Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CHAPTER TWO...HOW WAS YOUR HOLIDAY…

Me at 2 consecutive Sydney ATEs - 1986 & 1987.  Sorry about the damage to photos.


Torres Strait Pigeon

Zoe Falls, Hinchinbrook Island

Two views of Orchid Beach - the resort's beach.


A wallaby local with guests in the restaurant

It must not have been "Happy Hour" at the bar!

Jetty at the resort...the restaurant is/was up behind the trees

Me looking quite serious during my Hinchinbrook days...somewhere in a motel north of Cairns - from memory.

Alan McGirvan 

Fortunately, the winds of fairness blew kindly upon me. 

Peter and his wife, Maree, having willingly agreed to produce the marketing video depicting the island resort’s temptations, could fit only one week into their growing busy schedule to come to the island to do the filming. They arrived the second week in May. With no time to waste they immediately got to work; time was of the essence.  The ATE was in early June; just a matter of weeks away.

Almost every day a trip was organised for the island guests.  Depending on the weather conditions, direction of the winds etc., Bob, the skipper of the “Reef Venture”, the powered catamaran that brought provisions and guests across to the island from Cardwell on the mainland conducted the day-trips for my guests. The tours varied between Garden and Goold Islands which both were just a few swim strokes across the way from the north-eastern tip of Hinchinbrook Island where the resort was; or further afield to the Brook Islands that are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. There the guests could go snorkeling to view the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, or, if they were lucky, spot the stunning Torres Strait Pigeons (also known as “Nutmeg Pigeons) that use the Brook Islands as one of their major breeding areas. Late in the afternoons during the pigeons' breeding season we'd watch them wend their way across the ocean back home to the Brook Island for the night.

At the beginning of last century the beautiful pigeon was on the verge of extinction.  If not for the wonderful work of naturalist and forward-thinker, Edmund James “Ted” Banfield, the Imperial Torresian Pigeons would not exist today. Banfield and his wife gave up life on the mainland to settle on Dunk Island in 1900.  And who could blame him? Dunk Island is part of the Family Group of Island to the north of Hinchinbrook Island.   A glorious part of the world....

Banfield wrote “Confessions of a Beachcomber”; “My Tropic Isle” and “Tropic Days”, with “Last Leaves from Dunk Island” which was published posthumously in 1925.  They are wonderful, highly-recommended reads.

However, I’ll leave you with the above interesting piece of worthwhile trivia, and move forward again to May, 1986….

On the rare occasions the south-easterly winds weren’t blowing the prized tour was a day-trip along the eastern side of Hinchinbrook, south to Zoe Bay, with a trek through to Zoe Falls.

Fortunately, while Peter and Maree were on the island filming the weather was conducive to boat trips every day. They were able to travel to not only the surrounding islands, but also to Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls. 

Luck was on my side; and on theirs, enabling them to achieve days of filming under clear blue skies and on a calm ocean.  Peter captured everything the island and its surrounds had to offer.  He and Lyn were in awe, having never visited the area before their assignment.  During the daylight hours I saw very little of them; and in the evenings not long after dining they’d return to their cabin, exhausted, eager for a good night’s sleep before the next early morning and full day that lay ahead.

And then Luck’s sister, Lady Luck paid me a visit, as well.  After phoning store after store from Melbourne northwards, I found the tuxedo I was in search of – at David Jones’ women’s fashion department in the main Queensland store - in Brisbane!  If only I’d rung the Brisbane store first I would have saved my fingers from all the walking I’d put them through! 

Not only did I find the perfect tuxedo, but I also found a suitable white women’s shirt of good quality to wear with it. The shirt I chose had fine pleating down its front.  At the same time, I purchased three bow ties – black, red and silver; so I could have a choice come time of wearing.   I bought sight unseen and without trying on before purchase; but sometimes one has to take a leap of faith; and that was one of those times.

Within a few days my new outfit arrived on the island, brought over from the mainland by Bob, on the Reef Venture.   

Excitedly, if not with some hesitation in fear the suit and the shirt wouldn’t fit, I unpacked my purchases from the packaging.  There was no need for fear because everything fitted perfectly.  I couldn’t believe it; and I couldn’t have done better if I’d physically gone shopping.  I was over the moon.  I fell in love with that tux upon first viewing and wearing. 

Once Peter completed the filming, he and Maree returned to their home-base on the Sunshine Coast.  Then the hard work began; the clock was ticking – rapidly.  There were hours; days of filming to edit; and all those hours of film had to be edited into less than five minutes of footage!  I’d been advised by all the experts of such matters that the limit of a person’s concentration when being “sold” a product is less than five minutes. After that you've lost them their attention.  The “seller” is really up against it.  The “seller” has to grab the attention of the “buyer” and get across as much information as he or she can in a very brief time.  I bucked the system a little by producing a five minutes promotional video – no less; no more. 

