Digital Travel Summit APAC 2020

20 - 22 April, 2020

Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

Contact Us: 65 6722 9455

New Zealanders are opening their hearts and hometowns to the world!

As home to the world’s first tourism board (established back in 1893), New Zealand has a long tradition of pioneering tourism initiatives. The Effective Recovery Recuperation Board of the 1920s and 1930s served as a post-World War I, post-Depression body, specialising in the provision of restorative experiences.

In subsequent years, the task of selling New Zealand to the world as a desirable and welcoming destination for travellers fell to Tourism New Zealand (TNZ). Over the past two decades, TNZ has been extolling the virtues of the nation through the “100% Pure New Zealand” brand platform. Its latest concept flies under the banner “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand,” and runs on the premise of New Zealanders opening their hearts and hometowns to visitors from around the globe.

The new campaign has the underlying principle of making guests of New Zealand feel so welcome that they form a deep connection with the place, becoming unofficial brand ambassadors.

The Importance Of Branding

Beautiful landscapes, impressive national monuments, world-class cuisine, culture, or any number of other differentiating factors can tip the balance between the choice of destinations, for the prospective traveller. All of these elements combine to make up the image or brand personality of a particular place. And in a highly competitive market that can see revenues from travel and tourism constituting a major proportion of the national economy, it’s important for countries to get their branding right, and to distinguish themselves from other regions.

In the eyes of some observers, there may be little to distinguish between New Zealand and its regional neighbours, notably Australia. Part of the challenge in creating and sustaining a brand image for New Zealand, has been to deal with this mentality - and with the differences in size and resources available to the two nations.

As Tourism New Zealand’s general manager Andrew Waddel explains: “We have a challenger brand mentality here. There are state tourism boards in Australia that have more resources than Tourism New Zealand, so we need to work smarter. We need to ensure that partnerships leverage all combined capabilities.”

Tourism New Zealand general manager of PR and major events Lauren Vosper stresses the importance of getting the evolution of the New Zealand destination brand just right: “Our people and culture are diverse and multifaceted and we need to make sure we capture this authentically and deliver something Kiwis will embrace.”

Tourism New Zealand’s Unique Selling Propositions

Landscapes and environments of intense beauty have long been an established selling point of the Land of the Long White Cloud. From playing host to film crews working on the Lord of the Rings project, TNZ has also done a great job of marketing New Zealand as the home of Middle Earth.

But Tourism New Zealand’s latest campaign draws on something far less tangible – the welcoming nature of its people. “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” will, according to Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall establish a new narrative for the country, and a new approach to storytelling.

“We set out to treat our visitors like whānau [family] which is underpinned by the Māori concept of manaakitanga, creating deep connections between people, extending hospitality, care and respect. Often visitors come to New Zealand for the landscapes, arriving as strangers, but leave as whānau, talking about the warm and welcoming nature of our people.”


(Image source:

Tourism New Zealand Marketing Strategies

In 2017, Tourism New Zealand released its four year strategy for the financial years between 2018 and 2021. With tourism ranking as the biggest export earner in the country, TNZ’s strategy has a mission to boost New Zealand’s economy by growing the value of its international visitors.

Besides targeting near and long-term value including shoulder season and regional growth, and working with industry to improve experiences for visitors and Kiwis, the strategy also lays emphasis on ways to strategically manage New Zealand’s travel and tourism markets and related sectors.

In broad terms, TNZ is looking to attract visitors to new regions, encouraging them to arrive during off-peak seasons. To this end, Tourism New Zealand will be pursuing regional dispersal through region-specific campaigns, in addition to targeting special interest visitors such as cyclists, golfers, and backpackers who visit more regions.

