Methven Travel Group has gone through considerable growth. When Dave Dynes took on the business there were seven coaches, that now numbers 42. Methven Travel Group specialises in mountain transfers to Mt Hutt; Airport to Methven transfers and complemented the coach business with the purchase of the Southern Cross Lodge in 2014.
Directional Tourism was contracted to support the Methven Group in the Australian Market and help increase distribution. Methven Travel had established key relationships in Australia and visited annually to renew and update contracts. It was the role of Directional Tourism to increase awareness of the Methven Travel Group and extend the distribution channels out of Australia.
The first stage with Methven Travel was to place all rates into a single source, a rate sheet. It was from here Directional Tourism implemented processes and set ‘Terms & Conditions’ for all Methven Travel rates, this covered bookings, cancellations, amendments and payment terms. The rate sheet became the key source of rates that would be distributed to any trade partner looking to work with Methven Travel. The newly appointed processes and rate sheets removed the discrepancies in rates that had been occurring in previous seasons.
Prior to working with Directional Tourism, Methven Travel was only able to budget one trip to Australia per year. By appointing Directional Tourism, representation of Methven Travel went from an annual visit to four times a year with their products being presented to new buyers. In the first year, distribution from Australia was increased by 100% with the business securing an agreement with Flight Centre.
It was key to keep the message alive as Methven Travel was competing against high traffic locations such as Queenstown and Wanaka. The ‘understanding’ of Methven was a barrier that required education not only around the product but on how to get to Methven and what to do once there.
Being able to provide frontline staff training with key Australian wholesalers helped with the knowledge gap. Regular connection and updates with supporting agents enabled us to educate and promote the selling points of the region.
In the second year, Directional Tourism became more involved with the business strategy and the direction of Methven Travel. Focusing on how the business could flatten the curve of a strong winter which would regularly follow with a soft summer. Introducing a seasonal focus, we developed a plan to concentrate on promoting summer charter work during the winter months and ski holiday promotion during summer. The summer charter work enabled Directional Tourism to open up distribution channels to the Inbound Tour Operators looking for affordable transport options.
Focused solely on the South Island, Methven Travel commenced working with several inbound tour operators and their groups with South Island touring options. Many groups came from South East Asia and India. Cruise ship work also followed this.
Initially all the products under the Methven Travel Group were promoted individually, this included the coach charters, Mountain Transfers and accommodation via Southern Cross Lodge. Looking to increase distribution, we formulated a series of packages to make it easy for travel agents, i-SITES and online agents to sell. Initially all bookings were manually processed as systems and infrastructure were developed, this provided some great insights.
The decision to sell packaged product was to support the industry, but instead it attracted direct clients increasing Methven Travel’s direct distribution. That created more work as each customer needed to be individually serviced and paved the way to a review of reservation systems that would help streamline the booking process.
In 2019, we commenced a process of reviewing reservation options that would enable working with all products, offering streamlined packaged products with off-the-shelf offers and less staff involvement. Working with the Methven Travel team, a new system was implemented prior to winter 2020.