Rick Allert, Andrew McEvoy and Nick Baker at ATE
You know a trade show is going to be intense when orientation takes a full day, and when you’re given rolling suitcases to carry all the press kits you’ll be carrying upon arrival.
The Western media orientation day at ATE kicked off with several press conferences. The biggest news was the launch of the second phase of Tourism Australia’s new marketing campaign, including a catchy new jingle to emphasize their tagline that “There’s Nothing like Australia.” (Have a listen where it says "watch our new ad" and then try to get it out of your head. It’s impossible.) Andrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia, said that the world travels to experience something different—“And we are a different experience,” he said.
The campaign and video involves everyday Aussies—as opposed to celebrities—sharing what they love about their country, and what makes it unique. Nick Baker, the executive general manager marketing, pointed out that the campaign will help visitors—and even Australians on staycations—find hidden gems that they might otherwise have missed.
At the next conference, Ian Darbyshire, CEO of South Australian Tourism Commission, talked about recent trends in travel to South Australia, and some of the features that makes Australia unique as a destination. Visits to South Australia have increased almost 25 percent over last year, and visitor spending has increased more than five percent. Darbyshire pointed out that wine, wildlife and Aboriginal culture were all within Adelaide’s city limits, and that over 200 wineries were within a one-hour drive. But, he added, the new focus for South Australian tourism will be away from wineries and towards Kangaroo Island—“Australia’s answer to the Galapagos,” he called it. He pointed out that there are now 29 direct international flights to South Australia per week (up from 13 in 2003), and that 27 cruise ships arrived in South Australia’s port’s last season.
At the third conference, McEvoy announced a new partnership between Tourism Australia and Qantas. Rob Gurney, Qantas Group executive commercial, said that Qantas is “a living, breathing advertisement for Australia,” and said that the new partnership would launch a new marketing campaign.
Alan Joyce, Qantas’ CEO, acknowledged that the past year has been a rough one for the aviation industry—“We’ve seen everything but a plague of locusts,” he quipped. (Alan, please don’t tempt fate!) Still, he added, Qantas has remained profitable during the downturn thanks to a diverse profile that allows resources to flow to whatever segment is strongest. With both local, international, low-cost, freight and long-haul low-cost flights available, at least one is bound to bring in money even if the others take a hit. During the economic downturn (which seems to have earned the acronym of the GFC: Global Financial Crisis), he acknowledged, premium sales did drop, but they are now returning.
Gurney also said that by this time next year, Qantas would have its tenth A380 plane, with five of them dedicated to the London-Sydney route. Frequent fliers will also benefit from new technology that puts a microchip in their luggage so that it’s synced to their itineraries. Perth will be the first city to try the technology, and it will be in Sydney’s airport before 2011.
After the Qantas conference, I had a chance to ask Stephen Thompson, executive manager international sales, a few questions about the airline’s future. The increase in A380s, he said, will be great for a large airport like LAX, so that more customers can get to a destination at one time. (In Qantas’ current seating arrangement, an A380 can hold 450 passengers.) The ultra-modern planes are necessary, he added, to convince Americans to stay in the air for such a long flight. Ideally, as markets grow and shift, he said he would like to see nonstop service between Sydney and Dallas.
The recent growth of other airlines to and within Australia—especially under the Virgin banner—has encouraged Qantas to adjust their pricing to remain competitive. “It’s never been cheaper” to fly to Australia, he said. Still, he didn’t seem concerned about the other airlines offering service Down Under. “We have the biggest domestic network and the best connections,” he pointed out. He also said that Qantas will be working with the travel trade to reward agents for booking flights with the airline. “We’ll look after agents who look after us.”