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New network a revolution for tourism

THE new and improved WA Tourism Network is set to revolutionise visitors’ access to the WA tourism industry, give local tourism operators national and international exposure, and allow information sharing between visitors’ centres all over the State.

The network is based on a massive central database that lists all willing Western Australia tourism operators, along with their contact details. This comprehensive database is accessed by tourists via the State’s web site (www.westernaustralia.net) or by a freecall number.

New speech recognition technology attached to the 1300 number will allow potential visitors rapid and direct access to the source of their query. By simply asking about a region or a town they will be, for the cost of a local call, transferred to a visitors’ centre in the town itself, where a local will answer any questions about the region.

By prompting the call for a booking they will be transferred to a travel agent in their nearest suburb who books holidays to WA or specialises in holidays to the area of query.

The website also offers an online booking service, as well as allowing tourists to peruse all the information listed on the database.

The network will allow tourism operators to list their business on the database – putting them in contact with potential customers from around the State, the nation and the globe.

A basic listing on the database is free to any tourism operator who wishes to be included, which is great news for small business that don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing.

Grant Goodall, general manager nation marketing for the WATC (and also the general manager of the network division) said that other levels of exposure on the database and therefore the network also were available.

“Everyone gets a free listing. From there on in it is a decision whether you want to place a standard level member-ship or a premium level membership,” Mr Goodall said.

The standard level membership gives operators the opportunity to provide a photograph of their product, service or premises, along with more detailed information about their business. The premium membership provides for an expansion of details and a greater capacity for photographic promotional material by the business on the website.

“It is a very cost effective way for small operators to get into the main game of global distribution,” Mr Goodall said.

“It really does benefit the smaller operators because it does give them access on a global level, and bigger business like Burswood will get reward as well.”

The State Government recently chipped in to help businesses access the standard level by reducing the price of standard membership to the network from $285 to $135.

“There is also a requirement with the standard membership that you join your local visitors’ centre and your regional tourism association,” Mr Goodall said.

Along with collecting a joining fee from local tourism operators who take on the standard membership, the appropriate visitors’ centre will also receive $100 from the State Government, while the local regional tourism association will receive $50.

The local visitors’ centres also will be hooked up to the database so they can provide tourists coming through the town or region with information about other areas of interest in WA.

For example, the visitors’ centre in Broome could provide a tourist with information about accommodation in Margaret River or whale watching excursions in Albany.

The visitors’ centres attached to the network also will be the portals for phone queries via the 1300 number, with cross promotion available via uniform network visitors’ centre signage.

“A powerful component of the signage is that as people travel around the State they will recognise the same symbol and that will be a sign of the same level of service,” Mr Goodall said.

There are about 100 visitors’ centres throughout the State and TCWA is expecting 30 to 40 of those to join within the year. There are minimum requirements for visitors’ centres to join, including opening hours, staff training and numbers. It is hoped these standards will ensure high a template of customer service.

The network effectively touches all levels of tourism operation in WA, but Mr Goodall predicts one major victor. “Hopefully the big winner will be WA, with more tourism, more dollars and all of those multiplier effects that come into tourism,” he said.

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