Queenstown-based online discount booking company
Bookme was recently named the highest-ranked New Zealand
company in this year's Deloitte technology Fast 500 Asia
Pacific index. Business reporter Sally Rae speaks to co-founder
James Alder about the company's success.
Nick Reekie (left) and James Alder, co-founders of online
discount booking company Bookme. Photo by Stephen Hawkes.
When James Alder discovered Bookme had been ranked 18th in
the Fast 500 Asia Pacific index, he was ''blown away''.
He attributed the company's success to a lot of hard work and
long hours and said it stood on the index - with growth of
1359.4% - as a ''real grassroots Kiwi company''.
It had evolved from an idea and was developed on a
shoe-string budget. It was self-funded, with no big investor
involved, and involved pulling various talents together,
something Mr Alder is very proud of.
The recognition from Deloitte was huge, as the Bookme team
was ''head down, tail up'' every day and did not often get
the chance to celebrate that they had come a ''hell of a long
way'' since the company's launch three years ago, he said.
It was also an opportunity to reflect on the people who had
helped them along the way. Bookme was founded by Mr Alder,
Nick Reekie and Logan Murray and launched in November 2010.
Mr Alder (32), who majored in marketing at the University of
Otago, had always been keen to do something entrepreneurial.
After graduating, he had decided Queenstown was a ''fun
place'' to head.
The idea of Bookme was born over a period of time, as he
spent his evenings writing notes, on the computer and working
out how such an online system might work.
There had been ''heaps of challenges'' along the way,
familiar to any new small business. ''When you're shaking the
tree and changing the way things are traditionally done, you
do meet a lot of opposition,'' he said.
Mr Alder laughed at how the trio thought their first day
going live would be ''huge'', yet no bookings were received
until the third day. It was a ''very nervous'' wait, he
But since then business had grown ''pretty rapidly'', mainly
due to a lot of hard work and long hours.
Bookme was developed from within the New Zealand tourism
industry by a team with a keen understanding of the
challenges facing activity and attraction operators, Mr Alder
It worked effectively for the activity operator because they
were selling downtime at a discount, out of peak demand
''On Bookme, the operator still sells his peak demand times
at full price, and he can choose to discount the few seats he
has left much closer to the time of the experience. ''It is a
better model for the operator and therefore for the consumer,
because the operator can give a deeper discount by being
accurate with timing.
''A coupon-based system means operators often have to sell
their peak demand times at discount and this is a very blunt
''The Bookme concept is a much sharper and more effective
tool to manage sales accurately at the optimum margins, and
it generates full-price bookings alongside the discount
spaces sold,'' he said.
The company comprised six employees, including the three
co-founders, and they worked well together as they all
believed in a common goal, he said.
The possibility of ''taking it out there to the world'' -
certainly to Australia and possibly some other overseas
markets - was exciting.
Queenstown had been a great environment in which to found a
start-up, as it was small but very intense, with a real
business environment, he said.