Hot Off The Press
There were cheers, even a few tears, as Fiji Airways Captain Brown landed FJ461 at Wellington International Airport, the first direct flight from Nadi into the capital, for 11 years. Water jets greeted the FJ 737 as it taxied in right on schedule.
A gathering encompassing officials from Fiji Airways, Tourism Fiji and Wellington International airport, plus Wellington regional mayors and councillors, travel agents, media and the entire Wellington Phoenix football team, celebrated both the arrival and the inaugural Wellington to Nadi flight, which departed early on Thursday afternoon.
Fiji Airways chairman, Nilen Patel, says this was indeed a wonderful day for the great city of Wellington. ‘Since we announced our intention to fly to Wellington, last December, the feedback has been fantastic with very healthy forward bookings for us.’
Wellington International Airport chief ececutive, Steve Sanderson, says the greater Wellington region offers a huge catchment area for the new flights, which will also be welcomed by international business class clients wishing to connect with FJ’s services onto North America. The new Fiji Airways service will offer two return flights per week, year round, with 130 economy and eight business class seats. Yesterday’s inaugural flight included the full Wellington Phoenix football team, who will play the Fiji national team this weekend.
The biggest contingent of Western Australian operators to visit New Zealand on a trade mission for at least a decade will be in Auckland on Thursday 10 September.
WA based Mark Abercromby, of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), says the ‘A Day in WA’ event will include a full day of business to business table top sessions, followed by a function in the evening.
About 25 WA operators are expected to make their way over to New Zealand.
‘ATEC, as the industry representative for inbound products, runs the annual Extraordinary Tourism Exchange (ETE) and for the last five years we have done it in Perth,’ says Abercromby. ‘This year we are taking it on the road for the first time and visiting Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.’
Louise Frend, marketing manager NZ with Tourism Western Australia, says the event is being held at Air New Zealand’s Customer Innovation and Collaboration (CICC) building.
‘Air new Zealand has been very supportive and is co-hostng the event,’ she says.
Abercromby says the speed of Western Australian product on its way in September demonstrate that the destination appreciates the enthusiasm of the New Zealand trade and realises there is a need to connect and to highlight what is new.
‘We’ll have hotels, camper vans, attractions and tours. It is a knowledgable collection of operators keen to connect personally and face to face.
Frend says the aim is to attract WA holiday specialistts, product managers, retail travel agents, travel brokers, travel management companies, incentive operators and online travel agents.
Early expressions of interest should be made to
The focus on ‘experiential travel’ has moved well beyond tour companies to encompass virtually all sectors of the travel industry. Hotels, travel management systems, tourism boards and even vehicle rental companies were among those talking about providing real experiences for their guests - from the ‘dream stage’ through to check-in and check-out.
This was a key message at the inaugural TRAVELtech New Zealand conference at Pullman Auckland yesterday, along with the necessity of mobile technology to achieve this.
‘The emerging traveller experience is about how we book, change and cancel our travel – this all needs to be in one place,’ says Serko CEO Darrin Grafton. ‘Travellers want to be told what they need before they need it and have one tool that connects the world. We need to let users define the road map and maintain a continuous dialogue with them.’
AccorHotels has changed its digital marketing approach from ‘product’ to ‘customer’ continuing on the experience concept and has 225 million euro earmarked for digital marketing over the next five years to increase its direct digital business.
Andrew Hodges, director of revenue NZ and South Pacific with AccorHotels explained that the company’s recently developed app is ‘not just booking a hotel with mobile check-in and check-out.
‘It starts with the dreaming stage, guests can order room service, order drycleaning, watch a movie - all from the app. They can do a review, and look at other destinations they might want to travel to.’
THL also wants to play in the experience game ‘from the dreaming and planning phase until they end their campervan journey,’ says Chief technology officer, Keith Chilek. After nine months in the job, Texan born Chilek has already completed a pilot programme to ‘find out stuff’ via computer tablets that were given to 40 customers.
Soon every customer will be handed a tablet when they walk in the door and they will (also) be in the campervans. We will know when customers are about to arrive, when they’ve left, and we’ll be offering a concierge type support with customers able to book activities and have in-campervan help.’
