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Marketing students help COVID-hit businesses

Monday, 2 November 2020

Marketing tourism image 2020Otago marketing students have worked with local businesses hit by a dearth of international visitors.

Otago marketing students have produced in depth marketing plans and strategies to help local businesses hit by the COVID-19-induced lack of international tourists.

Six Dunedin businesses – Otago Museum, Speights, Natures Wonders, Antipodes, Hereweka and Whisper to the Birds – took up the offer of Tourism Marketing lecturers Associate Professor Jeurgen Gnoth and Associate Professor Andrea Insch to have students work with them after the pandemic meant they lost a chunk of their target markets.

While working with businesses on marketing strategies has always been part of the programme, this year offered a different opportunity.

“This year, the situation has been influenced by COVID-19 and the absence of international tourists, so the students’ task turned to domestic tourists and how they could be enticed to visit Dunedin businesses, or what other marketing opportunities there are for businesses put on hold or under threat.

“Domestic tourism is a challenge for businesses in New Zealand as we know next to nothing about the domestic market in terms of behaviour patterns and preferences because the focus has been mainly on international tourists,” he says.

Professor Gnoth recently wrote an opinion piece for media in which he predicted New Zealand tourism businesses would have to wait at least two years before the business climate improved, so the country needed to build its own strategy to respond.

“For local tourism that means to increase foot traffic and have local initiatives with businesses collaborating rather than just for Tourism Dunedin to come up with expensive strategies.

“The second semester permitted us to have face to face teaching again, so that it became possible to weave in this business project into our curriculum and have students prepare for the task.”

Students recently presented their strategies to “delighted” and “impressed” business owners and representatives.

Natures Wonders owner Perry Reid says he has worked with “marketers from all over the world for decades” for his Peninsula-based business, but he believes the work of the marketing students was as good as he had seen.

“I mean that. This is a quality, professional document that will be really helpful. I hope this is just the start. I’d be really keen to do more work with these guys. It’s great.”

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