BYTE REPORT: WYSE Exchange Australia 2018

May 15th, 2018 | | Events

WYSE Exchange Australia returned to Sydney last week, a 3-day event with two days of B2B meetings (Tuesday and Thursday), various networking functions and the inbound youth tourism sector’s leading  conference of 2018.

WYSE Travel Confederation hand picked international buyers, flew them to Australia and in partnership with DNSW hosted them so they could meet (B2B) and experience (famils) Australia’s best youth tourism products.

Feedback from the business sessions and social functions has been excellent, every seller The Byte spoke to had something positive to say and had gained new business from their time in sessions and functions.

Below is a group of takeaways from the sector’s conference, held at the Ovolo Woolloomooloo on Wednesday. There isn’t room here to discuss all sessions, but we hope to bring you some key takeaways from the main ones.

If you would like to know more, then connect with us, or your colleagues and competitors who did attend and try to keep an eye out for future WYSE Travel Confederation events in 2018-2019.

The first presentaion we’ll talk about came from our very own Kristy Carstairs from Tourism Australia (well we like to think she is still ours) and the second from WYSE Travel Confedation’s own Director General David Chapman.

Kristy started by telling the audience that the inbound youth market (18-35) to Australia still accounted for 25% of all visitors and still produced a whopping 46% of the total spend. Long stay, but still regarded as ‘high value’. She qualified that the majority of the broader youth market are actually international students and that as a result 50% of the youth market is Chinese.  Still, we also know that ‘backpackers’ and/or ‘working holiday makers’ make up a big portion of the total youth travel market too.

Some fascinating research (New Horizons IV) from WYSE Travel Confederation gave us the following:

The average spend on youth travel (per person) for Australia and New Zealand is about $11000, with Germany the biggest spenders, followed closely by the UK (hence why TA are currently running campaigns and carrying our market research in those important markets) and the USA.

Only 10% of youth visitors use destination marketing sites, 45% use information from family and friends, 30% use social media information and 25% use price comparison websites. This is all for pre-travel information, so ensure your current customers are having a great time and posting their fun on your social media platforms.

“TA’s current in-market global youth campaign targets working holiday visa holders, at the source markets of Germany and UK. Packaged with key distribution partners, we hope to see an upturn in the number of WHMs over the next few years. Tourism Australia went so far as to suggest that 417 applications have now flattened and are no longer in decline. Time will tell!

(Anicdotally, it appears the first 12 months of the new 15% ‘backpacker tax’ has raised over $1 billion for the Federal Government, in return this sector received $10 million (once) and that may be all we get).

With no further Federal Governement money specifically allocated in 2019 to this market, once the current campaign is finished, it’s our job as a sector to keep the pressure on our governments to allocate funds for further campaigns to the youth market. The suggestion is also that its now the job of our state bodies; BOA NSW and Adventure Queensland to work together and lobby the Federal Government.

A highly informative session came up next looking at Travel tech trends for the youth market. How are travellers expecting to interact with people and technology while travelling.  WYSE Travel Conferations invited tech experts from Travello (Ryan Hanly) and FareHarbor (Sal Percival) to give the audience some insights.

Travello is a ‘social app’ that connects travellers with each other and travel businesses with travellers and Ryan said the engagement with travellers ‘on the move’ (due to mobile connectivity) was expanding and young people are always looking to connect with like-minded friends and businesses. His key insight or takeaway was – Winding Tree a blockchain-based decentralized open-source travel distribution platform. One worth looking into!

Salvatore is from one of the new kids on the block. FarHarbor only set up (originally from Hawaii, now headquartered in Denver) in Australia 9 months ago, they now have 15 staff in their Sydney office and say they’ll have 50 by the end of 2018.  How you might say? Easy big $$$ behind them.

So while we know 80% of tours and activities bookings are currently made ‘offline’, like all other sectors this one is evolving and we will see change. FareHarbor wants to be part of that change and is offering operators great incentives to drive ‘direct’ (IE non trade, non ITO, non OTA) business. Sal suggests its all about improving a business’s online presence, improving a customer’s (or website vistitors) online experience and ‘going direct’.

Also, IT’S A FACT (must be Google said so) – “85% of leisure travellers decide on activities only after having arrived at the destination” Source: Google Trips.

Hang on, have I got this right? 80% of bookings (in the tours and activities space) are made offline and 85% of these bookings are made in destination. So why is all the ongoing hype about digital (online) and in-market?? Just asking Ok!

Moving on now to the last session we will discuss in this report – Risk v reality: Australia’s visitor safety reputation and the media. A panel session with Laurie Berg (UTS), Peter Mackey (NSW Dept of Industry), David Cox (Gold Coast Tourism & AQ) and Sam Badans (YHA & BOA NSW).

Tied in with visitor safety is also our international reputation for looking after our young visitors. To understand this issue one might search ‘labour’ or similar on this news site or read the report Wage Theft in Australia. These are the findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey conducted by universities around Australia.

While some of the research methodology might questioned (as was in the session) that findings to reflect some major issues we carry around pay and wage theft in this country.

Peter Mackey went on to discuss this issue in the context of international students and intra-nationality theft. David and Sam presented one action that our own sector is taking as a solution or aid to temporary migrants, this is still in development but is looking promising and suggests that we as a sector are taking action.


WYSE Exchange Australia

  • Over 100 stakeholders in the Australian inbound youth travel industry
  • 30 qualified international hosted buyers
  • Expert industry speakers and government representatives
  • In partnership with Destination NSW
  • Participating buyers send 97,310 youth and student travellers to Australia every year
  • Participating buyers send youth and student travellers to Australia from 33 countries









WYSE Travel Confederation believes in the economic and social power of youth, student and educational travel. They believe young people can make a positive impact on the world when they go abroad, and when they return home.  Scotland has just declared 2018 the Year of Young People to spotlight the contributions of youth to communities and create new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. WYSE Travel Confederation heads to the country’s capital, Edinburgh, for the 2018 World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) on 18-21 September. During WYSTC they will share new findings from their New Horizons Survey of more than 57,000 young travellers worldwide.

WYSTC 2018 in Edinburgh is the next opportunity for the Australian youth tourism sector to connect with the innovators and leaders of a vibrant and valuable youth travel market. And with Tourism Australia again supporting an “Australian Village” your exhibition costs are already covered!

Written by Mike Barrow and Chris Harrison

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