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Insider secrets: Aussies are ditching stuff for stories in tourism boom

Travel trends: The rise of multi-experience tourism sweeps Australia, despite economic uncertainty and rising living costs

Despite economic challenges, remarkable trends are emerging in Australia’s tourism industry. Recent figures indicate that in 2024 consumers are prioritising meaningful experiences with a surge in the popularity of multi-experience trips.

Amid the many challenges faced by tourism and accommodation operators in sustaining post-pandemic recovery, the Seasonal Experiences Index: Spring/Summer 2024 from Big Red Group unveils a notable shift in consumer behaviour. 

The new summer print edition of AccomNews is out now – Read it HERE

The report, which analysed booking data from over 750,000 experiences taken between September and January, revealed that for post-pandemic recovery, ‘revenge travel’, and government-backed stimulus projects helped deliver a bumper year for the industry in 2022 but it was hard for many operators to match this pace in 2023.

However, there is cause for optimism in 2024, with Australians seeking diverse, story-rich adventures that offer more than just a fleeting moment.

Experiences Image suplied by Big Red Group

The multi-experience phenomenon

Gone are the days of passive sightseeing. Today, both domestic and international travellers crave journeys that unfold like chapters in a novel. There is an appetite for itineraries that blend adrenaline-pumping activities with cultural immersions, entertainment, gastronomic delights and off-the-beaten-path discoveries. 

From traversing rugged terrains on local safaris to unraveling the mysteries of haunted locales on ghost tours, curated adventures promise an unforgettable tapestry of memories.

Immersive travel appeals

Savvy consumers view multi-experience tours as offering value for money. With a single price tag granting access to a multitude of activities, travellers can delve deeper into the essence of a destination without breaking the bank.

It’s about the stories they collect along the way, not just what they see or do. In a world where material possessions are so important, the currency of experiences reigns supreme.

Key Highlights from the Index

  • Cultural Events Drive Bookings: The allure of cultural spectacles is undeniable, with events like the Australian Open driving substantial booking increases across various categories. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is poised to have a similar impact, illustrating the power of cultural phenomena in stimulating tourism.
  • Value-Driven Experiences: Savvy consumers are maximising their spending by opting for multi-experience tours, which offer diverse activities under a single price tag. This trend has propelled the category by 10.3 percent, fostering the popularity of local safaris, mountain trails, and ghost tours
  • Domestic is not Dead: Despite border reopenings, domestic travel remains robust, evidenced by a notable 34.4 percent surge in City Getaways nationwide and a staggering 188 percent increase in Western Australia.

  • Al Fresco Dining Surges: Australians are embracing outdoor dining experiences, with a notable 23.5 percent rise in picnic bookings. The trend, particularly popular among Gen-Z, underscores a preference for ‘luxury‘ and ‘mystery’ options, enriching the dining experience.

  • China’s Inbound Rebound: Anticipation mounts as data indicates a significant 111 percent surge in forward bookings from China during the Lunar New Year period. Eastern markets are gravitating towards Australian experiences, particularly cruises, tours, and cultural engagements.
  • Stimulus Initiatives Yield Results: Government-backed initiatives, such as the GC Summer FUNds program, have proven instrumental in revitalising tourism, exemplified by a substantial 279.9 percent surge in bookings for the Gold Coast region.

  • Seasonal Dynamics: Despite economic uncertainties, the Spring/Summer season remains pivotal for the tourism sector, outperforming Autumn/Winter bookings by 21 percent.

Experiences Image suplied by Big Red Group. Credit: audrey wilkinson

Industry Insights 

Commenting on the findings, David Anderson, CEO & Co-Founder at Big Red Group, acknowledged the prevailing challenges but remained optimistic about the industry’s prospects. He emphasised the emergence of bright spots across the sector, fueled by inbound tourism resurgence, cultural events, and effective stimulus measures.

Anderson remarked, “With over 750,000 experiences taken across RedBalloon, Adrenaline and Experience Oz so far this season – we’re confident that the appetite for stories over stuff remains. We don’t anticipate this fading any time soon.” 

For access to the complete Seasonal Experiences Index: Spring/Summer 2024 report from Big Red Group, click HERE.

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