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Phil Keoghan inspires Americans to cycle New Zealand

Americans have been motivated to explore New Zealand by bike, thanks to a recent US marketing campaign fronted by TV personality and avid cyclist, Phil Keoghan.

Earlier this year, Tourism New Zealand appointed the Amazing Race host to promote New Zealand as the ideal place to take a cycling holiday. Keoghan came to New Zealand in February for the campaign shoot on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail and the Queenstown Trail.

Initial results from the campaign, which ran from 2 March to 31 May, have been very positive. More than 2.5 million online engagements were generated across CyclingNews.com, Google, YouTube, Facebook, AOP and video buying platform BrightRoll. This drove around 60,000 people to the campaign landing page at newzealand.com.

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Keoghan on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail earlier this year

It had a strong impact on experienced cyclists aware of the campaign and actively considering a trip to New Zealand – with almost all of them (92 per cent) motivated to take a cycling holiday here after seeing the online and print adverts.

It wasn’t just hardcore cyclists who were influenced – 77 per cent of general ‘active considerers’ were driven to go on a cycling trip to New Zealand (exceeding the initial target of 60 per cent).

Andrew Fraser, Tourism New Zealand’s Director of Marketing says the results reflect the potential of partnering with someone as popular as Phil Keoghan, combined with New Zealand’s excellent trail infrastructure.

“Phil is a keen cyclist and has a large following in the US so the partnership was a natural fit. We are really pleased to see how he has resonated with Americans considering a trip to New Zealand.

“What really stands out is that the campaign inspired people to think about New Zealand in a new way, as a place to have a cycling-specific holiday – an experience they hadn’t previously thought of coming to New Zealand for.

“This is a great result given our work with the New Zealand Cycle Trail Network to develop awareness of New Zealand as an exciting and diverse cycling destination, in order to grow higher value visitors to New Zealand during the shoulder season.”

While many Americans cycle whilst on holiday in New Zealand (14,000 in 2014 alone), those visitors whose trip revolves around a special interest – such as cycling – tend to prefer visiting in the shoulder months and generally stay longer and spend more.

The campaign was made up of online and print advertising and included double page adverts in the Adventure Cyclist and National Geographic Traveler magazines. 

It has been complemented by some impressive US media results recently secured through Tourism New Zealand’s International Media Programme. In June, New Zealand cycle trails featured in a three-page article in Men’s Journal, a top men’s magazine with a circulation of 762,053. To buy the equivalent in advertising would have cost USD $432,608.

Three stories promoting mountain biking and road cycling in New Zealand were published in April in online adventure magazine Gear Patrol (which receives around 1.6 million monthly visitors to its website), and Adventure Cyclist ran a story on the Otago Rail Trail in February.

Just prior to the campaign going live, Phil Keoghan was a guest speaker at the consumer-focussed Travel & Adventure shows in San Diego and Los Angeles in February, where Tourism New Zealand had a stand displaying images of Keoghan cycling the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

Keoghan is scheduled to return to the South Island this month, as he will be the keynote speaker at the Tourism Export Council conference in Dunedin from 17-18 August.