"Tourism Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 7.4% in 2015–16, well ahead of the 2.3% growth rate for the wider economy. This strong growth is expected to continue, with Tourism Research Australia’s (TRA) forecasts showing that total overnight tourism spend will increase to $196.3 billion by 2026–27, up from $96.8 billion in 2015–16". Tourism Research Australia.
So, as delegates gear up for the Australian Regional Tourism Network (ARTN) annual conference, 23 - 26 October in Canberra, MyTravelResearch.com outlines the key challenges that regional tourism bodies across Australia need to address to fully capture and cater to the growing regional market.
Be Digital Tourism Marketing Ready
30 years after the invention of the World Wide Web, every tourism business in Australia should have a mobile website where you can book in real time.
Online booking technology for small businesses is now easy to use and quite cheap. Yet we still see many travel and tourism businesses
operating with a website that its static and out of date. And yes, we still come across the odd business without a website.
The most recent data suggest that 10% of tourism operators don't have a website. And less than half take real time bookings. Without this, you're putting up barriers on the path to purchase. It's an invitation to go elsewhere. Google are now telling us to plan for voice search not just mobile. The landscape is changing so quickly.
There is plenty of research telling us that staying ahead or with technology is one of the biggest hurdles tourism businesses and Destination Marketing Managers are losing sleep over, it is time to incorporate learning about marketing technology into your weekly tasks.
Embrace Content Marketing
Too many businesses think that marketing is not their real job. It is. And it's common sense. What's the point of having a great product if no one knows about it? Since Google's Hummingbird upgrade, your search ranking depends on the quality and relevance of your content – both directly and via your advocates. So start posting blogs, videos, images and comments, and text on what to see or do in your local area.
The Domesticate study shows that re-connection is the heart of domestic tourism – with 12 different ways to reconnect. Music festivals like Groovin' the Moo or Triple J's One Night Stand are about celebration and attract the hard-to-reach younger traveller.
Meanwhile those seeking to reconnect with themselves will enjoy Daylesford's hot mineral springs and vibrant foodie scene. On a practical note, Wollongong's crowd-sourced # WeLovetheGong hashtag serves as a no-cost, highly informative de facto 24/7 visitor information centre. It is especially useful for the 'I need a quick break' weekenders from Sydney arriving after 5pm when the visitor information centre is closed.
Take Tourism Seriously
In Australia, 46% of tourism expenditure reaches regional areas. And 1 in 20 jobs in regional areas are directly tourism related. In particular, tourism creates opportunities for young people in regional areas. Tourism is also one of the highest contributors to the broader economy –
greater than mining, retail, healthcare or financial services.
For example in the region of Port Stephens, 3% of all GDP is directly related to tourism. In neighbouring mid-North Coast, it is almost 9%. Local councils need to take tourism seriously in terms of infrastructure, planning and zoning decisions (to name a few). Tourism businesses need to work together to build a destination.
Make 'Service' Your No 1 Priority
Too often regional areas can feel like a service desert if you are there between Sunday night and Wednesday.
MyTravelResearch.com research shows that having more places to eat – especially outside Friday and Saturday – would be critical in growing visitation and expenditure. And if you are targeting high yield international visitors, be aware that they expect to be able to drink coffee after 12pm on a Saturday or Sunday and eat dinner on a Monday...
If you would like to read more on delivering great service, here is a run down on the Service Quality Toolkit released by Tourism Queensland. Members only content
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She also runs a well respected seniors travel blog, http://www.newyoungtravel.com.au.
Bronwyn is also the published author of Seniors Travel Tips, a global travel guide for seniors.