In FY14 this was seen reinforced by our own digital channels, with visits tonewzealand.com from mobile devices, tablet and smartphone accounting for 5.1 million or 29 per cent of total visits.
We are seeing a continued uptake across our key markets. In Australia the use of mobile devices grew 22 per cent during the year, while almost one in four UK visitors use a tablet to access newzealand.com
All this information reinforces the importance of our FY15 focus on the mobile consumer, and we are already working on ways to further our digital presence, increasing the value of newzealand.com content and usability on mobile devices.
We're also dedicated to improving the usability and effectiveness of the site for both New Zealand operators and offshore travel sellers. It is critical that newzealand.com works well for you, because making it easier to keep your business details updated and fresh ensures good quality content is delivered to visitors to the consumer site - increasing engagement levels and the delivery of qualified, high-value consumer leads to your business.
Just last week changes to the Operator Database went live that address the most common barriers in delivering a better user experience. Based on feedback received directly from industry, the enhancements were made to creating and editing a business listing including improved on-screen instructions and a new image and logo upload function. If you have any feedback or questions on the changes please don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This development builds on the successes seen during the 2013-2014 financial year, with our digital channels delivering record performance to the New Zealand tourism industry.
In the 12 month period we saw more traffic to our consumer site, newzealand.com, than ever before, with 18.2 million visits representing growth of 30 per cent year-on-year.
However, what is arguably more important is that the site delivered almost 2.4 million referrals to businesses listed on the site. And of these, more than 300,000 were to New Zealand based operators, up 32 per cent.
Sitting at the heart of all our marketing activity, the site is effectively achieving its purpose to engage with visitors, increase their desire and preference for a holiday to New Zealand and connect them with industry and travel sellers to convert that interest into travel. This is supported by a solid year of international arrivals, up 5.7 per cent for the year ending June, and expenditure up 9 per cent to the end of March.
Our development of newzealand.com is ongoing, with changes focused on enhancing the user experience for both potential travellers and those industry and tourism businesses with listings.
In the last year we have made newzealand.com more accessible in our target markets, with new language editions developed for the emerging markets of Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil bringing us to a total of 20 editions in 9 languages.
We also released our first mobile app, Essential New Zealand. The free to download app marked a significant addition to our suite of digital marketing channels. With 90,000 downloads, and 60,000 referrals generated to industry, we are confident the app is effectively capitalising on the increased use of mobile devices by visitors while in the country.
The next year looks set to be busier than ever, with digital channels playing a significant role in our marketing activity to continue to deliver increased value to the industry. We have some big goals to work towards and I look forward to keeping you updated throughout the year with our progress.
First published in Inside Tourism issue 990, 13 August