Leisure sector in Australia set for boost

Australia's leisure sector is set for a period of concerted growth as investors target the next big opportunity.

Part of this growth can be traced to the rise in staycations, with Australians choosing to remain in the country during their summer holidays as the falling currency is making foreign travel too expensive.

Visitor numbers from China are also increasing steadily - by 2020, Tourism Australia believes this market could be worth as much as $13 billion. Indeed, international tourism as a whole is performing well at the moment.

Statistics from the body show there were 7 million visitors to the country for the year ending March 2015 - a year-on-year increase of 8 per cent - with 3.2 million categorising their trip as a holiday

Changing leisure patterns

Lee Mickelburough, a partner and the head of Perennial Growth Management, told the Australian Financial Review that the current situation represents something of a reversal of fortunes for the sector, as international visitors had been staying away because they thought Australia was too far away and too expensive.

The knock-on effect of this boom in leisure tourism is that companies and organisations have to look at their marketing practices to make sure they are positioning and promoting themselves in the right way.

With consumers loosening the purse strings and showing a willingness to spend money in the leisure sector, it's clear businesses need to be prepared to capitalise on this opportunity by pulling together an engaging marketing action plan.

Dion Hershan, Goldman Sachs Asset Management head of Australian equities, said the drop in the value of the Australian dollar has already seen people change their vacation patterns, with more Australians "staying local with occupancy and prices trending upwards".

"International tourism is [also] poised to increase for cyclical and structural reasons with the Australian dollar falling and the pending boom in the Chinese and Indian middle-class where tourism is in its infancy," she added

Meeting consumer expectations

This obviously presents an opportunity to businesses in the leisure sector, but they will only be successful if they can meet - or in an ideal world, exceed - consumer expectations. With the pace of technological change increasingly shifting the consumer-business relationship online, marketing departments have to develop a more data-focussed approach. Bearing this in mind, what steps can marketing professionals take?

  • Avoid information overload - Research by Econsultancy has discovered that consumers like up-to-date information and the right level of useful detail. In other words, if consumers cannot find the information they want, they will quickly lose interest in the journey.

  • Embrace mobile - Consumers use smartphones to carry out searches, make bookings and pay for products and services, so businesses need to make sure their sites are responsive and easy to use.

  • Go the extra mile - This is key for delivering an excellent digital experience, as customers will become advocates for companies that perform well on all of the attributes that are important to them, but still manage to offer something extra.

Growth in the leisure sector is obviously a positive development for Australia, and one that savvy businesses should be looking to capitalise on. By implementing engaging marketing strategies, these companies can look forward to boosting cash flow and furthering the country's economic recovery at the same time