Bryn Halliwell, Content Manager for Visit Wales will be joining us on stage at Content | Campus on the 30th and 31st of March in Copenhagen. He will be showcasing how his and his team have been working on a full-scale transformation of their approach to content. If you haven't done it yet, make sure you secure your place to the leading event all about Content!
Quick introduction to yourself and the work you do at Visit Wales.
Hi, I’m Bryn Halliwell. Content Delivery Manager for Visit Wales. I’ve lived in Wales for over 17 years and have been working at Visit Wales for 10 of them. I’ve worked on a number of different teams at Visit Wales but all of them have been doing digital things with content in all its various forms. My current role involves managing the team who look after our in-house video & image library, commissioning photography and video shoots and working closely with the content planners in our Campaigns, International, Major Events and Web Content teams.
How many people are part of the Visit Wales team and content team in particular and what is the main focus of your organisation?
Visit Wales’ focus is to support the Welsh tourism industry and improve tourism in Wales. Visit Wales is part of the Welsh Government so there are a number of different departments working on all the various areas of tourism including development, quality assurance, industry engagement & communications. The marketing and consumer facing elements are just one of the many things that Visit Wales do. There are around 45 people working in Tourism Marketing, with 15 people in the Brand Hub looking after Content for our outwards facing platforms.
Can you tell us more about the full-scale transformation of your approach to content that you have been working on?
We’re developing a digital-first philosophy at Visit Wales, where everyone in the Brand Hub has digital responsibility. This started with a restructuring of the existing teams, additional specialist staff, a new way of working and a new Cymru Wales Brand. Last year  was our Year of Adventure and this year is our Year of Legends, so we’ve all been working on ensuring all of the myths and legends of Wales are featured in our content plan for this year. We’ve also got out new TV advert and campaign launching in March, which we are all very excited about.
How have you changed the structure of your social channels?
We’ve moved away from a few people using a rota system to having dedicated full-time Social Media team members. This allows the team to focus on content planning, scheduling activity relating to monthly content themes and specific major events ahead of time. This gives them the ability, confidence and brand awareness to be reactive to live events and have a valid voice on them. We’ve found this new system works very well on Facebook and Instagram, where our engagement and interaction rates have improved significantly.
What steps have you taken to build a social community and be able to exploit real-time marketing opportunities?
We’ve grown our social channels from zero, joining Facebook and Twitter back in 2009 and Instagram in 2014. From the start, we tested different content types and themes to work out what our audience was interested in, what the community expected from us and what our voice was on that platform. We also regularly post content directly relating to real-time events. This gives the content a timely relevance, which creates engagement and interaction. Some great examples of this were posted during the Wales Football team and supporting fans brilliant performances in UEFA €O 2016.
What role does new technology play in your content approach?
Awareness of new technology is fundamental. We want to be ahead of the curve on potentially game-changing technology and platforms and have content already on the new platforms when they reach critical popularity. For example, we designed our current website visitwales.com in 2013 to be fully responsive, ensuring a great content experience regardless of device or screen size. Also in early 2016, we created some 360° videos of Welsh adventure activities including a trip down a zipline at 100mph to showcase Wales via VR headsets at events in Europe.
We are also working on a custom Google Map with dynamic themed content layers, powered by our database of tourism product.
In your opinion, what can other destinations learn from Visit Wales' content journey and approaches?
Have the courage to lead the way, create a consistent voice with your brand messaging and encourage others to join you on the journey. We launched our Year of Adventure with #FindYourEpic and encouraged the Welsh tourism industry to get involved and help us create content and get the message out that Wales is the home of Adventure. #FindYourEpic was used over 11,000 times on Twitter last year.
What are some of the outcomes / learnings / results so far?
Track everything you can: It’s always better to have more data than you need.
Try new things: It’s the best way to find out what resonates with your audience.
Learn from your mistakes: If it doesn’t work, try something new.
Why should DMOs not miss your talk at the Content | Campus?
It will be Visit Wales’ first talk at a Digital Tourism Think Tank Event, which is very exciting for us. I’ll be showing examples, lessons and learnings from our recent adventures in EPIC stunt driven marketing activity and maybe some behind the scenes content from our new TV advert and video projects.
What are you looking forward to the most at the Content | Campus?
All of the tourism speakers. It’s really exciting to see what everyone else is doing in tourism marketing. I always come away from events inspired and full of ideas and concepts for new projects.
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