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How to launch a new tour during a pandemic – Travel Co’s Bryce Read

8 Sep 2020  By Shannon Williams | | @tourismticker

Struggling operators considering launching a new product in the middle of a pandemic should focus on what is doable and affordable in the Covid-era, says Bryce Read, broker at The Travel Co.

“Have a bit of brainstorm, think of what your skills and passions are, and just run with it. Get started, just do something,” Read told the Ticker.

Read launched a Matakana day trip last month that saw 20 guests venture from Auckland to Matakana, taking part in axe throwing at Action Matakana, and a tour, tasting and lunch at 8 Wired Barrelhouse. That was followed by a tour, samples and dinner at Sawmill Brewery, and a return coach back to Auckland.

Bryce Read

At $249 a head, the maiden tour sold out and was a “huge success”, running an entire day from 11am-8pm, Read said.

“I literally wasn’t selling anything, so I sat down one day and said, right, what can I do, what are my interests?

“I knew I could flip around the Rotorua stuff, or the seven days in the South Island stuff, but I can talk beers until it’s coming out of my ears,” he said.

“I could have thrown all the money I had at trying to market something that was already out there, but I just wanted to sell something that was doable and not too much cash for people, to put something together myself and pack it with as many inclusions as I could.”

Read started planning the tour in June and was in talks with Sawmill Brewery on its reopening following the October 2019 fire that caused extensive damage to its buildings.

“We were essentially setting up a trip before they even reopened,” he said.

“There’s really good honest people up there, and both Sawmill and 8 Wired were doing the support local thing, and we wanted to get behind that.

“I had some things that I wanted to achieve, one of them being not just doing a big booze fest trip.

“We had some drinks and all the rest of it, but there were lots of other things around and we had two talks which really opened up people’s eyes to how detailed proper beer crafting is, and great stories from Sawmill about how they literally burned down and came back stronger than ever.”

Read said a second tour was a definite and he planned to expand further to include wineries, a ladies’ spa day, and corporate events

“I want to build it out and take it different directions.”

He marketed the tour through his networking groups, via the travel trade, as well as some Facebook marketing.

Everyone who purchased a ticket had bought it as a celebration or a gift, an indication of where the money is when marketing to Kiwi domestic travellers.

“This was $249 a head, which I cropped down as much as I could,” Read said.

“There were so many inclusions and it’s quite viable for people, it’s a whole day, pitch black by the time we got back, and they’d had sampled 16 different beers by that time.”

The tour kicked off just before Auckland went into its second lockdown in August, so there were no social distancing regulations or requirements to wear masks.

“Everyone was out and about and happy to be doing stuff up in Matakana so that had a good buzz to it,” said Read.

“It’s a great community of people and they’ve had their ups and downs, everyone was keen to get it rolling.”


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