Contiki is proudly the number one youth travel brand, and they’re not shy about saying so. And Contiki’s Managing Director, Katrina Barry, told Travel Weekly she knows other companies copy them.
“We’re innovators, we’re change-makers, we’re not imitators,” Barry told TW exclusively.
“And sometimes other people copy us, but as they say, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.”
Quizzed on if this bothers Contiki at all, Barry said it doesn’t, because of how much hard work, research and thought the company puts into making their tours and destinations authentic.
“You can buy the Coles imitation Tim-Tams, but they’re not going to taste as good,” Barry added.
On getting their brand message so right, and keeping their marketing authentic, Barry said it’s all about doing what you know and not faking it.
“Our communication has evolved hugely,” she told TW.
“We got rid of advertising a few years ago to focus on content, and even our social media focus has changed.
“You have to be authentic, not pretend to know it.
“The trick to speaking to millennials is that we are millennials. And if you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you’ll never be authentic.
“Our staff are millennials, so for us it’s like talking to our mates.”
Contiki’s research strategies are extensive to say the least, and are their “special sauce”, as Barry calls it.
“One of our competitive advantages is we always know our customers best, and that comes from the amount of research we do.”
Barry said they investigate what younger generations care about, what they don’t, what they do in their spare time, and what they think their place in the world is.
The executives then come together, look at the mass amounts of research, and try and work out what that means for Contiki.
Next steps involve everything from more customer research, delving into destinations, and putting people on the ground to suss out what opportunities lie there for Contiki products.
Their latest Independent Insider trip launch was one of these outcomes from such a meeting, after numerous feedback showed people wanted more FIT ways to travel with Contiki.
Barry said travellers were saying, ‘I want to travel with Contiki, but I’ve done the big 29-day tour and now I want something different’, and that included shorter trips, more diverse options, and a more FIT focus with the option to meet people on tours without the longer tour commitments.
“That’s why we’re still the number one youth travel brand 55 years later.”