Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Small kayak company glides to top of ratings

Sea Kayaks' Nic Mead says providing a tailored experience for customers has helped the business to grow.
Sea Kayaks' Nic Mead says providing a tailored experience for customers has helped the business to grow.

An Auckland kayak business says its small-is-best approach has helped it top the adventure activity rankings on a popular booking site.

Auckland Sea Kayaks heads recommendations for the Auckland adventure category on Trip Advisor ahead of other attractions including the Sky Tower bungy jump and the harbour bridge climb.

Nic Mead said that when he set the kayak company up four years ago he wanted to provide a tailored experience.

"We're a small company but what's been an advantage to us is being able to have more personal interaction with the customers."

He has five qualified guides and the company sends out reminder emails about upcoming trips, free photos of the trip, birthday notes and followup emails a year later.

Mead said the company had about 1500 clients a year and business was up 30 per cent this year.

"Being small is not a disadvantage - you can be personalised and being personalised is what's selling these days."

Most clients went on evening picnic trips from St Heliers to Rangitoto Island which cost $185, he said. They paddle over in tandem kayaks.

He said 60 per cent of customers were from New Zealand.

"People are picking up that Auckland is an awesome place to visit."

Of those who came from overseas, most were from Australia followed by the United States, Britain and Germany. The South Korean and Japanese markets were strong and there had been some Chinese visitors, in response to a Mandarin section on his company's website.

"We're trying to build that up slowly, China is a very big market but I don't want to rush in and get it wrong."

Mead, who has an ecology degree, worked in Norway for four years taking high-end guided tours which included farm and lodge stays.

The 29-year-old worked for a big US outdoors company with a travel arm that ran the Norwegian tours.

"I learned what customer service is - working with an American company really teaches you about that."

- NZ Herald

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