More ‘manpower’! (Updated)

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AUCKLAND, Today: The coronavirus will cause a further 0.5% fall in NZ’s GDP, and overall visitor numbers to drop by 10% over the next two months, according to United Media Solution – a Chinese ad agency which long taken a special interest in NZ.

A partial answer, says UMS, is for NZ comms agencies to quickly increase their personnel numbers.

China is the second-largest source of tourism for New Zealand, with about 400,000 visitors annually (10% of total).

However, during February and March New Zealand welcomes a quarter of that number through its boarder, making it the peak Chinese tourist season.

Shanghai-based UMS executive Richard Zhu said: “Assuming the Chinese travel ban extends over this period, overall visitor numbers would be roughly 10% lower and the fall in tourism expenditure would equate to roughly 0.5% of quarterly nominal GDP.

“UMS has been researching the outbreak’s effects on different industries and will continue to monitor and release information and advice regarding overall strategy and marketing activities in China.”

“Research strongly suggests businesses will bounce back after the outbreak, and in fact peak.”

Richard Zhu offered Kiwi agencies and companies this advice …


Although some organisations in New Zealand may feel paralysed by the outbreak’s effects, there are several actions that businesses can take, right now, to minimise the outbreaks impact.

  • Crisis management coupled with online traffic redirection: In a crisis such as this, fear and heightened anxiety may be aimed towards your organisation in the form of questions and negative feedback. It is crucial that more manpower be allocated towards responding to this online and verbatim, as well as redirecting traffic to your main official accounts. Any important announcements communicating policy changes or travel restrictions should be published in a simple and easily shareable format.
  • Digitially extend your target audiences: An estimated 50 million people are now on lockdown in China, leaving many residents with more spare time than ever before. Unsurprisingly, majority of Chinese are curing their boredom online through social platforms, e-commerce and entertainment activities. This shift poses an interesting opportunity for businesses to capture new customers and reach extended audiences.
  • Social monitoring & user profiling: Firstly, before any campaigns are launched, it is imperative that organisations research market opinion/sentiment, market confidence and the success and failures of competitors as well as revisit user-profiles. Through our regular target audience monitoring and client user profile research, without exception, almost all Chinese target audiences have changed radically. This must be addressed before publishing any new major campaign.
  • Content & distrubution mechanisms are key: To reach your new audience, keep your content engaging. UMS research has found that “participatory” topics and activities such as games, voting and questionnaires are currently receiving a lot more attention and are being shared further across online networks. Through this type of content, organisations can “plant seeds” in the minds of Chinese for future travel destination options and educate the market on different offerings and services. If executed correctly, a well-designed mechanism can also predict user behaviour when overseas tourism recovers.
  • Get ready for recovery – operationally & digitally: Speaking of recovery, research strongly suggests business will bounce back after the outbreak, and in fact peak. There is currently well over $US100 billion in demand for outbound travel waiting to be unleashed once the virus subsides. In order to deal with this influx in customers, business operators should have a strategy to maximise on interest and divert this peak to off or shoulder seasons. Tourism operators should have a plan in place for when the outbreak subsides, and customers wish to access information or rebook travel plans. This strategy should also include how you will address and reacquire customers who have cancelled travel plans and haven’t rebooked. There may be uncertainties with future travel and organisations should be ready to address these concerns and restore user confidence. Have this highly relevant content ready in your well-established digital platforms and pay targeted attention to different groups during the recovery of the outbreak.
  • Don’t forget sales & PR: Finally, the type of content you share, and your PR work could make or break the success of your brand during the outbreak. Keep in mind the sensitivities of Chinese and communicate what positive actions your own organisation has taken to address the outbreak and how, if applicable, you have supported humanitarian efforts in China. Look at how your brand can show appreciation and support for the actions of China’s front-line medical personnel – this could even be done through sharable discounts or promotions, giving you the opportunity to reach new audiences.

About UMS

UMS is a full-service independent digital agency, which specialises in social media. UMS partner with leading international companies to connect their brands with Chinese consumers through targeted creative communications. UMS has worked with leading brands such as Air NZ, Ecostore, Harrolds, Orbis Australasia, NZ Avocado, NZ Education, NZ Trade & Enterprises, PowerShop, Rockit, Apple, Tourism NZ, THL, Villa Maria, Virgin Atlantic, Visit Britain and Vodafone. UMS has offices in Shanghai, Melbourne, Auckland, Ningbo and Sydney with a team of more than 50 staff.

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