Tourism New Zealand proves evolution the key to record results

In the saturated digital marketing space few organisations manage to break through the noise. It takes a lot of ingenuity to have a campaign seen and heard but when it does the results can be outstanding.

Tourism New Zealand has achieved this marketing Holy Grail and is showing organisations around the world how to use digital marketing to its full potential. 

Over the past year Tourism New Zealand has broken records across the board. Our customer-facing website attracted 33 million visits and generated 2.9 million referrals to travel partners and industry – these results represented a massive +35% improvement year-on-year, working within a fixed funded budget; while the number of social media followers rose to 2.28 million. 

Most importantly, these digital marketing results had a positive impact on tourism figures with a focus on driving shoulder season growth. Tourism New Zealand has a government mandate to promote New Zealand to the world and encourage international visitors to this amazing country. With taxpayer money at stake, a return on investment is crucial. 

Again, the results are record breaking. Total visitor numbers reached 3.3 million for the first time ever and visitor spend rose substantially with $10.3 billion contributed to the New Zealand economy by international visitors over the 2016 financial year (ending June). Importantly the shoulder season visitor numbers grew substantially with combined holiday arrivals over the spring season up by 17.1% and autumn +19.6%, ahead of peak (summer) at +15.1%. 

Tourism New Zealand has taken a proactive approach to digital marketing. Quite simply, we want to be the best storytellers in the world. 

Part of our success to date has been to identify trends early, such as storytelling via online and social media, using high profile social influencers to share stories and experiences to their followers and fan bases, providing ‘on trend’ timely marketing tactics, and ensuring we made improvements to our search engine optimisation, webpage load speed, and the mobile user experience. 

Tourism New Zealand’s partnership with Facebook’s Creative Shop to create ‘The Kombi Diaries’ was a revolutionary marketing approach and generated a lot of publicity for New Zealand on the social media platform, and beyond. One of the creative strategists at Facebook Creative Shop, Gavin Carver, says the initiative “paves the way for how we grow clients’ business, build story-driven content, and creatively inspire one another. Tourism New Zealand is redefining marketing for this category. They have married art and science to create content that is relevant and engaging for a global audience.” (High praise.) 

This year (FY17) the partnership has developed bespoke creative for the new interactive Facebook Canvas application. This allows potential visitors to explore how much there is to see and do within easy reach on a New Zealand holiday. 

Our current multi-media platform promotions with filmmaker James Cameron continue Tourism New Zealand’s successful approach of using high-profile influencers to reach audiences with their own (independent and impartial) stories about New Zealand. 

While Tourism New Zealand has used myriad digital marketing vehicles we have maintained clarity on the overall Destination New Zealand strategy and message: ‘Everyday a different journey’. This has been crucial in achieving the record visitor numbers and results. 

The challenge ahead is to maintain this momentum in what is an agile, ever evolving environment. 

Mobile marketing is beginning to dominate the digital space with applications Instagram and Snapchat competing as the preferred platform for organisations to promote their brands. Portrait videos (rather than the traditional landscape layout videos) are becoming ubiquitous allowing users to watch high-level production visual advertising without the ‘inconvenience’ of turning their phones on their sides. Meanwhile influencers and early adopters of technology continue to be a savvy marketer’s best tool to reach their audiences. 

Over the coming year Tourism New Zealand will explore these trends further as we continue to evolve our digital marketing plans, capitalise on our existing partnerships with influencers, assess the best platforms to share our stories about New Zealand, and continue the pursuit of our goal to be the best storytellers in the world.


By Andrew Fraser, Director of Marketing, Tourism New Zealand

 This article first appeared in Inside Tourism