Blog: Tomahawk, Tourism and all things Web


Virtual Reality Tourism and the Rise of Google Cardboard

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We’re just a few short months away from professional virtual reality (VR) headsets to hit the consumer market in a storm of holiday promotions, and the future is here.



Google Cardboard  - Free Consumer VR


Google Cardboard, an approximately $20 box frame with plastic lenses, went on sale this year as a proving ground for this new technology and it’s been a wild success. Google brings the concept to anyone who wants to explore the new tech, with free designs for the cardboard headset also available on their website. Reminiscent of the red plastic View-Masters of the late 1980’s, these cardboard boxes have a simple slot for a cell phone. All you have to do is download a VR app to a smartphone and the world of virtual reality is in your hands. 



Images are split into two offset versions, one for each eye, which creates the 3D effect, and the proximity to your eye produces a full immersion “frameless” view. The current graphics for motion are still fairly simple – the world is still waiting on a full camera designed to film the dual images required for photo-real immersion – but the experience will take your breath away with a 360 degree world crafted around you.

Thanks to the free Google Cardboard app, you can walk the streets of Paris and Tokyo. You lean back and tilt your head to the sky, stretching to see the top of the Eiffel Tower looming above you on a blue-sky day. Tour an aviation museum or explore a rocky cave. With some of the more playful apps, you can hang out with dinosaurs or ride a roller coaster, but the possibilities are seemingly limitless.


What it means for tourism marketing



Instead of just sending someone to your website, future customers will check Google Earth. They’ll locate your business or location, slip on their goggles and immerse themselves in a walkable 3D layout of your destination, restaurant, hotel, property or airline. They will want an option to experience the product before they arrive.

Your future promotional videos will take them on a wild ride down a river on one of your tours, watch the sun rise over the ocean at your destination, and show them the peaceful setting of a room at your hotel in the softly glowing morning light.

This is no longer a space-age dream – as these products hit the shelves this December in the global market, it’s time to start thinking ahead of how your business can make the most of this new media. 

Discover more:

Creating ambassadors for your property with post-stay emails

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The busy, fully booked weekend didn’t throw any surprises at you. You’re confident that all of the guests were happy except that one family you missed at checkout. You're enjoying a relaxing few days before the next batch of holiday makers arrives. That’s when TripAdvisor informs you of a new review.

It’s the family you missed. It’s not good. In fact, it’s bad – the dreaded one star. Just like that, it feels like all the hard work has come undone. You empathise with the problems listed but you try to justify “It was a one off. It didn’t happen to any of the others! Ask the others and they’ll tell you!” Except that they didn’t.

Sound familiar? You are not alone.

It is a common misbelief that a guest relationship ends on checkout (it doesn’t) and post stay contact is not practical (it is!). Real guests are the easiest and cheapest way to promote your property and it’s smarter than spending heaps on glossy ad campaigns. The good news is that a high-impact post stay email is easy to write and boils down to four key elements:

Timing and automation

Timing is everything, send too early and it’s lost in travel noise. Send too late and it loses its gloss. Years of experience taught us that an email sent around the 48-hour mark inspires the best response from the recipient. Always automate the email when possible to ensure everyone gets one.


A well-designed email captures attention – keep it pleasant. Shift the focus from your property to the guest. Make it interesting for them. It’s not about what you have to say, it’s about what they want to hear.


Always make it personal; use intelligent features (such as email tags) to auto populate the guest details. Nothing worse than saying you care when the email starts with ‘Dear Guest’!


Don’t just say thanks, add a call to action, such as like us on Facebook, share your pictures with us, or click here for a limited time offer. Make the effort worth their while.

J. W. ‘Bill’ Marriott Jr., the 83-year-old executive chairman of the Marriott Group, continues to contact guests post stay annually when the group celebrates a customer appreciation month to improve brand appreciation. A post stay email will do the same for you. It will bring in better feedback, promote better reviews and make the guest feel valued. So the next time you miss an interaction with a guest, you know your email has you covered.

Tapan is Product Manager for ResBook, Tomahawk's online booking software.

Social Media is not a toy, it's a business tool!

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Today it’s easy to have your attention captured by noise and sparkly things – distractions surround us. It’s also easy to mistake that noise as representing frivolity. Yes, your neighbour posts funny cat photos and your nephew won’t stop checking the game stats during family dinners, but social media is a powerful tool reaching a global audience of billions and you CHOOSE how to wield it.

