Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari (KIOS) is a family owned and operated business that began operation in December 2012. Their mission is to provide visitors to KI with a high quality, informative, nature based, marine tourism experience. Tours depart daily from Christmas Cove Marine in Penneshaw and include:

  • Safari 1 – 75-minute Ocean Safari: Customers travel stunning ancient coastline, viewing dolphins, seals, eagles, whales and birdlife.
  • Safari 2 – two-hour Snorkelling Safari: Have the opportunity to snorkel with seals and swim with pods of dolphins in the wild.
  • Safari 3 – Cruise Ship Charters: One-hour ocean safari with the opportunity to see dolphins, seals, eagles and birdlife, plus a 30-minute Penneshaw township bus tour. 

Sandy Coppins, who owns KIOS with husband Tony, says the business has grown from a two-person team in 2012 to now employing over 20 staff members from the local community.

“KIOS also own eight buses which are predominately used for cruise ship tours on the island,” says Sandy.

In 2017 KIOS introduced a snorkelling tour and were provided the only permit in South Australia to swim with Long Nosed Seals.

“There has been an increase in the seal population along the Dudley Peninsula, so it was a fantastic opportunity for us to grow our business and expand tour offerings.

Given that the business is committed to not becoming stagnant, KIOS are continuously reviewing their marketing and looking at ways to improve the business profile. Simple ways in which they do this include changing brochures and updating their online marketing.

“We have implemented a new booking system – Rezdy, which has increased capacity for suppliers and booking agents to book our product immediately.

“Attending tourism conferences and gaining connections with key members within the distribution system has been key to levitating business exposure.”

Having recently been crowned best Tour and Transport Operator at the 2018 South Australian Tourism Awards, Sandy says the Awards process provided an opportunity to reflect on the overall operation of the business, this includes reviewing the business plan and goals.

She also encourages other businesses to assess their marketing strategies, ensuring the outcomes are having direct impact on improving sales.

“Evaluating comprehensive statistics on customers demographics and how they are purchasing our products is vital in guaranteeing we target our marketing correctly.”

Likewise, Sandy says it is important to keep a close eye on revenue and cost vs profit margin.

“Look at trading terms with key clients for better cash flow and have realistic business financial projections as this is key to sustainability as a small business. Also, be financially prepared for the quieter seasons.”

As an Eco Accredited business, Sandy believes it is essential to have correct processes and procedures in place for staff to reduce any impact the operation has to the marine life, which their tours depend on.

“The Eco Accreditation process ensures you have covered everything possible within your business to reduce environmental impact, Sandy says.”

“As an Accredited business, we also have in place policies and procedures that are essential for sustaining a successful enterprise. This includes incident reports, accident procedures, drug and alcohol policy, social media policy, confidentiality agreement, safety procedures, protocols and so forth.”

Furthermore, becoming a member with the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has enabled the business to meet a broad range of buyers representing Australia’s key international and national markets, resulting in increased bookings and business growth.

In recognising the importance of service excellence and understanding their customers’ needs to exceed expectations, Sandy says regular staff training is essential, providing employees with continual updates regarding safety, protocols and wildlife guidelines.

Most importantly, however, the key to success is to be passionate about what you do and instil this within the business, your staff and your customers.

“Customers know when you and your team are passionate about their jobs and it reflects on the operation.”

Looking ahead, Sandy says KIOS are expanding the operation and have some exciting news to announce in 2019, so stay tuned!

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