As part of the Government's COVID-19 recovery plan, Venture Taranaki was awarded funding to progress some key strategic goals to ensure we have a robust, future-ready tourism sector.
Venture Taranaki has focussed on three key pillars: Design Thinking; Industry Capability Building and Product Development; and a Domestic Marketing strategy.
Designing the visitor futures of Taranaki
A report prepared by We Create Futures to assist the Taranaki region to question, explore and create change in the tourism sector.
In the report, you will find consumers insights, trends, and key considerations that need to be factored in when developing existing visitor experiences, or looking at new initiatives to attract people to the region.
In 2021 we engaged with We Create Futures to develop insights into the futures trends and focus areas to ensure we have a robust and future focused visitor sector. This involved research both domestically and internationally to identify where the opportunities lie.
To develop these trends Venture Taranaki facilitated workshops with stakeholders across the community to understand regional aspirations.
In response to the research and workshops, four provocations were developed as areas of focus to ensure we continue to have a robust and thriving visitor sector, these provocations include:
Eat the region
This provocation aims to meet several emerging visitor needs whilst also celebrating the region’s reputation as a food destination. The suggestion that the region brings together local food producers, restaurants and cafés, and self-catering accommodation providers to develop local products that further establish Taranaki as a food destination.
This provocation relates to the increasing median age of populations across much of the developed world. Statistics NZ predicts that the number of New Zealanders over 65 is likely to increase by 77% between 2016 and 2036. For comparison, the number of New Zealanders under 14 years is set to increase by just 8%. Furthermore, this is not the result of a “bulge” of “baby boomers”, but instead a “new normal” that results from longer life expectancies and lower birth rates. An obvious consequence of this is an increased proportion of our population dealing with mobility issues and other factors associated with aging.
Voyage with us
Intended to focus on a growing segment of travellers seeking to explore the region, its people, their environments and culture on a deeper level. Planning to build on the incredible success of recent events such as the Arts Trail and Garden Festival. This provocation looks to scale such initiatives by developing strategic partnerships across Taranaki.
This relates to the idea that human experiences are gradually being augmented by digital tools and connected with personal data. Leading to an increased expectation that products and services will be more personalised and relevant to the user.
We are now exploring the possibilities available to us, collaborating with our stakeholders and partners to create and prototype these experiences.
Having a knowledgeable and skilled visitor sector workforce is a critical driver of current and future success and something that we have identified as part of our programme. The reason being that knowledgeable, capable people create truly like no other visitor experiences, encouraging visitors to share and promote organically their experience in region by word of mouth through friends and family, and showcasing across their own social media channels.
To encourage this, we’re supporting our visitor industry talent, so they can support positive visitor experiences. We have worked on a range of capability workshops, focusing on digital enablement covering topics such as ‘Google my Business’, and of the use of the range of free tools available via Google. Alongside this, we ran a further two workshops covering key tips to maximise the customer experience when searching for and booking visitor experiences in Taranaki.
Beyond our digital workshops, we're running cultural and historical workshops, aimed at encouraging the sharing of knowledge around our regional history, and unique stories. Participants are provided with knowledge and insights that can be shared with visitors, including our at times volatile and checkered history during colonial times.
We have identified three drive journey products that will connect Taranaki with multiple regions across the wider North Island/te Ika a Maui. These journeys will encourage visitor spread and the natural migration of visitors from bridging regions based around a central theme and journey narrative.
The Coastal Arts Trail – in collaboration with Whanganui & Partners and CEDA (Central Economic Development Agency), we have developed an Arts focused self-drive journey that links all three regions. The Coastal Arts Trail promotes the large collection of visual arts and galleries on the lower west coast of the North Island, and connects galleries into a cohesive package to create an art-lovers' trail making it easy to explore the regions through art, thereby bringing more visitors.
Waikato – Taranaki Drive Journey – in collaboration with Hamilton & Waikato, we identified common themes across both regions to encourage out-of-region visitors. This included a feasibility study, journey development, brand development, and collateral development.
The Central Drive Journey – in collaboration with Ruapehu and Whanganui, this drive journey will include the co-ordination of trail links and information gathered from Whanganui, Taumarunui, Forgotten World Highway, Stratford, New Plymouth and Hāwera.
As we move into phase two of this project we will be looking at a range of existing products and services, along with some new initiatives that we can support and develop to enhance our visitor experiences.
With visitor experiences playing such a critical role in supporting our regional vibrancy and working to attract visitors in region, we will be working to ensure our products complement our long term vision and strategy, and the needs and desires of the visitor of the future, as well as those looking to work and invest in the region. We will be identifying potential product exploration paths and working to support product development with community experts and advocates to bring these products to life.
Promotion of our region continues, with the ability to implement some larger above-the-line activity across billboards, bus backs, and TV. Our focus remains on the domestic market, which has traditionally been where the majority of our visitors have come from. We utilised this extra investment to increase our reach and awareness, as well as bring online a new South Island growth market/audience through a range of above and below-the-line activities, including strategic partnerships.
During 2022, we ran a visitor attraction campaign across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram targeting the Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Whanganui, Waikato, Manawatū, and Bay of Plenty regions, which are either an easy direct flight or drive journey. The goal was to build on our existing Taranaki Like No Other brand awareness, as well as encourage people to book their next trip to Taranaki. We received some exceptionally high numbers of reach and engagement, with 12 million video views, and 9,500 click-throughs to the Taranaki Like No Other website.
We also placed static adverts featuring across Google, Facebook, and Instagram to spotlight 4 of the amazing events happening in spring in Taranaki: Feastival Taranaki, Coastal Five, Spiegel Fest, and NZ Tattoo and Arts Festival. These ran in conjunction with TV commercials during September.