Case Study: How Destination Southern Tasmania honed their storytelling to achieve growth in website engagement through a global pandemic

In the last quarter of 2019 we worked closely with the team at Destination Southern Tasmania (DST) to develop a Destination Marketing Strategy to help them drive demand from their key visitor personas.

Just last week we caught up with Chelsea Bell, the Marketing Manager of DST, to see how her year has been, and to our surprise (and hers!) she had achieved some sensational results given the tricky climate she was operating in.

Her results were so good, that we asked whether she’d be kind enough to share them with our readers, and also share some of her key takeaways!

Tell us a little bit about Destination Southern Tasmania, and your role.

Destination Southern Tasmania (DST) is the peak tourism body for Tasmania’s southern region, stretching across the municipalities of Hobart, Glenorchy, Clarence, Brighton, Sorell, Kingborough, Huon Valley, Derwent Valley, Tasman, Central Highlands and Southern Midlands. DST is one of four regional tourism organisations in Tasmania.

I’m the Marketing Manager for DST, managing Hobart and Beyond as our main consumer channel, as well as sub-regional channels Southern Trove and Heritage Highway.

Before COVID19, can you share the core components of your destination marketing strategy?

Pre-covid, the destination marketing strategy was centred around social media (Facebook and Instagram) (inspiring visitors to dream and plan a trip to the south with dispersal as a core component) and our website, which had a heavy focus on blog content.

When the initial lockdown began in March 2020, what part of your Plan did you adapt immediately?

Almost everything in our plan was adapted on a daily basis. We conducted extensive social listening across media platforms and pages, and monitored trends, sentiment and comments (daily) and planned content around this. We were hyper-sensitive to consumer sentiment and the stages of restrictions being posed on different states, the barrage of content and information being thrown at them (restrictions, flight cancellations, “doom and gloom”), and the overwhelming confusion being experienced by consumers.

Given travel stopped almost overnight and sentiment was a fickle beast, we had to be incredibly adaptive. Rather than things to do in Tasmania, we focussed on nurturing and supporting our audiences in how to experience Tasmania at home. We recognised that content needed to be thumb stopping, relevant and engaging if we were going to have any chance of success. Every piece of content needed to have a strategic focus and be able to cut-through, or it didn’t go up and out.

Rather than playing in our typical planning space with granular level of detail (encouraging people to travel), we adapted to a solely consumer first approach (very minimal push messaging) and tailored content based on consumer trends and progression.

When working from home and bingeing Netflix became the “new normal”, we wrote blog articles on exploring southern Tasmania from your couch (movies and TV shows). When travel stopped and socialising was limited and restaurants were closed, we wrote a blog around getting Tassie goods delivered to your front door (eat, drink or enjoy some Tasmanian goodies in your own at home). When events were cancelled, we started writing about other things to do to escape the crowds.

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