Tourism students help Zealandia engage with locals

Victoria Business School students have helped staff at Zealandia Ecosanctuary better understand locals’ awareness and perception of Zealandia as well as provide them with insights into how to better engage with the Wellington community.

Students from TOUR380 Tourism Research explore Zealandia.

As part of their course work for TOUR380 Tourism Research, students put together an online survey aimed at residents in the Wellington Region to evaluate their experience with Zealandia, their awareness of Zealandia’s varied work and their perceived contribution of Zealandia to Wellington’s community and environment.

The survey found that while respondents showed great awareness of Zealandia’s conservation and nature-based work and their visitor attractions, the sanctuary’s contribution to research and international conservation were less well known.

In the second part of their research, students visited the eco-sanctuary to conduct in-depth interviews with visitors to examine the effectiveness of Zealandia’s current marketing and identify ways in which they can engage better with residents of the Wellington region.

Differential pricing, increased visibility throughout the city and special events were recommended by visitors, many also calling for caution to ensure increasing visitor numbers would not negatively impact conservation efforts and wildlife.

Zealandia’s Learning and Engagement Manager Anastasia Turnbull says the research the students conducted was impressive.

“Every organisation wants to know about their communities and audiences - what the public think, know and feel about you. This research has painted a clear picture of how the public perceive Zealandia, which gives us a fantastic platform for our future marketing, communications and development programmes. The quality of the thinking and analysis that came through in the student reports was really impressive. They informed themselves about our business, considered our needs as a client, and clearly articulated their results and recommendations,” says Anastasia.

Student Jordan Taylor, whose report was selected by Zealandia as the most impactful, also found the experience valuable.

“It was really rewarding working with Zealandia as our work seemed to be highly appreciated and useful for them. Doing applied research was good practical experience and encouraged us to be engaged and interested in the work we were doing. It was great working with such a lovely business that’s doing awesome work for our community.”