Australian government launches plug and play online booking widgetNewsBy Karthick Prabu | July 24, 2013Share This article was originally published on In an effort to take every tour operator of Australia online and to maximise revenue, the Australian Government and Australia Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) have launched a booking widget for tour operates to embed in their websites.The Australian Tourism Booking Widget (ATBW) is a suite that has a booking widget, payment solution, a supplier portal, a Facebook booking app and customer support services.Using the Facebook app, travel brands can accept bookings directly from their Facebook page.ATDW makes it clear that the solution is not a replacement for commercial booking engines available in the market, rather the solution is an entry level tool or an enabler for Australian travel businesses to go online. Yes, the stress is on "Australian-travel-business" as the signup asks for a Australian Business Number.The service is aimed at small and medium sized tour operators, attraction providers, event organisers and accommodation businesses in Australia.Best part is - the entire package is free of cost. An Australian travel brand can sign up here, integrate the booking engine in existing website, and then finally manage rate and inventory using the supplier portal.Liz Ward, CEO of ATDW, says “More than half of the world’s consumers use digital channels to research, plan and book holidays and this is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. “In order to readily capitalise on visitation to Australian tourism operators' websites and facilitate more conversions from browsing to bookings it is important to encourage and improve the booking and transactional capacity of tourism operators and ultimately help them to grow their businesses.”Share this quote Tourism Australia's researchTourism Australia says that 84% of Australia’s tour operators are online, but only a third have real-time online booking and payment facilities.Also, a study was conducted through direct engagement with tourism operators, booking technology providers, industry associations to identify and qualify the barriers to Australian tourism businesses implementing an online booking system.The research confirmed that there is a need for a simple to use and implement booking widget for operators.Below screen grab is just a sample of the vast research performed by the tourism board.For a complete report on the research, refer to - Report 1 (Basic), Report 2 (Advanced).Tip: If you are considering an online booking engine for your business, then you shouldn't miss above two research reports.Australia puts spotlight on digital mediaRecently, in Tnooz we wrote about various efforts taken by Tourism Australia that made Australia the most popular travel destination on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram in 2012.Also, after a long wait, the tourism board secured @Australia as its Twitter handle (old handle was @SeeAustralia).Hamilton Island, located off the Queensland coast of Australia launched an Instagram contest to promote the island destination. Eventually, the Island’s Instagram followers increased by more 3,000%.Needless to mention the country's famous "Best Job In The World" contest that always works wonders. The response across the world was so much that Tourism Australia deployed a third party tool Zendesk to manage applications.