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Strong progress for tourism startups

18 September 2019



The Lightning Lab Tourism cohort.

Alumni of New Zealand’s first business accelerator focused solely on tourism are making inroads towards growing their startups in the sector.

Lightning Lab Tourism, held at Christchurch Airport, finished last month with teams pitching their ideas and vision to supporters and potential investors at the Christchurch Town Hall.

AirGuides, a marketplace where travellers can book unique trips created and hosted by trusted storytellers, is about to launch in Southeast Asia and will have trips available in three countries soon.

Stay Native, a social enterprise offering travellers a Māori perspective of Aotearoa, is in the early stages of seeking investment and plans to relaunch its website next month with 20 hosts offering their services to tourists.

PowerTrip is working on a new app update with even more tools to support electric vehicle dealers and rental businesses to get people into EVs, and allow drivers to share their trips.

Ōtautahi tour operator AMIKI is taking on bookings and building key relationships with luxury tour operators, while tourism news and information service Tourism Ticker will start rolling out its new business intelligence service, TT Insights, to industry before the end of the year.

Lichen, a match-making platform connecting travellers keen to volunteer with groups who need their help, will be launched this summer in CamperMate, NZ's #1 Travel App.

Patch, which helps farmers diversify their land use and earn tourism revenue, is exploring potential partnerships within the tourism industry while Road Guru is growing its business and customer-base after successfully converting early adopters.

The South Project team, led by Christchurch Airport and Qrious, are busy taking the solution they developed in the programme around to the Regional Tourism Organisations across the South Island to get their feedback and determine how the tool can best solve some of the RTOs' most pressing data challenges.

There’s been talk of the New Zealand tourism industry slowing down,” Erica Austin, Lightning Lab Tourism’s Programme Manager, says.

“Because of that, I think it’s more important than ever that New Zealand fosters innovation in the tourism industry and that’s exactly what Lightning Lab Tourism has been about: providing the support and tools that startups need to ensure they can bring their innovative ideas to market successfully.”

Teams which took part in the Lightning Lab Tourism accelerator were working directly with tourism industry partners to implement their solutions while employing market validation and product development methods used by companies like Google, IDEO, and Tesla.

Through the Lightning Lab accelerator, they had full wrap-around support from startup coaches, business leaders, advisors and mentors to help validate and grow their businesses.

Lightning Lab Tourism is a programme of Creative HQ, supported by Callaghan Innovation, Christchurch Airport, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Centrality, ChristchurchNZ, Department of Conservation, Data Ventures, MYOB, Qrious, Amadeus, Air New Zealand, AWS, Deloitte and Simmonds Stewart.

Lightning Lab is New Zealand’s largest business acceleration programme, run by Creative HQ. Each accelerator is three months long and mentor intensive.

The second Lightning Lab Tourism will be held in Wellington next year.

ENDS

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