Making the most of business opportunities associated with the Hauraki Rail Trail was on the menu for discussion at the third Business Bites event organised by Evolve Hauraki.
About 40 people attended the Cycling to Success breakfast event in Ngatea this month, where guest speakers Bruce Maunsell from Timber Trail Lodge, Emma Walters from Falls Retreat, and Hauraki Rail Trail CEO Diane Drummond dished up their top tips for tapping into the success of the trail.
An informative event
Jolly Bikes director Luen Wong found the event informative and perfectly timed for busy business owners who could grab some breakfast, learn something new, and then carry on to work without taking too much time out of their day.
“We have a bike rental and retail store in Thames, and a bike rental hub in Paeroa, so the Hauraki Rail Trail is a very relevant part of our business. It’s our main customer base,” she said.
“A lot of people come from out of town to ride the trail. It’s very popular, but at the moment there is just a lot of trail – we need to create more interest and things for people to do and see along the trail.”
Hauraki District Council Economic Development Committee Chair Ross Harris said the event highlighted that collaboration with other operators and business owners is crucial to provide a visitor experience that keeps people coming back to the District.
“It was fantastic to see people leaving with new ideas, contacts and information. There is some great support available for local businesses to tap into, including from each other, and we want to make sure everyone is aware of what’s out there,” he said.
Falls Retreat co-owner Emma said her business received invaluable support from Te Waka (Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency) business advisors when managing rapid word-of-mouth growth a few years ago.
“Tourism in the area had rocketed. The market was there. We had so many ideas but often it’s hard to see the bigger picture as a business owner, so we approached Te Waka for advice on how to work smarter, not harder,” she said.
Te Waka connected the business with Deloitte, who helped put new systems in place and create a clear strategy for the growing business.
“The investment was worth every penny. We were experiencing real growth, but that growth needed to be sustainable.”
Business help available
Te Waka business advisors are in the Paeroa Council office the second Tuesday of every month, and available for site visits and appointments outside of that. They offer free business advice, access to funding and mentoring, and can put businesses in touch with the expertise they need.
Evolve Hauraki was created last year when the Council joined forces with Te Waka (Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency) and Hauraki town promotional organisations, Positive Paeroa, Positively Promoting the Plains and Go Waihi.
Dedicated to supporting local business to grow, it launched a new series of quick business talks from experienced guest speakers in November last year. The idea is to deliver quick bites of information that busy business owners can digest with their cornflakes, without taking too much time out of their day. The breakfasts are also an opportunity to chat with others facing the same challenges, support each other, and share ideas.
Go to our Business Hauraki webpage for more information.