Update #7 coming at you. We will continue to sift through the large flow of advice and support that is coming at us from everywhere and distil it into relevant packages for you. It is remarkably time consuming, so don’t hesitate to share with me any gems that you come across!
You can see what we are doing, but here are some key focus areas for our organisation:
We have shifted our approach with social media, and are using this opportunity to build our brand, along with the awareness of the region. When people are willing and able to travel again, we are anticipating a pretty strong bounce in visitation to the region. Pent up demand will be massive. We need to work now to capitalise on this. So while many people can’t travel here right now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t bring the region to them. So, we’ll be sending our followers a series of inspirational posts, showcasing the onset of autumn, life going on here (wineries’ vintages, the creative industries still producing great work etc.).
But we’re going further: at this stage, there is nothing to prevent producers (whether it is food or art) sending their product to the city. We’re pushing these products via our digital marketing channels, if suitable. If you would like to be featured, please email email@example.com.
Supporting businesses still trading locally
We are creating a page on the daylesfordmacedonlife.com.au website that showcases all businesses that are still offering things like takeaway/delivery services. This is primarily a community page. Other pages like this are springing up, but as we have the mandate for the entire region, we’re having a regional page. This will be up shortly. We have a huge list of businesses already but if your business isn’t featured, get in touch. The site will be up shortly.
Winter Magazine, Conference and Visitor Guide
The Visitor Guide production has been pushed back a couple of months but is going ahead. This is one of the most popular and important productions coming out of here, but there’s little point in chasing bookings for this right now. We expect to produce it in June.
The magazine has also been pushed back. While this is my favourite piece of marketing activity, it’s not the time to be selling it to you. The feedback on success from advertisers has been amazing, so we will produce it. We’re just not leaning on people for advertising support while things are so unsettled. And frankly, without advertising support, we can’t produce it.
We are looking for alternative ways to give you a conference. We’re developing a short (couple of hours) virtual conference with three presenters beaming in from wherever they are. The theme of the presentations will be highly relevant to the current market conditions and focus on what you can do now, and how to capitalise on the strong bounce in visitation when it happens.
As a small Not for Profit that runs on the smell of an oily rag, we have been highly exposed to this event as well. As such, I have had to cut everyone’s hours by a day or so (including mine). We’re still super productive and busy, but please bear with us. 80% of our energy is being spent on informing and supporting our industry, with the balance being on marketing as detailed above.
Rest assured; we are working our arses off.
Accommodation business opportunity from the state government and VTIC
OK, this is a big opportunity sent to me via VTIC/Business Events Victoria, for those of you that have empty accommodation. The state government is seeking accommodation inventory for a variety of ‘at need’ groups, with a set nightly payment. Now, I know that by merely alerting everyone to this government initiative, I’ll get some angry emails from people I have never spoken to before, saying that I’m imperilling the community by encouraging this. That’s fine, email away, but there are clear protocols associated with this, and it is a government initiative, so I do not see this as a bad thing. It’s an opportunity for many of you in the accommodation sector who are hurting. Particularly medium to large premises.
Through VTIC’s ongoing engagement with State Government during this crisis, VTIC has today been approached to assist the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to quickly secure inventory so that they can provide accommodation as a precautionary quarantine measure for self-isolation, housing vulnerable people, and/or to support essential service workers.
They are looking for a range of accommodation types to service a variety of end user needs and it is important that you can provide them with as much information as possible on the type of accommodation, when it will be available and what services can be provided.
The government will support this initiative and will provide a financial contribution to secure these rooms for a period of time, initially up to three months. They are prepared to offer $120 per room per night (inclusive of GST) for a committed period of 3 months, with potential for further activation depending on future need.
They are working as quickly as possible to provide extra capacity. They will need accommodation providers in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional communities to provide information on the inventory they are prepared to contribute to this effort quickly, so they can understand where there is available supply and the types of room available.
If you would like to be involved, please complete this form by COB Thursday 26 March. In this initial phase, the government will be seeking to secure 1000 rooms for this inventory pool, with the potential for more as demand dictates.
Please note that VTIC has only been requested to facilitate this offer. The final decision will be made by the government based on the number of rooms, location and room types they require
This is from Dr Stuart Toplis who presented at the DMT conference last year. I appreciate that sometimes you’re beholden to the booking conditions of booking.com or Airbnb etc. but hopefully this helps with direct business.
Question: What happens if my domestic clients choose to cancel due to COVID-19? Can I claim cancellation costs?
