Congratulations to all of our members on the cool headedness with which you handled last week’s snap lockdown. Our temporary return to Covid-related restrictions has provided a sharp reminder that, despite our relative freedom in Western Australia, life has by no means returned to normal. Please read on for some insights into how the region’s businesses are faring, as well as the latest snapshot of MRBTA Marketing and Visitor Servicing activity for January.
Regional Business Performance
Our recent quarterly visitation and spend survey showed that just under 50% of businesses saw reduced visitation and spend for the October to December quarter compared to the previous year. For those businesses reporting reduced visitation and spend, the reductions appear to be significant rather than marginal.
Tour and attractions businesses are consistently among those most adversely affected and they continue to struggle with many citing declines of 50-70%. Alongside this, while hospitality venues have been busy, many have not been able to operate at capacity as they have been hindered by staff shortages.
Consumer Confidence and Forward Bookings
Prior to the lockdown, there was already a high level of uncertainty across all types of tourism related businesses regarding visitation during February and March. November was a quiet month for many businesses and there is concern that February and March will be the same without interstate and international visitors to bolster the usual drop off in business following the school holidays. TCWA estimates that forward bookings across the WA tourism industry from March 2021 onwards are now down 35%.
It is clear that our fluctuating interstate border status is having an adverse effect on the region’s interstate bookings, and this is also affecting general consumer confidence in WA – we have gathered some further information and insights on this here.
We are assisting members adapt to current market conditions in a number of ways. Pip Close has been working with businesses with a high reliance on international and interstate visitation by offering one-to-one business coaching and we encourage all relevant members to make use of this service – please contact the Membership Team via [email protected] or (08) 9780 5959.
Meanwhile, our consumer-facing channels will continue to do the heavy-lifting in offering exposure for your business, as we connect with over 150,000 consumers on a monthly basis through our website, eDMs, visitor centres and central reservations. We would also like to leverage these channels to work with you on some tactical intrastate deals-based activity, which you will find detailed below.
Looking ahead, we are working to ensure that the destination is in a strong position to benefit from accelerating consumer trends towards sustainable travel through our work on the regional brand and in partnering with the Shire of Augusta Margaret River to achieve Eco Destination Certification.
Our longer term work also includes working with members and our partners to address staff shortages – we had positive feedback from members on last week’s Tackling Skills Shortages workshop with Perdaman Global Solutions on visa and migration schemes.
We will continue to share your experiences with decision makers, and take a flexible approach to planning in order to place us in the best position to address issues as they arise. Please stay in touch and don’t hesitate to contact myself or the team to discuss any challenges and opportunities you are observing in your business.
Group Manager – Marketing
January Insights: MRBTA Marketing & Visitor Servicing Channels
January saw website visitation grow considerably compared with the previous year, with users up 20% to 112,000 and sessions up 25% to 179,000.
Website users from WA have increased 48% compared with the previous year. Interstate users are unsurprisingly down 46% but still make-up around 10% of the website’s domestic visitation. Interestingly, users from South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania have actually increased this month when compared to last year.
International users are also down. In January last year, they accounted for 15% of our users but this is now only 5%. In the future, as borders ease we will keep a close eye on how this reflects in visitation to our website and from which markets.
As 85% of our website traffic comes from organic search this is a good indication of traveller intent and helps guide the type of content we produce.
- Instagram: Impressions are down 40% but this in line with October data. December was hard to beat with 9 extra ‘Top Posts of 2020’ landscapes.
- An adjustment in strategy to showcase more member businesses was a great success, with posts getting up to 700+ likes and 20k reach. People really engaged with aspirational User Generated Content (UGC) of all our fantastic businesses, tagging their friends about upcoming weekenders. Promotional shots didn’t perform as well as UGC. Keep this in mind when sharing on your socials and remember to tag @margaretriver so we can see it too!
- The ongoing challenge is getting the balance right, typically landscape imagery performs better than member posts and this is important to win the algorithm which means our member posts are more likely to be seen.
- Facebook : Engagement rate was up 55% this month, Reach is up 61% and Impressions topped 1 million. Our followers grew by 1.1k! After a huge December (where we shared 9 extra ‘Best of 2020’ posts) it was awesome to top those stats, getting significantly more organic reach. Could be lucky timing too, as people spend more time on social media again, post holidays.
- Customer service touchpoints (telephone, email, live web chat, direct social media messaging) totalled 6,620 for January – up 10% from January 2020.
