YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR WINNER
Written on the 25 November 2011
Broadbeach-headquartered international marketing company RewardsCorp has opened shop in South Africa with plans to expand to the US.
Randall Deer (pictured) is a quiet achiever making plenty of noise. He used $50,000 in savings to initially build a corporate empire which has offices in Broadbeach, Sydney, New Zealand and, more recently, South Africa.
“We have launched a joint venture on South Africa’s Natal South Coast and now plan to expand to the US,” says Deer.
“We also launched Group Buying Escapes, which offers accommodation deals to major group-buying sites and the Getaways Limited direct-to-market business.”
The group increased turnover by 45 per cent to $41 million in FY 2011. Revenue from the My Holiday Centre business increased 144 per cent between FY2010-2011, with average growth of 213 per cent during the past three years.
Deer says the My Fiji and My Hawaii websites have been top performers, while the new My Queensland website is ‘off to a good start’.
“All of our ‘My’ campaigns add value to existing luxury holidays. We ran a very heavy TV commercial campaign in Fiji which exceeded our expectations. It promoted Fiji, Bali and Hawaii,” says Deer.
“Our unique niche model worked well overseas. About 95 per cent of people paid the prices they were originally quoted, leaving them pleasantly surprised.”
RewardsCorp has provided services to Optus, L J Hooker Real Estate, Beaurepaires, Retravision, Forty Winks, Accor Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Air Pacific, Virgin Australia, Thai Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and the Mantra Group.
Deer first hatched the concept to handle promotions for big multi-nationals while working full-time as chief financial officer at BreakFree Holidays – once owned by Tony Smith and now part of Mantra Group.
“My business partner talked to potential clients and we landed a trial campaign for two Retravision stores in Nerang and Runaway Bay,” he says.
“We hired temporary staff from Kelly Recruitment Services and invested $20,000 into the first campaign, which led to a state-wide campaign, so I invested a further $200,000 into it. By the time we ran the national campaign, we had enough profit to fund it internally.”
Although there has never been a need for debt finance, Deer remains open to capital raising down the track.
“We were in a fortunate position so we didn’t have to. Instead of going outside and finding capital, we funded it internally,” he says.
“I’m a heavy re-investor and have used RewardsCorp profits to launch the new My Holiday Centre. We plan to acquire some resorts and will soon borrow money for these hard asset acquisitions.”
Deer believes the secret of his success is identifying gaps in the market and understanding client needs and wants.
“You become a leading tourism marketing company by finding out what people want instead of assuming what they want,” he says.
“We asked resorts what they wanted and if they were willing to give an unprecedented deal that a customer would really want to buy. They usually said yes.”
Creating an innovative work environment that lures top notch employees has also helped Deer achieve his goals.
“This environment and its associated energy motivate me and my staff daily,” he says.
“It also attracts exceptional talent who, in turn, bring exciting ideas and concepts to the business. We are now embarking on a program to hire eight new staff members a month, reaching a total of 150 by June (2012). We will mostly recruit travel consultants, marketers and accountants.”
Incentives include Friday drinks and teambuilding activities. Recently, 16 employees completed the Kokoda Challenge and raised $20,000 for charity.
RewardsCorp has outgrown its combined 700sqm at the Oasis residential development in Broadbeach and Deer plans to secure a bigger office in the area.
“We are either looking for two offices covering 450-500sqm or a single office spanning 800-1000sqm,” he says.
RewardsCorp is predicting more than 30 per cent revenue growth for fiscal 2012.