As Destination celebrates its 20th year in business, we take a look at how the team pull off over 130 events a year, manage 35,000 travel sector crossings and maintain decades-long customer loyalty.
1998. Seinfeld aired its final episode, Bill Clinton made his infamous denial and a small start-up called Google launched its homepage. It was also the year Glenn Fitzgerald made his foray into the little-known world of incentive and event management.
20 years on and the industry is a far-cry from the pre-digital days of yore. Agencies are forced to compete with big-player corporations with significant in-house resources, navigate ever-changing commission models and adapt to a market with evolving expectations. Where others would crumble, Destination has remained dynamic and agile. The company turned 20 on June 1 this year.
When quizzed on the key to business success, Glenn, who now oversees a full-scale marketing and events company with a Melbourne team of 45, said it’s all about creating a fun environment conducive to loyalty.
“The personal touch, remarkable people and our attention to detail are the foundations to our success”, he said.
“We’ve had such a long and fortunate history with our customers, most have been with us since the beginning. As our average staff tenure is over eight years, we understand our clients, their people and their brand.
“It really does make a difference when it comes to understanding the clients’ needs and giving them a very comprehensive and authentic program.
You may be wondering what it is about the team that convinces clients to stick around for decades. Well, according to Glenn, it is the ability to stay in tune with the market’s needs. Specifically, the expectation that an incentive company should not only organise events but deliver a full suite of production, activation and marketing services.
“Where a lot of firms like us would outsource a large percentage of their work, we do the majority in-house”
“We’re building websites that drive the traffic and sales for the program, then we recognise the high achievers and deliver the reward.
“Five to ten years ago we outsourced photography, web design, creativity, film and video production, whereas now we combine and deliver a holistic suite of services.”
As part of this development, five years ago Glenn appointed Professor Francis Farrelly, a specialist in Marketing Strategy and Innovation from RMIT University, as Board Director. Having consulted with major brands for over 20 years, Francis has helped solidify the company’s business model, advised on service quality and capability development, and engineered the development of innovative services.
Together, the dynamic team have coalesced to prepare, market and deliver events for a host of prestigious international clients, including Mercedes Benz, Nissan, JLR, Bayer Pharmaceuticals,
Tupperware, Nutrimetics, AMCA and Herbert Smith Freehills, the eighth largest law firm in the world.
The team also has boasting rights to a range of monumental events, including:
- The first ever corporate event at the Palace of Versailles, an enchanting sit-down gala dinner for 550 telecommunications delegates
- An automotive exhibition with 900 delegates, 2600 room nights and 200 exhibitors which took place at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
- A tranquil in-lagoon dinner in Bora Bora for 350 telecommunications delegates
Despite its indisputable success, Destination Events has had to overcome its share of hurdles. Namely, the retention of margins in an increasingly competitive market.
“There’s huge competition within the industry… We’re competing against large corporately-driven organisations, as well as two or three-man operators working from small offices or home who don’t have the overheads that we have, or the enormous resources that a publicly-listed company may have,” Glenn said.
“Often customers perceive outsourcing expertise as extensive when they could keep it in-house, so we have to work hard every day to provide efficient services, keep as much as we can in-house, manage company overheads and deliver a premium product on budget and on time.”
It would seem the company is doing a stellar job of it, with over 130 events, 15,000 delegate movements and 35,000 travel sector crossings managed each year. In between it all they’ve managed to stay on the edge of innovation, developing next-generation incentive reward and study programs.
“The Incentive Reward and Business Ideation Program is a first-of-its-kind service in the world involving a complementary blend of rich reward experience with actionable learning and insights,” Glenn said.
“The program motivates and inspires idea development and initiative-taking, which is essential in capability building and for nurturing productive ties with staff, retention and important commercial relationships.
“The program sets us apart nationally and internationally as a provider of exceptional, customised experiences for staff and key business partners.”
What can we say but hip, hip, hooray to Destination on a remarkable innings. Who knows how the industry will look in the next 20 years. More online reward programs? Virtual reality incentives? All we can wager is that Destination will be at the forefront of whatever’s to come.