Tourism Australia starts digital transformation

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 12 March 2015

STW-owned creative technology agency DT has unveiled the first iteration of Tourism Australia's “digital transformation” with the launch of a new Australia.com platform.

The site – which was 18 months in the making – had a soft launch in February and has been fully unveiled today, featuring a range of personalisation and best-practice user functions to enable travellers to search, filter and share travel experiences more easily.

Speaking to AdNews ahead of the launch, DT partner and strategy chief Tim Evans said the new platform goes beyond a traditional site and is designed with the connected traveller in mind.

“The brief to us when we were appointed by Tourism Australia in 2013 was to create the best tourism website in the world,” Evans said.

“It quickly became apparent that we weren't just building a website, we were building a new way for Tourism Australia to connect with its customers and a new way for it to provide value to all of the stakeholders in that tourism ecosystem.

“So rather than just making websites or advertisements it really did become about designing a new business model,” Evans said.

The site, which includes more than 700 pages of tourism information, is available on all devices in 11 languages. It also includes a new crowd-sourcing feature on the homepage, called 'Chase the Sun', for which local photographers capture time lapses of the sun in various spots in the Australian countryside. The tool will remain on the site as an ongoing platform to crowd-source unique portraits of Australia.

To develop the strategic approach, DT worked with Tourism Australia for more than six months on defining the vision and developing the model, as well as building research around the habits of travellers in both Western and Eastern markets, and how they seek travel information online.

Tourism Australia head of digital Rapthi Thanapalasingam said: “The new Australia.com couldn't just be a tweak of the current site – it had to be a completely new experience.

“And, to succeed, we wanted to benchmark ourselves beyond the tourism category.

“This entirely new site needed to respond to the major trends that were changing our world – big content, data, collaboration and co-creation,” she said.

Tourism Australia MD John O'Sullivan said with more than 50 per cent of consumers using digital channels to research, plan and book travel, the new website was necessary.

“Marketing Australia to consumers locally and overseas is clearly changing because of the internet and mobile technology,” O'Sullivan said.

“We recognise this and that is why we are investing so heavily in Australia.com now, in order to meet the needs not just of today's but also future travellers”

The launch of the site follows a report from travel researcher TNS showing the weaker Australian dollar is expected to boost the domestic travel industry.

TNS Australia head of travel and leisure, Ed Steiner said changes in the economic and retail landscape are creating huge opportunities for local businesses.

“Over the past five years, a high Australian dollar set against a weak US dollar made it difficult to justify the cost of an Australian holiday, particularly when overseas 'shopping holidays' and luxury services and accommodation were so affordable,” Steiner said.

“We're now on the verge of a sea change, where shifts in the economic landscape and Australians' renewed interest in local R&R and food and shopping experiences crate a significant opportunity for the travel and retail sectors.”

DT and Tourism Australia will be continuing the brand's digital transformation by re-platforming the organisation's owned assets onto the Adobe Platform.

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