Connect the dots - Thinking beyond domestic shores to market a destination via digital


Diana Kahui, The Director of Digital Strategy at Destination NSW, has a very ambitious target for her team. They plan to double the overnight visitor economy by the year 2020, which is an 8.3% compound growth rate per annum.

She says the way to hit this target is to be aggressive; it’s not enough to make people aware of Destination NSW, her team has to actively try and influence people to make that decision.

And their market isn’t small; in addition to local potential travellers, her team also has to focus on the 5 key international markets: the traditional ones of New Zealand, The United States of America and The United Kingdom, and the emerging ones of China and India.

 To get this reach and to encourage engagement, Destination NSW have looked at 3 key areas:

  1. Programmatic and performance
  2. Mobile web and mobile first
  3. Social media for mass reach and selective marketing
  1. Programmatic and performance

The primary focus for Destination NSW is driving high quality traffic to the website. There is also the trend for agencies to want to own their own data, and Destination NSW is no exception as they wanted to explore all the opportunities that this might present.

For example, Destination NSW made the case for trialling an in-house demand slide platform (dsp) for 6 months. In order to ascertain whether it was successful they had to prove that it:

  • Reduced the cost of digital media
  • Would retain ownership of all data and retargeting pools
  • Build real-time reporting dashboards
  • Target mobile and desktop devices via a single channel
  • Build an attrition model specific to Destination NSW’s campaign frameworks
  • Achieve a CPL of less that AUD$50

Destination NSW achieved all but two of these requirements. A highlight was getting their cost-per lead down to AUD$50 from AUD$400. Given the success, they are going to continue to use a combination of internal and external platforms.

  1. Mobile web and mobile first

Normally the above phrases are pitted against each other, but Kahui likened the both of them to a rugby team. There’s no use having a team of brilliant backs, or fantastic defence; in order to maximise the overall performance, you need a combination of components.

The same could be said for both mobile web and mobile first; you need the full-set of skills in order to generate exposure

Apps are definitely the rage these days, and that might be because 85% of us are spending our time on them. However, this is not the case in travel. Kahui noted that potential travellers are much more likely to be on mobile.

And while apps deliver a rich content experience, mobile web has a bigger reach, for them it creates double the traffic as apps. She said this is because mobile web is starting to deliver a fuller and more engaging user experience.

Therefore the decision was made to concentrate on the mobile platforms, and develop native apps on an as-needed basis, for example Destination NSW created an app for Vivid.

  1. Social media for mass reach and selective marketing

Knowing what social media platforms to use is vital because using the right ones give both mass access and reach, and for Destination NSW, it is especially critical for the international marketing side of proceedings. Destination NSW has 28 active social media channels and a community of 11.75 million travellers. All of these channels are used to maximise their reach and hone different messages for the different markets.

Kahui notes that they have started to discover what these communities really engage with in terms of content: beaches, icons and especially animals are all really popular, so the team cater to that. They have even refined their posting times, going from 5 times a day to 1 post a day on Facebook, and to 3-4 tweets per day with the same amount of engagement. If the content works really well, then the team will promote it.

There are many challenges in the highly competitive travel sector, yet by designing a refined digital ecosystem Destination NSW are able to deliver highly results-driven digital marketing.

CeBIT Australia Digital Marketing Report