Working in Market:
In the UK travel industry, consolidation continues at be a key factor and online booking channels are growing in popularity with consumers, particularly for short haul and point to point travel. However, traditional booking channels remain important for more complicated and higher value destinations like Australia. Some of the best known, UK distribution partners that sell Australia are increasing their investment in high street retail space. These companies, not surprisingly, continue to play a key role in converting consumers and influencing them to spend more, travel more deeply and widely and stay longer. They also encourage customers to pre-book more ground components and boost the overall spend per passenger.
Commission Level: up to 20%
- There are more than 50 tour operators selling Australia throughout the UK, however a large proportion of sales to Australia are handled by a few key specialist operators.
- Tour operators vary from traditional wholesalers to companies that combine various wholesale, direct, online and retail channels.
- Direct sellers have been a key feature of the UK market and have traditionally dominated sales to Australia, although overall numbers are decreasing because of industry consolidation.
- Trailfinders, STA Travel and Flight Centre are major retail consumer direct sellers for Australia in the market. Other operators sending significant numbers of passengers to Australia include Austravel, Travelbag and the Lotus Group.
- Key consolidators include Travel 2 and Gold Medal.
Commission Level: up to 10%
- Retail agents generally have a basic knowledge of Australia, largely due to the Commonwealth, sporting and historic ties that Australia shares with Britain and reasonable mainstream media coverage.
- Thomas Cook and TUI Retail are the largest retail chains in the UK however, they are not considered specialists in selling tailor made Australia holidays.
- The Aussie Specialist Program (ASP) is the primary platform for Tourism Australia training and developing front line travel sellers to enthusiastically sell Australia. Each State and Territory has a module on the ASP website in addition to several others including the Signature Experiences of Australia, Youth and Self-Drive.
- As at December 2017, there were 3,093 qualified Aussie Specialist agents in the UK.
- Direct flights and accommodation bookings make up most sales through Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).
- OTAs to date have a limited capability to transact complete itineraries for holidays in Australia. True dynamic packaging cannot be purchased online through any OTA.
- The major UK online travel agencies are Expedia, Lastminute.com and Opodo.
Inbound Tour Operators
Commission Level: up to 30%
- There are several inbound tour operators (ITOs) active in the UK market, these include: ATS Pacific, AOT Inbound, Tour East Australia, Pan Pacific, Southern World and Pacific Destinations. In addition, The Tailor, Southern Crossings and Alquemie target the high-end sector.
- Australia is a key destination for wholesalers and travel agents due to the high-yield of holidays Downunder.
- Distribution partners remain important in influencing consumers to spend more, disperse further, stay longer and pre-book more ground components.
- To adapt to the changing distribution landscape, major retail agencies have invested in direct selling channels, such as call centres and online sites. For long haul travel, retail agents remain an important channel for consumers.
- Vertical integration, consolidation and globalisation continue to be key trends in the retail travel sector. As a result, the number of UK retail high street outlets continues to decline. Bucking the trend, brands such as Kuoni continue to open ‘lifestyle’ stores targeting the discerning traveller, Flight Centre opening mega- stores and Trailfinders opening stores when they can acquire good high street real estate.
- Independent home working is increasing in the UK, particularly through the likes of Travel Counsellors and Hayes Travel. Reports suggest although the high street may be in some decline, demand for travel agents is not.
Planning and purchasing travel
- In terms of booking channels, research shows there remains a reliance on retail agents for long haul holidays as British consumers look for more protection. Offline travel agents remain the top method for those who would book a trip to Australia, with five in 10 nominating to book their trip with a high-street travel agency. Booking through an OTA was the second most popular booking method, closely followed by booking directly with an airline.
- Australia has traditionally had long lead booking times due to the perceived complexity of the purchase in terms of time, cost and distance. With economic uncertainty around Brexit, fluctuating exchange rates and last minute deals prevalent in the market, lead times for booking all international travel, including Australia, has become more unpredictable.
- STA Travel is the leading backpacker and youth travel specialist for Australia. Other youth operators include Student Universe and Gap360.
- Key operators specialising in the luxury segment include: Abercrombie & Kent, Bridge and Wickers Original Travel, Audley Travel, Cox and Kings and Turquoise Holidays.
PLANNING A VISIT TO MARKET
TOP TIPS FOR SALES CALLS
- The best time of year for sales calls is March to June and September to November. Try to avoid the UK summer holiday period from mid-June to the end of August.
- The key market centre to visit is London and the South East, with most specialist operators to Australia located in or around this region. Gold Medal is located in Preston and Travel2 in Glasgow whilst operators focused on high-end holidays are based in the Chester and Cheltenham areas.
- For more general information on sales calls and planning a visit to market, please see Tourism Australia’s 'Tourism Export Toolkit'.
Key Distribution Partners
Tourism Australia is a partnership marketing organisation and works closely with airlines and travel companies on cooperative marketing to drive conversion in all priority markets.
These targeted travel companies, including wholesalers, retail and online travel agencies, form Tourism Australia’s Key Distribution Partner (KDP) program with the intention to increase total booking value of visitors to Australia.
Each KDP is selected based on the fit with Tourism Australia’s market strategy, a shared target customer profile, shared funding of marketing activity, a commitment to training their frontline sales team through the Aussie Specialist Program and a commitment to selling quality Australian product and experiences.
Below are a selection of Key Distribution Partners that Tourism Australia is partnering with from the United for the 2017/2018 financial year.
- Australiareiser (Nordic)
- Distant Journeys
- Flight Centre
- Gold Medal
- Student Universe
WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION
Tourism Australia’s activities in the UK and Northern Europe are managed from its London office. For more information visit Tourism Australia’s corporate website at www.tourism.australia.com.
Australian State and Territory Tourism Organisations operating in the UK include: Destination NSW, the South Australian Tourism Commission, Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism NT, Visit Victoria and Tourism WA.
- An overview on the travel distribution system
- A quick reference on key booking and travel periods for markets
- UK Country Brief published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at: www.dfat.gov.au/geo
- For additional statistical reports refer to the ABS and TRA websites, www.abs.gov.au and www.tra.gov.au