risk to the brand of over-delivering visitor numbers before the product is ready than in having too much product and under-serving visitor numbers – but conversely, the latter scenario is problematic for the tourism operators who need consistent and growing visitor numbers to support growth.
2. Building brand reputation
As a new brand, delivering a new product to market, building brand awareness must include building awareness of the region as the site of valuable and engaging Aboriginal culture and heritage that is worthwhile spending time and money visiting.
3. Converting potential customers
Consumers often book travel based on the destination or the experience (or type of holiday) they want with the supporting factors of time, budget, travel and accommodation options.
The role of marketing Aboriginal tourism in Great Ocean Road Region will be to promote options to meet a variety of visitor needs.
Aboriginal tourism will meet a range of requirements:
· Tasting menu or full banquet
Providing opportunities to include Aboriginal tourism product into itineraries and developing itineraries that focus on providing a profound and rich journey into living culture
· Short or longer opportunities
Providing entry-level product and immersive, long-form experiences
· Budget or premium
Providing self-guided or virtually guided tours that are inexpensive but engaging or developing high-end, premium packages for the discerning traveller
· Independent or fully-serviced
Providing opportunities to experience and learn about the region independently or developing fully serviced bespoke guided tours
· Family or individual / couple
Providing holiday programs and educational programs or more sophisticated product designed for adults
Passport into living culture
A key brand proposition is the narrative of the region being a centre of living Aboriginal culture.
The ‘passport into living culture’ leverages this positioning and gamifies the region in the form of a series of information brochures that can be collected in a single, branded folder called the ‘passport into living culture’. Each site carries unique stamps to ‘prove’ that the visitor has visited.
With a high proportion of visitors to the area being families, this gamification is likely to appeal to children (who will drive family behaviour).
· Design ‘passport into living culture’ program
· Develop collateral for tourist information centres in the main holiday maker centres (Apollo Bay, Lorne, Torquay) as well as for each major Aboriginal tourism site
· Develop the unique ‘passport’ stamps for each major tourism destination to ‘prove’ that the visitor has visited
A world-class visitor experience and reputation is built on world-class foundations. To effectively market the region and to grow visitor numbers, time in region and spend will require investment in a range of underpinning requirements.
Developing the right technology to provide the right information to the right people at the right time, and to allow them to make purchasing decisions in real-time will remove many of the barriers currently preventing growth in tourism in the region.
The digital tools (website and app) and broader marketing activity (social marketing; influencer marketing) should support an intuitive and sophisticated user-experience that leverages available data about the user (location, preferences, past visitation or search history) to deliver a tailored content-set designed to increase desire for the region and its product.
Content (videos, blogs, articles, images, VR and AR packages) that is designed to match each customer profile will help drive the consistent brand position of a must-visit destination.
An integrated digital solution that provides compelling information that is up to date and tailored to the interests and profiles of the user will be a core driver of increased visitor engagement and support the brand story of a world-class visitor destination.
These tools should provide a seamless and integrated research and booking experience and provide in-depth information to support trip planning in the region. Specific attention should be given to design that addresses and mitigates any perceived barriers (for example time / distance / accessibility or cost or quality of available product or experience).
· Engage a digital partner to deliver a digital roadmap and co-ordinate delivery of all elements on it
A dedicated tourism website must be developed providing the ability to map a journey and create recommended itineraries for different lengths of stay, interests and priorities.
The website should provide an easy-to-use set of resources that brings together itinerary planning tools; accommodation booking options; and food and leisure activity information in an intuitive format to allow prospective visitors to understand and engage more deeply with the area.
This website will integrate into other sites (Tourism Vic; Visit the Great Ocean Road; accommodation booking sites Stayz and Airbnb) to ensure that information about accommodation, dining and leisure options is updated in real-time.
The website will also showcase smaller Aboriginal tourism operators – allowing them to advertise their products and services to supplement or integrate into suggested itineraries.
