When COVID-19 brought about a lockdown last year, Company owners Alanah Ralph and Leighton Bunyard were unsure what affect this was going to have to their company, Confinement Escape Rooms. Being located in the SkyCity Building, the business depended on a good share of both the domestic and international tourism markets. “Our revenue literally disappeared overnight” says Director Alanah Ralph. “We knew we had to do something, we couldn’t wait to watch all our hard work over the last four years just disappear”. The brother/sister duo then started to look at what they could do, they decided they needed to use the time they had, so during lockdown they developed a “take Home version” of the Confinement Escape Rooms. “We figured if customers couldn’t get to us, then we needed to find a way to get to them”. Working with their accountants, Maisey & Harris, they took advantage of the Regional Business Partner COVID-19 Business Advisory funding delivered via Te Waka, Waikato’s economic development agency, and were able to get access to some good business planning and support. “We had been saying for ages, that we needed to write a business plan, but it was quite simply something that you never get around to” said Leighton Bunyard. “We spent a number of hours, assessing where the company was and where we wanted it to be, then we came up with a plan on how we could get there.”
During this process they heard that Qualmark, New Zealand tourism’s official quality assurance organisation, was also offering COVID-19 assistance in the form of free membership and advisory services. To become a member a thorough assessment of the business operation is carried out by Qualmark. “We decided, what better way to put our business to the test, we figured it would also help us learn further how we can improve it. This process made us relook at our entire operation, our systems, procedures, and all our legal obligations from top to bottom” says Alanah. The company’s efforts paid off and after a full day evaluation the small family owned company was recently awarded with a Bronze award under Qualmark’s Sustainable Tourism Business Award criteria. Through Qualmark’s Tourism Advisory Support service the company has benefited from working with advisory business Cornwall Strategic on more focussed business planning. They are now the only Escape Room Company in NZ with this award.
With the assistance of the Te Waka funding, great business planning, and the recognition of the Qualmark award, Confinement Escape Rooms are now seeing the benefits of their efforts, with two record months in a row. “When we look back at how we were feeling last year, we are thrilled at where we are today. The Business is great and having just opened a branch in Taupo we are excited about what lies ahead. We have introduced a number of new products into the market, namely by creating partnerships with the likes of Woodlands Homestead, we have been able to re-invent ourselves, and have learnt so much during the process. I think if it hadn’t been for the Covid wakeup call, we would never have taken the time to work on the business, we had always worked in it, and sometimes if you are too close to something you really can’t see how you can make so much positive change” says Alanah.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
PRESS RELEASE: 8 July 2021