Question :
As we scramble to contemplate the needs of domestic travellers wanting to explore regionally or nationally – do you think guests would explore hobby-based travel? Would they be interested in being matched with like-minded people? We have a service matching guests with hosts with the same hobbies? Like cycling, golf, fishing, patchwork, writing, pottery etc. It’s soft-adventure for singles and  couples. We never really pushed this angle before but we are looking for a few marketing hooks for our  Virtual Hotel idea. It’s fairly small and modest so far. We’ve had 18,000 guests through – mainly in homestays and hosted self-contained units. Enough to justify an upgrade to our software so we can collect a small commission and get Inbound ready. We have been trying to pioneer the Sharing Economy in New Zealand for about a decade…and exploring ways to level the playing field in a way that is fair and robust. Any thoughts? I have just pitched an idea into the Hack-a-Crisis….which could be an interesting way to bring a little bit of traction. We are very close to launching the new enterprise level software.https://www.guaana.com/challenge/QaiQJJ5bq8oyh7n3g/results/TwAhaRp5PTBLP5Xxz/EoD5JTqEjqyRj6MNY/main 

Question submitted 14/04/20 @ 06:11pm
Industry: Tourism
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    Hi Julia,
    I love your “Look after Me” name and concept and the matching of people with like hobbies and can absolutely see how this would work for singles and couples wanting to meet new people and share their passion for whatever hobby they are into. And it might work for families too who take their kids away and want to know where to go and make new friends for their children as well.. Just a thought. I have to be honest though and say I get a bit confused when you talk about a virtual hotel… I think there might be a better way to get across the concept of sharing time with people who share hobbies… “Like Minds” “Hobby Share” as a few thoughts.. i think the focus should be on the experience of doing the hobbies together with people from the local area who also happen to host you in their accommodation.. not the other way round if that makes sense..
    The concept of hobby based travelling is definitely growing and alive and well (well it was) overseas as you probably already know. As kiwis we tend to think we can do anything or figure anything ourselves in our own backyard but I think this is changing.. people are getting better at asking for help and advice and at reaching out to others.. connecting with strangers etc.. It might be worth seeing if you could collaborate with this guy Robert Bruce who runs a social enterprise called Got to Get Out which takes all kinds of people on theme or hobby based activity tours.. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11945220 Great guy doing great things and is backed by Torpedo 7.
    I think with great promotion and well chosen hobby themes such as golf, gardening, etc this should go really well as people go on a “staycation” over the next few months. Have you also investigated the Tourism Lightening Lab funded and based out of Wellington.? https://www.lightninglab.co.nz/

    Anyway just a few thoughts… I wish you the best of luck with growing your business. Jason


    Hi Julia
    I love that your thinking ahead and anticipating where the market can develop further and how you find your point of difference. Your idea of hobby based travel sounds intuitively to me like it’s on the money, but it’s really not about what I think – it’s about what your customers think. I’d suggest you use this time to find out – you could put out a survey and ask people who’ve used you, what they think, find out what they’d be interested in. Gaining this insight will help you understand the level of interest as well as the priorities of which hobbies are more important, and to which groups / types of people. You can then use this insight to shape what you offer as well as enable you to target your future comms appropriately.
    Go well


    Congrats on thinking outside the square, and seeing how you turn this challenge in to a new business. Building on Jason and Melissa’s feedback, it would be great to understand from the 18,000 guests what makes your offering so unique and compelling. Given you have so many customers, you could do a fair amount of analysis on sub-segments within your existing customer base to see which market resonates the most with your concept, and how big that market is in a domestic context. It would be great to understand if the notion of “virtual hotel” resonates with them, as the way you describe your offering seems to be more about experiences and hobbies than the virtual hotel aspect. The hobby notion and matching hosts with a similar hobby seems to be the uniqueness of your offering, compared to other virtual models like shared homes or hosted B&Bs. Clarity around your offering and points of differentiation will be key to engaging customers in what will quickly become a very noisy and crowded domestic tourism space. Hope the concept rollout goes super well!


    Hi Jason Hill: I love that you are bringing fresh eyes and thinking to this. Thank you. I’ll definitely connect to Robert Bruce – those natural alignments and mutually beneficial partnerships can make all the difference. I wondered about the Virtual Hotel concept. I guess for the Hack, I was looking for a catchy sort of hook to stand out a bit in the list of 77 proposals. So I’m not wedded to it at all. I think refining our USP will be critical and I think you have bought light and wisdom to that. I’m too close to it. So thank you! 🙂 In terms of the Lightening Lab Tourism, we were shortlisted but didn’t make it into the final 10 a couple of weeks ago. But I have been in touch with Aaron Power again since and it sounds like they didn’t finalise that funding round. All the relevant folks will be watching and listening in on the Hack – so I’ll be throwing everything into the ring to form a team and do a great pitch.

    Leslie: I am humbled and grateful for your contribution. I have admired and respected the work you and Stefan have done for our industry with Bachcare. Out of respect for your company, Look After Me always stayed away from renting whole houses as BachCare, Book a Bach and Holiday Houses already had a great offering in the market place and we didn’t want to compete. So that’s why we went for Hosted accommodation. It seems this forum has been very revealing – sometimes you can’t see what is right in front of you. Based on this, we will definetly up the awareness of our USP.

    Leslie/Melissa: I totally agree – it’s about what our customers think. As part of the Hack, we are planning a customer survey. We have about 10,000 fairly engaged people in our databases – about 83% of our guests have been domestic. We have done some segmentation and analysis, but more can be done. We’ve just moved from Mailchimp to KeapPro (an infusion soft product), which gives us much more power, flexibility and automation capacity.

    Early next week I’ll post the results of the survey.

    Thank you so much. I really have enjoyed this forum.

    Wish me luck – we want to be in the top three – it’s highly competitive – already well over 600 people registered for the Hack the Crisis, 77 proposals – but your insight has been valuable. Cheers Julia


    Hi everyone – thanks again for your advise.

    The #HackTheCrisisNZ event brought together NZ’s most innovative thought leaders.

    We were very suprised to be the ONLY tourism team that pitched an idea.

    Basically the challenge was to (1) ask customers what they wanted and (2) build it.

    We had nearly 300 people respond to our survey, and got some fascinating insights to what is going to be important for kiwis as they contemplate travelling again.

    Basically Hobbies and Interests could be a way to re-imagine travel:

    The results (so far) can be found here:

    Kia kaha New Zealand – there is overwhelming support for our industry – we just need to encourage kiwis to travel safely again.

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