A Snapshot from the Middle of a Revolution
In the year 2000, over 100 years ago in Internet time, a snapshot was taken by This Week Media in the middle of the first digital revolution. It marked the emergence of geospatial content and online mapping as the most powerful marketing tools for destinations wordwide and gave even the smallest tourism business and micro-destination a chance to shine brightly in the new online marketplace.
But it was a false start with international online travel agents (OTAs) making a land grab to dominate the market with pay-per-click advertising and prime-time television campaigns; competing amongst themselves and national destination agencies for 15%-30% booking commissions at the expense of consumers and front line tourism enterprises.
It was never meant to be that way and in 2015 on the cusp of a new revolution, this old model is being disrupted and replaced by innovative new models from new market entrants like Airbnb and proponents of geotemporal data like This Week Media.
This Week Newspaper
Established in 1988, This Week was the first colour tabloid newspaper published using pioneering, digital pre-press technology on an Apple desktop computer.
Incubated in a dry-stone farmhouse cottage in Snowdonia – a humbler version of the prototypical garage in California's Silicon Valley – the newspaper was launched at Penrhyn Castle in 1989 by Secretary of State for Wales, Wyn Roberts, and edited by Wales' leading travel writer, Roger Thomas.
Attracting instant media attention, it became the subject in 1990 of a BBC TV documentary entitled Into Print, produced by Fleet Street journalist Michael Bywater and still airing occasionally on BBC2.
A 1999/ 2000 Reader Survey confirmed the effectiveness of the newspaper in attracting visitors to Wales through free door-to-door distribution and major supermarkets in main UK catchment areas.
This Week was visually attractive with rich content, colour mapping, and pages of festivals, events and entertainment listings in each regional edition, which gave the newspaper its currency. But it was the free distribution formula and just-in-time information delivery that guaranteed its mass readership and overwhelming commercial success.
The Way Forward
For a number of years, This Week Media has been looking at ways of delivering the newspaper formula online with a £150,000 investment in feasibility studies, digital innovation and experimentation to secure the right solution.
While there are thousands of free calendars on the web, the technical challenge has been to populate them with information relevant to any place any time, with 24/7 real-time updates to deliver up-to-the-minute information to websites, mobile devices and HDTV at destination in a single click.
Before geotemporal bounced onto the scene, this area was overflowing with missed opportunities for event venues, overnight accommodation providers, attractions, food outlets and public transport operators where time is of the essence and waits for no one.
Geotemporal data delivers a powerful new dynamic, bringing a whole new dimension to the tourism marketplace. It aligns perfectly with the five new C's – content, community, culture, connectivity and commerce – of online marketing to improve the fortunes of front-line tourism businesses and boost local tourism economies worldwide.