Development agency Tātaki Auckland Unlimited has launched a major marketing campaign to try and reverse a big drop in Australian visitor numbers. Video-focused platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are key to the campaign, with video content seeing up to four times as much engagement as still images.
The two-month long Auckland is Calling campaign, created in partnership with local businesses in the tourism sector, showcases Auckland to Australian travellers in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via a range of online and social media.
The campaign comes as Auckland tries to recover from a near halving of Australian visitor numbers, from 1.5 million in December 2019 prior to Covid, to just over 800,000 in December 2022.
Shelley Watson, Director of Marketing and Communications for Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, says one
of the big changes in destination marketing post-Covid is a move towards video-focused social media like TikTok and Instagram.
“One of the things in this particular campaign is we’re doing media partnerships with Australian media, but also the prevalence of TikTok and use of some of the new Instagram/Facebook experiences, we’re trialling some of those for the first time,” she says.
Watson says younger audiences are using TikTok to plan their journeys, making it important to have a presence on that platform to engage with them.
“They use it for a search engine like Google, so they search things like ‘top things to do in Auckland’. We’re making sure our content is searchable for them and can inspire them to travel,” she says.
“There is very much a move towards video first on social, rather than just images. We see three to four times more engagement with video content than with stills.”
The Auckland is Calling campaign has also taken account of the cost-of-living crisis, suggesting a range of entertainment options to suit different budgets, including free activities like going to the beach, Watson says.
“Also, the Australian dollar is favourable to ours, so for an Australian visitor it’s less expensive to come over here and do things than it is to fly to a different city in Australia.”
While most New Zealand tourist destinations are based on natural beauty, Watson says Auckland is uniquely positioned to be able to offer both nature-focused and urban experiences.
“People are liking all the wellness experiences, so for those who like golfing and can afford it there are some beautiful golf courses in idyllic settings. There are also lots of retreat options for restoration and cultural experiences too, learning about Te Ao Māori view of the world and of life.”
Watson says that restoring Australian visitor numbers to pre-pandemic levels is unlikely to happen in one go, but rather it will be a process of building them back up over time.
“We will be able to measure success in a number of ways; many of the ads have click-throughs straight to the tourism operators’ sites, so we’ll be able to ask them about how many bookings they’ve got, either for an experience or hotel night or a rental car,” she says.
“In Instagram and Facebook etc, we will be able to see the level of engagement with the marketing, and ditto with the eyeballs on the websites and content with content partnerships.”
Watson says a key feature of the Auckland is Callingcampaign is collaboration with industry, including accommodation providers, car rental services and tourist attractions such as Kelly Tarltons and the All Blacks Experience.
She says this collaborative approach is needed for Auckland to “stay on the map”, while competing with “a lot of cities paying a lot” to be in front of consumers.
“If all businesses within Auckland promote in a similar way the benefits of Auckland, we’re going to have a more consistent presence online and actually stand for something, rather than all going in different directions. That’s why this partnership and collaboration approach helps us punch above our weight.”
This article was originally published in the June/July 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.