The way we travel evolves. We’ve picked a few of the most significant trends that are shaping the future of experiences and that will assist us to entice more people to discover the Wonder of Gondwana.
The motivations and behaviour of travellers continues to evolve. It means that when we are thinking about our target markets, we need to understand how our destination positioning and experience offer resonates with the visitors of today.
For example, families and Baby-boomers have become much more active in the way they travel, highlighting the importance of interactive and immersive experiences, including those that inspire curiosity and learning. Likewise, there has been a significant rise in inter-generational travel while Millennials are travelling more domestically than any prior generation of the same age, especially for events and in small groups of close friends.
Other significant trends include the continuing rise in the numbers of women travelling independently or in small groups. This is particularly the case for women over the age of 35. Connecting with women is important to attracting the family market as women are the primary influencer in holiday decision-making.
Baby-boomers or the active 55+ market are not only more active; they also hold a significant proportion of the nation’s wealth. This is influencing the way they choose to travel, including much stronger interest in small group or boutique experiences and accommodation as well as increasing participation in Aboriginal cultural tourism.
Importantly, these trends in market dynamics are not restricted to Australia. They apply equally to international markets, especially the higher-yield markets from North America, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Europe.
Finally, an often-untapped market in Australia is Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR). Today, they are more likely to stay in commercial accommodation and seek out local experiences and hospitality. The most important influencer for this market is the host, which means your local community. Ensuring that the local community is aware of the experience offer, feels a sense of civic pride about your destination and is empowered to be part of your ‘marketing team’ is the best way to reach the VFR market.
As part of the Wonder of Gondwana project, we have identified target market personas that are more likely to resonate with the experience offer. This utilises the Roy Morgan Helix Personas developed through comprehensive and credible research for the domestic market. For further information, see Know your Audience: Personas
Experiences over Destinations
Experiences are the primary motivation for picking one destination over another. Importantly, experiences mean much more than just the things, such as activities that people can do in the destination. This is underpinned by some interesting and reliable trends, including:
Demand for tours and activities continues to grow. However, the focus is increasingly on small-group, immersive and locally-led activities and tours. According to recent research commissioned by TripAdvisor, the strongest growth internationally has related to historical and heritage tours. See some great insights on making your tour or activity world-class in the section on Museums and Attractions.
Transformational travel is influencing experiential travel. It is about the memorable moments that facilitate surprise and delight. Spontaneous unexpected adventure is one of the primary factors contributing to transformational experiences. It is also about health and well-being, including time for personal reflection as well as physical activity.
Enriching experiences rely on genuine engagement and interaction between local characters and visitors, regardless of the setting. It is about authentic storytelling, which immerses the visitor in the experience and offers opportunity for participation.
Experiences are also about great events, be they small or large, from local markets to festivals. Events also provide an opportunity to immerse participants in a more meaningful way or to bring emphasis to an imagined reality.
Supporting services, which involve everything from local transport to hospitality, including local produce and food and drink enhance a visitor’s perception of the quality of the experience and the destination. It highlights the importance of collaboration across local industry sectors and businesses within the destination, from tourism providers to accommodation, transport services, retail and hospitality.
For further information, see Experience Development Insights.
It is clear that digital and online technology is here to stay. All markets are now connected and increasingly have higher expectations of their online experience. There are a number of significant trends that demonstrate the influence of technology on the future of tourism and travel, including for the Wonder of Gondwana project. The most important outtake is simply that being online and providing online booking functionality, whether it be through a third-party or provided ‘in-house’, is now essential.
Significant technology trends influencing tourism and travel:
The most common source of information about destinations is the Internet, including through mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. With time to burn while commuting to or from work on public transport, people in our cities start to dream about escaping the daily grind. This is the best time to capture their attention and inspire them to plan a visit to your destination. While the visitor’s decision-process is highly influenced by word of mouth and recommendations, including through social media, being online is far more important to building awareness and converting interest to bookings than a traditional brochure.
The reality of connectivity in-destination may mean that being online isn’t always possible. Technology in the form of apps, which can be downloaded at home, in the hotel or at the visitor centre, can unlock the benefits of technology in the absence of mobile connectivity or access to Wi-Fi.
Online booking capability for experiences is increasingly essential, not just a nice idea. If there is not an easy option to book an experience or accommodation during the planning phase of the customer journey, then people are less likely to choose that destination as part of their itinerary. Recent research reveals that the share of online booking through mobile devices, including while in-destination, continues to increase at a rapid rate, as highlighted in the following graph:
Mobile Bookings as a Share of Online Bookings in Leading Markets
2019 is projected
US Online Travel Overview 2018
Europe Online Travel Overview 2018
Asia Pacific Online Travel Overview 2019
Many visitors are booking experiences (from tours to restaurants) once they are in-destination, with over 53% of bookings occurring either on the day of service or one to seven days in advance (source: Phocuswright, Tours and Activities Come of Age Report, 2019)
Collecting and using customer data is vital for creating customer-centric content and facilitating user-generated content (UGC). This supports personalisation through enabling co-creation of experiences and capturing memorable moments, which tap into the interests and motivations of your audience.
