Although the world is increasingly opening up in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry in New Zealand is continuing to face challenges and is being forced to adapt how it functions in order to respond to the ongoing limitations and unpredictability.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how three New Zealand tourism companies are adapting to face the demands of 2022.
The New Zealand tourism industry is currently in a condition of limbo as the epidemic continues to bring uncertainty, despite international borders cautiously reopening before a planned complete reopening in October.
It’s a really difficult period for companies whose sales primarily depend on tourism. Three companies were interviewed to learn how they are coping with the uncertainty and whether domestic tourism will be able to support their operations until foreign visitors are fully welcomed back.
Backyard Roadies: Low Costs, Lots of Adaptability
Having started Backyard Roadies mid-pandemic, Jason Goodson has been 100 per cent reliant on domestic tourism to fund his road trip company – but the persistent uncertainty regarding border restrictions and the ever-present fear of lockdowns continues to create enormous hurdles.
Customers who might be interested in tours, of course, face the same difficulties as Jason. There have been some situations when lockdowns have been announced when the firm was in the middle of a tour. This creates an atmosphere of uncertainty for customers and business owners alike, and many people are reluctant to book tours in the face of the risk that a trip may be cancelled.
While some travel and tourism operators are offering refunds in the form of credit should COVID cause cancellations, Backyard Roadies guarantees consumers complete refunds, no hassles.
While helping customers to handle the external unpredictables, Jason’s focused on managing what he can internally – overheads. Running a very lean organisation, he has kept his overheads purposely low to permit flexibility. This entails that if the business needs to stop operating due to lockdowns, it will not be placed under the heavy burden of high fixed costs in the meantime. Backyard Roadies has no assets, no office, no vehicles to pay off, and all of the staff are contractors.
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Before the pandemic hit, Haka Tours’ clientele was made up 98 percent foreign tourists. Following the global outbreak, the firm has been forced to change quite a bit. However, the challenges continue, and border closures continue to have an effect on the company.
Haka Tours has designed new journeys over shorter periods of time to accommodate those non-New Zealanders who are still in the country. Prior to the epidemic, the average tour length was 16 days. Now, the average tour is five days.
The tours themselves have also changed. Haka now covers more remote locations, where the risk of coming into contact with someone with COVID-19 is lower, and there is a stronger emphasis on hiking and cycling tours.
Haka Trips ran nine tours in February 2022, down from an average of 60–70 tours each month prior to the epidemic. While the company managed its expenses, Eve believes the uncertainty is still causing havoc in the industry. The business had to restructure and make layoffs in order to do so.
Shotover Jet has long been a popular attraction for tourists from abroad, but the epidemic has made it necessary for the attraction to focus only on the home market.
To compete in the home market, they have been forced to reduce their prices. However, domestic support has been strong and will feature heavily in the firm’s future strategies. h
The thing that sets Shotover Jet apart from its competitors is its focus on client experience. The company has a long-term strategy to uphold its Kiwi ideals, offer a more luxurious experience, and incorporate more Ngi Tahu storytelling. The company’s operators have also focused on being an authentic supporter of our neighbourhood.
While domestic tourism is now Shotover Jet’s sole area of focus, the pandemic has taught the company about the need to be ready for any unforeseen circumstances. That involves adopting a long-term plan and mindset.
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