The number of international visitors to Australia is growing and will continue to grow over the next 10 years as national and state tourism organisations work hard on achieving their 2020 targets of doubling overnight visitor expenditure.
Attracting international visitors to your business is a bit tricker than luring domestic tourists. It requires a long term commitment. You need to understand the distribution system and work with both distribution partners and tourism bodies if you want to be a serious player in this market.
If you want to grow your slice of the inbound pie, here are my top tips to get you started on your international marketing.
1. GET EXPORT READY
Make sure you are export ready, understand what is involved in working with the international market including the distribution system and rate structures. Working in the international market is very different to working domestically. Before you begin read Tourism Australia’s Planning for Inbound Success and work through the checklist on Page 11 to establish if you are read to start marketing your product to international visitors.
2 .DO YOUR RESEARCH
Research the different international markets and work out which travellers are the best fit for your business. International travellers have different needs to domestic travellers and there are cultural factors to consider.
Speak to your local, regional tourism and state tourism organisations, as well as other operators in your areas already working internationally to find out who is visiting your region. Check out the research available from Tourism Australia there is heaps of useful information there – use it!
3. BE STRATEGIC
Ensure that inbound is a strategic part of your long term marketing plans and that you have allocated resources, both budget and staff, to support your activities. Remember that it can take 12 -1 8 months before you start to see results from your inbound marketing efforts!
To succeed your activities need to be strategic and consistent.
4. DEVELOP YOUR COLLATERAL
Having the right collateral in place when you approach distribution partners really important. You will need to create product fact sheets specifically for the international market, rate sheets for ITO’s, wholesalers, online travel agents and retails travel agents, as well as clear terms of trade.
You should also get together; a sales presentation highlighting the unique features of your product, a selection of good quality images and a short video to showcase your product.
5. WORK TOGETHER
Local, regional, state and national tourism organisations work with them all. They’ve been doing this international marketing thing for a while, so tap into their expertise.
Make sure they all know you are export ready and wanting to attract more international visitors. Work with them and leverage off their activities to maximise your exposure in international markets.
6. TRACK YOUR EXPENSES
You should be doing this in your business anyway, but it’s really important for any international marketing activities as you can claim for the Export Development Marketing Grant and get some of your money back from the government. Having systems in place to track your expenditure will make life easy when it comes time to claim for EDMG.
7. BE VISIBLE ONLINE
Building a strong online presence should be a key part of your overall marketing activities. Even though international travellers are more likely to book via the distribution system, they still use the internet to research. Distribution partners are also searching online to research products. Make sure you have your own website, an online booking mechanism, are listed with the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse and are active on social media.
Importantly you want to make sure you product is described and priced consistently across all online channels.
8. START LOCAL
Build strong relationships with Australian based inbound tour operators first. Attend local trade events, become and ATEC member, conduct initial sales calls and invite staff on famils.
Working with distribution partners based in Australia has many benefits and is a much easier starting point than working with internationally based wholesalers or retailers.
9. GIVE GREAT SERVICE
Your distribution partners are your customers too, give them great service with a fast turn around on booking enquiries, follow up on meetings and providing a heads up on any potential complaints – this will instil confidence in your trade partners and provide an assurance that you will deliver great service to their customers.
10. BE AMAZING!
Give your international visitors an amazing experience – review your product and make sure it is meeting the needs of your international guests, can you make any improvements to make the experience even better.
Wow them & they’ll provide great feedback, which in turn will mean more business for you!
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