June 6, 2020

Slow burn

Slow burn

As we continue to come out of the aftermath of COVID-19, Mi9 cast a spotlight on sectors that are showing growth such as retail, as well as those still recovering, such as tourism. We also spoke to Olivia Rogers, the GM of TourismHQ on her insights pertaining to her sector, including how they had to diversify to survive the challenges of a declining tourism market. Mi9’s Rhys Heron also speaks to how his business navigates through these changing times and the growth he is seeing.

Olivia Rogers - General Manager, TourismHQ

Olivia has 12 + years of experience in bespoke events, promotions and marketing. Proud to have been involved in a range of events both in New Zealand and internationally she loves the thrill of making clients dreams come to life and isn't afraid to think outside the box.

She has lived by the acronym, MIH... (MAKE IT HAPPEN). Having both a managerial and business development background Olivia understands how important business growth is and enjoys working with companies to reach KPIs, increase the bottom line and ensure their brand is front and centre in the market place. For the last five years Olivia Rogers has been with TourismHQ, an experiential based travel firm which has been running since 2012, and having worked her way to GM and the leadership team. One might call her the wonder-woman of organising events and tourism.  Outside of TourismHQ, she also has her own freelancing business where she organises a range of different events for a large array of different clients.                                       

In her video Rogers outlines how for a business that relies heavily on tourism they had to overcome the challenge of seeing their world of travel come to a standstill and contracts either being cancelled or postponed. Rogers knows a thing or two about dwindling revenues in a time of crisis and talks about how they had to pivot to adjust to this change. More importantly she touches on why it’s important to not have all your eggs in one basket and be able to diversify as a business.

Rhys Heron – Managing Director, Mi9

At the depth of the COVID-19 crisis and beginning of Level 4 lockdown in late March and early April, Mi9’s revenue, like many other businesses, was down more than 50% and the time to any potential recovery was unknown. Understanding that the entire economy was being impacted in a similar way and that there was very little Mi9 could do to influence the macroeconomic environment, we reverted to our Values to guide our behaviour. 

Using our Values of Commitment, Preparedness, Honesty, Teamwork and Problem-solving as the foundation, we reflected on how we should treat our clients and partners during what was a difficult time for businesses and individuals. The principles for customer engagement we developed to guide our interactions through lockdown were:

  • Demonstrate empathy and understanding
  • Ask how we can help support our clients and partners now and in future
  • If needed, think outside the box to offer tailored solutions
  • Use “lower” workload to be extra responsive
  • Introduce personalised interactions, e.g. video call, where appropriate
  • Aim to surprise and delight in every interaction

Luckily Mi9 already has a team and culture that emphasises and exhibits exceptional customer service, so these principles were more to ensure our behaviour was adapted to the unique social and economic circumstances of lockdown, and that our interactions would stand the test of time when reflected on by our customers and ourselves once the crisis passed.

Now that New Zealand has moved to Alert Level 1 from 9 June after managing its response to the pandemic so well by global standards, and minimal restrictions on social distancing and businesses remain in place, it’s hoped the economic recovery can begin in earnest. There will be an upper limit on the recovery for the advertising industry until borders re-open and demand from the hard-hit tourism sector returns, but I’m pleased to say the revenue recovery for Mi9 began in-line with the adoption of these principles and has continued through to now. Was it entirely due to these principles? Probably not, but they didn’t hurt either.

Warren Moss - Founder & CEO, Demographica      

Warren Moss is the founder & CEO of Demographica, a specialist B2B marketing agency and the most awarded one in Africa. Through Demographica, he consults to some of the world’s biggest B2B brands on their B2B marketing and sales strategies. In South Africa, he is the Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association’s Assegai Awards and is a judge for the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Bookmark Awards. Internationally, he is a judge for the Business Marketing Association's B2 Awards and the Global DMA's Echo Awards. He is a previous Chairman of the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMA SA) and previously sat on the board of the Johannesburg chapter of Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) as the Marketing and Communications Chair. Outside of Demographica, his passion is African contemporary art and he is both a private dealer and an avid collector.

When Mi9 spoke to this thought leader he stated that very few companies make it through a recession and post a recession as market leaders. According to Moss, most brands respond in one of four ways (prevention focused, promotion focused, pragmatic focused and progressive focused.

“At Demographica, we look at all four responses, and we see that progressive focus companies win. Why do they win? it's because they focus on a specific combination of offensive and defensive moves and core to the offensive moves is marketing”, says Moss.

In his video Moss shares his extensive experience and insights to delve deeper in these four responses.

At a FMCG and Retail level Nielsen has reported that weekly supermarket sales are slowly clawing their way back to what we saw 14 weeks ago, when New Zealand had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, but still showing 9% growth vs the same week last year. Their latest weekly snapshot provides a clear view in terms of understanding growth by department level and for the top growth categories.

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