New cut-price activity site’s super deals

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The founder of Queenstown’s new cut-price activity-booking website likens it to Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat – with a twist. 

Entrepreneur James Alder, 29, launched www.bookme.co.nz last month and says uptake has been strong. 

“We’ve been blown away by the response from operators embracing the fact marketing has changed quite considerably and focusing on what online marketing offers,” he says. 

Like Grabaseat, BookMe offers hot deals – about 30 different products are listed already – along with a full-price portfolio. 

For example, a $65 Milford Sound cruise has been offered at $1. 

There were also seven different half-price deals on jetboating, horse trekking, river surfing and 4WD excursions – a total of 131 places were available. 

BookMe also has a twist which Alder believes is a New Zealand first. 

“We ask online buyers to help other travellers with their decisions by reviewing each product after they’ve done the activity – and the response is great from that as well,” he says. 

The twist is that all BookMe reviews are authenticated – only people who have booked, paid and actually participated in an activity can review it. 

“Other websites allow anyone to log in and write a review – but you can never be sure the reviews are authentic,” Alder says. 

“Overseas, there are specialist review-writing companies faking glowing testimonials whereas all our reviews are kosher.” 

Operators control the prices and number of seats they put up, paying BookMe a small, standard commission on sales. 

Consumers pay no booking fees. 

Alder’s business roots are two years with Mountain Scene, followed by six years at Today & Tonight, bought by Jasons three years ago. 

BookMe may expand elsewhere, he says, “but we really want to make sure we do a good job for Queenstown operators first”.