NZ businesses in the tourism and hospitality industries need to shift their focus away from inbound travellers to customers in their own back yard. That is according to Salt & Pepper, an agency that specialises in PR and design for tourism, food and hospitality brands.
Strict border controls, including mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone entering New Zealand means that inbound tourism has all but dried up.
However, Salt & Pepper Director, Jen Bell, who has specialised in tourism and hospitality marketing for almost 15 years, says that now is the ideal time for businesses to be connecting with their local audiences.
“Inbound tourism has traditionally been the money maker, with more marketing dollars invested in attracting overseas visitors than domestic travellers,” she explains. “That should now be turned on its head. While it’s important to maintain a profile internationally, we should be prioritising our New Zealand customers. Both now and during the coming months.”
“We have no idea how long border controls are going to be in place,” she adds. “Some health experts are predicting that Clovid-19 will subside during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter and re-emerge in summer – meaning it could be a long time before those markets are able to visit New Zealand again. It will be locals that keep our tourism and hospitality businesses afloat.”
Jen points out that there are many locations and activities in New Zealand that get overlooked by Kiwis in favour of trips to Australia, Europe and the Pacific Islands.
“Brands should be communicating with those people that have been forced to cancel their holidays overseas but would still like to get away. We’re fortunate here in New Zealand. So far, the virus has been well contained and we’re not facing the extreme social distancing measures that others are implementing. Local travel – as long as you’re avoiding mass gatherings and taking care with hygiene measures (as should be the case wherever you are) has not been advised against.”
“It could be a road trip to a distant part of New Zealand that you haven’t visited before, a weekend escape up the road, or even a day out to see a local landmark. A Jet Star survey from 2018 showed that 28 percent of Kiwis have never been to Queenstown and 38 percent of Millennials have never seen the geothermal mud pools at Rotorua. Now would be a good time to tick off a few of those destinations.”
Jen added that a larger injection from the government in terms of supporting domestic tourism would also be useful. As of five days ago, only $1m has been set aside. That is in contrast to the $20m that Australia has allocated to its, “Holiday here this year” campaign.
“New Zealand businesses are going to get far more return from investment in their domestic audiences at this point. That could remain the case well into the future, depending on how the situation evolves.
“It’s time for the industry to look ahead and be proactive. We need a game plan that is going to ensure the survival of our tourism and hospitality brands over the coming months and years. Encouraging the loyalty of Kiwis here at home is going to be an enormous part of that strategy.”
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