With a couple of months borders closed, how different are domestic vs international travellers?

There’s a marked difference with kiwi travellers and it should influence your marketing
Jose Reader
July 28, 2020

Most of us won’t debate that there’s a marked difference between the behaviour of Kiwis and international travellers. But what exactly are these differences and why do they matter?

Understanding the unique characteristics of Kiwi travellers will help inform refreshed marketing strategies, so we drilled down into recent chat data between New Zealand tourism operators and Kiwi travellers to get a better handle on the persona of domestic travellers.

There were some surprises in the data and some things we already knew...

Prices and deals more important than ever

I’m sure that it won’t come as a surprise to anyone in tourism that Kiwis are on the lookout for a deal. In recent weeks, enquiries about pricing and deals are the number one question asked in chat conversations between Kiwi travellers and New Zealand tourism businesses. 

Travellers are asking about deals for groups, families and special discount for being a local. Initially after lockdown there was some frustration about pricing, with Kiwi travellers expressing dissatisfaction about what they considered to be high prices, but this negative sentiment is communicated less often now.

Family related questions are common

We Kiwis are a family-oriented bunch, and questions asked reflect that domestic travellers are planning trips with their children. Travellers are asking questions about children’s prices, the ages that someone is considered a “child”, and for accommodation, they want to know about how the bed configuration accommodates children.

Family-friendly pricing and activity options are important for the domestic traveller, parents can’t exactly leave them in the kennel like the other family member, dogs…..

Are dogs allowed?

What a quintessentially Kiwi question! Domestic travellers have the luxury of being able to take their fur babies on holiday, and many attractions and hotels are being asked if they accommodate dogs. It is apparent from the questions that inability to bring Fido is a clear obstacle for some customers - if the pooch can’t come, then the family can’t come.

Increase in offline booking activity

We’re seeing more people asking to book through chat and from our customers, we also understand that phone bookings are on the increase. We don’t think this is because Kiwis are less tech savvy than international guests, we suspect the increase in offline booking activity is because we cheeky Kiwis are taking the opportunity to ask for a reduction in price or a deal.

Flexible booking horizon

Kiwi travellers are more flexible about the timing of their booking as they are not as encumbered by tight timeframes in the same way as international travellers are. Questions on chat suggest they are often looking for the perfect time to come - for instance when snow conditions are the best - and are looking to time their trip when the weather is good for biking, skiing or playing golf. Some content around “what to do” in different seasons could go a long way to helping secure a booking.

Luxury items of interest like spa baths

In the same vein as Kiwis looking to score a bargain, in the accommodation space, travellers are showing interest in what luxury items they will get for the price they are paying. Questions like “Is a spa or bath included?” are becoming more common. It seems that Kiwis are looking for an experience when they’re paying big bucks for a hotel room.  Could you create a package or special attention to rooms that have the luxury amenities?

Last minute bookings

Kiwi travellers are literally calling up at 6pm for a room that night, in contrast to their international counterparts who are more likely to book a few more hours or days in advance. There is also evidence that Kiwi travellers hold off booking until they know the weather is good. Domestic travellers have got time freedom, so have more flexibility about when they go away. That also means communicating if you’re not weather sensitive, reducing reasons not to book with you.

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