Sort through the noise and understand how to leverage this tool to support your business and build brand awareness. Otherwise your competitors will be out there making a better, more professional and exciting impression on the public.

“My kids are on Twitter, I should just have them run everything!”

Social media IS media, and marketing is a complex structure. Algorithms (programs) determine how many people see your posts, targeted advertisements help you reach defined audiences and metrics are used to track results and provide valuable data about the communications of your business.

It’s not as simple as posting a photo, reaching 100% of your followers, and getting instant results. A clearly defined strategy and professional guidance will help you deliver your messages to your customers most effectively.

“I don’t need social media – it doesn’t bring me bookings”

It’s an age-old saying, but “people talk.” Even if you choose to not engage on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest, your customers are still out there posting and tagging your business name, photos, compliments, questions and complaints. Without your presence, those comments float in space, unanswered and unresolved. Don’t you want to be where your customers are daily?

92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth, recommendation from friends and family, above all forms of advertising (Webbed Feet).

By taking charge of your brand on social media, you provide a community for those customers to reach out to you. This is an opportunity for you to provide competitive customer service. This is a long-term bid for that elusive “word of mouth” brand awareness. You may not see an immediate leap in bookings, but you are building the foundations for your business to be discovered in a global capacity.

When you start taking social media marketing seriously, you will see results!

Thinking Differently About Tourism

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Yes, yes, we know: we are living at a time when 'things' are changing faster than ever. We are reminded of this every time we buy the latest phone, tablet or computer only to be told six months later (when we have finally learned how to use it!) that it is now “the old” model.

And the point is truly highlighted when considering the fact that 60% of the jobs available in ten years don’t even exist yet.

As individual tourism businesses, organisations and an industry as a whole, it is imperative that we are keeping up with changes, and not just surviving but actually thriving. Thinking differently is required by all of us, as what has worked in the past may not work in the future.

“Trendlines not Headlines”

Stealing a quote from Bill Clinton, “consider trendlines not headlines.” This is what I would consider a “grand way to think differently”.

There are a number of examples of this in our industry. Let’s take the motel industry headlines as an example. If we were to follow some of the headlines, they often read that the motel industry is being undermined by the unregulated holiday homes market and talk about the government’s unwillingness to force them into compliance.

If we instead look at the trendlines, we see that the largest growing accommodation sector internationally is the holiday home/vacation rentals. This sector is becoming more commercialised, more organised and fanatically more innovative than any other sector. There is a reason why HomeAway has over one million listings and the peer to peer site AirBNB has the fastest growing inventory online.

So if vacation rentals are the trend, motel owners should be looking at what they can do differently to keep up with this trend (without ignoring their current market). What do vacation rentals offer that motels could? How are vacation rentals booked and marketed that motels can adopt or perfect?

Agents are another example of how the rapidly changing world of both travel distribution and purchase are affecting a sector. In this case, headlines may sometimes sing the blues but trends indicate an increase in revenue for those agents who are productising and promoting differently and/or being innovative.

Examples include those agents who are becoming more a “lifestyle concierge” providing more ‘local’ and authentic experiences. While others agents are thinking differently by investing in technology to allow quicker responses and price transparency for those who want to book quickly at the best price.

So what can we all be doing in our tourism businesses that ensures we ‘keep the gold’ that works while also thinking differently to create something to ensure our prosperity?

With this ever-changing world requiring us to provide our products and services more seamlessly and in an accessible format, all the while being authentic and transparent, it is important to be thinking differently by looking at other silos, industries and perspectives.

If we don’t, we run the risk of not evolving and going the way of the dinosaur or worse, becoming a fad like the waterbed!

Tomahawk to develop new website and strategy for Bella Vista Motel Network

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Bella Vista Management Ltd and Tomahawk are pleased to announce that Tomahawk is to develop the new website and digital marketing strategy for the Bella Vista Motel Network.

The Tomahawk group was appointed following a rigorous selection process from a group of innovative digital leaders invited to respond to a detailed RFP.

“We were very pleased with the proposal from the Tomahawk Group and whilst it was a close decision, Tomahawk stood out for their overall digital strategising and for their understanding of the complex visitor economy,” according to Sales and Business Development General Manager, Hamish Saxton.

The development of the new website and digital strategy activation is underpinned by Bella Vista’s online booking and channel management provider Seekom, which is working on the development of new single property and responsive multi-destination screens for its clients.

