By Dany Girgis: When some people think of “Schoolies” they may think of the images of the Gold Coast repetitively portrayed by mainstream media. Whilst this may mislead some, the vast majority are now becoming increasingly educated about the reality of the nature of high school leavers. Rather than focusing on the 0.1% of those who find a way to make it on the news in the Gold Coast, many people have come to understand today’s youth – and what they’re really after.
What kind of people do we want in Vanuatu?
The group who come to Vanuatu are from families with a higher level of disposal income (thus the ability to book their children into a premium schoolies event such as Sure Thing Schoolies Vanuatu)
The very mindset of the group who select Vanuatu as their choice of Schoolies destination is a reflection of an 18 year old with a mature mind, and one who wants to experience a new and unique culture – the people who will evolve into the precise target market which Vanuatu would want to attract. Today’s Schoolies are tomorrow’s young families.
The youth of today are very savvy, traditional marketing will not work the way it used to. To succeed with today’s youth there is extensive groundwork that needs to be done, together with an understanding of their values and desires. Today’s youth research a product extensively before committing to it. The positive outcome of this is that only the best products will survive and flourish – hence the need to constantly update and upgrade to make the Schoolies event as perfect as possible with an over-supply of activities and events each day and night.
Whilst the group often arrive loaded with cash, we found that they are selective with how and where they spend. Create a desirable environment for them and the cash will come flying out – ready to spend to enhance their experience where they perceive it is likely.
With an impressive amount of mental and physical energy, the Schoolies make sure they get the most out of their time in Vanuatu – experiencing all segments of the great tourist destination. They inevitably form close bonds with each other as well as the locals who thoroughly enjoy interacting with them. On departure day they exchange contact details, gifts and tears.
With the irrefutable emergence of social media and the average 18 year old having just over 1000 Facebook friends, this creates an incredible phenomenon. A good night out for just 40 Schoolies creates over 40,000 genuine first-hand referrals when they post photos and comments about it on Facebook (and yes, they log on to Facebook every day, especially during schoolies week where each group of friends is trying to outdo each other in presenting the amazing experiences they are having at their chosen Schoolies destination.
Many of these details can seen in the hugely positive feedback on Sure Thing Schoolies Travel Facebook page www.facebook.com/schooliesfanpage
An extraordinary amount of research, planning and administration goes into the event year after year. This comes with understanding the target demographic and customising the experience according to what we find to be the optimal holiday experience.
The flow-on effect is the wave of parents and families who come back time after time as a result of discovering Vanuatu via the initial Schoolies experience of their child. Although the success and smooth-running of the event reveals the fundamental professionalism of Sure Thing Travel, it undoubtedly also reflects favourably on Vanuatu as an attractive holiday destination in general, as well as boosting the positive reviews of the hotels, tours and activities they encounter.
It’s a unique experience where we not only get to plan the holiday for them in Vanuatu, but we also get to experience it with them. The advantage? We get genuine first-hand experience from a customer’s viewpoint and get to adjust and improve every minute detail. It also allows us to grasp the consensus on different activities, meals and venues in Vanuatu which enables us to give accurate feedback to other potential customers who contact us for travel to Vanuatu in the future.
For the last 7 annual Sure Thing Schoolies events in Vanuatu there has been the same result – Exceptional Feedback for Vanuatu as a tourist destination. 2013 has been another excellent year with no injuries, illnesses or breakages. This has lead to another influx of calls from families, friends and relatives of Schoolies wanting advice on which hotel to book for their family trip to Vanuatu.
Schoolies 2014 is shaping up to be a bigger year than ever, we are currently in the process of selecting a hotel as well as updating the tours and activities in our pre-sold Schoolies packages.
The support from hotels, tours operators and the bars/clubs in Vanuatu has been exceptional, and credit must go to all people and businesses involved in making schoolies in Vanuatu an ongoing success.
Sure Thing Vanuatu Travel www.surething.com.au