Google DMO Programme

Lake Wanaka Tourism

 

Boosting Lake Wanaka’s visibility on Google
& empowering local businesses to increase their digital skills & online presence

SUMMARY

In a world of flat or declining website organic traffic, Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) are struggling to make their digital efforts seen without heavily investing in paid media programmes. Miles Partnership worked with Lake Wanaka Tourism and local Wanaka businesses to utilise Google’s free tools to help deliver improved volume, relevancy and accuracy of content which dramatically increased and continues to drive the destination’s online reach, all at zero media cost.

OUR CLIENT

Lake Wanaka Tourism (LWT) is the official Regional Tourism Organisation responsible for destination marketing and management of the Wanaka region, located in the lower South Island of New Zealand. Working with its approximately 300 tourism business partners, Lake Wanaka Tourism has helped generate some of the fastest international and domestic visitor growth over the last decade of any region in New Zealand. Miles and LWT have worked together on marketing initiatives for the last 6+years including most recently the Google DMO Partnership Programme.

The rise in power of such platforms and wider changes in digital marketing (eg: shift to mobile, the rise of voice search) has negatively impacted the website traffic of many destination and tourism industry businesses

It can be tempting for DMOs with limited time and resource to look for a quick solution (funneling more funds into paid media); however, Lake Wanaka Tourism worked with us to identify, evaluate and implement measures that will help them to achieve increased and sustained organic reach.

CHALLENGE

Travel marketers know that 80% of travel planning starts in the search bar, but in recent years, many destinations have noticed drops in organic web traffic and have tried to remedy this with increased expenditure on paid traffic on the dominant platforms in the travel landscape such as Google, Facebook and Online Travel Agency partners.

As the largest platform on the web – Google – continues to launch new search experiences and travel products, the traditional role of DMOs in the digital space has been significantly disrupted. Google platforms (including Google Search and Google Maps) have an estimated 90% and 85% market share in travel planning behaviour in New Zealand/Australia. 

The rise in power of such platforms and wider changes in digital marketing (eg: shift to mobile, the rise of voice search) has negatively impacted the website traffic of many destination and tourism industry businesses

It can be tempting for DMOs with limited time and resource to look for a quick solution (funneling more funds into paid media); however, Lake Wanaka Tourism worked with us to identify, evaluate and implement measures that will help them to achieve increased and sustained organic reach.

 

We’re really pleased with the results of expanding the Wanaka region profile on Google. This has meant information on our region is more accurate and helped double the number of eyeballs on Wanaka content with views of images and posts on Google equalling the views on our own website.

The DMO programme gave Lake Wanaka Tourism the chance to engage closely with its members and provide tangible and valuable business support & development.

James Helmore

General Manager, Lake Wanaka Tourism

Changes in organic traffic from 2013 to 2018 across a sample group of 36 North American DMOs. For more analysis, please see Chris Adams’ blog piece here.

There are a number of ways to increase search visability for a destination using Google’s free tools. Here’s an exxample of a virtual walk-through in Google Street View captured by Lake Wanaka Tourism using the Miles Partnership supplied Ricoh Theta V camera. Click here to view online

the SOLUTION

At Miles, we like to take challenges and turn them into opportunities by utilising our data insights and global partnerships. 

We’ve been analysing and addressing the changes we’ve been seeing in organic traffic of tourism websites for over three years, and have been in touch with Google since 2016 to discuss its implications for DMOs and possible solutions. Building on this communication, Miles Partnership was closely involved in the launch of the Google DMO Partnership Programme in 2017.

The Google DMO Partnership Programme offers DMOs the opportunity to leverage the enormous reach of Google’s travel products with a suite of tools (Google Maps, Google My Business, Google Street View and more), and understanding that not many DMOs have the time nor resource to action a strategy for this, Miles created a support programme to assist. In the 100+ destinations we have actioned the support programme, the results exponentially improve the quality of destination content and information for visitors (and locals), expands their business community’s online reach for free and lifts the overall presentation of the destination. It empowers tourism businesses with critical digital marketing skills across the largest platform on the web.  

Aside from boosting organic traffic, the programme can also help offset issues such as seasonality and dispersal by enabling the RTO and their tourism businesses to update and surface new and lesser known areas of their destination and to keep content fresh by season, promotion or event.

OUR PROCESS

The Google Partnership Programme in Lake Wanaka had 5 stages to help the DMO understand, optimise and
measure their exposure within Google’s products and platforms:

 

  1. Audit and Workplan – Working with Lake Wanaka Tourism, Miles Partnership assessed the digital presence of Wanaka and its business community across all Google products, then identified opportunities for improvement.
  2. RTO Training – Miles Partnership trained Lake Wanaka staff on the 12 free Google tools and how to maximise their impact and results
  3. Content Activation – The Lake Wanaka Tourism tema then repurposed, captured and uploaded hundreds of new images of Wanaka across Google including Google StreetView – 360 immersive photospheres.
  4. Industry Training – Lake Wanaka Tourism and Miles Partnership collaborated on two online webinars and two hands-on industry workshops for local businesses. The Wanaka business community were upskilled to leverage and maximise the value of the free Google tools centred around their Google My Business listing.
  5. Impact Assessment – We gathered the results of all parts of the programme from the reach and audience of images, Street View and Posts to a feedback survey of participating businesses.

Miles Partnership audited the completeness of the Google My Business Listings for tourism operators in the Lake Wanaka region.

We worked with the DMO and its business partners to increase the accuracy and completeness of the region’s business listings, which affects visibility on search and on maps.  

RESULTS

Initial results gathered directly after the completion of the programme in September 2018 showed: 

  • 239 New images captured and uploaded to Google Maps by the Lake Wanaka Tourism team
  • These images generated an additional 152,000 views
  • 69,000 Google Post views

Current results as at end June 2019 show: 

images uploaded to Google Maps

Million Image Views

Google Post Views

 

The results and impact continues to grow with free views on assets across Google tracking at around 200,000 views per month.

An added benefit of the DMO programme was that it gave Lake Wanaka Tourism a chance to engage closely with its members and provide tangible and valuable business support and development. Over 90 Wanaka operators attended the workshops and one-on-one sessions. We received excellent feedback on how valuable it was and that it gave participants a greater understanding of Google products and how they could manage their own business information.

The reach of the programme on its business partners, through their improved presence across Google (from their enhanced Google My Business listing) is estimated to be even greater. Again at zero cost. 

ENDURING BENEFIT

Since successfully piloting the programme in Wanaka, Miles has continued to support the Lake Wanaka Tourism team to build on the early results and has also rolled it out in 4 other regions of New Zealand including Coromandel, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty and the Hamilton Waikato – including working with hundreds of businesses.

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