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Travel Marketing Tourism Qantas

Why Qantas’ longest-ever flight is a shot in the arm for Tourism Australia

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By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

March 28, 2018 | 4 min read

Qantas pulling off the first-ever non-stop 17 hour flight between Australia and London on 24 March will go a long way to adjusting consumer attitudes toward the accessibility of Oceania from other continents, and vice versa.

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John O’Sullivan, managing director and chief executive officer of Tourism Australia at Adobe Summit 2018.

That is according to Lisa Ronson, chief marketing officer at Tourism Australia, who believes that the flight – the longest-ever for the flagship carrier – is a shot in the arm for the country.

Ronson is also pleased that Qantas is not satisfied with flying directly to Europe alone: the airline is also aiming to fly from the east coast of Australia to the east coast of US by 2020.

Speaking to The Drum on day two of Adobe Summit, Ronson said: “I absolutely believe that it will impact people's perception on how long it takes to get to Australia ... the American market particularly think it is longer to get to Australia then it actually is.

“One flight from London to Australia really starts to break down the perception that Australia is so far away. We have tried to communicate that with different campaigns in the past."

Breaking down perceptions is significant because Australia has been facing a conversion problem in the North American market, as Ronson’s boss, John O’Sullivan, managing director and chief executive officer of Tourism Australia, pointed out during day one of the Summit.

“We know in the North American market Australia is one of those destinations that’s on everyone’s bucket list, but when it comes to conversion, we lose share to markets like Europe, particularly, but also markets with a similar distance like Japan," he said.

"So we wanted to address that by having a really singular focus on the market."

While Tourism Australia has worked to change those perceptions by releasing its now famous Crocodile Dundee advertisement during Super Bowl 2018, Ronson says the company is also focusing particularly on the youth markets of Germany and France, which make up a significant portion of those travelling to Australia from Europe.

“Our latest youth [marketing campaigns] were focused in those two markets actually," Ronson explained. "If [young people] come to Australia as holiday-makers, chances are they will come back frequently."

O'Sullivan noted that various technologies have also helped Tourism Australia and its partners break down misconceptions over the country's distance.

“We have been using virtual reality with our travel agency partners, we think there’s a big future in voice activated technology and we love augmented reality as well,” he said.

Ronson explained how Tourism Australia was one of the first tourism boards to launch a VR campaign back in 2016.

“We have 15 different experiences from diving with the whale sharks in Western Australia, swimming with the sea lions in south Australia, as well as beautiful and aquatic coastal experiences,” she said. “That has brought the depths and diversity of the country to life in VR, and we use it direct to consumers when there are launches.

"So it has been a really good tool to sell Australia.”

However, Ronson is keen to stress that while Tourism Australia is keeping a keen eye on the other technologies, it will not use technology for technology sake.

“If it lines up to meet a need or remove a barrier for our high-value travellers, then we will look to do it,” she says. “As a travel brand and brand Australia, we have the license to go into that technology, whereas no amount of creative can make VR attractive for financial firms.

"That sounds brutal, but you have to play to your customer.”

Travel Marketing Tourism Qantas

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Tourism Australia

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