Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hawke's Bay Rumble

We note that there are rumblings in Hawke's Bay about the effectiveness of their regional promotion. Comparative guest night stats in Hawke's Bay have generally been in decline over the last 12-months and fingers are pointing at Venture Hawke’s Bay’s promotion strategy.

Leading into the Christmas / New Year high season, Venture Hawke’s Bay embarked upon a $200,000 domestic marketing campaign with a new tagline "Everything Under the Sun" to add to their existing "Hawke’s Bay Wine Country" brand. The new campaign went down the obligatory route of re-designing the 2010 Visitor Guide and re-vamping their website at In addition Venture Hawke’s Bay invested in a TV advertising campaign using irrelevant animated "eggs" to focus on the Wellington market to attract vacationing families to the Bay.


So how effective is the campaign having a “brand” (Wine Country) and a “tagline” (Everything Under the Sun)? And what has been the return on investment so far?

One of the features of tourism promotion is that  there is often no accountability. No-one can tell if generic promotion is effective or not. All regions build empires of committees made up of well-meaning, optimistic enthusiastic folk that chew through tens of thousands of public money in the name of promoting tourism. 

John Wanamaker, the US department store pioneer, is often quoted as saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”. We can only conclude that John Wanamaker wasn't part of a Regional Tourism Committee as the majority of publicly funded tourism dollars are wasted and only serve to build empires and massage egos.

Yesterday's article in the Hawke's Bay Today was interesting. Self appointed Moteliers representative, Tim Stephens claimed that the "Everything Under the Sun" campaign missed the mark and suggested that Venture Hawke's Bay should have outsourced promotion to AA Tourism. 

Venture Hawke's Bay regional promotion and marketing manager Michael Wan claims that AA Tourism's involvement would not give a satisfactory return and attempted to defer some flak by claiming that "Venture Hawke's Bay's own communications programme could deliver better results over time."
19 May 2010
Hawke's Bay Today
Moteliers urge change as visitor numbers fall

Moteliers are claiming Hawke's Bay's visitor appeal has "dropped off the map" but the region's tourism and economic development organisation says more visitors will come to the Bay "over time".

Napier Moteliers' Association is again calling for changes in the way the region is marketed after it reported poor patronage over the summer and few forward bookings going into winter.

The association was upset Hawke's Bay was removed from AA Tourism's Great Kiwi Road Trip travel campaign that aimed to draw more visitors to regional destinations.

Napier Moteliers' Association spokesman Tim Stephens said he believed Venture Hawke's Bay's "Everything Under The Sun" media campaign hadn't worked for some of its members.

He agreed visitor numbers did go up in January, by about 4 per cent, but didn't think it was because of the Venture Hawke's Bay campaign.

"In January there were two big sporting tournaments here, the National Maori Golf tournament for eight days and the World Cup Under 19 cricket for a week," Mr Stephens said. "That's why the overnight stay figures are up but arrival numbers are still down. None [visitors from the sport events] were attracted to the Bay by the 'Everything Under The Sun' campaign."

Mr Stephens runs Ballina Motel in Taradale and said if it hadn't been for an event coming up around Queen's Birthday Weekend, his rooms would be "100 per cent empty". "A few years ago we were fully booked but now it's like the region's dropped off the map," he said.

Venture Hawke's Bay regional promotion and marketing manager Michael Wan said AA Tourism's spring campaign was considered "an ineffectual spend of our budget" and had done little to promote Hawke's Bay's Wine Country brand.

He said Venture Hawke's Bay's own communications programme could deliver better results over time. "However we are working with the AA as they have other opportunities that are a good fit for our domestic marketing programme," he said.

Mr Stephens said Venture Hawke's Bay had not met motel associations regularly to talk about the problems members faced. But Mr Wan said quarterly meetings were open to everyone working in the visitor industry.
"As you can appreciate, working on a one-to-one basis with every sector group is difficult," Mr Wan said. "We prefer to work through one agency body that represents the voice of the entire industry. The Hawke's Bay Wine Country Tourism Association has assumed this role and we will work with them on matters relating to the industry."

Mr Wan said he was happy to meet any group, if invited.

Both the moteliers and Venture Hawke's Bay studied statistics marking the movement of the visitor and accommodation industry but most times those numbers were at odds with one another.

The moteliers' association used figures from Statistics New Zealand while Venture Hawke's Bay used figures directly from the Ministry of Tourism.

The ministry forecasted total visits by travellers to Hawke's Bay would increase from 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.39 million in 2015, an increase of 94,100 visitors, or 0.6 per cent per year.

Total visitor nights were forecast to rise from 3.43 million in 2008 to 3.66 million in 2015, an increase of 6.6 per cent, 227,600 visitor nights.

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