David and the Big Red Group is the largest experience marketplace in Australia and partners with over 3,000 experience providers across Australia through their brands Red Balloon, Adrenaline and Experience Oz. They’ve facilitated over 5 billion experiences since 2017. Today I sit down with David and discuss his vision for Big Red Group including how he started the group with Naomi Simson. We go into detail around what a $16m digital transformation program looks like and understand how he has established a workplace which sits in the top 25% engaged workplaces.
“What we saw was an opportunity to scale online for our suppliers”David Anderson
Alignment with suppliers
“A lot of people can tell you about how many packs flew into Cairns or what the hotel occupancy was. No one can tell you what they actually do when they get there, apart from us. It’s super valuable data.
And I think our objective is to be able to provide the Cairns operator with his ability to look at his product and understand relative conversion rates for like companies across Australia, like price points in region, like price points in segment, and also start to provide some insight as to what they should be doing or could be doing to improve the performance of their shop or funnel on site as a result of what we’re telling them, whether that’s price, whether that’s imagery, whether that’s content or otherwise, right?
So, when you’re offering platform solutions, you win when they win. And I think that alignment is really good.”
Trade down, not out
“If you look through the last 20 years through the GFC, through any recessionary moments, more people trade down to do something with a family, than trade out. You may not be taking the big holiday, but you are still going to go and do something. You might buy your dad a beer on Father’s Day but you’ll always buy a gift for Christmas.
These are things that happened in the Australian psyche and so for us, making sure that we’re turning up in the right place with the right products at the right price for the domestic audience is a key focus for us.”
Making change work
“Change management is very important, right? So taking the team on the journey is really important and it’s amazing in a vacuum, the stories that will be created. And so what does it mean for me and why are we doing it and what are the outcomes and what’s my role in it? Really important.
I think the second issue is to recognize whether you are capable of running and changing the business at the same time. in our case, we discovered we were probably a little bit too big and a little bit too small. I think if you’re five guys in the garage, you can pivot left and right easily. When you’re 10,000 people, you can have a whole change and transformation team, and you can invest in that approach. When you’re a couple of hundred people, you’re actually pretty busy running the business.
And we’ve used the phrase changing the engines in the airplane mid-flight, which I’ve heard many times, but it’s really challenging to do that. And so finding the right strategic partners to come and work with you, to help you through that hump is important.”
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