The Bella Vista Motel Network comprises of 27 business and leisure motels throughout New Zealand. Renowned for their consistency in design and great locations, business and leisure travel continues to increase for the network. The new website is a must to meet contemporary consumer booking and information-seeking activities.

“The Tomahawk team is excited to be a part of the new website for Bella Vista Motel. With the SEO, SEM and Social Media strategy supporting the promotion of the site, we are looking forward to celebrating increased bookings and brand awareness for them,” said Gina Paladini, Marketing Director at Tomahawk.

Tomahawk is a bespoke tourism marketing agency, creating success for tourism operators throughout New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific. Tomahawk provides a full range of digital marketing services and property management software solutions. Their proprietary systems include ResBook and JobSafe.

Yes, your website users will scroll!

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The common myth that website users don’t like to scroll below “the fold” has persevered for nearly 20 years, and is still a debate I regularly participate in with clients and colleagues alike.

It was actually back in the internet dark ages (1998) when Jarrod Spool discovered that users will happily scroll. The simple fact remains that people would rather move down the page than click to go another page for further content. Which is good, because longer pages mean more words, which (usually) means better search engine optimisation.

If you need convincing, just watch a five year old with an iPad. They intuitively swipe the screen to scroll down. It is in our nature to do so.

The rise in small screens across all generations has heightened our scrolling education. Browsers and common software providers now recognise users don’t even need a visual cue and have removed the scroll bar. Apple removed theirs from Mac OS X in 2011.

The danger of believing your users won’t scroll can lead to a painful conversation with your web designer where you insist he or she puts everything above the fold. The first problem with this is that there isn’t really such a thing as “the fold” anymore – there are simply too many devices with different screen sizes to be able to offer a consistent “fold line.”

The main issue is that you are destined to overwhelm your visitors, who will take one look at your homepage and promptly leave.

So, let’s agree to stop trying to shove everything into “above the fold” and thinking your users will never reach the bottom.

Instead, we should focus on two things.

1. Does above “the fold” give the best first impression of your business possible?

First impressions are crucial, and you have seconds for your website visitor to decide whether you are the right place for them to be. Don’t overwhelm them with a mass of content or links, or a slideshow that moves too quickly. Google penalises sites that have too many ads above the fold, so is probably starting to look at other things on there too… 

2. Do users know where to go once they hit the footer?

A study of a celebrity gossip website found that the link that received the most clicks was at the bottom. It’s logical: if a user scrolls, they get to the end of the content and want to know, where next? Don’t make them think!

Therefore if you find a webpage has a high exit rate, check whether there is a clear pathway from the end of the page. Do you finish the content with a clear, singular call to action that prompts them to stay on the website and keep browsing?

As a side note, we’d probably discourage “infinite” scrolling. It’s all good for Facebook or Pinterest, but it has its pitfalls. For one, users have grown to expect a footer on a business website, it doesn’t allow them to easily bookmark the content they want, and it can slow down your site

In summary:

- Stop worrying about the fold, with multiple screensizes it barely exists anymore.
- Let go of the disbelief that your users will scroll – they will!
- Remember to provide a single, clear call to action at the bottom of webpages, to keep users browsing.

#Hashtags 101

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What is a hashtag?

Hashtags are now an integral part of how we communicate and market online. Originating with Twitter, they are now included in most social networks. They can be used ironically (#sorrynotsorry) to punctuate a message, but the true purpose of the hashtag is much more important!

Hashtags are, quite simply, a search tool. It’s a tag, similar to organising a product on a shelf, with the hash symbol in front of it. (Tagged with a hash symbol = hash-tag.) Adding this to a post makes it searchable for anyone with an interest in your business or topic. When a user clicks on a hashtag or enters it in the search field, they find all content that includes the term. Hashtags can be used within Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to help target your audience and collect data.

Anatomy of a Hashtag

They can be made up of several words, but must not include spaces or punctuation marks. It is not case sensitive but capitalisation can be included to separate multi-word hashtags. Example: #nzmustdo vs #NZMustDo will have the same category but different visual impact in your marketing.

Multiple hashtags can be used on the same post. It’s good practice to always use your established business hashtag, and then add categories from there. Try searching for relevant concepts to your business, and see if other users are including these terms.

If you’re a vineyard called John Smith Winery, you could tag your posts with #JohnSmithWinery, #winelover and #wineoclock. The first is unique to your business, but the second two are popular with wine enthusiasts and will include your posts in their searches. The wine tags help new customers and fans discover you, while allowing you to track and collect all of your posts uniquely with the business name tag.

