Chinese travellers targeted through online channels – and star power

Hung Huang

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has teamed up with two Chinese VIPs, film-maker Lu Chuan and media personality/celebrity blogger Hung Huang, to try and boost New Zealand’s profile as a destination with the massive Chinese populous.

TNZ chief executive Kevin Bowler says the campaign is based around the use of online communities and interactive digital technology.

“Previous advertising activity in China has been successful in building awareness of New Zealand. We now need to build on that by telling a more detailed story of what New Zealand can offer Chinese visitors,” he says. “By sharing the experiences of real people, who are well-known and respected by our target market in China, we can fill in the knowledge gaps in the minds of potential visitors.”

The campaign is based around mini-travelogues fronted by the two celebrities as they experience New Zealand for themselves (TNZ recently launched a similar campaign to target young Australians, although it consisted of personalised guides to New Zealand created by Kiwi musicians Scribe, Liam Finn and The Mint Chicks). The travelogues will be shared through a range of online platforms, including blogs, social media sites, TNZ’s Chinese-language version of its visitor website www.newzealand.com/travel/china and two key key channels www.tudou.com and www.kaixin001.com, the Chinese equivalents of YouTube and Facebook.

The campaign, which is based on research showing word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful influences in Chinese travellers’ holiday decisions, launched this week, with advertising on digital interactive television, office building screens, in taxis and online. All advertising and media placements are directing consumers through to TNZ’s Chinese website, where they can download Lu Chuan and Hung Huang’s New Zealand itineraries and link through to travel seller partners to purchase travel.

Much of the campaign activity will take place around this year’s Shanghai World Expo, which runs from 1 May to 31 October 2010, in order to leverage awareness created by the New Zealand Pavilion, which TNZ is supporting along with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and other New Zealand government agencies.

Experience New Zealand, Right Now

Bowler says tapping into these online communities and enlisting the help of some Chinese star power is a great way to spread content virally, engage consumers in conversation and build lasting networks of fans.

“Digital technologies are providing new ways of doing business every day. New Zealand is a niche destination that appeals to a specific type of traveller, so using digital channels, such as social media and search marketing, allows us to speak directly to this group and maximise the value of our marketing spend.”

China has 384 million internet users, which means online channels provide an ideal opportunity to extend the reach of the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign. As of February, however, Chinese visitors were down nine percent on the previous year but forecasts for Chinese visitor arrivals are set to grow by 62 percent between 2009 and 2015, to 183,000 visitors per year.

New Zealand’s profile will also receive a boost in Japan following visits by Beverly Maeda, an actress, media personality and face of Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido, and retired pro-baseball player Masumi Kuwata, who both visited as part of TNZ’s Opinion Leaders programme. The pair were accompanied by Japanese TV, print and online media.

New Zealand has also scooped a place as one of three countries currently being show-cased as part of a project by the Japan National Museum of Science.

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