From authority to authenticity: why 39% of Aussies are finding travel brands “too generic”

From authority to authenticity: why 39% of Aussies are finding travel brands “too generic”

The adage is that people travel to “find themselves”. While this might seem cheesy, given the search for the authenticity is a growing travel trend, it’s something travel agents and anyone selling travel needs to know about. 

The Influence Codes report from Newscorp’s The Growth Distillery, in partnership with Ogilvy and Kantar, found that 64 per cent of Australians say that a holiday is about living their true authentic self.

This has led to a strong wish for more personalised travel options with 39 per cent finding travel brands too generic and 45 per cent saying they were overwhelmed by too much choice.

Generic travel guides are on the out. Credit: Flickr/Paul Campy

The Influence Codes series delves into how travel brands can better serve consumers by understanding the critical sources of influence and the strategic approaches needed to stand out in a crowded market. It provides a playbook for marketers to navigate this new landscape, ensuring their messages resonate deeply and effectively with their audience.

Here are some of the top trends outlined in the Growth Distiller’s Influence Codes report:

A shift from authority to affinity

According to the report “historically, influence worked in a ‘top-down’ fashion”. This meant that people in a position of authority or those who held important information were able to influence others through their communication and actions.

A number of factors, including an overload of information and a distrust in traditional forms of authority caused by corruption, negligence, and moral decrepitude have shifted this dynamic and led people to look towards other forms of guidance.

Old school versions of authority have gone out of fashion. Source

Rather than being influenced from the top down, influence now works from the “bottom up”. This means Aussies are looking to find their own sources of influence which they feel an affinity with.

The ‘Goldilocks’ zone

High reach is not the same as a high resonance, especially when it comes to influencers. 

One of the core characteristics of affinity is relatability. According to the study “this means is that unless you share ideological, physical or social space with your target, you won’t hold any power to influence them”. 

For agents, this stresses the importance of being authentic so you can engage with customers who are naturally drawn to you.

Travel isn’t about escape from the day to day… it’s about immersion in what you love

“Today’s traveller is no longer looking for an opportunity to escape from the day-to-day. Instead, travel provides the chance to fully engage with their passions in life,” the report states.

“This means that cookie-cutter experiences will no longer cut it, as today’s travellers are looking for something far more unique and personal.”

Due to the high-ticket cost of travel, however, authority does still matter, just in a slightly different way. Experience and reliability are the key components that are required to build influence in the category.

Soneva Fushi - SOUL Festival 2023 - Meditation and Yoga Group Sessions - Moosa Haleem

Niche interest travel is on the up. Image: Soneva Fushi – SOUL Festival 2023

For travellers the risks of ‘getting it wrong’ is larger than ever

As the desire for fulfilling life-enriching travel grows, so does the pressure to get it right and not waste a trip.

“This consumer context is especially important now, because as the cost-of-living stresses increase, so too does the relative importance of travel decisions,” the report states.

James Taylor

“For many Australians, travel may be one of the largest single expenditures they will make each year, heightening the stress and anxiety to make the right decisions.

“This consumer context is especially important now, because as the cost of living stresses increase, This is exacerbated by the conditions we now face in the ‘cost of living’ crisis, because we all want to make the most of our precious vacation time, and so the importance of Authority, to help us avoid the pitfalls has increased greatly.”

The Growth Distillery head of research James Taylor said: “For Aussie travellers affinity and authenticity are the superpowers of Influence. This research shows marketers can help Australians to get more out of life with their travel experiences by being less focused on helping people get away from life, and being more focused on helping people get more from life.”

Read the full report here:

How this desire for authenticity is shaping travel: 

LGBTQIA+ Travellers 

Last week fresh research from found that LGBTQIA+ travellers, who frequently experience discrimination whilst travelling, particularly valued authentic travel.

The majority (67 per cent) believe that being able to be their authentic self on their trip is their next most important factor.

More than half (53%) of LGBTQIA+ travellers have experienced discrimination whilst travelling

Exceptional ALIEN

Two ex-advertising heavyweights Justin Drape and Michael Canning noticed that travellers were no longer wanting to see mainstream landmarks, instead they wanted to travel around their passions and interests. So they set up Exceptional ALIEN.

Exceptional ALIEN is a platform where people can combine their love of travel with that of creativity – receiving recommendations and insights on the best creative places to visit around the world from the best creatives around the world.

How Exceptional ALIEN is shaping the future of travel and destination marketing

Stephanie Myers Academy 

Travel Weekly‘s 2023 mentor of the year, Stephanie Myers, is a huge advocate of agents marketing themselves authentically.

Her vision was prompted by witnessing too many agents struggle to hang onto their businesses during the pandemic. After receiving positive feedback on her podcast, Myers got in touch with fellow agents about how they could future-proof their business.

One of her key takeaways was the importance of authentic connection, as she says on her website: “Our industry is broken. Hiding behind logos and brand colours we have zero connection with while trying to be unique and stand out in the crowd. Hiding behind logos and brand colours we have zero connection with while trying to be unique & stand out in the crowd”.

You can read more about her academy here. 

All the details on the WINNERS of the 2023 Women In Travel Awards!!!

Lead image: and influencer Jorden Tually.


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