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'No bullshit': Deal Champ founders Chris 'Squid' Bradley, left, Matt Morgan, centre, and Nigel Hobbs, right, with some of their Queenstown-based staff

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

Like most good ideas, it started with an old-school Queenstown crew brain
storming over a bottle of whisky.

The story goes, by the time the bottle was finished, long-time mates and
Everything Travel Group founders Nigel Hobbs and former Queenstowner
Callum Goodall, now based in Melbourne, had come up with a business
idea they hope will revolutionise the online deal industry.

But it took Covid — and another long-time mate, Chris ‘Squid’ Bradley,
being made redundant — for their idea to gather steam and become a reality.

Deal Champ, which also involves fellow ETG founder Kris Barrs and Matt Morgan, formerly of Peterpans Adventure Travel, launched in Queenstown last week.

Bradley says the concept’s as straight-up as the guys behind it: ‘‘A user-
friendly, no contract, no commission and no bullshit approach so vendors
and spenders both win.’’

Bradley, who’s spent a decade in the deals industry, including the last six years with Bookme, says he was made redundant at the very beginning of the Covid fallout, with no wage subsidy.

‘‘Obviously, I’m not going to sit on the couch, I’m going to get back out there and find work — I’ve got a wife and three kids.

‘‘I caught up with everyone in the industry, including Nigel and Callum, who own [ETG].

‘‘I’ve been in the deal market for 10 years … I knew the industry was broken — it was getting out of hand and it wasn’t very transparent.

‘‘So I caught up with those guys and we hatched a plan to reset the deal
industry and [create] a model that’s win-win for all.’’

Unlike other models in the market, like Website Travel, which ran a’ neg
ative capital’ model and went under owing thousands to Queenstown businesses , Deal Champ doesn’t take any commission from operators.

That model broke, he says, because people became ‘‘too greedy’’.

‘‘A lot of sites are pushing for really high deals in a really tough time in a business’ life and then they’re also taking the commission on top.

‘‘This is a time we all need to work together and actually work with operators … let’s try and make it transparent and reset the industry so they can afford to keep staff on and keep yields [up].’’

With the new venture, customers pick their deal and pay 10% of their
savings to Deal Champ.

‘‘So, if you save $40, you pay $4 to Deal Champ and then the voucher gets sent to you and the operator.’’

Customers then contact the operator and pay them directly.

‘‘One thing we’d like the world to know, about other deal sites and online
booking sites, is the deal you’re booking is not what the operators get,’’
Bradley says.

‘‘We talk about ‘support local’ — this is one way you can put your hand up
and do it.’’

The team’s also ‘‘rapt’’ First Table founder Mat Weir’s come on board as an investor.

Bradley says the Queenstown-based company’s aiming to be New Zealand’s ‘‘biggest and fairest deal website by Christmas’’ — by which time it’ll be operating in five centres across the country.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz