NZ aims to regain lost ground

NZ aims to regain lost ground
By admin

New Zealand needs to step up its online agent training amid concerns it has lost ground to competing destinations, the country's tourism agency has admitted.

Tim Burgess, Tourism NZ's Australia general manager, conceded that rival markets vying for the Australian dollar have picked up their game and are targeting the trade. That has included the development of online training.

Tourism NZ is set to relaunch its global web training in May as part of a mega famil involving 300 Australian travel agents. The famils will aim to provide frontline consultants with first hand experience of the country with itineraries based on Tourism NZ's marketing campaigns over the past 12 months.

Burgess, pictured, said its online modules had become "staid", allowing competitors to catch up.

"Our new online agent training will be colourful, more interactive and more vibrant, " he told Travel Today. "It's taken a little longer to launch than anticipated because it's being developed for a global platform, not just for Australia. Our existing training had become a little staid and everyone else caught up and even passed where we're at so we want to leap again and be out in front."

In such a competitive market, it is no use simply having online training. It must resonate with consultants and provide them with an experience, he said.

"You can't just say to people ‘you should do this training to learn about NZ'. In 2013 you have to create learning tools that are interactive and engaging," Burgess explained. "We have always understood the importance of online training but we think we can do better and we fully intend to do better. It will be simplified, more clearly define NZ's regions and focus on commissionable product as well as focus on the logistics of travelling around NZ."

The 300-strong famil will create "momentum" and "spread the word that the modules are not just informational but fun and easy to use", he said.

Burgess said the famil, organised in collaboration with Emirates, reflects a desire to target front line consultants and showcase the product first hand.

He rejected the notion that Tourism NZ had previously failed to embrace the trade in favour of consumer-direct campaigns.

"Every major campaign we have had in Australia we have had a conversion partner, including wholesalers and airlines so we have involved the travel trade," Burgess said. "But has that level of involvement got through to front line agents? That's more of a challenge because of the scale of numbers. There may be in-store promotions but we have not had the resource or opportunity to go and talk directly to the people who are selling the product."

He also dismissed a suggestion that Australians are familiar with NZ and have no need to use a travel agent. New Zealand remains a "reasonably complex destination", Burgess argued.

"It's not fly and flop so agents can add value, not just to the yield side of things but to the experience for the consumer," he said. "Together with Emirates we have made a significant investment in the famil and we believe it will be money well spent."

He added that support from NZ suppliers has been "amazing" with "no one treating it as a revenue opportunity".

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