Inviting Special Interest Travellers

In 2018, Tourism New Zealand appointed the Special Group agency to handle its “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” project. Commenting on Special’s appointment, TNZ’s Lauren Vosper says: “New Zealand’s destination brand is incredibly successful, showcasing the country’s landscapes and scenery and has worked because it reinforces the key reasons visitors choose New Zealand. New Zealand’s unique people and culture, our way of being, our warm welcome is what we know stays with people after they have visited. It is what people share and talk about long after they return to their country and is the essence of brand New Zealand. We have started work to evolve the brand to capture this.”

Special Group was the driving force behind Tourism New Zealand’s recent and successful Backpackagram campaign, which aimed to dispel the notion among younger travellers from the UK and Germany that New Zealand was all nice views and quiet strolls.

Special Group assembled three teams of backpackers from the UK and Germany, and issued challenges to them showcasing the most epic, fun and social things to do in New Zealand. The group filmed the excursions, editing the footage and releasing it as an episodic style TV reality show for Instagram, and a mobile first audience.

Special interest sectors, such as backpacking, golf tourism, or cycling tourism are a key priority for Tourism New Zealand. The country can offer a unique holiday experience, particularly for travellers who enjoy cycling, mountain biking, golf, skiing, walking, and hiking. TNZ’s research indicates that visitors who participate in Special Interest activities spend more money and stay longer than average visitors - often having their special interest as the main reason for why they choose a certain type of holiday.

One of Tourism New Zealand’s past successes was “100% Middle Earth,” a campaign drawing on the worldwide popularity of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed at various locations around the country.

According to Tourism New Zealand, 14 percent of international visitors take part in some kind of Middle Earth-related experience. And a standard Google search lists over a dozen tour operators still shepherding visitors to the many film locations spread over both islands. Yet despite this success, some analysts feel that New Zealand isn’t taking full advantage of the Tolkien effect, in marketing the country as a tourist destination.

Film tourism expert Stefan Roesch makes specific reference to the case of Northern Ireland, which has made itself synonymous with the various kingdoms of Westeros since providing landscapes and other locations for the hugely popular television series Game of Thrones. Tourism Ireland estimates that every sixth leisure visitor is attracted to Northern Ireland because of the show. And as a result, the national tourism body has developed a strategy which focuses on film tourism experiences, rather than broad promotional messages.

With an estimated 80 million film location tourists worldwide, there’s a considerable special interest market, looking for unique travel opportunities connected to their favourite movies and television shows. Recently confirmed plans by the Amazon streaming media network for a New Zealand-based Lord of the Rings TV series should provide Tourism New Zealand with an opportunity to capitalise on its appeal - and perhaps rethink its strategy.

Opening Up New Zealand In Practice

As part of its “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” campaign, Tourism New Zealand has released a new content series created by the Specail Group agency, called “Good Morning World.” The series hinges on the fact that New Zealand is one of the first places in the world to see the sun each day.

The campaign will feature 365 days of video content and kicks off with a ‘hero’ video highlighting the importance of storytelling to the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. The video features eight-year-old Parearau and one of her elders, Hinetu, standing together as they witness the beauty of the sunrise from the top of their sacred Maunga [mountain] Hikurangi in Gisborne, as the elder explains how New Zealand is one of the first places on earth to greet the new day.

(Video source: YouTube)

Over the course of a year, and through social media and digital channels, viewers will receive a daily welcome from New Zealanders from all walks of life, and all parts of the country.

(Video source: YouTube)

As TNZ’s general manager Andrew Waddel explains, “The insight for the campaign came from a realisation that, while New Zealand is known for beautiful landscapes and things to do, there’s more to visiting than that. When we dived deeper, we realised that visitors leave with a real connection to a place and people. They might arrive as a stranger, but they leave as whānau (family). If people are able to connect with New Zealand and what it stands for it will affect their desire to travel there. It ties in closely with manaakitanga – an important concept in Maori culture, but one also deeply imbedded in all New Zealanders. It’s a deep respect of people arriving in the country, having travelled to get there. It’s a show of hospitality and respect for the traveller. The new campaign really helps bring this concept to life.”

