The Tasmanian Convention Bureaus (TCB) primary role is to bid for, and secure, conferences and conventions for Tasmania, thereby generating business for it members (i.e. venues, accommodation houses, tourism attractions etc).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Since 2001, bids made by the TCB, and also the number of conferences secured for the State, were on the decline. To reverse these trends, the TCB determined some marketing objectives and implemented a marketing program for the 2003/2004 financial year.
The two-pronged marketing program included an internal communications component (for staff and members) and an external marketing component aimed at TCB clients meeting planners from around <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australia.
The internal communications program involved developing a new corporate image for the TCB and the development of contemporary marketing materials to assist its sales team in promoting Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination to the meetings (conference) industry. The external marketing program used the re-branding as the hook to generate media interest and raise awareness of Tasmania among meeting planners. The program incorporated media relations, advertising, direct mail and face-to-face communication.
The marketing program was developed and implemented by the TCB sales team and was achieved within budget.
The Tasmanian Convention Bureau (TCB) is a joint venture, not-for-profit organisation financed by member businesses from throughout <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania, in addition to state and local governments.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The TCBs primary role is to generate business by preparing expressions of interest (or bids) to secure conferences and conventions for the State, which in turn benefit the TCBs member businesses.
In the early 2000s, Tasmania experienced a significant period of change and development. A proactive Tasmanian government and a buoyant national economy resulted in improved access by air and sea, coupled with development of first-class accommodation and tourism attractions. At this time, Tourism Tasmania successfully developed a national advertising campaign to promote Tasmania as a rejuvenating holiday destination.
While significant investment in conference venue and accommodation infrastructure had also occurred, little had been done to promote these changes to the conference industry, and, as a result expected delegate growth had not been realised.
In fact, since 2001, the number of bids made and conferences secured for the state was on a steady decline (See Appendix A, 1.0).
The TCBs own sales team reported that other convention bureaux were gaining the competitive edge in securing conference business, not because their destinations were superior, but because their marketing collateral was superior.
To address these issues, the TCB Board allocated funds to the TCB sales team to conduct research and develop a marketing program in the 2003/2004 financial year.
Quantitative Research<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Due to the TCBs status as a not-for-profit organisation, no recent quantitative research had been undertaken with clients, due to budget limitations. However, a telephone survey of corporate meetings planners was undertaken by the TCB in early 2002 (see Appendix A, 2.0) to assess the appeal of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania as a conference destination (85% of respondents reported that it had limited or moderate appeal). Anecdotal research obtained in the past 12 months further supported the TCBs prediction that little had changed for many meeting planners between early 2002 and mid-2003.
Australian Convention Bureaux Analysis
The TCB sourced and obtained marketing materials from 11 convention bureaux in Australia, including Planners Guides, websites and print advertising. These materials were reviewed and analysed by the TCBs sales team and compared with the TCBs existing materials. The TCBs materials were found to be old fashioned and out-dated.
Desktop Audit/Anecdotal Feedback
An audit of the TCBs existing image and marketing materials was undertaken by the TCB sales team. In the past, all marketing materials were prepared on an ad-hoc basis with no continuity of design (see Appendix A, 6.0). A contemporary, new look was required to compete with other bureaux materials.
The TCB also analysed Tourism Tasmanias collateral. While it was important to incorporate Tourisms branding and imagery, which focuses on the themes of wilderness, heritage and world-class food & wine, the TCB determined that additional imagery must also be included in TCB collateral to promote Tasmanias appeal as a sophisticated meetings destination. Incorporating common branding themes was important to the TCB as it allowed the organisation to capitalise on Tourisms national television and print campaigns, therefore value-adding and strengthening any TCB marketing activities. (see Appendix A, 3.0).
Internal Publics Identified<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Tasmanian Convention Bureaus intra and interstate sales team, consisting of five sales managers (two in Tasmania, two in Victoria and one in Sydney).
- Tasmanian Convention Bureau Board
- Tasmanian Convention Bureau Chief Executive and support staff
- The Tasmanian Convention Bureaus 200 statewide member businesses.
External Publics Identified
- Conference organisers from national associations
- Corporate or company conference organisers
- Professional meetings management firms.
To achieve the goals and objectives established, a marketing communication strategy was developed by the TCB. It included a two-pronged approach an internal communications program for staff and members and an external communications program aimed at clients.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The internal communications program commenced in May 2003. It was driven by the Hobart-based sales manager and included regular meetings and email communication with all TCB staff. The program included analysis of the research undertaken. As a result, the sales team decided that to successfully promote <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination, the TCB itself required a new corporate image and suite of marketing materials to support this approach. The entire sales team was involved, to engender ownership of, and confidence in, this new marketing program. The TCB Board supported this recommendation and committed funds to develop and implement a re-branding program during the 2003/2004 financial year.
