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Interview: New Zealand is Closer Than Ever Before

Travel Agent News Interview with Tourism New Zealand

With FAM Opportunities, Training and Agent Resources, Tourism New Zealand has Travel Professionals in Mind


Interview By: Andy Ogg, Editor and Marketing Director – Travel Professional NEWS

Interviewing: Michelle Rosenberg, Senior Trade Manager – Tourism New Zealand



Before we begin, I wanted to say thank you for making the time for this interview. We are excited to learn about what is new with New Zealand and the training opportunities you have currently available to Travel Professionals!


First off, What’s new with New Zealand as we move toward 2019?

We’re excited to share new developments, experiences and anniversaries that will give travelers a reason to visit New Zealand within the next year!


Some of the noteworthy highlights include:

  • Air New Zealand’s new non-stop Chicago route starts this November
  • 2019 marks the 250th Anniversary of James Cook mapping New Zealand
  • Due to open in late 2018/early 2019, Riverside will provide a unique inner-city shopping experience in Christchurch
  • The 2019 opening of the New Zealand International Convention Center in Auckland
  • iFly Queenstown is New Zealand’s new, and only, indoor skydiving experience that is slated to open in August 2019
  • The newest Great Walk, Paparoa Track, is set to open early 2019 making it New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk.
  • Te Matatini Kapa Haka, New Zealand’s biggest Kapa Haka takes place in February 2019 in Wellington. Around that same timeframe, up-and-coming Maori Chef Monique Fiso will open her first restaurant in the country’s capital


What do you see as your Top 3 destinations of New Zealand for visitors this year?

There are so many unique destinations across New Zealand it truly is impossible to list just three. We have seen more and more visitors from North America adventuring further and deeper into the country, visiting regions that offer up opportunities to experience local people and landscapes. Because New Zealand is relatively small, similar in size to California, it is easy to get around and experience a host of different landscapes and communities.


The top of the South Island, encompassing Abel Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough and down the east coast to Kaikoura, provides a range of natural attractions, food and wine adventures and wildlife viewing. You clients can kayak in a national park, enjoy fresh mussels for dinner in Nelson and wake up in Kaikoura to enjoy the local whale population swimming in the bay.


Another fascinating area is the Northland region, including the Bay of Islands. Northland is a story of two coastlines – the west coast is rugged and soulful while the east coast is relatively more sophisticated and urbane. In the beautiful Bay of Islands you can take a boat cruise, swim with dolphins, dive, fish or just relax in the sun. Be sure to book clients on a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, one of New Zealand’s most significant historical sites.


And of course our gateway cities of Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Christchurch provide bases for your clients to venture out to experience each region.


In terms of travelers to New Zealand, what kind of visitor demographic have you been seeing?

  • 50% of US visitors are independent travelers
  • 43% are Independent Professionals age 25-54
  • 37% are Active Boomers age 55-74
  • Approximately 50% of leisure travelers arrive in the shoulder season – Spring and Fall
  • Average length of stay is 12.8 days
  • On average, they visit 3 to 4 regions and two national parks
  • 58% rent a car
  • 95% of US visitors say New Zealand met or exceeded their expectation


We know that New Zealand has it all from white sandy beaches to snowcapped mountains. Where can a Travel Professional go to learn more about New Zealand and all of the wonderful offerings?

We have a number of wonderful resources to educate and update travel professionals on New Zealand. The most comprehensive resource is our trade website, which houses destination and planning information, suggested itineraries, and links to our image library, webinar programs, Explore PLUS self fam program, the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist program, and much, much more.


Another great way to stay informed on product and destination news is to follow us on our Facebook page Tourism New Zealand Agent Group (USA + CAN). Our Facebook community features supplier interviews, product news and updates on education and FAM opportunities.


Lastly, I would encourage agents to attend our monthly webinars. These presentations provide selling tips and important destination information, and often feature New Zealand suppliers and airline partners. Program listings and sign up is found on our trade website.


Does Tourism New Zealand offer any training or educational opportunities for Travel Professionals? If so, what is available and how do agents get started?

Absolutely! Tourism New Zealand offers the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Program, an online destination certification course. Recently, the program was expanded to include three tiers of certification, Bronze, Silver and Gold. The program allows travel professionals to learn at their own pace and select the courses that most align with their business needs. Currently there are over 15 course modules available, including regional courses, general destination sales information and themed courses on selling ski, self-drive, cruise and hiking/walking vacations.


As a program benefit, certified specialists have the option to create a travel agent listing on our consumer site, to receive consumer referrals or leads. Our site receives over 30 million visits per year, and each one of those visitors could be a potential client for you!


That is fantastic to see so many resources being offered for our Travel Professional NEWS readers. Can you share some more information on the Explore Plus Independent Fam currently being offered?

The Explore PLUS Independent Fam is entering its second year and has been very, very popular with travel professionals wanting to increase their New Zealand sales. The program offers discounted accommodation, activities, tours, and transportation to certified specialists, as well as special air fares from four of our airline partners – Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Fiji Airways.


The program is designed to assist travel professionals in designing their own custom Fam, allowing them to travel when they want, to the areas of New Zealand that interest them, and to bring a companion! In the last year, we seen over 80 travel professionals visit New Zealand with Explore PLUS and we expect even more in the next year.


As a further incentive, in the next year we are offering the first 40 applicants in each of the two travel periods the opportunity to earn a $500 trip credit to help pay for their trip cost. At the end of the day, we want to make it easy for travel professionals to visit New Zealand, because we know once they do they will become advocates and passionate sellers of our fantastic destination.


Travel professionals can learn more about the program and link to our dedicated Explore PLUS site by visiting


With 2019 around the corner, are there any new opportunities for Travel Professionals to take advantage of with Tourism New Zealand this coming year?

Tourism New Zealand is always here to support travel professionals in their sales and promotions of our destination. We will continue to offer the Explore PLUS Independent Fam program, live and on-demand training programs, and destination and product news via our Facebook community.


What advice do you offer to a Travel Professional looking to grow their business with bookings to New Zealand? Do you have any “Hot Tips” to share to aspiring agents looking to grow their business?

First, I would like to emphasize that New Zealand is a highly desirable destination. If they haven’t asked their clients about New Zealand, they should! We know there over 28 million Americans who include New Zealand as one of the top places they want to travel to in the next three years. Second, visitors to New Zealand are extremely satisfied with their travel experience, so agents can be assured they’ll be selling a destination that will over-deliver to their clients and in turn make them look like rock star agents for recommending it. Lastly, with increases in air connectivity, including the recently announced addition of non-stop Chicago service on Air New Zealand, the country is easier to get to. And once there, clients will find so much to see and do. New Zealand really is a great destination that offers great sales potential and ROI for any agent.


Before we conclude, do you have anything you’d like to share with our Travel Professional NEWS readers?

If they want to learn more about New Zealand, we’ve created a series of videos for travel professionals about the “Why”, “How” and “When” to sell New Zealand. Each video is only about 4 minutes long and will provide them some great selling tips. These videos can be found on our website at


Thank you so much for the time today, as well as the very valuable information that you have shared. We wish you continued success as we look forward into this exciting and stunning destination!