Pulling out the stops to attract passengers

Pulling out the stops to attract passengers

THE launch of Australian Pacific Tours' new Northern Territory Short Breaks programme is seen by the company as vital to its continued success in the UK market.

"It's an area in which we were lacking," admitted UK/Europe regional manager Gary Bartelings. "Buying Holiday AKT, which operated the Northern Territory programme, was a wise move for us."

APT's 32-page Northern Territory brochure focuses on two areas of the Australian state - the tropical Top End and arid Red Centre - with tours from half a day to 13 days.

The operator regards it as a stop-gap, however. The product will eventually be incorporated into APT's combined Australia/New Zealand brochure, said Bartelings.

Northern Territory is the latest addition to an expanding APT portfolio that includes Newmans Holidays and budget operator Travelmarvel, both of which were acquired three years ago.

Three months ago, Guildford-based Sunbeam Tours joined the APT stable, but will continue to be run as a separate company as its product parallels Travelmarvel.

The Australia/New Zealand and dedicated New Zealand brochures are APT's key publications in the UK market - around 70% of the operator's British clients head for Australasia. Allied to them is Australia Sightseeing, listing 70 full-day, half-day and overnight tours across the country. Excursions around Adelaide and Hobart joined the programme this year.

The operator also has three APT International Tours brochures: America, Canada and Alaska - booked by 20% of APT's UK clients; Europe, Britain and Ireland, in its first year and targeted at the Australian and North American markets; and Africa.

Distribution of APT's air-exclusive product in the UK is mainly through other operators - Travel 2 overbrands APT's brochures and Austravel, BA Holidays, Jetabout, Tailormade, Trailfinders, Travelbag and a few smaller operators buy in.

Headquartered in Melbourne, APT claims around 20,000 sales annually of its products in the UK. An eight-strong UK sales team maintains contact with agents.

"The company has been built on luxury coach touring, but we're now walking away from the word 'coach'," said Bartelings.

Cruise and rail product is increasingly featuring at the expense of coach touring as APT sets out to widen its product range - particularly in North America and New Zealand.

Brochures tend to be information-packed, with emphasis on content rather than design. While the average age of APT's domestic Australian customers - half its clientele - is 55-plus, the operator's international market covers a broader age range, from 35 upwards.

Both Newmans and Travelmarvel attract a younger market.

"This end is not concerned about luxury. Camping in Northern Territory is especially popular," said Bartelings.


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