Archive for June, 2011
By Brad Monaghan
With Expedia voting Wellington New Zealand’s best value city this week, it seems opportune to provide an update on the world of the Online Travel Agent (OTA).
In Australia we undertake a lot of activity with OTAs as Wellington has a strong supply of hotel stock that work in this space, consumers have a greater trust in internet booking than perhaps five years ago, and Australia is pretty short haul – New Zealand is seen as almost domestic in terms of travel (language, proximity, culture etc) – so those here for a few days for business or pleasure dont have the barriers of use that some longer haul destinations have.
The main reasons though that Positively Wellington Tourism undertakes work with OTAs is that they can provide tangible results. They can deliver measureable spikes in bookings, are growing their market share in terms of travel sold and they have massive databases of people hungry for deals. So if we are not getting bookings for Wellington (although that’s certainly the aim), we are generating awareness and ideally getting the data of consumers we know want to take short breaks.
The big boys in this world include Wotif, who are the largest provider in Australia and New Zealand and are also tied up with lastminute.com. Expedia - the world’s largest online travel company - also run Hotels.com and Orbitz tie in their Hotelclub brand in Australasia. Plus there’s the likes of Travelocity, who have Zuji in Australia. You get the idea that this is a pretty busy space, with each parent brand typically running others to attain a greater market share. Confusing? Sort of…
It’s pretty apparent why accommodation providers work with OTAs, but as the RTO – why do we work with them? Depending on the OTA, they need critical mass to get traction, so in Australia you can expect them to have a database of the size of the population of Wellington; to get a message to another market that size is going to be expensive! The other key thing is although it is like pulling teeth in terms of getting sales figures etc, we ensure we get this from the outset. This way we can understand what type of growth we see over campaign vs non campaign activity. An OTA isn’t going to convert someone to go to a destination that they haven’t thought about, but as awareness of our fair city and surrounding wine country grows in Oz, it’s a good tool to convert lookers to bookers.
Why wouldn’t you?
Rate parity. Some OTAs insist on being provided the lowest rate available. While this can be OK in small doses, it doesn’t really lead itself to a strong message for branding - “don’t visit the respective provider, just visit the OTA”; not cool. A better option is to see if the OTA is keen on promoting value-adds such as free car parking, free internet, or 2 for 1 breakfast - whatever has the least effect on bottom line.
We know when Wellington will be quiet; unlike most New Zealand hotspots, our traveler demographic is slightly different. Within Australia we try to marry these times up with periods when we know that airfares are going to be affordable. Whilst we know January isn’t peak in Wellington, it is on trans-Tasman airfares - so pushing a $99 hotel deal with a $700 return flight holds less appeal than a $129 with a $349 return flight deal. Naturally it is different for the domestic market. We aim to push such activity to encourage travel from April – October, working through their own channels - things like solus emails (an email solely about Wellington), buying space on their site, and for the big guys that have greater market share in Australia we have ran some outdoor and radio work.
By Jo Heaton
Trade show season is as familiar in my world as duck shooting is in my fathers. About March or April at PWT, the International and Convention teams start pouring over floorplans and liaising with partners about how we roll out the Wellington message at TRENZ and Meetings. Trade shows are about getting the key decision makers – product managers, convention planners, incentive buyers – into New Zealand and connecting them with the tourism operators, hoteliers and venues to do business.
Queenstown hosted TRENZ for the first time this year and did New Zealand proud. Buyers came from Australia to Russia and all countries imbetween to see what New Zealand tourism operators have to offer their clients. Wellington and Wairarapa had a collective presence with 10 operators attending the three day event. PWT met with over 100 buyers in one on one appointments and put our livers on the line to network with many more at the many networking events.
After ten years of TRENZ attendance, here’s my biggest trade show tip – the real work starts when the trade stand comes down. Trade shows just open the door – it’s what you do afterwards that really counts.
My top tips for getting the most out of trade shows:
- When you register for the event, put the dates in your calendar. Now put in two more dates; some time beforehand to research your appointments and some time afterwards to do the follow up. I’m not great at complicated equations so my rule of thumb is ’2:1′ i.e. three days at trade show, at least 1.5 days follow up.
- If it’s an appointment-based trade show, put some time into researching the companies you want to meet with. At these events you’re not paying for floorspace as much as access to appointments. Get online. Check out the websites of the companies you’re meeting with. See what they’re profiling now and figure out where you can fit in.
