KJ Liddle, tourism manager of Tui Glen Farm near Kawerau, talks to Gill South about how to market your seasonal tourism business.
She is a fully qualified riding instructor and gained her British Horse Society teaching certificates at a busy riding school in North London back in 2002. She has worked and taught in the USA and UK and currently coaches the Whakatane and District team of show jumpers.
Tui Glen Farm is a family owned and operated business that has been established for over 25 years by the Tarver family. My husband Chris and myself recently took over the management of Tui Glen Farm. We offer over 3,500 acres of New Zealand farmland and native bush to explore on horseback. All our treks include riding through our crystal clear trout stream. Chris was born and bred in New Zealand and is a long time friend of the Tarver's who established Tui Glen Farm back in 1985. Tui Glen Lodge sleeps up to 15, Tui Glen Cottage which sleeps up to a further six and our bach which sleeps four. We have plenty of space for camping and several powered motor vehicle sites. We have excellent shower/toilet facilities and communal kitchen and BBQ facilities.
What we do
Tui Glen Farm is mainly a horse trekking business that offers a kids camp programme during the school holidays. We cater for school groups, social functions and large tourist groups and we also offer archery, clay bird shooting and spotlighting. As well as horse trekking, riding lessons and kids camps, we offer backpacker style accommodation, over-night motor home parking and camping facilities. Our facilities also allow us to hold various equestrian events including pony club camps, jumping and dressage clinics and competitions to name just a few. Most recently we had Enduranz Bay of Plenty hold a series of events with us.
We offer a variety of treks to suit all ages and abilities. A real must-do and a unique selling point for us, as we are also a working farm, is the four-hour 'Cattle Muster'. This is best suited for experienced riders. As well as being awesome fun, it gives customers a great insight to the heart of farming in NZ, as well as enjoying all the sights and sounds the farm, countryside and wildlife has to offer.
Our busiest times are during the summer (from November-March/April) - the income we receive over the summer holiday period is approximately 40-50 per cent of our overall yearly income - and every school holiday is busy as we hold kids' camps. Our camps can take up to 15 children. We take children between 7 and 16-years old. Campers can just come for the day or stay for the entire camp period.
Marketing in summer
Summer is really a key time to get our business' name out there for both the NZ and international holiday makers. I-sites play an important part. Also, nowadays I think big names like Google, Facebook and Twitter play a key part in marketing your business. I also believe a good relationship with other local business and tour operators is key. Linking in together and supporting your local community is an integral part in the success of your business.
We get many returning customers, especially on our kids' camps. We have a monthly email that customers can sign up to. This then enables them to learn about any special offers/events that we might be running for example mother/daughter weekends.
During the quiet times we have used sites such as GrabOne to promote our business. Through them we have offered half price treks. The most recent offer was at the beginning of November and customers could purchase our one hour 'Outback' trek for $29, the usual price being $60. I have some great new ideas for deals on GrabOne in the New Year so watch this space.