Innovation and digital transformation were at the forefront of World Tourism Day celebrations for the Queensland tourism industry with the announcement of the 2018 Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Prize for Innovation in Tourism winners.
Taking home top honours for the ‘Prize for Innovation’ category was Refresh Noosa by Tourism Noosa for their initiative to encourage aesthetic updates and sustainable practices among local accommodation operators.
“We are thrilled to receive the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism for Refresh Noosa, an initiative that we introduced this year to ensure as a destination that we continue to offer a high quality, competitive and value customer experience,” said Chair of Noosa Tourism Steve McPharlin.
“Refresh Noosa aims to support our accommodation managers and their owners to update, renovate and refresh their properties, and it’s great to be acknowledged for this.
“It was encouraging to also hear that the panel discussions at the awards evening reinforced this message and the importance of continually innovating and improving product for a sustainable tourism industry and to meet visitor expectations.”
The ‘Prize for Innovation’ runner-up was Ryan Moody Fishing from Cardwell in Far North Queensland for their online fishing courses for anglers who want to “fish smarter, not harder”.
“I was in the charter industry for 30-odd years and we came up with the idea for online courses because I was getting asked questions all the time. We recognised the niche market that was there and decided to take a punt,” said Ryan Moody Fishing Founder Ryan Moody.
“It’s awesome to be recognised in any way shape or form if you’re a small business. And to be recognised by the tourism industry and have this be a part of our journey is incredible.”
This year’s QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism saw the introduction of two new categories – ‘Up and Comer’ and ‘Industry Collaborator’.
Go Fish Australia took out the ‘Up and Comer’ category for their approach to educating the tourism industry on the new market and revenue opportunities fishing tourism has to offer.
“I grew up around boats, so fishing was always in my DNA and then last year I realised I could make this a viable business,” Ms Esdaile said.
“To win this award firstly gives me validation that Go Fish is on the right path. It also sends a message to the tourism industry that this is a new market worth pursuing.
“The Slingshot Horizons Accelerator Program prize will save me two years of trial and error and really fast track that aspect of the business.”
The ‘Industry Collaborator’ winner was LEEDR Dynamic Solutions for their fully-customisable multi touch hub where travellers have direct access to relevant tourist information and can email it directly to themselves.
“We worked with the Sarina Visitor Information Centre on this project – they had the idea and we had the software to achieve that idea. We’d done similar things for other industries, but this was the first time we’d done something like this for a tourism business,” said LEEDR Dynamic Solutions Director of Sales Dragan Popovic.
“It’s great to be recognised for all the hard work we put in and it’s great to get the exposure within the rest of the tourism industry.”
Now in its sixth year, the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism recognises small to medium sized Queensland tourism enterprises, and any businesses that work with them, that have demonstrated outstanding effort in innovation of their products, services or processes.
QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind congratulated all winners and runners-up for their dedication to fostering innovation within different parts of the tourism industry.
“The tourism industry is facing many challenges when it comes to remaining competitive,” he said. “This year’s World Tourism Day theme was focused on digital transformation – an area where the tourism industry has been and can continue to be at the cutting edge.”
“This year’s entrants have demonstrated their capability and dedication to being leaders in adopting the latest technology to ultimately deliver better services and customer experiences.”
Mr Gschwind said the QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism reinforces the importance of continuous improvement to drive a competitive industry – an industry that contributes $25 billion to the Queensland economy and employs 217,000 Queenslanders.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said encouraging innovation in tourism was more important than ever before.
“We need to think outside the box to ensure our industry continues to grow,” Minister Jones said.
“That’s why these awards are so important – to recognise operators who are turning great ideas into great businesses.
“We’re investing more in tourism than any other government in Queensland because we’re committed to growing this industry.”
In addition to Refresh Noosa by Tourism Noosa, Ryan Moody Fishing, Go Fish Australia and LEEDR Dynamic Solutions, other tourism businesses acknowledged for their innovative processes, products and services over the last year include:
- Corporate & Group Xperiences
- Down Under Rally
- Griffith University
- My Hosted Holidays
- Passions of Paradise
- Pterodactyl Helicopters
- Whitsunday Paradise Explorer
- Writeaway Whitsundays
QTIC acknowledges the invaluable contribution from sponsors of the 2018 QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism including the Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, UQ Business School, Riverlife, Westpac, Slingshot and TAFE Queensland.
CATEGORIES AND PRIZES:
- Prize for Innovation – tourism SME operating > 3 years – winner: $30,000 business support package thanks to the Queensland Government
- Prize for Innovation – tourism SME operating > 3 years – runner-up: Build a Better Business workshop and mentoring thanks to TAFE Queensland.
- Prize for Innovation Up & Comer – tourism SME operating < 3 years: Guaranteed entry into the Horizons Travel and Tourism Accelerator Program – no applying or pitching necessary – thanks to Slingshot Accelerator
- Industry Collaborator – working with tourism industry and operating > 3 years: $2800 cash prize and 5 mentoring sessions thanks to Westpac
PHOTO: QTIC Prize for Innovation in Tourism ‘Up and Comer’ winner Ange Esdaile from Go Fish Australia, ‘Industry Collaborator’ winner Dragan Popovic from LEEDR Dynamic Solutions, ‘Prize for Innovation’ winner Isa Grube from Tourism Noosa, ‘Prize for Innovation’ runner-up Ryan Moody and Karen Rudkin-Moody from Ryan Moody Fishing with Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones and QTIC Chief Executive Daniel Gschwind.
Credit: Cherry Photography