New Zealand continues to be an important international market for Australia and has shown growth yet
again year on year, says John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia. O’Sullivan says New Zealand arrivals would be counted in 20/20 target numbers even if it was regarded as a domestic market because ‘both domestic and international figures are taken into account’. However he stressed that ‘we don’t treat New Zealand as a domestic market.’
The latest figures show that New Zealand arrivals have grown 5% year on year, with visitor spend out of this market increasing by 6%.
The New Zealand office is being reduced from five personnel to one in July, with Jenny Aitken, general manager New Zealand remaining. TA’s focus out of New Zealand will be on business events, particularly the incentive market.
‘We will still reach New Zealanders through digital platforms and social media and we still have a great operator in Jenny in market. As we get in and develop the business events strategy we expect an increase in the incentive sector. As that takes hold we will look at increasing resources there.’
He says New Zealanders travel to Australia as ‘specific destination’ journeys. ‘For example, they say ‘I will go to Bondi to meet friends’, or ‘I will go to the Bledisloe Cup’, or ‘I will go to Vivid.’ They know the market extremely well.
‘We think the bigger opportunity is to grow the incentive market out of New Zealand.’
Vanuatu will launch a major tactical campaign in New Zealand next month, aimed at the honeymoon and couples market.
Vanuatu Tourism Office general manager Linda Kalpoi says the television, print and digital campaign will target consumers and run through July and August. It is the next phase of the country’s recovery plan after Cyclone Pam.
‘We are targeting the couples market because it suits the accommodation we have available at the moment. All of the smaller, romance resorts are operating.’
Kalpoi says the VTO will then launch a second campaign in October - November focused more on the family market as by then the two currently closed resorts - Holiday Inn and Iririki - will be open or close to it.
‘Taking the booking process into account we think the timing will be right for that. We need to build up the momentum.’
Kalpoi says the destination is already working closely with the travel trade in New Zealand and is grateful for the support already received since the cyclone.
‘We are so happy with the New Zealand market. New Zealand travellers and trade have stuck by us and have been asking us when they can start selling again. New Zealand wholesalers have already been up there to have a look - they were the first ones back.’
Kalpoi was at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange late last week with a strong contingent of Vanuatu product.
Julia King, who handles marketing for inbound tour operator Evergreen Vanuatu, says it is important to get back to trade events and meet wholesalers and product managers face to face.
‘A lot of people have a lot of questions and it is important they get reassurance from the actual Ni-Vans that we are ok.
‘All of our tours are going again - we are still here, we’re still smiling and we are still supplying the hospitality that we are known for.’
King says Evergreen will keep the same programmes it had last year. ‘With the recovery we didn’t think (itinerary) changes would help. This gives us a chance to reflect on our marketing efforts and strategies.’
Members of the New Zealand travel and tourism industry are heralding Jetstar’s move to service at least four domestic locations as a ‘game changer’.
From December 2015, Jetstar’s new services are expected to boost domestic and international tourism as well as creating at least 100 jobs for pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew.
Wellington Airport chief executive, Steve Sanderson says ‘the new regional services will bring central New Zealand closer to the rest of the country and the world, and with low cost fares.’
‘The Capital has seen Jetstar grow to 1.25 million seats a year. They have already cut the cost of travel between New Zealand’s main centres and proven themselves as sustainable competitors. The addition of regional services show the demand and confidence in the market and potential for growth is there.’
The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand has also welcomed the announcement; chief executive Chris Roberts says regional air services often encourage international visitors to see more of New Zealand on their trip.
‘These new services will provide a strong regional distribution option for international visitors flying Qantas as well as Emirates, China Eastern, China Southern, American Airlines and their other partners,’ he says.
Regions under consideration to receive Jetstar’s domestic services are Hamilton, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson and Invercargill.
Regional fares will be released for sale in September.
Ultimate Wine Experiences Australia is urging New Zealand travel agents to use it like they would a regional tourism office - but in this case to specifically source commissionable wine related product.
Sally Cope, executive officer, says the collective marketing group has 14 wineries and aims to raise the profile of major wine regions and premium experiences around the country.
