New Zealand takes Texas by storm

In the biggest sales mission to be undertaken in the US in over a decade, Tourism New Zealand and 25 New Zealand operators have taken destination New Zealand to Texas, the ‘Lone Star State,’ with outstanding results.

The activity was organised as part of TNZ’s work to support Air New Zealand’s new Houston to Auckland route which launches 15 December.

“Acting as the new gateway into the US eastern seaboard and Texas, the route is a game changer for us – making travel so much more accessible for those wanting to visit New Zealand,” says Bjoern Spreitzer, General Manager Americas and Europe.

“Furthermore, the new connections will have the double benefit of increasing overall capacity on Air New Zealand flights across North America. As our third largest international arrival market – with holiday arrivals up 13.2 per cent for the year ending September 2015 – these changes will help us realise future growth opportunities from this important market.”

The trade event, run in partnership with Air New Zealand, delivered a new concept to the North American market, bringing 25 operators to the US from 12-16 October.

Starting in LA, the event kicked off with a market update from TNZ on its strategic activity in the North American market. This was followed by prominent North American travel industry executives presenting on the changing face of buying travel in America, including home based agents, consortia and online channels.  The afternoon featured a business exchange between New Zealand operators and North American trade partners, before the operators teamed up with top travel agents from the greater Los Angeles area in the evening.

From LA the team took the show on the road, visiting Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Houston.

“These are cities New Zealand has not had a presence in before, and the events were a critical step to inform and educate agents on New Zealand, enabling them to then convert their customers interest in visiting our country into travel.

“As an incentive to meet all the operators the agents were issued with a ‘passport’ that they needed to be stamped by every vendor in order to qualify for one of the five pairs of round-trip tickets to New Zealand courtesy of Air New Zealand.

“This meant we successfully engaged with in excess of 400 agents, providing a great foundation on which to build a solid trade and travel network in Texas.”

Commenting on the sales-mission Lisa Ashford, International Trade Manager for Kiwirail said, “The USA is a really important market for us with double digit growth last season. Attending the event was a great opportunity for us to continue to grow this market and introduced some new connections and strong leads which is a fantastic outcome.”

TNZ’s work to raise awareness of New Zealand will be reinforced with a raft of activity over the coming months, including: focused trade training webinars; joint ventures with key travel partners; a series of local advertising campaigns, supported by inclusion of the new gateways in all national North American campaign activity; and PR and IMP activity pre and post launch of the new route.