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TQ Gets a C Minus

Filed in:Going for it

TQ Gets a C Minus

March 3rd, 2009  · stk

The Tourism Queensland promotion for "The Best Job in the World" is really a glorified job application. As such, it's a chance for both the prospective employee and employer to get to know each other. Tourism Queensland has rated me and now it's my turn to rate them. Are they someone for whom I'd like to work?

Rating Tourism Queensland as an Employer

I've never lost sight of the fact that the Tourism Queensland marketing of "The Best Job in the World" is really a job application. Just as our videos provided a means for Tourism Queensland to evaluate prospective employees, so I've been evaluating them as prospective employer.

How did they do?

"Tourism Queensland definitely rates 'below average' in my book," said Scott, "Here's why."



Off On the Wrong Foot

Despite the allure of "the prize" and the excellently executed marketing plan, Tourism Queensland lost a lot of credibility right out of the gate, by deceptively seeding an "applicant" video. In the video by "Tegan", she gets a tattoo (which - ironically - was also fake), in her effort to say why she's the "best candidate". "Tegan" turned out to be Rhiannon Craig, an employee of Cummins Nitro (Brisbane), the very ad agency that is responsible for the Tourism Queensland "dream job" campaign.

Tourism Queensland was quick to apologize about the incident, saying that they had made the video as an example of what they were looking for and the Tourism Queensland CEO Anthony Hayes confessed, "The simple answer is that we messed up." (By not putting the text "SAMPLE" on the video). He also acknowledged that there was another such video, showing a woman singing, was also done by Cummins Nitro.

That's not the only place they messed up. If Rhiannon Craig's video was meant as an example, she - like many applicants - failed to demonstrate any experience or knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef Islands (which is one of the 5 'quantitative criteria' that Tourism Queensland said was 'vital' in assessing videos to find the right person for the job). Shame on Tourism Queensland for not being able to follow their own directions!

I saw the "Tegan" video on the website, before it was removed and after, I even hunted around the Internet, seeing if I could find a copy. No luck. Though I did find Rhiannon Craig's personal blog, which she had taken down, embarrassed by the magnitude of publicity that arose over the incident. (Didn't help that news agencies picked up her story and spread it around - "Woman Gets Tattoo to Win Reef Job".)

Kudos to Tourism Queensland for admitting the blunder so quickly, but the incident raised my eyebrows. I asked myself, "If Tourism Queensland would allow such a deception, what other deceptions are they doing?"

Tourism Queensland got bad marks right out of the gate and I hadn't even started with my own application, at this point! Despite the red flag, the appeal of "the prize" overcame concerns and I proceeded, certain that 10 years worth of adventuring and blogging made me "the best candidate".


Now Serving Number 34,542

Tourism Queensland failed several other tests for me, though the "Tegan" video was - by far - the most egregious of them.

Another was "planning". Tourism Queensland just couldn't seem to get on top of their server issues. "Certainly," I thought, "they must have anticipated the success of their marketing campaign?" (Why else had they reserved the right to halt it, if and when they received over 30,000 applicants? They had an inkling that the thing might go viral. For sure.)

Still ... the domain was up and down more times that Paris Hilton on a Friday night.

It became a personal embarrassment to try and drum up support for my video application and hear back, "I tried to look at the video, but it never loaded," or, "I tried to vote, but it wouldn't let me."

As a web developer, blogger and development team member of an open-source blogging application, I know a thing or two about servers, visitor experience and server loads. I was embarrassed that my friends, colleagues, friends of friends and others were having such a poor visitor experience trying to support my video application. Shame of Tourism Queensland for not getting ahead of the problem and staying ahead of the problem. Perhaps they should have spent another $100k AUS on the ad campaign and solved their hardware issues, before they started.

More bad marks from me on that one, for sure!


Hello Houston, We Have a Problem

Communication was also an issue for me and not just the "lack of" communication.

When I uploaded my video application, I had no feedback that the video data that was uploaded was viewable and received in good order. Yes, I got a "Thanks for your application", which hinted that it was the case, but that's a lot different than, "Thanks for your application and by the way, the video came across just fine".

After waiting five days for my video to be "approved", I became concerned that the upload hadn't worked, the video had been munged or was otherwise lost in the ether. (I have a crap upload rate at my semi-crap ISP and since it had taken over 40 minutes to upload my 12MB MOV-formatted video file, I was suspicious).

So, I submitted two other, identical videos, using two other email addresses. One from my semi-crap location and another I sent to an Aussie friend of mine.

Had Tourism Queensland provided instantaneous feedback that the uploaded video was viewable, it would have saved them oodles of bandwidth, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who made multiple submissions.

In addition, I had no idea how long the approval process might take. Some communication here from Tourism Queensland would have helped quell multiple submissions, as well.

