Staying ahead of the game

Living on the Sunshine Coast, it is easy to look around and think “this is a pretty easy place to promote”.

Yes, it is a stunning place, but so are many other destinations around Australia.

Competition is hot – very hot – and not just from within Australia but from all the new ‘hot spots’ overseas.

This is why we invited the teams from Tourism Australia (TA) and Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) to the Sunshine Coast last week to ensure we continue being best-placed to grow business in the domestic and international markets.

What they have said is that it is all about having a distinctive product and working together to promote our strengths.

For instance, many European travellers now desire a holiday program that starts in Brisbane, goes through the Sunshine Coast and ends up on Fraser Island to provide a ‘complete’ Australian travel experience, which is why we partnered with Tourism Noosa and Tourism Fraser Coast to create ‘Australia’s Nature Coast’.

International travellers don’t really worry about where regional borders start or stop, they just want a memorable holiday experience that delivers ‘the lot’. It could be a holiday that comprises beach driving, Hinterland treks, foodie or art trails, shopping and remarkable natural scenery, and it is up to us to anticipate – and deliver on – the trend.

Rarely do international travellers come from 20,000km away to visit just one destination, and our friends at TA and TEQ were impressed with how we are prepared to work with our neighbours to deliver a total experience based on what travellers actually want.

As a single regional tourism organisation, we are always looking to work cleverly with our key partners to reach international markets. A perfect example is joining forces with Australia Zoo and supporting the Steve Irwin Gala event, which is being held tonight in Los Angeles. The association with the Irwins delivers unique promotional opportunities for the Sunshine Coast in the American market and highlights the region’s authentic, nature-based attractions.

The message from last week’s meetings is that there is still a massive opportunity to increase the Sunshine Coast’s international market share, but the most pressing need is to upgrade our customer service approach and make sure the visitor is at the heart of everything we do and every decision we make.

Volume alone is not our end goal but rather a strategy aimed firmly at attracting ‘High Value Travellers’ for both leisure and business events. HVTs are defined as those travelling long haul on a regular basis, considering or intending to visit us, wanting food, coastal, nature-based and wildlife experiences, and (importantly) have an above average trip expenditure and a likelihood to stay longer.

TA and TEQ have concentrated heavily on attracting this upmarket segment and that has definitely had an impact on the Sunshine Coast, where we have recorded 16% growth in nightly average expenditure by overseas travellers over the past year.