The booking engine integrated into the site should allow for the whole ‘itinerary’ (or just parts of it) and any accommodation can be booked / purchased in a one-stop shop.
Showcasing events, festivals and other key activities in the region, and illustrating how Aboriginal tourism can be integrated with other holidays (such as road-trips or family holidays) will generate more interest and drive conversion.
Consideration should be given to developing a multi-lingual experience; or building out modules to service the international audience.
The website will also drive engagement with ‘Uncle David’ and ‘Auntie Beryl’, the virtual elder tour guides in an app who can tell the stories of the area before departure, during travel and at the sites themselves.
· Scope and deliver a consumer website that promotes the region; provides advertising or showcasing opportunities for Aboriginal tourism operators or tourism-adjacent businesses; and provides comprehensive information, planning and booking tools
Industry / trade / corporate website
A ‘back-of-house’ website should also provide all the collateral and support that tourism operators and distributors require to sell Aboriginal product in the region.
This should include:
- Marketing collateral:
- Brochure-wear about the region and each product
- VR packages
- Customer satisfaction packages and recommendations
- Information about the latest marketing campaigns for the region
- Support collateral
- Simple, structured toolkits to help smaller businesses access the information and develop the relationships that they require to access the market effectively
- An industry toolkit, with resources such as checklists; fact-sheets; ‘how-to’ guides; links to grants and funding opportunities; and an events calendar for the region.
· Scope and deliver a back-end corporate / industry website that provides the tools to effectively promote the region as well as support collateral to help smaller businesses grow
· Research and scope required collateral to populate the website through consultation with industry and smaller Aboriginal tourism operators
· Design and deliver collateral as scoped
The app – virtual tour guide
Developing an ‘app’ to act as a virtual tour guide provides a personalised service to visitors who want a deeper engagement with the region.
‘Uncle David’ and ‘Auntie Beryl’ are virtual elder tour guides on-demand who can tell the stories of the area both during travel and at the sites themselves. These tour guides lead visitors down the songlines and introduce the key sites along the path.
Using location specific targeting features on smartphones, this app delivers targeted spoken word digital guidance in multi-lingual formats, allowing for engagement with both domestic and International tourist.
This app is not only a product (which can be marketed through on-site signage and / or QR codes and through printed and digital collateral) but also a tool to increase visitor desire for other products (to consume more of the story).
· In line with the Songlines project, design and deliver an app that delivers culturally appropriate story linked with each place or area in the region
An integrated Virtual Reality (VR) package tailored to each location and product provides not only a great value-add for tourism operators to offer visitors, but also works as a marketing tool: building awareness of and desire to visit the region and its attractions.
With many of the sites potentially too environmentally unstable to facilitate large-scale visitor experiences, VR also offers the opportunity to virtually visit some areas (e.g. Moyjil midden site).
· Identify key sites where VR could enhance visitor experience
· Identify key sites where VR can replace on site visitor activity
· Engage VR specialists to film and produce VR packages
Augmented reality (AR) packages that are tailored to specific locations and / or product will provide insight back in time to showcase traditional Aboriginal lifestyles. For example, an AR view of:
· Budj Bim might show hundreds of people working in and around the eel traps and illustrate what the aquaculture system looked like in full operation
· Tower Hill might show what the area looked like prior to re-introducing native plants, or even further back in time, what the area looked like when the volcanos were erupting
These packages will not only enhance understanding of the region as a hub of Aboriginal culture, but also drive desire to learn more about the heritage and culture of the people.
· Identify key sites where AR could enhance visitor experience and drive further engagement
· Engage AR specialists to develop and produce VR packages
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
With a well-deployed and well-structured website, this region’s site should be the first to appear in search results for visitors or potential visitors searching for information on:
· visiting the region
· Aboriginal tourism or history
· Specific sites or tourism experiences
· Engage SEO experts to consult on the best site and information architecture to support best-practice SEO
· Work with SEO experts to design a content and key-word strategy to drive google results over time
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing is a complementary practice to SEO in that it also aims to increase the visibility of the website in search engine results – however SEM produces this result through paid advertising.
