It isn’t often a solo entrepreneur travel agent has a $28 million marketing budget and a Super Bowl ad seen by an estimated 100 million Americans to promote her signature destination.
But when Lisa Wood Rossmeissl, owner of Boomerang Escapes in Old Bridge, New Jersey, saw the marketing and promotion for a new Crocodile Dundee movie, she created a strategy for her agency to acquire and close new sales, including blog posts, emails and social media.
“In January, I saw stories about the movie coming up in my [social media] newsfeed, and watched the trailer online,” said Wood Rossmeissl, an Australia specialist for about seven of her ten years as an agent.
A big football fan (Green Bay Packers), she was watching the Super Bowl on Sunday when a commercial that looked like a movie promo came on. “It was so clever. They made it look like a movie ad, but it was promoting people to come to Australia,” she said.
Her plan was put into motion. She immediately shared a link to the ad from her various Facebook pages and started strategizing how to leverage the awareness campaign for individual bookings and a hosted group trip she had already planned for August.
On Monday, Rossmeissl sent out a weekly email highlighting the group itinerary and plans. She also is planning a series of “mini-commercials” using Facebook Live this month.
“I'm going to have so much fun with it and play off the natural Aussie humor they have shared. I have a ‘Dundee’ hat and I’m going to play the whole ‘Sheila’ Australian woman image, as I tell them about all the amazing experiences they can have on my trip, or a custom vacation I design for them,” Wood Rossmeissl said.
Approximately 780,000 Americans visit Australia every year, representing about (AUS)$3.7 billion per year in tourism spend. Tourism officials are looking for the campaign to increase that spend to $6 billion by 2020.
Suppliers create demand, agents close
Dan Chappelle, consultant and president of his own firm, The Wealthy Travel Agent Sales Academy, based in Bellevue, Washington, applauded Wood Rossmeissl’s strategy.
“Whether it’s a tourism board or a cruise line, it is the suppliers’ job to create demand through commercials and marketing. Our job as agents is to identify those consumers interested in that product and say, ‘Book with me, your trusted advisor,’” he said.
“I saw that commercial. It was great. It’s one of those that sticks in your head. As an Australia specialist, it’s a great opportunity for her to invest resources to get customers to come to her website, win tickets to the movie, download a lead magnet. These are all great tactics to close the sale.”
Chappelle recommends agents ensure they are capturing names and email addresses through special offers at an agent’s website through a prolonged sales cycle, using email and other digital communications tools to demonstrate your special knowledge and value as an Australia expert.
“Develop the rapport with the client over the next few months, sending out two or three emails, and then ask them, ‘When would you like to go?’” he said.
Indeed, Wood Rossmeissl has an Australia wine guide PDF she will be promoting to attract clients to her website and capture their email addresses.
Opportunity for Australia expert agents
Chappelle’s theory is backed up by Tourism Australia research. According to a 2016 study, travel agents do not make the list of top ten sources Americans cite as their inspiration for vacations to the country. Only 15 percent of Americans who have traveled to Australia say travel agents were the preferred source for information on their Australian vacation.
However, speaking to an agent on the phone or in person is their top method (36 percent) for booking that vacation, while booking directly through an airline was second highest at 33 percent, and an online travel agent was third, at 29 percent.
The campaign comes at one of two prime booking periods for U.S. travel to Australia. January to March is first, while the second most popular is October to November. Peak travel periods are July and December to March, with Americans booking about three to 12 months out from their Australia vacation departure.
Tourism Australia’s current campaign is their largest since the famous Paul Hogan “Come Say G’Day” promotion 30 years ago. This year’s campaign is backed by 20 tourism partners, including Qantas, American Airlines and Wine Australia; and will continue online with a series of videos called “Why Australia,” starring Danny McBride, who plays Crocodile Dundee’s son in the movie “Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home.”
In the videos, McBride interviews four well-known Australians, including co-star Chris Hemsworth, talking about “Australia's food and wine, nature and wildlife, aquatic and coastal experiences, culture and heritage, and sport and events.”
According to Tourism Australia, American tourists stay for a median of 10 nights and spend about $5,100 on their vacation. Also, 32 percent of those travelers are repeat customers. As of April 2017, there were 1,993 qualified Aussie Specialist agents in the U.S.