Tailored Travel; The Who, What, Why
Tailored Travel is a family-run business, launched in 1994 and operating from Rerenga Farm near the city of Nelson on the northern tip of the South Island. To offer you the most personal service available, there are only two of us – myself, Robert Panzer, and my wife, Joan. Our combined experience in business, hospitality and the travel industry, assures you that your travel plans will be managed with integrity and professionalism.
Share your dreams of the ideal New Zealand vacation with us and we will translate them into your personalized travel itinerary with all the resources, knowledge and contacts only experienced Kiwis have.
Tailored Travel offers you a more intimate and exclusive service than a typical tour operator. We live and breathe our business here in New Zealand year-round. With our experience in the country’s tourist industry, we have the personal contacts and the latest information to streamline your trip and fulfill your most treasured vacation experience.
We especially delight in sharing places embodying the true essence of New Zealand, by putting you in direct touch with our friendly fellow citizens. Our philosophy of low-impact tourism and preservation of the New Zealand natural environment is the perfect complement. For each one of our guests we plant a native tree on our property!
Originally from the Netherlands, Robert was professionally involved in business, journalism and tourism before immigrating to New Zealand in 1985. Joan was born in Illinois and was working as a business consultant in Boston when she participated in a New Zealand commercial backpacking trip. She fell in love with the country and with me! Together we settled in the Nelson region, raising Michelle and Erik, and nurturing our tour company since 1994.
Twenty Three plus Five years and Story
Throughout the twenty three years Tailored Travel New Zealand Custom Tours has operated, the cliché’s of “going the extra mile and exceeding expectations” are just the norm. Comments like “we could never have done this by ourselves,” the people and places you found were unique and exceptional” and “we did not want the tour to end” are common responses.
After five years of leading 20 day South Island walking tours for an American ex-pat, often with groups of more than 25 people, I utilized the learnings from the walking tours allowing a natural transition into my own unique and specialized personally guided tour operation. Listening to these travelers from North American, I learned that they do not want to travel in groups and prefer a more personal and exclusive approach. Hence I established a maximum of 4 people, usually two couples traveling together -no mix and match. More often, it is one couple looking for personal and private attention, flexibility and every detail customized to respond to their requirements, their capability, their special requests. In those years Tailored Travel was groundbreaking offering private and personal custom tours for 2-4 people nationwide; no other company would take less than 12 people! From my perspective, the relationships developed over the years with the accommodation providers are a crucial ingredient of our custom tours. Activities (which are always optional) and accommodations and are all chosen because they align with our Tailored Travel philosophy and package.
With most of our guests generated through referrals, from the outset it was our intention that TTNZCT would be a one person operation, however I have a very capable guide able to stand by for ‘overlaps’. Our main focus is on guests from all over North America. This focus resulted from both the learnings I gleaned with the walking tours and my marriage to Joan I typically visit previous guests in the States or Canada on their invitation, provide presentations and sign up new guests. This way I also learn exactly where our guests live, how they live, their thoughts, habits and requirements. It is about knowing your customers, isn’t it?
Almost all of my guests will consider the trip to New Zealand as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, however I have been privileged to host some for the second time around. Most recently a Florida couple, who spent 30 plus days with me on a South Island tour, returned two years later to do a similar length on the North Island. Because of time constraints and people’s expectations and requirements, the focus is mainly on the South Island, especially when tours are less than 20 days in length. However, occasionally I do the North Island upon special request. One should allow approximately 14 -15 days for a typical custom tour.
Community and Off Season
The winter season usually does not attract guests in search of a guided experience. This is a time for me to give back to the community through mentoring small businesses (NZ Business Mentor Scheme) as well as planting native trees for each guest we had in the previous season.
The off season creates a balance with the 24/7 touring season and allows ample time to accomplish all of the pre and post tour arrangements. When our guests arrive, everything is in readiness and they can sit back, relax and say: ‘show me New Zealand, the people and the land’
And that’s exactly what I do
Susan & Doug said
Custom Tours was an investment in a “once in a lifetime” vacation to a truly magical country. Robert provided us with accommodations, restaurants, as well as sites and activities that consistently exceeded our expectations. His knowledge of the country, that he is quite proud of, allowed us to see more, do more, and compress more into the time that we were in New Zealand.
We have never done a group tour let alone a personal guided tour on previous vacations so we were somewhat apprehensive in advance of our trip. Rather quickly we realized that we hit it off with Robert and that the personal guided tour was a good decision. I agree with other customers that state “I wish there where Roberts in the rest of the world”. Robert is flexible, willing to do what you want to do, give you the space to enjoy, and then step in and arrange activities that he knows will be memorable.
Driving in New Zealand is hard, as most roads are two lanes, (bridges are one), and the sites are so fantastic that making time is very difficult. Having Robert do the driving allowed us to sit back and enjoy the ride! Our time in the Marlborough and Otago wine districts was great as Robert did the driving and we enjoyed the tastings. His love and knowledge of the great Pinot Noirs of New Zealand got us to the right vineyards and assured that each dinner was capped off with a great wine selection.
Going through the held mail upon our return we found a National Geographic Traveler magazine, which ironically rated the South island of New Zealand number 3 out of 135 worldwide destinations. It was obvious to us had the authors of this article retained Robert, New Zealand would have been number 1!
Susan & Doug Heck May 20, 2014