Artificial intelligence helps tourism marketers communicate and connect with simplicity: Destination Australia Conference 2017 wrap

Ad agency Creative Director Ken Segall only got beaten up twice by Apple’s Steve Jobs during the 12 years he worked for him. I suspect he means figuratively, but the message was clear; genius behind one of the world’s most successful companies Apple though he was, Jobs was a mercurial character whose vision was unimpeachable.
Segall’s closing presentation at Tourism Australia’s Destination Australia Conference 2017 (Doltone House Sydney 16 March) was a thought provoking discourse on simplicity as the essence of innovation. Or more accurately, the perception of simplicity, because like a tree, an iPhone is in reality a complex creation whose power lies in its timeless beauty, powerful productivity and intuitive design.
Applied to the tourism industry, simplifying your offer – be it product and service design or marketing content – down to its simplest essence is going to make it more compelling to your customers.
#DestAus17 was an impressive meeting of inspired minds sharing their expertise to 350 of Australia’s tourism industry professionals.
Australia’s visitor economy is outstripping all industry averages in terms of GDP contribution ($99B in the year ended Dec 2016). It is being – and will continue to be – fuelled by  trade ties, aviation capacity and growth in domestic Asian economies.
Topical themes presented included $600 million federal funding into Tourism Australia over forward budget estimates, Qantas’s open skies agreement with Chinese carriers, the impact of Brexit, US policy, Chinese consumption and Tourism Australia’s (@TourismAus) partnerships and appetite for experimentation with digital – especially social – media and communications to connect with its global audiences. But harnessing the power of technology and new media to earn the attention of travellers was the recurring premise of the conference.
Google Australia New Zealand Managing Director Jason Pellegrino was effusive about the immediate potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to personalise and optimise services. The evolution of devices into intelligent machines able to learn is transforming the travel traditional “Dream/Plan/Book/Experience” path to travel purchase. Rather than focus on reach and conversion all the time, effective marketing is now about engaging consumers by earning their attention and assisting them with personalised content. Optimised for mobile delivery, this content can gain our attention during the ‘micro-moments’ we all use to search for whatever we’re thinking about.
IPG Media’s Henry Tajer told us that to be visible, Australian tourism businesses and destination marketers should shift their focus from buying attention to earning it through interesting and provocative communication, offering content that is relevant, timely, helpful, fun, inspiring, educational.
Travel industry news site Skift identified and analysed the mega trends shaping consumer travel and purchase behaviour. Among the mega-trends presented by Skift Co-founder Jason Clampet, digital disruption, increasingly fragmented communications and messaging as the growth social media habit are here to stay, yet this is countered by humanity returning to travel in an age of digital overload.
“Human scale” is the antidote increasingly being sought amidst relentless connectivity, stimuli and distraction.
Tours, activities and experiences are coming into their own, evidenced by travel industry giants Airbnb, Trip Advisor, Expedia and Google all moving into this space with insider tours, trip creator apps and other tools that respond to consumer preference to search for experiences on mobile devices.