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Bali Post Features Bali Online
Bali Post
Features Bali Online


Bali Post Features Bali Online Bali Post, the premiere newspaper of Bali, featured Bali Online in front-page articles for two consecutive days, Feb. 6 and 7, 1996. This is a rough translation of what Bali Post wrote about Bali Online.

The global network of Internet has become a reality in Bali. Dozens of people are now playing on the Internet, following the world's advances through their keyboards. As a tourist destination, Bali has also entered the Internet. This mini series by Bali Post's team starting today, will take a peek at Bali's face on the Internet and the cost benefit of advertising on the Internet.

Internet has entered Bali, and Bali has entered Internet. Bali's faces can be seen at http://www.indo.com. The site will greet you first with a picture of an Oleg Tamulilingan dancer and an old man wearing a destar (head band) carrying a chicken (not a fighting cock). The background of the dancer and the man is a beautiful sunset scene, ricefield terraces, valleys and mountains. The picture is beautiful, unique, and appealing.

Underneath the picture, there is a "Welcome to Bali" message. And what follows is an index of the contents of the site, accompanied with accolades about the beauty of Bali, of Bali's harmonic combination of nature and culture (religion and tradition), including the phrase, "Visit Bali, and your life will never be the same again." The visual layout and the accolades are well designed to attract Internet members to read the information on this Bali site.

Bali's face has entered the Internet since last year, designed by Bali Online that has an office in Denpasar and in Pittsburgh, USA. All information about Bali is shipped to Bali Online's server in the U.S. to allow visitors and Internet members throughout the world to read it. Bali Online in Denpasar is managed by Drh. Syarikat Ginting, a public employee retiree, and in Pittsburgh by his son, Eka Namara Ginting. They work together to create the ultimate source of information about Bali on the Internet. From their hands and imagination, the image of Bali through the Internet is formulated throughout the whole world.

Focus on Tourism

The use of the Internet in Bali, according to Syarikat Ginting, is focused on promoting the tourism potential of the island. As such, Bali's site on the Internet contains all sorts of information that are considered interesting and informative by potential visitors. These pages are almost like a guide book.

The information that Bali Online carries includes geographic information, cultures, flora and fauna, hotel information, travel agencies, immigration information, art and culture schedules, Bali's neighboring islands, and more. "The objective is to provide more complete information about Bali. Whether a tourist needs a visa or not, or how long does one need to have a valid passport for? All are included on the site," says Syarikat.

From Bali Post's observation, all travel agencies in Bali that are registered with the Association of Indonesian Travel Agencies (ASITA) and all hotels that are members of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Indonesia (PHRI) are on Bali Online. The names are displayed, without their addresses or their specializations or tourism packages offered. This is designed to invite travel agencies, hotels, and other travel and tourism compaines in Bali to advertise through Bali Online. Bali's face on the Internet is the face of a destination filled with appeals.

Bali Online also offers information about events in Bali, listing important dates in Bali and other cultural events. Do not be surprised if on Bali Online you see information about Galungan, Budha Cemeng Kelawu, Pemacekan Agung, etc. All is available on the Internet. Bali's face is almost verbally complete on the Internet. Certainly many Internet members around the world accessing Bali Online will be mesmerized by the elegance of the Oleg Tamulilingan dancer and the view of the ricefield terraces and other aspects of Bali.

According to Syarikat Ginting, there are about 30 to 40 million people on the Internet these days. "They are spread in over 100 countries in the world," says he. This number continues to multiply as the use of multimedia spreads throughout the world.

Computers are ubiquitous, modems easily available, and telephone lines are entrering even the remote areas. With this kind of facility, anybody can be an Internet member. A survey by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the U.S. concluded that Internet members in the world are middle class or higher who have high potential to vacation abroad, because they are professionals and have relatively high income.

A Pile of Books

If the Internet can be imagined as a pile of books on a table, the face of Bali on the Internet is a book that has many pages. Every page contains different information about culture, nature, tradition, currency, geography, businesses offering travel and tourism services, promotion and advertisement. How many times this "Internet book" is opened by Internet members can be found from a log. This log reveals the name of the country of origin of the person accessing this Bali book.

