Federation University professors are breaking down barriers to make their research more accessible to the Ballarat community through its new presentation series Professor in a Pub.
Associate Professor Elisa Backer will begin the series at the Lake View Hotel on March 21, presenting her research in tourism as the world's leading expert on visiting friends and relatives.
The session, run in partnership with Visit Ballarat, will help tourism operators develop an understanding of an untapped tourism market.
Research shows visiting friends and relatives travel comprises around half of Australia’s domestic visitor market by volume.
To have an impact beyond academe we really need to be looking at ways to make research accessible for people, whether that be the broader community or operators.Elisa Backer, Federation University Associate Professor
But Associate Professsor Backer says size the market is highly misunderstood and generally overlooked by tourism operators as a market segment despite its size.
“If regional tourism destinations can understand exactly how to capitalise on visiting friends and relatives travel, not only will it result in innumerable benefits for the local economy, it can lead to better experiences for the visiting friend or relative and the host," she said.
Associate Professor Backer said there was an assumption visiting friends and relatives stayed with their friends and relatives, but almost a quarter don't.
"Another significant finding from my research is visiting friends and relatives as a tourism segment is more stable. When you have downturns in the economy leisure tourism is affected quite readily, but people still need to connect with friends and family.
“Universities also drive visitor tourism with families of international students often visiting regularly and staying for long periods of time in commercial accommodation.”
Associate Professor Backer said another tip for tourism operators was to market to local residents as a way to tap into the visiting friends and relatives market, as visitors will rely on information from those who live here.
The Professor in a Pub session on March 21 will be the first in a series of events where Federation University academics will present research to the Ballarat community.
"We are hoping to have a stronger opportunity to engage with the community and let people know what sort of research is happening at Federation University," she said.
"We realised we do a lot of really important research and it gets published in academic journals. That is not really a place for people in the community to access it yet it can make a difference to people.
"To have an impact beyond academe we really need to be looking at ways to make research accessible for people, whether that be the broader community or operators."
Interested people can book to attend the session through Eventbrite, www.eventbrite.com.au/e/professor-in-a-pub-visiting-friends-and-relatives-information-session-tickets-55010475814?aff=ebdssbeac