What would grab your attention to book a package holiday? Australians have been touted as the second-biggest holiday spenders in the world (after the Saudis), and travel companies are working hard to nab a lucrative share of that travel dollar.
On average, Australians spend $3962 on an overseas trip, shadowing the global average of $2300, according to Visa’s latest Global Travel Intentions study. The report also revealed Aussies plan to increase their holiday budget by almost 10 per cent on their next trip to an average $4331.
So what are travel companies willing to do to turn a holiday-maker’s head?
Colin Bowman, Flight Centre’s general manager of marketing, says companies are always looking for ways to add value to a package. “I was in Hong Kong recently and the hotel we stayed at offered guests a mobile phone for the duration of their stay with calls charged at a local rate,” he says. “It’s the small but very important inclusions like these which can set a package aside.”
Matthew Cameron-Smith, managing director of Trafalgar Australia, says savvy Australian travellers want an experience that offers authenticity.
Cameron-Smith says: “Anyone can pay to have dinner on the Champs Elysees in Paris, but how many can organise a meal in a private 100-year-old goat farm in rural France or a lemon grove in Tuscany?”
Creative Holidays managing director James Gaskell says everyone loves a bonus – welcome cocktails, free massages, upgrade offers, late check-out or return airport transfers – which they offer through Creative Club packages.
The perfect travel package depends on the traveller – a family group, those after adventure or couples looking for a little luxury.
Leah Squire, owner of family travel specialists BYOKids.com.au, says parents love all-inclusive holidays where they can pay upfront and know in advance what they’re up for. Companies such as Club Med and family-friendly resorts in Fiji often offer packages that include all meals, beverages and entertainment, which BYOKids can package with flights and accommodation.
“It’s a real benefit to a family to know what a holiday will cost upfront,” Squire says. “Once they arrive at their destination, all they need to budget for is their spending money.
“Family groups also love the idea of value-added inclusions, things like free kids club and kids eat-and-stay free bonuses.”
Squire says the family holiday package industry is booming as parents become more time-poor. “Ten years ago families were going on less complex holidays so they could make the arrangements on their own,” she says. “But families have shifted from two weeks at a caravan park to Bali, Fiji, Europe and the US and they need help planning it.”
Luxury packages are all about the added touches – even little things like thread count in sheets and exclusive toiletries – that make the difference between a good hotel and a great hotel, says Mark Hoenig of LuxuryEscapes.com.
Even though luxury seekers are willing to pay a little extra, they still seek a good deal.
“People will often pay a little bit more if they’re getting amazing value,” Hoenig says. “Ultimately, if the accommodation itself isn’t of a sufficiently high standard, it doesn’t matter how many meals or spa treatments are included.
“We don’t have set rules for what goes into one of our packages, it depends on what the provider does well. If a resort is famous for its restaurants, we’ll try to add a significant gourmet aspect, such as special dinners and cooking classes. If the hotel has an award-winning spa, we’ll include a variety of spa treatments.”
THE ADVENTURE PACKAGE
“A great adventure travel package definitely has to take you off the beaten track,” says Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, which offers packages in more than 100 countries.
“It also has to give travellers the opportunity to interact with the local people and learn about their culture and way of life.”
Tip adds an adventure package is about more than simply ticking items off a bucket list.
“No longer is getting a photo in front of the world’s famous landmarks enough – travellers want to immerse themselves in the culture, make meaningful connections and learn more about the people and the country.
“Learning a language or taking a local cooking class, getting to know the local cafe owner then somehow being invited to attend his cousin’s wedding that night – these are the sort of experiences (our customers) are looking for.”