THE EVOLUTION OF THE BACKPACKER MARKET Presentation to the 2009 ABiC, Sydney, November 5 Philip Pearce - Foundation Professor of Tourism James Cook University For Dr Laurie Murphy and Dr Eric Brymer PLACE YOUR IMAGE HERE, CROP THE IMAGE TO FIT FORMATTING PALATTE: PICTURE: CROP TOOL. PLACE YOUR IMAGE HERE, CROP THE IMAGE TO FIT FORMATTING PALATTE: PICTURE: CROP TOOL. PLACE YOUR IMAGE HERE, CROP THE IMAGE TO FIT FORMATTING PALATTE: PICTURE: CROP TOOL.
Acknowledgements We acknowledge the support of the Backpacker industry through its role in assisting in the formulation of the project outline and through the reference group supporting the work. The Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centre's Program, funded this research. We acknowledge James Cook University and Victoria University for their multiple levels of support.
Our Concern is with Where to go - Not Where we Have Been <ul><li>So much research is historical, the present project looks forward </li></ul><ul><li>The aim of the study was to devise strategies not report on numbers </li></ul><ul><li>The strategies were derived from a planned sequence of forward looking information gathering and testing </li></ul>
Formal Statement of Purpose <ul><li>The purpose of the study was to provide a comprehensive view of backpacker trends applicable to Australia </li></ul><ul><li>LEADING TO: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Short term strategies for capturing market share </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer term plans for optimal Australian and regional well being in the context of triple bottom line considerations </li></ul></ul>
Our Assumptions It makes sense to continue to use the term backpackers, even though many subdivisions and extensions to the market can be defined (flashpackers, techpackers, etc) Backpacking has a healthy future – the roots driving the phenomenon will continue to nourish demand The demand will change-technologies, communication and sustainability are altering market sources and competitor destinations world wide
Definitional Quibbles <ul><li>Backpackers will be considered to be those travellers who: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>use budget accommodation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are involved in longer rather than very brief holidays </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are predominantly under 40 years of age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>have flexibility in their itineraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>show a willingness to be involved in social and participatory holiday activities </li></ul></ul>
The Actual Methods we Have Used <ul><li>Analysis of key future themes from existing data sources & reports: 30+ research studies, Lonely Planet and TNT data, WHM study + others </li></ul><ul><li>Conversational Interviews about the future with national and international experts (N=40) </li></ul><ul><li>Structured questions to a stratified sample of backpacker participants on key trends (N=1555) </li></ul><ul><li>Unstructured responses from these backpackers about futures </li></ul><ul><li>Consultation through 8 stakeholder workshops - all states and territories. </li></ul>
Australia’s Appeal in Context <ul><li>Trend comparisons for Australia - we used multiple sources, questions and comparisons. </li></ul><ul><li>From literature, stakeholder and expert interviews and unstructured responses: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Working opportunities …Very High </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>From structured questionnaire responses: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal/social development …Very High </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Adrenalin Experiences… High </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental Volunteering …High </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Health and Wellness …High </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Community Volunteering …Medium </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Political & Justice Issues …Low </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spirituality …Low </li></ul></ul></ul>
Key Future Topics – Special Detailed Questions <ul><li>Technology: </li></ul><ul><li>Current uses and future predictions of use were gathered </li></ul><ul><li>Major response: A growing wave of techpackers </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental and Sustainability issues: </li></ul><ul><li>Likely impacts of travel costs, carbon offset programs and restrictions on travel assessed </li></ul><ul><li>Major response: Not overly limiting in short term </li></ul>
Short- and Longer- Term Strategies <ul><li>Short term…we should try to do something in 2 years </li></ul><ul><li>Longer term ..worthy of attention 2012-14 </li></ul><ul><li>We report no priorities </li></ul><ul><li>We see many of the strategies working through industry actions but there are many players who need to be involved in further conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Today we report very few numbers from the 100+ page report </li></ul>
Time Warp - a Jump to the End <ul><li>Go straight to our strategies rather than linger over all the results of the phases </li></ul><ul><li>Presented together for quick overview </li></ul>
Revise the WHM Visa– Free up Some Conditions <ul><li>In particular expand the system in three directions: </li></ul><ul><li>Broaden the number of source countries </li></ul><ul><li>Relax the eligibility for a second visa in terms of allowing time spent in metropolitan locations to count but only to the value of 50% of the time spent in regional locations </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce the length of time for required work to gain the second visa from 88 days (3 months) to 65 days (2 months + 2 weekends) </li></ul>Explore extensions to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa system to promote budget youth travel
