By Jo Heaton
This season, over 90 cruise ships will arrive in Wellington, delivering over 170,000 passengers. That’s 43,000 more passengers and a 33% increase on last cruise season. Ships will carry the passenger equivalent of around 1000 flights from Australia into Wellington. The spectacular growth of this sector makes it one of the most talked about good news stories in tourism.
The times they are a changing
- Cruising is no longer the preserve of Americans. More than 65% of Wellington’s cruise visitors this season will be Australians.
- Ships are being built bigger and they are carrying more passengers and crew. We’re fortunate in Wellington that CentrePort has great port facilities that can cater to increasingly larger vessels and two or even three ships at a time.
- Passengers taking shore excursions tours pre-sold by the cruise lines are declining. With so many Australians cruising, passengers are more likely than ever to do their own thing.
- Cruise lines don’t necessarily make their money from selling cruises. Shore excursions, alcohol, casinos, internet services and additional onboard services like spas are all revenue lines.
On 1 January 2013, Wellington will host up to 5400 cruise ship passengers; before the first resolutions have had a chance to be broken, the equivalent of 32 A320 full planes of air passengers will have come and gone from Wellington’s port in just one day. A lot of Wellington businesses traditionally like to take a break over the Christmas and New Year period, but we need shops and restaurants open and activities for these passengers to enjoy. Let us know what you have planned.
New Year’s Day isn’t even Wellington’s biggest day of the season. That will come on Wednesday 13 March, when over 6000 passengers will be in port. There’s two ships in Wellington on Christmas Eve (a little last minute shopping?), one on Boxing Day and three over Hertz Sevens weekend in February. Cruise ships are usually docked from 8am until around 6pm so ahoy there to a couple of unusual timings – on 15 December and 3 February, the Voyager of the Seas will arrive at lunchtime and depart at 10pm and the Pacific Pearl will arrive late evening and depart at 3pm in February and March.
The Window (Porthole?) of Opportunity
We know from Tourism New Zealand research that visitors that do the most are the most satisfied with their holiday. Let’s show cruise passengers – even the ones arriving on public holidays – what makes Wellington the coolest little cruise capital in the world.
If you’re a retailer or a tourism business, check out the cruise ship schedule on CentrePort’s website. Although schedules can change at the last minute (usually due to weather conditions) key dates are there for everyone to see.
- Open the doors.
- Look at the schedule and consider staying open a little longer on peak days.
- Hats off to businesses already putting out window signage welcoming passengers.
- Some stores offer special discounts, assistance with postage or accept foreign currencies to make transactions easier for passengers. They love this.
Cruise passengers spend far and wide in Wellington – and not necessarily on the obvious purchases like fridge magnets and postcards. They’re buying wine from supermarkets, wool from craft shops, memory sticks from electronic stores and apparently the under-packed Western Australians are even picking up an extra cardigan from Wellington’s vintage boutiques.
The Voyager of the Seas is one of the largest ships to visit New Zealand, with over 3200 passengers onboard and is making several visits to Wellington. The visit of the QE2 last year created a lot of interest and her sister-ship, the Queen Mary, will visit Wellington on 3 March 2013. These elegant ocean liners garner a lot of attention when they visit, harking back to the golden age of cruising. Cruise New Zealand’s website is a good tool to research the different ships, passenger and crew numbers.
To ensure that cruise passengers make the most of their time in Wellington, our i-SITE Manager Selena Murray has been recruiting even more Wellington City Ambassadors. These volunteers are based at the CentrePort cruise terminal and around key locations in the city on cruise days. They do a fantastic job of providing maps, information, directions, local knowledge and a warm welcome. The i-SITE circulates information to the Ambassadors before each cruise day so if your business is open on public holidays, do let the team know.
Covec’s Understanding the Value Created by Cruise Tourism research was released at the TIANZ Summit. Each adult cruise passenger during the 2011/12 cruise season was worth an average of NZ$887 to New-Zealand based businesses. Did your business do everything it could to benefit from these visitors?
To make the most of the opportunities presented by cruise passengers, Wellington is going to have to be open all hours. Or at least, open more hours.
By Jo Heaton
“The impact of the French Revolution? Too early to say.”
Like many others, I thought this quote, attributed to China’s first premier exemplifies great Asian wisdom and long term thinking. Like a lot of things I thought I knew about China, it’s probably wrong. Apparently the quote is not about the French Revolution at all.
