1 Oct 2021

Major tourism company to be rebranded with domestic focus

6:30 am on 1 October 2021

One of the country's major tourism companies is rebranding less than three years since its last identity shift.

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Treble Cone ski field will retain its individual brand as a RealNZ experience Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Wayfare has been the corporate identity for Real Journeys, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Go Orange and the International Antarctic Centre since mid-October in 2018.

But from 1 October, all of those experiences will be under one common identity, RealNZ, with a strong focus on domestic guests.

Their offerings were now showcased and available for bookings on a central website, instead of guests needing to use individual business websites with different booking systems and sales channels.

RealNZ chief executive Stephen England-Hall said it would simplify a cluttered mix of brands and businesses.

"RealNZ tells a story of the things we care about - real people, real places, real experiences, he said.

"It represents a more simplified, integrated business than Wayfare had become - with a common purpose, to do real good.

Wayfare was introduced as a holding company to cover a large portfolio of brands and was focused on international guests which made sense at the time, he said.

But the pandemic and loss of international visitors had prompted a regroup.

They'd done research with customers in Aotearoa and overseas that showed guests knew the experiences really well, but not the company brands like Go Orange and Wayfare, he said.

"With RealNZ, we're effectively simplifying all of that and actually saying our core audience is domestic. Our international audience will come on stream over time, but in the meantime, let's focus on the markets that we have close to us and focus on making sure we have a stronger, more direct consumer presence," he said.

This change would make it easier for guests to find and enjoy the different experiences, he said.

To start with it would be a largely digital transformation with rebranding of vessels and coaches only happening once they were due for repainting.

Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone and the International Antarctic Centre would maintain their individual brands as RealNZ experiences.

But England-Hall said there would be considerable efficiencies in bringing all the tourism brands under one umbrella.

"This is a brand built on: Real people, Real places, Real Experiences - RealNZ," he said.

"It helps us really restamp our emphasis around our commitment and ambition to be a conservation business that's enabled by tourism."

A significant shift was the recent appointment of the country's first tourism chief conservation officer Paul Norris who leads a dedicated sustainability team to look at the company's carbon footprint, use of energy, waste management and other sustainability challenges.

Under RealNZ, England-Hall said they'd need to look at what would happen with their bus fleet and the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, with work underway to looking at hydrogen technology and electric vehicles.

The companies now under the RealNZ brand have received $3.5 million in grants and more than $26m in loans under the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme.

They also received more than $10m in wage subsidy claims across its companies.

Stephen England-Hall said none of that was used to fund the rebrand.

"This is really being dealt within our existing operating budgets."

He didn't rule out listing the rebranded company on the stock exchange, but said it wasn't currently on the table.

"I can't determine what the shareholders might do in the future.

"A number of organisations have approached us over the last few months or so very interested in helping us do exactly those sorts of things so there's definitely appetite among consumers and Kiwis and investors to be a part of these kinds of businesses and our commitment to New Zealand's future."

It all started more than six decades ago.

The founders of Real Journeys, Les and Olive Hutchins, bought the Manapouri-Doubtful Sound Tourist Company in 1954.

Roughly a decade later, they bought Fiordland Travel Ltd which operated Te Anau Glowworm Caves and Milford Track lake transport services before purchasing the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw in 1969.

The company began running cruises in Milford Sound a year later.

It was rebranded in 2002 to Real Journeys.

In 2018, the Real Journeys group of companies - which include Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, Go Orange, the International Antarctic Centre and Real Journeys - announced its new corporate identity, Wayfare.

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