Is the glass half full or is the glass half empty?
This is a very real question when you operate a tourism business in the world of Covid.
It would be so effortless to spend all day lamenting the change in fortune that the pandemic has wrought. I know this having spent the occasional day in that same space.
However, I am naturally more of a glass half full type of person, and with our family and staff, we have spent some time over the last few months thinking about and planning what a reinvented River Valley may look like.
At times, this process has been fun, at times, exciting, and at times, disappointing.
When we started reimagining how River Valley could look in a post-Covid world, I think we all thought deep down that in a few months, “things” would return to normalcy. A few tweaks to the business and all would be well. There would be a magic fix to the virus, and life would very quickly carry on in its usual fashion. Of course, we now know that this is not the case, and while society at large still seems to assume that life will return to normal in the aftermath of Covid, I don’t think that is true at all.
Covid has wrought some significant trade and travel changes, with no doubt more to come. Some of these changes will be magnified by the increasing rollout of policies introduced to combat climate change.
In New Zealand, we are relatively oblivious, other than what we see on the news, to much of what the rest of the world is experiencing. We are in our own lucky and somewhat smug covid free bubble of 5 million.
Back to our journey of reimagining River Valley.
River Valley these days is a very different place to what it was a year ago.
No daily Kiwi Experience buses full of young backpackers
No foreign languages
No busyness of guests and staff rushing around heading off on rafting or horse trekking trips
It is quieter, and some might say a lot nicer as well. I sometimes only half-jokingly comment “we are not making any money, but we are having way more fun”.
When we initially started down the road of reimagining River Valley, I am not sure we realised that we had embarked on such a journey, one with no clear destination.
We have had to look hard at what we feel is important for us as a family business and listen to what our guests tell us.
It has become increasingly clear that our current guests, and ourselves, value the peace that has descended on our small piece of paradise. There is more time to relax, rejuvenate, get to know people, and participate in conversations that can be interesting and topical. If you will, guests have more time to smell the flowers, enjoy the ambience of the scenery and stay longer accordingly.
It is leisurely Scenic rafting trips, gliding through the Rangitikei River canyons they appreciate. It is the taste and freshness of meals that come from the Lodge kitchen, prepared using produce from our gardens that they love. It is experienced horse riders, riding big hill country on well-trained horses who genuinely value their experience. It is the peaceful interaction with nature and people that has become special.
To express this change in emphasis, I have been thinking that rather than our current positioning statement, “NZ’s Unique Escape to a Real Life Adventure”, we should change to:
As we go forward, I believe these words now better encapsulate the River Valley experience. Definitely a glass half full.