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Research Driving Major New Tourism Product

August 30, 2005

Research Driving Major New Tourism Product Developments At World Famous Te Puia

New Zealand's leading tourist attraction, Te Puia, at Rotorua, says it will launch up to 10 new products on the market during the next 24 months.

The developments are being driven by research into market trends and what consumers want when they visit attractions like Te Puia, which features the famous Pohutu Geyser and Maori cultural, carving and weaving experiences at its geothermal valley.

Te Puia CEO and tourism industry leader Andrew Te Whaiti has endorsed comments by Tourism Research Council (TRC) member Adrian Januszkiewicz saying that core data is fundamental in developing new products.

Januszkiewicz says the tourism industry is poorly served by data, analysis and research – and has a major opportunity to better understand customers' needs and boost the sector's economic performance

Te Whaiti says Te Puia is now matching up its own research, into trends and what consumers here and overseas want, to drive significant new product launches. These will include the launch in October of the first night tours of the geothermal valley.

"We are going to accelerate development plans, to capture the ever growing popularity of authentic cultural and geothermal tourism," Te Whaiti says.

The new night tours will be launched initially to the Australian and New Zealand markets but available to other markets.

"Australia is a good example for us of what can be done when you invest in research and consult with inbound tour operators on trends and with consumers on what they want.

"We appointed an Australia and New Zealand sales manager, Jimmy Hignett. One of his roles is to continuously provide consumer research to ensure we obtain consumer alignment with our product development," Te Whaiti says.

Hignett says: "I have a five year development plan but this would be much harder without the accessibility of timely and accurate statistical data."

He says the night tour product is one result.

"It's not a matter now of saying here's our geothermal valley and culture, this is what you'll see, but of asking people how they want us to show it to them.

"At night there's little out of the ordinary to do in Rotorua. But at night the geothermal valley becomes a whole new experience. We'll talk with people about our stories, myths and legends. Visitors want to meet and talk more with people. The groups will therefore be kept small, so people have time to talk with our guides," Hignett says.

The only other night tour in New Zealand was at Northland's Waipoa Kauri forest, which had become a "very spiritual experience".

Te Whaiti says the resource consent process to develop some of the new products is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

"This will conclude a fairly lengthy design process but the outcome will certainly be worth it. We have a sustainable long term plan that started with launching our new Te Puia brand - and release of our three sub brands, covering the geothermal, cultural and carving experiences. The response to the brand in the market place has been fantastic – we now have a clear message. "We have the planning blocks in place to deliver on our potential from product development to achieving an appropriate return that our board is satisfied with.

"Our focus will remain on product development and along the way we will remain open to an already exciting number of potential partners or new business opportunities," Te Whaiti says.


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