Ayla Soguksu catches up with agents who visited Australia for the first time as part of Corroboree West 17 last year to find out why seeing it for themselves has helped with bookings
Last year, Tourism Australia took 300 agents on Corroboree West 17, which saw workshops followed by 10 different post-fam trips that covered the length and breadth of Australia’s states and territories.
Among the agents attending were several who were visiting Australia for the first time, allowing them to experience the country for themselves and providing them with first-hand product knowledge to help them sell the destination.
Here we ask five first-timers from the trip for their insights into Australia and their handy selling tips...
Devon Hansen from Premier Holidays explored Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and the Fleurieu Peninsula on the Wildlife Wonderland itinerary
What was the trip highlight?
I hadn’t heard much about Kangaroo Island before I went, but it was stunning. This is definitely the place for clients who like nature and wildlife. The beaches are completely empty, there are remarkable rock formations and the weather was magnificently hot.
We saw many kangaroos, and the koalas were an added bonus. We saw one run across the road one day; I’d never seen one run before! This is definitely the place to see koalas in the wild.
Are you selling Australia differently now?
It’s easier to sell the wildlife side. I can tell clients that a 4x4 tour of Kangaroo Island is better than hiring your own car, as the tour shows you remote areas you wouldn’t know existed.
Would you recommend the trip?
Yes – Corroboree West 17 was an eye-opener. I made a huge number of new contacts and feel more confident about selling the country.
Amanda Allen at Dawson and Sanderson gives her insider tips on Sydney and New South Wales
What was the best moment?
As well as making great new friends on the fam trip, another highlight was being strapped into a harness and climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge to see unbeatable views of Sydney’s landscape.
Did you go on any excursions?
We went on a boat trip off the coast of Byron Bay. We saw whales playing with each other in the ocean. Since my trip, I always tell my clients to go on boat trip excursions when they travel to Australia, because there are so many different sea creatures to spot.
How do you sell the country now?
Before I visited, I relied heavily on online training courses and brochures. But now I’m more confident. I have a new passion for it and it sells without me even trying. I tell clients to always
book well in advance and to never miss the chance to go on an excursion – whether it’s bridge climbing or boat trips. I know the small details now, which helps convert enquiries into bookings.
Richard Pearson from Kuoni embarked on the Perfect Road Trip in Victoria
How was the journey?
It was my first time with Singapore Airlines and I was impressed. The cabin crew to passenger ratio was incredible – the crew was always walking around with refreshments and I never needed to get their attention. It made the 24 hours
What was your favourite part of the trip?
We went to Phillip Island for a night viewing of the penguin parade, when penguins come out of the ocean from feeding and head to their burrows to sleep for three days. They are only a foot tall and they were so full of fish that they were tumbling over, running into bushes or getting lost! We were in underground viewing platforms, so we were extremely close to the event.
Has it changed the way you sell Australia?
I have a better scale of the country and know how to advise people on which itinerary is better suited to them. For example, I’d always been told to recommend clients take three to four days to explore the Great Ocean Road, but now I know that it can be done in a shorter time. Clients will have more time to focus on excursions, day trips, secret walking tours by locals and wineries.
What’s been your biggest booking since?
I sold a family of three a two-week holiday to explore Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton for £28,000.
Carly Charteris from Premier Holidays attended Australia’s Wild North trip
How was your stopover at Singapore Changi airport?
I had a bit of time between flights so I jumped at the chance of using the airport swimming pool. I also spent the free credit we were given. The airport felt really advanced.
What were the trip highlights?
We rode camels at sunset on Cable Beach, did a Segway tour in Perth and visited microbreweries on the Gold Coast. One highlight was the pearl farm in Broome. This is one of the few places in the world where they take you out to see the tides meet in the Indian Ocean. It was thrilling to see the water swirling around.
How has your trip helped you sell Australia?
As a tour operator, we have eight brochures so it’s hard to know all the product. Now I feel more confident and can make recommendations. Visiting the country really puts its size into perspective. Flying from Brisbane to Perth was a five-and-a-half hour journey.
What are your insider tips?
Bring flight socks. And you’ll need a good hat for when it gets hot. Lastly, plan enough time to travel from one side of the country to the other. Travelling internally is easy but flights can be long.
Chanelle Schriber-Gallipo from Trailfinders Ireland joined the Red Centre Outback Adventure trip in the Northern Territory
What was the most memorable moment?
There were three desert dinners, where we had barbecues in the middle of the desert. On one of these nights there was an astronomer too, and we saw the Milky Way. My favourite moment was in the kangaroo sanctuary when I held a baby kangaroo.
Have you sold the destination since?
Yes. My biggest booking was for two people who wanted to go on an around-the-world trip. They hadn’t considered Australia, but as I was so adamant and enthusiastic about it they added it to their itinerary. The booking cost roughly £75,000.
Do you think agents would benefit from this trip?
Yes, you learn how vast and diverse the country is. Normally when you think of Australia you think of the east coast, but going to the Northern Territory offered a new perspective. There are so many things to do that aren’t in brochures. I’d never have known about the kangaroo sanctuary without visiting.