Brand USA’s Matt Fletcher and Wayne Mitcham – flying the flag for travelling in America Brand USA’s Matt Fletcher and Wayne Mitcham – flying the flag for travelling in America

Brand USA wants Kiwi agents

Brand USA has put the microscope on the needs and strategies of the Kiwi industry selling into America.

Matt Fletcher, who was named the Brand USA Australia and New Zealand director a month ago, was in Auckland for three days talking to major retailers and wholesalers, determining how the organisation can partner more closely to trade here. ‘There is increased opportunity with the increased airlift, but that also creates a need to maximise that opportunity so we get even more momentum,’ Fletcher says.

Brand USA is now sourcing new products to further entice Kiwi travellers to its shores. There has been a strong focus on America’s great outdoors this year, and in 2017 attention will turn to pop culture. ‘There is no destination like it in the world for this… sports and concerts are not an established product here, and it’s going be an area of opportunity for us.'

The signs are Kiwis are already starting to wake up to the destination for events, adds Brand USA account manager New Zealand Wayne Mitcham. ‘We are starting to see a trend of Kiwis going the distance and spending from Friday to Tuesday there while taking in an event. This has been helped along by the fact we now have two flagship US carriers.’

Fletcher says about 300,000 Kiwis visit the US each year, and the signs are the numbers will continue to climb steadily. Globally, the US is forecast to receive 100,000 million visitors by 2021. Of the visitors, Kiwis are among its highest performers in terms of growth. Once there, New Zealanders stay an average 11 to 14 days and are typically big spenders (shopping is a top activity for many). Accordingly, says Fletcher, New Zealand is seen as an important market to the US.

American Airlines and United Airlines new services, compounded by Air New Zealand’s flights to Houston means more and more centres can get a slice of the Kiwi travelling pie and there is more opportunity than ever for repeat visitation, he says.

‘You can go for a concert one year, and then return the following for a road trip.’

Back in New Zealand, work is under way on the Brand USA Discover America trade show, which is timetabled for Auckland and Wellington either mid to late February.

Last year about 400 went to the expo in the City of Sails, and Mitcham expects around the same number will attend next year while Wellington will receive between 100 to 120 attendees.

Planning has also started on the 2017 mega famil, which will take up to 30 agents to six USA locations. Details of this event will be released in December.

Meanwhile, Brand USA’s online Discovery Programme is being revamped, and Fletcher asks trade here to register on it to be regularly informed of developments.