The Tweed Tourism Company
In July 2018, DR Tourism was awarded a contract via tender by the Tweed Shire Council (TSC) involving the management of all destination marketing, industry/experience development, and visitor information initiatives for a 4 year period, commencing October 2018. We subsequently set up The Tweed Tourism Company (TTC) - the peak tourism body for the Tweed region - which is led by an in market General Manager and local Team. The DR Tourism team of Danielle Andreuzzi, Robbie Cornelius and Leigh Bennett oversee the organisation as its Executive team.
Following a rigorous procurement and probity process the transition plan and start up was challenged by some strong local politics at play, hence stakeholder engagement and rapport building with the major partner (Tweed Shire Council) was a major priority within the first few months of operation. An effective stakeholder engagement plan was designed and implemented, which involved engagement with Council Executive staff and other team members, Councillors, local operators, and local chambers of commerce, and various government departments of all levels. Stakeholder engagement was and continues to be carried out through a variety of workshops, forums, and one on one meetings - both formally and informally.
Our approach was built on a foundational piece, a Preliminary Strategic Management Plan written by our team, which continues to be reviewed and refined as necessary.
We are now two years into this four year contract and have gained profound insights and learnings, including:
- A flexible and agile approach to transition planning is paramount;
- Clarity and early progression on the enhancement and / or handover of digital and physical assets created under any previous contact, access to information, etc is critical;
- Transitioning needs a medium term timeframe as existing relationships with Council, industry, business and the community are tested or reformed and need to be dealt with respectfully, decisively and sensitively;
- The prime relationship is between contractor and, in this case, Tweed Shire Council and this must be built and nurtured with both parties alert to inherent challenges in the first 2 years;
- It is essential to create clear branding and conspicuous leadership through extensive local community and business engagement, to differentiate your offerings whilst still aligned with the core contractual obligations;
- A thorough objective analysis of the benefits or not of using any existing staff in the transitioning entity is essential to achieving a DR Tourism culture and desired values; and
- The model of having senior executives and consultants who can oversee portfolios, guide direction and contribute to any higher level or difficult negotiations, projects and issues, whilst balancing the employment of a locally based, fully empowered CEO and operational team, can work exceptionally well.