With parts of the world slowly starting to open up again after a grueling period of dealing with endless lockdowns, people are feeling the travel bug bite and looking to make plans for travelling and exploring.
People tend to associate holidays and travelling with flying abroad to another country. There is just as much to explore and benefit from within one's own land, and the irony is, living in a particular country does not always mean one knows this country well.
Making it Easy to Go Regional, so Book it, and Do it
BookitDoit is an online booking service created especially for travellers and tourism operators. This grassroots booking platform was launched in Spring 2020 for local tours, attractions, activities and itineraries. It is like a one-stop shopping experience for travellers and an affordable point of contact for tourism operators to reach their target audience. More importantly, it is highly supportive of local tourism and it encourages Australians to get curious about holidaying in their own backyard. It is practically synonymous with the concept of regional travel. It is a user-friendly platform that showcases all regional areas of Australia, helping visitors discover hidden delights, unusual places to stay, amazing experiences to try which are unique to Australia, and making all its offers easily visible and accessible to visitors.
The man behind this idea is Mark Ennor, the founder of BookitDoit.
The first idea for BookitDoit came to Mark in 2019. Mark has over 20 years of experience in Regional Tourism on the Mid North Coast of NSW, and he has also been an adventure tour owner/operator. He spent 13 years working as a marketing initiative founder (52+ Things to do in Greater Port Macquarie) and is an award-winning tour operator who is a passionate advocate of Regional Australia from the coast to the outback.
Given the scope and depth of his career, Mark has been given a direct insight into the real situation of regional tourism in Australia. The tourism industry has seen some fast-paced change through the years and he could see how good or bad advertising affected the visibility of operators. He also noticed how trends have been changing and how that has affected the way visitors booked their travel experiences. All this got him curious and thinking about how regional tourism could be better marketed and supported.
Mark has had firsthand insights into what visitors want and need. He has gleaned much from his conversations with tourists over the last 20 years. Casual conversations around a campfire or on the back of a horse have given him his first seeds for BookitDoit, and how to bring this concept to life.
So why did Mark create BookitDoit?
Mark is clear he wanted a platform to help make Regional Australia visible and easily accessible to booking online to feed the ever increasing self-drive market.
There is no reason why regional areas should not get the same opportunity or attention as other popular international destinations in the online travel booking space. Mark is proud of the fact that BookitDoit covers everything from the ocean to the bush and “everywhere in between”!
Prior to the existence of BookitDoit, regional tourism operators did not have the possibility to easily and effectively expand their reach and increase their earning potential all from one single platform. It became a new way for them to build their business and reach travellers coming to the region.
Features of BookitDoit
It has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to create BookitDoit to give website users an easy way to find their next travel destination.
BookitDoit offers a variety of features that make it so easy to literally just book it and do it! It boosts:
a categorised directory with 14 categories, 87 regions, 268 areas around Australia
A filtered search function
Operator listings pulled in from the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW)
live mapping to plot the trip
live rates to help with budgeting
All of which make discovering and planning a regional experience easy. It is like having your own personal digital tour guide that effectively organises your itineraries and a travel package that is what you are looking for.
It is a nifty tool to have for travellers and a boon for small business operators. It offers affordable marketing and booking solutions. As a one-stop travel booking platform, it helps operators with market reach and also attracts both local and international travellers to tourism operators in Regional Australia.
BookitDoit is a way to inspire Australians into getting excited about regional travel, making the booking experience both easy and exciting.
‘This is the first and only booking platform covering the whole of Regional Australia,’ - Mark Ennor, Founder of BookitDoit.
Struggles of the Travel Industry
It is not enough to simply tell travellers how amazing Australia is. It does not inspire people into taking action. And tour operators have a hard time struggling with trends and changing preferences and digital advances, while still having to ensure the business is making enough money.
Mark has made his fair share of blunders through his career, and has endured the financially painful mistakes of blowing money on knee-jerk marketing ideas or sales pitches that guarantee but do not deliver. He understands the trials of tourism operators and owners who slog through the day doing the double job of handling the tours and activities on the scene while trying to sort out the accounts and administration backstage. And not forgetting these people actually do have a personal life they return to at the end of the day. A major challenge in the tourism industry is how to keep business regular throughout the year, and not only during peak tourism periods.
Technology develops at a lightning speed and that is another major stress factor for tour operators. Technological advancements can feel overwhelming for them - if they barely have time juggling a double job plus personal life, how are they going to cope with getting around to learning about, understanding and implementing technological changes? Some of these changes require a long training process, and time is a luxury they do not have. Others are costly or too complicated to implement.
The Silver Lining of the Pandemic
The pandemic may have sent the whole world reeling but it also brought about a much needed boost to tourism in the regional areas. Mark had never seen such support and proactive initiatives in 2020 to help and boost tour operators in regional areas.
The job of Tourism Australia is to promote Australia to the rest of the world and it changed its focus to promoting “Holiday Here This Year”. Destination NSW, the lead government agency for the New South Wales tourism and major events sectors, created a marketing initiative The Long Road to promote road trips. Various states and territories have been giving vouchers to their residents to spend on accommodation, attractions and restaurants. Everyone has been putting their heads together to keep the tourism industry afloat.
From Frustration to Solution
Mark did not create BookitDoit on a boring afternoon. It was born out of his wealth of both positive and painful experiences in the tourism industry.
He ran a horse trekking business in a secluded valley that nobody would necessarily know about as it was out of public view. It meant he could not just sit there and wait for people to pass by and get interested. It made him get proactive with marketing and go deep into the industry and be open to new technology and experiment with forging commissions to companies that can sell his experiences. Unfortunately, a severe drought that ended up with bushfires in 2019 put an end to his horse riding operation. Mark sold off the horses and moved on.
This actually brought him to the next natural step to invest his experience and passion for Regional Tourism to set up a platform specially dedicated to Regional Australia that was also highly affordable and effective.
BookitDoit is a success precisely because Mark has one foot on each side - he has the experience of being a small business owner in the industry so he knew the workings from the inside, and as someone who is wild about Regional Australia, he could think as a traveller, about he would want or need. So when you combine this win-win situation of all tour operators wanting to be found and travellers who need to be able to find everything, BookitDoit becomes the happy marriage of the two and proves that it is actually possible to please everyone.
With BookitDoit, tour operators can claim their listings (for free or paid at just $10 p/w), place a booking button on their listing (at just 10% commission), as well as collaborate with other operators in their areas to offer digital itineraries.
Travel demographics have seen a change over the last year and more people are on the move. While waiting for the pandemic to ease out, international visitors are not the major contributors for the moment, but Regional Operators can still tap into the self-drive market. This is a collective effort - the more operators that collaborate, the stronger the initiative and the more successful travelling in Regional Australia would be.
It takes someone who genuinely loves Australia to create a solution. Mark loves the diversity of Australia’s great outdoors. You can find him surfing the waves, or exploring in the bush. BookitDoit is his gift to Regional Australia, to inspire many others to discover the richness and wealth of the very land they are already standing on.
"I like the idea of helping travelers find all the nooks and crannies and hidden wonders, so they too can enjoy their own backyard." Mark Ennor, Founder of BookitDoit.
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