From 18-year-old backpackers to 75-year-old grey nomads, an increasing number of Australians are taking to the great outdoors.
It’s a trend confirmed by Tourism Research Australia statistics for 2015, which show substantial year-on-year growth for domestic tourism, with overnight trips up 7% to 87.1 million, nights increasing 4% to 322 million, and spend growing 6% to $57.9 billion. Day trips also increased 9% to reach 179.6 million for the year, while day spend increased by 6% to reach $19 billion.
Close to half of the overnight trip spend (49%) was for the purpose of holidays, with business trip spending accounting for 26% of outlay.
As domestic tourism continues to present a more favourable option to families wary of the dangers of international travel, more Australians are investing their time and money into vehicle-based domestic holidays.
This is taking the form of increased spending on such items as 4WD vehicles, caravans, motorhomes, pop-tops, camper trailers and toy haulers. In fact, caravan and campervans remain the fastest growing vehicle type in Australia by registration for the sixth year running.
Associated spending is going into camping gear, ski and watersport equipment trailers, and assorted other items for activities like fishing, hiking and surfing.
Continued pressure on the Aussie dollar has also made overseas travel less inviting, with many more Australian holidayers looking in their own backyard for adventure.
Pitching sales and tents…
Online marketplace Outdoria launched in June last year with big plans to tap into this growing appetite for outdoor travel experiences.
Outdoria general manager Drew Davies says activities like camping and caravanning are popular with a broad range of people who all have one thing in common: a sense of adventure.
“It’s a bit of an addiction, Australians are spending more time doing it and spending more money in the process,” Davies says.
He says Outdoria has four core customer groups: adventurers, explorers, freedom-seekers and nomads.
“We want to go out and see Australia. We want to do activities and experience the great outdoors,” he says.
Outdoria was co-founded by Marketplacer and Gerry Ryan, who made his fortune as the owner and founder of caravan manufacturer Jayco. Ryan was part of a consortium of investors who led a funding round of $10 million for Marketplacer last year and he is also behind the latest funding round, which raised a further $11 million for the online marketplace platform provider.
Ryan is also effusive about the state of the outdoors industry in Australia, telling the Weekend Australian recently that market conditions are the best he has seen in 40 years.
Heading online to go outdoors…
Like other retail sectors, the outdoors and adventure industry has had to adapt to online shopping. The modern day consumer is now researching online and buying from local stores and dealerships or from them online.
While the aim for consumers might be to get away from it all by heading outdoors, the first step in that journey now involves going online to research products. Davies says there are lots of different types of retailers and businesses using the site, in lots of different ways that help their business.
“Businesses are always open to new or smarter ways to get their product, service or story in front of people looking to buy, we make it really easy for them to do that. They understand if they do that, there’s going to be success and a return on their investment,” he says.
“We not only offer an online marketplace with customers coming to us looking to buy. We work closely with businesses to help them be increasingly relevant to their customers. We partner with them to help them adapt and continue to connect with the modern day consumer.”
“I believe we all need to shift our thinking from E-commerce as being different to retail and embrace it as just how we do business, our customers have made that step forwards, so do we.”
He says continually sharpening the Outdoria value proposition for such retailers has been an important aspect in the development of the marketplace. Having had experience establishing and expanding other Marketplacer sites such as Bike Exchange and House of Home, Davies knew it was vital to get scale on the retail side of the marketplace equation in order to ensure Outdoria launched with momentum.
Having someone with Ryan’s industry experience and nous on board from the start helped signal to potential vendors that Outdoria was gearing up to be a marketplace with enormous potential.
Bitten by the outdoor bug…
As Davies has mentioned, the allure of the outdoors can be addictive, with consumers always on the lookout for new additions to their camping set up or upgrades to products they already own.
A big part of Outdoria’s strategy is aligned to content production and exposure, which Davies says is designed to inspire, educate and entertain consumers.
“Ninety per cent of content on the internet was created in the last year – content is king. Creating and linking inspirational, educational and entertaining content to product and sales for our partners is a strong focus,” he says.
“We have an end to end production team and facility that can create anything from drone videography and photography to infographics and copy. Because we understand and have access to our tribes it enables us to create emotion. Through exposure to great content we inspire consumers to get out there and experience what the outdoors and Australia has to offer.”
He hopes people who come to Outdoria are duly inspired to go deeper in exploring their passion for the great outdoors.
He says the 18-year-old who buys a one-person tent for an outdoor music festival might be back soon for a gas cooker, then maybe a better sleeping bag, and the list goes on. People bitten by the outdoors bug become repeat customers (usually buying a decent bug zapper at some point as well).
Likewise with older consumers, who make the progression from camper trailers to pop-tops, caravans and then on motorhomes, which can retail for anything up to a cool $280,000.
The tactile and technical nature of the outdoors equipment means many customers still want to touch and try what they’re buying by going into dealerships and stores. Davies says Outdoria sees part of its job as qualifying customers as best as possible for retailers in regard to information and visual presentation pertaining to products then guiding the customer to connect with the business in the way they choose, whether that’s going into store, a phone call, emailing, buying online or click ‘n’ collect.
He says it’s about understanding that for many shoppers the journey might start online but the sale, especially for big ticket items like caravans, RVs, and camper trailers, is still likely to be made in the showroom.
“Our job is to make sure people get from researching on their screens into our retailers stores, showrooms and dealerships or to buy it online if they choose. So it’s really about giving them the right content and information, qualifying that customer, educating that customer on the brand, on the product and on the experience they’re going to get from that product. Then helping them easily connect with that experience with vehicles and equipment from our partners.”
Davies says it’s all about creating a platform that smooths and eases the path from inquiry to sales.
“We understand the consumer and build our business around them, we attract and retain the consumer, then make it really easy for our retailers to interact, transact and make them their own customer.”