I happen to think that Tourism Queensland hired the wrong web tech team. Had I been on the team, I would have recommended they do things a tad different. (A) Use one (or more) servers for uploading videos and a separate server(s) for hosting the website. This would mean that the site wouldn't have been taxed by video submissions - which was obviously a problem during the mad rush to beat the deadline; (B) Provide applicants with a temporary link, upon submission, to their uploaded video. They could then watch the video and make certain is was received in good order.

Tourism Queensland also failed to communicate using all available communication channels. I was surprised when I discovered that Tourism Queensland was responding - quickly and directly - to applicants via Twitter, yet they never did respond to an email that I sent them using their "contact us" link on their website. If they have a preferred communication channel - they should have stated what it was on their "contact us" page.

It was their last communication blunder that cemented my evaluation - notification of the Top 50.

I've probably never worked harder to land a job as I did for the Tourism Queensland "dream job". Yet, for every other job for which I've applied and not landed, I've received a "Thanks, but no thanks" letter. Tourism Queensland has all our email addresses. It would have been so easy for them to send out an email to the 34,634 applicants that didn't make the top 50 cut. "Thanks for taking the time to submit your video. We're sorry to inform you that it wasn't selected."

Boom. Simple. Classy. "Thanks but not thanks." How hard is that?

I might have been enticed to follow the top 50, even though I wasn't one of them.

But no, instead they send an email saying that (duh!) "Wild Card voting begins now!"

"Whoops. Sorry. You've missed the boat on that one Tourism Queensland," reported Scott, from his Vancouver Island home.

While, I wish the top 50 candidates success in their bid for securing "The Best Job in the World", I would caution the winner. You may land "The Best Job in the World", but you definitely won't be working for "The Best Employer in the World." Watch out. Despite the beautiful and relaxing location, you may find yourself in for an unpleasant and stressful surprise.

Legal Disclaimer: Not to be consumed with alcohol. Some applicants may feel a wide range of emotions while reading the above, including (but not limited to) shock, surprise, anger, frustration, skepticism and serene calm. Characters referenced in this story are fictitious, except Rhiannon, who is a real person and myself, who is also a real person. The jury is out on the Anthony Hayes fellow, while the jury has pretty much publicly hung Paris Hilton. Any other reference to persons real (or otherwise) is purely coincidental or a huge error on the authors part. Any photos used in the story were kyped off of the Internet and are not subject to copyright laws under protection of the Bahamian government statute: "Offshore Account Photos Pg. 124, article 12, paragraph 3, bullet-list-item 4. Scott Kimler does not endorse any specific top 50 applicant, though is fairly partial to Hailey, since she's so bloody cute that it hurts. (Mind you, that stuffed turtle has got to go.)

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Updated: 6-Mar-2009
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1.flag John Comment
Well put Scott.
It proves that this was a "marketing" driven campaign for Tourism Queensland and bugger anything else.

It was designed to create a low budget, high buzz level of interest.

They would have stuck to their budgets and anything like inadequate server grunt wouldn't have bothered them at all once they saw the response levels.

They had already created an amazing amount of noise and all without running expensive TV ads in countries all around the world.

The agency will most likely win a Marketing award and Queensland will achieve their objective of holding positive tourist numbers during a recession.

I hope the eventual winner will enjoy the gig however, as I mentioned... they will be owned by TQ and it's Marketing agency.

With dollar AU heading lower everyday, why don't you just book a cheap holiday for the whole family ?
QT would love you if you did. :)

2.flag stk Comment
Thanks John (and sorry for the tardy reply).

It gets worse, actually and I'm planning on following up with a few more posts.

If we came on holiday to Australia, two things would happen - (1) It's so bloody expensive to fly a family of 3 from Canada, we'd need to stay a while (so wouldn't likely fit into any of our "normal" vacation plans) and (2) It's doubtful - especially in light of this tourism campaign - that we'd make the Great Barrier Reef Islands any kind of priority. There's heaps of other places in Australia we'd rather see first. ;)
3.flag Jcnyc Comment
Very funny article! You pointed out some very obvious things that everyone is just suppose to accept. With as much good press they have received; the lack of communications & poor tech supporting for this campaign, I'm surprised there wasn't more bad press talked about QT... I guess most people don't want to be known as 'sour grape' if their video was rejected. I never saw the original Tegan video as I only heard about it much later. I liked reading the chronology of the steps you went through in documenting this experience & how you came to rate QT as "below average" perspective employer, nicely done!

Loved the "Legal Disclaimer", :) Enjoyed reading your article!
4.flag stk Comment
Jcnyc - Glad you enjoyed the article.

Since it was written, Tourism Queensland has made a number of other transgressions and contradictions.

I'm planning on pointing these out in an up-coming article.

There's a LOT that Tourism Queensland did "right" and certainly, they've gotten a tremendous about of positive press. However, it's important to have an objective view and call things as they are, rather than how marketing types want to spin it. Life isn't always a breezy, sun-drenched Whitsunday beach. Sometimes, it's just a beach. :p