Speaking at the Inbound Tour Operators' Council (ITOC) annual conference in Blenheim recently, Doug Chapman, executive director of client services at specialist digital agency Amnesia Razorfish, told delegates marketing was in the midst of a revolution thanks to the internet. And, with a raft of new technologies and hundreds of new social sites to take New Zealand to a travel-hungry world, it is a revolution Tourism New Zealand is well-positioned to take advantage of to reach potential travellers in a cost-effective way.
"The beauty of digital media and marketing today is that we can trace a person from the first day they show an interest in New Zealand, to the day they pay," he says. "We can see what they like, how long they spend on sites, what interests they have and what sources they refer to. Frankly, it's marketing nirvana...My job is to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right place at the right time. And the beauty of digital media is that we can precisely target those people we want to talk to and the message we want to send them.
"If a skier in Colorado is on the internet reading up about a new ski field somewhere, we can strategically place an advertisement on the page advertising ski opportunities in New Zealand. If they don't engage with the advertisement the first time, the next time they are on the internet we can send them a completely different targeted message and continue to do that until they do."
Chapman and Amnesia Razorfish are working with Tourism New Zealand to develop and implement a global digital marketing strategy, and this strategy sits firmly on the foundations of new research identifying those interested in a New Zealand holiday. The research, carried out across 10 markets and unveiled at last week's ITOC Conference, identified the Active Considerer as the new target audience for New Zealand.
The digital strategy is the mechanism for delivering the messages to that target audience. Terming it 'digital door knocking', Chapman says Tourism New Zealand, like most organisations, was mostly monitoring online conversations about New Zealand at the moment.
"But at any time we have the ability to join in to a conversation if there is something relevant and engaging to say."
He said social media would be a key platform for Tourism New Zealand's new digital strategy (it already has over 200,000 Facebook fans to date and aims to have one million by 2012). Citing a recent TripAdvisor survey, Doug Chapman said 68 percent of travellers thought other travellers' recommendations were more credible than that of a national tourism body, even if they didn't know the other travellers.
"So getting into that social space is about listening, engaging and building a band of brand advocates."
Looking ahead, Chapman also talked about the redevelopment of Tourism New Zealand's main consumer site www.newzealand.com. He says the redevelopment would take the site from being a "brochureware" site to a world-class destination wiki.
"There won't be a big launch date, but over time the website will move from providing static information and referrals to a dynamic interconnected site with content sourced from different communities. The role of newzealand.com in future will be to support the digital marketing with discreet, focused topics of interest. It will be a marketplace to bring together visitors, operators, the industry and Tourism New Zealand to support campaigns and convert interest to sales," he says.
- This article originally appeared on www.tourismnewzealand.com.