All posts by Mike Barrow

Mike arrived in Sydney in 1989 as a typical British backpacker with $17 and one phone number. He also decided Sydney was paradise living in a three bedroom unit with 17 other backpackers. He eventually managed to get a proper job in a small backpacking publishing company. After spending four years trying to get residency, Mike finally 'got in' and set up his own company, Travel Maps Australia in 1993. In 2000 the Company rebranded to THE WORD and in 2014 started The Byte. Mike lives in Sydney's northern beaches, keeps fit and healthy and wouldn't live anywhere else.

TECH BYTE: Survey says in-destination activities are most popular among Millennials

iSeatz, the travel technology company powering ancillary product booking and merchandising, recently commissioned research to determine current perceptions and preferences regarding the sale of ancillary goods and services by accommodation providers.

The recent survey found that 81% of respondents had participated in a bookable in-destination activity during their last trip, with day trips, excursions and sightseeing tours (42%), visiting museums, galleries or cultural attractions (30%) and outdoor activities (28%) being the most popular.

Day trip, excursion and sightseeing tours are the most booked in-destination activity, especially among 18- to 34-year-olds, as 50% booked one for their last leisure trip. The stage at which these in-destination activities are booked varies significantly.  For both tours and activities (including snorkeling, sightseeing tour or yoga class) and general admission activities (such as museum, zoo, theme park or monument), most were booked while the consumer was within the destination and, for the most part, on the day of the activity itself.

In contrast, ticket events such as concerts, sporting events and theatre tickets tend to be booked prior to travelling, with only just over one-third booked the day before or the day of the event itself and nearly one-third securing tickets before booking the flight.  Such a pattern makes sense, as in many cases the event in question may be the motivation for the trip, making the pre-booking of event tickets essential.

Baby Boomers resist pre-booking, while Millennials embrace it. Regardless of the category, pre-booking activity decreases with age.  In all cases, those aged 18-34, followed by those aged 35-54, were far more likely to pre-book their in-destination activities.

Older travelers (55+) showed a marked resistance to pre-booking, with most making their bookings only once they had arrived in the destination and on the day of the activity itself. “Facilitating the purchase of ancillary in-destination activities during booking or confirmation communications clearly represents an interesting opportunity for accommodation providers,” said Kenneth Purcell, Founder and CEO of iSeatz.

He added that “Millennials and Gen Xers are a strong and willing market, showing the highest likelihood of engagement in these activities. When well-executed, hoteliers can benefit from the added profit margin and full-service feel ancillary in-destination offerings add to their brand.”

In-destination activities most popular among Millennials, those aged 18-34 represent the highest potential for pre-purchase of in-destination ancillary products, notably being the heaviest consumer across all segments, particularly for day trips / excursions as well as theme or amusement park admission. “From breakfast and bike rentals to in-room entertainment and event tickets, ancillary sales offer a compelling way for providers to boost their bottom line,” says Phocuswright research analyst Mark Blutstein.

To learn more about the iSeatz approach to accommodation ancillary merchandising and in-path solutions, visit

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Source: ETB Travel News

Should piece work rates be sent packing?

While those looking to combat backpacker exploitation want to ban it, some farms are keen to extend piece work rates from the field and into the packing sheds. The way workers are paid for working on farms is now at the forefront of the debate in the wake of a campaign by Rosie Ayliffe, the mother of murdered backpacker Mia Ayliffe, who wants to end ‘piece rate’ work.

Some say that these jobs target temporary foreign workers and pay well below the national minimum wage. Meanwhile, Australia’s biggest potato grower is leading a national push to pay employees who work in packing and storage sheds located off farm sites the same rates as lower-paid farm workers.

In Sydney to give evidence to the Fair Work Commission hearing of Mitolo Group’s application to have the Horticulture Award extended to store workers who handle fresh produce, employee Kay Rault who grades potatoes and onions at Mitolo’s South Australian facility said it was hard to make ends meet on her wages.

