Palmerin Street at night . Photo Queensland Tourism
Palmerin Street at night . Photo Queensland Tourism Queensland Tourism

Downs tourism operators urged to carry out digital health checks

IN A sign of these fast-moving technological times, 60 Southern Downs tourism operators are being offered free digital "health checks'' in a bid to boost the region's online presence and identify growth opportunities.

Southern Queensland Country Tourism will assess websites, social media and online engagement and each operator will receive a "report card'' on the digital performance of their business.

SQCT CEO Mary-Clare Power said the organisation does an enormous amount of work to generate demand through its website.

"These digital health checks are about making sure our operators in the region have the tools to capitalise on those business leads,” Ms Power said.

"The world of websites, social media, video messaging and digital platforms can be really overwhelming for businesses that are focused on giving their real-life customers a great service or experience.

"The purpose of these health checks is to demystify the digital world for our operators, answer their questions and provide some suggestions on how they might get better bang for their online buck.”

The health checks, to be conducted by Digital Coaching International executive director Liz Ward, will assess each business's website as well as their presence on TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, benchmarked against industry best practice.

Social media, video content and online reputation will also be examined along with website usability, search engine optimisation and online booking capacity.

Ms Ward said websites and social media were no longer optional extras for businesses.

"It's your opportunity to capture the customer's attention and sell what you're offering before they've walked through your door,” Ms Ward said.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the checks were an excellent idea.

"People often know where they're going but not where they're going to stay and going to eat,” she said.

"These days, all places need to offer quick and easy answers online, such as what they offer, prices, extras, so people can plan their trip.

"There's been lots of research done and it shows that if people don't find what they're looking for in the first few seconds, they'll move on - and operators need to make sure their website is mobile friendly.”

Cr Dobie said the health check was a great opportunity for businesses to raise their standard of delivery.

"In 2019 Warwick will be hosting the World Polocrosse Cup and an estimated 60,000 visitors will be descending on the region,” she said.

"Every business in town should be sharpening their skills to get those people through their doors.

"An audit like this is a wonderful way to set a benchmark.”

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