News Corp Australia has released findings from its News Travel Network Trend Forecast for January to June 2023. The Trend Forecast is an insight into the 10.2 million Australian travellers who engage with News Corp Australia’s brands every month, and what they’ll be up to now that they can pack their bags and head out once again.
Mediaweek spoke to Jana Frawley, content director – Escape, about what the future of travel looks like, what the data offers commercial partners, and the newest announcement from the Escape team.
Whilst the Covid pandemic has left its shadow across almost every industry, not many sectors were hit as hard as travel. As Frawley says, “there are so many aspects of the way we think and operate within our businesses that have changed since 2019.”
When asked whether she believes the world will ever reach a pre-covid state of travel, Frawley says that she is confident the future is bright.
“Where we’re at at the moment is getting all the infrastructure back to normal and running smoothly. It’s a bit like when you haven’t been to the gym for six months, then you start to try to squat or do push ups, and you’ve lost form. There are multiple areas of the industry where that’s happened.
“We want to go, but we’re just trying to physically match the intention with our ability to go – we want to know that the flight is going to be on time, know that our baggage isn’t going to be lost, know that there are enough hotels to stay in, and that it’s not a hotel operating at only 50% capacity. I think that will take time, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction.”
The Forecast showed that as the world opens up again, good value and the lowest price are the core factors of importance for Australians booking their next trip. Whilst travellers are still willing to pay for ease and safety when they take off, the bottom line is that people are trying to save their hard-earned cash.
“The budget side of things was a bit of a curveball, and has been a curveball for the industry,” says Frawley. “We thought we’d be in a post-pandemic world, and then suddenly we’ve got all these other economic stresses – which mean despite our intention to spend big, it’s going to add a layer of consideration that we didn’t think would be there.
“We thought everyone would have their bucket of money, and just do whatever they wanted to do. It’s just a new consideration.”
It’s certainly not all doom and gloom, however, with over 50% of respondents planning to have a holiday in the next 3 months, and 78% of travellers now confident in international travel. For Frawley, the industry is currently “in a transition phase” that signals things are on the upswing.
“You get to the destination, and you have these amazing sensory experiences. Your mind is blown, and then you come back and you want to do it all over again. So I think it’s only the start.”
Now that the Forecast is out, the challenge becomes making the most of the data for both News Corp and its commercial partners. For Frawley, the X that marks the spot is the cross-section of a Venn diagram.
“We look at the data that we get from our own content – our analytics data for escape.com.au, news.com.au, and so on – and overlay that with this research that we’ve done of our consumer, as well as the consumer insight that we get from our commercial partners.
“We know that if we can see what people are looking for, we can share that information with the travel industry. They share the information back, and in the end, the consumer is the one who wins out.”
Outside of the data the research provided, one of the major announcements made in the News Travel Network Trend Forecast was the upcoming travel show produced by Escape.
Escape To… will go live in February 2023, and run for eight weeks.
There is no shortage of commercial partners on board either, with brands including Emerald Cruises, Journey Beyond, and Singapore Airlines already signed on.
“When we sat down, we started to say, ‘Okay, what do we want to see from our video?’. We could see that we were getting such a great response to that more rustic, raw content that you see on TikTok, or on Reels – just any of us going travelling and taking our phone,” says Frawley.
Whilst Escape To… will take some cues from existing travel formats, Frawley says the show will ultimately be centred around the expertise of the News Corp travel team.
“There’s a panel discussion, and it gives travel experts a chance to talk in a more generalised way about their knowledge – how did they get a great deal? What did they pack for the trip? How did they beat jetlag?
“We wanted those real conversations that we all have as travel editors – sitting next to someone at a dinner party, and they say, ‘Oh, tell me A, B, C, and D’. We wanted to get that in the show.
“So while there is the reporter and a host, we want to add that extra layer of insights, and feel like it’s highlighting our travel expertise.”