Tourism NT has always scored its biggest wins targeting the over 50s. Problem is, every other brand has twigged they’re the only one still spending. Cutting through is harder because other tourism bodies are going large on media to carve out their own slice. Plus, it’s already tricky for tourism operators to differentiate. Atomic 212°’s Asier Carazo plays a game of “hide the logo” with Tourism NT’s team every time he visits Darwin, showing other tourism body ads without their branding, and usually catches them out. “I can’t deny that we all get tripped occasionally,” admits Tourism NT marketing boss Tony Quarmby. “Unless you have the Opera House in your shot or Uluru … then it’s really only the cityscapes that are going to make any difference. And to most consumers, a city is a city.”

Problem is, most of the over 50s have “done” Uluru – so how to convince them that the NT is more than the iconic rock?

At the same time, over 50s mindsets have shifted. They are far more safety conscious than even two years ago, says Quarmby, more anxious and more price focused – and that flux is ongoing. So Tourism NT needs to hit consumers with relevant, personalised content that speaks to those shifting mindsets, calms consumer nerves and gets them spending. Meanwhile, for the under 50s market, Quarmby needs to sell the NT as an experience and adventure that rivals overseas travel – without the expense of leaving the country.

Hence Tourism NT going through a massive media, martech and process overhaul. At the heart sits a customer data platform, or CDP, to enable deeper understanding of key demo mindsets and more effective “real-time” personalised comms. Plus, it should help media budgets go further – i.e. by supressing ads to less relevant prospects, “and making sure we are seeking new people,” per Atomic’s Ashleigh Carter.

Quarmby expects the new stack and approach to “make a big difference” in about six months time. In the meantime, he’s backing Atomic to deliver best bang for buck with smarter tactical campaigns to keep visitors incoming. He cites NT’s hijacking of the Adelaide AFL Gather Round last month, reaching millions with Uluru-themed billboards and then retargeting them with discount vouchers – delivering “370 per cent plus in ROI” – as the kind of approach it needs to take.

Atomic’s Carazo thinks brands need to embrace the current chaotic environment and accept having to work harder on media campaigns to move the needle. “More craft, more high-touch media activity is definitely going to pay off,” he says. “Set and forget” won’t cut it.

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