Tourism Australia’s smart move to attract new Asian audiences

Tourism Australia’s smart move to attract new Asian audiences

Last week Tourism Australia reported that it had partnered with the South Korean TV network Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) and two State Tourism Organizations to bring the Korean reality-comedy series ‘Running Man’ to Australia: Running Man - on location in Australia

“Some of Australia’s most stunning scenery and iconic landmarks are providing the backdrop to one of Korea’s most popular TV shows, in a new bid by Tourism Australia to entice more Korean visitors Down Under.

Korean reality-comedy series Running Man has just completed filming in Queensland and Victoria, with the first Australian episode starring Tangalooma Resort, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Palm Beach airing this week on Korean television screens (…).

This week, fans of Running Man watched contestants compete in Kangaroo suits at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and take a helicopter ride over the Gold Coast. Melbourne’s laneways and surrounds are set to feature as the backdrop for the next episode.

Running Man is the latest project by Tourism Australia enlisting the support of Asian celebrities to promote Australia’s best tourism destinations to Asian consumers, with popular Chinese celebrities Nicky Wu and Ekin Cheng both filming projects in Australia in 2013 and the top rating Japanese celebrity travel show, Tabi Salada, filming an Australian special earlier this month.Running Man

[The series will air] in South Korea in March, followed by China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.”

Making dedicated tourism promotion adverts to air on TV these days costs a fortune. The only time I see them is in the twilight hours on rolling news channels and besides, consumers are far too savvy to swallow what can often look close to being a cheesy propaganda video. Better instead to lure TV and film producers to your country and help them to film the best of what you have with their own means and on their own terms.

Hitting the big-time and reaching potential visitors through the power of film can bring additional benefits too, as these visitors may be more attracted to visit out of high season, and show more desire to connect with other aspects of the destination’s cultural offering, or travel more widely to visit related landmarks. Tourism New Zealand’s work to attract millions of visitors from across the globe to is an excellent example of this.

Tapping into new audiences

Today, Tourism Australia (TA) is looking for opportunities to gain attention in Asia and attract new audiences and South Korea is showing huge potential:

“Visitors from South Korea generated A$1.2 billion in total expenditure in 2012. Tourism Australia estimates that the market has the potential to grow to between A$2.8 billion and A$3.4 billion in total expenditure by 2020″

Running Man should be a good bet, since it has such a huge following across Asia. It has also been translated into English, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese and Arabic for Hallyu fans, or fans of Korean pop culture of which there are many millions around the world. The combination of game show tension and comedy, fronted by Korean comedy superstar Yoo Jae-suk has won it the appeal of millions of young Koreans.

The power of the road trip movieLazy Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe

When I announced to friends in Europe that I would be coming to live and work in Bangkok for three months, they quickly suggested that my life in the city could pan out like the plot of the film The Hangover III. It’s not just Hollywood audiences that have discovered the crazy side to Thailand through film. Last year, Lost in Thailand was crossed the USD 200 billion mark to become the biggest box office hit for a 3D film in China and has surely awoken the interest of millions of young Chinese to take the trip here.

Similarly, but on a smaller scale, the Lazy Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe was an amateur film that became highly popular in Korea last year.

Here are some more examples, with related press coverage:

Emerald City cameo in Chinese film bringing tourists to Seattle

China’s romance film boosts tourism in Japan

‘Seediq Bale’: Taiwan’s biggest movie sparks indigenous tourism

Tourists Flock to China’s ‘Avatar’ National Park (PHOTOS)

Cruises get cool as young people take to the seas to get away from it all

Cruises get cool as young people take to the seas to get away from it all

One in five under-25s said to be considering a holiday afloat as operators revamp their image to appeal to ‘party animals’Partying by the pool
It might be hard to think of anything less conventionally “cool”, but according to the Association of British Travel Agents, a record number of young people want to go on a cruise. The average age of British cruisers is 56 – the highest it has been for a decade – but Abta reports a surprising leap in the number of 16- to 24-year-olds who are considering cruising instead of larging it in Ibiza or Malia.

The trade body, which represents more than 5,000 travel agencies, says that one in five under-25s are considering a holiday on the high seas this year – nearly three times the number that went cruising last year.

Cruise ships, say the travel experts, have finally “shaken off their old, staid image” and now many are “like floating theme parks, perfect for party animals”. Many have ditched cabarets and black-tie dinners at the captain’s table in favour of all-night parties, rock climbing, assault courses and surfing lessons in on-board simulators.

