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Image: From CVC Benchmark & Report Card 2018/19

The lowdown on winning destination marketing awards

Geoff Helisma | The Independent took a closer look at what and how winning destination marketing awards contributes towards the Clarence Valley’s tourism industry. In July this year, My Clarence Valley was a finalist in the Destination Marketing category at the 2018 North Coast Regional Tourism Awards, which was won by Coffs Harbour City Council. On the awards’ website, it states that CVC was a finalist, however, subsequent to the awards the people who run the awards posted to Facebook that CVC had won silver – this was then reposted by My Clarence Valley. At last week’s Clarence Valley Council meeting, the first report of a new initiative was tabled – the Benchmark and Report Card, which measures results across a broad range of functions for the 2018/19 September quarter. The initiative provides “council and community oversight of our services and how we compare against industry averages and how we are tracking toward goals”, the report to council stated. One graph measured the performance of My Clarence Valley’s Facebook page. The Facebook page’s “reach” was approximately 1,070,000; however, engagement was measured at around 70,000. The page has attracted 11,089 likes and 11,131 followers. The Independent put some questions to CVC about its marketing strategies and there outcomes. The questions were answered in a return email from Environment, Planning & Community director Des Schroder. Independent: How are these Facebook figures measured? Des Schroder: Facebook Business records and provides the engagement figure. I: What constitutes reach? DS: This is described on the Facebook Business page. In effect it is the unique number of people who saw the content. I: What constitutes engagements? DS: As above. In effect it is the number of people who undertook some action in response to a Facebook post – clicked on, shared, commented, liked. I: How do these figures translate into more tourist visits? DS: The more people who are aware of the Clarence Valley’s great attractions, the more tourists we are likely to attract and retain. The Independent also enquired regarding processes involved in making submissions to win tourism marketing awards. I: What was the cost of engaging a consultant/s to make a submission to each of the Destination NSW events (Coffs Harbour and the NSW events)? DS: This is commercial in confidence. I: How does winning an award for marketing tourism encourage more tourists to visit the Clarence Valley? DS: Awards provide recognition within the industry and help lift the profile of tourism promotion. They also help benchmark our tourism promotion activities against others in the industry. The award ceremonies attract a wide range of industry leaders and they are a great way to get our tourism products in front of them. I: What is the purpose of spending ratepayers’ money on pursuing marketing awards, particularly in the case of the north coast awards where there were only two entries in the ‘Destination Marketing’ category? DS: As above. Council understands there were more than two entries, but you would need to get that information from Destination North Coast. I: CVC has claimed via a Facebook post that it won silver at the Coffs Harbour event (by reposting a North Coast Tourism Awards post); however, the regional tourism awards website says CVC was a finalist – why is that so? DS: Council shared a North Coast Tourism Award Facebook post. If there was a problem with that post, you would need to take that up with the original poster. I: How many staff attended the Coffs Harbour event and at what cost to ratepayers? DS: Two staff attended, but the ceremony followed a tourism symposium and training session they were attending. The general manager and Mayor attended the dinner but did not stay. I: How many staff will attend the NSW event and at what cost to ratepayers? DS: This has not been determined. I: Can I have copies of the submissions to the Destination NSW events that have led to being a finalist in each of the events? DS: No. These contain details of our tourism promotion activities that we don’t want that shared with competitors. The Independent took Mr Schroder’s advice and followed up with questions to Regional Tourism Awards, asking: “Could you please clarify whether or not CVC did in fact win a silver award; If CVC did not win silver, please advise why it was judged to have been a finalist, rather than being awarded silver; and, if there were more than two entries in the ‘marketing’ award, please advise of the process regarding how the field was narrowed to two finalists, being CVC and Coffs Harbour City Council. A spokesperson answered in an emailed response: “I apologise for the confusion around the Facebook post, Clarence Valley Council [was] a finalist in the Destination Marketing category at the 2018 North Coast Regional Tourism Awards. I have edited the original Facebook post to reflect this. “In 2018, the Regional Tourism Awards ran three awards programs (Destination North Coast, Destination Riverina Murray and Destination Country and Outback). “All entrants across the three regions were judged together … by the same judges … to ensure consistency. “The winners … are automatic finalists at the NSW Tourism Awards … to ensure the winners we are putting forward are all comparable with their standard. “Being recognised as a finalist is a huge achievement in itself as the awards process is a big undertaking. “…We need to ensure the finalists … are of a high standard, [however], not all entrants become automatic finalists – there [are] criteria that need to be met. “The Clarence Valley Council and Coffs Harbour Council submissions were of a high standard and both deemed worthy finalists.”