Surviving and Thriving Post COVID-19 with Richard Allen, Polynesian Spa

We chat about generating domestic demand and operating with a significantly lower budget
James Donald
April 24, 2020

While the exact timeline for recovery is unclear, the impact of Covid-19 will eventually pass, and  people will travel again. But things will be different. We believe it’s through thoughtful discussion with diverse perspectives we can build a robust pathway there, so Yonder is bringing tourism business owners and experts from around NZ to this webinar series to gather insights about how to survive and thrive after lockdown.

Webinar #2: Richard Allen, Polynesian Spa

Rotorua’s world-renowned Polynesian Spa offers a range of different geothermal bathing and spa treatments suitable for everyone from families to individuals looking for a bit of pampering. We chat with Richard about Polynesian Spa’s approach to stimulating domestic demand and operating with a significantly lower budget.

A few of the key points made during the webinar discussion include:

  • We want to encourage pre-booking revenue and some forecasted revenue to assist with business planning, such as staff scheduling. We're looking at incentives to help achieve this as well as partnerships.
  • We've found a great way to extend reach is through partnerships with our operators and RTO's.
  • To address the needs of a cautious travellers, concerned about hygiene post-COVID-19, we're aware our website will be a key channel to communicate what we're doing - with banner messages and pop-up Yonder messages.
  • Know your customer segments in great detail - we have different marketing strategies for domestic vs international, and even different types of domestic such as residents, day trippers and people further afield and staying a bit longer in Rotorua.  We look at how can we fit on the itineraries of those travellers and create products that match (eg. bundling with adrenaline activities) and we create suggested itineraries so people can see how their day can look before people come to Rotorua.
  • We have quite distinct messaging and packaging for each demographic and geographic. For example: "Girls weekends away" for the Auckland market; designing appropriate offers and combination products for people with different budgets eg. package A for budget hotel A and package B for high end hotel B.
  • By bundling packages with other operators we can control the timeslot that our product features in that itinerary, which helps us distribute customers away from peak times.
  • We don't know what people want or need in the near future, particularly as the general public opinions and cautiousness post-COVID-19 changes. We need to be agile to listen to customers and adjust website content. We use Yonder heavily and the new 'insights' feature to try and learn what people are asking, including things we didn't expect. We also adjust our website messaging regularly.
  • We want to maintain current retail rates going into the future so we can't start discounting them. We've offered Rotorua resident rates for a long time, we're currently considering NZ resident rates and making it very clear it's a limited time offer. There are limitations as our brochures and even signage has certain rates and we don't want to absorb cost to update those unnecessarily.
  • Locals pricing achieved through membership of our 'residents club' -  By signing up to our club we get detailed information about the customer which enables us to make targeted offers later and it's easier to manage providing the discounted rates to residents.
  • How to address old perceptions NZ'ers have? Destination Rotorua has been really powerful at building a 'nostalgia' campaign whereby they tap feelings people had as a kid and make people aware that a lot has changed and they need to come back and visit. That's by showcasing new businesses and highlighting what's new in the established and iconic tourism businesses.

About the speakers

Richard Allen, Sales and Marketing Manager, Polynesian Spa

Polynesian Spa is a New Zealand tourism icon, with people flocking to its renowned healing waters and decadent therapies since the 1800s.  It’s a winner of a number of global awards and recognised as one of the top 10 spas in the world.

James Donald, Yonder

James is co-founder of Yonder, and is on a mission to revolutionise sales and customer service in tourism businesses. He is a passionate advocate for using technology to work smarter not harder.

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