Tourism master class for Gold Coast

Sarah Gardiner, Griffith University, on beach with Gold Coast high rise skyline in background.
Dr Sarah Gardiner believes the future of commercial tourism rests with young entrepreneurs

The Griffith Institute for Tourism has teamed up with the University of Queensland, Gold Coast Tourism and City of Gold Coast for a master class on the ultimate tourism experience.

About 50 Gold Coast tourist operators will be represented at this Friday’s one-day event, which has been designed and devised by Dr Sarah Gardiner as part of an Australian Government TQUAL Grant.

The six-hour tourism education session will consider the future tourist, designing new experiences and innovative approaches in targeting the Chinese youth traveller market. A 90-minute industry panel will focus on innovation.

“We’re not seeing enough in terms of product innovation,” Dr Gardiner, a researcher at the Griffith Institute for Tourism, says. “Tourist operators need to be constantly asking how they can change their product to attract new markets or meet the demands of emerging markets.

“We’ve done a good job marketing the Gold Coast as a destination, but we can’t keep marketing. The focus is now on the product, on experience design and attraction design, and where the operator goes with the product they develop within the destination. It’s time to think differently.”

The master class takes place at Southport Yacht Club at Main Beach, running from 9am to 3.15pm. The final session will analyse the complexities of the Chinese youth traveller and how the product might be reconsidered and restructured to meet this emerging market.

“Traditionally, the Chinese tourist was not attracted to adventure experiences,” Dr Gardiner said. “The Chinese international student of today is the first independent Chinese tourist, the first to take a step away from the group tour tradition. Operators need to understand this independent travel market to ensure the right product is on offer.

“The more they travel independently while here the more adventurous the Chinese students become and the more likely they are to seek out adventure experiences. Operators have to think about how they present their product to this market.

“A Chinese student thinks differently. They hold a cultural value whereby their body belongs to their parents, so safety is paramount for them. It’s important for them to demonstrate to their family that they are safe while they are away.

“It’s crucial, therefore, for the operator to highlight accreditation and the safety aspects of their product. They need to spend more time reassuring them about safety equipment, while downplaying the thrills and spills of an adventure ride.

“Success with this market could potentially open up a much wider market in the future.”

The Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT), Australia’s largest dedicated centre for world-leading research in this area, opened at Griffith University on January 1. Griffith University has launched a suite of initiatives under its three-year ‘New Griffith 2013-2016’ program, signifying an intensive period of change and innovation.

Further details on the master class here.