To answer this question, it is useful to think of two scenarios. In the first example, the health authorities have issued explicit advice, under the State of Emergency declaration, restricting non-essential travel to your area. Such an instance would trigger a 'frustrated contract' under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012, which means it is impossible to perform or carry out a contract due to events beyond all parties' control.
In this scenario, the customer would be entitled to a refund of any payments already made. However, the law may also entitle you to any reasonable expenses you incurred before the customer cancelled.
If there are no restrictions on domestic travel and your business is still operating, the contract is still valid, and your cancellation policy can be applied.
The best solution in both these circumstances is to talk to the customer to negotiate alternative arrangements. For example, hold the deposit over to be used at a different time. This is a frequently used strategy by tourism operators who have been through a crisis – a postponement or a deferment of a booking means you can hold onto the deposit at a time when every dollar counts.
This advice should be read in conjunction with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s online factsheet “When customers cancel - guidance for tourism businesses” https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/products-and-services/business-practices/contracts/guidance-for-tourism-businesses
Survey results – our region’s industry sentiment
Boy, we got a large response to the survey we put in a previous newsletter. Thanks! It was primarily designed to keep us informed of the state of the industry, but also for us to possibly leverage funding and for us to hear from you about what we should promote. It is a week or so since we sent it and things are changing daily but here is the gist of what we learned:
10% of you are busier than normal
30% are the same
60% are quieter
But there is obviously some pessimism:
4% expected to be busier in the short-medium term
7% expected to be the same
89% expected things to worsen
In terms of marketing the region, there was an extraordinarily consistent message:
- Keep doing what you’re doing
- Promote open spaces, outdoor activities, great produce and fresh air (even if people can’t experience it now)
- Stay positive
- Support local business
- The best place to escape in winter
- Self-contained accommodation is open for business
Speaking of surveys…
This might be of interest. Glow publications sent us this:
Over the last couple of months, we've been talking to our community and the broader industry continuously. We took some of the most common questions and discussions around the bushfires and teamed up with dynamic research platform Glow to answer them - with support from Best Western Hotels & Resorts Australasia. Faced with a daily changing situation, we pivoted to add some questions on CoVid-19 impacts.
The survey is complete now and we can't wait to share with you. It won't be glamorous, it will just be topline results, but we wanted to give you a sneak preview.
I know it's short notice, I know you are busy, but I do hope you will join us On Thursday 26 March 2020 at 12pm AEDT
To join us, click on the button below. Apologies to our non-Australian friends who are wondering why we focused there, but right now we had to start somewhere. There will be some interesting insights that would apply to many markets. So please still come along, we are all #togetherintravel.
We'll be sharing the full report for our members on the site next week and via the Glow publications platform shortly after
Don't Netflix, Upskill instead – 12-week online training program
Tourism Tribe is offering members a free course (non-members $330). The course is usually $2,200. The program is “designed to keep you motivated and connected to your industry community and to utilise your time productively to address the opportunities in your business that you might have been putting on the back burner in the past. You will be learning in a supportive environment…you will be able to see and speak with the trainer and other participants. You’ll be able to share your learning journey and experiences with other people who work in tourism.”
Details here. Have a look and see if it’s of interest. It looks reasonably interesting, but there is free stuff out there too that we have been sharing.
Tourism Australia’s weekly webinar
Phillipa Harrison, TA’s CEO is very good. She said in an email today:
Tourism Australia will be hosting weekly webinars every Friday, to keep the industry connected and informed as you try to navigate your businesses and people through the current crisis. We will be bringing you the most up to date information direct from the relevant experts.
First up will we be joined by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham, who will give an update on the situation as relevant to the tourism sector from a Federal Government perspective. We will also be joined by a senior health official to provide further clarity, and I will provide an update on what Tourism Australia is doing.
Spaces are limited, so please register here.
Key resources links
We have put most of these in previous emails, but you may have missed them. When it comes to business support packages, please work with your accountant or bookkeeper.
Business Support packages currently available from State and Federal Government. More information on the fed’s packages here
Daily updates on policy guidelines from State & Federal Government
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has put together a comprehensive guide for businesses dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak. Click here for further information.
Further information on Tips for Small Business to Prepare for Coronavirus can be found here.
Fair Work information on workplace laws in light of coronavirus here
There is a dedicated state govt hotline for businesses. Call 13 22 15 or log onto https://www.business.vic.gov.au/
The Federal Government has established an advice hotline for small and medium-sized businesses - 13 28 46
The government has introduced a register to match the skills of displaced workers with other businesses looking to gear up in the current environment. You can access this register here www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria
OK. That’s it for today. Hang in there everyone. We will keep working as hard as possible to support you.
Steve and the DMT Team