Question :
We are a small camping ground and farmstay business on the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough. We have no road access and therefore doing anything is quite complex and usually physically quite difficult. We will be the last cab off the rank with getting going I suspect because we have nothing to do with essential services. The competition for domestic tourism will be fierce and there will be big players with lots of knowledge and skills competing for the NZ domestic tourists. We, Graham and I (58 and 61 years old), have grown the camping ground, added farmstay and cabins from a less than $10,000. business to a $65,000 business in 4 years. We are still small, don’t really fit into any association that will represent us clearly but need to fight with the bigger tourism operators for business in this coming season. We need to talk through social media, marketing electronically and how to target specific markets with someone who is able to explain it so that we can understand. We largely direct market. Booking agencies etc don’t work well out here. We cannot fill cancelled bookings if within a month of visit because we are remote and part of a bigger QCT experience. Their refund policies leave us in a hole.

Question submitted 30/04/20 @ 12:02pm
Industry: Brand & Marketing
  • Hi, I would suggest thinking of your “last cab off the rank” reality as an advantage – it adds to your premium-ness. Perhaps, using that idea of “last cab” as a the basis for a video and pre-booking campaign. I imagine its is stunning isolation at the moment, so perfect for this type of filming. Happy to help out as I can.

    Hello, I’ve taken a look at your website and what a magic part of our country you live in! I can absolutely see the attraction for plenty of Kiwis to make the visit and take advantage of what you offer. Overseas guests will be a longer term challenge but I expect a renewed interest by all Kiwis to see their own backyard and support local before investing in overseas holidays will see your niche sector of the tourism industry bounce back well. The challenge is to get the message out now to secure future bookings.

    There will be other contributors with more detailed info but I can recommend you visit Udemy online and take their digital marketing course (its only $10) which has a wealth of information on getting setup for online marketing. It is step by step and goes into detail in all subject matters (email, Instagram, FB etc).

    I would also suggest you connect with other service providers on the QC Track and you could work together to drive foot traffic.

    All the best

    From my perspective it starts with understanding your target audience, and then you can work on a content strategy and marketing mix around this.

    As James mentions, international travel might take a while to rebound, however I think there is an opportunity to work on domestic travel opportunities in the medium term.

    If you look at your existing client base today, what does it tell you? Where are most of your customers from (Intnl, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or smaller cities)? What are the common characteristics they share? Are they more affluent or cost conscious, more male or female, do you have any insight on how they discovered you, where they found information about your property?

    During this time, you might also think about target customer segments based on your persona, and set up customer interviews, perhaps even spending a small amount of funding to ask your ideal customers a number of questions (or you could even call some of your former customers for their insight). Maybe offering grocery or coffee vouchers for 45 minutes of their time would help.

    I’d ask questions such as
    – how did they find out about your property
    – what about it did they love most
    – where do they spend their time on social media (FB, IG, TikTok etc)
    – what are their favorite websites
    – what are their favorite magazines/newspapers etc
    – what are ten words they would use to describe your business etc

    You can then use this to start forming a persona, on which you can start to dive deeper into the motivations of your customers and craft a marketing mix around this. Ideally this is what should form the basis of your marketing activity, so that you’re spending your marketing dollars where you know it will have the most impact, with the right messaging, at the right time.

    I’d also ensure you’ve search optimized your website with the right keywords so that you show up when your customers search for travel ideas. Asking customers what they search, and where they search, and which other companies they considered (or would consider) will help inform your content marketing and SEO strategy.

    I hope this helps~

    Hi there!

    Some in the tourism industry have just launched a buy a voucher programme so I would get listed on this. Hopefully it will pick up some traction soon like SOS cafe.


    Good luck!

    I go tramping every year with a group of friends, and the Queen Charlotte is on our list for next year! We are just hoping for relaxed travel restrictions and kids back at school so we can make it to your wonderful part of the world. I am actually positive about tourism for NZ. My hypothesis is that busy places (New York City, Disneyland, etc) may loose some of their appeal for a period, and remote small islands will be a good option. That’s us – and you. Building on the suggestions from the other experts, it might also be worth considering the following;
    – banding together with others in your area to create a cluster to pool resources and connections. You might be able to create some packages that make it easy for NZers to book
    – talk to the local council and tourism group – are there resources you can access to support you?
    – consider connecting with one of the bigger businesses in your area and ask if they can support you as well – some one who might have some digital expertise you can access like Yealands Wines. Everyone wins when the local community is strong
    Good luck and can’t wait to visit myself.

    Kia ora,

    Some good advice above. It feels to me that, given you’re remoteness, you can’t ignore dependencies on other local businesses as channels to market. Tourism will eventually crawl back (domestic and then inbound) so the question really is how do you: a) reduce costs and preserve cashflow as best as possible to survive in the interim; and b) set yourself up for an optimal recovery.

    On cost reduction/preserving cashflow: Get across what’s being offered by the Govt in terms of subsidies and loans (you may or may not qualify); look at your expenses line-by-line and see what you can reduce, differ, or negotiate a better deal on. Overheads like utilities and rates are a good place to start.

    On setting yourself up for best possible recovery: I’d make sure you’re plugged in to other tourism providers in the Queen Charlotte tourism eco-system. I’m sure you have local networks (Facebook, Whatsapp groups etc.) of other businesses in the Sounds. Is there more you can do to band together and collaborate on what an “optimal recovery” looks like for Queen Charlotte Sounds and how you might jointly execute. I’d also include the RTO in this – I’m sure they’re thinking along the same lines.

    … sorry, hit submit before i finished. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you want a chat. kia kaha! – Peter

    one suggestion from an interest group which I”m actively involved with is Masters Sports people.
    I do rowing and I know that lots of rowers like weekend and week-long breaks.

    There are free classifieds on the RowingNZ.kiwi website; contact your local clubs in Picton, Nelson, Blenheim and the Wellington clubs.

    Also speak to Kevin Strickland from Swift Coastal boats because if he can rent the boats, you have the location then all the folks have to do is turn up.

    Mention my name.

    You can also do this for kayak, SUP and other water sports.

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