Message from Tony Laker (House of Travel Lakers Invercargill)
Firstly, a very big congratulations to everyone at the Professionals Invercargill for being awarded The Best All Round Office in New Zealand. Given the amount of offices the Professional have nationwide, it’s a fantastic achievement, and something they should be very proud of winning not only for themselves, but also for their customers and our province. I know personally that there is always great satisfaction in winning awards against those from the big cities and bringing them home to Southland.
I recently had the privilege of being invited to speak to the Invercargill Professionals team to give them an update about where our industry and Lakers Invercargill in particular had been effected by COVID19. House of Travel Lakers Invercargill finished 2019 on an incredibly positive note with us winning the ‘Best Large House of Travel Outlet’ for New Zealand for the second year running, and at the prestigious National Travel Industry Awards in Auckland, we collected ‘Best Retail Travel Agency’, selected from all travel agencies from all brands nationwide. To top that off, at the same function it was announced that for just the sixth time ever they were presenting a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ “to an individual for their outstanding leadership and contribution to the New Zealand travel industry over the span of their career”, and I was extremely humbled to be the recipient. 2020 had started with a record January, and we were expanding and employing.
Then COVID19 arrived, our borders were shut, and we lost 99.9% of our business, and became a domestic operation virtually overnight. The ironic thing was that we were still extremely busy as our team had hundreds and hundreds of 2020 holidays to recover refunds and credits for our customers. Someone compared us rather accurately to a really successful bookstore that was suddenly told they could now only stock New Zealand non-fiction writers, and everyone who purchased a book off us in 2019 were bringing them in for a refund!
So where to from here? Over the space of a few very hectic weeks we have completely restricted and redefined our business, and have released a selection of fully escorted tours of the South Island and North Island – both farming and non-farming (check out our Laker House of Travel website for all the details), and have been working feverishly in putting together inbound tours for New Zealanders to Southland, Fiordland and Stewart Island. We are excited about the response to these tours and are also extremely happy that we can also support a large number of local companies that are struggling to recover. We have also created a very special Queenstown Luxury Escape deal for Southlanders which has been selling really well, and we have a number of other projects underway as well.
We have a very long challenge ahead of us to get back to anything that remotely resembles what we had pre-COVID19, but we Tracey & I built our company from nothing and against all odds 21 years ago, and we will do it again. Along the way we know that we have incredible support from our loyal customers, and also our fantastic province. So do remember, if you are interested in travelling on one of our escorted New Zealand Tours, or simply looking to book yourself a domestic airfare or accommodation or sightseeing experience, we can do that for you, and of course you will be keeping it local by doing so.
Take care, and best wishes to everyone.
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