Cruisin’ Along

For 18 years, 1770 LARC! Tours has been one of the most unique tourist attractions on the Central Queensland Coast. Like their two iconic pink amphibians, witness how this business has continued to move smoothly forward, and perhaps even raging swiftly on through this competitive social media era.

Interview by Dan Willersdorf
Edited By France Pinzon

Owner: Neil Mergard
Years in Business: 18 years
Website: www.1770larctours.com.au
Facebook Page Likes: 2,140 and counting
Other Social Networks: Twitter, Instagram and TripAdvisor

1770 LARC Tours site  1770 LARC Tourcs fb

More than their one-of-a-kind mode of transportation, 1770 LARC! Tours prides itself of what they are promoting – patrons get to experience the beautiful stretch of the Eurimbula National Park coastline, all the way to the historic Bustard Head Lighthouse. Each LARC—or Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo—is versatile on land and on water and can seat 32 passengers.

Founded by the Mergard family, 1770 LARC! Tours used the amphibious vehicles that were built by the U.S. Army in the 1960s to access the distinct and vibrant locations they have in Queensland for both local and foreign guests.

For many seasons, the Tour that has garnered a following in the region used normal ways to advertise, such as brochures that were mass-distributed, newspaper features, as well as newspaper and magazine advertisements. They also had their website up, but the owners felt that there was an untapped market online they needed to tap in to.

ENTERING THE SOCIAL NETWORKING WORLD

To Katherine (former General Manager of 1770 LARC! Tours), using online platforms and tools to promote the business was inevitable. “It’s just a natural progression, I guess. The world is going that way,” she says. “It has amazing potential to go far with social media, for such a small outlay economically.”

As well using Facebook and Twitter effectively and gaining more fans and customers, 1770 LARC! Tours also expanded to other networks available.

“We really push our customers to leave reviews on TripAdvisor which is linked to Facebook now as well,” Katherine explains. “When looking at a media strategy, we’re also looking at Instagram and Pinterest.”

FINDINGS

Why Facebook?

  1. Versatility in Promoting the Brand

Katherine shares the company’s various approaches to using Facebook that are still tied with the brand: “We ran a competition,” she notes, “We asked for advice, ‘What do you think about this or what other things can LARC stand for?’ And things like that.”

“[We have] a calendar set up with different events and different things. We’ve got status updates. If we can’t think of anything on that morning, we can refer back to the list of things there that we could put on there,” she adds.

  1. Better Understanding of the Market

And there is the wonder of the Facebook Insights that gives a better assessment of your audiences – age brackets, locations, and the likes: “Actually I look at it more since I went to a workshop last—a few months ago. And there’s the statistic that [states that] the biggest Facebook users are females over 50 years old,” Katherine says. “And with us, it’s not – it’s mainly 20 to 30 years old.”

  1. Better Audience Engagement

Photo Sharing

“We always encourage people to load up their photos and tag themselves,” Katherine shares.

The team is now planning to get a waterproof camera for business use.

Running Polls

To Katherine, the value of creating polls on Facebook is that it can “create that sense of community” and involve the fans even in the decision-making process of a business.

1770 LARC Tours

TripAdvisor

Katherine reveals how travel reviewer TripAdvisor may be the social media site that’s perfect for promoting 1770 LARC! Tours, for their industry. “I think, for us, TripAdvisor maybe has created more potential for us to do more with that. We don’t push it enough,” she admits. “And you can leave reviews, too, and be in one of their Top 10 lists.”

And when you DO get your business online…

  1. Manage your accounts well – share the responsibility

“I’m not generally at work every day or several days of the week,” says Katherine on assigning others as Facebook admins. “So that they can load something every day – and if [one has] taken a photo on his phone of some dolphins or something, he can load it up.”

  1. Tagging or Linking is key

“There was the ‘The Best Job In The World’ (2009 campaign) that Ben Southall won. So he was Queensland Tourism Ambassador and he launched his kayak expedition from here,” Katherine shares. “So we had a really big boost then, because we were just tagging him in all of our posts and putting photos of him.”

“We ask people—any businesses or people that come and do our tour, if they’ve got heaps of friends,” she adds, “or if they’ve sponsored an event, we try and tag them if they’ve got a Facebook page.”

  1. Remember: Some things might work better online

“We have a VIP program called LARCaholics, which we have been doing for about three years but we haven’t done it well [before].” says Katherine. “[Now] we’ve got 400 people that joined as LARCaholics [with Facebook].”

Click here to visit the 1770 LARC! Tours Facebook page

1770 LARC! Tours Opening Hours:

  • Mon: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Tue: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Wed: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Thu and Fri: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Sat: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Sun: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

For more information or booking, email info@1770larctours.com.au or call (07) 4974 9422.

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