As a key sponsor of the conference TRC was there in force and I spoke on innovation in visitor servicing at the forum for Visitor Information Centre staff.
Two of my main messages were:

  • Times they are a changing!!….people get their information in many ways, we need to re-imagine our visitor centres and the role they play and how we deliver information to visitors.
  • Personal and authentic communication is critical in this day and age and the sharing economy and local community ambassadors are central to information exchange.

There was a wide range of take outs from conference presentations, so here’s TRC’s take on the top 4 influencing the tourism sector:

1. Experience development is fundamental to successful planning and delivery of high quality tourism destinations

You MUST ensure the tourism experience is right for customer needs, and contributes to your offer being a compelling proposition. In an environment where travellers have so many choices and so much information presented to them every minute of the day, your experiences need to be the best.…..Let’s not forget, the product is what the visitor buys, BUT the experience is what they remember and, importantly, what they share with their friends.

2. Heritage tourism is alive and well

Indigenous led product offers a unique and authentic product that visitors want and will learn from. Whilst international visitors are more inclined to seek out indigenous tourism experiences, there is growth occurring in domestic take up. New technology like augmented reality is helping destinations bring their heritage sites and settings to life and significantly improving their story telling capability which really appeals to new audiences for heritage experiences.

3. Working in communities on tourism and bringing the whole community on board with a consensus on product development is important to sustainable tourism success.

Like all the cafes on Lygon Street in Carlton, ‘a rising tide floats all boats’ – working together to agree on the proposition your community can deliver, working together to attract the visitors, and then your tourism businesses carving up the pie once the visitors arrive is a sure fire way to grow tourism in your region in the long term – rather than battling and competing with each other every step of the way.

4. Local government amalgamations have been challenging for some but can present an opportunity to redefine the offer at a local and municipal level.

Many councils are taking advantage of the amalgamation process to look at how tourism services are delivered. Importantly, merged councils need to look at what their whole destination offers….you know the saying…..’the sum of the parts is greater than…..’ Make your bigger region better, let the visitors know what you offer, look at the efficiencies to be gained in visitor servicing, take advantage of this great opportunity for your tourism services.

Like any industry, the tourism industry is constantly moving, evolving and growing and when it comes to government, business systems and structures are forever changing. The challenge is how to best interpret these changes and use them to your advantage to grow your destination.

Janet Mackay