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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
We are an Adventure Aviation company offering Hot Air Balloon flights to the public. The company closed down in 2016 due to lack of investment. I was a pilot for the company prior to 2010 when the company was thriving. I was also running our own company which was a similar operation in the UK. The original company owner pre 2010 contacted me to look at a re-launch. I have invested $200,000.00 of my own money on new equipment and was just about to start operations before Covid-19, We will operate from Methven, Canterbury which is near Mt Hutt ski area and was hoping to tap into the ski visitors. Can you offer any advice?

Question submitted 16/04/20 @ 05:51pm
Industry: Tourism
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  • Morena Mr Church – a few things (1) work out at which level you are going to be able to operate (2) think about your distance and health practices you can put in place to give comfort to customers and publish them on your web presence (3) start the planning now around how you can attract domestic travellers to come (4) build up content and start sharing it about the amazing experiences that Hot Air Ballooning can do for people – the ability to escape into the open air, the ability to see our God’s beautiful country from up high – and things like that – if you have customer testimonials, imagery and even better videos – load them and share them.

    My one ‘but’ is once you are open, you are going to be spending money, costing to stay open – you just need to be sure that you will be able to attract customers in this market – it should be considered whether you ‘wait before opening’ for the levels to shift, and start building your audiences up – which just takes your time building your content and fan base up. Andy

    Hi Mr Church,

    It’s great you are looking at ways to continue what you started.
    We won’t be in lockdown for ever and things will pick up slowly. The domestic market will be your customer for quite some time, so now’s a great time to explore new opportunities and do some market research. It could be around weekends away including a hot air ballon experience, or tapping into the wedding market for engagements, wedding entrance & photo opportunities, Corporate and incentive groups, and scenic flights etc. There is talk of NZ developing a travel bubble with Aussy which is very promising.
    Kiwi’s will be looking for things to do within NZ and it sounds like you have a fabulous experience waiting to be enjoyed.
    Another things to think about is your customer experience. There’s always ways to improve your customer experience from start to finish and nows a great time to reflect on that.
    I would agree with Andy’s advice to create awareness and find ways to engage but keep funds up your sleeve for when you can operate again.
    Strip costs back to a minimum, have all your compliance and ducks in a row and some gas in the tank for when the time is right.

    Good Luck – we will get through this and come out the other side!!

    Kia Ora, Mr Church – Well done on reaching out and starting to put plans in place. Following on from Andy and Bridgette’s comments, a few thoughts. We will be a domestic market for quite some time, and likely in the short / immediate term, we will be a drive-to market, with air-travel taking some time to gear back up and get people moving economically across the country. Build your business plan on your various domestic markets opening up progressively over the rest of this year, with Christchurch as the obvious starting point for marketing. As the mood has not yet transitioned for consumers to start planning for travel yet, it’s important that any marketing you do is inspirational and emotive, rather than selling. At the right time, start to build a database of potential customers, via social media, starting with the areas closest to you. As Andy says, going too soon may not be advantageous. But once you do, you can entice them with attractive offers and packages to incentivise the trips once the mood shifts. Hard to sit and wait, but solid planning and patience going to be key to getting your balloons back up in the air. Let us know when you have social media going, so we can join the community.

    Saw a great initiative in the Farore Islands where tourists could control a virtual guide walking around the island from the comfort of their armchair. Something quite different which might be able to be adapted to your ballooning. Loved the Hot Air Balooning I did in Turkey a few years back and I am sure your customers will enjoy when things get better.

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