From AJ Hackett Bungy to Business Owner, Rebekah has followed her dreams of creating a platform that helps the industry that helped mold her. Her business, Try Local, focuses on encouraging buyers to book directly with the operators. She saw a gap in the market to create a place where locals and visitors could see every deal available across towns in NZ – from deals on Heli Trips to Happy Hour specials. Try Local is the place to visit if you’re keen to #SupportLocal and save some pennies.
“I now have a great website that is designed to help the industry that made me who I am today”
On the couch with Rebekah:
Why did you choose to follow a career in tourism/hospitality?
I took tourism in high school and fell in love with the idea of being able to merge work and travel. I grew up travelling a lot with my mum – so to be able to continue that love for exploring and turn that into a career just made sense.
Why did you choose QRC?
We spent a lot of time in Queenstown so it was a very familiar place to me. I always saw Queenstown almost like a second home – it always felt comforting. My mum was the one who found QRC and I was sold the second I saw the brochure. To be able to study and live in Queenstown was a dream come true.
What was the biggest “take away” from your internship experience?
Relationships. Hands down. The industry is tight knit and that means that you could be meeting your future boss at any given time. I made as many contacts as possible and maintained those relationships over the years.
Tell me about your journey since leaving QRC.
I worked for AJ Hackett Bungy for 5 years after my internship, in both Auckland and Queenstown. I was fortunate enough to get called up and offered a job at Destination Queenstown (DQ) while I was still at AJ Hackett. The role at DQ was marketing executive for their Queenstown Convention Bureau, so I was marketing all things conference, incentive and event related. I then moved to Auckland and worked as a Business Development Manager at Grand Millennium Auckland, and then left to start my own venture.
What role are you in now?
I own my own business (which is still quite scary to say!). I run a website called Try Local, which advertises deals and specials to Eat, Play and Sleep all around New Zealand. After working in the industry for years I saw how many bookings were made offshore and wanted to create something that encourages people to book directly with our local operators.
What are your main responsibilities?
A bit of everything! I run the website, social media and all correspondence. I wanted the platform to be really personal, so every email sent is from me.
How did your time at QRC help prepare you for your current job?
There were a few key things – mostly the business plan that we did. To put together a mock business and go through the ins and outs of everything was so interesting and informative. When I was creating Try Local, I definitely referred back to my time at QRC for that!
What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
I like to have direct, strong relationships with operators. There are some amazing kiwi operators out there so hearing their stories and trying to support them is pretty cool. I am also SO proud to watch an idea I had come to life. The website was created literally with pen and paper – so to see it put together was pretty incredible. It is really hard, I’m not going to lie. It’s very easy to doubt yourself, but on those days I take a step back and look at where I am at; I have a pretty great website that is designed to help the industry that made me who I am today – and that website helps to get direct bookings/exposure for operators.
What are your plans for the future?
Just keep swimming! I am constantly looking for openings, potential partnerships, and different ponds to fish in. I want this platform to be known throughout NZ by locals and visitors. I created Try Local because at one stage when I was travelling in Rotorua, I wanted to know all of the local deals they had on offer. Happy Hours, daily deals, discounts for any activities etc. To find all that information took a while, so I wanted to create a platform that had a lot of those fantastic offers in one place.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
One of my biggest cheerleaders is my mum, who always encourages me to never give up. To embrace the hard days and move on to the next day. I actually have the word ‘tomorrow’ tattooed on me in her handwriting for that reason; if today is tough, start over tomorrow.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Embrace yourself! Your ideas, your personality, your brain! I always doubted myself, constantly. I felt like I wasn’t smart enough or creative enough. I think to just give yourself a break and realise that every one of us has potential to be whoever we want to be.
Check out Try Local and let’s support a QRC Graduate with her new business!
Try Local – Get yourself a deal!
Adventure Tourism Management Diploma