Innovation propels evolution
Destination Group’s Glenn Fitzgerald shared his success story – from Sydney butler in the 1980s to the owner of Australasia’s preeminent incentive, travel and conference provider – at our final Success Stories breakfast for 2017.
Destination Group began as a partnership, Glenn managing the incentive programs in the business’ portfolio from the front room of his home. He bought out his partner – who was nearing retirement – in 2011 and has since diversified the business from purely an incentive focus to a provider of travel, event and conferencing services, graphic design, web design and public relations.
Glenn says innovation in response to market demands has been key to the success of what is now a multi-million dollar business. “Over the years we’ve seen a shift from the traditional incentive model: employees work hard, sell things, and get rewarded with a trip,” he says. “Many of the business we manage incentive programs for in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries can’t spare people to go on long reward trips these days.”
As a result Glenn’s initiated a shift to online rewards programs, tailor made for individual clients’ needs, and created by the web design team they’ve now brought in-house. “Working with premium brands has dragged me along and I’ve had to keep evolving. Fortunately for us, businesses still need to sell product and to motivate staff to sell that product,” he said.
As well as diversifying Destination Group’s service offering, Glenn is committed to diversifying his clientele base. “We try not to be reliant on one customer,” he says. “No customer in 20 years has represented more than 25% of our revenue. Diversification has happened organically and I find the more varied our clientele, the more fun we have going to work.”
Setting the standard in Australasia as a premium provider of incentive, travel and conference services, Glenn says Destination Group’s reputation for detail and accountability are equally important as the business’ commitment to innovation.
“I learned back in my days as a butler that if you’re nice to people you can make a lot of money,” he says. “I’m not afraid of helping people or embarrassed about working in the service industry.
“I’ve never read a resume in my life. I make recruitment decisions based on whether I can have a half-hour conversation with the candidate. If I can, I figure they will go alright with my customers.”
When it comes to rewarding staff, Destination Group practices what Glenn preaches which has led to impressive staff retention. All six of the staff Glenn employed in 1998 are still with him today and of the 40 team members he now employs, almost half have qualified for long service leave.
“We treat our staff like family and that helps with retention. It’s an interesting, exciting and diverse job, and our staff get to travel the world,” he says.
Glenn has continually evolved his business to meet the needs of an ever-expanding and changing marketplace through innovation, detail and accountability, so it’s no surprise he has his eyes fixed firmly on future evolution. “We’re looking at the technological side,” he says. “We’re already custom-building bespoke reward program sites for our clients. Next we could become a big merchandiser of retail products and manage product and product display.”
If you would like help with formulating strategy that will allow your business to evolve to meet the changing needs of your marketplace, please contact Matthews Steer’s head of business advisory, Stephen Wooster on (03) 9325 6300.