Archive for the ‘OM4Tourism News’ Category

New Small Business Online (SBO) Grants Announced

Apparently the original $10M allocated for the Small Business Online programme has been extended by $4M specifically to help small tourism operators go online.

Investing in online capacity for the tourism industry is a good idea – of course I’m going to see things that way. And targetting funding towards getting small businesses online is very positive. See their press release below and make up your own mind.

Personally I’d like to see Australia tackle some of the infrastructure bottlenecks that make it harder for small businesses to be effective online.

Payment Gateways: I would love to see investment in the National Payment Gateway of Australia, making it easy for small business to easily accept payments online. For small tourism operators it is relatively easy to accept credit card payments (unless you want to use one of the banks). But it would be far better if all Australian tourism operators could just switch on electronic payments to suit their customers – whatever currency or payment form that might be. Yes, web developers can solve some of this. But if we want Australian tourism operators to have an advantage, well we would be better off with a national (open) solution.

Media Release from Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and Martin Ferguson, Minister for Tourism.


Joint media release with the Minister for Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson MP

More than 50,000 small businesses will benefit from $14 million in Rudd Government funding to help them go online or upgrade their internet presentation.

The funding is being provided from the Rudd Government’s $10 million Small Business Online program which has been boosted by another $4 million to extend it to more tourism small business operators.

Across the nation, 95 per cent of small businesses are connected to the internet, yet only 57 per cent have a website.

The funding will help small businesses – especially tourism operators – take full advantage of the National Broadband Network (NBN) by helping them install and upgrade websites.

Small Business Minister Craig Emerson and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson announced that grants ranging from $50,000 to $700,000 had been offered to 47 small business support groups including industry associations.

The groups will use the grants to help small businesses develop the skills to go online or upgrade their existing internet operations so they can better engage in e-business to reduce costs and improve market opportunities.

Among the groups to be funded are the Darwin Region Business Enterprise Centre ($320,000); the Margaret River Wine Industry Association ($140,000); the NSW Business Chamber ($495,000); and the Gulf Savannah Development group – which supports businesses from Cairns to Broome – ($200,000).

Dr Emerson said the NBN would provide fresh opportunities for small businesses to lower their costs and extend their market reach.

“The NBN will be a powerful tool for small business and helping 50,000 small businesses go online or improve their online presence will ensure they are ready for these exciting opportunities,” he said.

Mr Ferguson said he was pleased many small tourism operators would receive support.

“In the 21st century, tourists want to know a lot about the quality of the accommodation on offer before committing to travelling to a particular location and giving them a virtual tour online will help improve the attractiveness of tourist destinations,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The business support groups being funded will be specifically targeting the tourism industry, in line with the Government’s announcement of the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy.”

A list of successful applicants and more information on the Small Business Online program can be found at

OM4Tourism one year anniversary

We launched OM4Tourism just one year ago – how time flies!

To get in before everyone else’s pre Christmas posting wrap up, here is ours. And it is short and sweet: just the top three posts this year:

We sure as heck wrote a lot more than 3 posts, but these are the ones our readers have voted for. And if you like them, you can scan our archives for more.

OM4Tourism Forums launched

The OM4Tourism Forums have just been launched and are ready to welcome small-medium tourism operators.

The Marketing Discussion Forum creates a space to discuss marketing issues, directing questions to OM4Tourism or to other Forum users, and answering questions posted by others.

We know that tourism operators recognise the value in working together to boost the industry as a whole, and many smaller operators are relatively isolated from the wider tourism community. The Discussion Forum facilitates a sharing of marketing tips and information among those who are at the chalkface of tourism.

The Support Forum is there to support OM4Tourism clients in their online marketing, in particular with questions related to OM4Tourism websites. If this is you, ask away, and we will post answers as questions come in.

To register, simply go to this page, click on the ‘register’ link, and follow the prompts.

We look forward to seeing you there!

RiverFly declared Australia’s Hidden Jewel

Daniel HackettAfter a long, fascinating and challenging process, the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards judges have chosen the winners for 2008.

The National Winner is RiverFly Tasmania, created by fly-fishing guide Daniel Hackett.

