Each month, we chat to one of our members about life, business and generally the lay of the land. Our March edition guest is Damien Cerantonio from Great Ocean Road Resort
Damien is the Managing Director of Great Ocean Road Resort a boutique 4-star resort located in Anglesea; a coastal town found along the iconic Great Ocean Road 90-minutes from Melbourne. The resort comprises 40 rooms with a mixture of hotel and apartment style rooms, making us an ideal accommodation option for FIT and small groups.  Onsite facilities include a restaurant, bar, conference facility, day spa centre, indoor heated pool & spa, gym, tennis court and trampoline park ensuring the property has plenty on offer for both adults and children.
Fortunately, the Great Ocean Road region was not affected by the recent bushfires and it is now a great time to explore the region while escaping the crowds. With the region experiencing less visitation due to the coronavirus, it has never been a better time to explore not only the Twelve Apostles and Great Ocean Road but also the surfcoast and Great Otway National Park.  
We look forward to welcoming our international visitors to our region as well as our Australian friends when you #holidayherethisyear .
Our industry is dealing with some significant shocks right now – what are your top tips for trade engagement and managing your distribution during these sorts of challenges?
These are certainly the toughest conditions I have faced since being involved in the business in the tourism industry. First and foremost, it has been heart-breaking to see what has happened to so many of our towns and communities which have been fire-affected by the recent bush fires so I can only imagine what businesses in these communities are going through. As we know though, the impact of the bushfires and now the coronavirus are both having a significant impact on tourism businesses all over Australia.

1. Supporting your existing trade relationships

These challenging times are not only on the supplier side, but these are equally challenging times for our inbound tour operators (ITOs) and agents across the world who are selling Australia. It is important as much as possible for suppliers to support our trade partners during these challenging times to ensure when we come out the other side that these agents continue to sell Australia.
This support can simply be a personal message to your trade partners saying “G’day, I hope you are going ok please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you”.  It is also important for suppliers  to understand the situation our ITOs are in and therefore we must look to support our trade partners  as much as possible when it comes to:
  • cancellation policies
  • refunds on cancelled bookings
  • payment terms 
2. Use this time to create new or improved products 
Although the industry is facing a challenging time, the tourism industry is a resilient industry and we will bounce back. It is important for suppliers to use this quieter period to look for ways to improve their current products and/or develop new product offerings. This will give a reason for suppliers to engage with agents especially when conditions improve and international visitors are looking to holiday in Australia again.
3. Famils
With many businesses facing quieter months ahead, it is a great opportunity for businesses to engage and encourage trade to experience their product. Reach out to some of your existing ITOs as well as any new ITOs you would like to work with in the future and encourage them to experience your product.
Suppliers can also extend this to not only agents but also other suppliers as we must work together as a destination and therefore it is important that other businesses in your region understand to your product.
What should we as a destination focus on for our bounce-back?
Australia is fortunate that we have such a diverse offering. Whether it is our beautiful beaches and coastline, nature and wildlife, indigenous experiences, food and wine and our amazing cities – there is a reason for everyone to come and explore Australia either for the first time or if they have been here before.
Not only do we need to focus on the experiences we have on offer and our Australian way of life, but we must also ensure the world understands that;
  • Australia is a safe place to visit now and, in the future.
  • Australia is open for business and the majority of Australia was not affected by the bushfires.
  • Our regions which were directly impacted by the fires are open for business and have fantastic experiences for travellers who visit these communities.
Given we are all #holidayingherethisyear, which Aussie destination is on your must-visit list?
I have still never been to Uluru which has always been on my bucket list of places to visit in Australia. I plan to tick this off my list when I holiday here later this year.