Personalisation And The Personal Touch

Personalised travel is on the minds of stakeholders at all levels of the tourist industry - consumers and providers, alike. For providers and countries serving as travel destinations, this personalisation needs to occur at a number of scales, ranging from national character, through regional norms, the special needs of particular demographics or interest groups, to the behaviour of individual travellers.

Besides its niche targeting activities with the Special Group, Tourism New Zealand and its value chain partners have been undertaking personalisation on a regional basis, tailoring more culturally accessible experiences and incentives for travellers from Asia Pacific and other localities.

As far back as 2008, Tourism New Zealand conducted a marketing campaign in the UK, featuring British tourists describing their experiences in the country. The ads showed the activities of UK tourists on holiday in New Zealand during the month of July.

In 2018, Tourism New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ctrip Customised Travel, to support the growth of tailor-made travel for Chinese visitors to New Zealand. The agreement was marked by the launch of a new Ctrip ‘New Zealand Specialist and Customised Travel’ training programme.

Customised or tailor-made travel gives Chinese independent travellers the structure of an organised tour, but with the freedom to experience more of what New Zealand has to offer. It’s a growing trend in China, due to an increasing demand for in-depth travel by consumers who may not have the time to plan their own itinerary, and are willing to pay for a quality experience.

In response to a rising interest in the country among the people of Singapore, Tourism New Zealand has launched a new campaign targeted at local travellers, and promoting some of the lesser known regions in New Zealand. The new campaign is supported by Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, and travel trade partners such as Chan Brothers and Dynasty Travel.

Singapore is an important market, with around 61,000 people travelling to New Zealand in 2018 - a number that’s growing at about 6%. Over 50% of travellers from Singapore head for destinations outside of the main cities in New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand conducted research covering five target regions - Wellington, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, and Canterbury - to find out what consumers want when they travel to the country. “Hidden gems” and to travel like a local were the main desires, though destinations need to be both physically and internet accessible. A range of interesting local cuisine is always an added bonus.

As part of its fully integrated 360-degree campaign in South and Southeast Asia, Tourism New Zealand is engaging influencers and international media, and working with airlines and travel trade partners to introduce flights, packages, and itineraries that go beyond more well-known destinations.

Some Lessons To Learn From TNZ

In a highly competitive travel industry, destinations need a strong, distinctive product that inspires consumers to share stories about their experiences. Tourism New Zealand has embraced digital marketing to spread its brand message and amplify those visitors’ stories. 90% of their global marketing spend is digital, with that figure rising to 100% in some markets.

Tourism New Zealand appreciates that their destination offers a lot of experiences in a geographically small area, and integrates this across every facet of its organisation, making sure that it works across multiple channels.

As New Zealand is such a long way away for many travellers, TNZ takes care to target people who are actively considering the trip, investing a lot of time in data research and image analysis to work out who they are actually speaking to. Content can then be developed and served specifically to this audience.

Conditions within the country have to factor into the strategy at all times. For the “100% Pure Welcome - 100% Pure New Zealand” campaign, TNZ appreciates the importance of keeping local and indigenous populations on board with tourism growth. This is one of the reasons why Tourism New Zealand is focussed on encouraging travellers to explore new regions and to visit during the shoulder seasons. This approach should share the benefits of tourism value more evenly.

TNZ is also taking care to monitor any concerns that New Zealanders might have as tourism grows - and to take remedial action wherever possible.

The “Good Morning World” concept launches in line with the 20th anniversary of the “100% Pure New Zealand” brand platform - a milestone that Andrew Waddel describes as important, but less so than the next 20 years.

“The length of this campaign also ties in with an inter-generational imperative in New Zealand – a sense that today’s custodians need to work to leave the place in a better state for their descendants.”

Branding and sustainable marketing will be major topics at Digital Travel Summit APAC 2020, which holds at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore, from 20 - 22 April 2020.

Emil Petrov, Head of Strategy, Tourism New Zealand, will be one of the keynote speakers.