How agencies can up the ante on digital skills

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While Digital Tourism Skills were Left Behind by Federal Budget, one company is helping businesses advance their digital capabilities.

The founders of online tourism hub, Tourism Tribe, have said their capacity building and knowledge sharing platform would come to the aid of tourism operators who were disappointed by the outcome of the Federal Budget recently.

While applauding the government for investing in infrastructure and cyclone recovery efforts, Tourism Tribe’s Chief Information Officer, Fabienne Wintle, highlighted that investment in material assets should be coupled with investment in skill development in the areas of promotion and digital marketing.

“At budget time, there is always talk about big infrastructure projects to benefit the tourism industry, but it is really difficult to measure the impact of this expenditure for small business, particularly in regional or remote areas that are not near the major infrastructure projects,” said Wintle.

“For an industry made up of 90 per cent SMEs that cannot afford to outsource their marketing, it means they need to gain the skills and knowledge themselves.

“The internet is in many cases the only way for small tourism businesses to reach their audience and statistics on the digital footprint of operators across the country are showing our tourism regions are way behind.

“At Tourism Tribe, our focus is the digital capability of our regions – investing in people, the tourism operators, to give them the skills they need to not just survive, but thrive, when it comes to attracting today’s digital savvy traveller.”

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Wintle said their recently launched digital benchmarking tool was analysing the digital assets and capabilities of businesses at a national level, generating real data to be able to compare the skills and show the exact areas where destinations and tourism operators need to develop capability. This is a first for the sector in Australia.

“Ten years ago, 70 per cent of small business didn’t have a website,” she said.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve been educating people about websites and there has definitely been an improvement on this front.

“Now we need to focus our efforts and address the areas where we are lagging behind. From the data we have been collating we know YouTube and Instagram are totally under-utilised. These video and image sharing platforms are heavily relied on by travellers, but under-utilised by businesses.

“Each month there are over 14 million Australian who use YouTube and 5 million who use Instagram. Having a more active presence on such platforms would provide a key competitive advantage to tourism businesses when it comes to capturing visitors at the very start of the travel purchase

“We can’t wait another decade for our operators to embrace what travellers have embraced 10 years earlier.

“We need all levels of government to realise the potential of investing in digital skills and tools now as we cannot afford to see our operators fall behind for another decade. Instead, we should be the trailblazers in this area and work together to be stronger as an industry.”

Recently named as a Digital Champion in the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland program, Wintle said their purpose at Tourism Tribe was to connect operators to collaborate and leverage partnerships to enhance the industry’s digital capabilities.

“Through Tourism Tribe, we’ve connected likeminded tourism operators on opposite sides of the country to support each other and share knowledge to resolve common problems.

“Operators help one another and save time by not reinventing the wheel, on every topic to do with digital marketing, from the best booking systems, to gaining social media traction and getting more reviews on Google. They can learn all this from each other and support others without leaving their business.

“It’s a comprehensive platform and above all it’s about building a community – we get such a kick out of guiding operators to work together to improve their businesses.”

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