Four days full of opportunity – TRENZ 2014

The key event on the travel trade's annual calendar - TRENZ - will see industry welcome around 260+ international buyers and 26 international travel trade media to New Zealand next week.

For all involved it's a big undertaking and an important one. 

The TRENZ 2013 survey results reported that 85 per cent of buyers and 65 per cent of exhibitors indicated that it is more important than any other marketing or purchasing activities they undertake.

It is true that TRENZ is much more than a just a trade show. Each year, the event offers the chance to promote both existing and new product, and to obtain a thorough understanding of the needs of buyers and visitor markets. With 50 new products, including 14 operators exhibiting for the first time, attendees from both emerging markets and Tourism New Zealand's new target sectors will showcase new visitor experiences - a critical element to obtain interest in the competitive international market.

And each year it has delivered results.

With the chance to hold meetings face-to-face, the event enables solid relationships to be established. Last year 58 per cent of buyers in 2013 stated this as a strong influencer in their purchasing behaviour.

For international travel sellers and media, it also provides the opportunity to experience the very product that they promote and write about, with a series of pre and post event famils.

For emerging markets such as India, Indonesia and LATAM the famils will cover some of New Zealand's foundation tourism activities across the Waikato and Rotorua regions; the special interest sectors of walking and hiking will be profiled; and some of New Zealand's luxury accommodation, activities and premium wine and food will be showcased.

We know that the increased knowledge and personal experience of these famils increases travel sellers' effectiveness selling New Zealand - resulting in visitors staying longer and doing more. While for media, the experiences are a great motivator to inspire journalists and will result in many positive stories that appeal to potential travellers, and reinforce people's perception of New Zealand as an attractive and welcoming visitor destination.

We have to look no further than the recent Royal visit to see the results this type of activity delivers. We have already seen thousands of overwhelmingly positive articles in the press, online and TV, as well as reports from hotel search website of searches for New Zealand increasing 70 per cent, while travel comparison website TravelSupermarket saw a 153 per cent rise in New Zealand searches.

This year TRENZ comes at a busy time. Visitor arrivals continue to grow, positively driven by holiday visitors which were up 8.3 per cent for the year ending March 2014. Over the last six months we have seen the mature source markets of the UK, US, Germany and Australia all grow month on month. Germany is showing great strength - jumping to our fifth largest source market in March.

In turn, there is a high awareness and preference for New Zealand as a holiday destination across all of New Zealand's markets, the very thing that TRENZ helps us maintain.

At last year's event the government announced increased funding for tourism - a total of an extra $158m over four years. As I stated at the time, this has been a game changer for the industry, enabling a significant amount of activity and delivering increased value to the industry.

The increase has enabled us to expand into new markets and sectors, set up new offices and establish new teams to target key growth sectors. Our activity to target high-value visitors, special interest sectors and arrivals from emerging markets is well supported at this year's TRENZ. With a number of speaking opportunities during the four days I look forward to sharing some of our recent achievements with those of you attending next week.

Kevin Bowler

Chief Executive