Over the next few weeks I will be writing profiles on a dozen small tourism operators dotted around the country – all of whom have contributed valuable information to OM4Tourism on international marketing issues.
The operators featured have all agreed to share their marketing experiences, and you are equally free to comment, add advice or ask questions.
The first operator is attracting an international clientele to its small-group customised tours with some impressive online marketing.
Rich + Lingering offers luxury food & wine tours and customised tours, all for very small groups (no more than six), in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale premium wine regions.
After less than two years in operation, the business has just become the SA Great 2007 Regional Award Winner for Tourism Services, and taken home the SA Tourism Commission New Business bronze medal.
Targeting a Niche Market
According to Rich + Lingering’s Jason Miller, the business depends on clear and targeted branding to overcome the general perception that wine tours involve large buses and little specialist knowledge.
“There are a number of low to mid-priced mass market operators who basically provide a transport service for which there is a big market,” he told me.
“We are at the other end of the scale – private, small group, high levels of international wine knowledge, personalised service. It does take time to break these misconceptions, which is mainly done by developing relationships and having a strong brand.”
International guests make up 35% of Rich + Lingering’s total visitation. They are aged 30-60, professional/white collar, high net worth individuals, looking to develop themselves with food and wine activities and education. Most come from the UK and northern Europe, North America, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Jason reaches this market online (his website and others), as well as via agents, ITOs and magazine advertising – all carefully chosen for synergy with the business’s brand. To capture unplanned visits after arrival, he also works with Visitor Information Centres and has a presence in regional guides.
Online Marketing Insights
Jason puts great emphasis on web content, as 43% of guests find Rich + Lingering online, with most coming directly to the R+L website. He shared some valuable insights:
“Our key online strategy is to drive traffic to our site by achieving high Google rankings for specific searches (e.g. ‘private/luxury wine tour south australia’), but also a broad range of links and other good relevant content, such as travel tips, on other sites.
“Having good content on your website which isn’t too sales focused shows you ‘know your stuff’, is of value to the reader, and helps SEO [search engine optimisation].
“We also produce a seasonal newsletter which people subscribe to and can distribute themselves to their friends etc. This has been a great way to broaden the net. A number of our newsletter articles are further used in blogs.”
All great strategies. Interestingly, Jason finds that most guests use the site for research rather than bookings, and only a small proportion are booked completely online.
He believes this is due to the nature of the business. Offering customised, high-end tours means personal communication with guests to ensure all their needs are met. This is hard to do via a booking engine, so guests are encouraged to contact Rich + Lingering directly with their requirements.