Link Education and Backpacking Assess the backpacker potential for the emerging international youth markets from China and India which are disproportionately large in education statistics but limited in travel behaviour around Australia. This strategy could include more formal relationships between providers of international education and backpacker businesses to establish mutually useful marketing opportunities including visa extensions for student travel
Create a New SHM Visa Category Design a new “after graduation” student holiday maker visa (SHM) for 3 months to tap into the international student market. The purpose of this SHM is to motivate students already in the country to extend their Australian stay as tourists and or backpackers
Develop a Technology Watch Form a backpacker industry working party to maintain a technology watch and research agenda with a particular task to report on technology changes. This group should direct the design of skill building workshops and industry communication opportunities including informative web sites and training sessions for backpacker operators
Develop Specialist Technology Training Services FOR BUSINESSES: Create training courses, information services and special workshops for operators focussing on new communication technologies
A Side Note: Techpacker Havens Some backpacker businesses may become leaders and training centres attracting “techpackers”- those backpackers who seek the most up to date facilities and technology enabling travel experiences.
Volunteer Summit Stimulate partnerships through a Backpacking - Volunteering summit, in effect a major workshop between backpacker operators and multiple care agencies for volunteer opportunities in Australia. The parties should meet to discuss packaging and mutual opportunities and should include social and community interest groups as well as environmental agencies where volunteering is a developing activity
Leads Potentially to Longer Term Strategies <ul><li>These opportunities may also have a training and skills development component where some backpacker establishments become specialist training centres for certain kinds of pre-volunteering travel. </li></ul><ul><li>This training component could be extended to include more mainstream skill development (e.g. options could include hospitality skills, Aussie Host courses, teaching English, TAFE/trade short skills courses) </li></ul>Promote the volunteer opportunities in Australia from the major meeting/workshop between backpacker operators and agencies
More Country Specific Promotional Sources Design more specific country by country promotional material for backpackers taking into account emerging international differences in technology use and interest areas. For example, strong differences exist in the study findings among Irish, German, Scandinavian and UK markets and more specific promotional efforts such as 100 famous Australian experiences for each market national group should be developed. This approach together with new suggested touring routes could be directed at better regional distribution of backpackers
Create Australian “Backpacker Houses” Create a more accessible international presence for backpacker tourists in key source markets (Germany Ireland, UK, Sweden) and in a stop-over destination such as Thailand, Singapore through Australian Backpacker “houses” to act as a one-stop shop for the provision of information to potential backpackers
Pursue Quality Labelling for Customer Confidence Pursue quality control mechanisms to underpin the image of Australian backpacking This approach should be incorporated into the national tourism accreditation framework (NTAF) specifically for the backpacker world and backpacker attention, particularly focussing on cleanliness, accommodation quality, sustainability issues and professionalism The incorporation of superior green business practices would be a contribution to the quality standards Mixing customer responses and external evaluation should be considered
Stimulate Adventure and Health Opportunities through Infrastructure <ul><li>Advocate more government incentives (tax breaks, low interest loans or awareness of schemes to access new money) for the construction of facilities for adventure operators and healthy lifestyle options (hikes, tours, walking opportunities, sports competitions and challenge events) in regional towns. </li></ul>
Other Ways to “Read” the Study This presentation has concentrated on strategies - a broad view The study can be “mined” for other ways to read the data about future preferences and directions Not discussed so much in the report but could be tailored with consultation to specific businesses and regions.
Developing Clusters for Regions <ul><li>The clusters are built on preferred futures: </li></ul><ul><li>Chill out places </li></ul><ul><li>Techpacker havens </li></ul><ul><li>Work access clusters </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteering opportunity linking centres </li></ul><ul><li>Supportive training places </li></ul><ul><li>Signature adventure activities </li></ul><ul><li>Healthy people-healthy planet activities </li></ul>
End on a Note of Optimism <ul><li>We assert through our data that Australian backpacking is not boring BUT we need to develop in some areas to keep it fresh </li></ul><ul><li>We believe that developing most of these strategies will shape a desirable future </li></ul>