The TCB also communicated with its member businesses. As the TCB is reliant, in part, upon membership subs and advertising support for its annual revenue, membership support was vital to ensure ongoing revenue for future marketing activities.
The external client communication program commenced in August 2003. It involved introducing clients to the TCBs contemporary new image and using this as the hook to contact each client to further promote Tasmanias image as a sophisticated conference destination. Contact was achieved through an integrated campaign of media relations, advertising, direct mail and face-to-face communication.
The activities undertaken as part of the marketing communication program are outlined below:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Staff Input and Briefings
Regular TCB staff meetings were convened and included research and strategic planning activities. As a not-for-profit organisation, there is limited funding to consultants to assist with these activities, therefore many of the activities were conducted in-house. The TCB sales team developed a brief (see Appendix A, 5.0) which was provided to three advertising agencies for response. The new logo and corporate image was provided by AT&M (see Appendix A, 5.0). Involvement by all staff in this process ensured that they developed the confidence to use the new marketing collateral to enable them to successfully promote <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Tasmania to the meetings industry.
The re-branding included the development and implementation of:
A new corporate image including logo, tag-line and corporate stationery,
A new advertising image; and
New marketing tools and collateral, in particular its major marketing tool the Meeting & Incentive Planners Guide.
The TCB Board was kept up-to-date with all developments during the marketing program. A Board sub-committee was convened to have input into the new corporate image, which was subsequently approved in early August 2003. The Board includes representatives from Tourism Tasmania and the meetings industry.
The member businesses of the TCB were also updated about the program. The TCB communicated via its membership newsletter, Convention News, and with regular email updates. Staff from the TCB also met with members during July 2003 to explain that its major marketing tool, the Planners Guide would be revamped to better promote Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination. Members were given the opportunity for input and the opportunity to advertise. The Planners Guide was strongly supported, with $79,000 in advertising placed in the publication.
Members were also invited to the official launch of the TCBs new image, by the Deputy Premier of Tasmania, in mid-August 2003. Media also attended and it was followed by a members cocktail function. In total, 56 members were represented at the launch.
The external communication component of the marketing program was aimed at the TCBs clients meeting planners from around Australia. The re-branding of the TCB was used as the hook to raise awareness of Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination and provide the rationale for contacting clients through a variety of methods:
The new Planners Guide was direct mailed to 2000 clients on the TCB database. This fresh, new contemporary publication is distributed free-of-charge and was accompanied by a personalised letter on new letterhead with new business cards.
Tas-E-News, the TCBs email newsletter was also updated and emailed to clients advising of the new image.
The TCBs tradeshow stand was updated and new banners created, using the same corporate style. Clients were then invited to visit the TCBs new stand at each tradeshow.
Face-to-face meetings were also arranged under the guise of hand-delivering the new marketing materials.
Media Relations and Advertising
The TCBs print advertising was also revamped. Placement of these new ads in industry publications provided the TCB with leverage to encourage editors to include editorial and images of Tasmanias new sophisticated meetings image. These magazines are widely read by clients and industry stakeholders.
The marketing program achieved its objectives with the following results:
- The TCB selected a new corporate image that closely matched its brief (see Appendix A).
- The TCB achieved its objective of increasing its direct mail campaign on the previous year, with 2,000 Planners Guides distributed by direct mail to meeting planners (a further 1,000 were distributed throughout early 2004). Of this figure, nearly 1800 were distributed in interstate markets (compared with 4000 copies of the 2000/2001 edition distributed in a 3-year period).
- Media coverage was obtained in three key industry publications during 2003/2004.
The above activities contributed to the following results:
- Requests from meeting planners for information on Tasmanias meeting capabilities increased by 35% from the previous year. In the 2003/2004 year the TCB made 235 bids for new conferences compared with the previous year in which 154 bids were made.
- The conversion rate also increased. In 2003/2004, 79 conferences were won for Tasmania with a further 72 conferences still deciding on destination. (63 conferences were won in total, in the previous year).
- Member confidence in the TCBs new image and branding has increased with $79,500 of advertising placed in the current edition of the Planners Guide as compared with $71,000 in the previous edition (2000/2001).
See Appendix A, 8.0 for results achieved.
The marketing communication program implemented was successful in achieving all of the objectives set by the TCB sales team. As a result the specific goals of increasing awareness of Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination and increasing the number of conferences secured for the State were also achieved.
Research revealed that the re-branding of the TCBs image and marketing collateral was long overdue, as it was proving difficult to promote Tasmania as a sophisticated meetings destination, with unsophisticated marketing collateral.
By implementing the marketing communication program in the 2003/2004 financial year, it provided the TCB with the opportunity to capitalise on Tourism Tasmanias existing television advertising, thereby value-adding to its own marketing activities which included direct mail, advertising and face-to-face opportunities.
The new corporate image has re-invigorated the TCB sales team giving them confidence to proactively market Tasmania to national meeting planners, as evidenced by the number of bids made and conferences won in the past financial year.