Making a play for the lucrative backpacker market

Published in Inside Tourism 21 April 2016 

Tourism New Zealand has been reviewing its approach to the backpacker market and over the past few months we have undertaken a series of research projects to refine our understanding of this lucrative market. 

Director of Marketing, Andrew Fraser

This has led to some significant changes in our strategy and marketing activity. Previously we have targeted the broader youth market, aged 18-29, with the same campaign activity. We have now refined this to specifically target backpacker travellers, aged 18-24, specifically from Europe and international backpackers already in Australia.

Our research has demonstrated that youth travellers not categorised as backpackers respond positively with our ‘Every day a different journey’ campaign activity and going forward will be targeted through this activity.  

The backpacker segment is an incredibly valuable target market for New Zealand. They account for over 159,000 visitors to New Zealand a year, which equates to around 11 per cent of total holiday arrivals and have an average spend per visitor of over $3,700.

However the value of the backpacker goes far beyond arrivals and expenditure. They stay on average 31.3 days – significantly more than your average holiday visitor. They participate in more paid activities, travel more widely throughout the regions and outside the peak season.

This month we will launch a new campaign to target the over half a million international backpackers already in Australia to make sure they don’t head home without seeing New Zealand.

In the year ending December 2014, Australia attracted around 590,000 international backpacker arrivals of which only approximately six per cent went on to travel to New Zealand. This tells us that there is a significant group of backpackers that are coming as far as Australia and leaving without visiting New Zealand.

The campaign will feature around the backpacker-specific ‘Play more every day’ proposition and mark the first time that Tourism New Zealand has featured user generated content in its campaign work. The new video and online content has been handpicked from videos and images shared by actual international backpackers travelling through New Zealand via Facebook and Instagram.

Through our global partnership with Facebook the campaign will be run entirely on the social media platform where we will be geo-targeting international backpackers already in Australia and serving them up engaging content to inspire them to cross the ditch and experience New Zealand.

Our partnership with STA continues to be a core element in our backpacker activity and we will also be launching joint venture campaigns with STA Travel and Backpacker by STA Travel stores in April.

Looking ahead to FY17, both Facebook advertising and partnerships with backpacker specific travel sellers will be key components for our backpacker activity.