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The Blogging Task

Filed in:Going for it

The Blogging Task

May 5th, 2009  · stk

In 12 hours Tourism Queensland picks their "Island Caretaker". The Top 16 have been on a whirlwind tour of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef for the past two days. Each were given the task of blogging about the day's adventures. Read the entries. Which do you think should be hired to be "Island Caretaker"?

12 Hours till the "Island Caretaker" is Announced

Tourism Queensland Island Caretaker picked from Top 16 blogging task

In what way are the Top 16 candidates for TBJITW like the Swine Flu?

They've both been in the press & under a microscope a lot lately.

For nearly four months, since the announcement in early January, it's all been leading up to this moment. Tourism Queensland's search for their "Island Caretaker" has captured the interest of the World. Nearly thirty five thousand applicants dedicated approximately two months of their lives to submit and support their 60-second video applications. Fifty were chosen from the lot and they labored another month, garnering media attention and furthering their application. Sixteen of those recently embarked on a trip of a lifetime - a week-long visit to Australia - the land they call "Oz" ... to an idyllic place ... the Island of the Great Barrier Reef.

For the past three days, these sixteen lucky candidates have been paraded in front of the media, as they embarked on a rigorous, fun-filled, whirlwind tour. The snorkeled, flew, swam, fed fish, held koalas, luxuriated in the spa, ate like Kings and saw some of the best of what the Whitsundays had to offer. The whole time, they were followed by media and an evaluation team. As fun as it was, they went through the experience under a microscope.

Their applications are now nearly complete. All that's left are the formal, one-on-one, sit-down interviews and then Tourism Queensland will have a tough decision: Which of the Top 16 candidates will they hire to be their "Island Caretaker"?

For links to the Top 16 candidates "Blog Task" articles, covering Day 2 and Day 3 of their Hamilton Island interview adventure ... read on ...

The Blogging Task

Top 16: Blog Task + Pers Blogs
Loc Tumblr Blog Personal Blog
india Anjaan BlogSpot
Great Britain Ben Southall BlogSpot
France Ben Henry WordPress
United States Cali Lewis WordPress
Taiwan Clare Wang WordPress
New Zealand Clarke Gayford WordPress
Canada Erik Rolfsen WordPress
Ireland George Karellas WordPress
Singapore Greg Reynen BlogSpot
australia Hailey Turner DotNetNuke
australia James Hill WordPress(?)
South Korea Juweon Kim WordPress
Netherlands Magali Heuberger Unknown
Japan Mieko Kobayashi TypePad
Germany Mirjam Novak BlogSpot
china Yi Yao blog.sina.com

Of course, one of the primary job functions of the "Island Caretaker", will be to blog about their 6-month adventure. Each of the Top 16 now has a personal blog, which I presented and provided an evaluation of in the last article - Best Blogs of the Top 16.

During their Hamilton Island experience, and in addition to media interviews, the candidates were required to participate in a "blogging task". Tourism Queensland was relatively mum about the details of this task, but here's what I've gleaned: all of the Top 16 candidates were given the same model digital camera and told the only setting they could change was turning the flash on|off. Then, after the days events, they were given an hour (hour and a half the first day) to blog about their day's adventures. They were also limited to eight photos, per blog entry.

For the first time, the candidates are together and on their own. No support staff, no husbands, wives or mates with blogging, photo-editing or web skills to back them up. Flying solo, using the same exact tools, the playing field was made as even as possible. Tourism Queensland wanted to put the rubber on the road and see the blogging abilities of each candidate.

Presumably, the performance of each candidate will weigh heavily toward which is ultimately chosen for the job of "Island Caretaker"

The links to each of the Top 16 candidates tasked blog posts (on Tumblr) and to their personal blogs (and which tool they use) are on the left.

 

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1.flag Reymos Comment
05/05/09
I visited their sites and this is my verdict - the best islandcaretakers are: James, Erik, Juweon and Ben (France)! I want to see more about GBR not the finalists. Im quite disappointed with Hailey's blogs which she did not really post much of whats going on. They have to write about the locations/activities not much of themselves. More photos of the places they have visited not their group photos!
2.flag stk Comment
05/05/09
Reymos - I've been too busy making this post to actually read the applicants Tumblr posts (though I suspect I've already read a couple on my favorite candidate's personal blogs). ;)
3.flag Reymos Comment
05/05/09
Hi Scott...you did it very well to really put this into one journal. I was inspired to write a journal as well in our Ning community concerning their blogs, includiing photos.

http://islandreefjob.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-great-barrier-reefthrough

Im wishing that James, or even Erik will be the chosen one. I like their styles of blogging. Rey
4.flag Reymos Comment
05/06/09
Well, Ben (UK) got the job! Good luck to him...
5.flag stk Comment
05/06/09
Reymos - I have to admit that when I saw the announcement, I went, "meh". It was anti-climactic in a very deflating way. Nothing against Ben Southall - and I wish him all the best - it's just that for me, there were other candidates that stood out more and were really working much harder to land the position.

