A new online tour planning system is launching to help tourists research, plan and then book their own itinerary in New Zealand.
www.cadabra.com is a new venture launched by successful New Zealand technology entrepreneur, Graeme Frost. After two decades of experience in the software industry, the idea for Cadabra came to Frost after a chance encounter with an American couple on a 10-day tour of New Zealand’s luxury lodges. The couple had researched and booked different sectors of their trip over the Internet from their New York home, but their dream vacation turned into a logistical nightmare. They had used a dozen different websites to research and book parts of their holiday, but their dream trip didn’t quite go to plan when they hit the ground.
Says Frost: “People arrive in Auckland - New Zealand’s main international airport - and then want to tour around. When they are planning their New Zealand holiday they have heard of places, but they are not always aware of the distances between many of the top destinations, or the best way to travel around them. New Zealand is a long haul destination and it’s often ‘the trip of a lifetime’ for many British travellers, so it is vital to have a well planned itinerary before you leave home.”
Cadabra is a partnership with ANZCRO, the largest inbound tour operators to New Zealand. The site offers online users direct access to more than 1000 accommodation options and 3000 tourism service suppliers. In addition to enabling online booking, Cadabra provides advice from local travel experts, travellers’ tips and ratings, and also Qualmark ratings (the official New Zealand tourism ratings system).
The service offered by Cadabra is best described as a comprehensive online tour planning solution. It allows travellers to interactively build complex tour itineraries for their travel around New Zealand. These personalised travel plans can be multi destinational with as many days, stops, and activities as desired. And it can cope with split itineraries - for instance, someone can go fly-fishing in New Zealand’s bountiful rivers, while someone else treats themselves to a day in a luxury heath spa, before meeting up again and heading out for dinner in one of New Zealand’s many world-class restaurants.
The website is invaluable particularly for the first time traveller to New Zealand, as it offers the Cadabra Itinerary Wizard. Cadabra builds a selection of itineraries based on the traveller’s preferences such as length of stay, grade of hotel, places they know they want to visit, and the experiences and activities they are interested in. Once a recommended itinerary has been built, Cadabra then allows the user to modify it in any way they wish to plan their own “perfect holiday.”
Cadabra is unashamedly aiming to attract what is known in the travel industry as FIT travel - Fully Independent Touring - one of the largest growing sectors of the tourism market, since the traditional packaged tour started to lose its lustre and appeal.
However, says Mr Frost, the challenge presented by this complex, personalised touring is the burden of planning which falls on the traveller. There was previously no online solution which offers the personalised tour traveller a single full-service website where they can research, plan and book their tour around New Zealand.
The current major players in the market such as Expedia, Travelocity, Lastminute.com and Orbitz, are designed mainly for booking flights and hotels. These sites allow travellers to book to a single location, or two at a maximum and then return home. They do not cater for travel inside a country, including multiple destinations, multiple travel modes, and leisure/activity options in each location: this travel is categorised as complex touring by the travel industry.
Graeme Frost expects that initial users of Cadabra will be tourist travellers who are already using the Internet to book travel and he appreciates that Cadabra is a niche product, but it is a rapidly growing niche. Tourism New Zealand research shows that 57% of “interactive travellers” discovered New Zealand online, with other international research predicting that the online travel market will increase to nearly 40 per cent of the total travel market by 2011.
Graeme Frost says Cadabra also recognises that travellers enjoy researching and planning their own trips (remember poring over glossy travel brochures?), so the website has been designed to be as attractive and inviting as possible and allows the traveller to experience some of the sights and sounds of their chosen destinations around New Zealand.