More cash for key market

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New DQ boss Pahl cuts $127,000 of fat to boost Aussie campaign.

Overhead cuts at Destination Queenstown will see more promotion money pitched at Australian travellers.

New DQ boss Stephen Pahl has trimmed $127,000 off his operating budget in the 2009-10 business plan he’s presenting to QLDC tomorrow.

Savings include not replacing a manager who’s on maternity leave.

At $900,000, operating costs still represent 29 per cent of DQ’s annual $3.1 million funding, which mainly comes from a compulsory levy on business ratepayers. The levy increased by $1m last year.

After overheads, Pahl is allocating 50 per cent of the remaining $2.2m to promote Queenstown in Australia, 19 per cent for marketing within New Zealand, 28 per cent on generic marketing – and just three per cent on long-haul promotion.

Generic marketing includes developing a comprehensive online strategy, featuring social media like Twitter and Facebook.

“I estimate 50 per cent of all traffic into here is generated online in some way,” Pahl says.

An extra $60,000 will be spent in the lucrative conference and incentive sector – up to $260,000 in all.

As reported last week, Pahl is also extending the services of an Australian-based conference and incentive rep after originally intending to drop the position – but her role will now include general marketing too, he says.

Although visitor numbers look promising for the ski season, Pahl says “the moment of economic truth” will come next summer as worldwide recession bites deeper.

As a result, he’s allocating $286,000 – or nine per cent of funds – to summer marketing, a season’s that’s normally sold itself in the past.

Queenstown’s new promo boss is also keen to push for more joint-venture marketing with major industry partners.

One marketing thrust he’s not so sure about is the Leading Mountain Resorts of the World network, with partners like Vail in the US and Bariloche in Argentina.

He’s paying out the $25,000 membership fee once more but says DQ will pull out if he doesn’t see better results over the coming year.

Pahl believes Queenstown tourism will “remain in the trenches” throughout 2010 but he wants DQ to remain flexible to respond to changing market conditions.

He’s also rewritten DQ’s mission and vision statements.

The mission statement now reads: “DQ’s role is to develop, facilitate and partner in the delivery of shared tourism outcomes and maximise marketing initiatives to achieve long-term regional sustainability.”

And the vision statement: “The Queenstown region will have a prosperous, diverse, sustainable tourism industry within our community.”