Philip Wyndham Philip Wyndham

NZ adventure operator: Trade bonds through Covid set to give lasting benefits

A New Zealand adventure operator says a key part of his company’s evolution over the past two years was gaining new relationships with agents here – something he is intent on retaining and nurturing despite the borders opening to international visitors.

Philip Wyndham, general manager of Adventure South NZ, says despite Covid ‘hurting hard’, the operation continued through the pandemic by developing new trips, distribution channels, relationships and angles on existing product.

‘We normally offer small group bike and hike tours. We packaged these up and put them in new directions, for example working with charities on things like charity challenges and with school groups.’

Wyndham, a former travel agent with Flight Centre, says working closely with trade here was another move that helped Adventure South NZ get through the tough times.

‘For example, we had one agent from New Plymouth ring out of the blue and say that she had been on one of our trips and wanted us to come up with an exclusive departure so that she could sell it through her database. That resulted in two departures last season and another two coming up this season.’

Wyndham says the relationships clearly benefited both parties and can continue to do so.

‘I have always valued the reach and distribution an agent can bring.

‘From an agent’s or broker’s point of view, if they are not promoting cycling and hiking and suggesting it as an option alongside the usual self-drive, touring and flop and drops then they are missing out.

‘We’re really happy to up-skill agents on how to sell small group cycle and hiking tours.’

He says Adventure South specialises in group sizes between four and 14 and is increasingly offering ‘behind the locked gate experiences’, where clients can meet the farm hands, growers and other producers.

The company has ordered 100 new e-bikes and this is in a large part driven by New Zealand customers – 80% of whom took e-bikes last year.

‘I think New Zealanders are more experienced when it comes to riding, more of them have tried e-bikes and know the benefits they provide.’

Wyndham was one of about 270 delegates at the TEC Conference in Nelson this week.