Tourism Australia explores news-style content, virtual reality

Oculus Rift could be used to inspire people to come to real Australia, says Tourism Australia's CMO and CIO

The CIO and CMO of Tourism Australia have joined forces to develop innovative storytelling aimed at bringing more visitors to Australia.

Tourism Australia CMO, Nick Baker, and CIO, Dave Rumsey, have redesigned the Australia website to bring in news-style content and make greater use of social media, they said in a session at the Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney. In addition, the executives have played with Oculus Rift and are interested in how virtual reality (VR) technology might be used to share Australia’s highlights with the world.

Tourism Australia wants to be “the nation’s storyteller,” said Baker (right in picture).

“If we can make our story more compelling, if we can give [the media] more visuals to make it great, and if we can give them already well-written content that they can shape and form and understand a story … maybe they’ll write about it,” he said.

With the redesigned website, Tourism Australia “is truly redefining what the site is built to do,” he said. The site will have a newsroom-style structure with content being created, co-created, curated and eventually syndicated into this, and bringing social in.

Also, by collecting data on what specific topics people are engaging with, Tourism Australia will have the opportunity to create content catering to what’s trending, Baker said. In addition, it can share data with partners to produce special deals designed for readers, he said.

For example, if Tourism Australia produced content around an award-winning Tasmanian whisky distillery, it could work with an airline to develop special travel packages for people interested in whisky, he said.

Accomplishing all this has required IT and marketing to work closely, with the CIO heading up a reengineering of the entire website.

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The new Australia.com is hosted in the cloud using Amazon Web Services, he said. Rumsey said he looked for a technology platform that would be easy for the marketing team to use and could be expanded to meet demand.

“The ability to respond quickly, to build quickly is really important,” he said.

Virtual reality could be a future tool for telling stories about Australia and attracting tourism, the two continued. Tourism Australia signed up for the Oculus Rift developer program and recently has tested two of the VR headsets, said Rumsey.

Baker said showing a virtual Australia to people far away might inspire them to visit the real Australia.

“My dream for that is that what they see ... inspires them so much and it becomes so compelling that they feel they need to go into the real world and not just the altered states,” he added. “If I can show people a little bit about Australia, if I can get them to feel this country and see the enormity of experiences and feel like they’re part of it, I think that will help get the message over.”

Adam Bender covers digital marketing and wearable computing for CMO and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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