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Op-Ed: Australia’s winter season shows promising signs that international travel is warming up

Micheal Dykes looks at what’s happening in travel in two very different winter destinations: Gold Coast and Melbourne

In the past, when Australia’s domestic market dipped during the colder months, many accommodation properties looked to fill empty rooms by targeting international markets from the northern hemisphere.

However, even at the end of April 2023, Tourism Australia was reporting a 22 per cent lower international market than in pre-pandemic times (April 2019).

International travel has been slower to return than the industry had hoped, but new data from Expedia Group is showing early signals that this winter season could be the tipping point for tourism if technology and data are leveraged to take advantage.

For one, there has been a surge in both domestic and international travel intent for winter trips in Australia. In fact, both are up 45 percent on the year before.

While most of the trip searches across Australia still originate from domestic travellers (70 percent), further analysis of the specific destinations and markets are revealing a series of interesting trends that accommodation providers can capitalise on to bolster bottom lines this low season.

To understand what’s happening in travel, let’s look at two very different winter destinations – the Gold Coast and Melbourne.

With around 300 days of sunshine a year, the Gold Coast has always been a crown jewel in Queensland’s long list of tourism destinations.

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Expedia Group’s search data has shown that international interest in the destination has grown 10 per cent in winter compared to summer and also over-indexes on international growth overall (50 percent). Undoubtedly, a positive upward trend for the city that relies so heavily on tourist dollars.

If Gold Coast is akin to Miami, Melbourne’s bustling food, culture and events scene is closer to New York or Paris.

However, even with the reputation of four seasons in one day, Melbourne is almost certain to be between freezing and cold over the winter months. Nevertheless, while Melbourne maintains a relatively equal share of international searches this winter and past summer, Victoria’s capital – like the Gold Coast – is also reporting a 50 percent growth in international searches.

So, who are the international markets eyeing off when it comes to Australian destinations? And how can accommodation providers gather the market intelligence most relevant to their location, star rating and experience?

Grand Prix Sunset Melbourne Photo by Jose Mizrahi on Unsplash

The Gold Coast, Melbourne and Australia more broadly share four of the top five inbound markets – albeit in slightly different orders. These include New Zealand, United States, Japan, and Hong Kong. In Melbourne and the Gold Coast, Singapore rounds out the top five, however, more broadly for the nation Singapore is pipped to the post by South Korean travellers.

Wildly diverse destinations. Similar growth, similar markets. How does a Gold Coast five-star chain market itself differently to a boutique Melbourne bed and breakfast to (in theory) the same market, who are (quite clearly) looking for very different experiences?

The answer, for the most part, is data. More specifically, how data can support decision-making that makes sense.

Expedia Group is powered by 70 petabytes of data. It’s a major value add for its partners in how they market to, engage with and convert the right traveller, at the right time, in the right place and for the right price.

Expedia Group has invested in a range of technologies and features to assist partners in capitalising on this surge in international travellers during the low domestic travel season – from personalised and curated insight about what marketing propositions are and are not converting travellers, to free revenue management and property analysis tools like Rev+ that help inform real-time pricing insight against direct competitors.

By leveraging its advanced data analytics and machine learning algorithms, Expedia Group provides partners with insights into traveller preferences, booking patterns, and market trends, helping to further arm Australia’s accommodation industry with the technology and tools needed to win this winter.

Expedia Group search data from April 1 to May 31, 2023

Expedia Group search data from December 2022 to February 2023

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