Top three takeaways from Tourism Summit Aotearoa 2018: What all businesses need to know
Local and international experts in business, innovation, sustainability, infrastructure and finance spoke at the annual summit held by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) in Wellington, this week. They weighed in on what is needed by the tourism industry to grow in a sustainable way, bringing local communities on board, financing the extra infrastructure needed to accommodate higher visitor numbers, all while adapting within the rapidly changing digital and social media environment.
Two years ago, TIA, along with the tourism industry, set the goal to grow the sector’s value to $41 billion by 2025. The goal is likely to be achieved much quicker than first thought, following the tourism boom in recent years. The increase is roughly a 52% rise on the 2017 value of the industry at $14.5 billion.
During the conference, the key themes and messages made by presenters could relate to any sector, so we’ve compiled the top three takeaways from the event.
- Sustainability – more than just talking about it
Growing sustainably is a term often used these days, but talking about it and implementing actionable plans can be two very different things.
TIA launched an exciting new initiative at the summit, the New Zealand Sustainability Commitment, developed by an external Reference Group made up of a number of big players in the tourism industry, including Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand and the Department of Conservation, among others.
The four main elements are economics, the host community, visitors and the environment. Then there are 14 business-led commitments that include paying workers a living wage; monitoring, evaluating and reporting on visitor satisfaction; actively engaging in communities where businesses operate, as well as moving towards carbon neutrality. The practices and suggestions could lend a helping hand in making any business more sustainable.
- Karma Cola – selling a story, not a product
Karma Cola is an innovative Kiwi company launched in 2010, that uses cola nuts farmed in Sierra Leone. The company sources the cola nuts directly from a village called Boma and set up the Karma Cola Foundation to give back to the people who grow the nuts, supporting them with projects around education and infrastructure. As a direct competitor to soft drink-giant Coca Cola, Karma Cola relies on its story to connect with consumers, who are increasingly influenced by a company’s beliefs and actions.
The company’s co-founder Matt Morrison says a quality, good tasting product and purpose is all they had to convince people to pay more. So they made sure the product design was eye-catching and told their unique story.
“When you have a story, you can start a movement and once you do that you can cut through a crowded market,” Mr Morrison said. Karma Cola is sold in 18 countries around the world, and consumers help to spread the word through social media, telling the brand’s story for them. But a company has to be transparent and true, otherwise it could be damaging to the brand. “Millennials are cynics at heart, so what we say has to be true otherwise we would be found out,” he said.
- Technology shouldn’t be viewed as a threat
The digital world and rapid development of technology isn’t a threat, according to international speaker and futurist Chris Riddell. Instead, businesses should embrace and explore how their experiences can complement and add to online experiences like virtual and augmented reality. Consumers will not forgo the real experience for a digital substitution, he said. As Kirsten Patterson, CEO of Institute of Directors put it: “There are no disruptive technologies, but disrupted industries.”
Having clarity around your business story and offerings is also a crucial part of a businesses foundations. “If you haven’t got clarity then a digital presence won’t really help to elevate your offering,” Ms Patterson said. Another key discussion point was around data, described by Riddell as the most valuable resource. “Find it, mine it, refine it,” he said.
Next year’s Tourism Summit Aotearoa will be held in Wellington on November 8, 2018.