Q&A with Naturally NZ Holidays’ Trish Abrahamson

Trish Abrahamson, Naturally NZ Holidays

Trish Abrahamson

After starting her business in 1997, Trish Abrahamson has turned Naturally NZ Holidays, based near Christchurch, into one of the most respected ITOs in the country. From personalised itineraries for the FIT market to guiding groups of 100+ through all the experiences NZ has to offer, Abrahamson has seen the industry grow and transform.

Title: Managing Director

Job description:  Anything and everything. Being a small business I am involved from the smallest to the biggest tasks.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?  Feedback both good and bad and feeling proud of the itineraries that go out of our office.

What is the toughest part of your job?  Too high a workload. Working in and not on the business. It is 365 days a year.

What is the biggest challenge facing tourism today?  Managing people around capacity. A lack of new ‘commercial’ beds.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?  There’s a perceived lack of a career path. And increasing pay rates – tourism is still a low paid industry.

Why did you decide to work in tourism? It’s been 20 years and I was a director on the business development board in Nelson. I attended TRENZ and I met these fantastic people, the food and wine was good and I thought ‘I’ve got to get into this’. Friends of the family told me about an opportunity and I bought the company. So that’s how I got into tourism, with food and wine!

What has been the biggest change in the industry in that time? When we started out we were booking a lot of the multi-day activities and it was all brochured product. But the internet has really changed things. People are still doing all the activities but now they’re doing them for a day because they’ve got all this information about what they can do in NZ and they decide they want to do a lot more things so they’re adding a lot more variety to their itineraries.

What have been the major challenges and rewards you’ve faced in your career? During the Global Financial Crisis, we took a hit from all of our traditional markets but Asia was gearing up at that time and that filled a big gap for us. That was when we got involved in the Indian market so that was a saviour for us for sure.

Has there been a role model or any other type of inspiration that’s motivated you in your career? I can’t think of any single person but I think being proud of NZ is definitely a big one. Most people that you meet are inspiring in some way.

What are you preoccupied with at the moment at work? We have a got a group of 140 sales people from India who have all met an incentive and I’ll be travelling with them until the 19th of March. We’ve got three coaches and six people from the Indian travel company coming, so it’s just easier to be there to keep things going along smoothly.

What advice would you give women thinking about entering the industry today? I would say tourism is definitely an equal opportunities career for women. Being a female is not a disadvantage and females and males think differently so if you get them together you get a stronger team. Generally, people wanting a career in tourism need to be prepared for long hours and it’s not a Monday to Friday job. But you’re working with a lot of people who want to make people happy and that’s of real value.

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