In the heart of the 21st century, it’s no secret that digital transformation has become an integral part of nearly every industry. From healthcare to finance, education to entertainment, the digital revolution has redefined how we operate, connect with customers, and achieve organisational goals. However, perhaps no sector stands to gain as much from embracing digital transformation as the Australian tourism industry.
As the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW), Jan Hutton is acutely aware of the vast opportunities and challenges facing Australian tourism. Having been recognised as 2023’s Most Influential CEO in Tourism Strategy, we had the opportunity to sit down with Jan and explore her perspective on why spearheading digital transformation in tourism is a role she considers both a privilege and a passion.
I’ve always believed that travel makes the world a better place. It changes us from the inside. Tourism isn’t just an industry; it’s an economic powerhouse that drives growth and prosperity. It builds local community empowerment, creates opportunities, and ignites collaboration beyond borders while playing an extremely important socio-economic role. Generating billions in revenue, the industry isn’t confined to just a few regions; it benefits the entire country, employing over 660,000 Australians (and many more needed!). Put simply, when tourism works, we all work.
Embracing digital transformation in the tourism sector is not just an option, it’s a necessity for responsible visitor economy growth. I’m privileged to work with a Board who are leading the charge, committed to equipping tourism businesses for the future. It’s become tough to keep pace with the changing expectations of travellers, the exponential impact of changing technologies, essential climate adaption, tightening margins, and fierce global competition; all of this is reshaping the way tourism businesses need to operate. Tourism businesses that embrace digital transformation are not only going to be better equipped to meet these challenges, but they’re also poised to be more resilient and thrive in our fast-evolving sector.
ATDW is a technology marketplace that connects products with people, powering visibility for tourism businesses across Australia. For 22 years, we’ve been the trusted source of truth for all tourism products, empowering local tourism operators to showcase their brand, reach global audiences, and grow their business. This was (and still is) the pioneering vision of Australia’s State and Territory tourism organisations, alongside Tourism Australia, the proud owners of ATDW.
We embarked on an ambitious journey to transform the way that ATDW supports tourism now and in the future, through genuine collaboration with our industry partners.
As a result, our platform has been reimagined and redeveloped, emerging as a modern marketplace to accelerate the way data is leveraged and tourism businesses are connected to increase their visibility and conversion opportunities. I’m grateful to our Technology Director, Todd Bachelder, who has led this program brilliantly.
At the core of our future-ready platform lies a fresh brand identity and an innovative data and distribution strategy, designed to put Australian tourism businesses in the spotlight, both at home and on the international stage.
Being from South Africa, conservation and regeneration are part of who I am. We need to preserve that which preserves us. I’m thankfully one of many leaders in our industry that want to prioritise visitors who contribute to making a positive impact on our place, our community, and critically on Mother Nature.
I’m extremely proud that ATDW will shortly be launching an internationally aligned Sustainable dataset, as a direct result of our important partnerships with Ecotourism, Earthcheck, and Austrade. Our goal is to provide practical tools to every tourism business, fast-tracking the realisation of Australia’s sustainability goals, and acquiring extremely valuable national data in the process.
People… everything revolves around people and purpose. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without our Corporate Services Director, Rob Cain, who leads our business with equal measures of productivity and compassion. I firmly believe that game-changing performance emerges from sincerely caring about the well-being of all team members, cultivating an empowering workplace culture.
Each member of the ATDW team breathes our values. It’s baked into how we engage customers and partners and suppliers, and each other. While the ATDW Board keep us sharply focused on governance and performance, they also allow me to foster genuine resourcefulness, with everyone feeling responsible for contributing to positive change.
I’m privileged to work with remarkable people – they fuel our ambition, while keeping ATDW grounded, humble, and committed on truly serving our industry rather than merely offering services.
Over the next decade, international tourism will face unprecedented changes. Competition for the right visitors will sharpen as destinations chase the attention of discerning travellers. Aviation negotiations and investment prioritisation will play a critical role in determining which destinations thrive, and which falter. Destination marketing will wrestle with significant changes as AI and data mature, with digital platforms and channels dominating the customer decision journey.
Technology and data will be at the forefront of this disruption, exacerbating performance disparities between destinations and businesses. The ability to harness data and leverage technology will be the key competitive differentiator in the race for visitors. Those who can adapt and innovate will be the winners. Closing this delta is what motivates our Senior Manager of Industry, Nadia Feeney, who is incredible at translating the needs of our industry into future technology innovation.
In the face of these challenges, now is the most exciting era for ATDW. We’re expanding visibility through a new focus on distribution, leveraging the best technology, delivering sustainability tools, optimising conversion, driving bookings, and supporting businesses to make better decisions through high value insights. Our shareholders believe that the time is right for ATDW to play a meaningful role in empowering and supporting the future digital success of our national tourism sector.
With a career steeped in global sustainable destination development, Jan Hutton has proven herself as a trusted visionary in the global travel and tourism sector. Her journey has spanned pivotal executive roles that include CMO at Destination Gold Coast, Destination NSW, South African Tourism and Deloitte Consulting Africa, and Managing Director of Ogilvy One. Serving as the Chief Executive Officer of ATDW, Jan is at the helm of a passionate business, poised to deliver the company’s most ambitious project in its 22-year history.
ATDW was born in 2001 from a collective endeavour between Australia’s official tourism organisations. Their shared purpose was simple: to assist local tourism businesses to expand their online presence. This collaborative spirit led to the establishment of ATDW; a globally unique platform that is a cornerstone in powering the digital future of tourism for Australia.
Today, ATDW supports more than 55,000 tourism operators, connecting them with an impressive 80 million potential visitors annually. It stands proudly as Australia’s only homegrown tourism marketplace, showcasing nearly 90% of the nation’s accommodation and attractions. “Our business is making sure everyone knows your business”.
For business enquiries contact Jan Hutton from Australian Tourism Data Warehouse Pty Ltd on their website – www.atdw.com.au