Tourism and Social Media

by John on February 8, 2013

Many Australian tour operators and accommodation providers are creating interest in their products with the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some are not only creating interest, they are turning this interest into extra income, and it’s those dollars that keep a business afloat in tough times.

One tourist operator in my own region, Ocean Rafting, is using Facebook to it’s maximum advantage. They are taking great still photographs and exciting video footage of their guests during the course of a normal day tour, then posting these images to Facebook on a daily basis.

This creates interest from existing clients who want to look at their own images, and it creates excitement with future customers who want to have the same fun that those images portray. Plus they also offer those very images for sale in high resolution so that they can be purchased by those who enjoyed their day in The Whitsundays. A bonus extra income stream.


Guests are encouraged to “tag” themselves in the images that are uploaded to Facebook, which in turn gives more coverage to their product, as all their Facebook friends get to see the photos and video as well.

Ocean Rafting take both land and underwater footage, with the emphasis on their clients. While the client is able to show what they were involved in, Ocean Rafting is showcasing the beautiful areas that their day cruise visits and the amazing sea creatures, coral reefs and pristine beaches that are part and parcel of a fabulous fun day cruise in the glorious Whitsundays.

Who wouldn’t purchase a photo of themselves snorkeling with a turtle or giant Maori Wrasse, or at the very least show their friends and family where they had visited on the day? This is what social networking is all about. It creates interest for all to share and is the best form of advertising you can get.

Another tourism hotspot in north Queensland is Paronella Park. I was lucky enough to sit and enjoy a chat with the current owner, Mark Evans, a few months ago about the importance of social media in the tourism industry. Mark has a very simple formula for success that others can emulate.

Paronella Park stopped media advertising some time ago, instead relying on “word of mouth” to spread the message, the best form of advertising in Mark’s opinion. Paronella Park also began utilizing social media on Facebook, which is simply an online version of word of mouth advertising.

Mark chose to put the money spent on advertising into venue improvements, which in turn created a greater client experience, which in turn created better word of mouth advertising. You can easily see a pattern forming here. In other words, Mark created free advertising, which has lifted his business to unprecedented levels.

Paronella Park recently were finalists in 3 categories – Tourist Attraction, Ecotourism, and Heritage & Cultural Tourism, at the TTNQ Tourism Awards. They are also winners of the 2012 Queensland Telstra Business Award. Fairly high achievements in anyones language.

Paronella Park’s team on the ground are exceptional and the team who look after the social media Facebook page are remarkable. They create public interest by posting regular updates, asking for feedback, showing historic images and keeping people notified of upcoming events. They also keep fans updated on anything special that may have occurred, such as the recent downpour of rain that swelled the Mena Creek waterfalls to near flood levels. Personally, I like to regularly check their Facebook page to see if there is another image of their pet crocodile, Dundee.

As you can see, social media plays a big role in tourism companies such as Ocean Rafting and Paronella Park. These two exciting companies, and many more like them, are putting more tourists through their respective business models by utilizing the old method of satisfying their customers first. Then the customer looks after them by telling the world they are great operators. Pretty simple, yet there are many multi national companies in business today that outsource their customer relations overseas, just to make an extra buck for shareholders.

If you want to grow your tourism business and don’t yet have a Facebook page, perhaps it’s time to get involved with social media.

Paronella Park tea gardens

Paronella Park castle ruins


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