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Like many adventure tourism companies, Skydive the Beach and Beyond was started by a couple of mates who wanted to share their particular thrill – in this case, skydiving – with other people. Launched in 1998 in Wollongong, New South Wales, the business enjoyed rapid success and now includes a fleet of 12 aircraft and multiple jump locations.
“The sport has come a long way in terms of technology and safety in the past 15 years,” says Tamahra Prowse, Marketing Manager at Skydive the Beach and Beyond. “It’s gone from being something only crazy people try to something that a lot of people see as a bucket-list item to tick off.”
That shift now sees a wide range of customers booking skydiving trips with the company and leaping from a plane 15,000 feet above the ground. Prices start from around $249, depending on location and package, and each location brings a different type of clientele. Backpackers and international tourists are a key market in Byron Bay, while Prowse says the Hunter Valley and Central Coast cater more to local thrill seekers.
But with success and growth have come challenges. The company found it needed to streamline operations, consolidate its online systems and make the business more efficient for customers – something that’s not always easy to achieve.
Prior to a rebrand in 2012, each skydive location had its own website and booking system. Now, a single website sees each location marketed under one brand, and a centralised real-time booking system allows customers to choose and book a jump time that suits them.
As part of its website relaunch, Skydive the Beach and Beyond opted to work with SecurePay as its payment gateway. “SecurePay was one of the first steps of moving toward a new system for the whole company,” says Prowse. “We’ve found it really user-friendly and easy to navigate, both for customers and for reporting and searching. It’s all been very smooth.”
Prowse says it’s important that tourism companies allow customers to book securely online whenever it suits them. “Customers want to be able to book 24 hours a day and not be stuck on the phone waiting,” she says. “I don’t think there are many people who aren’t comfortable booking online these days. Certainly our target market, which is 18 to 25 year olds, are all internet savvy.”
In addition to bookings, Skydive the Beach and Beyond’s website also accepts payments for gift vouchers. “These make up a large proportion of our business, because we find that skydiving is something people like to give as a present,” says Prowse.
Skydive the Beach and Beyond also hopes to expand into online retailing, with merchandise such as T-shirts and stubbie holders.
Tourism in Australia
Tourism is growing in Australia. There were 6.5 million short-term visitors (tourists, business travellers, visiting friends and relatives) to Australia in 2013 – a rise of 5.5 per cent compared with 2012. Tourism Australia’s Tourism 2020 strategy aims to increase annual overnight tourism spend to up to $140 billion by 2020.
Around the time that it made the changes to its website, Skydive the Beach and Beyond also started to work with online travel technology company Booking Boss to help it move from a paper-based booking system to an online one and to centralise its reservation team and customer database.
Today, Skydive the Beach and Beyond uses its large, centralised customer database for regular e-marketing. “We have a very small percentage of repeat customers and use e-marketing more in terms of expanding our database, hoping that someone who is coming for a jump might buy a voucher for a friend or recommend us,” explains Prowse.
Skydive the Beach and Beyond uses its website as its primary sales and marketing tool. “It’s not only for bookings – it includes information that customers need, such as imagery, details of the jump and location information,” says Prowse.
To ensure it stays up with digital marketing trends, Skydive the Beach and Beyond works with different e-commerce specialists in areas like Google AdWords or SEO.
The nature of adventure tourism and an experience like skydiving is perfectly suited to social media – an advantage that the company has been quick to capitalise on.
Skydive the Beach and Beyond Sydney’s Facebook page has more than 62,700 “likes” and has been visited by over 21,000 people. It posts regular photos from customers’ jumps and even featured snaps from The Bachelor’s Blake Garvey and Laurina Fleur’s skydiving date.
“It’s [social media] a lovely platform for us to have conversations with people,” says Prowse. “We don’t necessarily use it as a sales tool, but it definitely helps with branding and product awareness. Content is not just about the company but about anything skydive related.”
1. “Learn how to use Google Analytics, and use it to get the best out of your e-commerce. If you aren’t confident using it, consider getting someone who can teach you or do it for you.”
2. “Make the purchasing process as simple as possible. Customers don’t want to go through too many steps to complete a sale.”
3. “Use SecurePay. It’s simple and easy for online sales.”