Internet appearance is identical with a magazine or a newspaper. First information, because this information attracts people all over the world to get to know Bali succinctly. The second is advertisement. Internet members who know Bali or who want to vacation in Bali will need to search for hotels, travel agents, and activities to make their travel memorable. For this, Internet needs to display advertisement. Information is published for free on the Internet, while advertisement is offered commercially. For Bali's Web site, these activities are currently performed by Bali Online.

"I am trying to find as much information as possible, and to offer businesses the opportunity to introduce their products and services on the Internet," says Syarikat.

While there is a lot of information about Bali available on the Internet, the needs of Internet members in the world vary. Internet members who want more information about Bali can send email to their friends or to anybody who has an email address.

For example, Syarikat Ginting opened an email message from Rhonda Fien in California. In her letter, she said that she would be vacationing in Bali in March 1996. She wanted to stay in Sanur or Nusa Dua, in a hotel with rates around US$ 80 - 100. "Can you help find such a hotel?" asked Rhonda in her email. Similar thing is written by Scott Esco who wanted information about accomodation in Ubud, and Rolf Riedel who wants to travel to Gunung Kilimutu. Syarikat Ginting needs to answer these letters, which means creating business opportunities to the hotels or accomodations that he recommends.

"If the hotel or lodging or travel agency advertises with us on the Internet, the Internet members can directly contact these businesses," says Syarikat.

In short, in addition to being an information medium, Internet is also a promotion and advertising medium. Bali Online has distributed information about Bali to the whole world, read and accessed from the U.S., Poland, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Italy, France, and 50 other countries. In addition to information, Bali Online also opens the opportunity for businesses in travel and tourism industry to advertise their services on the Internet. This opportunity has been exploited by some of these companies, either through Bali Online or other Internet services from Jakarta or other big cities abroad.

For international companies, often their advertisement is handled by their headquarters, and their ads may not appear yet on Bali Online's book. Not behind the beauty of Oleg Tamulilingan. How do you advertise on the Internet? What is the benefit? What is the cost? (top)


As an information medium that reaches internationally, Internet also has the potential to be an advertising medium. Many tourism businesses in Bali have advertised their services on the Internet, including hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies. Information about Bali and these companies advertisements make Bali's face on the Internet more interesting. So, what is the benefit of advertising on the Internet?

Ralf Luthe, the General Manager of Hotel Grand Mirage, said that advertising on the Internet is relatively inexpensive and a wide coverage. This Nusa Dua Hotel has advertised on the Internet for 21 days. "We took four pages, for US$ 2,200.- a year. That included the design cost," says Luthe. In these pages, Grand Mirage displays its hotel pictures - rooms, swimming pool, restaurants, etc. - and decorates the advertisement with appealing promotional words.

Asked about the benefit of the advertisement, Ralf Luthe answers, "Not bad." As proof, in 21 days on the Internet, the Grand Mirage has received three reservations and request for more information from a number of people. One of the reservations came from the U.S., and one of the information requests came from an American in Jakarta. "We think that this effect is really fast, better than advertising in a tourist magazine," the General Manager of Grand Mirage confirms

A different comment comes from Eddy Karmawan, Vice Director of Operation of P.T. Aerowisata that manages hotels and other tourism businesses. Their group advertised on the Internet since early this year, for Hotel Nusa Dua Beach, Satriavi Tour & Travel, Sanur Beach, and other subsidiaries of Aerowisata, costing each approximately the same as Grand Mirage. "So far we have not gotten any response. Maybe it is too early to tell," Eddy Karmawan tells Bali Post. The advertisement page of Aeroiswata is placed on the Internet through an advertising agency in the U.S.

While Aerowisata has not received any responses from the Internet members, Eddy Karmawan says that they will continue to advertise on the Internet. "There are many Internet members in the U.S., which match our market. As long as the Internet is accessed by people, we will advertise there. We have to follow and utilize new technology," says Eddy Karmawan, who has an office at Sanur Beach Hotel.

