Leisure Time Group’s Scott Mehrtens and Vicki Annison talk about Covid-19 lockdown and the future.
What have your main challenges been?
Zero business income. From being in the middle of a busy tourism season to suddenly having no income at all. We have been working alongside our industry associations and bodies to campaign the Government to ensure the correct level of support was offered to tourism businesses across the sector. Unfortunately it seems that the inbound tour operators are one of those sectors that the Minister of Tourism says he is unable to save. With no clarity around how long international borders will remain closed, and very negative messaging around this, we have already started to see cancellations of tours from our overseas travel agents that had clients booked to visit New Zealand next year.
What have your successes been?
As a travel company with a longstanding history in offering New Zealand tours, we are able to focus on what we can now offer to the New Zealand market, rather than internationally. We’ve been busy working on adding more tours to our schedule of trips, plus adding a brand new section to our website offering holiday packages to independent travellers; from weekend escapes to New Zealand road trips or family friendly breaks. We have also been in touch with a lot of New Zealand travel agent offices who are also keen to sell our New Zealand travel offerings to their clientele.
What difference has moving to Level 2 made for you?
We have opened up our Hamilton and Auckland offices again! We are back at our desks and promoting New Zealand travel and events to our new and previous clients! We realise many people will be hesitant booking tours and holidays at the moment so we have also added some flexibility to our cancellations policy and added new Covid-19 related terms and conditions that should put travellers’ minds at rest when booking their New Zealand travel.
What long-term changes do you see yourself making to the way your business operates?
Our business will look substantially different for a long time to come – as long as the international borders are closed, and/or quarantine restrictions are in place, then no-one will be able to visit New Zealand for a holiday or for an international conference/business event. The long-term impact of this, to the whole economy not only the tourism and events sector, is enormous. We hope that the Trans-Tasman travel bubble is established promptly and efficiently, this will then enable us to work with our Australian agents to facilitate New Zealand travel for their clients, but this in no way will ‘fill the hole in our bucket’.
In the events industry we are working creatively with some fantastic suppliers to be able to offer hybrid online events to our clients, and urge anyone considering a conference or other business event to get in touch with us to find out what options are available.