Founder and managing director Brett Baudinet has always been an ideas man, always thinking of new ideas and how to implement them.
Having been around the travel and hospitality business his entire life, it was a natural fit for Baudinet to start thinking about the impact of technology on the local tourism industry.
“After spending several years overseas, I saw how technology made everyone’s lives and their businesses run so efficiently,” Baudinet said in an email.
“I loved that concept and I’ve always enjoyed working with computers and information technology.
“I started building websites 15 years ago and it’s just evolved from there. So when I moved back to the island five years ago, I instantly saw so many opportunities to help local business through technology.”
The idea for Explore.com (formerly TikilTour.com) was born of interactions with tourists, who had to go to various websites to book accommodation, travel and activities.
This is where Explore.com steps in, providing a streamlined process for those planning trips to the Cook Islands.
“I came up with this concept for a truly seamless booking experience. The vision is to walk the visitors through every step of their journey with a mobile app that sends notifications for upcoming tours and keeps them engaged through social media.”
Getting the site up and running involved a somewhat arduous two and a half years of work, due to the amount of planning that was invested in making sure Explore.com was a reputable online travel agency (OTA) with staying power.
Acquiring the domain Explore.com was a crucial part of this, as it provides a way to stand out amongst the crowd to international viewers, says Baudinet.
“To compete against well-recognised brands such as Booking.com and AirBnB.com, this was a strategic move to build trust and recognition with travellers browsing for booking options online.”
Brett wasn’t the sole undertaker of the ambitious project, receiving a great deal of help from his wife Maya, who has a degree in journalism and advertising.
Before joining Brett in Rarotonga, Maya worked at large ad firms in Chicago, helping global brands like McDonald’s with their marketing strategies and creative communications.
The immediate goal for Explore.com is to recruit over 500 partners from around the South Pacific, so that any visitors will have a great variety of options to choose from.
Achieving this goal would be a great accomplishment for Baudinet, who is incredibly proud that his local business could have an impact on people around the world.
“We are from the Pacific and we understand the Pacific.
“We’re very proud to represent the Pacific and to have our business based here in Rarotonga!”