We partnered with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited on an awesome journey from early-stage digital strategy right through to product discovery, digital brand translation, content strategy, and UX design - culminating in an interactive digital platform: Discover Auckland.
A vital component in their future vision, this compelling digital experience helps to showcase the Auckland region and connect it to locals, New Zealanders and the world.
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is a council-controlled organisation whose mission is to create and maximise cultural, social and economic opportunities for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Even while Auckland was in lockdown - and the New Zealand border was closed to international visitors - they were preparing for the eventual reopening of the region and exploring new paths to building a stronger tourist economy.
This meant looking at how to challenge existing preconceptions about the region and better share the Auckland story, in order to attract more visitors, and in turn help local operators and businesses to grow and thrive.
We came onboard to support them with a strategy and roadmap that included the right products and solutions to achieve their vision, and entice and enable more people to make the most of what the Auckland region has to offer.
At that time, they faced a number of challenges, both at a perception level and a functional one.
In the domestic market Auckland suffered from stereotyping, with research showing that many Kiwis saw it as a sprawling city that was difficult to navigate, and were more likely to travel there for work, than leisure.
For international travellers, Auckland was frequently seen as a gateway to other tourist hotspots, rather than a place to explore in its own right.
Both of these factors were preventing visitors from choosing Auckland as a holiday destination, and spending time and money there.
There was also an opportunity to improve the visitor experience at a functional level - so that people wouldn’t have to move between many different websites to discover local opportunities, find further information, and book tickets or make transactions.
We began working with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited on a solution that would tackle these preconceptions and create a better experience for locals and travellers alike.
We started by exploring best-practice examples from around the world - looking at Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Singapore and New York to learn from their approach. This meant that rather than reinventing the wheel, we could start from their baseline and innovate forward.
We then devised a future vision for the ideal traveller experience and a roadmap for getting there.
The first step was a new and unique destination website that brought everything users needed into one consolidated place.
This would not only provide a base that future initiatives could be built upon, but would allow the team to start learning from the market and using these insights to determine next steps.
Our next step was to collaborate with their wider team including marketing, events and digital, to translate their existing place brand into a unique digital identity and experience for this new product. We used embodied design techniques to capture the core experience personality and principles the team had identified for the site, and brought them to life in an engaging brand that reflected the heart and energy of the Auckland region.
Alongside this process, we worked with the team to devise a content strategy that would ensure the site not only provided practical information, but would actively reduce known barriers, and inspire and prompt users into action. We then created a complete content playbook, including tone of voice guidelines, that enabled both internal and external creators to produce high-quality, on-brand content at pace.
Careful consideration was given to the use of te reo throughout the site. Showcasing and promoting the region’s Māori identity was a vital aspect of the content, but as international visitors were likely to be unfamiliar with kupu Māori, there needed to be a clear strategy for when and how to provide translations. Guidelines for this were set out in the content playbook so all contributors could follow suit.
Using existing research about visitor needs, and with a clear understanding of business drivers, we began designing the site itself. We focussed on the experience first - defining the structure and functionality before incorporating the brand. We then did usability testing with people from NZ, Australia and around the world - ensuring that it was easy to navigate and enjoy for all.
We then moved to the detailed design, working alongside Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s development partner to support the delivery of the finished product.
The result is a dynamic, intuitive and flexible website that guides users through key milestones: from discovering what Auckland has to offer to planning, booking and experiencing it in real life. Users can create collections of content based on topics and itineraries - or enjoy curated examples such as ‘amazing day tips’ or ‘best eats on a budget’ - and share them with friends. The site is also full of insider tips offering local knowledge. Most importantly it makes it easy for people to see the benefits of visiting Auckland and come experience it for themselves.
Discover Auckland is a world-class destination marketing site, with more exciting features still to come. It provides the critical foundation from which Tātaki Auckland Unlimited can keep innovating with new initiatives that enhance the traveller experience, and bring prosperity to the region.