Web advertising agencies on the Internet come from all over the world, from Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the U.S. Bali Online is one of these companies that resides in Bali. P.T. Aerowisata places their advertisement through a U.S. firm, while Grand Mirage, Ena Dive Centre, and others place their advertisements through Bali Online. It means that there are options on the Internet and prices can vary.

Advertising Cost

Data that Bali Post receives from Bali Online indicated that advertising costs on the Internet are relatively low, calculated daily, with minimum of six months. Like a newspaper ad, the cost of an Internet ad is also determined based on the width, the area, as well as the number of pictures included. BizCard, which is a quarter page ad, costs US$ 2.50 a day (or Rp. 6,500.-), while a full page with a picture only costs US$ 5.00 a day. The facility and form of the advertisement varies. In addition to pictures, like slides in a theater, Bali Online can also support videos. "We have a rafting company in Bali who wants to place a video ad. We can appropriately price it, " says the Director of Bali Online, Drh. Syarikat Ginting. These Internet ads are available 24 hours a day on the Internet.

To advertise on the Internet, there is also an initial cost of US$ 50 to install each page and picture. This means, the more pictures on an ad, the more it costs. Ena Dive Centre, Sanur, installs an advertisement with Bali Online for six months for Rp. 1 million, with 2 pictures and one logo. Bali Post can see Ena Dive Centre's advertisement that displays a beautiful picture of the bottom of the sea and a picture of dolphins. According to Ena's employee, the ad has not generated response.

If there is no response, does that mean that nobody reads this Internet advertisement? The problem is actually similar to advertising anywhere. An advertisement on the Internet may be seen and read by millions of people, but they may not respond nor purchase. Advertisement here works to introduce a product, whether it is bought or sought after, is a different matter, which is hard for businesses to accept. According to Syarikat Ginting, Bali Online's pages have been read by many people from many countries. The measure used is not the number of people, but the number of hits (because one hit may correspond to more than one person).

In the month of November, Bali Online received 200 thousand hits from over 60 countries. This data is logged by Bali Online's computer. In addition to the hit count, the countries of origin of these hits are also available, which include the United States, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, and more. The hit count is a measure of the site's popularity. Whether or not these Internet members open all of Bali Online's pages, looking at advertisement, can also be found from this log. "Our data show that Ena Dive Centre's ad was read about 600 times in November, Nusa Dua Beach 85 times, and Tanjung Sari 46 times," Syarikat Ginting says. This information will be given by Bali Online to its clients. Remember, the hit count does not reflect the sales of the company that advertises.

By Email

According to Ralf Luthe, the General Manager of Grand Mirage, every Internet advertiser should have an Internet account to check on the advertisement and to communicate with customers through email. Usually if an Internet member sees a hotel advertisement and wants to make a booking, they cannot do it directly on the Internet, unless the advertisement is accompanied by a special feature called FaxDirect that Bali Online offers (with additional charge). Booking is usually done through email, as Grand Mirage has experienced. "Booking happens through email. Without it, people are reluctant to contact us," repeats Ralf Luthe. Advertisers on the Internet must have a person responsible for answering questions or sending brochures by email. It means there must be more investment by companies who want to advertise on the Internet.

Advertising on the Internet is one marketing strategy, not the only one. General Manager of Grand Mirage says that they continue to rely on tour operators in Indonesia and abroad, and cannot fully rely on guests from the Internet. The same thing is said by Ena Dive Centre who still markets its diving tour packages door-to-door. Nick Blackbird of Sobek Bina Utama, who is still deciding on whether to advertise on the Internet or not, makes a similar comment. "Our primary sources of guests are tour operators and travel agents from abroad," Nick Blackbird says.

So far, many businesses cannot imagine the response or effects of advertising on the Internet. They have a question about the effectiveness of advertising expense spent on the Internet. It's a reasonable question. Firstly, Internet is a new medium whose effectiveness must be tried by time. Secondly, especially for travel and tourism industry, maybe people are still more likely to buy packaged tours from travel agencies who offer competitive rates and incentives instead of relying on advertisements on the computer.

For companies who have a sizable advertising budget, advertising on the Internet is a must. For those with a small budget, it is best to use it for the right advertisement. (top)


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