Destination marketing involves more than just ‘selling’ the region as a place to visit and have a short break.
Marketing a region involves everyone – from word-of-mouth recommendations, locals talking up the place they call home, celebrating our award-winning businesses, sectors and hospitality providers, telling our Waikato food story proudly, and positioning our region on its strengths in the primary, medical, tech, agri-tech, science, education, food production, tourism and construction sectors.
Tourism and events are seen as a ‘window or gateway’ into a region’s DNA. If you have an exceptional visitor experience or attend an inspirational event, you are more likely to return to visit again, plus eventually live, study or invest in the Waikato.
The marketing mix has also changed from mass marketing to trade, business or consumers, through to more personalised, co-curated and geo-centric channels.
It’s also more than traditional advertising in print or broadcast media, where digital advertising now leads from outdoor and indoor channels through to direct on your mobile phone.
However, the good thing which is still common across all marketing channels is that content is king, which is where we focus a lot of our efforts to support our other destination marketing efforts.
The May edition of Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora magazine is a good example where we successfully hosted a travel writer for three days which led to an eight-page feature on the Mighty Waikato.
This not only provides an independent view of their experience and what makes this region so special in their own words – it also has a high conversion rate to inspire visitors to Waikato.
Working with the producers of The Apprentice Aotearoa to bring the teams to Hamilton for a tourism marketing challenge didn’t happen by accident either.
There was clear intent in working behind-the-scenes to ensure that Hamilton was shown in a positive light on national television and the audience has been quick to share their thoughts as well!
We have been working tirelessly with a range of media organisations like travel bloggers, podcast producers, social influencers and magazines like Cuisine and House & Garden, to make the Mighty Waikato top-of-mind in travel destination choices. This has been more important than ever to reposition the region in the domestic market.
We are also rolling the successful Ambassador programme which was first piloted in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, and is now being developed for five other regions across the Waikato.
The three-hour training programme helps expand residents’ local knowledge by providing simple tools to create positive and memorable experiences for leisure, business and family visitors.
These include the history, unique stories and colourful characters who helped shape the region. To find out more and register for the next Kirikiriroa Hamilton course, visit www.waikatonz.com/ambassador
Lastly, we all have a part to play to be proud and promote our community, businesses, events and people.
If you have a story to share or something to celebrate, make sure you let us know. Remember, we live in an amazing part of the world and the rest of New Zealand needs to be reminded about how special it is.