Flight Centre releases first-ever ‘Turner Report’

Tara Harrison

Flight Centre has released its first ever data report on the trends and habits of its Australian customers.

Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner delivered the report at the Brisbane headquarters, and focused on the accessibility and affordability of travel, with Flight Centre sending three million passengers away last year alone.

“Think about what you pay for flights and what that means to average wages. It’s now down to a week’s average salary. Going from what used to be worth three month’s salary to a week seems remarkable,” Turner said.

Australian travel grew from 2015 to 2016, while security concerns did dampen some destinations. Travel to France in 2016 was down 17 per cent while Turkey dropped 53 per cent.

“Even with some of the tragedies, Australians are still travelling – France was down but they just went to other places. After Bali bombings people went to Fiji – they switch around,” Turner said.

It will come as no surprise that the biggest spenders are the baby boomers, in the 50-54 year age group.

“Baby boomers are really important – we’ve got to get them before they die so we have about 20 years left – or 30,” Turner said.

In saying that, there’s education still to be done, with Turner adding, “Some of our baby boomer passengers still won’t pay for business class when it’s $6000.

“Our job to show people how cheap travel is – when you get there, there has been inflation but you have a lot of choice on how much you spend on the ground,” Turner said.

But let’s not disregard the millenials, who are using travel agents as much as ever. The 15-19 year old age bracket has seen 40 per cent growth in 2016 with in-store visits and bookings.

“Young people buy travel through people – the assumption that the youth don’t use agents is incorrect,” Flight Centre Executive General Manager, Leisure, Tom Walley said.

While they have the lowest spend, capturing them at a young age will see them mature with the brand.

The highest value postcodes in Australia were also revealed, with North Sydney, NSW first; Brisbane City second; and Rouse Hill, NSW third.

The favourite destination for Sydneysiders? Europe and Singapore, showing that the Changi stopover is still alive and well.

It turns out the average Australian Flight Centre traveller is a 47-year old male who travels for 15 days, plans his trip 56 days before departure and enquires in store at Flight Centre stores.

Surprisingly, 18-34 year olds represent 22 per cent of cruise bookings, which exceeds the 35-49 bracket, which takes only 15 per cent.

The majority of Flight Centre’s travellers are solo, although this must be taken in light of SME corporate bookings.

In good news for tour operators, group travel has increased by 21 per cent.

For tourism boards, know that a campaign in conjunction with Flight Centre ramps up visitation. New Caledonia partnered with Flight Centre and has seen bookings rise 42 per cent off the back of that campaign.

Japan is also a hot destination, with bookings up 18 per cent. The US is the most popular destination for Australians overall.

Low cost carriers are still being booked by Flight Centre agent too, with one in ten passengers on budget airlines booked through a Flighty.