Youth – why we need the youth traveller

Three years ago, as part of our marketing strategy to prioritise sectors for growth, we identified the youth sector as presenting a significant opportunity for the New Zealand tourism industry.

This week, we launched our third wave of campaign activity that builds on our previous successes and utilises key learnings from our activity to date. We are also currently finalising the outcomes of in-depth research conducted as part the development of our new three-year marketing strategy which will form the basis of our future activity. You can read more on this below.

Based on the outcomes of our activity and research, Tourism New Zealand believes there is significantly more benefit that can be extracted from this sector.

Aged 18-29, youth travellers have  the potential to stay longer than other visitors, travel more widely and get involved in a wider range of activities, meaning they are likely to spend more while they are here. They also present future tourism opportunities as they are more likely to return to New Zealand later in life, bringing others with them.

Since 2010 Tourism New Zealand has undertaken targeted campaigns to capture and grow this influential market which today, accounts for a quarter of our total arrivals each year. 

Our research told us that while New Zealand was not always high on their list when planning a trip, those that did come here had experiences that exceeded their expectations. 'Too much to miss' was established as the platform for our youth sector activity and underpins our work to increase their knowledge and preference for a holiday here.

By using youth focused activity and partnerships to specifically target this market and address the main barriers to travel, we knew there was a great opportunity to grow youth arrivals.

The launch of Stories Beat Stuff (SBS)18 months ago saw us undertake a global initiative to show the sector just how amazing a holiday here can be - to make New Zealand the must visit destination once more.

Run entirely on-line, the campaign challenged the influential youth market to give up their most prized possessions for the chance to win a trip to New Zealand and the travel stories of a lifetime.

And it resonated well with the sector. Our use of youth friendly integrated social media platforms was a recipe for success - with unique user generated material in the form of wrap videos and blogs receiving one million views and generating 61,000 direct 'likes' to our '100% Pure' Facebook page.

The sector really bought into the activity - leaving a wealth of user generated material for future activity that will offer a uniquely personal view of the New Zealand experience, from a youth perspective.

This week we launched our first campaign to use the legacy SBS content with Epic Experiences targeting youth travellers across the long-haul markets of the US, Canada, UK and Continental Europe. Rolled out using the established online and social media platforms, and with the support of a trade and youth partners in each market, the campaign aims to convert the increased awareness achieved through SBS into bookings to come to here.
So, what are our plans for the future? With the youth sector covering such a wide age group we are conscious that one size does not fit all.

We recently undertook in-depth analysis to look deeper into what is working and what can be changed. Through this we clarified a point that we have known for some time - that there are two key groups within this sector that require slightly different attention - the Backpackers and Young Adventurers.

Over the last three months we have worked with key industry partners including STA, BYATA (Backpacker, Youth & Adventure Travel Association), to better understand the specific needs of these new segments.

Combined with our own research insights we are now working on finalising our strategy to tailor our activity to these groups and maximise reach and engagement with the youth sector in our key markets offshore.

This is currently a work in progress and I look forward to sharing the insights with you in the coming months - firstly when we present our new strategy at one of the six regional Roadshow sessions, and then in more detail in a two part webinar series in late June to talk about our wider Sector activity and the Youth Sector itself.

Read more about the youth sector here.

Justin Watson

Director of Trade, PR and Major Events