CoastXP Founder and Managing Director Dominic May discusses the benefits of joining the NSW First program.

Business profile

CoastXP is a premier adventure boat experience, based in Newcastle, just two hours’ drive north of Sydney. Ocean enthusiast Dominic May and his team operate coastal sightseeing, whale watching and event-based cruises departing daily from the Honeysuckle Foreshore.

The cruises showcase the breathtaking coastline of Newcastle from a custom-built boat and highlight the marine life, local geology and heritage as well as unique landmarks including wrecks, cliffs, islands and sea caves. The Adventure Tour operates from November to May, taking guests along the Hunter coastline to see sea caves and Catherine Hill Bay. The Encounter Tour from June to November offers the chance to observe whales as they migrate along the coastline.

Quick Facts

Product Type: Cruise & Tour

Focus: Adventure & Nature

Location: Newcastle, The Hunter

Destination Network: Destination Sydney Surrounds North

NSW First spoke to CoastXP Founder and Managing Director Dominic May about why the business is involved with the program.

How did you start working with Destination NSW and the NSW First program?

I initially started working with the Destination NSW team through our regional destination network, Destination Sydney Surrounds North on a Regional Tourism Product Development application. Next, I attended a NSW First Inbound Strategy workshop in Newcastle, and followed this with Seller Training in Sydney, ahead of the New Product Workshop.

How did the NSW First workshops help your business?

The NSW First workshops have been incredibly valuable to my business in a number of ways. First and foremost, it drives you to learn about your business in great detail, particularly from an inbound tour operator or wholesalers’ point of view as well as from a sales point of view. It also challenges you to differentiate your products from other similar products in the market, as well as preparing you to work with the travel trade.

How did your business get started?

My business came about through my passion for working in the marine environment. Originally, I started in tourism as a scuba diving instructor and commercial skipper. This led me to work in some of Australia’s most scenic coastal locations including Heron Island, Coffs Harbour, Lord Howe Island, Port Stephens and Sydney. Following this, I studied a Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Newcastle. My prior experience in the tourism industry coupled with my tertiary studies led me to start CoastXP, as this was one of the aspirations I had for my career.

Dominic May – Founder and Managing Director, CoastXP
What makes an exceptional visitor experience?

I think an exceptional visitor experience is one whereby a visitor is so immersed in the destination, culture and experience itself, that for a period of time they feel only joy.

Why do visitors enjoy your product?

Visitors enjoy our products due to the approach we use to conduct our tours, the atmosphere aboard our custom-built boat, and the ways we have incorporated modern and historical elements into our commentary. In addition, passengers feel safe and comfortable the entire time, allowing them to truly enjoy their experience.

Without online booking software, I don’t think a business would survive, and if they do, they simply can’t compete.
How did you develop a bookable product?

We developed a bookable product by researching what was required by online travel agents (OTAs) and inbound tour operators (ITOs), and at what point it was required. Establishing a good channel manager via our online booking software to be able to integrate with various OTAs has allowed our business to grow yet minimise the administration work required to make it happen.

What are your top tips for new tourism businesses?
  • Research your market
  • Make sure your product is as good as it can be and strive to continuously improve it
  • Partner with other local providers and collaborate, everyone wins!
How has online booking software assisted your business?

The vast majority of our bookings are made online. I don’t know the exact statistic, but people have all the information they need at their fingertips, allowing them to make purchasing decisions at the click of a button, especially outside of business hours. Without online booking software, I don’t think a business would survive, and if they do, they simply can’t compete.

How do you distribute your product?

We distribute through a number of select online travel agents and are currently working with some inbound tour operators we met at the New Product Workshop and are developing an ongoing relationship with them too.

What was the most important tip you learnt at a NSW First workshop?

I learnt that you have to be very clear on what is unique about your offering. It is likely the travel trade is constantly presented with products the same or very similar to yours, and it is important to make a good impression, with what is unique about your products specifically.