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Antarctic Adventure An Icy Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

Client: 

Antarctic Adventure

PR Company: 

Corporate Communcations

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2002 G 6

Year: 

2002

Executive Summary: 

Antarctic Adventure (AA) in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Hobarts historic

Salamanca Place

, has undergone a significant transformation in visitor experience, profitability and image.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Previous owners had not changed direction for more than three years with marketing and promotions activities ad hoc and in some cases non-existent.

The new management developed a comprehensive marketing and public relations strategy.

It outlined strategies to achieve a sustainable five per cent increase in Centre usage from 1 January - 30 June 2002. Achieving this goal required a solid understanding of the Centres history as well as product life cycle.

Through careful analysis of marketing opportunities, identification of target markets, and development of a strong, focused public relations and marketing strategy, management has now positioned the Centre as a leading tourist attraction in Hobart.

This was confirmed with a recent internal evaluation showing AA to be effectively and innovatively repositioned for long term growth and profitability. 

Figures confirm a 14.6 per cent increase in visitor numbers for just the first six months of 2002.

Situation Analysis: 

In 1997 the Tasmanian Government constructed an Antarctic science centre at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />

Salamanca Place, Hobart

as part of its commitment to promote the city as the Australian gateway to Antarctica.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The facility was sold to Dreamworld Parkway Pty Ltd, which opened AA in December 1997. 

Dreamworld positioned AA as a tourist attraction based on theme park qualities and price. Subsequent marketing feedback from AAs target markets revealed a credibility gap between the marketed theme park expectation and the science product delivery.

Following restructuring in 1999, Dreamworld sold AA to Macquarie Bank. Late in 1999, Macquarie Bank offered to transfer its ownership of AA to the Tasmanian Government in return for the waiving of outstanding debt. The Government reclaimed ownership on 29 June 2000.

Throughout its management by the bank and following its transfer to the Government, little work was undertaken in the area of marketing and promotion, allow the Centres image to deteriorate and with it, visitor numbers and financial viability.

The appointment of a new General Manager in November 2001 heralded the start of a new era for AA. A comprehensive review of the facility and previous marketing strategies led to the implementation of a marketing communications campaign. This was aimed at repositioning the Centres brand, while at the same time attracting people to the facility by providing information about new services, activities and exhibitions.

The campaign steered away from the Dreamworld theme park image to focus on the three Es to entertain, educate and experience.

To achieve its primary objectives, AA appointed Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd to execute a comprehensive marketing communications campaign. Activities were jointly developed and implemented by the Centre and the consultancy.

A structured campaign of good news stories was launched in local print and electronic media, as well as specialised travel publications. 

Promotional activities included a free flight over Antarctica for newly weds, regular advertising and major involvement in the Tasmanian Antarctic Midwinter Festival.

Good corporate citizenship activities also played a role in boosting the Centres image. These included a visit to AA by a Starlight Foundation girl and her family from Queensland, support for CampQuality, schools and community groups and membership of the Tasmanian Polar Network.

The Centre also focussed on a previously neglected market the conference and conventions industry. Upgraded facilities and consistent marketing of AA as a unique function venue resulted in an overwhelming increase in bookings.

Research: 

Research identified a number of weaknesses, including a negative image reflected in media clippings and visitor feedback. The continual decline in visitor numbers was also indicative of the Centres image as a venue that not providing value for money. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Desk research of marketing materials revealed material was outdated and tired and still included the Dreamworld logo/image. Material also needed to be updated to include the new three Es, as well as newly upgraded facilities. Promotional material also needed to target the conventions and conferences market.

Additional reviews indicated minimal public relations and marketing activities had been undertaken in previous years. What was undertaken was not focussed on appropriate target publics, nor was it sufficiently regular to maintain a constant flow of two-way communication that would assist in attracting visitors and raising AAs profile and image.

Regular meetings were held with the new General Manager and the consultancy to implement the marketing communications plan. As a result of budgetary constraints resulting from years of unnecessary spending and reduced revenue a partnership between AA and Corporate Communications was seen as the most effective means to progress AAs marketing and communication plan.

The consultancy also discussed a program of events for the ongoing promotion of the Centre to ensure it maintained its appeal to target publics.

As part of this process, the consultancy and Centre reviewed customer demographics to enable appropriate media selection for advertising and promotion. These included The Mercury newspaper, convention magazine Mice.Net, the Tasmanian Business Reporter and local television and radio stations.

The consultancy made recommendations to raise the General Managers profile as the Centre spokesperson with the goal of promoting him as credible and professional business leader strongly committed to AAs success.  It was suggested that boosting his image would reflect positively on the Centres image, and at the same time provide an articulate and credible spokesperson for tourism-related issues in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania.

To provide easily accessible information for the evaluation of the Centre and effectiveness of marketing communications, the consultancy also supported the use of feedback forms at AAs exit. Visitor comments and details are added to a database and used for future marketing and promotions.

