The importance of offering online booking and marketing your business online is being advocated to Gippsland tourism providers.
With only 35 per cent of Gippsland tourism operators offering online booking, Destination Gippsland is conducting further research and support to get online.
“There are many businesses in the region that don’t have online booking systems. As a region and industry we need to keep up with the consumer’s adaption to technology,” Ms Hayes said.
“Better online distribution and conversion capability leads to increased bookings, higher visitation and more competitive tourism businesses.”
Morwell Motel was named the best bargain hotel in Australia by TripAdvisor.com last week after developing its online presence.
The motel also came second to Southern Ocean Lodge in the small hotel category in the annual awards recognising the best hotels in the world.
The accommodation facility is connected to 10 different ‘channel agents’ such as Wotif.com and Booking.com, operates its own website and receives 50 per cent of its bookings online.
Co-owner and operator Anthony Mayer said the online space had also changed the way people did business.
“Instead of going to a travel agent for a professional’s advice, people use social media or sites such as TripAdvisor.com to review travel-related businesses,” he said.
“In less than 12 months, we’ve got 155 excellent reviews for our motel and that is what drives business to our hotel. People get online and see the honest feedback from other travellers and they book with us.”
Mr Mayer said if you set your systems up correctly, (online) bookings could come in with contact information, credit card information and everything you needed to know about the traveller while away from your desk.
“It makes life so much easier and gives you access to a wider market. When it comes down to it, it gives you time to work on your business.”
Destination Gippsland is urging tourism businesses to improve their online booking capacity through its Gippsland Tourism Creating Smarter Connections program – providing tourism outlets to build their online presence.
Ms Hayes said basic things like ensuring operators’ websites were able to be viewed on a mobile device was of great importance.
“We know that people are searching online with 60 per cent of travel booking made through a smart phone,” she said.
“There is an increasing opportunity for people in that space. It’s also a very competitive space and if you’re not in that online environment, you’re going to miss out on people attracted to using online.”
Destination Gippsland is encouraging all Gippsland tourism businesses to engage and contribute to the current survey, which will assist the program in 2014.
For more information about the program phone Janine Hayes on 0488 042 838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org