Quirky spin on finding deals to eat, sleep and play
Try Local is a new start-up that collates and showcases deals and promotions within New Zealand’s accommodation, activities and eateries sectors. For its owner Rebekah Carter its been a leap of faith.
Some might call you ambitious for launching an online business geared at the tourism and hospitality industries in the midst of one of our worst economic disasters, but this is not the case for one ex-tourism employee who is doing just that.
Rebekah Carter has worked in the industry since graduating from Queenstown Resort College ten years ago (her speciality being adventure tourism) and the idea took form well before Covid-19 hit.
“I’ve always been a bit of an adventurer, both internationally and within New Zealand, and have made a point of trying to get around our own backyard as much as possible. We had a family trip a few months ago and were trying to identify some places to visit and activities to do. Being on a budget, like many people, we were looking for local deals or special offers in the area,” says Rebekah.
“We quickly realised that many operators were running promotions, but it was really hard to find them without spending a huge amount of time online. That’s when I thought it would be great to have one easy-to-use place that can be accessed on any device to discover what current deals were being offered – without needing to sign up, purchase, book or commit to anything. Which is something that deters many people.”
And when Covid 19 hit, the idea seemed even more relevant.
“Working in the industry and being a passionate advocate, I really felt inspired to develop the idea and create something that would help businesses that been hit so hard, whilst encouraging and enticing Kiwis to experience different local places, activities and eateries and be able to access a good deal,” says Rebekah. “Most Kiwis are keen to spread their wings and we love a bit of a bargain, so will happily hunt out what offers might be available.”
And so Try Local was born. “Fortuitously at a critical time in our economic recovery when, as a nation, we are promoting and encouraging people to travel and explore ‘local’ and support the tourism and hospitality industries.
“It has been a rather daunting yet exciting experience, from developing the idea into a tangible product, doing the research, getting more and more merchants on board and recently taking it to market. I’ve been very fortunate to have access to valuable business mentors to assist with my business and marketing planning skills,” explains Rebekah.
“I’ve also partnered with Forge Creative, an online digital marketing and website agency, who’ve been amazing in bringing the vision to a reality and assisting with critical things like creative input, SEO and social media. Plus everything else a fledging online business needs to enable them to gain traction and cut through and ensure they are around for the long haul.”
To that end, the approach has been quite deliberate, adds Rebekah. “There’s a fair bit of clutter out there at the moment so we have been mindful not to jump in and try to be everything to everyone. There are a lot of websites and apps but many are incredibly hard to find or not particularly favourable to either the merchants or users.
“It’s critical to understand your brand motives and constantly be out there. We’ve done a lot of planning and research and testing so that merchants can achieve real value. Plus we want to ensure the customer experience is equally beneficial.”
How has the market reacted?
“So far the response has been incredibly positive and supportive, despite the continuing uncertain times,” says Rebekah. “Merchants love the fact they can showcase their current special offers and deals at very little cost with very little effort and can also retain a direct relationship with customers. And buyers like the fact they can go to one place to discover what offers are available at any one time and can access these without having to sign up to anything or be overwhelmed with too much choice.
“On top of that, the website can work on all devices and is designed to give you a fun experience. It has a very Kiwi, quirky, laid-back style that most of us resonate with. I want people to smile when they are using the site.”
So how does it work? It’s very simple, explains Rebekah. Try Local collates and showcases deals and promotions in only three sectors: Accommodation, Activities and Eateries within New Zealand (such as free upgrades, half price, happy hours, discounts, blackboard specials, etc). Users can view offers by experience (Eat, Play or Sleep), or by location. They can then choose to contact the merchant to book, or be directed to their website to complete their booking direct.
No commissions, vouchers, or booking systems. And no obligation to do anything other than take advantage of any deal(s) on offer.
What makes Try Local different?
It’s all about marketing reach rather than e-commerce. Try Local is essentially a digital billboard where relevant information is collated on behalf of the merchants and presented to potential buyers and the wider community.
Merchants have total control, they get to showcase any specials or deals they may have on offer at any given time. They deal direct with any customer who reaches out to them for a booking or further information. “No commissions, no booking agents, no rigid criteria,” says Rebekah.
“For the customer or buyer, you can easily determine what specials or deals are on offer at any one time in the local area you are visiting. Try Local works really well on all devices. It’s fun and easy to use. And best of all, there is no need to sign up, buy vouchers or commit to anything.
“Then, of course, there is the whole feel good factor, says Rebekah. “Many of us are keen to support local and try something different – but also want to spend wisely and save money. Which is what Try Local is all about.”
NB: Whilst Rebekah is busy approaching more merchants and posting their deals she is offering a free, no obligation trial for four months so merchants can try it out. Visit https://trylocal.co.nz to learn more.