City: Palmerston North
New Zealand Nature Highlights offers live farm tours online via the Airbnb Experiences platform. Individuals and corporate organisations from all over the world join in on the farm tours via Zoom. The 1-hour farm tour showcases my lifestyle farm in Palmerston North, where participants get up close to farm animals including sheep, kunekune pigs and chickens. The farm tour is curated to be entertaining and there is an educational aspect where topics such as ecosystems, global warming and caring for the well-being of animals, are crafted as part of the farm experience.
Starting a tourism business during the lockdown period would seem like a crazy idea, and definitely so when borders have remain shut for more than a year. Further, farm tours are traditionally a face-to-face experience, and to offer them online would require a significant amount of work to make it work. The farm tours started as a side gig, and 6 months later I was made redundant from my main job. I had to dig deep and maintain focus, and silently had confidence that my Online Experience would appeal to guests around the world. I worked on different 'modules' so as to ensure my farm tour would appear to all levels of demographics. To date, my youngest guest was 5 year old and oldest being 93, and to bring the best of New Zealand to them during the pandemic continues to be a highlight for the business! For the business to gain credibility, I also applied for Tourism New Zealand's Qualmark accreditation and was pleasantly surprised that my 9 month old business met the same standards of a much more established business. In March, New Zealand Nature Highlights became the first online tourism business to receive a Qualmark 'silver' accreditation. It has also received more than 600 5-star reviews, a rating of 4.97 and has been featured by publications in 5 countries. However, I wanted to do more with the business. More specifically, I want to share my experience of Online Experiences with other New Zealand businesses, so that they can also curate their own unique experiences and in the process grow their business. In May I started Curation, to train New Zealand businesses how to curate their own Online Experiences.