A combination of SEO and SEM will provide the optimal results in the shortest period – however, both are ongoing practices and must be resourced and supported over time.
· Engage SEM experts to design a SEM strategy
· Work with SEM experts to deliver effective SEM over time
Social media brand activities and marketing
Increasingly, consumers are seeking information from social media – through their networks, and through brand communities and advertising.
Social media as a brand foundation is critical from providing up to date information and marketing messages to developing a community of positive and passionate online advocates.
In addition, paid social media marketing inserts the marketing message in a consumer’s feed. Micro-segmenting can target the message to the consumer with much more granularity than other marketing channels.
Harnessing and leveraging the reach of online influencers also lends credibility to the marketing message through a non-corporate amplification of message.
· Engage a social media management organisation to design and deliver a social media brand and community program
· Engage a social media marketing organisation to deliver targeted campaigns in line with broader campaign schedules
· Create an advocacy program with online influencers in target segments both domestically and internationally
Inviting consumers into a longer-term relationship with your brand to build advocacy and repeat and referral business depends on adding value through interesting content.
Content marketing delivers relevant, valuable and informative collateral to drive incoming traffic and engaged visitors to the website where the brand can deliver a strong conversion experience.
A significant part of the brand’s job will be increasing awareness of and propensity to purchase Aboriginal tourism. Content marketing will be key to engage, educate and inform prospective visitors and could include:
· Blogs or articles
· Video content or short film
· Curated itineraries (for specific target markets – e.g. families; wildlife lovers; archaeology buffs)
· Podcasts of stories from the region
· VR packages promoting the area
· Checklists for planning a trip to Australia
· Profiles of Aboriginal tour guides in the area
· Recipes using traditional ingredients etc.
· Engage an agency to scope and manage delivery of a content marketing calendar aligned with marketing campaigns and deliverables
By integrating the new Aboriginal Regional Tourism brand with a range of partners to leverage brand reach, a greater market can be reached both domestically and internationally.
Tourism boards – national and regional
Aligning and partnering with national and regional tourism boards will provide increased visibility and reach for the Aboriginal Regional Tourism brand. These include:
· Tourism Australia
· Tourism and Events Queensland
· Discover Tasmania
· Tourism Northern Territory
· Tourism Victoria
· Great Ocean Road Tourism Authority
· South Australian Tourist Commission
· Visit NSW
· Visit Canberra
· Experience Perth
· Western Australia Tourism
· Visit Gold Coast
These should each be assessed for potential alignment (for example, partnering with Western Australian Tourism or Visit Perth may be of low priority as most visitors do not leave the eastern seaboard – however, it is essential that the brand has strong ties to Tourism Victoria and the Great Ocean Road Tourism Authority).
· Assess and prioritise partnerships with national and regional tourism boards
· Develop tourism board engagement strategy
· Execute engagement plan
Distribution - International
To stake a claim as a not-to-be missed tourism centre, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal South West Victorian tourism must develop a close partnership with Tourism Australia.
Developing and promoting the region to International visitors will require a multi-faceted strategy which should include:
· Building a supportive relationship with Tourism Australia
· Development of compelling collateral and marketing activities that position the region as a destination that can deliver all the aspects International tourists are looking for
· Participation at international tradeshows
· Development of a suite of trade collateral including fact sheets, quarterly trade newsletters, digital engagement tools (such as VR), case studies etc.
· Development and promotion of famils – fully funded trips for tourism leaders in each target market to showcase the opportunities and experiences available in the region
· Initiate and drive relationship with Tourism Australia
· Scope and deliver marketing collateral
· Develop positioning materials to participate in international travel tradeshows
· Develop trade collateral
· Develop and deliver famils program
Distribution - wholesale
It is critical that the Aboriginal Regional Tourism Governing Body works with operators in the domestic travel trade distribution system including contracting with wholesalers to ensure that product is integrated into promotional plans for the region.
