The passion behind the ziplines
NZBusiness shares an inside look into Rotorua Canopy Tours – one of Aotearoa’s leading tourism businesses. From unparalleled ziplining adventures to the conservation of a thriving native forest, Rotorua Canopy Tours have flown into the tourism sector at full speed and made themselves at home over the past 11 years. Amongst the hustle and bustle […]
NZBusiness shares an inside look into Rotorua Canopy Tours – one of Aotearoa’s leading tourism businesses.
From unparalleled ziplining adventures to the conservation of a thriving native forest, Rotorua Canopy Tours have flown into the tourism sector at full speed and made themselves at home over the past 11 years.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of a leading tourism company, you may spot sales and marketing manager Eloise Roxburgh, welcoming customers into the forest, checking in with co-workers over a coffee, or hard at work planning new ways to keep their customer base engaged.
However, early in Eloise’s career, tourism was barely something on her radar. In fact, before entering her role at Rotorua Canopy Tours, Eloise didn’t have an iota of experience in the tourism industry to report.
“In my youth, getting out in nature was what I knew and what I loved,” she recalls. “Looking back now, it seems obvious that a passion for conservation was always something I was meant to pursue, although it was never clear to me exactly what this would look like.”
Originally studying landscape design and bioscience, Eloise always held an appreciation for the natural environment as fostered by her upbringing. Whether joining her father’s work with DOC on Maungatautiri (Sanctuary Mountain) or planting native trees with her mother across their 80 acres of land, she would never be found too far from nature.
Initially entering the workforce in a landscaping role in Tauranga, the universe seemingly had other plans for Eloise, with the trajectory to her role today characterised by a series of signs.
After stumbling across a job advert for Rotorua Canopy Tours in 2018, it was a happy coincidence to then bump into general manager Paul Button in the front row of a gig shortly after.
However, to then walk into her job interview dressed identically to her role’s predecessor? This felt like a “spooky, but definitive sign” that she was in the right place.
Slotting straight into the Rotorua Canopy Tours team, Eloise immediately got stuck into her role as customer experience manager – running reservations, greeting customers, and feeding management with insights into what the visitors were after.
“My initial role was incredibly pivotal in my entrance to the tourism industry,” she reflects. “To get that first-hand experience interacting with customers gave me a deep understanding of what people were after, and what we needed to provide in order to deliver that. In tourism, that’s everything.”
By the first Covid-lockdown two years later, Eloise started to see some evolution in her role towards the sales and marketing area. Due to her expert understanding of their customers, it felt like a natural progression to move into this area when the opportunity arose.
“In some workplaces, five years might feel like serving a sentence. For myself, the ability to consistently grow and evolve with the business made all the difference.”
Fast-forward to today, Rotorua Canopy Tours have collected over 7,500 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor and were recently named as the top experience in the South Pacific for 2023.
So, what secrets to success are Rotorua Canopy Tours hiding behind the ziplines?
Priding themselves on ‘putting the right things first,’ the team at Rotorua Canopy Tours are extremely intentional in creating a whānau-like environment that facilitates comradery and respect between co-workers.
“We see it as pretty old-school to put revenue above all else,” says Eloise. “Particularly in such a people-centric industry where our interactions with customers feed off the internal relations between staff, our company culture is a key component in everything that we do.”
Driven by senior leadership, any negative tension is addressed immediately, and company drinks, social sports leagues and team activities are regular occurrences to foster genuine friendships within the team.
Of the belief that there is no substitute for authenticity, Eloise attributes care for your work, your people, and your impact on the world as the bottom line of effective leadership and customer engagement.
“It’s really important that customers enter the experience feeling secure,” says Eloise. “Particularly for tourists; our interaction with them can be key in shaping their impression of their trip.
“People want to feel the magic, so we aim to dig deeper into our output of positive energy, our relationships with one another, and our alignment with the company values.”
Passion and enjoyment
Placing equal focus on both conservation and adventure, Rotorua Canopy Tours is dedicated to creating a ziplining experience that is as much about the beauty of the natural environment as it is about the adrenaline of flying through the forest.
Eloise (pictured below) shares that there is a certain “feel-good” nature about working on the Canopy Conservation Project, upon the discovery of rampant pest populations in the Dansey Road Scenic Reserve in 2012.
“To be a part of something bigger than just yourself provides a satisfaction that is important in your working life. For our staff, to give back to the environment and witness the rebound of many native bird species and a regenerating forest is extremely rewarding.
“On top of this, watching the pure joy on customers’ faces and learning their stories can be incredibly touching. We’ve witnessed everything from engagements to people overcoming phobias and recovering from illness or injury.
“That kind of happiness really is contagious.”