Phil Evans, managing director of cruise tour operator CruiseNation, says there is a “huge trend in young people going on cruises“. He said cruise lines were overhauling facilities and ripping out old-fashioned decor to make boats more appealing to younger people, but admitted that the principal attraction was how cheap a cruise trip could be when compared with do-it-yourself holidays.

“People are very savvy about going out and finding the cheapest flights and cheapest hotels, but some are starting to realise it can be cheaper to do it with a tour group,” he said. “We are offering a week’s summer cruise for £399. People are saying, ‘actually, I’m getting loads included in the price and it’s cheaper than a week in Majorca’.”

More adventurous trips are also popular, with the company’s bestselling holiday being a trip that starts in Hawaii, followed by a flight to Alaska, a five-night wilderness cruise and then a train back down the Pacific coast. Evans said the average age of passengers on the trip, which costs from £1,500 for 15 nights, was 35, with many couples in their 20s. He said the real boom had been among 24- to 30-year-olds, but it is “growing in the early 20s too; the ages keep coming down and down”. He said the average age of his passengers a decade ago was “55, if not higher”.

Published in The Guardian, 4.1.13. Read the full article here

My take:

Cruise tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing tourism activities. In 2004 13 million cruise passengers were registered worldwide. By 2015, UNWTO estimates this figure to reach 25 million. Clearly cruise ships are no longer the preserve of middle-aged passengers spending their kids’ inheritance on the trip of a lifetime. As cruise passengers get younger and hail from a broader range of markets (for example, this UNWTO report discusses cruise growth in Asia), they will expect more flexibility in booking and dictating their own trip, as is the case with most other tourism products today.  CruiseNation’s tour of Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific Coast is a good example of this.

When it comes to marketing, cruise lines are well aware that customers increasingly travel in multi-generational groups (grandparents with their children and grandchildren) and a different marketing approach is made for each. This helps to explain the company’s relaunch with a major social media campaign at the end of 2013. Sharing the cruise experience before, during and after the trip is now central to the company’s efforts to appeal to a broader range of age groups.

So what about the destinations that cruise ships serve? Just as onboard entertainment and facilities are changing, cruise passengers will increasingly expect a more tailor-made and lively visit to the world’s port cities (and beyond), leaving behind the outlet centres selling bargain knitwear or forced visits to tourist traps, in favour of more experience-rich trips, allowing visitors to connect more intensely with the destinations they call at. Destinations in Europe and the US are best placed to capitalise on the growing youth cruise market, in light of their proximity to source markets and good low-cost airline connectivity. They will have to work hard to attract younger cruise visitors, while adapting their range of products and services to younger visitors, to compete with the refreshed entertainment, food and accommodation on board.

The Rise of Generation C and its Implications for Customer Service

The Rise of Generation C and its Implications for Customer Service

Generation C (for Connected) is the name given to digital natives, the people who feel comfortable in the digital world, own lots of mobile devices, and tend to use at least two at once. Members of Generation C are better informed and more demanding, increasingly mobile, ubiquitously connected, and amazingly social. And they desire to be in control of their own lives.

Because their ranks are growing rapidly, the implications of Generation C on customer service are enormous. Trends include:

  • Channels are a thing of the past. Channels have always been an internal construct, but with Generation C, channels are meaningless. Generation C moves seamlessly from device to device, and they expect you to do the same. A conversation with customer service started in chat may move to Facebook and then to a phone call. Your customer service organization needs to provide a consistent experience across all channels and must be able to transition smoothly between them.
  • Bad news travels fast: In the good old days, an unhappy customer would tell ten friends. Today, a disgruntled customer won’t hesitate to tweet about a bad experience to her million (or more) followers. Keeping customers happy – especially the ones that influence large communities – is more important than ever.
  • Consumer in control: You are no longer the only one broadcasting messages about your brand. Generation C is having conversations about your brand that you cannot control – all over social media.

With Generation C, you need to know what’s going on at all times and be ready to move quickly to protect or enhance your brand. And you’ve got to convert all the information available to you – from outside and inside the enterprise – into purchases and transactions.

By Dennis DeGregor from The Business Value Exchange blog (15 September 2013) read more

My take:

That brands have lost control over what’s being said about them is nothing new… it’s a trend that was born with social networks. So today, just as smart individuals work hard to manage their online appearance to people they don’t know, or potentially wish to impress, so must smart businesses – just on a much larger scale.