Daniel knows Tasmania’s northern rivers like the back of his hand, and spends most of his working life knee-deep in water.

Sharing the adventure of trekking, camping and fishing one of the World’s heritage-listed areas with holiday-makers is his passion, equalled only by his dedication to conservation.

It’s this passion that lies at the heart of success for small tourism enterprises. Daniel couples this with sound business sense in targeting a lucrative niche market.

He has also created a stunning coffee-table book with professional photographer and fellow angler, Brad Harris. In Season Tasmania is a journey in print that aims to encourage Australians across the Bass Strait for a fly-fishing adventure of their own.

We are very much looking forward to working with Daniel in the coming weeks as he takes his business to the next level with online marketing.

The judges also chose a winner from each state and territory. All winners will receive an OM4Tourism Online Marketing Website, with Graphic Design and that vital Keyword Analysis to help position their businesses effectively online.

I’ve created a Winners Page that tells you about all our winners, and I will post further blogs as each of their online marketing sites goes live.

The Hidden Jewels of tourism

Pearl in shellWinning an award gives small tourism businesses a real boost, but it’s hard for smaller operators to find the time and resources to put together an award submission.

That’s why we created the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards, and the result has been a long and fascinating list of tourism enterprises that deserve more attention.

We’ve seen a particularly impressive turn-out of entries from Tasmania and Queensland this year, and overall the businesses have been wide-ranging and imaginative – many of them clearly bursting with energy and potential for growth.

We’re right into the judging process for the 2008 Awards now, and as ever, choosing one business over another is proving challenging.

The first stage is to choose the national winner, and then we move on to selecting the state and territory winners.

From an initial shortlist of 40, each judge has chosen their top 3, which has given us a final list from which to sift out the Hidden Jewel for 2008.

Both John Walsh, executive producer of Getaway, and Quentin Long, publisher of Australian Traveller magazine, join us for the first time in judging the Hidden Jewel Awards, and both have been surprised by how difficult it has been to choose just 3 out of a possible 40.

The winner must be a quality enterprise that has something unique or unusual about it. It must be a genuine ‘hidden jewel’ – so those that already welcome thousands of visitors a year, have won a string of awards or enjoyed significant publicity in the past are unfortunately out of the running.

And the judges need to see the potential for the winner to benefit from the additional exposure that will come from the prize – a new online marketing website from OM4Tourism and a publicity campaign from PublicityShip.

Even with these clear criteria, we are struggling to make a choice, which only goes to show how many quality tourism businesses are out there – and how many remain relatively hidden from the mainstream travelling consciousness.

The name of the national winner will be in our hands by the end of today, and then we move onto the state/territory judging.

All winners will be announced on 20 March.

Register now for the Hidden Jewel Awards

Small tourism operators across the country are invited to register interest in the 2008 OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards.

Hidden Jewel logo mediumWe launched the Awards in late 2006 because we were coming across so many wonderful tourism businesses struggling to get the word out.

This was a chance for those smaller operators to win recognition, without a prolonged and time-consuming entry procedure.

We decided to invite a panel of judges from the tourism industry. This meant all entrants came to the attention of some influential tourism icons, including Australian Traveller magazine and national tour company, AAT Kings.

State winners won some excellent media coverage – each seeing between two and four editorials in their target travel and lifestyle publications – and the national winner,, are now the proud owners of an OM4 online marketing website.

This year, we have equally influential judges on the panel, and some amazing prizes.

We’re thrilled to be welcoming the Executive Producer of Channel 9′s Getaway travel show, John Walsh, to the panel this year. Respected travel publisher, Quentin Long, will be representing Australian Traveller, and Les Cox, CEO of AAT Kings, is once again bringing his contagious enthusiasm to the judging process.

Each state winner will get an OM4Tourism blog-enabled website with hosting, design package and keyword analysis to kickstart their online marketing.

The national winner will also get a publicity campaign targeting national print and broadcast media, with global internet distribution as well.

The entry procedure is straightforward and quick. Register your interest now and you’ll receive information shortly on how to enter. To register, go to our Hidden Jewel page and scroll down to fill out the form.

