Thredbo Loses The Race For Digital Dominance

Kosciuszko Thredbo Pty Limited v ThredboNet Marketing Pty Limited

The Federal Court of Australia has refused to allow Thredbo Alpine Village to stop a hotel internet marketer from using the place name Thredbo in its domain names, websites and social media sites to market accommodation in Thredbo.

Full legal analysis of the decision by tourism and leisure industry lawyer Anthony J Cordato is available on Lexology.

The Federal Court decision has serious ramifications for marketers in the travel, destination and accommodation industries.

Not only has Thredbo Alpine Village (Kosciuszko Thredbo) lost its ability to protect its hard-earned brand name, but by failing to implement an effective digital strategy it has cleared the way for competitors to dominate in the lucrative search engine rankings market.

The battle for mindshare has irreversibly shifted from brand to browser in the travel and accommodation industries as travellers increasingly use the internet to research and book travel and accommodation.

This is not to discount the value of brands and brand names – they are incredibly important. The word ‘Thredbo’ has been built up over many years and is a highly recognised and actively searched term online. This can be seen from how often the term ‘Thredbo’ is searched online every month in Australia:

· ‘Thredbo’ is searched ~ 40,500 times

· ‘Thredbo weather’ is searched ~ 8100 times

· ‘Thredbo accommodation’ is searched ~ 5400 times

· ‘Thredbo alpine hotel’ is searched ~ 1600 times

· The Thredbo Wikipedia page received 2967 search results in the last 30 days

“The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google” – Unknown

From the marketer’s perspective, the term ‘Thredbo’ is important. Thredbo Alpine Resort has invested heavily and benefitted enormously from the now-famous brand they have built. All this branding was negated because the Federal Court looked at Google screenshots of searches for ‘Thredbo’, and ‘Thredbo reservations’ that showed a variety of links to traders which ‘proved’ that the word Thredbo was not distinctive to the Thredbo Alpine Village business, and the website disclaimer was effective.

So what are the implications for the destination or travel marketer?

1. Obtain appropriate legal advice to make sure your trading name and trade marks are effective

2. Secure any protections available as early as possible in your marketing efforts

3. Just using the name and even owning a trademark may not be sufficient to protect your brand

4. Your appearance in search results and that of your competitors can and will be relied upon as evidence to support or negate your brand claim

5. You must have a fully integrated strategic marketing plan incorporating a comprehensive digital strategy

6. The digital strategy must include more than just your website. It must include:

  • an active domain name strategy utilising multiple domains
  • search engine optimisation
  • search engine marketing
  • social media strategy
  • effective monitoring, measurement and management to detect emerging issues early

In summary, from a marketing perspective it appears that Thredbo Alpine Village relied too heavily on their reputation and failed to properly assess the risks to brand protection in today’s digital economy.

A full legal analysis of the decision by tourism and leisure industry lawyer Anthony J Cordato is available on Lexology.

Eating the frog

I’ve just started reading Brian Tracy’s famous Eat That Frog and already, 5 pages into the book, I have a little voice following me around on my working days whispering “eat the frog Hollie, eat the frog.”

For those of you who haven’t heard the analogy, ‘eating the frog’ refers to doing the one task on your to do list that will make the most significant impact on your day, and that you should not put off any longer.

More often than not, these tasks are the ones we procrastinate. The one that we know we should be doing, but avoid ‘for now’ for something ‘more fun’ or easier. And yet the ‘frog’ sits there growing on our list, becoming more demanding, and even less appealing than the day before.

I didn’t realise how many frogs creep their way onto my to do list every day. And, even more surprising is how often I easily and unashamedly avoid them at all costs – until now.

What’s the frog on your to do list this week?

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Michael Field Pty Ltd.

Is Apple losing the plot?

My first Apple product was an LCII, which I purchased second-hand in the early ’90′s. For those of you who don’t know what an LCII is, check here.

The LC’s were affectionately referred to as ‘pizza boxes’ with a 10MB RAM limit – no matter how much memory was installed.

At the time, my brother was working in multimedia design for a large, global property development firm. He convinced me of the benefits of buying an Apple product and overcame my objections to the comparatively high price of the product at the time.

I have been considered as somewhat of an Apple ‘fanboy’ since that time and over the years have convinced many people to move over to Apple. I even bought my wife a MacBook as a wedding present. (Such a romantic, right?)

What I have always loved about Apple (apart from the elegant design and intuitive user interface) is the helpfulness of the Apple community – starting with the friendly, informed and helpful people at the Apple store.

That was then – this is now.

Fast forward to 2013. I now run a small consulting business, creative agency and PR firm. We are entirely a ‘Mac shop’ – operating on mac servers, iMacs, MacBook’s, iPads and iPhones. We are entirely dependent on the Mac ecosystem, and it appears a large portion of the rest of the world has caught up!

It is now passe to comment on the number of iPhones, iPads and earpods you see at the gym or on the bus. Everyone is wired in and the Apple symbol is ubiquitous. But has Apple kept up to its brand promise of elegant design, intuitive user interface and a friendly, helpful community of Apple fans and staff willing to help at the drop of an app? I don’t think so…

Apple is falling behind. And they risk losing the confidence of their greatest supporters; the early adopters and fanboys who have always backed them and given them the benefit of the doubt.

The list of failures is getting too long and the speed of recovery too clumsy and amateurish.

As an example, I am still using an iPhone 4 and have no desire to upgrade to the iPhone 5 as the benefits don’t seem worth it. The problem is though that the iPhone 4 is failing miserably. The battery life is awful, the home key barely works and the phone simply shuts down for a rest whenever the strains of modern life get too much for it!

Will they recover? I don’t know, but for the first time in 20 years I am considering buying something other than an Apple.

Contributor:

Michael Field, Director at Michael Field Pty Ltd.