14 Jan 2011

Content Sharing - the future for Tourism Marketing

iVisitorGuide is an opportunity to bring about a step-change in the way destinations go about providing visitor information. The time has come to move toward a new distributed model of content sharing.

Making better use of visitor information and tourism product data in a far more effective and efficient way, will enable Regional Tourist Boards / Destination Management Organisations to fulfil the latent potential of of their content. In the past the power of your databases has been focused too narrowly on feeding a small number of large websites.

The sector needs to move away from focusing the majority of time and resource on websites that attract relatively low traffic, to a dispersed/distributed model, where content can be placed where the majority of online traffic actually is. iVisitorGuide leverages a ‘Long Tail’ strategy, exploiting the accumulated mass online audience that frequents Tourism Provider websites. Tourism content has the potential to be made available across an entire national network of Tourism Providers, meeting consumers visitor information needs at the point where they have most interest – not limited to a few ‘major’ channels.

Through the iVisitorGuide distributed content approach we address the market failures identified in the Deloitte “Economic contribution of the Visitor Economy” report. The Free Rider problem need never exist when Visitor Information can be made available to any and all businesses in a way that makes most sense for them. Businesses will also become more effective at winning new customers because the quality of the information from their own websites will be improved. Forrester Research indicated that “38% (of consumers) will avoid booking because the hotel website does not give them enough information about the destination”. iVisitorGuide provides this essential destination information and is an effective business improvement tool for the sector.

iVisitorGuide also provides valuable market intelligence on consumer behaviour. It becomes a tool for VisitEngland / DMOs / Providers to understand the nature of demand and referral within the various strands of a complex visitor economy. In addition a sector that has every Tourism Provider promoting other local businesses will generate cross referral benefits, new enquiries and increase market reach. The service is designed to be delivered in partnership with DMOs and its successful implementation enables closer working relationships with all types of Tourism Providers, the natural development of clusters and much improved visitor information direct to the consumer.

In creating a national network of Tourism Providers we have the opportunity to empower the industry to take responsibility for providing better quality Visitor Information themselves - rather than sitting back and relying on the public sector to do this. The iVisitorGuide network enables new public/private sector partnerships based on mutual benefit, smarter spending, local impact and consumer demand.

Visitor Information

The iVisitorGuide service has been developed with the belief that the widespread provision of a nationally endorsed modern Visitor Information service will measurably contribute toward achieving this country's growth targets. We live in a networked society yet the delivery of our Visitor Information services is not connected through the thousands of Tourism Providers and then onto the millions of interested online consumers. Research tells us that our country’s businesses continuously fail to provide the Visitor Information that consumers need, yet the information exists and could be made available to all.

Tourism Providers across the country need to become their own network, all supplying, feeding and benefiting from a service that gives consumers the Visitor Information they need to make England their destination of choice. The iVisitorGuide service is the glue that can bind the wealth of data contained within DMOs to the marketing needs of tens of thousands of England’s Tourism Providers. We need a catalyst that would enable this national network for the benefit of consumers, businesses, tourist boards and the country - who can step forward?

A modern Visitor Information service available to all:

· Needs to be found in all the places where consumers are seeking information

· Should be available at all stages of the visitor journey

· Can be easily found, identified and signposted via a common, instantly recognised symbol

· Is of the same consistent high quality

· Should be available to any individual, business, association or destination in a way that supports their own promotional efforts

· Must be endorsed by VisitEngland and promoted by Regional Tourist Boards

One of the key challenges for tourism across the UK for the foreseeable future will be how we can galvanise the private sector to participate in the delivery of effective destination marketing and visitor information. Tourism Providers will have to work more collectively and Tourist Boards will need to play a leading role in enabling this? What can be done by Tourist Boards to make the most of their people and their data – their real assets – in an environment where we need to provide better services but with less money?

iVisitorGuide – the concept

iVisitorGuide is not about creating yet another website obsessed with promoting itself and trying to compete with the ‘big’ players in travel and tourism. In fact we don’t compete at that level at all. The big opportunity lies elsewhere – in that part of the online travel space where most consumers are seeking information. This is the same online space where VisitEngland and Regional Tourist Boards have potentially the most influence - but little opportunity until now to fully maximize the potential benefits that can be gained.

iVisitorGuide is the delivery of a Visitor Information service that mutually benefits all participants:

· Consumers find relevant information precisely where [and when] they need it - this increases their propensity to book with those businesses that provide this information

· Tourism Providers discover brand new marketing channels, generate referrals and learn more about what their customers have an interest in doing and what other local businesses are important to them

· Regional Tourist Boards see improvements in data quality, witness organic cluster development, reduce marketing costs and create the platform to generate revenues through the commercialization of their data

· VisitEngland oversees a national network of Tourism Providers all linked in to the EnglandNet database and all providing high quality, consistent and relevant Visitor Information to their online customers

So, iVisitorGuide is not just another portal. It is a network and a platform. A network of tourism providers who agree to cross promote for mutual benefit and a platform upon which your core tourism content is distributed to the widest possible online audience.

iVisitorGuide operates in distributed ways and takes information to where people are seeking it. Consumers should be able to access visitor information all over the internet and they should be clearly and consistently signposted toward this information. And where are the majority of consumers seeking travel information? On the websites of this country’s Tourism Providers – our visitor attractions, hotels, restaurants etc. Ironically research demonstrates that these same businesses fail to provide this information – despite massive consumer demand for it! How much money does this cost the industry?