ATE Melbourne 2015 – Things I Learnt
After having recently attended the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne, one big thing that I came away with is that things are changing faster than ever before in the Chinese market.
Now that we are settling well into the digital age, and we are seeing the new generation raised in this era starting to travel independently, the game has changed forever.
Now, in the past some similarities had been drawn by people in the tourism industry between Chinese and Japan’s trend of development. Since the Japanese started travelling much earlier than the Chinese, many believed that the trend would not only follow the same path, but the same time span.
However, what they have failed to take into account is that we are now living in a time where an abundance of information is available at any time, literally by the touch of a finger on a phone. The rate of change that we are seeing in tourism as a result of this is staggering.
While only a year ago, some travel agents were resting on their laurels in the hopes that their group business would continue ‘as is’ for the next 5-8 years, they are now having to look outside the box for new ideas, products, itineraries to give them an edge over their competitors.
Some agents have reported a big shift in FIT focus as their group to FIT traveller ratio went from 80/20 to 50/50 over less than two years! Agents purely dedicated to the FIT market and adventure activities are popping up, while agents who relied solely on traditional group business are now in catch – up mode.
So, what does all this mean for Australian tourism suppliers? Big opportunities! However, it also brings with it great challenges. Our products and marketing have to move and advance with the changing face and requirements of the Chinese when comparing to the rest of the world, or we will simply be left behind.
The fact is, that the consumers are driving the demand for change. Change is happening fast. Tourism Australia has been focussing their Chinese campaigns on the FIT market in anticipation of a doubling of expenditure from this market by 2020, and as the Chinese traveller dares to dig deeper into their travel experience, it opens up a whole new range of opportunity for us to enter the market and get a piece of the action.
The only question is, are we ready for it?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mitchell Callander is a freelance Chinese marketing consultant specializing in the Asian markets, specifically China, Japan, Korea and India. He speaks fluent mandarin, conversational Japanese and is developing an online social media based channel completely in mandarin, called Strange Rice TV.