Earlier this year, I attended Tourism New Zealand’s Greater China Mission in Shenzhen. Shenzhen has 10+ million people and is just over an hour from Hong Kong Airport. Possibly, you’ve never heard of it. Imagine – New Zealanders can’t believe it when we’re confused with Australians or South Africans, but there’s cities with ten million people I’ve never heard of.
Here’s something that’s mostly true about tourism from China. Until the nineties, there wasn’t really tourism from China. Before that, travelling abroad was only allowed for business purpose and official visits with government approval needed for every single visit. New Zealand became an ‘Approved Destination’ for Chinese travellers in 1999.
Right outside my hotel window in Shenzhen was Window of the World, a theme park similar to Disney’s “Small World”. I could see – in miniature – the pyramids of Egypt, the Matterhorn and the Eiffel Tower from my balcony. A skyrail whisks around the park above Dutch canals, the Masai Mara migration, Manhattan (complete with Twin Towers!!), and a Maori village.
Almost every conversation I have about China is a chance to reassess what I think I know about China. Some recent examples:
- The Chinese Product Manager who’d recently been on an Australian famil. Twelve delegates and 200 pairs of Ugg boots between them. Not enforced shopping – they wanted the ‘must-have Australian souvenir’ and were prepared to pay top dollar for real Uggs. That’s what you buy when you’re in Australia. If we can crack Angelina Jolie in an Icebreaker, we’d probably create the same demand here.
- At TRENZ, I ran into a Chinese delegate in one of the wine stores. She wanted to take home three premium New Zealand bottles to share with her husband and had budgeted NZ$300 per bottle, similar to what she’d spend on a French burgundy in China. I’ve discovered it’s remarkably hard to spend $300 on a bottle of New Zealand wine in a bottlestore here!
- Wellington recently hosted our first Incentive famil from China. A delegate told me his last trip was to Brazil escorting a group of high flying pharmaceutical incentive winners for five days. The budget for each delegate was RMB500,000 – over NZD100,000 per person.
- One of the most interesting evenings I’ve ever spent trading ‘travel war stories’ was with a Beijing-based travel company owner who’d driven a LandRover around the world. Set off from Beijing, drove across Asia to Spain, down through most of Africa, up from Patagonia through North America and home again.
- The Great Firewall of China means no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google. The local equivalents are SinaWeibo, Renren, Youku and Baidu. But Chinese travellers do use Western websites, when they can, to research travel. For the first time ever this month, Chinese now rate 6th for views of the Wellington region page on newzealand.com and account for 5% of my review readers on TripAdvisor.
Windows of the World theme park offers a world in miniature for one segment of the Chinese market while others are undertaking daunting round the world adventures and spending amounts that New Zealanders can barely comprehend. Every one of these discussions generates knowledge we can apply to identifying the opportunities for Wellington. Martin Boland and I await the feedback from those incentive delegates so we can refine Wellington’s story again to a brand new market.
I’m giving up knowing anything about China and am concentrating on learning instead. Have a look at chinatraveltrends.com as a great starting point and wonder at the numbers being bandied about, including 500 million more middle class Chinese in the next 15 years. If you’re interested, the China Business Training offered via NZTE with Occam Consulting offer training on doing business with China, tailored to public or private sector; brilliant for learning how much you don’t know and how much you think you know is wrong.
If you’ve read this far in the hope of a pithy one sentence summary on the future of Chinese tourism to Wellington, I’m sorry to disappoint you. In the mis-quoted words of Zhou Enlai, it’s too early to say.
By Jo Heaton
I’m sure when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, journalist would have featured on the list. Eventually I realised that copywriters and marketers get to make things up and that sounded fun-ner. Hosting RWC media recently reminded me I’d made a sensible choice – like Lance Armstrong’s large lungs and Phar Lap’s oversized heart, you need a genetic advantage processing alcohol to be a journalist!
Positively Wellington Tourism hosts lots of media – 75 different international files last year including Huffington Post, BBC UK and fashion titles like Marie Claire and Vogue, plus domestic and Australian media. They’re usually travel or lifestyle writers exploring Wellington’s arts and culinary scenes, covering key tourism experiences for Sunday travel pages and sometimes, TV crews filming culinary competitions or the Brancott Estate World of WearableArt Awards Show. Often, they’re visiting as part of Tourism New Zealand’s International Media Programme. We thought we knew media here at PWT team International .. and then we met the international sports contingent covering RWC2011.