‘Keeping customers happy – especially the ones that influence large communities – is more important than ever’. Indeed, these days it’s vital to reach out to these people (especially bloggers) and charm them, making them an essential part of the conversation about your destination. Every business and destination has to assume that it’s serving not only the individual on the other side of the counter, but potentially millions of that individual’s followers too. So keeping customers happy, and dealing with complaints across a wide range of channels in real time will take smart management and real effort. It’s also a 24/7 job; savvy hotels are already conversing with their own guests who tweet comments from their bed after check-in.

‘Your call is being held in a queue and will be answered shortly’  

This links nicely to the other assertion, that ‘channels are a thing of the past’. It’s true – the Gen C customer will have ever-less

Taken at 21:45 on 3 January 2014

Taken at 21:45 on 3 January 2014

respect for fusty opening hours of helplines or bureaucratic hurdles in claiming refunds or making complaints. Gen C is the first generation to have grown up permanently-connected, and so is much more comfortable with the idea of sharing what was previously regarded as personal data online. This means that customer conversations will increasingly take place through Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.

A good start on this road has been made by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, already famous for its social media marketing campaigns. Today the airline uses both Twitter and Facebook to chat directly with its customers about specific issues (via private messages), whether on flight prices, lost baggage or quirky requests, always promising to respond to questions within one hour. It offers this service 24 hours 7 days a week and in 10 languages. This helps to demonstrate how social media has helped remove the traditional limitations to customer service (basing a call centre in each region or country, limited opening hours per time zone).

As one commentator put it in response to the above article, the need to switch seamlessly across all channels becomes even more vital if Gen C form the largest part of your client base. So how long will it be before submitting baggage claims by post or phoning to book a flight will be regarded rather like paying for something by cheque – as a rather long-winded and quaint thing of the past?

What’s your take? What implications will the rise of Gen C have on customer service for businesses in the travel and tourism industry?

How to Attract the Millennial Hotel Guest

How to Attract the Millennial Hotel Guest

“Millennials,” the group covering those with birth years ranging from 1977 to 1995 and presents a dynamic opportunity for hotels to attract and retain a booming market that already represents one third of all hotel guests.

The two biggest questions for hotels are: How do you market to Gen Y? And, once you get them through the lobby doors, how do you meet or exceed their expectations?

When it comes to marketing strategies, Millenials are far more likely to take hotel advice from their peers than from traditional marketing channels. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are essential to capturing this demographic.

Does your hotel have a Facebook page and a Twitter handle? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to market to Gen Y. More likely than any other demographic to Tweet from check-in to check-out, encourage Gen Y guests to connect with you during their stay and share their travel experience with their circle of friends. When guests log-on to the hotel Wi-Fi, your splash screen should prominently feature your social media channels.

So what does Gen Y really want in a hotel? According to consultants “Y Partnership” this new generation of travelers expects:

  • Free Internet
  • Casual food available 24 hours
  • Self-service check-in/out
  • Hotels with individual personality and a distinctive ‘sense of place’
  • Multi-use lobbies that encourage guests to socialise

Read the full article from here

My take:

So many accommodation providers still see Wifi as a lucrative revenue stream as opposed to a necessary free service. As the Skift article explains, tech-dependent young travellers won’t just expect Wifi for free, they’ll expect it to work seamlessly throughout the hotel on multiple devices at the same time. It’s surprising how many hotel and hostel chains still haven’t cottonned onto this fact yet. Avoid leaving your guests sitting in the street outside local coffee shops after dark, surfing off free wifi by offering it in-house and make up the revenue elsewhere in the bar or café.

You can also avoid competing with local eateries offering free wifi at all hours by offering your own ‘casual food’ 24 hours. This doesn’t mean employing a Michelin-starred chef throughout the night, it just means having casual snacks available when travellers who have the late-night munchies actually want them.

This ties in neatly with the use of social spaces. Chains like Generator Hostels and Meininger Hotels have understood this trend well and are applying it with imaginative effect, providing large open spaces for guests to play pool, computer games, strum a guitar or chat. Gen C might be connected 24/7 but that doesn’t mean they want to hide out in their hotel room!

Of all the recommendations, I think it’s the need to offer a ‘sense of place’ that is driving the most fascinating changes in hotel management and marketing in recent years. For decades, driven by the demands of the US hotel guest seeking familiarity in foreign climes, hotel chains went on a relentless march of installing the same plastic interiors and identikit menus. Today, hostels best placed to attract the young authentic experience-seeking traveller will offer local food, local music, art, drama, crafts and a whole host of other means of connecting the traveller to the destination before he/she’s even stepped out of the front door.

