TTNQ will invest in bringing travel writers and influencers to our destination to replace the mega famil for domestic and New Zealand travel agents.
A number of factors influenced the decision to move resources from trade to public relations where we believe we will get a better return on investment.
The mega famil was successful last year in growing trade knowledge of our destination. However, the pressure on domestic seat capacity caused by 80 per cent of international travellers flying to Cairns via domestic routes means we are unlikely to be able to grow the domestic market for a few years.
An embargo on Flight Centre travel for agents and date clashes with the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) also made the famil increasingly difficult to organise.
Many of our members raised concerns about the investment in trade. Port Douglas, for example, has in-market representation and did not want this duplicated, so we will partner with them by assisting with opportunities like business nights to educate the trade.
We will continue to nurture our trade relationships by flying the flag for Tropical North Queensland and servicing our key accounts. Once airline seats become available again we will work with the airlines to promote those routes.
Giving weight to our decision is the confirmation of a large conference group in November which will bring 300 agents to our destination. This will be a great opportunity, allowing us to invest in educating these agents instead of throwing all our resources into bringing 60 agents into the destination.
Tropical North Queensland’s stories have immense appeal to both the international and domestic markets and we need to make sure those stories are heard by the widest possible audience. Public relations and working in the digital space are the way to do this. Feedback from members, especially the hotels, showed many share this belief.
We believe we can get a better return on investment by using the $100,000 allocated to the trade famil elsewhere and will measure the outcomes of this work to ensure we are getting the best return.
We started working in the public relations space this month and it is already starting to gain momentum. TTNQ was represented at the International Media Marketplace in New York, securing 24 appointments with travel writers, influencers and broadcasters.
There was enormous interest in the Great Barrier Reef and our Indigenous brand Timeless Experiences. The media were not aware of our dual World Heritage areas and the diversity of experiences to be had in the one Australian destination.
A radio travel program with a high-value audience of more than one million listeners offered to do monthly updates on our destination as they believe we have so many stories of interest to their target audience of embassy officials, staff and their families. Follow-up negotiations are underway with the media including National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Canadian Geographic, BBC Travel, Samantha Brown Media, Los Angeles Times, Cond Nast Traveler, Edge Media Network and a host of freelancers.
Next month we will be represented at International Media Marketplace in Sydney where we will have appointments with the Australian travel media. While we are there we will train Sydney-based public relations firm Klick Communications to represent Tropical North Queensland in the southern domestic markets.
Public relations is about building long-term relationships with media to tell our story and influence consumers to travel to our destination. This will ensure people are wanting to travel to Tropical North Queensland in the future when flight capacity increases.
This shift in focus will ensure we have campaign funds ready for potential flights between Cairns and New Zealand.
It will also free up subvention funding for incentive groups, an opportunity we have not had before. These lucrative groups are highly desirable for our destination. However, we are competing on an uneven playing field with other convention bureaux which can offer financial incentives when bidding for these groups.
Tourism is a dynamic and innovative industry in a rapidly changing world and we must be nimble enough to move with it so we can compete with marketing organisations whose funds are far greater than ours.
Chief Executive Officer