Peter and I were constantly on the telephone, back and forth frantically putting everything together by long distance – almost by remote control it seemed at times. We probably both had each other’s fingers crossed hoping it would all turn out right in the end. I wrote the script and chose the background music to suit.  The script and music then had to be applied to the appropriate images/scenes on the video.  Every aspect had to marry together.  The images, script and music had to blend smoothly and meaningfully.   

Once we’d ironed out the creases, knots and bumps it was time for the “voice-over” person to do his job.  I'd hired Alan McGirvan, a Brisbane radio announcer of note to do the job.  And as I was to discover – too late – he stuffed it up!  

When it came to the word “foliage” in a certain part in the script, he pronounced it as - “foil-i-age”; but by that stage it was too late to amend the “voice-over”; far too late in the day to have McGirvan do it over.   I was so angry and frustrated; but there was nothing I could do about it; time had run out.  The only thing to do was get over it and move on…but I did find a remedy of a kind….

Bidding farewell to the island and my staff, I was on my way to Sydney and the ATE with my tuxedo, fancy white shirt, bow ties and a load of video tapes packed safely in my luggage!  Look out world - Lee was on her way!

A busy, hectic and exciting time lay in store for me.

Five days of full-on, non-stop marketing; commencing at 9 am every morning lay ahead.  The individual sessions lasted 15 minutes. Two minutes before completion of a session, an alarm bell rang, alerting the seller and the buyers that the session was near completion. Another bell rang at the one-minute mark. It was then time to wrap up the session, in readiness for the next.  The buyer moved on to their next appointment; and the seller’s next client took their place; and on it continued day long, finishing at 5 pm.  As I wrote elsewhere, further networking continued into the evenings during business dinners, functions etc.

Upon receipt of the thick booklet from the Australian Tourism Commission inviting me, as manager of the resort to attend the ATE as the business/island's representative I gave the questions asked a great deal of concentrated consideration. It was of the utmost importance to do so. 

For instance, my main visiting tourists/guests (excluding Australian at whom the ATE wasn’t directed) were from New Zealand, USA, Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden; with, in those days, hardly any business from Japan and other Asian countries.

At that time, the majority of Japanese tourists weren’t interested in what Hinchinbrook had to offer, which was little, really for those seeking bright-light excitement.  Other than total relaxation with long walks thrown in to some other secluded island beaches, if so desired; and, of course, the boat trips, guests were left to amuse themselves, mostly by just soaking in the natural ambience. To holiday at the Cape Richards Resort was to experience the enjoyment and exploration of nature, with no neon lights thrown in.
  
The Japanese tourists preferred to travel in groups. Very few were “FITs” – translated into ‘free-independent travellers’; that was the term used within the tourism industry. The Japanese tourists sought the ‘bright lights’; cities like the Gold Coast, Sydney etc., where casinos were also on offer; and lots of shopping, duty-free and otherwise.

I concentrated on ‘my market’, the market that provided for guests who where suited to my ‘product’; who were in search of a relaxed, natural, laid-back, neon-light-free, traffic-free environment. No fuss; not bother; no hustle and bustle.

Of course, I projected some of my marketing towards possible new horizons, but my main focus was upon those who sought what Hinchinbrook had to offer.  The fruits of our hard work at the ATE and similar trade shows didn’t come immediately.  It could take up to 18 months for businesses to reap the benefits of attending the ATE, spreading the good word about their resorts, tour operations, hotels, etc., but the ATE was/is very important to the Australian tourism industry.

The first night’s gala event at the Sydney Town Hall was an eye-opener.  I wore my tuxedo, accompanied with black patent-leather high heels on my feet, and a black bow tie around my neck. I felt like a million dollars.  Formal gowns adorned the other women guests and dignitaries.  I was the only woman dressed in a tuxedo.  I was so glad I’d chosen it above a ball gown or cocktail dress.

Upon arriving at the Town Hall, a Sydney Brass Band stood at the top of the front stairs of the Hall playing, welcoming the dignitaries and guests to the special event - occasion.  And their appearance did make the night feel extraordinarily special. It made me feel very special, anyway.  It was an evening to remember; and one I’ve never forgotten.

A couple of years later I met a fellow at a function somewhere or other, and I was taken aback when he said to me:  “I remember you…you were the one who wore the tuxedo to the function at the Sydney Town Hall!”  I flabbergasted, but I felt flattered, too, I must admit, because his comment was made in praise.