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A smart and symbolic move: easyJet launches a dedicated homepage in Chinese

A smart and symbolic move: easyJet launches a dedicated homepage in Chinese

Yesterday easyJet caused quite a stir among the global travel easyJet Chinese homepageindustry by launching a dedicated homepage in Chinese. Even the Prime Minister had something to say about it during his visit to the country.

easyJet already has dedicated home pages for customers booking their European travel from Brazil, Russia and the US and according to the airline the move to provide a booking engine in Chinese was prompted by a 25% rise in bookings from China during 2012.

For me, this move is a smart one. Destinations and providers of tourism products and services from the tiniest mountain village to the great capital city across Europe have been scrambling to attract the fêted ‘high-spending Chinese traveller’. However there are so many basic ways in which destinations are falling short and providing signage and service in Chinese has so far been one of them. By providing a booking engine in their native language the airline is making a clear statement that it is open for business for the Chinese traveller in Europe (and now beyond). The move has also brought the company into line with VisitBritain’s China Welcome programme.

The move is also symbolic. The easyJet brand has long been identified with the savvy independent traveller. While easyJet flights are also bookable by travel agents through Amadeus’s distribution system (a move made largely to capture the business market), the budget carrier has traditionally been associated with independent travellers looking to compose their holiday their way, as opposed to being subject to tour operator charter flights or the legacy carriers (those currently bringing Chinese visitors long-haul to Europe and, until now, presumably providing the bulk of European internal flights). If increasing numbers of Chinese travellers have been booking with easyJet it’s because they too are increasingly prepared to compose their trip their way, travelling independently or in small groups.

easyJet A319For Gen C Travellers and upscale independent travellers of all ages, easyJet is a fascinating brand to watch, given its role in stirring up the airline industry since its launch over 15 years ago and given the way it currently projects itself to the independent traveller. Just take a look at the hotels, cities, experiences and products reviewed in the company’s in-flight magazine.

As Chinese visitors make repeat visits to Europe, looking to broaden their horizons from the obligatory dash around eight countries in one week, they are showing an increasing propensity to branch out and use previously unfamiliar services, brands and routes. This interesting report ‘Chinese Tourists in Europe from 2017′ by the mega travel company Tui helps to explain this concept.

In future posts I’ll be discussing some of the commentary about young Chinese travellers and sorting the fluff from the substance as the travel industry races to attract the Chinese yuan!

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‘Connected, curating, community focussed’ – why you should be keeping an eye on where Gen C are travelling…

‘Connected, curating, community focussed’ – why you should be keeping an eye on where Gen C are travelling…

Welcome to the first post of my first-ever blog, an initiative aimed at helping my colleagues in the global travel and tourism industry to understand Generation C – the connected generation – and their travel habits, today and tomorrow.

Sounds like an ambitious plan, right? With legions of bloggers, social media experts, tourism strategists and global consultants out there, what can I be expected to offer the world’s destination management organisations (DMOs), corporations and industry associations?

Firstly, I wouldn’t have started this initiative if I didn’t think it might be a useful resource for industry colleagues to consult, dip into or share. Almost every tourism conference you attend these days features a session on technology, trends, the ‘visitor experience’ being at the heart of the customer journey and of course the keys to making social media work for your brand. It’s all relevant stuff, and I will aim to use this blog partly to share some useful insight on those issues. However destinations need to plan ahead.

Secondly, even if short-sighted political expediency occasionally gets in the way, it’s essential to have at least one eye on where tomorrow’s visitors are going to come from and what they’re likely to expect. Those visitors are today known as Gen C -the connected generation- and they, together with today’s high-spending young traveller are the subject of this blog. Sir Albert hotel, Amsterdam

As you can see, the blog is work in progress (though I’ve already put up some useful resources), and I aim for it to be a great place to come for ideas and best practices. These are often best explained first-hand, so I’ll be inviting a range of industry colleagues (from a broad a spectrum of sectors and backgrounds as possible) to share their insight into Gen C and what DMOs can usefully do to catch their imagination and customer loyalty, often on a limited budget.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Benjamin Disraeli, stencilled on to the side of the Sir Albert boutique hotel in Amsterdam (click on the image to view a larger version) It’s not the best photo but a) I took it with my trusty Samsung Galaxy R, and b) you’re looking at typical Amsterdam ‘Tupperware weather’. I spotted the stencil on my way to my Dutch course this morning and immediately wondered whether for today’s traveller, it might be more appropriate to replace the verb ‘see’ with ‘experience’. Chew on that…

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