I remember days after I set Bushman Tours live and started our promotion we received a comment on social media; ‘great, another bunch of cowboys here to chime in on the tourism dollar’ it read.
I was so passionate about changing our message to be more clear on what we’re planning to do that this message became a massive driver for our strategy.
Our auditors noted,
“Qualmark has broadened the scope of its evaluation criteria to recognise those businesses that are focused on protecting what makes New Zealand unique and special. Your award can be proudly displayed as evidence that Bushman Tours is committed to protecting our beautiful natural environment, enhancing connections with our local communities, whilst also delivering a quality, safe experience for all visitors”.Grant Ward – Key Account Manager – Qualmark
We were really grateful to read these remarks and get it officially in writing that what we were doing was inline with high-quality best practice.
As noted on the Qualmark Award requirements page, [a] Qualmark logo is that final seal of approval that signifies your experience is one of the most high-quality experiences New Zealand has to offer.
Beautifully unique, special and local experiences is what we’re aiming for while we cut out the corporate BS and mass-tourism requirement some competitors are seeking. We’re focused on that experience and true Kiwi adventure more than chasing the ‘tourism dollar’.
What is a Qualmark Award?
Qualmark is New Zealand’s official quality assurance body dedicated and passionate to tourism operators around the country.
You’ve likely seen them outside nice hotels (often with a star rating). It holds the New Zealand fern and reiterates three key points that help potential customers know they’re booking with a supplier who is legitimate, trustworthy and dedicated to a world-class experience.
They’re broken do to:
- Light Footprint
- Safe & Sound
- Warm Welcome
How does Bushman Tours meet those?
Without walking you through our full 200 page strategy with you, I’ve broken it down into some key examples.
We’ve put our money where our mouth is and committed to a five and ten year, zero carbon emission strategy. This means that within those periods as a business we either reduce our carbon footprint to zero, or pay the difference.
As our office location is often virtual (which is an easy copout to say “we’re carbon neutral”), we’ve started involving our own homes — which often acts as an office. We’ve looked at ways of reducing our Bushmen’s footprint while on tour. We’ve built a full, digital project plan that will record and provide deadlines to manage our footprint (thanks to the wonderful dedication and expertise of Zoe!)
Every time a Visitor books with Bushman Tours, they’re donating 2% to charity and local conservation efforts. We then match that to 5% as well as offering them to add more at checkout.
Safe & Sound
It does help to have one of New Zealand’s most experienced and senior business continuity and crisis management experts as your co-Director.
When it comes to health and safety, we’ve checked every corner twice and built policies, plans and procedures that even some of the biggest NZ companies don’t have.
We’re using risk assessments and 24/7 phone lines to stay in touch with our Bushmen. We’re also setting up a crisis management tool called CQ which allows us to monitor real-time events and manage them with our team, anywhere in the world.
Finally, we’re bringing on iluminr. A program by the same suppliers as CQ that will allow us to see natural disasters and weather events all within seconds of them happening. It allows users to see storms and their trajectories before the media even do. We’re able to do this because of satellite communications and a direct link to meteorology labs all around the world.
In early 2021, all our new and current Bushmen will have private access to a dedicated hub, providing tips, resources, videos and emergency plans for their tours.
As far as we know, we’re the only tourism business in the world that offers this much depth on such a huge scale.
Warm welcome (Manaakitanga)
Being 100% NZ owned and operated makes us proud to give anyone (including Kiwis) a true, Aotearoa welcome and experience on every tour.
We’ve really focused on ensuring that the people we bring on board are the absolute best available in the country. This stems from putting all our new applications through a tense questionnaire, interview and competency test to ensure their values meet ours.
Before they even get the chance to start building their own tours, they must showcase what it is that will make their experience truly unique to you. We don’t just give them a track and see how they’ll do, they need to design something new from the get go.
This means our Visitors are booking something that will be different and special for them. No tour is ever the same, but the result is.
We embrace and welcome Manaakitanga into everything we do.
We’ve looked at ways to make Manaakitanga front and centre when you book, one way that happens is offering you the chance to talk to your Bushman one-to-one before you’ve even left your home. Arrange unique requirements, get to know them and feel like it’s a long lost friend when you finally head out.
Despite everything that’s happened this year, we’re pretty stoked with some of the results, like winning gold at the New Zealand Design Institutes 2020 Awards, bringing on some new tours, Bushmen and website developments.
Then, to get this Qualmark Award, what a fantastic way to wrap up the year.
We’re really excited about 2021 with a key focus on volunteering support, new Bushmen and website innovation that we can market to our (soon to arrive) Australian and Pacific friends.