Portal no more, says Tourism NZ

Tourism New Zealand has put aside its portal strategy in favour of one which will see it develop and distribute content for use by other Web portals and commercial sites.

Tourism New Zealand has put aside its portal strategy in favour of one which will see it develop and distribute content for use by other Web portals and commercial sites.

The 100% Pure New Zealand Website has been a success in the year since its launch, with visits now running at 3000 a day, and a strong correlation between site traffic and offline marketing campaigns around the world.

But the organisation has decided it can reach many more eyeballs with the PureNZ brand by pushing content out to as many other sites as possible, rather than competing with them.

Although it is no longer envisaged as a full-service portal, the site is "still a key component of our strategy," says TNZ's general manager of marketing Ian Macfarlane. "Very clearly we still need PureNZ to support the overall campaign - it's a fundamental ingredient. But what we need to do is make sure the brand of New Zealand is carried to the farthest places."

The change of strategy was suggested as one of four options in a report delivered in October last year by TNZ's developer, Shift. The content syndication strategy was presented to the organisation's board earlier this year and has been discussed with Lonely Planet, Qantas, travel.com.au and several domestic Web operators. TNZ unveiled it at last week's tourism conference in Wellington.

TNZ content - which could eventually involve elements such as Web cameras as well as text and picture features - will be offered for free to Web operators, although TNZ is also open to the idea of generating exclusive content if large travel sites such as Travelocity wish to pay for it.

"There are clear indications from Lonely Planet that they will take it," says Macfarlane. "And I suspect, looking at the thinness of some other portals, that it won't be a hugely difficult proposition for them to actually understand and buy into. We're not asking them for any commitment. All we're saying is, we have the content, do you want to take it? And the incremental costs for us are minimal."

Shift has begun building a content management platform for the syndicated content in Spectra, the next-generation product from Allaire, the vendor of ColdFusion, in which the current site is built.

"We've got our technical solution in Spectra, we're starting to build relationships, and the content will keep going," says TNZ's online manager Catherine Bates.

"The first thing we're going to look at is features, and structures that allow features to be run out of Spectra," says Bates. "At the moment they're just HTML pages so we have to put them in databases. Then we have to move into the Website and put our foreign language translations into databases, which will be a project that will take until December.

"By the end of December we'll be in a position where we can really start syndicating the content. But the development of new content is going to really depend on the relationships that we build and what people want. We have to be building that content for them and talking to them and finding out what they want."

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