With international borders closed, Tourism Holdings Limited, owners of Britz and Maui campers, had to switch marketing strategy abruptly for the local market.
Just keep moving
With borders closed, The RV rental market was immediately affected and thl’s forward bookings were completely disseminated. Without international visitors, the only solution was to stimulate domestic tourism. As the largest operator in New Zealand, Tourism Holdings Limited (thl) also felt a responsibility to do so. Thl needed to act quickly to keep the business viable while generating immediate cash flow. But rather than short-term sales peaks, they needed to create long-term sustainable benefit without devaluing the product or negatively impacting the industry through aggressive price competition. Pre-Covid, the domestic market made up only 10 percent of thl’s customer base. This, at a time when customers were more conscious of spending than ever, and a road trip around the country was not top of mind. Adding to the challenge, the country was heading into winter – a quieter time for domestic travel.
A campaign, ‘Get Moving to Get NZ Moving’, was designed to create immediate demand. Research showed that Kiwis felt priced out of what was deemed ‘visitor pricing’ of tourism experiences and that both spend and safety considerations were top of mind. But thl recognised that while not top of mind, a road trip was a bucket list activity for many – something people intended to do ‘one day’ and therefore significant latent interest and intent existed. The initiative needed to convert ‘must do’ to ‘must do now’. Thl’s marketing and pricing teams worked closely to develop a viable pricing strategy. A once-in-a-lifetime price point was determined, along with thoughtfully crafted customer benefits including shorter hire periods and flexibility to give confidence around lockdown risk. Newsworthy stories were crafted to spark widespread talk. But before taking the story to media, significant time was spent developing the strength of the offer including research around price elasticity in the market and demonstrating lack of ‘hooks’ to alleviate any suspicion among consumers. The initiative required significant internal and external coordination, a task complicated further by lockdowns. Stakeholder engagement and consensus on decisions like pricing strategy was reached via inter-departmental Zoom calls.
Kiwis went mad for campervans and stories about them were everywhere – newspapers, 6pm news and radio. Nearly $1 million of PR coverage was achieved. The campaign obtained nationwide awareness and booking volumes never seen before. Search hit an all time high and an avalanche of social media followed. Talk through earned media channels – editorial, WOM and social – resulted in huge website traffic. There were over 1.7 million unique website visitors throughout the campaign period and nearly 35 percent of the population engaged with the initiative. Beyond immediate bookings, a pool of campervan enthusiasts was created, whom thl can engage with at a later date. An incredible 20,000 bookings were made – 65 percent of those being first-time motorhome travellers. 40 percent loved it so much they said they would consider purchasing a motorhome. Before launch, at least 150 jobs were estimated to be at risk. The campaign’s success meant all jobs were retained, and enabled a follow on campaign, ‘Work from Anywhere NZ’.
Company: Tourism Holdings Limited
Marketing Initiative: Get Moving to Get NZ Moving
Marketing Partners: Tourism Holdings: Rebecca Storry, Ollie Farnsworth, These Guys I Know: Amanda Wilson
Judges’ Comments: “A great example of an organisation faced with extreme disruption collectively regrouping and redefining their strategy at speed. Ultimately delivering an initiative that generated huge interest and trial. The activity went on to save jobs and set up the business for the rebuild to come.”
Finalists: Tourism New Zealand, Dunedin City Council