15-29 year olds make up 25 percent of New Zealand's total visitors. And while they may not spend as much as the older folk, they stay here for a longer and are an important chunk of revenue for the industry. Due to a combination of new, exciting and probably cheaper destinations coming into fashion and a lack of activity directed at the youth market over the years, New Zealand has fallen off the radar slightly for this demographic, but Stories Beat Stuff, a digital campaign launched by Contagion last year that asks potential travellers to give something up in exchange for a trip to New Zealand, is helping to change that.
Tourism New Zealand's general manager of marketing Justin Watson says the 12-month campaign has far exceeded their expectations in terms of engagement so far, with over 350,000 unique visits to the campaign pages on newzealand.com in 3.5 weeks (check out the blogs of the winners Summer Rhythm and Boats and Beaches), 250,000 YouTube views of the two videos produced by Fatboy Films, and an additional 40,00 fans added to the 100% Pure Facebook page.
The whole idea of the campaign was to try and re-engage the youth and re-establish New Zealand as an exciting place to come backpacking, especially for travellers from the UK, Europe and US.
"We've dipped in and dipped out [of focusing on youth] over the years, but because of their importance now, we're ramped up the investment," Watson says. "It's a long term play."
People know New Zealand is a stunningly beautiful place, he says. They just don't know what they'll do when they get here. So, in keeping with the 100% Pure You campaign idea—and in a similar fashion to the recent Air New Zealand sceptics campaign—Watson says the best way to attract that market was to "spark conversations and get them to come into our world to see what it's like".
Contagion's Tom Bates says the youth market needs more of a community focus. They don't want to see retail ads and, perhaps due to lack of funds, the decision-making process of choosing a destination is spread over a much longer period, which is why it is a year-long campaign.
Watson says there are still four trips to give away, including snow, natural goodness, urban and the ring of fire.