They help to ensure international and domestic visitors are doing and spending more while they travel around New Zealand. The i-SITE New Zealand brand is owned and managed by Tourism New Zealand. You can find out more about the individual i-SITEs and how to contact them on their home page at i-site.org.
About the i-SITE Network
i-SITE New Zealand is our official visitor information network. There are over 80 i-SITE Visitor Centres around New Zealand, which provide international visitors, domestic travellers and locals with comprehensive, up-to-date information and a New Zealand-wide booking service for activities, attractions, accommodation and transport.
Many of our visitors will wait until they arrive in New Zealand to book parts of their holiday, including local transport, accommodation and activities. The i-SITE Network provides a brand that is trusted by our visitors to provide good quality, useful and relevant information that is vital to ensuring these visitors have a safe, stress-free and rewarding New Zealand holiday.
Established in 1990 by the New Zealand Tourist Publicity Board (now Tourism New Zealand), there are now almost 500 i-SITE staff in over 80 Visitor Centres around New Zealand. Each year, these centres welcome over 1 million international visitors and collectively assist with 7.5 million visitor enquiries.
The i-SITE brand is managed by Tourism New Zealand and accredited members must meet standards in staff training, professionalism and information technology.
The management, administration and marketing of i-SITE New Zealand is largely funded through an annual grant from Tourism New Zealand and membership fees. The day-to-day running of individual centres is funded by booking fees, retail sales and other income, and supported by local government either directly or indirectly (through incorporated societies, trusts or Council controlled organisations).
i-SITE New Zealand is the trading name for Visitor Information Network (VIN Inc), an incorporated society. Legally it is a subsidiary of Tourism New Zealand although each i-SITE is individually owned and operated.
Adding value to local economies
i-SITEs offer an excellent platform for local operators and service providers to promote and sell their businesses and for communities and regions to promote local events and public amenities.
Over 40% of all international visitors to New Zealand use an i-SITE and around two thirds of these say that i-SITEs influenced their decision on what activity, transport or accommodation provider they used. Almost half of all users actually made a booking at an i-SITE.
Economic impact research conducted in 2015 highlighted the key role i-SITE visitor centres play in unlocking visitor spending in the tourism sector. The report showed that:
- For every $1 provided in funding, the network returns on average $8.70 in GDP;
- The overall visitor spending facilitated and handled by the i-SITE network is estimated at around $298.5m;
- Around $109.3m of this spending can be directly attributed to the network and would not have taken place if the i-SITEs did not exist;
- For every $1 of direct sales made by the i-SITE network, there is $1.48 total additional spending in the wider economy;
- The total net economic effect on GDP generated by the i-SITE network to the New Zealand economy is estimated at $146.8 million; and
- The economic effects support 2,200 job equivalents and return $90.2 million to households through income.
i-SITE Visitor Centres also create significant social benefits to communities, offering employment opportunities and an important community facility that:
- Displays local promotional material / brochures;
- Encourages visitors to stay longer and experience more activities in the region; and
- Enhances visitor expenditure in the local area and region.
Working with your i-SITE
i-SITE Visitor Centres are an important part of the distribution channel for tourism businesses. Make contact with your local i-SITE centre and talk to them about advertising and displaying your brochure.
Here are a few tips on working with your local i-SITE Centre:
- Get to know your local i-SITE team. Arrange a meeting with each centre manager in your region - introduce your product and find out how you can work together.
- If possible, offer staff the opportunity to visit and experience your product for themselves!
- Make regular visits in person to drop off brochures, update staff on your products and introduce yourself to new staff members.
- Be clear about your pricing structure and keep your i-SITE updated if it changes. Don't forget to agree a commission rate for any bookings i-SITE Centres make on your behalf. You will need to allow for this in your pricing.
- Make sure you're contactable! It seems obvious, but make sure you have a mobile phone and/or email in case your i-SITE needs to get hold of you with regard to a booking enquiry. If you are reliable, easy to contact and willing to take customers at short notice, you are more likely to get bookings.
- Let i-SITE staff know the type of person that is best-suited to your product so they know who it will appeal to.
- If you are an accommodation provider, keep in contact with your local i-SITE about room availability, especially over busy months and when there are events on in your region.
- Keep your local i-SITE updated on your operating hours or if your business is going to be closed for some reason.
- Find out if there are any other advertising opportunities available to you through your i-SITE. Your local i-SITE Centre or Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) may have a website you can list on. Find contact details for your local RTO here.