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Growing A Tourism Business In New Zealand Post Covid

8 steps to thrive as a tourism business in New Zealand in a Post Covid19 world

There’s no question that tourism businesses in New Zealand have taken one of the hardest hits when we look at the impact Covid19 has had, (and of courses not only for New Zealand but across the world. )

Tourism is a huge part of who we are and what we do here in our corner of the world and it has been devastating to watch so many operators go from having thriving businesses to suddenly being emptied out and really struggling. But the way we see it here at Identify Marketing is that while we can’t change the world, we can help you to change the way you market yourself.

It is about having a business that is marketing itself stronger to meet the current ‘state of play’, without closing the door on future opportunities once the borders open. 

For this blog I have talked with Brie Timings, owns a social media company focused on helping tourism operators in New Zealand.

As a team we’ve already worked with a number of tourism businesses with help from the Tourism Transition fund via the Regional Business Partner network and have seen huge improvements in their lead increases, growing their business in a time when a lot of tourism operators have struggled. Because there is actually a lot you can do, over and above things like Tripadvisor (which is still important). 

So with that in mind, I would like to step through we suggest you can now strengthen and grow as a tourism business in New Zealand.

waiting for the borders to open for tourism businesses in new zealand

1. Start with the end in mind – market to Kiwis while keeping the welcome mat ready for when the borders open

You may have never marketed to Kiwis before. 

Many of the businesses we have worked with have always had a constant stream of international visitors come to their door, with some never having to engage in any marketing at all – just being located in a busy tourism area has been enough to have a constant stream of customers. 

So they haven’t had to worry about email marketing, what their website looks like, or any of those things because people would just arrive anyway. However, unfortunately, that’s obviously not how things are now. So it’s about creating a strategy and the way I see it is this strategy will take you from where you are to a much more robust position, giving you an opportunity to build and market to Kiwis, but still keep that door open for that international market in the future.

Even though things hurt a lot at the moment, if we can make these changes you’ll attract Kiwis to come and buy your products and services now, and later on you will be able to use that collateral to improve the marketing you were doing for overseas travellers. 

So this is what I mean by starting with the end in mind – think about both audiences and don’t move into one particular area, because then you’ll just have to shift back later. It is better to look at having a holistic, all-inclusive plan moving forward.

tourism busineses can taregt all kinds of kiwi travellers

2. Move your mindset away from ‘Kiwis are cheap’

Yes, some Kiwis are cheap. 

We are from all different types of backgrounds, with different earning power, but you might be surprised to find out how many Kiwis aren’t cheap. 

I think what happens with tourism is that some haven’t had to hang out with Kiwis a lot in social media, whereas many of us as business owners have been dealing with the issue of thinking Kiwis are ‘cheap’ across a lot of things for many years. But if you keep getting that feedback, then maybe you’re just hanging out with the wrong Kiwis? 

Because the truth is, Kiwis can include a very wide range of customers. There are some who are actually earning a lot of money and are used to luxury accommodation, splurging and spending money on things and while they currently can’t leave the country – they need to spend their money somewhere! So you might be quite surprised in the spending power of many Kiwis. In fact, we have seen that there are a lot who want to really invest in New Zealand and spend their money here to help, as well as new Kiwis who still want to explore and discover our country. 

It certainly is the year of the campervans and road trips, there is no doubt about that. And of course people will stop along their journey to ‘do things’, which means they need to be able to discover you and your tourism business, ideally before they arrive. 

It’s also the year of Kiwis discovering boutique and luxury accommodation, because the money they would normally spend overseas, they now have it to spend in New Zealand. 

Kiwis are actually quite sophisticated world travellers, typically requiring a high level of customer service, and they are prepared to pay for that international level of service here. 

So please just be aware that the mentality that ‘Kiwis are cheap’ won’t help you here. There is always going to be a market in this country for what you are offering, you just need to find those people and talk to them more. 

email marketing for tourism businesses in nz

3. Now is the time to build a list

We’ve spoken to a lot of tourism operators and we have discovered that many of them don’t actually have a customer list because they have only ever had people coming once, leaving and not coming back to New Zealand. 

But Kiwis are returners, referrers and have great networks – both locally and overseas. So it’s in your best interest to get Kiwis into your business, do a good job and then to stay in touch with them. Because they may come back, will tell others to visit and when they have overseas visitors eventually, they can recommend you also. 

Which is why building a good email list is crucial to creating great marketing collateral and here’s a bonus – another sneaky thing about lists is when you have that data, you can use it to retarget those people on social media platforms. 

Pinterest is powerful for tourism businesses


4. Pinterest is powerful


Pinterest is a powerful tool for tourism operators. 

People are visual, they want to plan out their adventures and discover new things and Pinterest is highly ranked when it comes to SEO (search engine optimisation). When people are searching for things, the result will often come up with an image or idea from Pinterest, which they can either pin or click on it and go to your website. So do not underestimate the power of Pinterest for tourism operators. 

