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Investment in systems, marketing or people?

I was thinking the other day about what differentiates a company like ours from others, and came up with what I thought was an interesting angle - investment. is a deserved world leader.  When travelling for business and looking for something cheap and convenient with minimal hassle, I use myself.  They invest in systems offering value and convenience to the world and have done very well at that.

Our major investment at Ahipara is in our people.  I realised this after reflecting on what Karen and I have been doing since Covid.  We have been identifying, recruiting and training, training, training, training.  Of course we have continued with improving our already leading-edge systems, and picking up on marketing and experience creation.  But 90% of our effort has gone into our staff.  Mentoring, training, investing in constant product familiarisation, creating a collegiate environment where information is shared across the team all day every day, and investing in growing certain members of staff into regional product champions.  This distribution of expertise is consciously aimed at making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  And very much at removing myself as a product expertise bottleneck. 

When looking at our (automated) feedback posted on our web page, we see individual team members regularly praised for delivering a unique and unbeatable itinerary.  This shows that the system is working right now, was actually already working last season, and we're barely out of second gear.  Our current focus is on encouraging innovation among team members, and some of the preliminary results are already exciting - in terms of creating special days for our clients.

Our aim is to develop our people as far as they would like to go and to develop the specialisms they want to develop.  At the same time as being at the top of the game of itinerary management in New Zealand. This keeps being rewarded by the market with our extraordinary level of referrals and overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

Our competitors in New Zealand invest more than us in their marketing and are rewarded with more visible profiles internationally - as they should be given the work they put in.  We find marketing a bit boring and focus on depth, connection, people and it's good to see that good old quality, expertise and investment in people is rewarded long-term.

Posted by Jean-Michel Jefferson on May 27, 2024