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During the 2017 Skift Global Forum in September in New York City, we heard from a host of the travel industry’s top leaders from across every sector. And after first speaking to them on stage in front of an audience of more than 1,100, we took another few minutes with them to get more insight in our backstage Skift Take Studio.
When we caught up with Lisa Ronson, Tourism Australia‘s chief marketing officer, she spoke about the explosion of various platforms in recent years that travelers have adopted and how Australia is using those platforms to make the country seem less distant to long-haul travelers.
“We’re a very aspirational destination but we can be a little abstract for consumers,” said Ronson. “We have to make sure we’re delivering the right information to them where they are in that spend funnel.”
Ronson, who has headed up Tourism Australia’s marketing efforts since 2015, said the organization has more than 200 Australian and international influencers that it deploys across Tourism Australia’s social media and other marketing platforms to educate travelers about the destination.
Tourism Australia launched its Dundee campaign – one of its biggest marketing campaigns to date – during the NFL’s Super Bowl in February that featured actors Chris Hemsworth, a native Australian, and comic actor Danny McBride.
“Having people like that on board selling Australia and telling the great story of Australia can deliver a whole lot of earned media for us that we wouldn’t be able to buy based on our global budgets that we have,” said Ronson.
Flight time from U.S. cities remains one of the biggest obstacles to convincing Americans, one of Australia’s largest and most valuable visitor markets, to book trips. “I’ve often been in L.A. and people have said to me, ‘oh, the flight is 18 hours,'” said Ronson.
“I tell them ‘no, it’s not, it’s not,'” she said. “We work really closely with our airline partners to package up the right message to say look, it really is a few movies, a glass of wine, and a bit of a sleep and then you wake up and you’re in Australia. We work really hard to break down those time-cause distance barriers.”
Ronson also spoke about the rising trend of wellness travel in Australia, particularly with female travelers. “We’re finding more women are coming to Australia to have those wellness experiences,” she said. “Whether it be a spa experience, or a health retreat, or even a walk. We’ve got the Great Walks of Australia program and a lot of women do those walks.”