- Have a system at the event to record the contact and what needs to be done afterwards. (Scrawling on the back of a business card is NOT a system, though permissable during late night networking events!)
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. New Zealand businesses are regarded poorly when it comes to asking for the business. We open the door to the relationship and then wait for someone to book. I’ve had tourism operators tell me they’re still doing their TRENZ follow up five months later. Are you prepared to wait five months for someone to follow up on your new kitchen quote? Or will you take the business to someone who wants it? Do what you said you were going to do – and do it quickly!
- Stay in touch. Just because a company isn’t going to use you this season, you never know when they might need you. Keep a database of contacts and drop them a line when you’ve got something to say. I know of a kayaking operator that met with the same wholesaler every year for three years at TRENZ. The wholesaler already offered the same product with another company, but eventually the incumbent supplier let the wholesaler down and the quietly maintained relationship won the business.
Trade and consumer shows open doors but they don’t close them. Follow up and ask for the business – you might just get it!
By Martin Boland
Is it the weather? Is it the prospect of winning something big in October? (Sorry not Lotto.. I’ve got that pencilled already, but my wife has already kindly advised me she has spent it.. sigh).
Or is it just the charms of winter and that everyone seems to be wanting to meet right now? The amount of last minute enquiries the Bureau team are getting is unprecedented but that is what we are here for – neutral and impartial advice.
Wellington is in demand, with keen interest in our new ‘You Stay We Pay‘ Australian incentive. Basically this is there to attract our Aussie cobbers across the ditch and conference in our region. It provides a NZ$100 discount per person off the accommodation costs – some conditions do apply. This is an attractive financial incentive on top of those amazing exchange rates and the range of options the city has to offer. Get in early.
In other conference news, there are a couple of new cool large venues to check out – Mac’s Brewbar and Function Centre and Te Raukura Te Wharewaka – and if you are a conference booker, don’t forget to register now for the one and only Wellington Conference and Events Expo on Wednesday 13 July.
Positively Wellington Tourism carries out regular trade training in target international markets, generally as part of Tourism New Zealand-organised events. Such visits also offer an opportunity to gain market intelligence to inform our activities and targets. Full trip reports are provided exclusively to PWT’s International Marketing Group, but the below Executive Summary gives a taste of the situation in North America.
• Represent the Wellington & Wairarapa International Marketing Alliance and International Marketing Group at Tourism New Zealand-organised event.
• Train North American Kiwi Specialist agents identified by Tourism New Zealand. • Update Travel Agent Product Managers on Wellington & Wairarapa regional tourism product.
• Work with travel sellers to identify how they can programme more than one night in the region.
State of the Market
Visitor arrivals from the US to New Zealand are down 3.3% in the last year but the Jan-March 2011 quarter was positive, probably due to increased cruise traffic and a late run in the series tour market. Canadian arrivals increased 1% in the year to March and the country has come through the recession better than the US due to commodity demand.
The popularity of package tours has recently seen a revival since the global financial crisis as consumers respond to the value of all inclusive holiday options with a clearly defined price-point. Wellington’s opportunity to attract more Americans will sit in the niche markets surrounding food and wine, film/celebrity (The Hobbit) and second time visitors.
On the downside, America’s attempt to spend its way out of recession has largely failed and despite positive indicators when PWT visited the market in 2010, economic recovery has been slower than expected. Unemployment and housing woes have had a real impact on household wealth and confidence, although the travel market appears most impacted by the loss in value of the US dollar. As the last 12 months have progressed, the high Australian dollar has impacted travel to our part of the world as visiting Australia is often an integral part of any visit to the South Pacific.
On a positive note Air New Zealand have indicated they are likely to increase capacity out of San Francisco and Vancouver to pre-recession levels for the upcoming summer. Also whilst length of stay is still a challenge out of the US because of annual leave entitlements, there is some renewed interest in lengthening stay in Wellington as operators deal with lack of capacity in Christchurch.
The cruise market is strongly associated with America, although significantly more Australians than Americans cruised in New Zealand last year. The big challenge is to make sure that a larger proportion of the potential 136,000 berths that are available for sale in North America are sold there rather than in Australia or New Zealand. TNZ have set real stretch targets for the upcoming summer season of 200,000 plus visitors from North America, the increased air and cruise capacity make this achievable, but a significant challenge.