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New Zealand Innovation Awards: Innovation in Tourism & Entertainment, GeoZone

GeoZone is a network of free, GPS enabled travel apps used by independent (i.e. not on a group tour) tourists in New Zealand. 

How many are we talking? Try 35,000 every day – which is between 75 and 80 percent of the independent tourist market.

As the company says: “Out of our user base, 92 percent opt to share their location data as they travel around New Zealand. This gives us around 2,500,000 unique events each day on tourist travel movement and behaviour. We collect this anonymous data and do some really interesting things with it, such as regional real-time heat maps on tourist movement, credit card spend, location-based advertising and emergency/safety alerts. We sell these products to tourism operators, as well as central and local government clients to help them understand travel patterns in their respective regions.”

The technology startup officially began life in 2013, but its origin really goes back to 2006 – and involves a Yamaha 50cc scooter, 60 kilograms of bacon, and 1,200 eggs. Founder Adam Hutchinson rode a 50cc from Cape Reinga all the way down to Bluff, collecting GPS coordinates using a handheld GPS unit. The following year, he bought his first smartphone. Fast forward three years 

(and, as the company claims, “a LOT” of door knocking at local councils), and Hutchinson had assembled a database of 6,000 GPS coordinates. This info was made available through a free iPhone and Android app called “CamperMate,” which launched in September 2011 during the Rugby World Cup. To get the word out, Hutchinson and his team drove around the country in a campervan cooking free bacon and eggs for tourists and talking up CamperMate.

In 2013, Hutchinson and his team started sharing the database with selected partner apps such as YHA, BBH Hostel Network, Wicked Campers, Holiday Parks Association, Maui, Mighty, Britz, Thrifty and the NZMCA. It’s since added Avis, Budget and more. And in 2016, it launched in Australia after 18 months of preparation. 

As the company explains: “We operate a two-pronged market, whereby on one hand we assist tourists with finding vital information and, on the other, we provide a unique service to the tourism industry, as well as central and local government.”

Whether it’s providing localised travel information, safety alerts, or availability information at freedom camping sites, GeoZone is tourism tech that not only helps local businesses and supports the industry, but provides visitors with valuable information while also helping to keep them safe. A win-win-win if there ever was one.

Evaluator comments:

The innovation here addresses pain points for tourists and tourist organisations by providing both with valuable and timely information. Great to see this growing and we hope to see continual international expansion!

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Review overview