In Conversation with Nishant Kashikar

Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia
Tuesday, 27 Dec 2016
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Nishant Kashikar is Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, as of June 2010. Before this, Nishant was with Kuoni Travel India Pvt. Ltd. as Head - Marketing, which he joined in December, 2005. He has also worked with Thomas Cook India Ltd. as Manager – Marketing. Prior to his foray into the tourism industry, Nishant has worked as a Group Product Manager - Nutrition Division at Abbott India Ltd.
About
Nishant Kashikar is Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, as of June 2010. Before this, Nishant was with Kuoni Travel India Pvt. Ltd. as Head - Marketing, which he joined in December, 2005. He has also worked with Thomas Cook India Ltd. as Manager – Marketing. Prior to his foray into the tourism industry, Nishant has worked as a Group Product Manager - Nutrition Division at Abbott India Ltd.

Can you describe in detail, some of the most innovative campaigns that have been rolled out by Tourism Australia in the last two years? Can you share with us a specific example or two of campaigns for Tourism Australia?

Since the start of our journey in the Indian market, our marketing campaigns have evolved with new messaging to address the needs of different travel segments. ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’, launched in 2010, is Tourism Australia’s global consumer marketing campaign, and underlines some of the very best attractions and experiences Australia has to offer.

Backed by consumer research, which corroborates the new-age trend of people travelling on their belly, we evolved this campaign to include a strong focus on exceptional food and wine experiences. The objective of the ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign was to inspire the target customer by positioning Australia as an aspirational destination with the world’s best food and wine offerings along with unique and diverse holiday experiences, through an integrated advertising campaign across broadcast, print, digital, and out of home media. As part of this campaign, we have undertaken several initiatives with Indian food influencers to drive visitation to Australia.

Most recently, we launched an airfare sale, the ‘Airline Market Place’, a first-of-its-kind initiative by a Tourism Board in India. The Airline Market Place featured top airfare deals from eight airline partners, namely Air Asia, Air India, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, and Qantas, offering customers the chance to fly to Australia at attractive prices. The campaign was heavily advertised in print, digital and television media during the three-week period, and enjoyed a successful run from November 21, 2016 to December 11, 2016.

How has the frequency of marketing campaigns increased in the last couple of years?

Recognising the potential of the Indian outbound travel market, Tourism Australia began its operations in India during 2008. In 2010-11, Tourism Australia developed a local campaign, ‘Namaste Australia’ to encourage positive consumer advocacy of Australia, showcasing Australia through the eyes of Indians travellers and successful Indians based in Australia.

In 2012, we launched our flagship consumer campaign ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ with an aim to promote the country as a preferred tourist destination amongst Indians. During the same year, Tourism Australia partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to launch Oz Fest, a four-month long Australian cultural festival staged in India. The fest reached more than 290,000 audience members in 18 Indian cities, through 159 events, over four months.   

In 2014, we weaved in food and wine experiences to our story through the ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign. Through successful media partnerships, such as our association with the top-rated television reality show MasterChef Australia, Tourism Australia has introduced Indian television audience to the diversity and multicultural aspect of Australian food experiences. The ‘Restaurant Australia’ campaign has been successfully sustained by hosting key food and wine influencers from the Indian culinary industry to Australia for major events such as ‘Invite The World to Dinner’ in 2014 and ‘NOMA’ in 2016. Additionally, collaborations with leading Indian chefs such as Sanjeev Kapoor, Kunal Kapur, Ranveer Brar, and Vicky Ratnani, to highlight the best of Australia’s culinary offerings, have been successful in highlighting the best of Australia’s food and wine offerings.

In 2016, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth was announced as the global ambassador for Tourism Australia. We launched our latest global campaign ‘Aquatic and Coastal’ campaign focusing on one of Australia’s key competitive advantages – the world-class aquatic and coastal experiences. The campaign will tap into the fact that 70 per cent of our visitors participate in an aquatic and/or coastal experience as part of the trip to Australia.

Tourism Australia recently worked with one of Star Plus’ top-rated shows Ye Hai Mohabbatein and shot a series of 10 episodes in South Australia in a bid to encourage more outbound travellers. Tourism Australia has a decade-long association with Balaji Telefilms, with popular shows such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki and Bade Ache Lagte Hai being shot in Australia for special episodes. Sustained outreach to the target audience by means of national and regional General Entertainment Channels (GECs) has been an integral part of Tourism Australia’s strategy for the Indian market.

Over the years, Tourism Australia has evolved the brand story through varied tourism experiences being showcased through an integrated campaign which has various stories to it such as food, coastal, natural beauty, indigenous culture, thereby making Australia as the preferred destination amongst Indian outbound travellers. Tourism Australia has a decade-long association with Balaji Telefilms. Sustained outreach to the target audience by means of national and regional General Entertainment Channels (GECs) has been an integral part of Tourism Australia’s strategy for the Indian market.

Can you share with us some of the achievements and the increase in tourists to Australia based on the campaigns rolled out for the Indian market?

