New Zealand Tourism Update

Travel Agent recently attended two of New Zealand's top travel trade shows: Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand, or TRENZ, the country's largest annual international tourism event; and the private Pure Luxury New Zealand 2007, held at Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate,which focused on the country's upscale travel offerings.  Minister of Tourism Hon. Damien O'Connor

TRENZ was held at the new Energy Events Centre in Rotorua, mid-North Island. The city is New Zealand's first real visitor destination with an enthralling 160-year history, 14 nearby lakes and blue-green mountains.

An event of the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA), with support from Tourism New Zealand and premier sponsor, Air New Zealand, TRENZ was billed as the first tourism trade show to be carbon neutral, an effort that shakes hands with New Zealand's pristine and idyllic green image.

Environmentaly

Friendly Travel "We wanted to prove to our international guests New Zealand's commitment to good environmental management in a tangible way," said TIA Chief Executive Fiona Luhrs. She also cited the newly released Draft New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015, "which sets out a vision that the tourism sector will take a leading role in protecting and enhancing the environment."

Hon. Damien O'Connor, minister of tourism, noted that "over the eight-year term of the plan, the world and New Zealand within it, can expect to see accelerating change. There will be intensified pressures from climate change, rapid evolution in consumer attitudes and expectations, and further challenges to our security and biosecurity. The extent to which New Zealand and the tourism sector transform these challenges into opportunities will have a major impact on our future prosperity."

Treetops Luxury Lodge & Estate, site of Pure Luxury New Zealand 2007

Opportunity was on the minds of the 350 international travel and tourism buyers from 28 countries who traveled to TRENZ 2007. Inside the two halls, 48 new exhibitors joined 67 returning businesses, for a total of 115 booths. Thirty percent was new product, reported Luhrs, who cited adventure, nature and ecotourism as top categories.

Trends in Travel

She noted "significant investments" being made by major lodge developers and owners, a growth in top-class self-contained apartments and holiday homes and a trend toward spa inclusion by New Zealand's upper-tier properties.

Food and wine vacations capture a large market share, she said. (The country now has more than 500 vineyards.) Need-to-Know Numbers

Acknowledging that many vacationers worldwide tend to spend longer weekends at closer-by destinations, she feels the market for those who "collect" or bank their vacation days for longer trips is still extremely viable for New Zealand.

Pure Luxury New Zealand 2007

The larger TRENZ show was preceded by the private Pure Luxury New Zealand 2007, held at nearby Treetops Luxury Lodge and Estate, renowned for its commitment to ecology and its superior level of service. It's also famous for its driveway, which climbs, dips and turns through representative native forest. Exhibitors and buyers were urged on by road signs reading, "Keep Going."

Those in attendance ultimately enjoyed excellent company in the world-class lodge on 2,500 secluded acres. Artful cuisine provided fuel for energetic 20-minute talks hosted by 42 previously selected providers in categories of luxury accommodation, transport, activities and marketing groups. Post Pure Luxury, word on the Rotorua streets was that the inaugural outing was a smashing success.

New Zealand and the Luxury Market

Luxury travel was also a subject at TRENZ, hosted by a panel of New Zealand specialists including Garrick Emms, marketing executive of the New Zealand Lodge Association, and Louise Smythe, sales and marketing manager of the legendary Huka Lodge, Taupo—generally acknowledged as "the one that started it all."

Family travel is also a growing luxury segment. Emms cautioned that it's impossible to ignore the trend of luxury accommodations catering to families—often three generations—that choose a trip to celebrate a special occasion and don't have a problem with "indulgence."

He answered the question, "What is a lodge?" by specifying it as a property with more than four rooms but less than 20, set in a unique location and serving up some iteration of MAP: pre-dinner drinks and hors d'oeuvres, dinner and/or breakfast.

Could the luxury market be over-saturated? No signs of that, answered Emms, who pronounced it robustly healthy. "We should be chasing high yield versus numbers, though." He added that "one percent of traveling Americans visit New Zealand" and shared that a generally accepted "guesstimate" is that one percent of that number go to luxury lodges.

Smythe reminded attendees that it's a big world out there for luxury: "Competition is worldwide." And he noted the luxury trend of properties having a private residence concept, such as Huka's Owner's Cottage. He said this trend is gathering momentum, and "we can't keep up with the demand."

Luxury clients are well informed, so providers must deliver the (luxury) goods, he warned. "Friends of friends are a point of contact for many in this demographic. They do business deals as they go around the world."