According to a Deloitte Access Economics and Austrade report from October 2019 (see link below), 44% of domestic travellers surveyed would be more likely to visit an attraction with Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) experiences. This will only increase as costs for AR/VR technology decrease and awareness of and interest in this technology increases. Interestingly, awareness of this technology significantly higher among international visitors.
For the most comprehensive recent report on technology trends in tourism, download the Deloitte Access Economics and Austrade report, Technology Disrupters in Tourism (October 2019).
Museums and Attractions
Demand for museums is growing, up 54% in 2017 on the prior year (SKIFT and TripAdvisor research, 2017). However, around the world smaller museums and galleries are being challenged by larger institutions, who have adopted new technologies, such as virtual reality and more actively involve their visitors as participants.
As highlighted under experience development, the value of integrating user-generated content (UGC) is increasingly critical, not just for engaging the audience in a more personal way but to support marketing efforts by utilising the voice of those who people trust the most, their peer group. In fact, research by Nielsen Global found that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth marketing and UGC more than traditional forms of advertising (Nielsen Global Report, Trust in Advertising, September 2015).
There are many ways to more actively engage or involve your audience. This may start long before a visit. It could be through an opportunity to participate in an online panel discussion, which may include leaders in their respective fields, or a reminiscence session, where people can contribute their memories and stories of their involvement. Beyond the virtual world, workshops or events with special guest speakers can provide opportunities for volunteers, visitors and experts to connect in an inspiring setting. All these ideas can contribute to new revenue streams and help to build a loyal community of supporters.
An outstanding, world-class example of what is already happening in the masterclass space is www.masterclass.com
Best practice in interpretation is essential to ensure your visitors get the most out of their experience. This includes:
Encouraging active involvement and participation, including leveraging first-hand experiences and facilitating imagined reality. For example, through interaction with local characters or using technology to allow them to step back into ancient Australia.
Optimising all the senses. Interpretation is enhanced through creating more sensory experiences.
Inspire curiosity and a desire to find out more, including allowing for moments of self-discovery and incorporating elements of surprise. It is about engaging your visitor on a journey of discovery, especially in the context of their leisure time.
Personalisation based on your visitors’ own interests, memories or stories. In this way, the exhibition or gallery can enrich a visitor’s perception, participation and experience by making it more relevant to them.
Ensuring that the use of technology enhances while not displacing the purpose or meaning of the exhibition or gallery. Start by creating the story you want to share and then develop the elements to bring this to life in a meaningful and compelling way.
These are the basics. But if you truly want to find out how to attract and engage a new audience then watch the Museum Hack’s YouTube video about his Met Tours in New York City. Please do yourself a favour and watch to the end.
If you are in a rush, then the most important points the hugely successful and quite quirky Museum Hack makes are:
Reimagine the adult museum experience. We would add that while you’re at it, reimagine the kids’ one too.
The three things that make the biggest impact are Guides, Games and Gossip.
World-class Guides - story-telling that entertains, delivered with passion. If you entertain with passion, then people are more likely to be interested in education
Smart Humour, Mind Blowing Facts, Juicy Gossip
Small Group, VIP, Social Experience
Reposition your tours as Museum Adventures.
Read more about it here: www.museumhack.com
Attractions and museums should consider partnerships and collaboration to reinforce their part in the broader story, in this case the Wonder of Gondwana. A Journey into Ancient Australia. This might involve the visitor in various elements, such as being immersed in an interactive exhibit, participating in a special-interest workshop, helping to unearth a fossil, fossicking for a rare gemstone or participating in an event as part of a broader experience of which the museum or attraction is a part. This includes opportunities for partnerships with leading institutions, such as the Australian Museum.
Inspiring example of best practice: As darkness falls and Uluru is thrown into silhouette, Field of Light illuminates. As far as the eye can see gentle rhythms of colour light up the desert.
The critically acclaimed Field of Light Uluru by the internationally celebrated artist Bruce Munro is on display and due to popular demand, has now been extended indefinitely.The exhibition, aptly named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ in local Pitjantjatjara is Munro’s largest work to date. Overwhelming in size, covering more than seven football fields, it invites immersion in its fantasy garden of 50,000 spindles of light, the stems breathing and swaying through a sympathetic desert spectrum of ochre, deep violet, blue and gentle white.
Watch the Field of Light Uluru video for even more inspiration.