Friday, July 17, 2009

Christchurch Hates The AA?

In the tourism industry we sometimes take ourselves too seriously and it was refreshing to see how one of our major tourism players, The AA reacted to some upset precious one-eyed Cantabrians.

AA's recent DestinatioNZ newsletter published their "Top 10 Art and Cultural Destinations" and shock horror - Christchurch was left off the list!

01. Wellington Museums & Tours
02. Bay of Plenty Music & Art
03. Rotorua Maori Art & Culture
04. New Plymouth Sculptures & Walkways
05. Nelson Arts & Crafts
06. Auckland Shopping & Theatre
07. Invercargill Trails & Walks
08. Hawke's Bay Architecture & Wineries
09. Dunedin Theatre & Museums
10. Hamilton Shopping & Cinema

So how does the AA react to a flood of less than complimentary reaction from Christchurch residents. Well, AA Tourism services CEO Peter Blackwell provides a human face and immediately acknowledges this serious breach by fronting up with a follow up newsletter:
It is nice to report today that a position that was in the past reserved exclusively for Auckland and Graham Henry has now been opened up to AA Tourism – Christchurch hates us!
Firstly, here is a link to the "dodgy" newsletter. It is not exactly damning stuff but I think it provides a win for the AA and a win for you. It highlights to all of us the power and respect for the AA, our products and our opinions. I never realised that we held that much credibility. Since the 101 campaign I need to treat it with more respect.

The fun thing, and I link to some of the articles for your amusement, is that while Christchurch was miserable, New Plymouth, Invercargill and Nelson, among others, clearly were not!

DestinatioNZ is a monthly e-newsletter that clearly has a powerful reach and provokes a reaction. Here is a link to the archive. Every month we try to deliver interesting content that makes people think – and then explore New Zealand.

We try to introduce many parts of New Zealand. It may mollify you Cantabrians to know that we actually included Sumner as a top-10 beach in January, Woodend as an unexplored town in February and the Ellerslie Flower Show as a must-see autumn event…you may hate us, but we love you!

I know now how Graham Henry feels. The good news is that I have a real understanding, and I hope you do too, of the power of the AA and our travel products. If you were umming and ahhing over whether to be a part of the 2010 Guides, you can see now that New Zealand travellers pay attention to the opinions of the AA (even if not everyone agrees!).

Stay warm and see you on the road.

Nice win-win here for the AA and their aggrieved Christchurch clients.

Certainly the tongue in cheek, parochial one-up-manship that Kiwis love to rise up to provides a fantastic opportunity for promoting domestic tourism. Mr Blackwell also uses the moment to upsell some of his organisation's fine products ;-)

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