Estranged TA and Qantas still in talks

Estranged TA and Qantas still in talks
By admin

Tourism Australia and Qantas remain in dialogue over the promotion of Australia, despite the ongoing rift between the former allies, TA managing director John O’Sullivan has revealed.

At the Australian Tourism Exchange in Cairns last week, TA and Qantas rival Virgin Australia announced they would inject additional funds into their three-year partnership, doubling its value. Virgin was also an ATE platinum sponsor for the first time in the show’s history – a position traditionally held by Qantas until November 2012’s row between chairman Geoff Dixon and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce over a rumoured takeover bid.

However, speaking to Travel Today at ATE, O’Sullivan stressed that although the tourism body has recently aligned itself more closely with Virgin, it is just one of a number of airline partnerships and does not represent a determined move away from the Flying Kangaroo.

“We have partnerships across the spectrum,” he said. “We have a very strong partnership with Virgin Australia, but we also partner with seven other airlines.

“The core premise for us with our partnerships is there has to be a level of mutual benefit and a strategic alignment but then, obviously, it has to fit into the context of the other agreements.”

Meanwhile, both Qantas and TA continue to promote Australia separately. TA is driving its message through its There’s nothing like Australia campaign along with other initiatives such as last year’s Best Jobs in the World, while Qantas has engineered the recent Modern Family visit, and last year’s Ellen de Generes episodes.

But O’Sullivan rejected the suggestion that the two different approaches may stir confusion among consumers and the industry.

“Take the US as an example,” he said. “We’ve got our Someday campaign with Virgin and Delta running at the same time as a campaign by Qantas about Australia on the back of the Modern Family episode.”

He gave credit to Qantas’ Modern Family initiative describing it as “tourism gold”, highlighting opportunities for the two campaigns to complement each other.

“Actually, I think that’s quite a good thing because there are a number of touch points and opportunities in the market that are available to Americans,” he said.

“And as we’ve seen in this last year, that market is returning back to growth again which is really pleasing, so I think that it actually works well.”

A record number of Americans jumped on flights to Australia last year as a combination of improved economic conditions and high profile marketing campaigns re-energised the US market.

Almost 510,000 people visited from the US in 2013, a rise of 6.2% on the previous year.

Meanwhile, although Qantas is partnering with the states and territories that have traditionally worked primarily with Tourism Australia, levels of support have not been affected, according to O’Sullivan.

“We haven’t seen any drop in our levels of cooperation from the states and territories. “One Voice” is going well,” he said. “We haven’t seen any altering in the way we partner with them.”

He cited the recently launched Restaurant Australia campaign as an example on the ongoing collaboration.

“It has been brought together over the last few months, entirely in cooperation with the states and territories’ tourism organisations,” he said. Strong support was also delivered for last year’s Best Jobs in the World campaign, and for last week’s ATE, he added.

“So we’ve not seen any drop in support.”

And while a reconciliation between TA and Qantas looks unlikely in the near future, O’Sullivan stressed they continue to work together on the annual G’Day USA event held in the US, and are in constant communication.

“I’ve been going around the industry talking to people since I started and that includes Qantas – they’re a big part of the tourism industry so of course we’re talking to them,” he said.

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