The name JUCY has become synonymous with tourism in NZ - the distinct purple and green signs around the country are virtually impossible to miss! But this big player in the NZ tourism market was once a small fish. Founded by brothers, Dan and Tim Alpe, JUCY started out with 35 cars in 2001. Fast forward 15 years and THE BUSINESS now operates over 4000 rental vehicles throughout New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Dan and tim have also taken the brand beyond vehicles with JUCY Cruise in Milford Sound and JUCY Snooze budget hotels.
Dan kindly took a moment out of his busy day to reflect on what it's meant for his company to expand and diversify.
Can you tell us how JUCY began and what the original vision for the company was?
The idea for JUCY or EZY as it was back in the day came over a few pizzas and I am sure the odd Peroni while Tim and I were on holidaying in Southern Italy in 2001. We were both working in the tourism industry at the time and believed there was an opportunity to shake up the traditional car rental market.
We realised very early on that we had to stand out from the crowd in order to be noticed and that the easiest way to do this was to not become our competitors.
Why do you think your business model has been so successful?
There are a number of factors that have played a part; we have made a significant investment into our brand which has definitely played a huge role in supporting what JUCY is today. In saying that, a brand is not simply about a logo, it’s about creating a culture within that brand and ensuring that each of our 350+ JUCY crew regardless of which part of the globe they are, live and breathe the values.
What services did you first offer when starting out?
We started in 2001 with a basic car rental offering. We purchased 35 ex-hospital board Daewoo Sirions and rented a small showroom in Parnell, Auckland and sat there waiting for the phones to ring. While it was a relatively slow start with Tim and I spending most of our days calling the phone to test the line was working, the business quickly took off and the fleet was at 150 cars by the end of the first six months.
If you were to offer advice on breaking into new markets, what would it be?
My advice would be to do your research and ensure you understand the market you are looking at. When we crossed the ditch and entered the Australian market in 2008, we essentially took our business model and replicated it in that market. To be fair, for the first couple of years we had great success; however, it became evident that the market and where we sat in that market was very different to our New Zealand experience.
There is plenty of support out there for New Zealand businesses looking offshore. For our USA expansion, we worked and continue to work very closely with NZTE who have not only supplied valuable market research but also introduced us to key people within the market.
Tell us about the new JUCY hotel you’ve opened up and how do you hope it will be received?
JUCY Snooze Christchurch is due to open 1 November and is a quite a unique offering - the property has 271 beds and is a mix of traditional ensuite rooms and JUCY pod rooms. The self-contained accommodation capsules feature, a 2-metre long bed, lockable storage, a power supply, fans and wifi. They also provide a level of privacy not afforded by current hostel and backpacker accommodation with a blind that closes you off from others in the room.
The 2011 Christchurch earthquakes had a large impact on accommodation in the city and we were finding that a considerable number of our customers were spending their first night and last night’s sleeping in the airport terminal so it will be great to be able to accommodate them at the JUCY Snooze.
The pods will be affordable starting at $39 per night and, with over 1000 bookings already sitting in the system, we are very optimistic for the future!