OM4Tourism’s latest website launched

Undara screen grabWe are delighted to have launched our latest OM4Tourism site this week:

Undara Experience is a fabulous tour company that took out the Queensland Hidden Jewel Award earlier this year, and has many other awards under its belt.

Take a look at the site.

It’s the kind of website that’s good to rummage around, one that draws you into all the fascinating material on the volcanic landscape, the native wildlife, and above all, the experiences to be had in this captivating corner of Australia.

On a practical level, there’s a helpful planning section and lots of support for self-drivers, maps, walk trails, facilities for corporate groups and schools, and links straight into Undara’s iconic events.

Notice that testimonials and awards are displayed prominently, and eco credentials are discussed in a separate ecotourism page – vital for conversion.

The Undara crew are excited about the new site and getting right into blogging straight off the bat. We’ve all very much enjoyed putting this site together and look forward to tracking progress as the site gains momentum.

Welcome to OM4Tourism

Launching Business on BeachI’m delighted to be launching OM4Tourism – a site dedicated to online marketing resources for small to medium tourism businesses.

We decided to launch a site just for tourism operators because:

  • you have told us how important the Internet is to your business success, and
  • we believe small tourism businesses offering unique experiences have a great deal to gain from online marketing.

At PublicityShip, we have already enabled small businesses to grow through online marketing. To find out exactly how our very first online marketing clients, ocularists Paul & Jenny Geelen, achieved phenomenal success purely through online marketing with us, check out this case study.

We have continued to develop our services since then, and established our first two tourism sites: and

Why Tourism?

Small tourism businesses offering unique experiences have far more to gain from online marketing than large operators, wholesalers or online agencies.

Why? Because with smart online marketing, you can now reach your target customers directly, wherever they are in the world, placing you on a level playing field with bigger businesses. To find out exactly why this is happening now – and why Glenn turned his life upside down to create businesses based on this model – read this article.

We also know that the tourism industry is rapidly responding to the enormous changes occurring due to the widespread availability of broadband. Travellers are researching, booking and writing about their experiences online, and the rate of growth is extraordinary.

The popularity of blogging is growing fast too, which is good news for tourism because blogging represents a fantastic way to help your clients understand the experience you offer them, in a way that can be much more authentic and up close than a website on its own.

Scan some of the 1.7M+ travel postings on Technorati travel blogs for a while, and get a feel for how many travellers are sharing their thoughts and experiences using blogs as the medium.

This is why we have developed online marketing strategies and services to help tourism operators market themselves online.

How We Can Help

Most tourism businesses have websites. But a website is not a marketing tool on its own. Keyword Analysis, Search Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing and Affiliate Marketing offer significant opportunities for tourism operators to reach travellers while they are researching and planning their trips, and to increase bookings and visitor numbers.

We’ve put together a carefully researched and tested set of services, that will enable you to get online marketing at your own pace, spreading the cost and drawing our support as much or as little as you need us.

We can also guarantee dedication. Travel and tourism is close to my heart, having spent six years working as a travel writer and then editor of national travel industry magazine, Traveltalk. This brought me face to face with a wide range of tourism operators and fired up my determination to help this passionate group grow their businesses.

After joining Glenn Nicholas and Julia Sutton as manager of their new business, PublicityShip, in 2006, I established the Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators because we saw how these businesses were struggling to enter the spotlight at established state and national awards schemes.

Thanks to Glenn’s extensive experience in business development and IT, I also quickly learned the ins and outs of online marketing, and recognised the potential for tourism operators to take advantage of the Internet’s level playing field. Since then I have been itching to launch this site.

We Want to Hear from You

We’re dedicated to helping you market your business online, so that you can claim your share of the growing number of travellers planning their holidays online. So do contact me with your feedback, requests and suggestions.

To kick off a few ideas, I’ve just published an article based on interviews with 12 tourism operators from around Australia. It examines some of the most common challenges faced by businesses marketing to overseas visitors, and I’ll be posting on each of those challenges in more detail. You can read the complete article here.