“If this change gets through, things could get a lot harder for people like me and my workmates,” she said. “Why should big companies be able to change the law just because it suits them?” Ms Rault’s employer, Mitolo Group, a major supermarket supplier, is among companies backed by the Australian Industry Group which is putting their case to the Fair Work Commission.

Some farmers, on the other hand, say piece work rates increase motivation and productivity amongst workers. North-west Victorian citrus picker Arnold Hemara, 63, has been earning money this way for the last 40 years. “I earn more money on piece rates, it’s tough but I prefer it that way,” he told ABC.

Under the Horticulture Award, pickers can lawfully be paid piece rates, rather than an hourly rate. But the piece rates paid must allow an average picker to earn at least 15% more than the relevant minimum award hourly rate. Closing arguments on the matter will be presented to the Fair Work Commission this week in Melbourne.

Do you think piece work encourages underpayment or can it make the job fairer? Have your say.

Sourced by: Alex Harmon

Source: ABC News, Bellingen Courier

Authentic experiences top a millennial traveller’s bucket list


At least that’s what new data from a YouGov Report reveals, with many of today’s youth not holidaying like their parents’ generation. Millennials are gearing up for more travel than ever, with authentic experiences top of the bucket list.

New numbers from YouGov, however, show that millennials born between 1980 and 1999 aren’t preparing in the same way, or for the same things, as older generations. Unlike their elders, today’s youth want individualised experiences that explore local culture — a need largely unmet by traditional tour operators.


Millennials from the UK, US, Germany, and China, for example, are booking their trips online at higher rates than older consumers. These young people are also showing more interest in platform-based services, such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, than older consumers, while simultaneously showing less interest in conventional car rental companies and national hotel chains.


“This is one reason why they have shifted towards new distribution and information channels, away from travel agents/tour operators offering predefined package tours where they may have to book all or nothing.”

So what do millennials look for in a holiday?


Beach holidays rate high for millennials from the UK, US, Germany, and China. When compared to the types of leisure trips older generations enjoy, however, young people as a whole are far more inclined to seek out adventure and cultural trips.

In short: Millennials want more esoteric, unique experiences when compared to other groups.

While many destinations have the types of activities they seek, many wholesalers have not taken appropriate steps to fully develop their offerings or highlight them through marketing.


“Capture the interests of millennials by encouraging or creating experiences that relate to their hobbies, particularly around music, movies, eating and drinking.”

So what are their hobbies?

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.15.50 AM

Ultimately, the data stresses that traditional tour operators need to evolve if they hope to remain relevant to today’s young travellers.

Sourced by Mike Barrow


Is your business ready for the new influx of Chinese travellers?

The sixth annual Chinese International Travel Monitor released by™ has revealed that Chinese travellers are spending a whopping 28% of their income on average on international travel. They also intend to spend 10% more on travel in the next 12 months, with Australia topping the list as the most desired destination in the Asia-Pacific.

Regardless of many key indicators showing signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy, this year’s CITM found spending on travel increased across all age brackets, with Chinese travellers spending US$3,600 in the last 12 months – more than a quarter of their income and an increase of 4% compared with the previous year.

(Edit. our market) 90s millennials are the biggest spenders, allocating 35% of their income to travel. 93% of Australian hoteliers surveyed in the research said they accommodated Chinese travellers, with 55% observing growth of the market over the last 12 months.

According to the data, Australia was deemed the third most welcoming country to Chinese travellers, up one place from 2016. Despite this, the report revealed a gap in what Chinese guests want versus what hotels are providing, highlighting that, by making some adaptions to accommodate Chinese tourists, there is huge potential for Australian hotels to further tap into this market.

While Australian hotels are focusing their efforts on social media and marketing programs in a bid to attract Chinese travellers, the investment in on-site services for Chinese guests has decreased according to the data, with only 5% spending more than US$10,000. The report identified key areas where hotels could improve their services, according to Chinese travellers:

Chinese payment facilities at hotels, such as UnionPay, rank second for consumers in importance, yet only 18% of AU hotels currently offer these facilities. Indeed, only 15% intend to offer them in the next 12 months.

