Following a busy 2015 that saw a new website and rebranding; online experience retailer RedBalloon.com.au is now ramping up its effort across the Tasman, aiming to take advantage of New Zealand’s ever growing tourism market and reputation for incredible experiences.
RedBalloon has had a presence in New Zealand for 12 years, launching the redballoon.co.nz business in December 2003, only two years after founding directors Naomi Simson and Peter Simson established the Australian business.
As Australia’s leading online experience retailer, RedBalloon works with more than 1000 suppliers, lists more than 3000 experiences and gifts, boasts a multi-million dollar marketing spend and sees website traffic of over 7.5 million annually.
Yet up until now, the business has really only dipped their toes in the kiwi market. That’s all about to change in 2016 according to CEO Nick Baker.
Baker was appointed in March last year, and hasn’t wasted any time setting some major changes in motion: Launching a new website, undertaking a full re-brand, and signing major corporate partners including Velocity and Accor Hotels.
According to Baker, now is the right time to make a strategic move into New Zealand.
“We’re now in a position where RedBalloon is moving towards live availability, so we want to appeal to the 1.3 million Aussies who arrive in New Zealand every year,” Baker said.
“This time we have a clear strategy and we’ve employed a local professional with a great depth of experience with New Zealand trade and tourism. Having looked at the market from a fresh perspective and scoped out the opportunity, we’re much better positioned to have a go at bringing New Zealand to life.”
Former Tourism New Zealand employee Adam Hughes has been appointed regional product and partnerships manager and will be based in Rotorua for the first six months while he grows the local experience portfolio.
“I’m thrilled to join the RedBalloon team and to be working with great kiwi businesses – big and small – to increase the profile of this established brand locally,” Hughes said.
“The New Zealand travel, tourism and experiences market is incredibly diverse and offers a range of options which many tourists to the north and south islands are probably unaware.
“We want to open their eyes to the possibilities available as part of an New Zealand holiday, as well as experiences locals can enjoy in their own hometowns. The opportunities are seemingly endless.”
Well-known tourism industry leader and Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) chairman Denis Pierce has been assisting RedBalloon with their New Zealand efforts and future strategy.
A New Zealander by birth, Pierce has a wealth of hands-on tourism experience, which he put to work touring Baker through the Queenstown/Wanaka area recently.
“I have spent my whole career selling the excitement of visitor experiences to both the New Zealand and Australian markets,” Pierce said.
“This is an overdue and exciting progression for RedBalloon that will bring exciting and valuable new business to New Zealand shores. RedBalloon will quite quickly have an unparalleled range of compelling and unique experiences based on what we’ve seen.
The RedBalloon New Zealand site currently features 207 local products, with the aim of doubling this in the next six months.
“We were really lucky to have Denis’ expertise on hand to help us with strategy, and equally lucky to have Adam join us as he really knows the lay of the land,” Baker said.
“We’re looking for great New Zealand suppliers to come on board. RedBalloon take a great deal of effort choosing, curating and on-boarding new suppliers to ensure they become part of the RedBalloon family.
“From gourmet food and wine to health and wellbeing opportunities, as well as some of the world’s most exhilarating experiences New Zealand has an exceptional offering for visitors, and locals to enjoy.”
The current redballoon.co.nz website will also be relaunched in 2016 offering a state-of-the-art user experience and showcase for the experience providers.