Hashtag Photo Campaigns - #Winning

Chasing User Generated Content (UGC) can be tricky, but one of the best ways to kick-start this is with a hashtag photo contest. You will need a prize incentive, but it can be a valuable social media marketing tool.

A unique hashtag-inclusive post can be collected digitally to track and understand your online reach and engagement for the campaign. If you try to use a non-unique tag like #travel as your campaign hashtag, you will find every post tagged with #travel (millions around the world) when you collect the data. Try typing your hashtag concept into the twitter search bar to see if the hashtag is already being used, or if it is unique.

Top tip: Incorporate your business name (or an abbreviation of it) into the hashtag term

Once you have your unique campaign hashtag, make sure it is included in all communications about your campaign, use it in every post and require people to tag their photos with it for a chance to win.

Beyond the Screen

To ensure the success of your business hashtag in your community, make sure to include it on all print marketing as well. Add it to business cards, brochures, stickers, print ads and any places you touch base with your customers. It is as important to your online identity as a logo.

Good bots, bad bots and ghost spam

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You may have noticed lately that there has been an increasing amount of odd-looking referral websites cropping up in your Google Analytics reports. This is known as referral spam.

Whilst this traffic doesn’t normally harm your website, it can skew your web traffic analytics because they often have a low visit duration and high bounce rate (yuk!).

There are three types of spam traffic - here’s what it is about and how to deal with it. Maybe grab a cuppa tea first because, let’s be honest, this isn’t the most exciting thing you’ll ever read.

1. Well behaved bots

A "bot" is an automated computer programme that visits your website to gather information, e.g. a search engine bot crawls your site to determine how to rank it in results.

Many of these bots – aka “spiders” (because of the word “crawl”… get it?) – are so well behaved, they won’t noticeably show in your analytics. Google helps prevent this further with their “Bot Filtering” option. To turn this on, go into Admin (at the top) and click on the View Setting.

2. Creepy Crawlers

Unfortunately, there are other bots that don’t behave so well, and they will continue to show up in your reports.

Semalt is one such pesky bot that we see all the time, but you can request for them to avoid you here:

Other bots are hitting your site purely to show up on your reports and get you to visit their websites. Here they may try to solicit your business, or even worse, give you a computer virus. Don’t give them the pleasure!

Here’s some common culprits we’ve been noticing:

You could ask your web development company to block each of these from visiting your website with some code, but the problem with this is that there are constantly new ones appearing. Instead we would suggest you use what’s called an “Advanced Segment” (Google’s fancy name for filter) to remove them.

Download our guide on how to add an advanced segment here.

3. Ghost Spam

This is the worst type of spam, as there is often little we can do to predict or prevent it. Much of the time it comes in the form of Direct Traffic, in which case the main sign is that your bounce rate is much higher for this Channel, e.g.:

Another sign is that a country’s bounce rate is higher too. In this case when we add the pre-made “Direct Traffic” Advanced Segment, we can see the USA is the culprit:

In these situations, more often than not it’s best to grit your teeth and wait until it goes away.

Have questions or need further help? Get in touch with our digital marketing team.

Tomahawk Receives Investors in People Silver Award

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Tomahawk is the first digital marketing company in New Zealand to receive the highly coveted Investors in People Silver Standard award. The award was presented 16th April, 2015.

The Investors in People Standard is a framework of best practice, awarded to well-run organisations that meet set criteria in areas including learning and development, leadership skills as well as recognition and reward.

This was Tomahawk’s first year applying for the award. It represents a huge achievement and reflects the hard work that goes into making Tomahawk a fantastic place to work.

“Prior to receiving this award, only 50 companies outside the United Kingdom had achieved Silver status. We are all so proud to say that Tomahawk achieved this and is one of the prestigious few. We are also chuffed that we are the first tourism company in New Zealand to be awarded accreditation,” says Gina Paladini, Marketing Director.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last 6 months to engage with staff on our strategy development, provide personal coaching and ensuring there is plenty of fun in the office. It’s really paid off resulting in not just a great work environment but also us being in an incredibly strong market position with an even stronger team.”

The review process involved numerous members of the Tomahawk team being picked at random for an interview with the assessor, in which they were asked how they felt about the Company, the Tomahawk approach to work-life balance and each person’s professional future. The assessment saw the motivation and enthusiasm of the Tomahawk team shine through, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the company.

Tomahawk Investors In People Award