By Fabienne Rabbiosi, Chief Executive Optimiser @ Untanglemyweb.com and Outdoors Sports Junkie
I spend most of last week travelling around the Whitsunday islands in Queensland, Australia. My incredible husband surprised me with organising it all. All I was given is a list of items to bring. I did not know where we were going, did not even know we had to catch a plane. Now just imagine how scary that is to the tourism professional that I am.
We stayed in Airlie beach, at one of the largest backpackers called Magnum. Backpacking in Australia is not what it used to be in my young (!) days. No more searching for staff member that has gone surfing when you arrive. You are now welcomed almost 24×7 by name-tagged staff in a larger than life reception with the latest computers, broadband and booking systems. They even wear staff uniforms. If you are lucky you will even be given a swipe (yes swipe) card to open your room. Backpacking is an industry. The biggest by far in Airlie Beach. Hostels owners make a mint trust me. When I asked for “industry rate” I was told “we don’t do such thing, we are just a backpackers and you would understand that we cannot afford to offer discounts”. Just a backpackers….Basic service: shared bathroom, no duvet but just one sheet, not much cleaning requirements and all that @ 60 dollars a night for a double room. Time it by approximately 100 and you start getting the picture!
On top of that, backpackers act as booking agents for tours. Another very good income trust me! Especially when a daytour costs minimum $100… Talking about daytours, this is me in a helicopter being whisked off to Whiteheaven beach on a surprise picnic trip…
Another thing is the food. Backpackers used to rhyme with cheap feeds. Now, a plate of pasta will set you back minimum $15… The best I have seen is packets of cereals being itemised in small transparent plastic containers where a few of your favourite corn flakes will cost you $3 dollars… Clever isn’t it? Just add the milk (another dollar? that’s unless you are the “organic” backpacker and want soy… thats another $2 thank you very much!)
These guys have understood it all. Online marketing is key in the backpacking industry as their target market (the average backpacker, between 16 and 40+) is, just like me, an Internet baby.
How is your business telling all these rich backpackers what’s on offer behind your door?