Tourism Ireland selected SDL Tridion and LBI to develop its global Web presence.
With most large Web development projects in Ireland costing around €20-30,000, Tourism Ireland’s €2.6 million budget for the development of its new global Web presence put it on another level. In fact, it is Ireland’s largest Web development project to date.
Tourism Ireland’s Web site discoverireland.com is, in fact, 24 Web sites in 14 languages, attracting 7.5 million visitors a year.
According to Joe Byrne, Director of Markets and Customer Relations at Tourism Ireland, “The Internet has become a vital and unique medium in the battle to stay competitive in the international tourism sector.
“Our customers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and sophisticated in their use of the Web and in the range of information they require. In order to be ‘best in class’, we recognised the need for a new generation of Web sites that would provide a much more dynamic user experience.’
The Web sites also had to reflect Tourism Ireland’s global operations, enable content to be localised for the different markets and provide a high degree of personalisation for visitors.
Development of the new global Web presence, which started in September 2005, focused on three commercial key objectives:
· To raise the profile of Ireland in people’s minds as a premier place to visit and a holiday destination.
· To better facilitate the subsequent booking of holidays to Ireland.
· To drive down the cost of running the Tourism Ireland business across other channels, especially print and the call centre operations.
Following a six-month tendering process, which started in March 2005, Tourism Ireland awarded the €2.6 million Web development contract to LBI, an international full-service interactive marketing and Web technology solutions company.
The company’s joint bid with sister company Wheel, a world- class team of interactive specialists, would provide capabilities including user requirements definition, creative design, development and technology services.
Kieran O’Hea, Internet Manager, Tourism Ireland, exlplained, “LBI excelled in client and project management, the quality of its overall proposal and the skills of the team. We also spoke to several of LBI’s and Wheel’s clients such as Unilever and Marks & Spencer and they verified the high quality of its work.’
LBI’s recommendation of the SDL Tridion R5 Content Management System (CMS) was also fundamental to Tourism Ireland’s selection.
“We had to ensure that we had a CMS that could scale with our global Web presence,” said O’Hea. “In bringing R5 to the table, LBI proved it could deliver an enterprise publishing system that would allow our offices around the world to more easily tailor the content of their market Web sites to local requirements.”
In addition, through LBI’s partnership with Fast Search & Transfer (FAST), the leading developer of enterprise search technologies and solutions, Tourism Ireland would benefit from flexible and scalable search technology.
Timescales for development and implementation of the new global Web sites were aggressive, with the new sites to be phased in from March 2006, starting with Great Britain, followed closely by the USA and then the remainder of the local market sites. A prototype site was ready by the end of January and, following further tweaks and QA (quality assurance) procedures, the Great Britain site went live in March.
A multi-million euro advertising campaign coincided with the launch of the new Web sites, ensuring high visibility and focus on their success.
“The reaction from stakeholders and consumers has been very positive,’ said O’Hea. There is no doubt that the work done by LBI and Wheel put us in a different league in terms of our ability to engage with the consumer.
“In fact, we started some usability testing with consumers with consumers just after the launch and most said they didn’t realise there was so much to do in Ireland.”
He added, “They see a lot more potential for the Web whereas before they were struggling and doing their best with a site that wasn’t that great. We now have a site that has infinitely more data, very much tied in to the global ad campaign, so I think it will make life easier for them.”
“Comparing the previous sites with the new ones, is like ‘chalk and cheese’. Our marketing people in the different countries, who are on the pulse of what consumers like, have all been very complimentary.”
The first multi-lingual sites to rollout were Germany and France. The rollout will enable Tourism Ireland to localise and personalise the content through the use of SDL Tridion R5.
“They will have the ability to tailor the sites more for their own markets, which is something they have always wanted to do. We’ll be working with LBI to train some ‘super users’ who can help train our marketing people in the different territories,” said O’Hea.
Key to the project is monitoring whether the site is delivering against the ambitious commercial objectives that Tourism Ireland has set.
LBI is creating an ‘effectiveness framework’ that combines Web analytics, online brand tracking, online surveys and offline research.
Once in place, this will give Tourism Ireland a clear, multi-channel ‘dashboard’ to track return on investment in a variety of ways, such as the value of different types of content on the site and how the value of audience segments changes by geographical market.
As far as O’Hea is concerned, it’s the scale of the project, and not just the financial numbers, that sets it apart.
“In terms of scale it is certainly the biggest Web project that has come out of this country. We wanted to invest the same as some of our major competitors, such as Visit Britain and the French tourist board,” he said.
“We took the view that when you’re on the Internet as a consumer looking for a holiday, you’re not going to make allowances for Ireland having a smaller budget. If you’re going to play with the big boys, you have to do it on the same level.”
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