Tour operator opens up Paradise Trail with help of mentor

Revolution Tours runs a fully guided and supported luxury biking and walking tour around the western shores of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu and into Mt Aspiring National Park.  The route is known locally as the Paradise Trail.

The business was founded by husband and wife team Matt and Kate Belcher in 2011 when they saw an opportunity to unlock the beauty of the Paradise Trail for holidaymakers who wanted a comfortable tour experience and the chance to enjoy local food and wine in good company.

In late 2013 Matt and Kate felt they were making some expensive mistakes with their marketing and contacted Business Mentors New Zealand for help.  They were matched with volunteer business mentor Brian Weaver.

“We were faced with lots of different avenues where we could invest our marketing dollars but we had no experience and didn’t know how to make good choices,” Matt said.

“Our advertising wasn’t generating the bookings we wanted and Brian came with an external view and helped us to see the bigger picture.  We expected to get matched with someone who knew more than us and we got an absolute bargain.”

Brian Weaver is a retired senior marketing executive with years of experience working in international markets for multinationals such as Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson and McDonalds Corporation. For the past four years he has been mentoring small business owners in Warkworth and more recently in the Queenstown area since relocating there in 2013.

“When I began working with Matt and Kate I saw they had a terrific product and the client feedback they collected was excellent.  The big challenge was to address the level of bookings and get the word out,” said Brian.

“The opportunities we identified were to better define their target audience and focus their marketing effort on that group.  Using input from clients we tweaked the whole package and made a lot of small improvements.”

Brian says business mentoring came naturally to him and he’d done a lot of it in the latter part of his career supporting new McDonald’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia.

“Most small business owners need someone with fresh eyes to bat ideas around with. I see my role as giving people confidence to trust their own judgement by addressing questions together.  Every client and every business is different so there’s no one ‘cookie cutter’ approach.”

“I enjoy people who are passionate about their business and Matt and Kate are really committed and work very, very hard.”

Matt and Kate met with Brian regularly in the early stages of their mentoring relationship with plenty of phone and email contact in between. Now they get together less frequently and have their meetings over lunch.

“Booking numbers are way up on last year and we’re looking for more staff.  It’s reassuring to know I can call Brian anytime. Getting a mentor is the best business decision we’ve ever made,” said Matt.

Image credit:  Photo courtesy of Laurence Belcher,