Every time I played the video to the ATE clients and at various other business venues I attended I made sure I talked over the section where Alan McGirvan mispronounced "foliage" by saying "foiliage".  The fool - I had to foil their attention somehow!  

Sometimes I was sure I noticed the eyebrows of my clients raise a little when my voice grew louder when the film came to that section!!   It might have been just in my imagination!

The Northern Hemisphere (and New Zealand) was filled from country to country with my promotional video cassettes....I handed out many, many copies of that tape to the overseas operators.  No one escaped the Hinchinbrook Island Video Bandit!

As I write this I’m making a mental note that I have to spend a day or three dedicated to finding photos that I’ve got stored somewhere or other – amongst some things and others – of this time in my life.  I know they are still hidden here somewhere!

By the time the ATE ended and I arrived back to the island I was exhausted and almost without a voice from the ceaseless talking I’d done over the previous few days.  I was made even more speechless when my staff asked me: “How was your holiday?”   Holiday???

I attended two ATEs along with many other conferences, seminars and trade shows during my tenure as manager and sales/marketing manager of Hinchinbrook Island Resort; and without fail, every time I returned back to the island I was asked the same question about my "holiday"!  

Very quickly I learned to smile and reply: “Great, thanks!”  I knew it was impossible to even try to explain, so I just gave up!  It was simpler that way!

But I didn’t complain, then; and I’m not complaining now.  I loved the sales/marketing side of the business as well as the hands-on management.  And through it all I met some interesting, wonderful people (and a a few less so - but only a few in comparison)…and that includes most of whom worked with me to make the island experience an experience to remember.

34 comments:

  1. Hats off to you. That sounds truly exhausting. I don't think I would have/could have coped.
    Bright lights? Not for me.

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  2. I'm not fond of the bright lights, either, EC. I left city-living back in March, 1979; and I have no intention of returning to same.

    It was exhausting,I guess, but it also was a hell of a lot of fun! :)

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  3. Sounds like an exhausting trip. That's pretty funny about the foiliage. Just goes to show that just because someone might be a professional doesn't make them an expert.

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  4. You sound a bit like a whirl wind Lee...... A very capable one! Tambourine Mt would be a pretty big contrast to that life wouldn't it ?( Tonys sister lives at Eagle Heights and loves it up there )
    Funny about the staff's comment. Parents used to say that to me when I brought 100 kids home after a week of school camp. Idiots !

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  5. Lee, I was so glad to see the rest of your story when I got home yesterday. You have such a good memory of events in your life. If you feel like it Lee, would you drop me an email please via carolincairns@gmail.com

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  6. Orchid beach looks absolutely gorgeous!

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  7. I don't do bright lights either. Been there, done that...

    You have an incredible memory, Lee.

    Another fascinating post :)

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  8. It was exhausting, Dexter, but because it also was so exhilarating and exciting I didn't really think about it too much as it was happening.

    I still grit my teeth when I think about that word...and I can still hear it clearing in my mind! lol

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. Hi Helsie...I'm not really a whirlwind; particularly not these days; but I wasn't then, either. I just got on with things...they had to be done...and I enjoyed what I was doing...that's half if not all the battle. It was all an adventure, I guess.

    Fancy you having a relative living up here on the hill! Small world. It is a nice area; and still has a village atmosphere about it, which I like. I've not been off the hill in a long time. I never go down to the Gold Coast...I hate the hustle and bustle. I'm a real hillybilly! lol

    Thanks for swinging by from Italy! ;)

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  10. Hey, Carol. I do have a good memory. I've always been this way, much to the despair of some, I guess! Maybe a few duck for cover! lol

    I'm glad you enjoyed the rest of my story about the ATE, particularly after your involvement in the past week or so.

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  11. Hey RK...Orchid Beach was a nice little bay...often in the early mornings we'd see that the wallabies had been down for a walk along the beach during the previous night.

    And a few campfires on that beach were enjoyed at different times by staff and guests.

    Nice to see you. :)

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  12. Hey Wendy...I'd go crazy living in a city...just watching all the traffic build-ups on the TV traffic reports is enough to make me cringe. And I'm not one for big shopping centres filled with hundreds of people shuffling and bustling around. I like the quiet places where four cars are a traffic jam! lol

    There is a lot of stuff stored up there in my mind! More installments to come! ;)

    Thanks for coming by.

