Tourism Australia Takes Centre Stage At Adobe Summit, Hands Out Budgie Smugglers

John O'Sullivan, Managing Director Tourism Australia (L) speaks with Brad Rencher, EVP and GM of Adobe Experience Cloud during Adobe Summit at the Venetian on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Invision for Adobe/AP Images)

Tourism Australia’s managing director John O’Sullivan today took centre stage at Adobe Summit in Las Vegas to tell the 13,000-strong audience about the organisation’s digital transformation, with the help of Adobe of course, and the backstory behind the Crocodile Dundee Super Bowl Ad.

In a 15 minute interview that was also broadcast on Adobe’s Facebook page as well as its other many digital channels, as well as the live audience, O’Sullivan discussed how his organisation was responsible for brand Australia to be brought to consumers around the world.

“Our clear marketing purpose is really about inviting people to experience the Australian way of life. We do that by bringing campaigns like Dundee to the screens around the world, we also do it through working with our airline partners through to travel agents and other partners,” he said.

“Our vision is to make Australia the most desireable and memorable destination on the planet. That goes to two things. It goes to our first time visitors, which is desirability, and repeat visitation, which is about memorability. In a nutshell, we are there to get people to come visit Australia.”

The $30 million campaign was an example of great creativity with a clear purpose he explained. “Our clear purpose was really about addressing a conversion problem we have in the North American market. We know in the North American market Australia is one of those destinations that’s on everyone’s bucket list, but when it comes to conversion, we lose share to markets like Europe, particularly, but also markets with a similar distance like Japan. So we wanted to address that by having a really singular focus on the market.

“We haven’t done that since about 1986 when we had the Paul Hogan Come Say G’day ads, which were a huge success in this market.”

On choosing the Super Bowl and the hefty price tag the sport attracted, O’Sullivan said it was actually a no-brainer.

“We looked at what was the best media platform we could use to launch that campaign in this market and it was clearly Super Bowl. The facts are it took us to 50% of our target audience of the high value traveller in one foul swoop.

“So it was a no-brainer of a platform, but then we had to have this strong creative idea, which was led by our CMO Lisa Ronson and our creative agency Droga5.”

O’Sullivan said this gave Tourism Australia an opportunity “to go back to a concept we know North Americans love, but also link it to the new Australia and talk about some of the new attributes and experiences of the country,” he said.

Tourism Australia has been on its digital transformation journey since 2014.

“What it’s really about is using data to be more efficient and more effective. We know through our digital channels if you’re searching on Melbourne, so we don’t want to serve you up via our airline partners ads for flights Adelaide or Brisbane, because we already know that’s not what you want.

“Equally, once we know you’ve booked your flight to Australia, we don’t want to be serving you ads saying hey come to Australia. We should then be actually helping you make that experience so much better . . . this is done with very little notice and very little time and more often than not through independent travellers as well. So we are using our data and our analytics to really help that journey become more efficient and more effective.”

O’Sullivan said he started with the concept of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do and that became a mantra as Tourism Australia was going on this journey.

“We’ve really then empowered our marketing teams to use our technology, our analytics in a way that makes their job easier. Eighty per cent of our marketing team has access to Adobe Analytics from the executive all the way down to the relevant interns.

“So we are using analytics to really help us make better decisions and I think the other thing for us it’s been a cultural journey as well. We use empowerment yes, but two of our cultural values are about being commercial, but also about being innovative. That gets to the heart of our digital transformation as well and that’s been really important.”

The final piece of the puzzle for O’Sullivan was about how he works with his partners. “How can we work with our airline partners to both share data with one another to make that experience fuller for those customers. A lot more enriched.

“I like to describe Tourism Australia as a platform for the industry back home. We don’t actually sell hotel rooms, we don’t own aircraft, but we are platform to the rest of the world for the great industry back home.
O’Sullivan also added that the technologies that are really exciting him at the moment are things which make the customer journey a lot easier. Things like virtual reality.

“We have been using virtual reality for about three years. We use it with travel agents overseas and the industry back home.

“We think there’s a big future in voice activated technology, we love augmented reality as well. Then when you go further forward and you look at some of the technological advancements that our partners are using . . . Qantas just launched the first non-stop flight from Australia to the United Kingdom. That’s a massive breakthrough in the consumer psychological that we’re a far away place to get to and you can’t get there without going on several flights.

“What’s exciting is not so much that the aircraft can make the distance, but it’s about what’s on board the aircraft that makes the experience better. The humidity, the lighting, what’s in the food on board that you get so you feel a lot better when you get off the aircraft.”

Before he walked off stage, O’Sullivan took Adobe’s Brad Rencher to task for recently holidaying in New Zealand and handed him an umbrella in case he was tempted to return. He also handed over a pair of red, white and blue budgie smugglers to Rencher for when he comes to Australia.

O’Sullivan received a rousing reception and the Twittersphere lit up praising his insights and initiatives. His global, but predominantly North American audience were also receptive of his overtures about Australia with at least one audience member tweeting they were going to book their ticket to Australia immediately.

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