New Zealand woos agents with Explore PLUS
Pictured above: Mitre Peak towers above a tranquil Milford Sound in Fiordland. Photo courtesy WWW.FIORDLAND.ORG.NZ
Seeing is believing when it comes to travel agents selling New Zealand, according to Tourism New Zealand.
The tourism promotion body has announced that North American travel agents can now plan and book independent fam trips with Tourism New Zealand’s new Explore PLUS Program, which offers IATA and CLIA agents more than 500 air, land, accommodation and attraction discounts, along with the resources to design a “personally curated New Zealand itinerary.”
Explore PLUS Program follows a test program Tourism New Zealand ran earlier this year with American Airlines that provided agents with discounted airfare and led to a “huge response” from travel agents.
“We’re excited to offer a more robust, on-going program that not only includes four air partners but also adds the unique ability to plan your own independent fam at your own pace and schedule… Experiencing any destination first-hand makes all the difference,” Michelle Rosenberg, New Zealand Tourism’s sales manager, trade partnerships – North America, told Canadian Travel Press. “It’s our role to empower agents with the resources, information and knowledge to sell New Zealand and we are pleased to offer the most immersive and accessible program yet to our partners.”
A journey to New Zealand is a check box to achieving Gold status in the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Program. To be eligible for the PLUS Program, agents must have Bronze certification.
Discounted Air New Zealand fares for participating agents start at $200 from Vancouver, and some US cities. The first 100 agents to book receive an additional $200 off the discounted price.
Other program offers include 50% reductions on return American Airlines fares from Los Angeles and a $550 return Air Tahiti Nui fare from Los Angeles, and $599 Fiji Airways fares from Los Angeles and San Francisco and $559 fares from Honolulu. The first 25 agents to book Fiji Airways receive an additional $200 off the discounted fare.
Rosenberg said there are many Canadian agents who have long been selling New Zealand and are familiar with what it offers but may not have had the chance to actually visit the country. “The Explore PLUS independent fam program makes travel to New Zealand more accessible than ever and is also an opportunity to engage with agents who may be new at selling our destination.”
The program comes at a time of Canadian travel to New Zealand being on the upswing, with visitations in the first half of this year up 28.3% from the same period last year.
“This program is a direct answer to the overwhelmingly positive response to the test we ran earlier this year with American Airlines,” Rosenberg said. “It’s too new to share results for Explore PLUS but we anticipate that it will be even more successful, bringing hundreds of agents to our beautiful destination over the coming year.”
Rosenberg stated that New New Zealand’s being a long-haul destination means it “can result in very healthy commissions” for travel agents.
“With the recent updates to the 100% Pure New Zealand Specialist Program and now the introduction of the Explore PLUS independent fam, our commitment to helping agents increase their New Zealand sales is as strong as ever. Knowledgeable and specialized travel agents are key to the continual growth of North American visitors to New Zealand. And we are confident if agents come and experience New Zealand for themselves, they will become strong advocates for our destination,” Rosenberg continued.