The future of New Zealand’s tourism industry is being shaped by startups taking part in Lightning Lab Tourism: a three month accelerator based at Christchurch Airport.
The accelerator is focusing on building a sustainable innovation ecosystem for the future of tourism in New Zealand.
With only a couple of weeks left until the end of the programme, each venture is getting ready to pitch to their supporters and potential investors at a Demo Day event to be held in the new Christchurch Town Hall on August 20, 5.30pm to 8pm.
“Since the start of the accelerator, we’ve seen enormous progress from all teams as they validate and develop their tourism startups,” Erica Austin, Lightning Lab Tourism’s Programme Manager, says.
Ōtautahi tour operator, AMIKI, is looking to expand its storytelling experiences to cater for travellers who desire deeper connections to local people and places; a decision inspired by co-founder Riwai Grace during the Christchurch disasters when he discovered a desire to create genuine connections through kai, sharing and manaakitanga.
Stay Native, a social enterprise offering travellers a Māori perspective of Aotearoa, is in talks with the Ministry of Social Development various government stakeholders about strategies to increase the number of Māori employed in the industry.
Lichen, a volunteer tourism project supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, Wayfare and Squawk Squad, is exploring ways for travellers to give back as they travel.
Patch (formerly known as CHU) helps farmers who wish to diversify their land use, to earn tourism revenue.
It delivers purpose-built amenity pods to their land, creating reliable and sustainable infrastructure, as well as unique authentic experiences for New Zealand's growing number of campervan tourists.
“The tourism industry is one of the key pillars of New Zealand’s economy and we have one of the most innovative industries in the world,” Austin says.
“It’s exciting to see some of the same Kiwi ingenuity which gave birth to the bungee jumping trickle down to the industry’s startups.
“There’s a real passion for innovation and questioning the status quo amongst the Lightning Lab teams which is creating a very positive environment for the accelerator.”
AirGuides, a marketplace where travellers can book unique trips created by trusted storytellers, has created partnerships with high-profile content creators and sold its first tour through the platform.
Tourism Ticker, a news and information service for the tourism sector, is launching a new data-driven market intelligence service: Ticker Insights.
Road Guru, which is a platform for local drivers and guides to connect with travel agents, has converted all its early adopters and is gearing up for investment, while electric vehicle transport companion app PowerTrip has been nominated as a finalist for EV Champion of the year at the 2019 EVworld NZ Champions Award.
The South Project, supported by Christchurch Airport and Qrious, has developed a solution to deliver better visitor flow insights to regional tourism offices and operators.
All teams are currently working directly with tourism industry partners to implement their solutions while using market validation and product development methods used by companies like Google, IDEO, and Tesla.
Through the Lightning Lab accelerator, they have 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.