Technology is changing the way we travel, through everything from artificial intelligence, to interactive apps. This hyper-connectivity means that consumers are demanding more from their travel experiences.

With total tourism expenditure at $39.1 billion from March 2018, Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings. It’s also a huge contributor to our workforce with one in seven New Zealanders being directly employed in the industry.

Rebecca Ingram, General Manager New Zealand & Government Relations for Tourism New Zealand, came in to visit our Lightning Lab Tourism teams about current trends she is seeing in the industry.

“The markets our visitors are coming from are more diverse than ever before, and what are visitors are wanting from their New Zealand experience is also evolving.  These are individuals wanting authentic, genuine experiences that reveal more of the culture and values of our place.

“The Chinese market continues to evolve quickly. We are seeing less group tours and more free and independent travellers.”

According to Ingram, tourism is no longer about long lines, tour groups or standardised options. Tourism operators should now be focusing on audience-led and authentic experiences that showcase the best of our people and place.”  

“That’s the opportunity for kiwi tourism operators; creating customised, personalised and interesting experiences for travellers.”


So, what does off the beaten track mean? Here are Rebecca top tips for tourism operators. 


Hyper Individualism

Travellers of all ages and socio-economic demographics are seeking a deeper connection with the destinations they visit. One of the major reasons for this demand is that guests are arriving with a wealth of information sourced through online research.

Personalising the travel experience will see huge trends in a number of different aspects of the tourism industry – from marketing tourism more effectively, to personalising trips and expanding offerings of products and services.


Hyper Focalism

Travellers are looking for trips directed at their interests. This means tailored experiences that closely match customers personal preferences, the kinds of activities they want to engage in, from destinations to accommodation. These could include core themes, like food tours, surf trips or photography courses. For international and domestic travellers alike, it’s looking at itineraries and bespoke experiences which will interest each group.


Hyper Localism

Travellers are choosing to become more immersed in the local culture when visiting a destination. They want to do what the locals do and eat where the locals eat. From enjoying local cuisine, to celebrating regional festivals and holidays, local experiences are set to become some of the top tourist trends to watch.


Holidays with a purpose

More travellers want a variety of experiences. We will continue to see a rise in people’s desire to take up an impact-led approach to tourism. We are now seeing visitors wanting to make a social contribution – which could include volunteering trips abroad and eco-friendly tours focusing on nature conservation.


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