“The tourism in­dus­try is a ran­somed one... re­tail­ers too of­ten sell those pay­ing the high­est com­mis­sion”

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - TOURISM TALK - Bradley King

“SIX years ago I saw an op­por­tu­nity to add value to tourism lo­cally, serv­ing peo­ple by cre­at­ing mem­o­ries for a life­time.

Be­ing a heli­copter pi­lot of­fers me a per­spec­tive of the Dou­glas re­gion that must be shared and done so with care. To de­velop a busi­ness on the back of this sim­ple no­tion is my per­sonal mo­ti­va­tion.

Skysa­fari Aus­tralia has grown from an old, but classy M*A*S*H*-style heli­copter in a muddy cane pad­dock to op­er­at­ing a fleet of the safest, up-to-date he­li­copters in the world is a proud achieve­ment.

I break peo­ple down into pas­sive or ac­tive. These peo­ple need two things to come to us - time and money. Peo­ple who have more of one usu­ally have less of the other. It is the ac­tive peo­ple with more money than time who value our busi­ness the most. They are our tar­get mar­ket - we have gone from back­pack­ers to bil­lion­aires.

There are many re­peat guests, they are of­ten in­tro­duced by lo­cal ac­com­mo­da­tion and tourism out­lets and from our web­site.

They rep­re­sent most cor­ners of the world, with an even split of in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic. Peo­ple are look­ing for the great­est ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble and above all want to be guar­an­teed to re­ceive value for their in­vest­ment. I’m ex­cited about the next few years. While there are still busi­ness lead­ers pop­ping up will­ing to sac­ri­fice their en­er­gies and de­velop ser­vice fo­cused prod­ucts, we will be ar­guably the most sig­nif­i­cant tourism des­ti­na­tion in the world.

Care must be taken to nur­ture our lux­ury mar­ket as the world re­bounds and the af­flu­ent take to places that of­fer them the best of the best.

My worst ex­pe­ri­ence in the tourism in­dus­try has been bat­tling un­re­al­is­tic com­mis­sions.

The tourism in­dus­try is a ran­somed one. Re­tail­ers too of­ten sell those pay­ing the high­est com­mis­sion rather than those of the high­est qual­ity. In fact, if you aren’t pre­pared or able to pay the high­est com­mis­sion your prod­uct is un­likely to be avail­able to the cus­tomer at all.

An un­reg­u­lated tourism in­dus­try is be­ing se­verely dam­aged by an ad­vanc­ing mo­nop­oly un­sym­pa­thetic to com­mis­sion flex­i­bil­ity, wield­ing the power to largely de­ter­mine which op­er­a­tors sur­vive at all.

The tourism in­dus­try is qui­etly con­don­ing the ef­fec­tive rip-off of vis­i­tors and de­struc­tion of op­er­a­tors.

At some time the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try must ap­pre­ci­ate the af­fect of creep­ing com­mis­sions on dif­fer­ing priced prod­uct if we are to pre­vent be­com­ing a less valu­able in­dus­try into the fu­ture where only cheap prod­ucts are avail­able.

For any­one con­sid­er­ing start­ing a tourism busi­ness in the re­gion I say go for it, but do your re­search. Busi­ness is not for the faint- hearted and the ro­mance of “tourism” can be lost quickly.

Go with your strengths, love your prod­uct, find a niche, value your com­peti­tors, be pas­sion­ate about ser­vice - this is a peo­ple in­dus­try, staff will re­quire masses of en­ergy - choose, re­spect and train the team well, plan for high and low sea­sons, cre­ate a busi­ness and mar­ket­ing plan and know the num­bers or find some­one that does. If you’re like us you will cre­ate a dozen dif­fer­ent bud­gets on likely sce­nar­ios be­fore com­mit­ting. Oh yeah, en­joy the ride.

For any busi­nesses do­ing it tough, re­mem­ber strug­gling is not drown­ing. Keep your con­fi­dence and never give up. Keep ask­ing ques­tions of your busi­ness and don’t be afraid to seek help.

The fu­ture di­rec­tion of the tourism in­dus­try seems pretty nat­u­ral for us - reef, rain­for­est and out­back. It’s all here and I would like to see our mar­ket­ing ex­cite more than reef­go­ers to our doorstep.”

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