- 37,000 visitors used the region’s three Visitor Centres at Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River during the month of January (down from 40,000 last year).
Monthly newsletters to consumers and media have maintained high engagement. The industry benchmark for Travel & Leisure is an open rate of 15.7%.
- Consumer Newsletter Sent to over 29k subscribers. 27% open rate and 17% click-through rate (CTR)
- The Monthly What’s On Blaster is back with events ramping up and continues to perform well with an open rate of 49% and a CTR of 20%. This email is targeted to our intrastate audience who are more likely to make a last-minute visit enticed by our lively events calendar. We encourage members to consider replicating this style of email campaign to drive bookings around events.
- Media Newsletter Sent to 252 subscribers. 31% open rate and 43% click through rate
New Blog Stories
74 members and 17 event partners were featured across seven blogs curated by the MRBTA in January.
Visitation to blog stories was up 65% in January with over 50k page views compared to 30k page views the year prior. This is the largest increase in pageviews on record for a single month, exceeding December’s result. The spike in traffic can be contributed to the marketing team refreshing top performing content and curating new content that resonates with the consumer.
- What’s On in January?
- Family Friendly Augusta
- Underrated Foodie Surprises
- Marron Season
- Top 10: Summer School Holidays
- New Year, New Experiences
- Major Events & Festivals Worth Planning Your Trip Around
Sharing stories on the region is a great way to enhance your engagement with visitors. We encourage you to share via social media, email and your own website.
Media coverage featuring the Margaret River Region across January included:
- Crafty Pint – Crafty Crawls: The venues of South West WA
- RAC – Your Ultimate Guide to Margaret River (TWA Partnership)
- RAC – Your Ultimate Guide to Dunsborough (TWA Partnership)
- Australian Traveller – Consumer eDM (ASW Partnership)
- World Travel Magazine – New Eco-Friendly Accommodation & Cellar Doors in the Margaret River Region
- NZ Herald – Filling up on Western Australia (TA Partnership)
The MRBTA annually supports over 30 major events to drive off-peak visitation to our region.
Events we supported in January include Here Comes the Sun Festival, Festival of Busselton and Movies at Cape Mentelle.
A number of major events and festivals have confirmed their dates for 2021. View the event list here.
Lockdown Lifted Promotion
MRBTA is aware that the recent lockdown has caused significant disruption to our members and also intrastate visitors who had planned trips to the region. To encourage post-lockdown and post school holiday visitation we’ll be running a Lockdown Lifted Promotion over the month of February. The promotion will target our intrastate audience and include a landing page on margaretriver.com, website pop up, social media promotion and the best offers will be included in our What’s On EDM.
How to get involved
We suggest using the code WellDoneWA or allowing visitors to mention the Lockdown Lifted promotion. Offers will be subject to the latest Government health advice.
Deadline: The EDM will go out Wednesday 10 February but offers can be added to the landing page all week.
This promotional offer was shared in the Facebook Members Group yesterday, make sure you join the group to receive the latest opportunities and news.
Expressions of Interest for Autumn Content
Expressions of Interest for Autumn Content
Expressions of Interest for blogs can be registered with the marketing team. Blogs are free for Primary members and $99 per inclusion for Secondary members.
- Local Favourites: We’re looking to profile more of our regional characters for our popular local favourites blog. *Must be able to supply a professional profile photo in a lifestyle, business or landscape setting.
- X Great Country Style Bed & Breakfasts
- X New Experiences this Autumn
- Best Romantic Getaways
- X Great Dates in the Margaret River Region
- Autumn Image Library: Members can access our summer image library and share inspirational visuals of The Margaret River Region. Please always credit the photographers when using images. View here.
- How to Leverage Your Events: The MRBTA regularly support major events in the region and have noticed a growing demand from members hosting smaller events wanting to gain leverage and build their audience. In response to this, we have put together a guide with useful tips on promoting your event. View here.
- Rediscover Videos: The regional Rediscover compilation video shares inspirational messaging for a domestic and intrastate market. Members are welcome to share the video across their channels. View here.
- Domestic Travel Sentiment Tracker: This report from Tourism Australia tracks how Australians feel about travelling domestically and is updated fortnightly. View here (scroll down)
Please get in touch for paid opportunities such as web ads, TV advertising in the Visitor’s Centres, or a top 3 listing on margaretriver.com.