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GO Rentals Adrian Thompson as one of three finalists in the Emerging Leader award

Managing comedy clubs in the UK might seem a far cry from directing operations in a rental car company in New Zealand, but it’s a transition that Adrian Thompson has taken on with relish.

Not one daunted by a challenge, the ex-hospitality manager and his wife Steph emigrated in 2014 to Queenstown where, like most international travellers, his first experience working in New Zealand Tourism was in guest services within the ski industry.

Fast forward five years and Adrian is the national operations manager for GO Rentals, New Zealand’s largest independent rental car company and a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Tourism Awards – Emerging Tourism Leader category – recognising his role as an outstanding tourism professional.

GO Rentals, which has six branches and almost 200 staff located in multiple centres around the country, is celebrating 20 years of business this year and was recognised as winner of last year’s Visitor Experience Award at the NZ Tourism Awards.

While on the surface GO Rentals is a transport provider, at its heart they consider themselves a true visitor experience and pioneers of some pretty cool technology which is being used to remove the traditional pain points of car hire that the mainstream rental car companies suffer, something Adrian is inherently proud of.

“We don’t see the traditional rental car model of people queueing at counters in airports as the future in this consumer-driven market,” he says.

“That’s why we have invested so heavily in our technology. Our self-service kiosks and app-based pick-up process has been a huge success, saving time and meaning that we can really give the personal touch to our customers.”

Adrian says the value that this ads to the wider New Zealand tourism industry is huge. “The easier we can make the process of renting a vehicle and the faster we can get international visitors on the road, the better they can get on and enjoy the rest of their holiday.

“I’m a huge believer that investing in our people as ambassadors of New Zealand Tourism is a vital part of the success of GO. If we can continue to develop technology that handles the necessary legal and safety processes, then my team can get on with helping visitors plan and get the most out of their journey.

“We call it the move from transactional to experiential, and it’s playing a big part in the success of GO.

“Investing in our people has been a huge success with career pathways developed for all levels of the business, meaning that our team can see this as a genuine career in tourism. Several of our senior team here at GO have progressed through the business from front line roles which is really inspiring for our team to see and aspire to. As enablers of tourism I see it as my responsibility to develop future leaders not just for GO but for the tourism industry as a whole.”

Adrian is one of three finalists for the Emerging Tourism Leader category of the New Zealand Tourism Awards which will be awarded at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch on October 24.

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