Australia has been registering sustained growth in visitor arrivals from India. Total arrivals for the year ended (YE) October 2016 were recorded at 253,100, an increase of 11.3 per cent relative to the same period the previous year. This makes India the 9th largest inbound market for arrivals for YE October 2016, and marks a significant milestone in terms of arrival numbers.

Robust marketing activities initiated during the Cricket World Cup were successful in driving Indian cricket enthusiasts to take a trip ‘Down Under’ around the tournament. Based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, arrivals for the period Jan to Mar 2015 recorded an impressive growth of 42 per cent. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 people travelled to Australia to watch the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, thereby contributing roughly A$ 75 million to the Australian economy.

Over the past two years, arrivals into Australia have grown at an average of 18 per cent. Earlier this year, we achieved record numbers as 27,400 Indian tourists visited Australia during the peak school holiday period of May 2016, notching an increase of 18 per cent vis-à-vis May 2015, and signifying Australia’s rising popularity as a leisure holiday destination amongst outbound Indian travellers.

How important is social media for Tourism Australia? How has the traction on social media platforms impacted Tourism Australia’s revenue results? Can you share the plans in digital advertising space for Tourism Australia and tell us about some of the successful digital campaigns and the tractions you are getting online?

Digital is an integral part of our marketing mix and a key destination marketing tool. Social media gives an opportunity for us to reach out to a global audience and drive direct brand engagements with consumers. Social media has a very big part in sharing the Australian story.  We believe that someone who visits Australia can tell the best story about it. From leading Indian actors to sportspersons and other celebrities, many have endorsed Australia as a preferred travel destination on their social media pages and platforms.

In India, our ‘Who Deserves a Break in Oz’ campaign was designed as an engagement driven contest where social audience on LinkedIn and Facebook could nominate their connections for an Australian holiday with an itinerary of their interest in return for a discount voucher with travel partner Make My Trip. The campaign was awarded for the Best Use of LinkedIn and Best Use of Social Media Marketing at 6th CMO Asia Awards.

As part of NOMA dinner in Australia, we organised a live periscope event in collaboration with Twitter Social media outreach by India’s leading food influencers during the event NOMA led to engagement with over 1.5 million consumers through 3,400 Tweets. 

Cricket and passion are synonymous in India. To capitalise on high impact events such as the Cricket World Cup in 2015, we devised an integrated campaign utilising the opportunity provided by the cricket tournaments to create a high visibility campaign to promote travel to Australia during this period. This included 26 crisp vignettes featuring popular sports presenter Gautam Bhimani aptly titled ‘Wonders Down Under’ and aired during the pre/mid/post-match shows during the Border-Gavaskar Series and the ODI Series, and 16 videos of India’s favourite cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle’s experiences across Australia.

With rapid proliferation of social media, Chef Ranveer Brar during his trip to Australia created videos on his Twitter channel called Tweedeos providing a glimpse into the delicious diversity of cuisine in Australia. Through his 40+ videos, he brought across to food aficionados the Australian farms, markets, vineyards and gastronomy stories. Social media has a very big part in sharing the Australian story. We believe that someone who visits Australia can tell the best story about it. From leading Indian actors to sportspersons and other celebrities, many have endorsed Australia as a preferred travel destination on their social media pages and platforms.

What are some of the forthcoming plans in terms of advertising the brand?

Tourism Australia is focusing on the Indian market with increased marketing initiatives to reach out to our target audience. The increasing tourist arrivals from India validates that we are heading in the right direction to achieve the goals outlined in our India 2020 Strategic Plan, which was unveiled in June 2012.

The Tourism Forecasting Committee (TFC) has predicted 265,000 visitors from India for the July 2016-Jun 17 period, a 9.6 per cent increase over 2015-16. Arrivals from India are expected to perform well with an average annual financial year growth rate of 6.4 per cent through to the financial year 2021-22.

Our consumer campaigns will continue to be aimed at building Australia’s awareness and driving conversions through integrated media campaigns across television, print, and digital mediums. These will be executed in collaboration with our key distribution partners, including online travel agencies. The spotlight will be on the very best attractions and uniquely Australian experiences using an integrated media approach.

Our endeavour will be to build aviation and facilitate access since aviation access is a key to the success of a destination, and the increasing strength of connectivity from India to Australia is a big contributor to the rising numbers travelling Down Under. Tourism Australia will continue collaborating with our key airline partners to offer travellers competitive fares to Australia. We shall also continue to work with our State and Territory Tourism Organisations and Australian airports to improve connectivity from India to Australia.

To facilitate the increased traffic seen into Australia, Tourism Australia in partnership with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will leverage the electronic or online lodgement of visa (e600 and e400) applications, an initiative that has been executed with 105 leading travel agencies of India.

Our aim will also be to promote quality experiences. Through face to face trainings, our online training platform, the Aussie Specialist Program, and trade events such as the India Travel Mission, Australian Tourism Exchange and Dreamtime, Tourism Australia will continue to launch new products, experiences and destinations and offer quality experiences to our target audience. To keep pace with the growing demand of Indian travellers, we will continuously enhance our efforts in sustaining and further developing our engagements with our key stakeholders in Australia and India.
 

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