Tourism - A Double Edged Sword.
Pre-COVID, Tourism was booming in the Queenstown Lakes district. With this growth, tourism provided many benefits to the economy, local community, and related industries. However, tourism also placed considerable strain on the community and the volume of tourists was being questioned. The lack of overseas tourists in the country due to COVID-19 and subsequent boarder restrictions has had significant impacts on the industry. In just one year $15.6b had been lost to the New Zealand economy, including a drop of $1.7b in GST to the government from international visitors - source
From another angle, it has also created a unique opportunity to pause and reflect on the negative impacts that high volume tourism has had on both the environment and communities alike. This reflection is a global industry trend, and has been keeping RTO’s busy as of late, juggling between their role to help support local businesses whilst racing the clock to implement a roadmap for a more sustainable tourism blueprint when international travel resumes.
A Better Future.
In order to rapidly implement change within the industry, RTO’s both locally and globally are reevaluating how they’re marketing their destinations vs the traditional approach of being focused on what they’re marketing. Lake Wanaka Tourism in particular has been at the forefront of this change in behaviour long before the pandemic began thanks to local initiatives like the WAO Summit, which has provided the region with a head start when it comes to introducing progressive sustainability measures such as regenerative tourism, a relatively new concept that now sits at the forefront of every Regional Tourism Operators to do list.
LWT has since partnered with neighbouring Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Lakes District Council to develop their Destination Management Plan, which once completed will help the wider region improve their visitor experience and economy in order to maximise the benefits that tourism brings whilst managing any negative impacts. Once economic and cultural analysis can be combined with regional and community input, a master plan can be developed, which effectively becomes a strategic roadmap for progressive, long lasting change within the industry.
However, concepts like regenerative tourism and destination management are still early days for NZ, and in order to gain critical mass these initiatives require local businesses, communities and travellers alike to take action by changing their behaviours for the greater good.
Lake Wanaka Tourism knew that their digital channels would play a significant role in communicating with visitors, local businesses and the community alike. Having just completed work around their brand values and strategic priorities, it was a great time to come on board and help them take action on their newfound value proposition, making the transition from what they were marketing to how they’re marketing.
We began with our Discovery, which immediately picked up on the strengths and weaknesses of their current communication and channel strategies. These opportunities to course correct could then be addressed over a series of projects specifically focused around improving their website, content messaging and overall customer journey. Within each project being implemented, there is also a focus on strengthening the organisation from within, developing LWT’s capability to own and deliver the work moving forward themselves, which helps ensure lasting impact moving forward.
As these outcomes continue to evolve, it has been exciting for both LWT and Dream Config knowing that we're at the forefront of an industry shift, and have a clear vision and resources to chip away at it to the best of our abilities. With that being said, here are a few learnings that organistions similar to LWT should be mindful of:
A strong sense of brand identity - establishing clear mission, vision and values, objectives/KPI’s
Data-driven decision making - using factual analytics and audience behaviours
A comprehensive digital strategy - developing clear roadmap that can deliver on the strategic priorities
Building internal capability - strengthening org team members skillsets to retain intellectual property
Discipline - utilising effective tools and communication to consistently drive and implement change