As our primary communication channel the site supports all our activity to target active considerers. It builds preference for New Zealand as a holiday destination by connecting potential travellers with travel sellers helping to convert them to travel.
The FY 11/12 saw the site deliver some strong results with 10.9 million visits and a 44% prospect rate - which means that almost 5.5 million visitors returned to the site within one month, or viewed at least three pages.
These results confirm that our marketing strategy is on the right track and that we are targeting potential travellers in the right way. Over the last six months we've made a number of improvements to ensure newzealand.com works better for both users and industry. May was a particularly successful month, with referrals increasing by 16 per cent year-on-year, visitor numbers by 12 per cent and a much improved level of engagement with content.
The site is constantly evolving and there are further changes to come this year.
A key aspect of the ongoing evolution is maintaining the right balance between the three most relevant drivers of the site - our business needs, the New Zealand destination brand and the needs of our users. By this, we mean people seeking information about New Zealand.
To keep the site on track and achieving great results, the voice of the user has been central to all our work this year. We have completed a mixture of online and face-to-face research across multiple markets engaging with almost 1,000 participants.
This research has helped us understand what improvements need to be made to support the genuine needs of users and will continue to be a key aspect of the ongoing evolution of the site.
The introduction of directory style links and a more traditional navigation structure over the last couple of months were the easiest and quickest ways to improve access to the existing information with minimal change to the site.
Further changes will be more obvious and will change the way information is delivered to users. These will ensure all user interactions on the site are consistent so users know what to do next to find the information they want. We will continue to improve access to business listings and raise visibility of the information we have on the site. The page design and user journey will match the most common tasks on the site as per the user insights and we will ensure users can navigate the site with a logical process between each page and section.
We are working to deliver this important set of changes before the end of the year, with the site up and running before the Hobbit premiere. The Hobbit films provide a unique opportunity for us to capitalise on the buzz the film will generate and the new content and features will inspire fans and non-fans to explore New Zealand - the home of Middle-earth.
Looking ahead, 2013 will see more changes afoot.
In addition to the work to leverage The Hobbit films we are also looking at a mobile application for travellers to use while they are in the country as well as further integration of our social media channels. Our Pure New Zealand Facebook page provides numerous opportunities to bring unique recommendations and comments into the site to convince and convert travellers and make the site lively and engaging.
It is true that a website's work is never complete and we will continue to evolve the site in the future.
We will update you on our progress in our operator newsletter Inside newzealand.com, distributed to registered businesses, and through our corporate newsletter Tourism Newsand website tourismnewzealand.com.
Visit our newzealand.com section for more information on how operators and the tourism industry can make the most of newzealand.com.