Austrian Cities: a top rated course with agents for two years running
The Austrian Cities OTT course has been ranked one of the most popular with agents since its launch in 2018. The course explores the country’s hidden gems – the cities of Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg.
The course was one of the most popular on the platform in 2020 and has helped raise awareness of Austrian Cities as a destination for both leisure breaks and business travel. The course has also extended the reach of the Austrian National Tourist Office’s (ANTO) in-person and virtual trade promotion activities.
The course has been completed by 2,858 agents so far over the last two years, with a 95 per cent completion rate. On average, agents spend 17 minutes completing the course, giving the ANTO 48,586 brand attention minutes.
The ANTO has raised awareness of the course using feature listings, social media and email marketing. Agents are incentivised to take the course through competition prizes which have included three weekend breaks for two people.
Hannah Zajic, United Kingdom Trade & Marketing Manager of the Austrian National Tourist Office, chats to OTT about the course’s success and how the ANTO keeps its content engaging to attract members of the OTT community and repeat visitors.
What were the main goals of your OTT course?
HZ: “The main goal was to raise awareness of Austria and its smaller cities. Our partners - the cities of Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck – joined with us to achieve this.
“We hadn’t previously worked much with travel agents: I came into the ANTO office three years ago and wanted to connect more with the community of travel agents within the British market and thought OTT was a good platform to do this. It was a great way to “dip our toes”, communicate our partners and raise awareness.”
What was the key messaging included within your course?
HZ: “The key messages were to raise awareness of and highlight the smaller Austrian cities, Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg, and showcase their classic itineraries, must-sees and -dos as well as ‘off the beaten track’ ideas and local tips. We wanted to emphasise the many various things you could do in and around them, and that you could easily spend three or four days in those destinations which offer fantastic city breaks.”
Can you tell about the marketing strategy you used to raise awareness of your OTT course with travel agents?
HZ: “We support the tourism industry in various ways. The OTT course is one of them and an important step into the travel agent community for us. We highlighted the course on our b2b website, b2b newsletters, in agent showcases and webinars, and used OTTOMail to communicate with the agents that interacted with our course.”
Did you use other promotion methods such as incentives/competitions?
HZ: “Our city partners were so kind to offer each two nights for two persons in their respective cities. It's a great incentive for the agents to participate but I think it's also a really lovely continuation of the course: First you learn about the destination and then experience it first-hand. “
“Which is still the best way, in my opinion, to learn, to deepen your knowledge, and to keep it in mind effortlessly.”
What metrics did you use to measure the success of your course?
HZ: “The main metric for us was how many agents participated in the course, and then, of course, how many actually finished. The completion rate was our main measure of success, and the high percentage showed us that people are interested in the course and in finishing it.
“We also used the mailing system, OTTOMail, so another metric was the opening rate of our emails. The opening rate also being quite high was another sign of success for us.”
How did the course performance meet your expectations?
HZ: “When we took our first steps with the OTT course, we didn't know what to expect. We hoped that agents would find the content interesting and engage with it.
“Being in the top courses this and last year is great to hear. I would say it exceeded our expectations. There are so many courses out there and agents don’t have an infinitive amount of time, so I appreciate them learning about Austria and it is fantastic to see such a high completion rate.
Can you describe how your OTT account manager helped you to achieve your goals?
HZ: “Yes, firstly by working on the marketing plan together. And then when we started to put the content together. She helped with tips and, especially, the things I should pay attention to – that was really helpful as well.”
Finally, what tips would you give to other destinations and suppliers wanting to reach more travel agents using OTT’s online courses?
HZ: “Think what kind of information agents need when putting your course together. Keep the agents in mind when you collate your information. What's important, I believe, is to keep it short and precise, but still interesting.”
Will you be adding any new information for 2021?
“We’ll be focusing on two themes next year: mindfulness and outdoor activities, so the plan is to add new information into the course to showcase these new angles as well. Austrian cities are surrounded by beautiful nature, so it is easy to include short hikes with phenomenal views or a mindful experience into your city break.”