Software and Technology Partners with Hospitality and Tourism

Queenstown Lakes District software and technology companies have begun to collaborate with local hospitality and tourism businesses to form a technology cluster.

The work, funded by Queenstown Lake's District Council's economic development department, has been designed to create greater efficiencies by sharing experience and knowledge. Local Queenstown business leader Kevin Sharpe, former executive director of the Wayfare Group, has been appointed to lead the development through the district. The aim will be to bring together similar businesses to identify opportunities to collaborate.

Sharpe had noticed that many businesses were looking at investing money in technology in the same areas.

District council economic development manager Peter Harris added that cluster development would support technology businesses and help boost the productivity of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Rather than solve every issue individually, Harris would rather turn competitors into collaborators.

"Cluster development is about building trust among businesses," he said.

Sharpe had spoken to many operators and found local software and technology companies were keen to get on board.

The Queenstown Lake District has some well-known hospitality-technology and tourism-technology software companies, including Magic Memories, Wherewolf, First table and Loaded reports.

Sharpe would be gathering information and feedback from operators on what kinds of technological advancements they are working on. If 10 different businesses were working on the same thing, then it made sense to work together, he said.

It's a system Sharpe said has worked well in other countries but is considered relatively new in New Zealand. Sharpe will listen and look for opportunities and ascertain whether the idea is feasible with enough local traction.

"Research has showed that economic diversification often comes from expertise built off a dominant industry," added Harris.

Over time, entrepreneurs have identified challenges in the tourism and hospitality industries and created software to solve them. Those technologies have gone on to serve the world. New technology in these areas would offer a chance to sell New Zealand's expertise in hosting people to the world. Additionally, local businesses that use this technology would streamline their business, resulting in more productivity.

Mat Weir, chief executive officer of First Table, said he was already collaborating with some local software companies, and that the potential with Sharpe was very exciting.