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Lord Howe Island SWOT - part 2

01-May-2014

Planning for the future of an iconic tourism destination is tricky - there are many vested interests and differences of opinion. Here's the contribution we made to our new Lord Howe Island Destination Management Plan.

Opportunities for growth

1. Need to target the best demographic for the correct season

  • Peak season – mostly exclusive Sydney guests, repeat family guests, high disposable income guests (not price sensitive and more interested in a beach holiday)

  • Shoulder season guests – couples, young families, older guests (some price sensitivity and open to all activities)

  • Low season guests – special interest and older guests (price sensitive, discount or value driven and less interested in tours)

2. Need to actively promote shoulder seasons – plenty of beds to sell, good yield potential for businesses, good growth potential from wide range of demographics, and good ROI from advertising campaigns (unlike low season which feels like flogging a dead horse)

3. Opportunity to boost active ‘adventure’ market (45 to 65 age group) – young at heart, fit, healthy, adventurous, engaged in the surrounding environment etc. - fits well with Lord Howe’s available activities, also these guests will find something to do even in wet weather

4. Opportunity to boost ‘exclusive’ market

5. Opportunity to boost ‘repeat guest’ market through incentives (and focus less on aspirational one-off travel)

6. Opportunity to boost ‘family’ market in July and September school holidays – maybe through a Junior Ranger program, kids club or other organised activities

7. Encourage Qantas to reduce airfares (not sure how…) to encourage higher visitor numbers – no need for cheap fares, but something affordable (maybe $900 full economy instead of $1600). At present, Qantas is pushing the price sensitivity of potential guests to the limit with more full economy airfares. This damages our long term reputation – how many of those people will make enquires again in the future?

8. Increase the number of lower fare class airfares if they are purchased 6 months prior to travel to encourage early bookings and genuine savings for guests (and certainty for Qantas and lodges)

9. Opportunity to boost MICE market, particularly those groups interested in team building and development away from distractions

10. Opportunity to organise major events that fit with Lord Howe’s unique selling points – food & wine, adventure, walking, sport, swimming

11. Need to develop new activities and tours for repeat guests

12. Need to encourage lodges to use online booking services to engage the ‘instant confirmation’ market

13. Increase use of research and evaluation – we need to learn and validate what works and improve it

14. Biggest bottle neck to growth is the air service and runway – we must have certainty soon to help reduce the risk of reinvestment and facilitate finance

15. Develop new industries that are compatible with tourism and destination awareness – Kentia palms (how’s that for a new idea?) or value added produce – although this is completely constrained by land tenure and LHIB regulation

16. Encourage DNSW to use Lord Howe for ‘icon’ marketing to attract visitors to NSW (similar to SA using Kangaroo Island).

New infrastructure

1. Runway and suitable aircraft ASAP. This should be our top priority, more important than the rest of the items combined

2. Internet access – reliable, affordable, fast(er)

3. Protection from coastal erosion at Windy Point (Lagoon Rd and Pinetrees boatshed)

4. Improved lighting around settlement areas to help guests walk home at night

5. Simple boardwalks with interpretation in key areas (Junior Ranger program)

6. Free or cheap bus service for island visitors operating 8 hours a day, seven days a week, or at the very least, during the winter months

7. Better wastewater treatment

8. ‘Green’ infrastructure and sustainable use of resources – solar power, water recycling etc. – anything that fits with our unique selling points

9. ‘Food’ infrastructure – dairy, fruit crops, market gardens, cut flowers – also create new tourist activities and opportunities for events and PR

10. Upgrade boatsheds and waterfront precinct near CBD – they look like the Board doesn’t care which reflects poorly on our tourism product. The LHI Environmental Tours boatshed looks great – imagine if they all looked like that (and you could buy a coffee or a drink and relax and watch the sunset?).

11. Need a public toilet near the boatshed area – the one at the public hall isn’t far away, but it’s not close enough to be convenient for people about to go on a boat trip or families with little kids

12. Construct a small multi-purpose conference centre to help encourage the MICE market (give the Board another business opportunity)

13. Construct more public toilets in remote areas, maybe combined with a shelter, a seat to sit on when putting on walking boots and some interpretative signage

14. Construct a Lagoon Beach shed somewhere for guests to use as a sheltered area

15. Install some outside showers near the boatsheds

16. Community preschool (DA approved but never built) and maybe school holiday kids club would make it easier for women with children to work

New experiences

1. Develop unique ‘adventure’ packages for active guests

2. Improve the nature based experience without indoctrination or ‘green wash’ – maybe through new boardwalks and signage

3. Recognise us – the community – with better historical and cultural signage

4. Develop new activities and tours that broaden the product offering and engage our repeat guests

New resources

1. Ensure Lord Howe has a focussed tourism promotion and marketing organisation, with a good budget to spend on marketing and expert advice (and a smaller budget for local salaries when volunteers are available)

2. Effective advocacy at all levels of government to ensure Lord Howe is front of mind – with a bed limit of 400 and small air service, it’s easy for us to fall between the cracks when compared to major destinations that attract big numbers. Every so often, DNSW threatens to combine Lord Howe with Northern NSW, just like the old days – which would be a disaster.

3. Better connection with travel industry professionals – online, wholesale and retail

4. Relentless focus on media and PR

5. Organise some BIG events for BIG exposure

6. Learn from other destinations – success and failure

7. Understand our product in relation to rival destinations, and tweak our unique selling points as required

8. Research and evaluation – we have no (or very limited data) on most of the above. The visitor experience cards from 2013 are a useful start. The LHITA website will have useful reports and metadata – but we need someone with the right qualifications and experience to analyse the website traffic data. Pinetrees has a few thousand feedback forms with comprehensive information about the destination and guest experience.

9. Need for LHITA to engage the local businesses who spend substantial marketing budgets – Arajilla, Capella and Pinetrees - to collaborate and share information

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