Many of you will have noticed that this year is a little different to last. Being in close touch with the market, we've been close to emerging trends. One of these is the rise of the world's most distant destination (New Zealand) as an impulse booking destination. Over the Christmas period we had three very short lead-time clients, the longest giving us 3 days to plan, book and mobilise an itinerary arriving on 25th December. The shortest gave us 24 hours notice. We cancelled an inappropriate itinerary, planned and re-booked, then monitored and provided a daily concierge service. Of course, they were very happy.
We ourselves were very happy with those three, but talking to a number of accommodation providers around the country there were many more who booked their accomodation direct at the last moment and arrived in the country with no plans. These accommodation providers have then never booked as many activities as they have done this year.
The frustration for us here is that of course these activities were "off the shelf" and not based on client interests but rather on local availability. So people were getting a standard feeling for the country rather than an extra special feeling. We feel that this is because people believe that they cannot have an extremely responsive, "live" service from inbounders or travel agents.
In our case, this is wrong. We live and breathe our itineraries with our clients. Right now, a lovely US honeymoon couple is approaching the junction of SH30 and SH5 on a specially recommended back route from Waitomo to Rotorua. They will just have time to see Wai o Tapu before getting to Lodge 199 where their helicopter will meet them and take them to White Island. No weather issues. They have one of our mobiles and could call me any moment to make reservations, cancel, push forward etc. When I was taking them round Auckland a couple of days ago they asked where they could buy a significant object - they now have the phone number of our favourite Maori carver and will meet him to commission a piece at some stage tomorrow.
So, our message to the world is - come to us at the last moment, give us your challenges, and let us show you what we can do. As the only real VIP DMC in this country with the only real nationwide concierge service, we are very confident indeed of our ability to deliver - long-range or short-range or even point blank. And who wins from this? The client of course.