Again, Tourism Queensland surprised me ... and again, it wasn't in a good way.

The only bit of "explanation" I've seen, has been from Petor Lawlor (Queensland Tourism Minister):

From the time he [Ben Southall] was announced in the Top 50, and then the Top 16, [he] has excelled in showing a true passion for Queensland. His ideas for how he will make the role his own ... plus his initiative and ability to rise to a challenge impressed the selection panel and secured his place in the top job.



Really? In what way has he "excelled"? I haven't seen it. His blog has only a few posts about the reef job, although he's on Twitter, he's not active and the same with the Ning community. In his media interview he referred to Hamilton Island as a "desert island" (59 seconds in), only two days before heading to Australia.

Frankly, I don't get it. If he hasn't blogged, made podcasts, videos, leveraged social networking and has made basic mistakes about climate (Hamilton island is a tropical island, mate) ... then where is the evidence of "true passion"?
6.flag PatrickInChicago Comment
05/06/09
Hailey liked Ben when she was in the UK, and he seems to have the right personality, so maybe there was more to it when face-to-face. But I've read his blog posts and such, too, and didn't really get the impression that he was working his butt off trying to get this job. More like he was living his life and doing his thing, and this was just one minor item on his plate.

I don't think that Ben worked nearly as hard for it.

Which makes me believe that, consistent with the general disappointment and amazement at each of the other picks, Ben was chosen because of the demographic that he represented. We've all known all along that the UK sends the most international visitors to Queensland. And since James has been clarified as being an Australian, and George is specifically from Ireland, not the UK in general, Ben is the only final candidate to represent.

I wonder if Ben had been partially chosen on that basis before inviting the rest down?

Also, I wonder if they may have REALLY WANTED to hire someone from Asia, but were unsure, and so went with the safe demographic choice.

Not to take anything from Ben - good for him - but Hmmm....
7.flag stk Comment
05/06/09
Patrick - Yeah, I got the impression that Ben was mostly happy because now it means he and his Vancouver-based girlfriend have an opportunity to hook up for 6 months. (That's not entirely fair, but YKWIM)

It's easy to armchair quarterback TQ decisions and yes, we aren't afforded all the details and in-person information that TQ has gleaned, during the interview - nor their insights into motivation. However, the Island Caretaker is supposed to be presenting the Island of the Great Barrier Reef to a global audience and in that regard, I'm one of the people that Ben is supposed to be reaching - but isn't.

You're the 2nd person today that's mention England as being a big market for Australian tourism and I'd be very curious to find figures that reveal market share by region.
9.flag stk Comment
05/06/09
John - Thanks for the links. They helped turn me on to the Aussie gov't stats site, which is providing some excellent raw traveller data.
10.flag stk Comment
05/07/09

Aussie Tourism Stats Found a great website last night, that had oodles of stats about tourism in Australia. I put together this pie chart: Slices of the Aussie tourist pie, by "Best Job" candidate country:

The general story goes something like this: 5.6 million international visitors landed in Australia during 2008. Of these, roughly 1.5MM (21%), spent most of their time in Queensland. Nearly three quarters of the international arrivals (3.9MM) went to Australia to visit friends and/or relatives or were there on holiday. The other quarter were there for business, work, education or refused to say. Most (4.3MM or 78%) stayed for a few days to a month.

Tourism Queensland hit roughly 75% of their market base, by country, in their selection of the Top 16. While this makes sense from a marketing POV, it's disingenuous to applicants (who were thinking Tourism Queensland was looking for the best person for the job). More transparency here would have been easy, justified and sensible. (Source)

Projecting ahead for 2009, Tourism Australia is predicting declines of inbound arrivals of 4.1 percent, because of the World economic situation. They figure business arrivals will be hit harder (-7.3%) than leisure tourism (-3.2%). (Source)