Traveller, your journey starts beneath a pimped out newzealand.com website

Tourism New Zealand’s marketing strategy is all about convincing ‘active considerers’ to give New Zealand a go. And almost all of its budget is now spent on digital marketing to communicate directly with consumers, with the award-winning newzealand.com website acting as the central hub to convert them to travel. And, with the help of TBWA\’s Digital Arts Network (DAN), the latest iteration of the site has been launched. 

“newzealand.com is at the centre of Tourism New Zealand’s strategy to engage with travellers actively researching, planning and booking their New Zealand holiday,’ says Catherine Bates, Tourism New Zealand general manager brand and international PR. “While the role of the site remains the same—to connect consumers with travel sellers—it will now deliver this via improved functionality, usability and clearer design.” 

The user-centred changes are based on an independent usability review, industry feedback and robust user research, including a mixture of online and face-to-face research across multiple markets engaging with almost 1,000 participants.

“This research has helped us understand what improvements need to be made to support the genuine needs of users and will continue to be a key aspect of the on-going evolution of the site,” says Bates.

Key changes to the site include an updated navigation structure to help users find popular content and business listings. Content has also been renamed and re-grouped to enable users to make a clearer distinction between official and contributed content, know where they are located in the site and where to go next to find the information they are looking for (here’s a guide to the changes for operators). 

“Visited by 11 million people in the year ending June 2012, the website is an influential information source,” she says. “The improvements build on the redeveloped site released in 2011, which gave operators and travel sellers greater ability to use the site to promote their business.”

Tourism New Zealand’s Visitor Experience Monitor for 2011/12 revealed that the use of mobile devices is on the increase with 28 percent of travellers using a smart phone or iPhone device when travelling around the country. This is up from only 17 percent the year before making mobile optimisation a critical part of increasing the site’s value to travellers.

Small but significant changes to the site have been implemented over the past few months and have helped improve its efficiency. The site’s referral rate has climbed across Tourism New Zealand’s priority markets and there are now more than 7,000 travel sellers listed on the website (operators, travel agents, airlines). A recent online survey of 500 newzealand.com users found that newzealand.com places a significant role in influencing potential travellers, with 73 percent of respondents saying they were more likely to visit New Zealand based on their single visit to the site. And consumers are also more engaged, with time on the site increasing by 26 percent.

“Tourism New Zealand has driven a rigorous programme of testing and audience research to deliver site improvements,” says Che Tamahori, DAN’s managing director. “These changes make the site faster and easier to get around – delivering both impact and ease of use for users.”

Earlier this year, the previous incarnation of DAN, Shift, once again made it into the top five of a Webby category for an earlier redesign of the newzealand.com website in the tourism category. It has already won a few Webbys for the work it did for Tourism New Zealand six years ago and the site has received many local and international accolades since its launch, including a SXSW Interactive Awards Finalist 2012 for Technical Achievement (up against Microsoft, IBM and other global giants), Axis Awards Finalist 2012 and a Gold Best Award in 2011 for Interactive Design.

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