TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards: All Blacks Tours kicks off a new strategy, wins Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

With the All Blacks set to represent New Zealand at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, All Blacks Tours had the challenge of getting fans over there to watch.

The Challenge

All Blacks Tours is exclusively appointed by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to manage official All Blacks Supporters travel.

The business follows a four-year economic cycle, relying heavily on the success of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) to make the business viable during a regular season. With this, its cost structure and budget fluctuate between a RWC year and year without it, putting pressure on All Blacks Tours to make each RWC year as successful as possible.

The RWC 2015 campaign was just that – a success – and off the back of that, it was challenged to increase its margin for RWC 2019 by 10 percent. This came with a catch; a smaller budget. All Blacks Tours had to put its thinking cap on because RWC 2019 also brought challenges in the form of Japan as the host, and cost. While Japan is talked about as a trending travel destination, that doesn’t ring true to All Blacks Tours’ core audience who prefer rugby destinations like the UK.

On top of this, the average price package was unaffordable to most rugby fans.

The Response

With its work cut out, All Blacks Tours shifted away from its usual way of operating with a front-loaded strategy proposing to use the majority of its budget in the first three months. It was a risky move, but one based on the insight that 80 percent of Kiwis purchased their tickets for RWC 2015 within the first 12 months of them going on sale .

It also moved away from its traditional media channels (TV/print) and implemented a digitally-led strategy.

These decisions resulted in a campaign called ‘Play Advantage’ that invited Kiwis to reserve their tickets before they were available to buy, generating a database of leads to harvest for sales. For Kiwis, this meant giving contact details and paying a $200 refundable deposited to be part of ‘Play Advantage’ and secure their spot at RWC 2019, while for All Blacks Tours, this meant all the tyre-kickers were weeded out.

With its core group in the 50+ demographic, to help spread the message it partnered with GrownUps to target prospects.

However, All Blacks Tours also found its website had high visitation stats from the 25- to 35-year-old demographic – which it doesn’t usually attract or target.

To ensure they could afford a RWC package, it created a new product that shifts away from five-star hotels and escorted tours, allowing it to offer product at a lower price point while still maintaining important margin.

And to further aid rugby fans in getting to RWC, All Blacks Tours partnered with Q Mastercard to offer customers an exclusive payment plan with costs broken into monthly, bite-size payments over a year.

The Result

With a new front-loaded strategy, All Blacks Tours over-delivered on the 10 percent increase of margin compared to RWC 2015.

It also over-delivered on its internal goal to create an ROI of 200 percent – up 20 percent on the RWC 2015 campaign.

At the time of writing the entry, there’s was the possibility those results would continue to grow ahead of the RWC 2019.

Travel/Leisure and Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
All Blacks Tours
Marketing Initiative
Play Advantage
Marketing Partners
Judges’ comments
“The judges concluded that the complexity of this strategy was well rewarded with the clearly demonstrated results. They identified a target market well before the event, that was going to be difficult to engage with location and price. The development of an exclusive payment plan through a nance partner was a clever move to remove the barrier of affordability. The complexity of working with multiple stakeholders added to the challenge. This was a well thought out campaign.”
Travel/Leisure: Auckland Transport, Auckland Airport, Flight Centre New Zealand
Best Marketing on a Shoestring Budget: Flight Centre New Zealand, Trade Me, The Movember Foundation

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