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Insights from Victorian Tourism Award Winners

Gathering at Dromana’s JimmyRum Distillery, local businesspeople came together to connect with like-minded people over great food and conversation. This event was about gaining practical insights and strategies from those who have excelled in their fields, and who better to speak to than local winners of the 2021 Victorian Tourism Awards.

Running for over 35 years, the Victorian Tourism Awards have showcased the state’s leaders in tourism excellence. The Awards encourage businesses to meet and exceed industry standards, rewarding excellence, innovation, industry professionalism and collaboration.

To share what sets their businesses apart from the crowd, Paul Pingiaro of Mornington Boat Hire (bronze winner in the adventure tourism category), Richard Hawkes of Hawkes Vegetable Farm (silver winner in the excellence in food tourism category), and Mel Oliver of Carmel at Sorrento (gold winner in the 5-star accommodation category) spoke at this event. Here are some of the key takeaways that they shared:

What do you think made your business an award winner?

  • Knowing your product inside out – allows you to effectively communicate its value to customers.
  • Understanding your customer – enables you to tailor your offerings to better meet their expectations.
  • Identifying the most effective channels to reach your customers – ensures targeted and efficient marketing efforts.
  • Anticipating and fulfilling customer desires – fosters loyalty and drives repeat business.
  • Understanding your costs – helps you make informed decisions to maintain profitability.
  • Collaborating with local businesses – fosters a supportive community and expands your reach.
  • Understand product differentiation – helps you to highlight your unique strengths and attract customers.
  • Tailoring experiences and offerings – creates memorable interactions and enhances customer satisfaction.
  • Investing in staff training and communication – cultivates a motivated and skilled workforce.

What advice would you give your younger business self?

  • Know when to walk away from a challenge – this allows for strategic decision-making and paves the way for better outcomes by redirecting resources and efforts towards more promising endeavours.
  • Put your ego aside – focus on what truly matters to solve problems and build good relationships.
  • Be patient – rather than trying to force things, let ideas evolve naturally, as this can lead to more sustainable and impactful solutions in the long run.
  • Don’t let the job define you – maintaining a balanced perspective can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and prevent burnout, enabling you keep clarity of purpose both within and outside of work.
  • Don’t burn bridges – not only does this demonstrate professionalism and integrity, but you never know who you will cross paths with or what opportunities may arise in the future as a result of keeping good relationships.

Networking events give local businesspeople a chance to come together to celebrate excellence, share their knowledge, be inspired, and connect with other like-minded locals. This event shared a number of principles for achieving business success drawn from the experiences of accomplished entrepreneurs. The principles that were share at this event can help serve as a guide for entrepreneurs seeking to thrive in today’s competitive business landscape.

Content first published April 2022, and updated February 2024

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