In-house Mandarin speaking staff was ranked number one by travellers but was low on the list for hoteliers, with only 16% currently offering the service and 11% planning to in the next 12 months.

On-site Chinese restaurants were ranked fifth by travellers however only 3% of hoteliers currently offer this service. Only 5% intend to provide it in the next 12 months.

Translated travel guides were ranked number four by travellers but are a low in priority for hoteliers; 14% currently offer this and only 17% plan to in future. Marketing Manager for Australia and New Zealand, David Spasovic says both the perception of Australia as a welcoming destination, and willingness of accommodation providers to cater to Chinese travellers is critical to ensuring sustainability of the local tourism industry.

“As Australia’s second largest inbound tourist market,  there’s no doubt that Chinese travellers offer huge economic benefits to our country. It’s fantastic to see Australia continues to deliver quality and friendly hospitality and is proud to partner with accommodation providers who work hard to ensure Chinese travellers feel welcome in our beautiful country. Despite this, Australia has fallen two places since topping the wish list of countries to visit last year.

“The CITM report notes that Chinese travellers have entered a new phase in their evolution and are demanding more of everything – more time travelling, more locations and more diverse experiences. With Tourism Australia estimating up to AU$13 billion in total expenditure by Chinese travellers by 2020, it’s vital that hoteliers adapt to these evolving needs and develop tailored hotel services that tap into their enormous spending power.”

The rise of the ‘more generation’ The survey reported all age groups traveling more often and for longer, with the number of trips and number of days per trip increasing in the past year from 3 to 4 and from 5 to 7 days, respectively.

Chinese travellers are also visiting multiple cities per trip, with over 80 per cent saying they would not just stay in a single city. The average amount spent per day also increased – up 8 per cent from 2016 – with dining, sightseeing and rest and relaxation activities proving most popular. Interestingly, shopping took a dive from last year – dropping from 68 per cent in 2016 to 33 per cent in 2017, and indicating the increasing diversification of Chinese travel preferences.

Independent travel, including backpacking, is well and truly in for this increasingly discerning, experience-hungry group of travellers, with 50% saying they are interested in this type of travel. Only 37% said they will take part in group tours in the future, according to the research.

Sourced by Mike Barrow

Source: ETB Travel News


NSW government proposes big shake-up of short term rental hosts

A NSW Senate options paper on short-term letting will be released as soon as this Friday and looks to ease restrictions on holiday leasing providers such as Airbnb.

To make the system fairer and safer, short-term letters will have to acquire a license and pay a levy to cover the costs of providing extra security and maintaining shared amenities used by their guests. There is also talk of putting a time limit on owners, similar to cities like New York where it is illegal to advertise an entire unoccupied apartment for more than 30 days.

According to Domain, the key elements proposed for public discussion are likely to be:

  • Self-regulation and codes of conduct for the industry.
  • New powers, including by-laws, allowing apartment block owners corporations (body corporates) to restrict and regulate short-term letting in residential buildings.
  • Owners corporations being given the power to charge holiday letting “hosts” additional levies to cover increased wear and tear and security for apartment blocks.
  • A registration scheme, similar to that in European cities like Barcelona, whereby holiday lets must be registered with local authorities.
  • A review of planning regulations with a view to redefining “residential-only” to possibly allow for the partial letting of rooms in residential homes.

Airbnb said they welcomed any moves to curb misuse of their service and statewide regulation would bring clarity to its customers.

“We would look forward to sitting down with the Government and working through anything that’s sensible and anything that’s fair but it’s got to protect people’s right to respectfully share their own homes,” said Airbnb’s public policy manager for Australia and New Zealand Brent Thomas.

However making those letting their properties get licences isn’t exactly the ‘Airbnb way’. The red tape involved in forcing hosts to get licenses was a “barrier to participation” and goes against the accessibility offered in the shared economy, Mr Thomas had previously told AAP.

What do you think? Is this becoming fairer for those wishing to ‘share’ their properties and the commercial operators who compete with them? Have your say.

Sourced by Alex Harmon

Source: Domain, ABC