Ryan Sanders was motivated to start a tourism business to escape a dull corporate job. A keen traveller, he combined a passion for New Zealand and adrenalin to create small group guided tours within the adventure, snow and mountain bike sectors.
The first tour kicked off in June 2007 and the business has barely had time to look back since, adding more tours and staff, expanding into new products and acquiring a snow tour competitor.
Today HTG is made up of nine niche tourism businesses, growing at an average of 80% year on year with revenues for the next 12 months on track to exceed $17m.
A main point of difference is a business model that allows visitors to personalise their trips with a range of add-ons, upgrades and extensions - made possible through a six-figure investment in a custom-designed booking engine.
The launch of its own upmarket backpacker brand in 2011 allows HTG to control more of the visitor experience. Today around a quarter of all Haka tour nights are spent in a Haka Lodge.
To help reduce seasonality, HTG offers year-round-products and is developing new products specifically targeting the shoulder/low seasons. It has also expanded into international markets with some of its adventure and educational tours.
Over the years Ryan’s role at HTG has transitioned from sole employee through all the core positions within the business to a more strategic growth oriented role.
To ensure New Zealand has the infrastructure to support visitor growth, he’s been pitching to attract more than $100 million investment into a new hotel project. The first Haka Hotel has opened in Auckland with a second opening later in 2017.
Ryan is confident HTG will be worth $50m by 2025, with an expanded range of tours and a nationwide footprint of upmarket lodges and hotels.