Posts Tagged ‘tourism awards’

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.

Profile: Building on a destination

Seppeltsfield Vineyard CottageEven when a tourism business is either new or relatively unknown, it can benefit greatly from being in a well-known and sought-after destination.

Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage – the second in my series of tourism profiles – has become very popular thanks partly to its location in the Barossa region of South Australia.

Seppeltsfield’s Sharyn Rogers describes this as a “huge plus”, since many visitors are already searching for the Barossa and naturally come across the cottage in their search.

Nevertheless, there’s no time to sit back on their laurels and wait for bookings to roll in. Sharyn pays a lot of attention to their site content in order to keep it alive and lively.

As a small business – the cottage sleeps two – Seppeltsfield is well positioned to benefit from online marketing, where there is no battle for space. Sharyn also finds that, at little over $300 a night, paying 30% commissions to intermediaries isn’t worth their while.

So Sharyn and her partner Peter choose to market their accommodation directly via their site and with a presence on destination and accommodation sites such as, and the B&B and Farmstay Association.

Seppeltsfield also markets through the Barossa Regional Guide which helps to capture last-minute bookings and encourages word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and relatives overseas.

Sharyn and Peter do a great job of packaging their accommodation with other tour operators, so that visitors can get the best from the region as a whole. They are finding that one in five of their guests will book a package rather than just accommodation.

“Packages are especially popular with overseas visitors,” Sharyn told me. “And over 90% of our internationals are now booking directly online.”

Sharyn recognises the benefit of having a self-managed site: “We are updating our site contantly,” she said. “And I insist on having good images on there to help people see the experience.”

By posting regular news with a subscription facility on the site, they are able to express a personality and maintain interest in Seppeltsfield as an ideal base for a Barossa holiday. This is also a great SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy.

And Sharyn has included a link to TripAdvisor, encouraging guests to write up their experience on this social media site as a fantastic way to attract links back to the Seppeltsfield website.

Keep an eye on the Seppeltsfield site, because Sharyn and Peter are in the throes of revamping it to give it a more contemporary feel.

Revamping and refreshing their web presence is reflected in their approach to the product itself. As a 19th century cottage, Sharyn recognises the demands of their market and keeps the cottage fresh with contemporary facilities, including free wireless broadband internet access (and free use of a laptop computer if required), a Bose iPod Docking Station and “Wave” sound system, and, soon to be installed, a Bose entertainment system.

Congratulations to Seppeltsfield for being declared winner in the Hosted Accommodation category at the South Australia Tourism Awards this year for the third time running, taking them into the Hall of Fame.

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.