I stumbled upon the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions’ US market website. User can be upload content direct or by using Flickr, YouTube and other websites and appears mixed in with official content from the NBTC. The website includes tag clouds, social networking tools, social rating and bookmarking and more. On top of that, the website looks very stylish. Very Dutch.
It’s definitely not perfect. I can’t figure out how to upload pictures from Flickr or movies from YouTube for example (more then a small usability issue). There’s also not real way to browse the website through navigation (or is this the new reality?).
Is this a glimpse of the future where destinations are promoted by consumers and residents alongside the tourism board? It might just be. In either case, it’s a brave step and demonstrate vision from the NTBC, not afraid to take a risk. But it’s a calculated risk, by limiting the execution to the US market, where I assume, the target audience is a younger one.
UPDATE 7/2: Karin Schmollgruber posted about Holland 2.0 as well.
Recently I signed up with Facebook. Not to check it out because I need to stay current for my job, but because I had too. Many of my friends use Facebook actively as a communication tool. I signed up after a couple of weeks where during every real world social gathering I attended, Facebook came up during the conversation. After signing up I quickly understood the value Facebook provides. It’s a great way to communicate and share.
All these systems are closed for the most part. I need to sign up for each service individually. And the friends I make on each of these networks don’t transfer into the others. Me and my friends and family have to sign up for a multitude of Social Networks in order to view each others content. And the content doesn’t transfer either. Flickr does photo’s really well. But on Facebook, you can tag photo’s with people. So I have a collection of photo’s I’m in, across my network of friends (very cool functionality). So I have photo’s in two places. Flickr, because that’s where I store my photos for easy management, and in Facebook so people can tag each other. In MSN, I display my status (where I am). In Facebook, I have to do the same thing.
So the point of my story is that these closed systems aren’t working for me. Photo’s I store in Flicker should be available in Facebook, Gusto and all other networks I’m part of. If I change my status in one place, my status should change everywhere else as well.
Dave Winer has a great posting about this.
Well said Dave. I couldn’t agree more, and I hope the day will be here soon.
Tourism Australia launched their new Australia.com recently. It’s a dramatic departure from the old website, both strategic and tactical.
The new strategy quickly pushes users down to the individual state and territory websites. No more in-depth content provided on Australia.com. Only few things remain, such as video, promotions and travel essentials such as climate and visa information. And of course the giant map. Users can find the details on the state and territory websites. These websites have a link back to Australia.com, so users to move to the next destination website. There is a partnership with Google to provide a search across all destination websites and includes an advertising component.
This makes a ton of sense. Australia is huge. Providing all the content required for consumers to plan their trip is a lot of work, something Tourism Australia probably won’t be able to manage themselves. But individual states and territories can. These destinations deal with the scope of information a consumer needs. It’s big enough for consumer to deal with, but not too small, so users don’t have to visit many websites. And by moving consumer down for details instead of duplicating efforts, Tourism Australia can use it’s resources for other activities.
The search functionality across all states and territories is very well done (the tabs look familiar tough). The sponsored links aren’t contextual. That’s a miss. It’s delivered by DoubleClick, a company Google recently acquired so I’m sure that will change over time when Googles Adwords algorithms are integrated.
Some of the other execution is disappointing. There ‘s no overview of what each state and territory is about. Where do you start? One paragraph for each would probably be enough for a consumer to start. The interactive execution takes long to load, the map is not very useful and the videos are commercials. The attempt to create a network of websites by bolting on an Australia.com icon the the state and territory websites that links back to Australia.com is a bit clumsy. Every time I move back to Australia.com, the whole flash thing loads again, making it very annoying to move around. The experience also changes from website to website and there’s little consistency.
I’m sure they’ll improve the tactics over time. They already changed some things. The introduction video doesn’t show every time when you move back from another destination website anymore, for example. But I hope for their 6 million visitors/year, they do it quick.
Jens has additional thoughts.
Get people to talk about your destination is the first rule of Destination Marketing.
I watched Seth Godin’s presentation at Google yesterday. It made me think about my trip to Prague and Destination Marketing.
Seth’s philosophy is that the only way to spread the word about an idea is for that idea to earn the buzz by being remarkable. The old “TV Industrial Complex” model, where mass media (TV commercials) are used to drive sales, is dead. The new model is enabling the power of word of mouth..
I have no research about what has happened from a Tourism perspective in Prague since the early 90’s, when communism ended, and Czech borders opened for tourism. But I do know that almost immediately, everybody started talking about Prague. And everybody who went there told me they loved it and that I should go “before it becomes a tourism trap”. This was true when we lived in Europe and continued when we moved to Canada. I’ve never seen a TV commercial from the Czech or Prague tourism board. I’ve never seen a newspaper of magazine ad. I can’t recall reading an article about Prague. I couldn’t even tell what some of Prague’s highlights were. Yet Prague was high on our shortlist.
When we finally visited Prague a month ago, I was shocked about the number of tourist, and the resulting tourism infrastructure. I’m convinced the success of Prague’s tourism is primarily a result word-of-mouth. Every visitor who returns from Prague is an ambassador for Prague, because Prague is remarkable, resulting in even more people wanting to visit. And as more people visited, the infrastructure developed, and as interest grew, tour operators noticed and started adding Prague to their product mix.
It doesn’t take much for a destination to get on somebodies shortlist. Forget mass advertising, a friend’s recommendation is often enough, so make sure every visitors experience is a remarkable experience. The hard part of a destination marketer’s job is moving somebody from there to the actual visit.