There are three main questions in our mind when we communicate with prospective clients. These are "why", "how" and "who". Quite a few people, when contacting us only tell us "what", which tends to miss out on what they don't know about New Zealand. Which is usually quite a lot.
So, what am I going on about? Starting from the end, as that seems to make sense given the beginning, - the "what" is "I want to go to Milford Sound", and things like "I want to see the Hobbit locations". This really doesn't tell us a lot about the people talking to us or their reasons for coming to New Zealand. And everyone has a reason - they just haven't always asked themselves what it might be.
For us the "who" is critical. Who are you? Are you the sort of person who would enjoy a long lunch at a winery? Or a strenuous hike on a deserted track? Or time spent with our local Maori understanding them? Or some spectacularly beautiful time-out with unobtrusive service? We are all different. Yet most people say "I want to see Milford Sound". OK, that's very interesting. But we have at least eight different ways I can think of right now of seeing Milford Sound, and selecting the right one for you depends on communicating to us who you are.
The "who" then tells us what the "how" should be. A meandering self-drive road trip focusing on nooks and crannies; no-nonsense transfers into beautiful sanctuaries; or private flying by helicopter throughout the country. Or, as we have organised in the past, perhaps a motorcycle or a classic car?
But the most important question - most important to us that is - is the "why". We are serious about connecting people to New Zealand, and in order to start doing so, we need to have a feel as to why a particular traveller is coming here. The answer could be:
- "because it's there" - valid, in the tradition of Sir Edmund Hillary, but there was actually a little more to his off the cuff remark wasn't there?
- "because I'm curious to see what the fuss is about" - probably the most common answer. Why do my friends rave about that place? Why is it always at the top of lists? Europeans and North Americans especially are curious as to how a place with such similar roots can be so different. Once we understand the "who", we can answer this "why" in a most enjoyable and intellectually stimulating way.
- "because I want to do x" - where x can be fly fishing, hiking, cycling, wine tasting, landscapes. Nice helpful answer which actually relates very strongly to "who". But it gives us a nice clue. This person relaxes and finds enjoyment in the pursuit of x. Which means they could also enjoy this other thing they didn't mention and probably don't know about.
- "because I want to stay at x" - probably the most difficult answer for us as it sheds so little light on who is travelling. Although we all need and enjoy from time to time a place where superior service protects you from having peoples' personalities thrown at you when you need some time out. These tend to be either expensive places or places owned or operated by intelligent or sensitive people. So, understanding the "why" of a particular place you have in mind is critical to us. If it's the food, then the places you don't know about which we'll mention to you will be totally different.
But in every case there is a meaning. A reason people go to the considerable expense, inconvenience and discomfort of getting to New Zealand in the first place. And our job is not to come up with a "best of" with zero client input which can then be compared with a dozen others. What a waste of everyone's time. Our job is to communicate in order to understand the "why", and then we can actually get on with what we're good at - which is putting together the finest custom experience of the country available today.
In thinking about this, it became clear to me that our focus is on "meaningful travel". Meaningfully connecting with our clients. Meaningfully creating something which they usually consider extraordinary. Meaningfully connecting them to our country. Meaningful Travel is our business.