TNZ provided national co-ordination, Regional Tourism Organisations applied local knowledge and contacts to giving the media something else to write about when journos weren’t at press conferences and training runs. We even had two of our team located within the stadium Media Centre. First task – welcome the media to Wellington. Fantastic Maori welcome at Te Papa, add alcohol and a diverse bunch of rugby-related Wellingtonians followed by the Opening Ceremony and All Blacks v Japan. David Perks and The Mayor welcomed the visitors to Our Place and invited them to make Wellington their place too. I kinda think Wellington succeeded there. Kevin McCallum wrote some great blogs during the tournament and has an impressive Twitter following of over 10,000 and 43,000 posts!
PWT devised a great plan of activities and excursions for media visiting Wellington. Then we realised sports media don’t follow itineraries – they follow Dan Carter’s groin and mouth guard scandals. Out with plans, in with improvising. A lot of improvising for foreign language media where Wellington was “the most Argentine city of them all” and the French regard us as a ‘human-sized capital’.
When the Scots got a day off, they spent it ‘researching’ the Classic NZ Wine Trail for a story in The Scotsman. “There is also a potent Scots connection around Wellington, perhaps unsurprisingly, linked with alcohol.” Our Destination Wairarapa colleagues even managed Sir Brian Lahore for an impromptu appearance.
“The NZ Navy is in port – can we get onboard?” Apparently you can. Two calls earnt this note from Zeena at South African Broadcasting Corp who covered cafes, quad bikes and HMNZS Resolution. “I just wanted to convey our thanks on behalf of SABC for all your help to get us a few awesome colour pieces in Wellington. You guys have been rock stars!”
Wellington played its part in the stadium of four million, as did Petone Rugby Club. One of my favourite memories will be introducing a group of French journalists to former All Black captain, Andy Leslie, then watching them recite his career history back to him.
French, beer tours for the Irish and Wellywood for many. Spotting a kiwi was popular. “Before we get to Auckland, I must pay tribute to the people at Zealandia inWellington, where we spent three hours in the darkness with a motley crew of visitors from across the globe searching for a kiwi. Wellington Tourism set up the media with some fantastic opportunities around the great little capital city and finding a kiwi was a must. Zealandia is one of the most impressive natural habitats ‘created’ by man I have seen, in an effort to restore parts of the country to its most colourful natural state and encourage wild life to thrive.” (David Ferguson, The Scotsman)
Controversial writer Mark Reason of the UK Daily Telegraph took in I, George Nepia at Circa Theatre which resulted in one of the more cerebral pieces and arts featured in EuroSports France rugby coverage too. Maurice Bennett, aka The Toast Man, provided a quirky angle for media with his toast portraits immortalising the games greats. Unlike many nationalities who were in New Zealand for six or seven weeks, the Australians seemed to fly in and fly out, but ninemsn were still wild about Wellington’s food, art and outdoor activities.
More media results will arrive through TNZ’s media monitoring process and these links represent a just small sample of stories we sourced. An understanding of the offside rule excepted, I learnt a lot during the Rugby World Cup.
- If I’m holding a glass, I’m ‘off the record’ (still pays to check!)
- South African journalists have an uncanny ability to find really dodgy bars.
- No experience is wasted – a conversation with sports journalists can cover misery memoirs, world politics, the Tour de France and good hairdressers in under an hour.
- Some writers were turning out 5-7 stories a day for multiple outlets plus blogging and tweeting. If I was a journalist, I’d work for a travel glossy with months to turn in a piece!
- Less than 1% of sports journalists I met during the tournament are tee-total. Fact.
- Ask any Wellingtonian, from ex-All Blacks to one-man tour operators to host media, and they’ll represent the city with stories, passion and generosity.
To quote David Ferguson, “(Tourism) is where one feels this incredible country will benefit most from hosting the Rugby World Cup…New Zealand has opened the eyes of the world to its delights, and I confidently predict that many, many people will return here. Put in on your ‘bucket list’ now. Thank you for your hospitality New Zealand.”
RWC media loved Wellington and Wellingtonians. My favourite, “Wellington tourism opened their arms to the South Africans and embraced us. The different New Zealand tourist people we have met thus far might just be the best in the world.”
And the best in the world – well, that’s you, folks. Tourism operators, volunteers and Wellingtonians who shared their city and stories with the world during RWC2011.
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!
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.