Let’s not under-estimate the work done by Orange360
If Orange360 could become the ‘go to’ source of information on the district for visitors and locals alike, that would be a real win, says Orange360 General Manager Caddie Marshall.
It has now been just over a year since Orange360 was born, the renamed heir of Brand Orange and Taste Orange before it. The changes in branding reflecting the changing scope the tourism marketing organisation.
At its inception, Taste Orange was essentially an industry body for promoting the local wine industry, said Caddie.
“It was born out of the Orange Vignerons Association because they realised very early on that to grow awareness and reputation around an emerging wine region, they would get a lot more done quickly if they worked together and they created Taste Orange.”
Over time, as the organisation grew, they began to showcase not just the food and wines of Orange, but the full scope of activities around the district.
“They had other industry coming onboard asking how can we become involved? So, restaurants, cafes and retail all became involved,” she said.
“It became about letting people know that there was a lot more to see and do if they came to Orange.”
Today, Orange360 has a much larger geographical footprint, being the destination marketing body for not only Orange, but the Blayney and Cabonne Shires as well.
It was a natural move, said Caddie. The surrounding towns and villages benefit from Orange’s profile as a destination, while increasing the number of things people can see and do around Orange leads to longer stays and more money being spent locally.
It’s to get them to stay longer and do more things
while they are here and get them to come back!
“In Orange, we are limited by bed numbers, which is why we get really excited when things like Quest comes on board. So how do we increase the value of the visitor? It’s to get them to stay longer and do more things while they are here and get them to come back! So that is really where we see our core focus is — doing that.”
The bulk of the funding for Orange360 is provided by Orange City Council, Blayney Shire Council and Cabonne Shire Council, along with annual financial contributions by members of the organisation ranging from $150 to $5000 for their Corporate Package.
Based out of one small office on the platform of the Orange Railway Station, Orange360 is quite a lean operation. Caddie is the only full-time staff member, with three others employed part time to cover finance, sales, marketing and member support.
Although, the Orange360 team are supported by the tourism staff at each of the three member Councils.
“We see our role in the whole tourism landscape as being the destination marketers. So, we go out there and build the campaigns and the collateral to be able to get people to consider coming to Orange to visit, whether it is during the week, or during a festival that's our role,” said Caddie.
“Once they are here, the role of the visitor information centre is to disperse those people through the entire region.”
The centrepiece of marketing the Orange Region has been the four seasonal festivals: The Banjo Patterson Australian Poetry Festival in Summer, F.O.O.D Week in Autumn, Wine Week in Spring and the Winter Fire Festival coming up next month.
Orange360 works closely with the volunteer committees behind each festival, although they have taken a more hands-on organisational role to re-establish the previously defunct Winter Fire Festival back into the Orange calendar.
They also showcase the region at events such the Piermont Festival in Sydney, which was attended by 20,000.
And earlier this year, they launched the $262,000 Extend the weekend campaign, aimed at increasing visitor nights and spend in Orange.
One of Caddie’s next big projects is developing Orange and the surrounding villages as a bicycle tourism destination.
“Part of our other role is to work with our members to help them develop their product, to continue to enhance the destination experience and so one of the big projects we are working on at the moment is — in partnership with the Joint Organisation of Central Councils — to really establish Orange as a bicycle tourism Mecca,” she said.
“We want to work on widening the road shoulders on identified cycling loops, so we can go to families and say Orange is a place where you and your family can ride, because that is a way of dispersing people into our little villages… we are putting in a significant funding application that will secure dollars for that.”
Last year, in Orange alone, tourism is estimated to have injected $272 million
into the local economy
Caddie and the Orange360 team also keep busy supporting and encouraging member businesses and village groups to build their own events.
“It is about giving our little communities, our business people and other community groups the support in terms of helping them raise profiles for their events,” she said.
“We have a database of over 10,000 consumers, we've got 12,000 Facebook followers, over 7,000 people following us on Instagram — that's a powerful channel for little community groups, and small businesses to be able to tap in to.
“In April we had over 16,000 unique visitors to our website and it is sitting at around 15,000 each month… so that's 15,000 people that have the potential of finding our members.”
Tourism benefits everybody, said Caddie. Last year, in Orange alone, tourism is estimated to have injected $272 million into the local economy.
“The visitor economy is incredibly important to us. It means there are job opportunities, it means we can attract more specialists, because we've got a vibrant economy to come and do business in, the tyre shops benefits from more people living here driving cars— so everybody benefits from tourism and that's why I believe there is benefit in supporting Orange360 to make sure we keep that visitor economy growing,” said Caddie, who would like to see more local businesses join their 220-strong membership.
“It’s being a part of something; we want everyone to come to the table and share their ideas and then we can help facilitate that greater collective communication around inviting people to come to Orange.”