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.
DAY ONE: VISIT BALI, AND YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE
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,
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,"
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
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
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
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
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
"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)
DAY TWO: COST BENEFITS OF ADVERTISING ON THE INTERNET
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.
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
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)