The challenge

Tourism New Zealand had limited insight about the impact of its marketing activity targeting travel agents in nine global markets. To get a better return on marketing investment, the organization needed to determine whether it was covering the right travel agents, and measure the impact of current marketing activity such as training, education and hosting familiarization discovery trips for travel agents that let them experience New Zealand’s popular tourist attractions firsthand.


“Tourism as an industry isn’t known for its analytics. It doesn’t typically do well with data gathering,” says Emil Petrov, strategy manager at Tourism New Zealand. “We had to put the plumbing in before building the house, and we had nothing to build on.”

The solution

To help Tourism New Zealand improve the trade sales force’s coverage and impact and determine which travel agents were the best targets and which marketing campaigns were driving the greatest impact, both ZS and Tourism New Zealand collaborated on the approach and took the following steps for all nine markets:

  • Gathered travel agency passenger data from major airline data consolidator IATA for the past three years, tracking the customer journey of global tourists who book through travel agents and travel to New Zealand
  • Mapped internal CRM customer records to IATA passenger data to produce a global view of the market size and potential of each travel agency
  • Analyzed historical campaigns to correlate marketing activity with changes in travel bookings to model the responsiveness and effectiveness of specific marketing activities on individual travel agencies and distribution channels
  • Established an analytical framework leveraging multiple data models to predict and improve the coverage and impact of sales and marketing activities, based on market specific business rules
  • Created a concise set of KPIs to benchmark New Zealand against competing tourism destinations, normalizing for seasonal and market differences
  • Communicated the KPIs to frontline trade managers of all markets using an easy to use Excel dashboard

The major travel agencies and channels, as identified by volume and growth, were evaluated individually, and an optimal sales strategy was developed for each by measuring historical marketing activity responsiveness and comparing that with the cost.

“[The solution] helped us see where to make tradeoffs on where to invest, and showed us which markets we were already covering effectively.”

Emil Petrov

The impact

ZS’s work helped Tourism New Zealand optimize its global marketing efforts by improving the coverage and campaign mix for each account. “It helped us see where to make tradeoffs on where to invest, and showed us which markets we were already covering effectively,” Petrov says.


In the U.S. market, while certain marketing activities seemed to have a higher impact than others, ZS found that more engagement with travel agencies, in general, had a positive impact on sales. Meanwhile, in China, ZS advised Tourism New Zealand not to focus on targeting small travel agents, but instead identify larger travel agents and work with them, as the business from smaller travel agents was not worth the investment.


Tourism New Zealand also was able to measure the impact of marketing efforts such as discovery trips. The data indicated that activity-targeted accounts—those for which Tourism New Zealand hosted discovery trips—generated more visitor volume than their non-targeted counterparts.


ZS’s data gave Tourism New Zealand a better idea of which global travel agencies to target and a foundation on which to build future marketing activities.


“ZS translated the big ideas into an approach that was the right size for our data and our models,” Petrov says. “Distilling everything down into information that we could use in team meetings was also really valuable. ZS provided great analytics and insights that weren’t cookie-cutter, which was a big contribution to our business.”