Anne Majumdar

With experiences now the most hotly sought after commodity for consumers, is Australia doing enough to cater to the trend?

The topic was up for debate at this year’s Destination Australia conference which took place in Sydney on Thursday.

MasterCard Senior Vice President and Group Head of Market Insights for MasterCardAdvisors Sarah Quinlan highlighted a major shift in consumer behaviour since the global economic downturn, turning away from material goods in favour of experiential purchases.

“This is where you need to pounce,” she advised delegates.

“You should be grabbing these humans and bringing them down here because this is all they are about doing.”

More marketing about the experiences on offer in Australia is required to bring people Down Under, according to Quinlan.

“You have got to show us what we are going to be doing,” she said.

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And the best way to do this? Using video, according to Facebook interim managing director Paul McCrory.

“Video is so important because it gives them that understanding of what that place is going to be like and gives them the urge to see more,” he told delegates.

The medium has the power to “make people dream” as well as provide them with more practical information about a destination.

And what better way to connect potential visitors with that video content than via mobile?

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I’m almost finished here… Honestly.

“It’s a big opportunity for all of us,” McCrory stressed. He highlighted figures that show that 50% of internet use is now on mobile phones. Furthermore, 85% of travel decisions are made using mobile – greater than tablets and desktops or laptops.

Looking into the future, McCrory highlighted messenging as the next big thing for travel, connecting visitors with the “best ideas and stories” and providing them with instant information that could drive them beyond the main gateways, spreading their positive economic impact across Australia.

Video was taken to the next level in Tourism Australia’s recent coastal and aquatic campaign which invested heavily in virtual reality and 360 video footage to immerse potential visitors in the Australian coastline, giving them a taste of the experiences on offer and whetting their appetite for a visit.

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It’s a shift that continues to gather momentum, with user-generated content driving it forwards, Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan confirmed.

“It’s really morphing now,” Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan told the room.

“People are seeing themselves as the next Martin Scorsese and using video.”

The tourism organisation is seeking to further capitalise on the growing importance of video and the ongoing popularity of user-generated content with its recent launch of a drone footage competition which received more than 1000 entries within just a week.

“Experiences are at the heart of what we do and will continue to do,” O’Sullivan said.

What amazing travel experiences have you had in Australia?