A year in the lap of luxury

New Zealand turned heads at this year's Luxperience, the Southern Hemisphere's luxury travel trade event.

Not only was it our largest presence ever, with 35 premium operators in attendance but the Tourism New Zealand-sponsored media and buyer lounge was transformed, showcasing the country's luxury offering, including even, a large replica of the Cecil Peak golf tee. 

This marks the third year Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has attended Luxperience as a key partner, and saw us increase our exhibitor presence by 70 per cent with top end luxury lodges and hotels, heli companies and luxury Destination Management Companies (DMC) exhibiting on the stand.

Sponsoring the lounge offered us the opportunity to run an appointment stream with luxury travel trade and Chief Executive Kevin Bowler spoke with a number of international media profiling New Zealand's authentic luxury offering.

Following the show, four New Zealand famils were run giving luxury travel buyers from Australia, Germany, US and China an opportunity to experience the country for themselves.

The success of Luxperience came just after the announcement at US luxury travel agency Virtuoso's recent Travel Week that New Zealand had topped its annual 'Hot List' - winning the honour for the biggest year-on-year growth in luxury travel.

New Zealand topped the list by a wide margin, with a staggering increase of 196 per cent growth year-on-year. Chile followed in second place, with an increase of 103 per cent, while Indonesia, Hungary and Hong Kong made up the remainder of the top five.

This comes just 12 months since our first real foray into the lucrative global premium travel sector and these results are showing that our work is progressing well, with much achieved and more to look forward to.

The focussed activity follows the inclusion of the sector as a key area of growth in TNZ's June 2013 three-year marketing strategy, and increased investment from Government.

In just 12 months TNZ has established a global premium strategy and now has a global team in place to deploy it.

A core part of our strategy is working closely with the industry's premium operators to ensure this niche travel sector is developed to its full potential. Through engagement with travel partners in New Zealand and offshore, TNZ has established a greater understanding of the unique luxury product offering New Zealand has to offer its target markets.

As part of our marketing activity, we have undertaken a mixture of trade and consumer activities. A new luxury hub on newzealand.com also includes New Zealand's superyacht offering, supporting our commitment to jointly promote the country as a destination with our partners in the 'Destination New Zealand Superyacht Attraction Initiative'.

As part of our international media programme, 28 media were hosted. Their first-hand experiences of New Zealand's unique luxury product delivered significant coverage. Luxury lifestyle magazine The Robb Report printed numerous articles across its international editions and the North American travel editors that attended the Travel Classics conference in May strongly complimented our premium focus.

Concerted effort has been invested in working with travel trade. In addition to in-market training and seminars, 40 premium travel trade famils were hosted to develop their understanding and knowledge of New Zealand - and in turn, their ability to effectively sell the premium experience to their clients and increase their sales.

We have also increased our presence at key trade events, ensuring we engage with the right buyers and media contacts across the luxury sector. We have attended ten international trade shows in the last year including the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in both Cannes and Asia, Pure Life in Marrakesh and now Luxperience.

Building on the momentum, and with a full calendar of activity lined up, the organisation is poised to continue to deliver on its strategy, driving high-value visitor growth for the industry.

Justin Watson

Director of Trade, PR and Major Events