Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lunaticks Take On Tourism

The topic this month for The Lunaticks Society event was Role and Impact of Technology in Tourism and Hospitality. This gave us a panel representing Newcastle Events, Hunter Wine Country and the developer of the Newcastle App, Andy Howard. 

Lots of figures produced on visitors (most are repeat visitors, so domestic travelers) and perhaps surprisingly that day trippers spend the most money on their visits. Or not such a surprise if they are leaving with a car full of great Hunter wines! 

In 2011, a total of 7.8 million visitors came to the Hunter and around 60 per cent of travelers now want to book online.  As was made clear by the panel, visitors expect to be able to book online immediately and this is no longer an optional service for business to provide, it is just part of the cost of doing business.

In this way we see that local tourist and businesses offering hospitality are being driven by the marketplace to adapt. Unfortunately for many small operators this is still not so well understood and the technological literacy in small business is lacking.

As is often the case with panel discussions like this there is a focus on statutory bodies, government grants and other political issues that relate to funding constraints and reference back to old thinking and how we've done things in the past but with a new website function or a bit of technology thrown in.  And still the distinction between Newcastle, other council areas and other established tourist areas keeps us from understanding this great place where we live, whether we are in the suburbs of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and the wine areas, is one region. That parochial thinking prevents us consolidating efforts to attract more visitors for longer stays into the whole region.

 This is unfortunate as while it may be the reality of funding and scope of interest that these bodies deal with, it ignores the massive opportunity that we have to create engagements in new markets in new ways using personal networks and the potential for the whole community to be actively engaged and encouraged to be  promoting the area. Hey. This is Our Region.

What's clear is that small business operators need to lift not just their literacy with the new technologies, they need to be competent with them. Websites need to be made useful, (most that I see are not). Content in the form of articles, blogs, images and resources to download, needs to be created for every single business. This acts to improve visitors to a site and social media allows for social sharing of this material. This is the new marketplace and these are the tools that need to be understood and well-utilized. Multiplied across the region and we have a huge net to catch tourists with money to spend.

Local areas need to have access to good broadband and we need to work together to help businesses and the communities share ideas, opportunities and open the door to more collaborative open culture. Perhaps it is also time to wake up to our position in the world. For someone in Europe, or China or the US the Hunter region is the backyard of Sydney.  We should want people to know we are here, instead of them flying into Sydney and then out to Queensland and other well established destinations that are known by name to those overseas.  And to educate our local market to the full range of options that are available across the region. Together we have some critical mass. There is potential to make this region the best resourced, most effective and digitally savvy area in the country. Someone will do it first. It can be us.

For small operators who are not up to speed with the digital world there is help but those of us who can help cannot do so without knowing who needs it and who wants it and who is prepared to invest in their own business to bring them up to minimum standard at least. 

There is a lot of work to do.

 You can find Andy Howard's blog on the discussion last night here

Tourism Trends We Need To Be Up On In The Hunter

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Newcastle Now + Then

The ABC Open photography challenge is to take photos from the past and merge them with the same view now. Check out the Newcastle entries for Series 2.

Photo by @drdrdr09

Photo by @drdrdr09
Photo by @drdrdr09
See the full collection on ABC Open

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Twig & Moss A New Pop-Up Shop

 What's the thinking behind Twig and Moss?
Twig & Moss is about the celebration of the beauty of the natural environment.

We are about capturing a moment or evoking a memory...such as, when we gaze up into a warm, blue sky and notice a bunny-shaped, fluffy cloud floating by...or, when we have climbed an old mulberry tree in Nanna's backyard and found a sweet, little, twiggy bird's nest...or, that bushwalk we went on and your child picks a delicate, pretty wildflower from the mossy ground, and hands it to you with a 'I love you'... ​Twig & Moss want to bring together a range of products that have a sense of whimsy inspired by nature.

We have an eclectic mix of designed and hand-crafted pieces that have been made with love and respect for people and the environment. Our shop is bespoke living with the aim to create an alternative option for those wishing to escape the mass-made culture.

Who do you see your customers being?
Anyone who is looking for something "outside the square"...unique and whimsical with a strong tie to nature.

What hours are you open? 
Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 4 pm

Are customers able to buy online? 
Not as yet...but we will be in the future.

At the moment, you can get onto our website and see the products.

What's special about the service and products you provide? 
Twig & Moss are compulsive creators and freelance stylists who specialise in styling editorial, events and homes.

Our style embraces the simplicity of beautiful products mixed with our unique eclecticism. We are very passionate about our work and have the flexibility to work to any budget.

Please come and see Mel & Amanda at our shop or contact us for a quote.

 Twig & Moss
                       Pop-Up Shop @ The Vintage Emporium
                       327 High Street
                       Maitland, 2320
                       Ph: 0432206202

And you can catch Mel and Amanda on Facebook - Like them at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Recipes on Pinterest

Looking for food ideas or recipes? Check out my Pinterest board for some inspiration. Lots of main courses, appetizers, canapes, and desserts. Also vegetarian and vegan recipes... and some great cocktails

When you're looking at a pin with a recipe, just click on the image to go through to the full instructions on how to make that dish. Click to go to my Foodie board

I've added a Recipes tab at the top of the page for easy access.
While you are there check out my other  Pinterest boards. Great for a rainy day too.  Something for everyone!
If you have any questions about Pinterest contact me and I'll be happy to help you find your way around.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Hello Google+ Local Goodbye Google Places

If you have been paying attention to what you see on search when you're looking for things on Google you will remember seeing the first section with the maps and coloured markers that show the local businesses first by location. This was a feature of Google Places and a business service that was free and available to help local businesses get found online. Well this is ending and from now on businesses will need to join Google+ Local which means you need to get that Google+ account and get cracking on building your social network.

Google Plus is free and as Google changes the way they filter results for search will become more and more vital to your business and to establish your bona fides online. Behind the scenes, there are ways that you can verify your content on your website and make it more valuable as a verified authorship of content that goes up on the web in your name. This is part of Google's ongoing war to get rid of spammy, low-value sites showing in results and encourage good quality information by genuine businesses and real people. That's good news ... and it will take some work.

Take a look at Google+ with a visit to my business page  

Don't be left behind when it comes to presenting your best business face online. Get found - and show your expertise and authenticity.  Call me if you need a hand.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

ABC Radio Newcastle Portrait Prize 2012

 1233 Portrait Prize finalists
The wait is over for the nearly 300 budding photographers who entered the inaugural 1233 Portrait Prize. The 10 finalists have been announced.

Finalist Stuart Marlin's portrait - Dan at Harry's Cafe

Finalist Leah Morgan - Guy checking the surf at Newcastle Ocean Baths

Finalist Sam West - Nan

See the full gallery of finalists 
ABC 1233 Newcastle Portrait Competition