Middle-earth making its mark with US travellers

Two months on from the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, results are starting to show the positive effect of Tourism New Zealand's work to leverage the increased interest in New Zealand in the US.

Along with a vast range of international media attention and coverage, we are starting to see encouraging results that demonstrate the impact of our 100% Middle-earth campaign.

Ahead of the release of the Hobbit movie, we identified the US as a core market for our 100% Middle-earth messages, with research suggesting they would resonate well with US active considerers.

And we were right.

The results of our 2012 Active Considerer Monitor reported that awareness of New Zealand, and its association with The Hobbit, has steadily increased in the US. Awareness levels reached 58 per cent at the time of the premiere - the strongest of all our markets.

The 100% Middle-earth TVC, which featured as a key component of TNZ's activity in the US, is also proving to be an effective tool in delivering our key messages. Just over 80 per cent of US active considerers believed the advert depicts New Zealand as a stunningly beautiful place to visit, and 70 per cent believing it shows the experiences NZ offers are unique.

But, what is perhaps the most encouraging development is the high level of motivation expressed. We know that 78 per cent of active considerer's felt motivated by the advert to travel to New Zealand. This is a great sign that our activity is working to drive not just awareness of New Zealand as a holiday destination, but preference amongst visitors to travel here and experience it for themselves.

This increased motivation has been further demonstrated by recent newzealand.com figures. In January 2013, newzealand.com reported record traffic with a total of 1.55 million visits to the site, of these visits 296,000 were from the US, with over 89,000 visits specifically to Middle-earth content.

While the final arrival numbers for January are yet to be released, early indicators are very positive, which is supported by our partners in market all reporting strong sales over the December and January period. 

This year our objective in the US will be to continue to drive the awareness generated by The Hobbit movies, as we embark on a range of marketing activity and joint venture work with key partners in the market including airlines, and wholesale and direct travel sellers.

For more information on our activity in the US see our market pages, or for insights into our activities to leverage the interest in the movies see our Hobbit section.

Gregg Anderson

General Manager - America's and Europe