After 30 something years in marketing industry and tourism consutant for 6 years, the healthy life and architecture enthusiast clearly knows what she is talking about. It’s not just a job, it is a dream job. Find out what excites her about Indonesia and how she helps Indonesia’s tourism industry, again, win over the hearts of the people of Down Under. Yes, even after the pandemic!
Hi Miriam, tell us about your job?
I am a tourism marketing consultant with a focus on Indonesia. My services enable clients to successfully market to travellers and travel organisations. My main client is the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia where I have been appointed the Visit Indonesia Tourism Officer since 2016.
What I do falls into two broad areas – strategic consultancy where we advise senior government and management on what to do and implementation where we do it.
On the strategic consultancy side we help clients answer questions like how should I position my product to be attractive, how are my competitors performing, which audience is most valuable, what objective will give me the best results, what tactics should we implement, what will they cost and what return on investment can we expect.
These insights and recommendations are backed by research and analysis. The implementation side of my work is varied depending on client requirements and our initiatives. At the moment I am planning media visits to Indonesia including messaging and content, advising on regulations to enter Bali, working on sales promotions with airlines and travel agents and making connections between Australian and Indonesian industry.
Networking and stakeholder engagement is an important part of my job. I provide advice and information to Australian industry on product developments in Indonesia. And I do the same for Indonesian industry on market developments in Australia.
In future I look forward to implementing a national brand campaign for Indonesia where we focus attention on the best of the country. I also want to do more promotions and events to highlight new Indonesian destinations and cuisine. I am keen to talk to businesses who want to do the same.
Tell us your hobbies and places you love visiting.
I enjoy dining out and trying new foods. On my recent trip to Bali we visited a chef in Ubud who is pioneering work in fermented foods. This is exciting because it’s healthy, it’s a global trend and it’s happening in Indonesia! We also went foraging for locally grown ingredients and my husband I tried roasted crickets, witchety grubs and jungle honey. Interesting and delicious.
Maintaining my health is important so I do yoga, play tennis, run and do a weekly bootcamp with my sisters. I am keen to do a yoga retreat in Bali or Central Java one day.
I live in an old part of Sydney, called Newtown. It’s a melting pot of creative culture and cuisine which makes it a fun place to explore. There’s always something new and the latest would have to be vegan food and fancy, non-alcoholic beverages.
Architecture, interior design and building are other interests. In Australia I’ll get my art fix walking and admiring historical buildings and visiting new hotels and restaurants.
In Indonesia there is so much to explore architecturally. I love Kota Tua in Jakarta and also Semarang for the old Dutch and Chinese buildings, Bali for the ancient temples, Lombok with the various turret shapes of mosques, East Flores for its cathedral and any street corner for a gerobak or homely warung which contribute to the rich visual tapestry of Indonesia.
After time in the city I like to decompress in nature. We have a place near the beach and we escape there whenever we can. It’s peaceful listening to the sound of waves and frogs at dusk.
How long have you been in this industry?
I have been in tourism for 6 years and marketing more broadly for 30! I started my career in Jakarta where I spent almost 10 years advising local and multinational companies on marketing to Indonesians. Now it’s the other way around and I’m promoting Indonesia to them!
Is this your dream job? If yes, kindly tell us why.
Of course it is a dream job! I am promoting one of the most interesting destinations in the world and there’s so much room for growth. I want to motivate Australians visiting Bali to explore new destinations. There’s a whole new audience that doesn’t event know Indonesia and I want to introduce them. This is really exciting.
How do you see Indonesian Tourism before Covid-19 pandemic?
Indonesia enjoyed about 10% market share of all Australian overseas holiday trips and travel to Bali was booming. Pre-Covid Bali was enjoying 6% Compound Annual Growth per year – up to 150,000 extra visits each year from Australia. However, only 4% of visitors from Australia were visiting non-Bali destinations. This has remained static and, with adequate marketing, presents future growth.
We had super tough times during pandemic where tourism got hit the hardest, how is it now? Will we ever regain the pre-Covid situation?
The news is getting better and better. Last week I analysed the capacity of airlines back into Indonesia. If frequency stays as per projections then Indonesia is on track to achieve between 650,000 and 850,000 visits from Australia between now and December. If each Australian spends AUD 2,000 per visit then this represents up to AUD 1.7 billion in foreign exchange. Tourism is an economic locomotive and I’m looking forward to other provinces enjoying these benefits.
There are still some travel barriers to Indonesia especially around pre-departure PCR testing and vaccinations for children between 6 and 17. By 2023 I expect the situation will be clearer and Indonesia can fully regain its pre-COVID volume.
How Australians see Indonesian Tourism after Indonesian Government eased the restrictions?
Demand is huge after the Government eased restrictions. Bali has been promoting its destination to international travellers for over 100 years. It has a global network of advocates and digitally savvy long staying guests. This audience keeps Bali’s profile high and demand strong. The challenge and the opportunity is dispersal in Bali and marketing new destinations.
