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  • Writer's pictureRyan Johnstone

Last month I attended a Tourism Australia networking evening at Elements of Byron. Now before I go on, I have no allegiance to Tourism Australia, it just turns out that I’m now a massive supporter.

So, apart from meeting some pivotal tourism industry personalities, what I took away from that evening was the overwhelming support that Tourism Australia is providing to the hospitality industry as a whole. What’s amazing is that the support is not limited at a national level, it’s focused on small, medium and growing communities. And what really gives me an extra level of confidence in our tourism future, is the team behind the brand. The Tourism Australia board members are level-headed, commercial and extremely well-rounded when it comes to the tourism and hospitality space.

It’s great to see a mix of skill on board members, with some from private sector corporations and others who run their own businesses. But what impressed me the most was their unconditional love for Australia and their passion to improve tourism locally and present it globally.

At the time of the networking evening, board members were on a journey around the country, visiting every nook and cranny, and turning their focus to everything that promotes and supports domestic and international visitors. A great example of their forward thinking, was instead of taking a negative approach to Airbnb, they’ve decided to work with them and improve their platform. Instead of bypassing the smaller southern Gold Coast suburbs, they spent a day immersing themselves in what the area and hospitality operators had to offer.

What’s exciting is that the board members appear highly responsive and unquestionably willing to transform the industry. They are encouraging innovation and looking to lead Australia into the ever-evolving digital tourism arena.

So, what’s in it for tourism and hospitality operators and owners – well in my opinion, a phenomenal support and advertising network. The Tourism Australia group seems willing to listen. If you need support in your region, reach out, tell them what you need and what you’d like to see:

Have a look at their programs. There’s a great one called the “The Aussie Specialist Program”, described as ‘an innovative online course designed to give frontline travel sellers the knowledge and skills needed to sell Australia effectively to their customers.

Whether you’re operating a small 20 room motel or a 160 room resort, I’m now confident that Tourism Australia will back you.

If you want to get in front of the big players, attend one of their industry events. They’re great for a catch up, informative and spectacular if you want to expand your tourism and hospitality network.

I think we’re in for an exciting, bright future in Australian tourism.

Special thanks to Elements of Byron for delivering a great evening.

  • Writer's pictureRyan Johnstone

Where to start and why.

So, you’ve either taken the leap into the accommodation industry or you’ve just moved on to a new business. Either way, now is the best time to engage with the local community. Whether your motel or tourist park is based in a CBD or regional setting, building rapport with locals, other businesses and prominent members of the community is essential for a growing business.

So where to start. Well the list is endless, so you’re probably best starting with a focused approach. Who in town has influence, who would be beneficial to promote & support your business and who likes a good chat.

To give you an idea of where to start and why:

Chamber of Commerce

You’ll generally meet local business operators in this space and you’ll become part of the local decision-making process. Push focus onto tourism based activities and this will hopefully filter through to your business.

Local councillor

The perfect person to support your business and assist when matters governed by council arise. Having your local councillor onboard can often make government processes move faster than normal.

Popular coffee shop

Regularly attend the local coffee shop and get to know the staff. Everyone talks to a coffee barista and what better way to get the word out about your new accommodation business.


Regardless of whether your motel or tourist park has a restaurant, get to know restaurants owners close to your business. If you don’t have a restaurant, customers will look for recommendations, if you do have a restaurant, but it doesn’t serve what the customer is looking for, they’ll appreciate alternative recommendations.

Accommodation businesses

Don’t be shy when it comes to competing businesses. When they’re at capacity, they’ll need to recommend an alternative. Likewise, when you’re at capacity, you will want to know that that customer will be well looked after elsewhere. Referrals are essential in any business and you’re better building a working relationship with competing businesses, rather than fuelling a negative relationship.


This is usually more beneficial in a small regional town, but get to know the police station chief. You might need their help at some stage and they often have a strong standing in the community.

Building rapport with locals, other businesses and prominent members of the community is essential for a growing business.

Most importantly, don’t forget the locals. Unless you’re out to spend a little money on flyer drops, it’s hard to target an entire community in a short time and during your busy start up process. The key is to make yourself seen. Attend local functions, restaurants and charity events. Support local businesses and engage with owners and customers. Be chatty. Meet people and don’t be afraid to open up and let them know who you are and what you do. This is important in CBD areas, particularly in the immediate area, but it is absolutely critical in regional hubs. If you want community support, then support the community.

It might also be worthwhile investigating all the local tourist attractions. Attend each venue if possible and make current pricing available at your reception desk. It’s essential that you know the area and that you have the ability to pass on valuable information to customers – both your customers and local business owners will thank you for it.

If you take away only one thing from this article, it’s be active, be friendly and be seen. You run an accommodation business, so it’s essential to embrace your social side. If you respect your local community, get involved and run a good business, the people will come.

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