Q & A with Melissa Craig – OGO group manager
Please tell us a bit about OGO Rotorua.
The experience of rolling down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball (we call them OGOs) has been an iconic adventure experience since Andrew and David Akers developed the first operation in the world in Rotorua back in 1997. Rotorua remains the ONLY location in New Zealand where you can experience this amazingly fun and bizarre activity. OGO offers four different track options and you feel like a bit like human spaghetti as you ride downhill with warm water.
We manufacture our own OGOs onsite, in our factory. Each one is handmade with care and attention, ensuring that all our riders have a safe and high-quality experience. Visitors are welcome to wander up and talk to the team and take a look at how the OGOs are made.
What do you love about your job?
I love to work frontline and engage with our customers – learning what works well within our business and what needs improving. It’s often where you learn the most, too! But generally, my passion lies with sales, marketing and how it integrates with operations.
What was involved in getting your safety certification?
We have the OutdoorsMark Adventure Activities certification. Our team lead, David Akers, oversees the audit process from our end. However it is very much a team effort – with everyone from the General Manager and Duty Manager through to the frontline team members contributing to the process.
Our safe operating procedures and safety management plan are living documents. As things change throughout the year, we keep documentation up to date and ensure staff are trained. Essentially, it’s all about being able to prove to the auditor that you actually are doing what you say you do. They will look through your files, hazard registers and accident registers, they will check that you’re having health and safety meetings, and they’ll talk with staff and observe your operations.
How did you find working with Qualworx?
Very easy! We’ve had a couple of different auditors since the Adventure Activity Regulations came into effect; each with a different skill set and industry knowledge. Where recommendations are made, we take them onboard and move forward accordingly.
What advice would you give to other adventure tourism companies that are embarking on a safety audit process?
To look at the process as an opportunity for continual improvement. We’re an innovative country so you can’t fit every product or experience into a square box. Everyone has a different operating environment, and sometimes a set of fresh eyes looking at what you’re doing can add real value to your operation.
It provides peace of mind for companies looking to contract your business, and also for those customers that are looking for reassurance that you offer a quality and safe experience.