Bali is always the go-to holiday spot for Australian in Indonesia. However, Indonesia is vast and has many holiday spots than just Bali. How do you market other places in Indonesia for Australian? And how most Australian think of these “other holiday spots”?
You are right. Indonesia has so many other holiday spots. An important first step in marketing other destinations is to understand the audience. My research shows that just 16% of Australians who visit Bali travel to other destinations in Indonesia. And although Australians are aware of a country called Indonesia they are unaware of the type of holiday they can have in Indonesia and whether they are welcome. This can be addressed with knowledge about customer needs and brand marketing campaigns to inspire these travellers to visit Indonesia.
We need to market and attract attention to Indonesia first – at a national level. Then we need to market the country’s sub-brand destinations. This can include what’s new in Bali but also the super-priority destinations and others. Once this is done we can sell more destinations and increase visitation to new areas.
Destination development takes decades. We see this with Bali’s success which has taken 100 years of promotion. In future it would be great to see the national destination – Indonesia – doing more brand campaigns and new destinations investing in consistent, high quality marketing activity.
Actually, how to attract Australian to have holiday in Indonesia? Are there any special requirements to have to attract Australian traveller?
As mentioned previously it’s about understanding the customer first and what they are seeking. It is also important for the destination to attract they type of tourists it wants. We see a new directive from the Ministry to attract higher spending travellers (USD 1100 per visit) and longer staying (10 nights). This is an area the Ministry of Tourism is working on now.
Australians are sophisticated travellers with many holiday options. Before COVID there were over 120 national, state, regional and city tourism offices active in Australia. The competition for the Australian travel dollar is high so the marketing to attract them has to be compelling.
Indonesia can compete by consolidating country messaging into a clear and compelling story for the audience it wants to attract. I expect this new audience will be more socially conservative than Bali’s audience.
Destinations succeed with clear objectives and disciplined customer-focussed execution. It starts and ends with the traveller – what they want, what they don’t want and the destination that is best able to speak to those needs.
Indonesian people highly honour and respect tradition and culture. However, western people don’t really respect it and there are several, if not many, cases they dishonour it. In your opinion, what drives them to do sacrilege?
I disagree. Educated western people, generally, do respect tradition and culture. When a destination, like Bali, targets the mass market by offering the lowest prices they will attract the entire spectrum of travellers. Furthermore when a destination has a reputation for being free then it attracts people who enjoy those freedoms – and may abuse them.
In Australia, Bali dominates the perception of Indonesia. This presents a challenge and an opportunity. It is a challenge because many Australians perceive Bali to be too free and do not want to travel there because of that. This traveller could be the audience that Indonesia is missing and the audience that presents growth opportunities for the rest of the country.
What you love about Indonesia? And why people should visit Indonesia?
The warmth and charm of the people. Indonesians are family and community focussed and make you feel very welcome wherever you travel. Indonesians have a great sense of fun and enjoy a joke so are always enjoyable company.
The food, spice and variety of flavours. From BBQ fish and lalapan in West Java to giant spicy prawns in Kalimantan. From nasi Padang in West Sumatra to the fresh lawar salads in Bali. The tastes are rich and varied making a holiday in Indonesia a flavourful experience.
It’s not only the variey of food but the places where you can eat that make Indonesia exciting. From colonial buildings like Café Batavia and Palais Kunstkring in Jakarta, to street food in Yogyakarta through to cliff-side restaurants in Bali and Flores. From the deck of a phinisi sailing through the eastern islands, a trendy café in Canggu up to a Medan street-seller of durian the range of foodie experiences you can have in Indonesia is like no where else on earth.
The diversity of Indonesia’s cultures. There are thousands of ethnicities making it one of the most culturally diverse places in the world.
Spectacular and remote natural landscapes like the undiscovered Eastern Islands of Indonesia. With people seeking more remote holidays now this presents new opportunities for travel to Indonesia.
Are there new perspectives or programs for Indonesian Tourism during Mr. Sandiaga Uno visit a couple months ago?
The focus right now is rebooting tourism as fast as possible. To achieve this the sales effort in 2022 will focus on capturing and converting the demand for Bali into bookings. Additional benefit will be achieved by dispersing travellers beyond Badung and Gianyar, Bali and motivating others to take add on trips.
The super priority destinations will be highlighted in future activity. A destination branding campaign was recently done for Mandalika on Trip Advisor, Australia. Future activity is expected to highlight more developed areas like Labuan Bajo and Borobudur and to a lesser extent Likupang and Lake Toba.
Traditionally Indonesia’s target audience has been millennials and digital nomads. This will continue, and in future we can also expect to see Indonesia targeting higher spending and longer staying travellers.
Promoting Indonesia through food will be a pillar of the creative economy side of Minister Sandi’s portfolio. A program called Spice up the World has been developed to market Indonesian spices and flavours. Activations for Australia are being planned.
Any Indonesia food you love?
Many. My top three are:
1. Ikan bakar, lalapan, kangkung cah polos, tempeh bacem, sambal
2. Nasi Padang
3. Sambal matah Bali with Ikan bakar Bali
4. Soto ayam and soto Betawi…I can’t choose just three. Ha! [IM]