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  13. I had to lol at the ringin of the bells and your voice getting louder at that point in the tape. Holiday in deed. But I do agree with your answer. Peace

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  14. Hi Lady Di...I still have a giggle to this day when I think of me talking louder over that particular spot in the audio on the video cassette! lol

    One has to be adaptable, you know - and prepared for anything! ;)

    Thanks for popping in.

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  15. Great story.....What one has to do sometimes to make something look and sound right, even though it wasn't....You were very resourceful in those presentations.....lol! Good For You!!!

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  16. They probably all thought I was a bit crazy, Naomi! They probably weren't far off the mark, to be honest! lol

    I think I've gotten worse as I've grown older, too! ;)

    It's nice to see you...thanks for coming by.

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  17. A woman becoming tired of talking? How can this be?

    Hey, I just discovered that I had included one of your neighbors from Glympie in a Sites To See. Now, I don't know if you two ever lived in the same neighborhood, but being in and around the same town is close enough for me.

    By the way, I purchase my e(s) by the bushel, and if I don't use them soon enough, they go bad. So, that's what happened with my spelling of Cairns before.

    http://crystalmarylindsey.blogspot.com/

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  18. It would appear you purchased "l" by the bushel, too, Jerry. "Gympie" is spelled as shown...it has no "l" in it! ;)

    Were you hoping to make alphabet soup, perhaps?

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  19. Jerry...with regard to the blog you discovered...Crystal Lindsey lives at Rainbow Beach, which is about 73 kms (45 miles) from Gympie.

    Very good friends of mine of long-standing live at Rainbow Beach. They used to live in Gympie before retiring. We've known each other since school days.

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  20. Hmm, Crystal Mary signed off her comment with, "From Gympie in Queensland, Australia." So, maybe she used to live there?

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  21. Wondering how tourism in Australia has changed since. I've heard Sydney and the Gold Coast are very expensive. I think I would be considered one of those free and independent travelers. We're going to Ireland in less than a month on an itinerary I planned myself (fingers crossed).

    I had one spam comment on my blog that offered no-prescription valium from Australia. Coincidentally I could be in the market for valium since I fear flying. But to get it from Australia is going a bit too far.

    Is "foiliage" really that bad? It almost sounds like it could be a regional pronunciation.

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  22. Hi Dave,

    No...pronouncing "foliage"..."foilage" is in no way a regional pronunciation; and for a very well-known Brisbane city radio personality (and "voice-over exponent)to make such an error was unforgivable as far as I was/am concerned.

    McGirvan wasn't just some young gun who'd just entered the radio world, either. He was a man, at that stage in his 40s who had many years broadcasting experience under his belt; and a person who had quite a high opinion of himself!

    I'm not a "group" traveller, either; as I pointed out in my Singapore tale I, like you, prefer to "go my own way". I'm not a group person in anything I do or get involved in. I much prefer to be an "FIT".

    I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful trip. Sorry you have a fear of flying...perhaps some type of relaxant might be advisable...but not valium all the way from Australia! lol

    Thanks for dropping in...it's always nice to see you. :)

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  23. I always seem to end up doing exhausting things too but I don't always mind it. A certain sense of achievement at the end of it, don't you think?

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  24. G'day Jenny...I don't do exhausting things these days...that life is far behind me; but I enjoyed the adrenaline rush at those times, amongst the stress, exhaustion and madness there was always that sense of achievement, as you say; a sense of being the conqueror when faced with a challenge. The excitement felt when not backing off from it; taking no prisoners...do or die! ;)

    Nowadays I like and enjoy the quiet life far too much. Thanks for popping in. :)

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  25. Would you please keep putting my husband in his place? I swear, if you take your eyes off of him for a second, he's off causing trouble someplace, and it sure doesn't help that he is so hard to look at.

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  26. Hahahahahaha, Arlynda...I'll leave that job up to you! ;)

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  27. Two whole blogs out of a mere marketing exercise.
    Everyone knows marketing is indeed a holiday time of fun and laughter with little effort required!

    Eating pigeons might be exciting mind......

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  28. You might let Adullamite know, Lee, that one does not need to keep the feathers on in order for eating pigeon to tickle their fancy.

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  29. Jerry, perhaps you'd better ask Arlynda that question. :)

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  30. Adullamite...especially for you I'll try, next time, to write two whole blogs about football - will that be better?

    You'd get a good feed off a Torres Strait pigeon, too, Mr. Ad-Man, but you also would get into a lot of trouble if caught eating one because they're a protected species...just like I am!

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  31. Jerry...but they could come in handy as toothpicks...and for flossing.

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  32. Jerry comes in handy for flossing?
    I fail to understand.....

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  33. That's the problem with you Scots, Mr. Ad-man. Things have to be spelled out for you! ;)

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