A small, family-run wine tour company that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic will reap the benefits of a best practice new website thanks to specialist tourism marketing agency Maverick Digital.
Queenstown-based Appellation Wine Tours are the winners of Maverick’s free tourism website competition. They will also win access to the Yonder ‘Essentials’ chatbot, specifically pre-trained with industry-specific questions.
General manager Sarah Russell says that as a small company, operating in an already competitive marketplace and now contending with the impact of COVID-19, a new digital platform will represent a real and renewed opportunity.
"This means we’ll have the strongest tool possible to target the all-new and important local and domestic market. This is significant, not only for our own continuance but to further support our key suppliers – the wineries, restaurants and small town retail outlets we visit daily on our wine tours."
While Appellation relied heavily on international travellers, Sarah says it will be "an absolute pleasure to showcase our incredible wine region to an increased number of New Zealanders".
To enter, operators had to fill out a form that asked questions around what their approach to domestic travel would be, and the types of digital advertising they regularly utilise.
Of the entries, 68 per cent of operators said they were in the process of creating a new product for the domestic market and 51 per cent planned to significantly change their pricing structure for a new audience.
Nearly 90 per cent were looking to team up with other operators to launch combos or packages, while 80 per cent were keen to collaborate with their RTO/DMO for regional promotions.
When asked about their current approach to digital marketing, only 40 per cent said that they regularly invested in search advertising and half used email marketing as part of their regular communication strategy.
Maverick Digital’s Alex Dykman says that the competition was aimed towards helping a Kiwi operator re-create themselves for the domestic space by completely overhauling their digital footprint – and that Appellation fits the bill perfectly.
"Helping Appellation establish their new Queenstown Wine Tours product within the domestic market is going to be so much more powerful with a strong digital presence.
"The new site will focus on things like Google visibility, a domestic-focused pricing strategy and appealing specifically to the kiwi traveller."
The project will kick off in early June, with an August launch date.
Last year, Queenstown and the Otago region saw 45 per cent domestic spend as a percentage of regional tourism income.
Many operators who were significantly internationally-focused will find themselves looking to digital to support re-working and marketing their offering to a domestic audience.
Maverick Digital is a specialist tourism marketing agency dedicated to supporting South Pacific tourism operators survive and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.