Destinations

Why Tourism Australia’s path to recovery is data-led

Edward Pollitt

Edward Pollitt

When it comes to rebuilding post-COVID-19, Tourism Australia is looking at data-driven solutions to help get travellers back onto Australian shores.

Speaking to Travel Weekly’s sister publication, B&T, Tourism Australia chief marketing officer Susan Coghill (pictured above) discussed how the pandemic has forced the group to rethink how it utilises data.

While now is not the right time to be bombarding international customers with travel campaigns, the national tourism organisation can use these troves of data to ensure appropriate messaging.

“Really drilling down into real-time customer sentiment is incredibly important for us at the moment,” Coghill said.

“Understanding consumer sentiment and consumer confidence is incredibly important in making sure that we are not tone-deaf.”

For Tourism Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a renewed focus on domestic travel.

“One thing that we’ve seen born out of our site is that international travellers travel very differently than our domestic travellers,” Coghill explained.

“Particularly at this point where we’ve got this crisis happening and people can’t fly, there’s this uptick in need for road trip content, for example.”

From a marketing perspective, this has meant placing an increased emphasis on functionality and serviceability.

This saw Tourism Australia roll out a new online map in June, with the aim of helping Australian travellers by providing them with useful information and click-through links for each state and territory for further advice.

As well as providing the customer with a useful tool, the map also means Tourism Australia is able to collect valuable insights into how domestic travellers are returning to the road.

Coghill confirmed such immersive experiences will play an important role in Tourism Australia’s marketing strategy moving forward.

“Anything that we can do to help [travellers] discover and plan those sorts of trips will be a priority for us in that digital space,” she said.

“We are looking for ways to add in additional content, rich content, immersive experiences and just better trip planning functionality.

“When you provide that sort of functionality and interactivity, you’ve got a lot more information about who’s coming to your site and how they’re using it.”

The future of international travel

Then there’s the million-dollar question: what is international travel going to look like when it does return?

While the answer remains largely unknown, certain segments such as international students and working backpackers are expected to lead the return of international travel.

There has also been discussion of various travel ‘bubbles’ with neighbouring countries such as New Zealand and Indonesia.

This segmented approach will make data-driven marketing and retargeting all the more important for Tourism Australia.

Coghill said the organisation is currently researching which markets will be likely to return first and how its marketing budget can be most effectively used.

“Travel isn’t going to bounce back immediately to 100 per cent of where it was at the end of 2019 right away,” she said.

“There are going to be segments that are going to be much more confident about travelling, much more likely to travel first and there may even be cohorts that borders open to sooner than others.

“So, being able to target those types of travellers and being able to retarget them with the right messaging, being able to work with our partners to make sure that we would be giving them the right offers at the right time – when borders are open – is certainly going to be important.”

There is also the very real possibility that once international tourism does return, travellers will be expected to hand over more data to the country they are visiting.

Coghill emphasised that any such transaction must be underpinned by safety.

“I think that the most important thing for consumers – and it’s table stakes for travel – is about feeling safe and secure in your journey, be that your destination or how you get there,” she said.

“So, I think that we will continue to see a lot of tests in this area.”

This article was originally published by Travel Weekly‘s sister title, B&T, and was edited and republished with permission.

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