Distribution Channels for Wine Tourism in New Zealand
This study examines the structure of the distribution channels and the underlying factors influencing the most prominent channel choices within the wine tourism industry in New Zealand. This research specifically compares wine tourism in Marlborough and Auckland. It aims to provide a better understanding of the distribution channels for practitioners in the wine tourism industry, with the hope of assisting them to develop their wine tourism businesses successfully and manage the businesses growth effectively. This is a destination-based study performed by employing qualitative approaches focusing on the supply-side through semi-structured interviews. These in-depth interviews were conducted with the owners or managers of the local wine tour operators and wineries in the two regions. The findings generally show that wine tourism businesses place a clear priority on direct distribution of their wine tourism product to visitors “at destination”; the majority of customers of all these businesses are independent visitors. Specifically, overseas independent tourists comprise the largest portion of customers to local wine tour operators in Marlborough and Auckland. The wine tour operators work more actively with intermediaries and reach tourists “in market”, “while travelling” and “at destination” than wineries in these two regions. Marlborough wineries and Auckland wine tour operators and wineries receive domestic corporate groups, most of whom are approached “at destination” with direct distribution. Compared with wineries in Marlborough, more corporate groups use Auckland wine tour operators to visit wineries. Marlborough wineries and wine tour operators, and Auckland wine tour operators receive more international visitors, whereas the majority of visitors to Auckland wineries are from Auckland. When considering the function of wine tourism distribution channels, information provision, reservation and purchase are nearly equally important to local wine tour operators in both Marlborough and Auckland; the most widely used functions for Marlborough wineries is information provision; for Auckland wineries, information provision and purchase play significant roles in the distribution of wine tourism product. Factors influencing distribution channel choice include information provision cost, commissions, businesses’ attitudes towards tourism, perceptions of the Internet, service diversity, capacity, accessibility, availability, market segments, reputation and nature of intermediaries.