- Introduction, What is Adventure Tourism?
- Destination Marketing Organizations of New Zealand
- Adventure Tourism Activities 1
- Adventure Tourism Activities 2
- Application of New Zealand Practices to Adventure Tourism in the Adirondacks
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Tour Operators
Meetings were held with DMOs responsible for marketing and managing tourism and tour operators that market and manage adventure tourism products.
Tourism New Zealand
A meeting was held with Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) Chief Executive Kevin Bowler and Kellie Douglas, Marketing Manager – Youth Sector at the TNZ offices in Auckland. They stated that they did not consider adventure travel to be a market segment; “adventure is something everyone does”. Accessibility to nature is the message that has been conveyed through the successful 100% Pure New Zealand branding campaign. Their target market for the leisure traveler is independent professionals. New Zealand is on many people’s “bucket list” and their promotion is geared towards moving prospective customers “down the funnel” from interest to action. This is accomplished through compelling video and stunning photography on their digital platforms that also emphasize the ease and accessibility of travel to and within New Zealand.
For New Zealand Australia continues to be their biggest inbound market followed by China, the U.S. and U.K. Tourism is the number one industry in New Zealand as of 2015. For the year ending March 2015 international tourist expenditure accounted for $11.8 billion NZD or 17.4% of New Zealand total export earnings. Tourism directly contributes $10.6 billion NZD or 4.9% to New Zealand total GDP. (http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/documents-image-library/key-tourism-statistics.pdf)
For marketing the only traditional media used is a limited amount of print in Australia. The “long haul market” is 100% digital with extensive use of social media and search advertising. They also focus on the travel trade, including travel agents and tour operators, and work closely with the regional tourism organizations in public relations activities geared towards the trade.
The TNZ website is extremely attractive and well organized, sorting prospective visitors by tabs leading to 29 Regional Destinations, Things to Do, Recommended Trips which includes itineraries, Travel to New Zealand with links to airlines, Transport within New Zealand, and Accommodation which can be sorted by region, type and price. The site is easy to navigate and TNZ will send a detailed map by mail upon request.
TNZ is responsible for accrediting the 80 tourist information centers called “iSites” throughout the country. These sites share uniform signage, are easy to find, and provide a wealth of local and regional information both online and with hard copy. TNZ also administers the Qualmark program, an accreditation system similar to AAA in the United States that rates over 2,000 businesses throughout the country.
Queenstown is the self-proclaimed “World Capital of Adventure” and generally acknowledged to be the most important hub of adventure tourism activities on the South Island.
A meeting was held with Graham Budd, Chief Executive, at their offices in Queenstown.
Destination Queenstown is a Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) that was founded in 1985; prior to that there was no organization dedicated to tourism promotion for Queenstown and the region surrounding it. Their funding is through a levy based on commercial property value and their annual budget is $3.4 million New Zealand Dollars, the equivalent of $2.3 million US dollars at current exchange rates. Destination Queenstown is an independent corporation but they do report to the Queenstown District Council which is an elected governing body.
Queenstown currently has 2 million overnight visitors per year with an additional million visitors in the form of day trippers from other parts of the South Island. Their visitors are 33% domestic and 67% international. They target the adventure traveler with a number of signature activities such as jet boating, bungy jumping, hiking, white water rafting and mountain biking in the warmer months. There are three ski resorts within an hour that provide winter activities. Queenstown also sees a number of tour groups whose participants are mainly sightseeing on the South Island. They do not operate a conference center but are currently looking at the feasibility of building a conference facility to fill rooms in the shoulder seasons.
Mr. Budd was asked about the development of adventure tourism product, which is a relatively new phenomenon. He answered that they already had “the stage”, a spectacular setting on a lake surrounded by mountains and rivers. The growth in activities was driven by a group of entrepreneurs in the private sector that were operating attractions and decided to get together to package and promote them jointly. This was already happening by the time Destination Queenstown was founded in 1985 and his organization has marketed the destination to a national and international audience.
Queenstown’s marketing strategies are similar to those of Tourism New Zealand. They buy traditional print media only for the domestic and Australian markets. Video is produced and put on YouTube and they make extensive use of search advertising and social media. They target the travel trade through attending trade shows and do a considerable amount of tour group business as a result. They offer only downloads through their website and do not offer to send printed materials All the commercial properties that are subject to a tax levy supporting the RTO are entitled to exposure on the website. They work with Tourism New Zealand closely, especially on public relations activities for travel writers and other media events.
Ultimate Hikes is a tour operator based in Queenstown that offers guided one day hikes and multi-day hut to hut hikes in Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Parks. They have been operating on the Routeburn Track since 1989 and the Milford Track since 1992. An interview was conducted with Noel Saxon, General Manager, at their offices in Queenstown prior to doing the Routeburn Track with them.
Ultimate Hikes is a concession that has the exclusive right to offer hut to hut hikes on the Routeburn and Milford Tracks, two of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”. They operate through a 20 year agreement with the Department of Conservation (DoC) and pay the DoC a percentage of their revenue and other fees. Ultimate operates their own full service huts on the tracks while the DoC also operates huts for a fee that offer bunks and cooking facilities for campers. The DoC requires a minimum 1:12 guide to client ratio for groups hiking with Ultimate.
The DoC has strict standards for the tracks (trails) identified and promoted as “Great Walks”. These standards include maximum grades, trail materials used to harden the trails, surface water management and other specifications. The result is an improved hiking surface for all of the Great Walks and many other hiking trails that surpasses anything found in the
Adirondacks. The DoC performs the trail work but Ultimate also contributes to work on the tracks; costs are apportioned based on the number of visitors each are responsible for according to the number of beds they provide in their huts (70 in DoC huts, 40 in Ultimate huts).
The target market for Ultimate is a 55-65 year old active traveler. Their customers are 20% Domestic, 20% United States, 35% Australian, 12% Japanese with the remaining 13% split between other points of origin. Their marketing is primarily done using digital media with an emphasis on search advertising, search engine optimization and social media. Like Tourism New Zealand and Destination Queenstown they do utilize some traditional print media in Australia but that is the only market. Their website features stunning scenic photography alongside descriptions of the trips they offer and other useful information. Everything you need to know is on their website, they offer downloads but do not send printed materials to prospective participants.
The price point for Ultimate Hikes trips is high, $1150 per person for three days and two nights. This includes accommodation in their lodges with private room and private bath, all meals, all DoC fees, transfers to and from the start and finish, and knowledgeable guides with a minimum of 1 guide for each 12 participants. Noel Saxon was asked what features of their hikes created the value that supports this pricing, as opposed to an independent traveler making the arrangements themselves through the DoC system. He believes that it is their ability to provide the comforts of home on the tracks combined with guides knowledgeable about every aspect of the National Parks that creates the greatest value added. An assessment of the experience on the Routeburn Track follows in the Activities section of this report.