Latest data from the Expedia group, one of the world’s leading online travel companies, has revealed a noticeable increase in demand from US travellers heading to Australia.
This demand is likely being influenced by the decline of the value of the Australian dollar (AUD), and US travellers taking advantage of the continued strength of the US dollar.
The Expedia data from the second quarter of 2015 reveals a rise in demand from the US, with an increase of over 70 per cent compared with the same period in 2014. This increase could be set to continue with searches by US travellers for December 2015 stays at Australian hotels up 70%*.
Economists predict the Australian dollar is expected to remain under pressure against the US dollar until the end of 2016^ As a result, domestic operators expect a strong influx of foreign travellers heading to Australia, in particular from the US.
David Hamblin, senior director of Market Management, Asia Pacific, for the Expedia group, offers Australian hotel operators the following advice to respond to current trends in the fluctuating foreign exchange rate:
- Domestic travellers have shorter booking windows. Be sure to have up-to-the-minute room availability and keep your inventory up to date.
- Understand the length of stay and booking windows for those key international markets you want to attract. Expedia can provide this data and insight to partners to help them hit the sweet spot for certain travellers by creating packages specifically tailored to them.
- Be mobile ready. Booking via mobile devices is extremely popular with international and domestic travellers – one in five of all the Expedia group’s transactions is now made via mobile. Having a presence on mobile means you can offer tailored deals for nearby, last-minute travellers.
- Ensure you understand local payment customs and accept local currencies – although US travellers might be happy to pay the cost of their room upfront on a credit card, not all nationalities do. For instance, Brazilians prefer to pay in instalments and Chinese travellers like to pay using Alipay. Some people even prefer to pay with the digital currency, Bitcoin.
- Consider having a variety of refundable and non-refundable rates, as well as package rates, to attract a range of travellers. If a traveller has booked their flight – which is often non-refundable – they will be happy to give up the right to refund their hotel room to save a few bucks.
- Be the King of Content. Having high-resolution photos, good reviews and accurate location information will help ensure you get chosen more often. Expedia has a Content Score which provides hoteliers with real-time feedback on their content so they know which areas to improve to maximise conversion.
*Search data used is Expedia group data showing searches made by US travellers in June and July 2015 for stays in Australian hotels during December 2015.