Reinventing the online tourism board – no longer all about you

It takes a lot for any type of travel-related brand to admit they got something wrong – but it’s rare for a government-backed tourism board.

So fair play to Singapore Tourism Board admitting as much during the WebinTravel conference this week in its home city.

Back in 2009 the organisation relaunched its YourSingapore website and wanted to be all things to all people – it wanted to control the message, control the brand, control the interaction it had with potential visitors.

In other words: it wanted to be the first place that people should head to if they are considering a visit to the city-state.


It soon realised that such an approach was wholly out of kilter with what was happening with its potential customer-based.


Well, consumers were picking up cues about Singapore and its history and tourism-related services elsewhere – TripAdvisor for reviews, Facebook for recommendations, YouTube and Instagram for visual content, online travel agencies and metasearch engines for flight and accommodation options.

As a result, YourSingapore – with a deep breath – had to haul in its previous ambitions and become essentially a “secondary service” in the drive to attract more visitors.

It took a few years to turn things around, but YourSingapore relaunched its platform this year using what it calls a “Hub and Spoke” strategy.

That’s fancy digital agency-speak for having a core service at the centre which utilises third party services around it to provide additional materials.

In YourSingapore’s world this equated to becoming curators of content from the outside world.

In a specific example it tapped into one of the elements for which the destination is famous for: food. It seized on an element which can be both local (travellers wanting a more home-grown and – to them – exclusive experience) and lead to specific product leads further down the line to partners.

The end result is a consumer-facing website which gives over large swathes of its real estate to third party content, pushing its own content such as guides and other information to areas tucked away elsewhere on the site.

It aggregates social channels on the homepage, including reviews, as well as doing away with a particular type of tourism board channel which was seen as vitally important in years gone by: the itinerary builder and specific trip planning tools.

As YourSingapore admits: no-one really used them, so why bother.

Obviously a benchmark for any tourism board is if it increases the footfall of visitors to a destination.

As YourSingapore and others are realising (but maybe not their respective governments) is that the humble tourism board has to be part of the overall consumer trip research and planning conversation, rather than the one-stop-shop that so many figured they could and should be.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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