The Perth Royal Show has been entertaining generations of Western Australian families and youth with informative exhibits, agricultural competitions, animal showcases, fairgrounds, showbags, exciting rides and its infamous fireworks.
Organized by the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, it coincides with the October school holidays and ran from 25th of September to the 2nd of October in 2010.
However, over the last few years there has been a steady decline in numbers, as well as a general decline in positive sentiments towards the show-goers’ experience. The reasoning behind the shows decline in visitors can be attributed to the following:
- The show has lost some magic.
- The visitor does not see the value in the cost of the show. It is seen as an expense rather than an experience. The value in what you are paying for in the entry fee is no longer appreciated or understood.
- The show is too much of a hassle to organise a day-out.
- It will be uncomfortable as some customers need shade and places to rest (more for the elderly show-goer).
After developing a comprehensive digital strategy for the Show, SUMO was engaged to produce a new site for 2010 and subsequent years that would assist in reversing this trend and make the entire Show experience easier through the site and other digital measures.
SUMO set out to build a new site based on the Sitefinity CMS that would, through innovative design and consumer driven online tools, make the show more of an experience than an event. SUMO worked with Show staff to integrate the site with the Society's offline and online marketing, and enhanced the use of various social media interactions.
In restructuring the site's information architecture, SUMO built custom modules to hold each of the objects a user could interact with, including events, places to visit, rides and attractions and showbags. Showbag data, including prices and locations of sale, were fed in automatically from another system, but Sitefinity's excellent provision of RadGrid and other Telerik tools allowed us to build a backend interface to allow Royal Show staff to quickly enter the thousand or so events over the 8 days of the show, and the dozens of rides and attractions.
With these basics in place, the key online tool implemented for 2010 was a section on the site called "Plan My Day". This allowed users to create a personal, customized itinerary by choosing the events that interested them, locations they wanted to visit, showbags they wanted to buy, and rides within the Sideshow Alley, and with that itinerary, they also get a personalized map with their selections highlighted.
The site was launched in two phases as the final events timetable and content for showbags, necessary for users to successfully use the plan-my-day section, were not finalized at the time of the initial launch. Offline advertising started and basic info, ticket sales and entry forms for farmers to enter their livestock in the various judging categories were online from 3 August 2010.
When the second phase, including the events listing, the showbag contents and the plan-my-day section, launched on 1 September, we saw an immediate jump in analytics results. On 30 August, the average time on site was 3 minutes 16 seconds, with an average of 4.17 pages/visit. On the 1 September this jumped from 8 minutes 34 seconds time on site with an average of 7.94 pages/visit and continued to grow.
Over the key month of September and up until the end of the show, the site got 283 thousand visits, nearly 2 million page views. This was up 24% on last year.
The peak day, which is traditionally the public holiday Monday in the first week of the show, translated to a peak day for the site the year of Sunday 26 October, there were over 23 thousand visits, over 150 thousand page views with 6.63 pages/visit and a time on site of 8 minutes 55 seconds. This was up 27% on the equivalent peak day stats from 2009.
The Royal Agricultural Society also saw an increase in pre-purchased tickets in line with the increased website visitors, up from 24% of tickets in 2009 to 34% in 2010. Their Facebook "friends" also increased from 400 to 3700. They intend to further develop the new Sitefinity based site with even more interactivity for the 2011 Show.