Tourism Ireland has signed a major €2.6m web development contract with London-based LB Icon following a six-month tendering process.
Tourism Ireland already has an extensive online presence, with 24 websites in 14 languages.
It envisaged the new site will provide a dynamic user experience to cater for an increasingly sophisticated online customer. The site will include a My Visit function to allow users to store webpages and build up a holiday itinerary that they can save or send to friends.
Digital media will be integrated from the start with video clips and digital radio serving to provide a local flavour and engage the customer. Further realism will be provided by user-generated content including visitor testimonials and online holiday journals or blogs.
“At the heart of the website lies the content management engine,” explained Joe Byrne, director of markets and customer relations at Tourism Ireland. “We have been careful to select a content management system that is in scale with Tourism Ireland’s global web presence and have chosen an enterprise publishing system that will allow our offices around the world to more easily tailor the content of their market websites to local requirements. Byrne added that the three-year contract puts Tourism Ireland’s web expenditure on a par with that of tourism organisations in the UK, France and Canada.
“LB Icon has a superb track record in developing websites for blue-chip consumer brands and have built websites for clients including Unilever, Audi and Marks and Spencer,” he continued.
“The internet has become a vital and unique medium in the battle to stay competitive in the international tourism sector. From commissioned research, we know that our customers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and sophisticated in their use of the web and in the range of information they require. The new generation of Tourism Ireland websites will anticipate these requirements by providing a much more dynamic user experience.”
Tourism Ireland has become a strong advocate of the use of digital media in marketing Ireland as a tourism destination. In recent weeks the agency revealed details of what has been described as the world’s first online “travelmentary” — a 10-day Big Brother road trip around Ireland involving long-time pals, Ken Macarthur from Edinburgh and Shamilla Nandlal from London. Entitled Taxi, the road trip follows a duo of tourists who will record and broadcast their holiday adventures live over the web as they wind their way around the island of Ireland.
Laughlin Rigby, brand manager for Tourism Ireland, told siliconrepublic.com that Tourism Ireland’s embrace of digital media is fuelled by a strong desire to stay ahead of the competition in the online tourism marketing segment. “Online advertising is the fastest-growing medium in the western world. The Taxi project will feature in streamed online ads aimed at the UK market where some 60pc of computer users have broadband. Use of digital media brings to life Tourism Ireland’s brand and ultimately will help boost tourism into Ireland.”
It is understood the new websites will be phased in from January next year, starting with Tourism Ireland’s UK market site, followed by the rollout of the remainder of local market sites from February until the end of May.
By John Kennedy