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Kiwi tourism startups making tracks in NZ and abroad

New tourism startups are making a name for themselves in New Zealand and abroad, fresh from a start with Lightning Lab Tourism.

The first business accelerator focused exclusively on tourism, Lightning Lab Tourism was held at Christchurch Airport and culminated in the teams pitching their ideas and vision to supporters and potential investors at the Christchurch Town Hall in August of this year.

Many of the alumni of the accelerator showcase unique ideas, solutions and innovations for the tourism industry and many are continuing to develop their business and brand.

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

Stay Native is a social enterprise offering travellers a Maori perspective of Aotearoa. The startup 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 more tools to support electric vehicle dealers and rental businesses to get people into EVs, and allow drivers to share their trips.

Tautahi 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 business intelligence service, TT Insights, to industry before the end of the year.

Lichen, a matchmaking 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 helps farmers diversify their land use and earn tourism revenue. The team is exploring potential partnerships within the tourism industry. Road Guru, another startup, is professed to be growing its business and customer-base after converting early adopters.

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

Lightning Lab Tourism programme manager Erica Austin says, “There’s been talk of the New Zealand tourism industry slowing down. 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 that took part in the Lightning Lab Tourism accelerator were working with tourism industry partners to implement solutions while employing market validation and product development methods used by companies such as Google, IDEO, and Tesla.

Through the Lightning Lab accelerator, those partaking had support from startup coaches, business leaders, advisors and mentors to help validate and grow their businesses, the company says.

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.