Target Policies: 

The target publics were divided into external and internal publics as follows:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

External

  • Tourism Council of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania
  • Tourism South
  • Tourism Network Tasmania
  • Travel industry airlines, agents, cruise companies etc
  • General media in Tasmania
  • Travel and tourism media in Tasmania, interstate and overseas
  • Business media, such as the Tasmanian Business Reporter
  • Science and technology media
  • Australian Antarctic Division
  • Antarctic CRC
  • Tasmanian and Victorian schools
  • State Education Department
  • Tasmanian Convention Bureau
  • Service providers
  • Hobart City Council
  • Other Salamanca traders
  • Tasmanian Polar Network
  • CSIRO
  • Environmental groups

Internal

  • AA management and staff
  • AA Board of Management
  • State Government / Department of State Development
  • Tourism Tasmania

Communication Strategy: 

To achieve its primary objectives, AA appointed Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd to assist in the development and implementation of a comprehensive marketing communications campaign. Many activities were jointly developed and implemented by AA and the consultancy. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

To date these include:

  • Media activity announcing the General Managers appointment and positive plans for AA.
  • Placement of General Managers photos and industry comments in publications such the Australian Institute of Company Directors member publication, Tasmanian Director, and Tasmanias most widely read business publication, Tasmanian Business Reporter.
  • Promotion (through media events) of innovative facilities/services and strategic partnerships. For example, the development of a series of 3-D Antarctic games by a Tasmanian multi-media company was launched with a school holiday group and a competition.
  • Regular advertising in prominent positions in local daily newspaper.
  • Regular interviews on ABC Radio programs, supporting AAs professional image.
  • The development of a television advertisement featuring a new jingle and images reflective of the three Es.
  • Participation in appropriate advertising features in target publications. For example, the Local Government Association of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania Magazines conventions feature.
  • Radio promotions with popular station, TTT FM. Competitions were further promoted through media events providing fun and interesting visuals.
  • Media activities focusing on AA as a good corporate citizen and an employer committed to providing expert training for staff members.
  • Hosting a tourism industry networking function, which included a presentation about AAs facilities.
  • Strong participation in and promotion of its role in the Tasmanian Midwinter Festival via media events, advertising and posters.
  • Revamping and regularly updating the website.
  • Distribution of material to travel, tourism and Antarctic publications Australiawide.
  • Media promotion of specially priced school holiday entry passes and innovative programs for students.
  • Employment of a professional photographer to photograph events and services. Photos are distributed to target media and used in advertisements and on the website.
  • Development of new marketing materials such as brochures outlining AA facilities.
  • Promotion of strategic partnership with Australian Antarctic Division and Tasmanian businesses through product promotion.
  • Board and State Government (as owner) are kept up-to-date with activities via meetings, reports and copies of promotional materials.
  • Updating staff members on activities and seeking input to ensure two-way communication and a sense of ownership.
  • Development of a noticeboard in AAs foyer featuring a map of Antarctica and clippings of Tasmanian businesses/organisations with links to Antarctica.
  • Direct marketing of AA as a unique experience to cruise ship companies visiting Hobart.

These activities enhance ongoing activities / upgrades, including the development of a state-of-the-art theatre featuring specially developed Antarctic DVDs, and an Antarctic history walk which includes a movie and free entry on the tour day.

Implementation: 

Marketing communications strategies were implemented between November 2001and June 2002. Results reveal impact to date on target publics.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Results: 

The AA campaign was extensive with media monitoring indicating widespread coverage for its new image. Desktop analysis of clippings indicates overwhelmingly positive media coverage (only one clipping could be regarded as neutral, the remainder were positive). Radio and television coverage was equally positive.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Visitor feedback overwhelmingly indicates that AA has distanced itself from its previous image.

Media coverage combined with regular advertisements have significantly boosted visitor numbers and improved AAs image as a professionally run facility worth visiting for an experience that is both educational and entertaining. Staff members are better trained and more positive about the AAs future, which is reflected in their work and visitors feedback.

Evaluation: 

In evaluating the success of the program, the prime indicator was the increase in business. In just the first six months of 2002, visitor numbers increased by 14.6 per cent and income by 15.4 per cent.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The Centre also exceeded expectations in an internal scorecard based on the seven Ps and four Cs of marketing services:


Ps


Cs


Previous

010

(Poor to Good)


Current

010

(Poor to Good)


Product


Customer Needs& Wants


3


5


Price  


Cost


6


6


Place


Convenience


9


9


Promotion


Communication


2


6


People


8


8.5


Process


3


6


Physical Evidence


7


7

The strategic marketing objectives for AA visitation, customer satisfaction and profitability, all reacted positively towards the increased levels shown on the AA score card:

  • Visitation has dramatically increased, despite an overall reduction in international tourism and other factors, such as the collapse of Ansett.
  • Increased customer satisfaction with comments such as:

"First Class exhibits and information and lots of things for the childrenstaff were all friendly and very knowledgeable." 

D. Whitelock, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Doncaster.

"Found this visit very enjoyableannoyed with the fact that I have never been in before."

J Perriman, Hobart.

"Very interesting and educational.  Liked the planetarium and weather info also." 

K. Johnson, USA

"Just about the best experience I have had in many travelsthe whole world needs to know and be encouraged to visit this project."

G. Brown, Victoria

  • Income has increased by 15 per cent.

  • Retail revenue has increased by more than 17.6 per cent between January and June 2002
  • Focused advertising and PR activities mean AA is reaching its target market (as indicated in revenue, visitor levels and feedback forms indicating where they heard about AA). These targeted methods have assisted in altering perceptions of AA and showcasing a more desirable product.
  • Event bookings have increased dramatically. From January to June 2002 AA hosted 38 special events (61 days). During the same period in the previous year, 10 events (10 days) were held.
  • Feedback from industry leaders, government and other businesses has been overwhelmingly positive. Many have commented on AAs new image and innovative activities.
  • Empowerment of front line staff and the appointment of duty officers has aligned employee response to customer requirements and increased morale.

Ethics

The activities outlined in this award entry conducted by Corporate Communications (Tas) Pty Ltd and Antarctic Adventure complied with the strict standards and practices as proscribed by the PRIA's 15 Code of Ethics.