This should drive brand awareness and conversion through integrated marketing activity that not only includes brand marketing toolkits and product offers, but also provides packaged itineraries for different market segments.
Distribution - regional
Engaging with existing tour operators (including bus tours and tours catering to international visitors in the region) to promote Aboriginal product (especially the ‘hero’ experiences) will provide increased traffic over time if partnered with marketing activity designed to drive demand in those markets.
To drive recommendations from non-Aboriginal tourism operators in the region, a series of industry events (famils) should be developed to increase awareness and knowledge of the available product, and should be supported with a comprehensive marketing toolkit.
Another key distribution point is tourism information centres in the region. Targeting tourism information staff to increase their awareness of Aboriginal product and propensity to recommend it will provide another touchpoint to drive growth in the sector. This information should be supported by compelling collateral (including the ‘passport into living culture’ and the virtual elder tour-guide app).
The development of a distribution and promotion strategy should also include accessing regional tourism associations outside the region – for example linking with Tourism SA to integrate the Aboriginal Regional Tourism products with any similar promotions across the border in South Australia; or linking gourmet Aboriginal product with the wine country as an integrated promotional product.
· Develop a distribution development plan
· Execute the distribution development plan to engage strategic partners over time
Alongside Aboriginal experiences and tourism product, a program of events over peak, shoulder and off seasons will complement physical attractors and facilities and providing new motivations to visit the region.
A range of festivals or events throughout the year will encourage year-round tourism and can be scheduled for traditionally ‘off-peak’ times to provide more consistent visitor numbers.
To build Aboriginal capacity and capability to launch, manage and promote dedicated events or festivals, priority should be given to supporting involvement in existing events in the region.
Marketing messaging for these events should be delivered through targeted PR (for example, if the event was a food festival – stories could be pitched to Gourmet Traveller; The Australian Food and Wine Lifestyle section or to influential food and wine bloggers) as well as advertising in traditional above-the-line media such as TV, radio and print.
· Develop an event schedule which builds over the next ten years
· Provide marketing (and other) support for Aboriginal participation in existing events
Marketing to attract staff and sell them on the benefits of working in tourism in the region.
Promote the region as a great place to work and the tourism industry as a vocation of choice offering opportunities to up and cross skill.
A strong and cohesive public relations program will provide increased visibility of the region and its attractions. Stories that are likely to gain traction in mainstream media include:
· the Budj Bim World Heritage Site listing
· good news stories about growth of visitor numbers in the area
· stories about bush tucker and traditional land management techniques and how they are positively impacting the landscape (e.g. Tower Hill)
· the incorporation of traditional ingredients in mainstream food production (ice-cream; chocolates)
· the launch of technologically advanced products (app; VR and AR packages)
· the global market for gourmet products from the region (e.g. smoked eel)
· festivals and markets
In addition, the region’s Aboriginal product should be promoted to TV shows such as Getaway and camping / caravan shows to increase awareness of the additional opportunities for unique and interesting activities in the area.
· Engage a PR firm to help increase awareness of Aboriginal tourism in the region through carefully targeted media and story pitching.
A comprehensive and cohesive approach to market to drive increased and consistent visitor levels and share of wallet will require significant resourcing.
The Regional Aboriginal Tourism Board should support its own marketing team to:
· manage the brand and messaging
· engage and manage agencies (PR, design, advertising, web, digital marketing, VR / AR production, research, events management etc.)
· develop content and stories
· manage marketing activities to throttle demand in line with product development
· analyse visitor data and produce industry forecasting reports
· develop support materials for tourism businesses and industry
· liaise with product development teams to engage marketing in line with delivery
Ideally this would be led by Aboriginal people from the region, however, if the required skills are not available, non-Aboriginal people could be recruited and a pathway developed to upskill Aboriginal people to take on the roles over time.