It’s about creating a new experience for website visitors to be able to package a whole itinerary in a website and seamlessly interact with all the bookable products Voyages has, to build up an itinerary and have that as an experiential website. You can imagine there’s a lot of anticipation, there’s a lot of emotion about going to Uluru and it’s in a lot of people’s bucket list. So, it’s making sure they understand all the opportunities and all the tourism activities that are available at the resort through the new website and through social media.
We’re building the website at the moment to do that and I’m really excited because I think that’s going to set the agenda for how tourists and guests use websites for online booking. We’re going to do that by integrating all the bookable products from the back end through a seamless, integrated booking experience. We’re looking at offering travellers a complete itinerary online to be able to launch that. So, that’s a major project on at the moment.
There are a number of projects underway at the resort including an IT infrastructure upgrade project across the Voyages platform. So, that’s another project that has some significant implications across Voyages, and is also going to let us focus on using technology to offer guests a unique experience at Ayers Rock. We don’t want to characterise their experience at the resort by being a technology driven one but I would like to see technology used to improve guests’ experiences.
A project we’ve just finished is putting in a large screen in Ayers Rock airport — a four-metre by 2.3-metre screen in the arrival lounge. When travellers come into the airport and this is their first impression, their first experience of Uluru and the resort, they are presented with a ‘welcome to country ‘on the screen which sits above the baggage carousel. So, that’s a recently completed project and we’re working with the local community to get the ‘welcome to country’ presentation up. There’s implementing the IT infrastructure at Mossman Gorge Visitors Centre which is about to come online. The business will provide about 45 Indigenous jobs, and it’s a complete greenfield site that’s being fitted out. That’s occupying a big slab of the team’s time at the moment, making sure that they have everything they need, not only to operate the tourism business but also to provide a training facility at the visitor’s centre.
Another project is setting up the National Indigenous Training Academy. When ILC bought Voyages, it established a training academy to provide up to 200 training and employment positions annually at the resort by 2013. Planning has started to provide connectivity for all trainees and to connect within the training organisation, to give a very modern learning experience for trainees at the resort.
The academy project is pretty exciting because what it does is really characterises the essence of the ILC as much as we’ve gone into the tourism and hospitality business and extended that through purchasing the Voyages platform. But at the end of the day, if the Voyages platform continues to be successful at operating the tourism business at Uluru, which it will be, that will get fed back into employment outcomes for Indigenous people which is why we all get out of bed in the morning, essentially.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
Keeping abreast of change and to keep moving with technology and expanding the scope of the services that the typical IT department or information services department provides to an organisation are our big challenges.
It’s implicit now that the success of an organisation is dependent on how effectively it manages its information, how effectively it communicates. I think one of the main roles of a CIO is to ensure the IT and information management services are integral to all aspects of the business, and appropriately represented all levels.
Being service-oriented, being able to talk in business terms is critical, and being able to marry those opportunities that come from contemporary technology and contemporary information management methods to the business objectives and never losing that eye on the prize. That’s one of the tests I constantly do — is everything I see and everything the people I work with in my teams are doing — how does that contribute to our main business objectives which now include tourism and hospitality, and getting Indigenous training and employment outcomes, and redressing Indigenous disadvantage?
What is your favourite gadget(s)?
I can’t live without my laptop, my smartphone and my 3G connection. I can do anything, anywhere if I have those. Those really help me be productive and [helps me] keep connected and keep on top of things no matter where I am.
I’ve got an iPad [but] I rarely use it. My laptop, my smartphone and an internet connection — they are the best gadgets I have. These are the things that I always keep with me.
Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett
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