Fiona Nilsson was promoted to the new role of managing director, Food and Travel, at News Corp Australia in May this year. Adding travel to her portfolio coincided with some of the biggest challenges the travel industry has ever faced.
“Out of all the industries we partner with at News Corp Australia, travel has probably been the most impacted by Covid,” Nilsson told Mediaweek.
Nilsson said it had been a good time to get to know the clients and their industry and better understand what they are going through. “News Corp is able to help make a difference and help with the recovering of travel and tourism.
“Our biggest focus at the moment is partnerships with clients and the industry as a whole.”
Nilsson said there was a big focus on domestic travel at present. “A lot of our clients have been pivoting their offerings to domestic. We continue to cover international travel as dreaming is a really important thing for people wanting to plan for when they can get away overseas.
“Although client spend has been impacted, some are still spending and advertising because their customers are booking a long way out.
“We are working closely with tourism bodies including Tourism Australia because of the huge domestic focus. There is an opportunity here to get people and money back into the regions affected by the drought and the bushfires.”
Nilsson and her team will this week unveil a major News Corp campaign led by Escape with The Australian and news.com.au and support from many other brands within the company.
“The idea is to unite all Australians to help the recovery of local tourism.”
Mediaweek will have full details of the campaign closer to its official announcement this weekend.
While some travel publications have scaled back, News Corp is one of the companies aggressively continuing to invest. The new look Escape is perhaps the best example of that, launching recently with significant investment despite the impact of Covid.
Editorial director of premium Food and Travel and editor-in-chief of Escape, Kerrie McCallum, and her team are also working on additional special editions of Escape along with a bi-monthly magazine that is planned for launch later in 2020.
News Corp is adamant that when travel comes back, it will be bigger than ever. “We will be the one that people turn to and we want to help readers with their entire travel journey,” said Nilsson. “We like to say today we are the storytellers helping frustrated Australian travellers dream. Tomorrow we will be the ones helping them bring those dreams to life.”
Nilsson was also one of the News Corp executives who spoke to IMAA members recently at the 2020 Bounce Back event.
“The agencies asked questions about our support for the travel sector. We explained about our partnerships with many of the peak bodies that a lot of our clients are also members of. We have been working with CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), CATO (Council of Australian Tour Operators), AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) and also the Accommodation Association.
“At the end of this month we are holding a multi-sector travel forum, bringing a number of the industry bodies together.
“The combined value of travel and tourism to Australia is $146 billion. The number of people directly employed by the tourism industry is 660,000. We see ourselves playing an important role helping the recovery.
“We also explained to media agencies how we are stimulating consumer interest and intent to travel and talked about the forthcoming editorial leadership campaign.”
Family travel will be a focus for News Corp, something that it has covered in the past but will be more of a regular topic in the future.
Premium travel too, said Nilsson. “There will be some new offerings coming from the Prestige Network.”
Consumer Trends in travel
News Corp Australia commissioned Growth Mantra, a strategic consultancy, to conduct custom research to identify the emerging global consumer trends in travel through to 2025. Here are the five leading trends.
1. Health & Wellness. The Covid pandemic has placed even more focus on health and wellbeing. We will be paying more and more to escape the “9-5” and travel to remote places, get off the grid and put our own wellbeing back into perspective.
2. Adventure. Deep down there is a thrill seeker in all of us and Adventure travel has, and will again, boom. We’ve seen the development of adventures to suit any level of fitness and budget ranging from ultra-marathons in the Azores for $300 to the Summit of Mt Everest for $60,000.
3. Sustainable Travel. Sustainability is a global issue that goes beyond just travel – concern for our planet and our future is at an all-time high as we seek to conserve our world for the next generation of travellers.
4. Off the Beaten Track. In many ways, Australia has been at the forefront of the “Off the Beaten track trend. Our family road trips to remote destinations and passion for camping, fishing and hiking have always played a part in our holiday mix. Now globally, the world is seeking out small towns that offer a more relaxed, leisurely style of holiday – where “living like a local” is achievable.
5. Personalised and Curated. With over 90% of global travellers worldwide stating they expect a personalized experience when booking their travel, it has never been more important for a travel marketer to ensure that their customers’ path to purchase is curated to the individual.