TRENZ is a great opportunity for tourism businesses to not only peddle their wares with agents but also network and discuss tourism issues amongst the industry. After nearly 50 appointments with international travel buyers inbound tour operators, wholesalers and travel retail chains I found that there was a definite theme of common concerns coming through loud and clear:
The Rugby World Cup Is Not Showing Widespread Benefits
At this stage the RWC has not increased bookings for most of the travel organizations, if anything they are finding that people are avoiding booking a holiday to New Zealand over Sep/Oct because of the perception of highly priced accommodation and no availability.
Effectively only the RWC Official Travel Agents (OTAs) are benefiting from bookings and only accommodation in key RWC locations are booked out for specific big match dates. For the rest of the tourism industry the normal travel patterns for spring look to have been displaced by rugby supporters, leaving a potentially patchy couple of months for most tourism operators around NZ and even Air New Zealand has indicated their bookings for this period are not more than usual.
If there’s still time to boost bookings then I suggest hotels and other tourism businesses bring their pricing into more sensible levels to give New Zealand a better image and attract a full range of visitors over this period. We are not yet fully booked!
Forward Bookings Slow
Forward bookings in general are weak. A combination of factors including uncertainty after the Christchurch earthquake, exchange rate fluctuations (weak USD and GBP, high AUD) and ongoing global recession recovery seems to be putting people off booking to this part of the world in any hurry, instead they are opting to leave it as late as possible to decide, giving the industry a poor indication of what the next season will be like.
On a positive note, it does seem that the luxury high end market is reasonably strong however, there are still people out there with large budgets for luxury holidays and so this market is remaining steady.
The Rise of the Cruising Market
The Cruise Ship industry are aggressively targeting the middle travel market with competitive packages that are successfully winning business off the group tour and FIT markets. This changes the dynamics of tourism experiences for visitors to NZ and has considerable effect on accommodation and some tourism activity operators. On the whole it’s not a positive trend economically as they simply don’t see as much of New Zealand and don’t spend as much – only regular cruise ship ports benefit but the benefits don’t run much beyond what people can do in a day visit within walking distance of the ship.
Were you at TRENZ this year? Did you make any other observations to add to this article – your input would be appreciated.