In 2011 the Rugby World Cup offered us the hope of increased bookings after a couple of years of mediocre tourism numbers.

While the Rugby World Cup did bring us plenty of pride as a nation, it didn’t bring the tourism dollars everyone had hoped.

Thankfully, in 2012 and 2013 we have the release of “The Hobbit” movies, our next great opportunity.  And when it comes to wide spread tourism benefit, I feel pretty confident saying that the little men with hairy feet are going to stomp all over our big men in black.

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) General Manager brand and international PR Katherine Bates was quoted in Inside Tourism’s 23 May edition as saying, “research shows that after LOTR was released in 2004 85% of visitors were aware that the trilogy had been filmed in New Zealand and 6% cited that the films were one of the reasons they decided to come to NZ.  1% cited it was the main reason they came. We can equate that to a $33 million spend.”

So, for tourism operators, it’s time to get ready. This is a real opportunity that will bring more visitors and if you do some marketing, a powerful opportunity to generate more bookings – and not just for Hobbiton!

Don’t believe me? Watch this video and tell me you wouldn’t be on a plane to New Zealand:

TNZ is working with Warner Brothers and Wingnut Films on a marketing campaign called “Where fantasy meets Reality” based on comments from the crew that worked on the above video.

A TNZ ad will be played before screenings of The Hobbit and a TNZ clip added to every DVD sale to ensure the benefits of The Hobbit to our industry will be long lasting.

So what can you do?

  1. Watch the video and learn of the various filming sites around New Zealand.   Are there locations near you that you can capitalise on?
  2. Add a page to your website about the upcoming film and mention if there is a film site new you.  Add a photo and be sure to have meta tags and text on the page that speak all about The Hobbit so it is optimised and Google will find that page.
  3. Add the video above to your website and Facebook page to help promote the beauty of NZ.
  4. Work with local tourism operators and create a package around local sites -have fun and be creative with the packages.
  5. Don’t rely on just photos of your accommodation or activity – make sure you include photos on your website that show off the amazing New Zealand scenery that people have seen on the big screen and add titles to your photos so they are optimised for Google.

There will be guidelines coming out soon issued from TNZ regarding what you can and cannot do to promote yourself, so be in touch with your local RTO to ensure you don’t get into copyright trouble, for example, the term The Hobbit is trademarked and has copyright protection.

The Hobbits are destined to stand tall and deliver bigger results for New Zealand tourism than our beloved All Blacks – but are you ready?

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