She says the wineries offer pre-booking, behind the scenes tours, possibly master classes, food and wine matching and the showcasing of regional produce.
‘It’s a diverse market, we appeal to the experience seeker right through to the serious wine buff.’
She says Ultimate Wine Experiences Australia can make a travel agent look like an expert on destination Australia.
‘Getting behind the scenes at a winery and having hands-on experience is not something people can easily do just off the bat. Agents can earn kudos and bragging rights by getting their clients to meet the wine maker. And our vineyards also give travellers access to some of the best restaurants in the country.’
The collective is also working with Air Adventure Australia to offer a seven day wine, food and luxury experience known as the High Flyer’s Gourmet Trail. Clients stay at luxury accommodation such as The Louise in Barossa Valley, Chateau Yerring in Yarra Valley, Mona Pavillions in Hobart and Saffire in Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania. The tour also visits Adelaide Hills, Mclaren Vale, Mornington Peninsula and Tamar Valley. It includes experiences such as a cooking class and wine blending.
‘We’re working with Air Adventure Australia to show how people can do a wine trail by private jet.’
Cope says that, in general, Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia makes it easier for the wine industry to connect with travel agents around the world and visa versa. ‘These are the wineries with a vested interest in the trade.’
Among others, they include Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley and Penfolds Magill Estate, Adelaide South Australia; Leeuwin Estate Winery and Vasse Felix, both Margaret River, Western Australia; De Bortoli, Yarra Valley, Victoria; Jeff Chromy Wines, Tamar Valley, Tasmania; and Audrey Wilkinson, Hunter Valley, New South Wales.
d’Arenberg, McLaren Vale is a member of Ultimate Wine Experiences Australia
Good things will come in threes at the World of Accor function in Pullman Auckland on 6 August. Attendees will have the chance to win one of three trans-Tasman prizes – return business class flights with Emirates to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, staying in a Sofitel Hotel in each city. This is in addition to the previously announced three Krisbee Peugeot Scooters up for grabs at the event.
Retail agents and brokers, product managers, online travel agents, corporate travel and meeting managers and professional conference and incentive organisers will be able to meet with AccorHotels from Germany, the Americas, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, NZ and Fiji.
Fiji Airways is in expansion mode, so bringing a new service to New Zealand’s fastest growing airport makes good sense, says Otto Gergye, FJ’s executive general manager sales and marketing.
Speaking at the launch of the year round, twice weekly Wellington to Nadi service on 25 June, Gergye says the airline has increased frequency to Hong Kong, is now flying year round to Wellington and, in October, will increase frequency to Christchurch from two to three flights per week.
‘These are key markets for us and we are being very pragmatic in determining our expansion to ensure what we do has longevity and is sustainable for tourism in Fiji. We don’t plan to go into Wellington and pull out three months later.
‘We think there is demand and Wellington International Airport is the fastest growing airport in New Zealand so there is definitely a market here. WIA and the Wellington City Council have been extremely supportive of our endeavours and that has backed our decision,’ he adds.
The new Nadi service would not only offer year round flights to Fiji but also welcome business class connectivity onto Los Angeles, said Wellington International Airport CEO, Steve Sanderson. ‘This really opens up opportunities for Wellington people, from the movie industry in particular, who are keen to fly business class to North America. Previously they have been going via Sydney.’
The new FJ flights would create an extra 34,000 seats per annum for the Wellington market.From a Tourism Fiji perspective the new service is fantastic, says Wayne Deed, Tourism Fiji regional director. ‘The greater Wellington region is a huge catchment area. Fiji’s visitor arrivals are already up 13% year on year, so obviously the demand is there.’
Wellington travel agents are similarly enthusiastic about the new service. ‘Not having to go to Fiji through Auckland is a definite advantage for people in our region,’ says Cruiseabout Wellington manager, Jodine Simmons.
Lesley Masters, of Masters and Kent Travel Associates, says the flights would also open up great options for connections through to Hawaii and Los Angeles, and vice versa for bringing North Americans down to New Zealand.
The new Fiji Airways service will offer two return flights per week (Thursdays and Sundays), year round, with 130 economy and eight business class seats.