TIA Conference '15: "The Pressures of Growth and Riding the Wave"

Fresh off my 6am Auckland to Wellington flight (2 coffees down), I was delighted to see Wellington had turned on the sunshine - it was a beautiful day at Queens Wharf. It soon became clear that I was in extremely good company, with a plethora of expert speakers on the programme.

Up first was National MP & Minister of Transport, Energy & Resources, Simon Bridges (Doing a great job filling in for our Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, John Key), followed by Dr David Simmons (Professor of Tourism / Director of Research Strategy & Development, Lincoln University).

The Good News:

  • Total tourism spend: $29.8 billion (up 10.3%)
  • International tourism spend: $11.8 billion (up 17.4%)
  • Domestic tourism spend: $18.1 billion (up 6.3%)
  • 168,000 people directly employed in tourism
  • 128,000 peole indirectly employed in tourism
  • 12.1% of total workforce - 1 job in 8

Figures are for the finanical year ended March 2015.

Statistics and figures can be overwhelming, but as passionate advocates for the NZ Tourism industry, Terabyte believes every New Zealander should understand just how vital the NZ Tourism industry is to our nation's economy. Chris Roberts (Chief Executive, Tourism Industry Sector), provided an excellent overview of the state of the industry as well as feedback and insight on the challenges facing the wider industry.

The Challenges:

This is still the industry’s number 1 concern. It has a significant impact on productivity and we still haven’t made any major progress in the last ten years – with peak periods growing faster than the off-season, and a new peak season that has emerged over Chinese New Year.

Training and Infrastructure
It's important to ensure we have the right training programs and infrastructures in place to head off current and future skills shortage and cater for our growing numbers of visitors.

We need to take care that the slow pace of investment does not damage our chances of delivering on Tourism 2025 targets of $41b in tourism revenue.

Changing Demographics
The composition of our visitor market is changing and we need to keep up. Emerging markets such as South East Asia and South America are a case in point. Another example is the changing persona of the typical Chinese traveller. We are seeing more FIT (Free Independent Traveller) Chinese visitors to New Zealand, requiring our industry to provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure the more modern Chinese traveller is well catered for.

We are seeing a growth in FIT Chinese traveller numbers and need to cater to them accordingly.

Social Licence
Having hit the 3 million visitor mark in 2015 with strong sustained growth expected in 2016, it has never been more important to ensure the NZ tourism industry retains a healthy  social license from the NZ public as more and more visitors make the journey to experience 100% Pure NZ. Industry, Government and operators all need to play their part to protect our most valuable natural assets and ensure the ongoing education of foreign visitors pre-trip and at our borders. This will help to mitigate risks to not only the wider NZ public (e.g. foreign drivers on NZ roads), but to our visitors when enjoying the great outdoors.  

So ... what part does "digital" play in the success of New Zealand operators and the wider industry?

"We can't move fast enough to keep up with a constantly evolving digital landscape, and we can't spend enough on it".

Roger Flynn, Chairman Olive Communications and Transformational Change Expert, and business development leader. Rogers illustrious CV includes investor, director, former BBC Ventures Chief Executive and Virgin Commercial Director and General Manager World Sales and Distribution at British Airways where he transformed the airline’s distribution costs and launched

The Hard Shoulder:

Tourism New Zealand have announced that in 2016 they will be directing 80% of their marketing budget towards attracting visitors during the shoulder seasons.

There is no better time to be assessing your overall digital strategy for 2016 .... 

Is your website doing enough to convert that all important off-peak traveller?

Does your website act as the hub of your digital platform incorporating both offline and online marketing channels which in turn drive the right type of traffic to your website?

Continuous Improvement
Do you have an active website measure and optimisation program in place, which includes analytics analysis and A/B Testing of critical user pathways?

Emerging Markets and the Evolving Chinese Traveller
Is your current digital platform flexible and responsive to the challenges of delivering multilingual content that engages with key international audiences? If your current multilingual offering is one or two translated pages within your website, it may be time to review how you are engaging with foreign markets.

Social Licence
Does your current website provide well thought-out content pathways to funnel potential guests through the booking process and showcase content highlighting your social and environmental credentials? Does your content reflect everything you are doing as an operator to improve your local environment or support your local community?

In summary, this year’s TIA event was an excellent reminder of the impressive work carried out by organisations like Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, the TIA and local and central government to not only boost our profile as a destination on the world stage, but understand the challenges ahead for the wider industry.

It's clear that digital and “the internet of things” have an essential part to play in the ongoing success of  the New Zealand tourism industry and will be integral to successfully facing the many challenges that lie ahead.

As a dedicated partner to the NZ Tourism Industry, Terabyte is looking forward to continuing its programme of R&D investment, further developing and strengthening our digital offering for the NZ tourism sector. In fact, the words "oyster" and "world" spring to mind ...

If you'd like more information on Terabyte's digital tourism offering, get in touch.