Adam Hutchinson is the founder of CamperMate and GeoZone, two digital solutions reshaping the Caravan & Camping Industry within New Zealand. I was excited to get my geek on and chat to Adam about his business ventures and secrets to success, born from the simple desire to connect tourists with camping facilities.
Freedom Camping Issues Tackled with Technology
The Rugby World Cup held in New Zealand in 2011 was a catalyst for change within the nation’s Caravan and Camping Industry. The change referred to was not a result of the estimated $387 million visitor dollars injected into the economy, but instead a change bought about by an individual’s desire to solve an ever-increasing industry problem. Adam, a camping enthusiast, knew it was difficult to find uncrowded freedom camping spots and facilities such as dump stations and public toilets, while on the road. He also knew how much harder it was going to become once tourists started flooding into the country for the tournament. With a recorded increase in the use of smartphones adding to his motivation, Adam designed a digital traveling companion for tourists in New Zealand, called CamperMate.
The concept was simple. A free app that captures a user’s location and displays camping facilities within a designated radius. The execution however, was extremely time consuming. The success of building a dependable and dynamic database relied on extensive research, strategic partnerships and engaged consumers, willing to provide information not just use it.
Overtime Adam’s team has developed the technology beyond the capabilities first imagined, with new possibilities for the app emerging. Adam provides an example whereby the technology is being paired with artificial intelligence and used to ease pressure on campsite infrastructure and consequently reduce environmental impacts. Adam explains how the app assists in redirecting tourists to campgrounds and commercial parks nearby, with the capacity to handle the overflow. Providing users with up to date information like this allows them to make informed decisions that address issues such as overcrowding and also has a positive effect on their travel experience.
Secrets to Success
Adam admits that the success of the app was the result of years of hard work. He would stay up late at night, verifying user generated location suggestions that were crucial to the app’s growth. Adding that his dedication to the success of the technology meant getting out on the road himself. Adam travelled the country setting up BBQ’s offering tourists free bacon and eggs at campgrounds. This provided Adam with an avenue to chat with campers and introduce users to the technology. It also allowed Adam to gather first hand feedback on the usefulness of the app, collect ideas for improvements, as well as grow the technology’s database. An incredible personal commitment to the technology’s success.
Adam shares with listeners the roadblocks he came across when trying to partner with campervan rental companies and council bodies. Explaining how some roadblocks could only be solved through the development of GeoZone. GeoZone is a network of brand specific GPS enabled apps, based on the same concept responsible for CamperMate.
Other roadblocks could only be overcome with time. Time dedicated to building a reliable app with an extensive yet dynamic database. As Adam grew the app’s database and as more users deemed the technology beneficial, commercial camping sites and councils became increasingly interested in the possibilities the technology offered. In the podcast Adam takes us through the benefits the app offers to both of these types of organisations. We also discuss a pilot program he has undertaken in partnership with the New Zealand government. A true testimony to Adam’s persistence and success.
Discovering your Passion
While Adam admits that his success came with a lot of hard work, he also shares with listeners another key to success, which centres around working on something you are passionate about. I asked Adam the age-old question about how to find one’s passion, with Adam providing a very insightful response. Adam suggests that passion is not really anything you can seek out, it’s more about being self-aware. It’s important to take note of what you are organically passionate about and build your career or business around that. Adam shares how he became aware of his own passion and we discuss how following passion leads to exciting opportunities.
Also, in this week’s podcast
In this episode of the ‘That Bad Review’ podcast, Adam and I discuss:
- The power of dynamic advertising
- Translating feedback into solutions
- The benefits of face-to-face customer engagement
- The best time of year to visit New Zealand
- Re-branding a product to reach specific target markets
- Location-based advertisement opportunities offered by GPS enabled apps