In an age of prolific online travel ‘supermarkets’ one key sales tool travel agents have at their disposal is their expertise. Whilst it may be easy for Joe Public to book a holiday on the internet it can still be something of a gamble without lots of research and recommendations, particularly for a destination like Australia.Put simply, first hand destination knowledge can be a deal breaker. That’s why I’m particularly delighted that Tourism Northern Territory and Darwin will be hosting Corroboree Europe - the Australia mega famil and training event - this year with Tourism Australia and Qantas. This will be the first time Darwin has hosted the event.
As part of Corroboree, taking place from June 2-5, more than 300 Aussie Specialists from across the UK, Europe and South Africa will come together for three days of training workshops, events at major Darwin attractions and extended famils to various regions across the Top End of the Northern Territory.
The ‘Top End’ deserves to step into the limelight and this will be a mutually beneficial exchange. Corroboree is the perfect opportunity for agents to experience a very different side to Australia and an exclusive taste of a northern Australian culture. Think ‘Australian Holiday’ and you may be forgiven for name checking Sydney and the Reef. If your clients have time, you’d no doubt include ‘the Rock’ – Uluru – in their itinerary.
But what about repeat visitors, experience seekers and niche markets such as wildlife and nature enthusiasts, birders and photographers? The seven key Australian experiences: cities, coastal, outback indigenous, nature, journeys, and food and wine can all be experienced in the NT.
Darwin is a young, vibrant and tropical city. From open-air cinemas, markets and festivals to al fresco dining and cruising on the harbour, the city is a constant celebration of life outdoors. It’s also an excellent base from which to explore the natural attractions of dual World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks, all the way down to the timeless red deserts and cattle stations of the iconic Red Centre.
But without getting agents to see this for themselves, how can we expect them to know about these hidden gems (and sell them with conviction)? A fam trip offers the chance to share our key messages, educate agents on the depth and breadth of product available and also provide them with new and compelling reasons for clients to visit this magnificent part of Australia. It’s one thing to tell agents about the experience, it’s something entirely else to SHOW them, and a mega fam offers the ideal forum.
What better way for our tourism suppliers to directly engage with agents. And the benefits for agents? First-hand knowledge of a destination adds depth to a sales pitch. You know how long a trek takes, what you’re likely to see en route, that good walking boots are essential (because you got a blister) but that the view from the top of the bluff was worth the hike.
You know where to buy the best authentic indigenous art (because your credit card statement has arrived) and that birdwatchers will be in paradise (because you have the photos to prove it). You know which suppliers will suit which clients (because you met them).
Tourism Australia’s ‘Aussie Specialists’ programme is a great industry benchmark. You have to be a qualified Aussie Specialist to attend the annual Corroboree, so there is a real incentive for learning the destination inside and out. Last year’s Corroboree was a resounding success with 99.3% of agents responding that as a result of the famil and workshops, they felt more confident recommending and selling Australia to their clients.
So no matter how great a resource the internet is, how many maps and guide books you have at your disposal, there really is ‘nothing like the Territory’ and nothing beats saying ‘I’ve been there’.