Pinterest advertising is also very cheap to run, and is very good at driving people to your website – so as long as your website is great (with plenty of things to ‘pin’), that can work very well. 

So have a look at Pinterest, because while it might be something you haven’t tried before, it is definitely beneficial for you to consider. Think along the lines of ‘Top five must-do activities in the Waikato’ ‘Family-friendly attractions in the Hawkes Bay’, and using those ideas, put them into boards on your Pinterest for people to collect, share and pass along. 

It also means overseas travellers who want to come here one day can add them onto their wishlist. It’s a win-win!  

use social media for your nz tourism business

5. Feed their need with social media


Contextual images are so important for Facebook and Instagram. 

It’s about putting the experience in context so viewers can take in the whole scene, and this is something that Brie is really really good at. 

With a fishing charter, I want to see the boat, where it sits at the wharf with the sea in the background so I know where to find it and lots of action shots showing people enjoying themselves. It’s all about painting a picture of what it feels like to be there, so potential customers can imagine themselves there too. 

Do lots of close up of the details – like the table decorations, the welcome coffee, the warm cookie on arrival – show the ‘secrets’ of the experience to make people go ‘oh I want to have that’. And don’t forget to use user-generated content, which are images and videos from your customers. Repurpose it to show that people love what you do. 

One of the things Brie says, which is really interesting for tourism compared to a lot of other businesses and business types, is don’t be afraid of repeating content, because your fans will love it and new people need to see your best stuff. In fact, people don’t even notice when it’s repeated and it just helps them to feel more comfortable with what you offer. And if they are feeling comfortable and warm, they are more likely to buy from you. 

Use stories to promote your NZ tourism business

6. Stories are where it’s at


Stories (on Instagram and Facebook) are one of the best social media tools for tourist operators. 

Capture your content during the day and then at the end of the day, craft a story that takes people on a journey. Instagram stories only last 24 hours, but it is a great way to engage people and of course you can save those stories in the highlight story space on your Instagram profile.

This is not about taking out your phone all of the time, but focusing on specific moments that happen during the experience. It’s not a daily journal, it’s an in-depth glimpse into the best parts of the day. So the whole story might be about someone reeling in a fish, but the first video is getting out all of the gear and baiting the hook, then an amazing fish being caught and someone holding it, and then perhaps throwing it back or keeping it – or even eating it at the end of the day. Those snapshots are what will entice people to want to know more, or have the adventure themselves. 

Using stories is really important (so is sharing other people’s content) because having your own videos, including talking to camera, helps people feel really bonded to the story and tempt people to come and be a part of the experience with you. Static images just don’t produce enough interaction the way moving video and you talking to the camera does.

The Rock

7. Make your website a ‘lead catcher’


Your website needs to have something that people can take away from it.

It’s not just about a page where they can contact you, but something they can download with extra information so you can get their email address, and build your marketing list. From here, you’re able to continue nurturing that person.   

It could be a sample itinerary, a plan for where to stay or what to do in the region, five ways to get ready for the trip or something that adds to their excitement to book. And for those who aren’t ready to book/make a decision immediately, you have a way to retarget them to keep you ‘front of mind’. 

So think of all the different ways you can ‘catch’ leads on your website. Are there good calls to action, ways for people to get in contact with you, make bookings, download information? If there are, you’ve got a ‘lead catcher’. Also make sure your website has Facebook pixel on it so you can capture all of the data in terms of who visits your website, then retarget them with Facebook ads if you need to.  

Another cool little thing you can use on your website is a free programme called HotJar – it helps track all of your site visitor’s behaviour. This is a really useful bit of code to put on your website to see how people are interacting with your pages, understand if they are using it the way you want them to and enabling you to improve it to help it perform better. 

So just remember that being able to capture leads is a really important part of your marketing. 

outsourcing for tourism businesses in New Zealand

8. Consider outsourcing if you’ve just not ‘got it’


Your social media is the most important part of putting your best face forward. 

While we at Identify promote doing things yourself (and we enjoy teaching you how to as well), if you just really don’t love it, or don’t have ‘the knack’, a good idea once you start getting those bookings in is to start outsourcing social media marketing – especially during the busy months – so people get a consistent look and feel from your business. It’s about ensuring it is clear, engaging messaging and we recommend Brie from Simple Life Social if you want to do that.

There you have it! Eight steps to really enhance your marketing during what has been, and still is, an extremely tough time. We truly believe all is not lost without international tourism, because we have seen firsthand the way Kiwis have been travelling in their own backyard and enjoying all of the amazing tourist attractions on the way. It is just about reworking the way you market your business to uncover a fresh new audience here in New Zealand.

(and… if you know you need help with any of this, we’d love to talk with you. We’ve got a huge passion for helping tourism businesses and offer discounted services just for your industry along with the help from the Government funding.)

You can contact Rachel for an initial chat here

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