The premium panel discussion, brought to TRENZ by Tourism New Zealand, was hugely popular and Premium Manager Lisa Gardiner says it was also an excellent endorsement of the approach Tourism New Zealand is taking, particularly about the importance of ‘experiences’ opposed to ‘goods’.
The specialists who spoke to a packed audience were Nancy Trejos from USA Today, freelancer Nadine Jolie Courtney and Robert Silk from Travel Weekly, the largest travel trade publication in the US.
Asked by facilitator Chris Roberts about what constitutes luxury travel, they said: “It’s making the impossible, possible; something you can’t do at home; a unique experience; different, personalised and being made to feel special. It’s definitely not about the shopping. “They are not here for a Gucci bag, they can get that anywhere,” said Nancy.
All three journalists talked about New Zealand’s unique and natural environment being a luxury product in itself depending on how it was promoted and customised. They told the packed audience that New Zealand has a great reputation in the US; English speaking, safe and a place to ‘get off the grid.’ “It’s definitely on the bucket list; a billionaire’s bolthole and the feeling it must be good because Oprah was there” said Nadine.
Feeling a connection with the place was very important for the luxury traveller and a lot of that was about the people and the service. “They want to go out and have a barbeque or dinner at someone’s house but it has to be a genuine experience, it has to be curated and authentic,” said Robert.
The journalists talked about the growing importance of social media, particularly for the younger luxury traveller and the need for experiences to be ‘photographical’ to show everyone back home.
For the operators, their advice was: Know your market;know what makes your product great; identify the channels that work best for you and stick with those channels.
Lisa said everything that was said by the panel reinforced what we know and the approach Tourism New Zealand is taking: “We offer a laid-back and natural form of luxury, the simple pleasures of kiwi life that when arranged correctly for the high net worth visitors are hugely impressive, and yes – the rise of insta-worthy or ‘only money can buy’ moments! This was a great new offering to TRENZ which was hugely successful and will no doubt be something we can develop in future years.”