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New research reveals experiencing regional Australia tops the 2018 itineraries of domestic travellers

March 24, 2018 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

77 per cent of regional Australians and 73 per cent of city-dwellers visited a non-city destination in the past year according to new research from Kantar TNS. And regional travel is even more attractive in 2018. 80 per cent of regional-dwellers and three-quarters (74 per cent) of those living in cities are intending to visit a non-city destination in the next 12 months.

The findings headline Domesticate 2018 – the 12th annual syndicated study into the travel attitudes of Australians and outlook for the domestic travel industry by Kantar TNS; but the major insight, says the company’s Director of Travel and Leisure Ed Steiner, is that the key to making a regional destination stand-out is to stop talking about ‘regional’ travel.

“People don’t think about regional destinations as brands. Marketers must be especially wary of language and talk about ‘experiences’ not ‘destinations’. What is resonating with travellers about regional travel is the true diversity of experiences on offer.”

The key to unlocking a destination’s potential is emphasising the right combination of experiences that are unique to a place and its surroundings, adds Steiner.

People’s need to constantly refresh is a consistent driver of their travel. Escaping the ‘every day’ is vital and getting away from crowds is now the second most important motivator of intrastate travel after relaxation. Australia is a short-break destination, yet we are competing with longer holidays to Fiji, Bali and New Zealand. The impending Easter Long Weekend and upcoming school holidays are popular times for families, especially to explore their great Aussie ‘backyard’ and regional operators must promote their experiences first if they want to capture that market share.”

“Overwhelmingly, we found through our qualitative research that for Australians, it is what they can do at the destination that really counts, says Steiner.

“Travellers are drawn to experiences, which means destinations cannot be a one-trick pony. In particular, Indigenous culture and post-settlement are motivators of regional travel –Australians want to learn more about our people, our past and our land. From delivering experiences that extend into the evening to leveraging the sounds and sights of nature, it’s all about optimising relaxation. Indigenous cultural experiences will also drive repeat visitation.”

Holidays are now considered an essential expense for Australians to ‘escape’ their city life. Short breaks alleviate stress, more so if outside cities, but regional marketers must get more savvy to cut through the clutter.

In 2018, the top five domestic travel experiences being considered by regional Australians are beach/coastal (64 per cent), metro/city (50 per cent), food/wine (40 per cent), national parks (38 per cent) and events/festivals (36 per cent). For city-dwellers, it is beach/coastal (57 per cent), metro/city (47 per cent), food/wine (42 per cent), national parks (32 per cent) and a tie for fifth between small towns and events/festivals (both 29 per cent).

Interestingly; hills/mountains, rivers/lakes and bush/outback all rated greater than 20 per cent for both regional and city residents; while adventure also tipped the scale at 23 per cent for regional dwellers. Regional Australians are also finding metro/city experiences less appealing this year (down from 59 to 50 per cent), the snow has more than doubled for both groups (from six to 15 per cent) while rivers/lakes are going to be more frequently visited by regional Aussies in 2018 (up to 33 per cent from 22 per cent).

The influence of all traditional travel influencer channels also fell in 2018 with the exception of word-of-mouth. Destination websites fell to 30 per cent from 38 per cent in 2017, special packages and online offers to 27 per cent from 34 per cent and online review sites to 23 per cent from 31 per cent.

Critically, over half (54 per cent) of Australians also think most information on social media is unreliable compared to just 27 per cent of their APAC neighbours, adds Steiner.

“We are finding that Australian travellers are far more cynical when it comes to what information they consume and act upon using social media. In fact, half of Aussies (49 per cent) feel the branded content on social media is not even relevant to them compared to a quarter (26 per cent) of APAC travellers. This means it is absolutely crucial that content planning is not simply based around the reach of a network.”

“Brands not only need to improve the way that content relates to their customers in the moment, but they also need to work harder to build trust.”

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