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 were only two of us – myself, Robert Panzer, and my (late) 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 Five plus Five years and Story
Throughout the twenty five 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 America, 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 emergencies. 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 and in March 2020 I host another couple who toured with me in 2017. 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. Often guests may have three days in Auckland by themselves and do North Island day tours with a local company, before flying to Christchurch to join me for the ‘real’ tour. One should allow at least approximately 14 -15 days for a typical South Island 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
Shelly and Kirk Hines said
"Everything was amazing. I actually think Robert making the plans for our trip ultimately made our trip better. One of the main things that I found particularly beneficial was that we did not have the traditional "down time" or stress in deciding where we would eat, stay, or how to get hold of a company to plan our next day's activities. The other thing we noticed was that Robert was totally unobtrusive as a guide but was very enjoyable to be around. He just always seemed to be there when we needed him."
Kirk and Shelly Hines May 21, 2014