Growth Through the Spirit of Collaboration

Interviewed on March 19, 2021

In this episode, digitally discover…

  • How Chrissy Evangelous from Mackay Tourism has been able to help local tourism businesses in the past year (e.g. initiatives, grants, etc).
  • The process of how Tourism Tribe and Mackay Tourism have worked together to develop a program to enhance collaboration through a Packaging for Profit masterclass
  • The importance for regional tourism areas across Australia to collaborate and work closer together. 
  • and so much more!
Digital Discovery Show - Chrissy Evangelou

Despina Karatzias 0:19
Hello, everybody, welcome to this week’s episode of the digital discovery show. I am not in my office for the first time and even though I know I’m not even in Melbourne not even better I shouldn’t say that I’m in MCI. MCI with my wonderful colleague and friend now after spending 24 hours in MCI, I am thrilled to bring to you and introduce our world of the digital discovery show that’s brought to you by Tourism Tribe, and Navii. Digital Chrissy Evangeolous from MCI Tourism. Welcome, Chrissy.

Chrissy Evangelous 1:10
Thank you.

Despina Karatzias 1:11
Thank you for agreeing to do this for me. Pleasure i knew i as soon as I spoke with Chrissy and we worked together to bring a training here today to about 30 operators. In and around MCI, we talked about all about packaging for profit and using collaboration for growth, which has been fantastic. Thank you, for engaging Tourism Tribe, and for getting me on a plane. Very exciting. So tell us Krissy give me Tell us a little bit about yourself, and where we’re at in this part of the world where we actually are at the moment.

Chrissy Evangelous 1:51
So we’re in the tropics of Queensland, we’re in MCI, North Queensland, central to North Queensland, depending on who you speak to. And we’re on the coast. If you don’t know that people often think of us as a mining town. However, we think of as much more than that the mining is over the hill. We’ve got beautiful nature experiences here. We’ve got a huge sporting community. There’s a lot of wonderful sportsmen who have come out of and women who have come out of MCI get it’s a really special place, beautiful beaches, huge tides, but we don’t sort of have the mudflat flats of Cannes, we just have these huge, huge tides. And like the river, the river, we’ve got one of the only blue rivers River. Yeah, we’ve only got one of the only blue rivers in Australia. And it’s just superb, the Pioneer River. So we’ve got a lot of potential here. And that’s why we were doing like what we’re doing today working with our operators to see what we can do to make MCI even better.

Despina Karatzias 2:59
And it was magic today was just magic to get if we had such a group and credit to you for recognizing, because a lot of what came out of the businesses that we have no, this is so timely. How do you recognize how do you scope out? What type of training you put out? Because you really nailed who was in the room and the topic? Yeah,

Chrissy Evangelous 3:21
I think I think you get to a certain age amount of experience. I’ve owned small businesses been in small businesses. Yeah, worked for small businesses. I’ve lived in mkhaya, twice lived on the Gold Coast. So I’ve sort of always had an interest in the tourism industry as well. I just thought we were just right for the packaging after COVID when COVID here, it was, it was really interesting. I remember talking to a motel operator that is in a street have a whole heap of motels. And our we were ringing everybody making sure they’re okay. And they actually said to me, my The only one this is happening to with all those bookings going, you know, like get all those cancellations. And I thought, God, you You’re so isolated. So I’ve been keeping a really good eye on what’s been happening with our operators since then. And you know, some of them about back some of them have struggled, but I think they just needed to be able to have more than just accommodation. They needed to be able to create some packages. So you know, they’re attracting more people to MCI. We’ve got more people here staying longer. And I don’t know I think sometimes it’s just instinctual when you just feel it exciting, you know, yes, I really do talk to a lot of people and talk to our operators as well to see what they’re after.

Despina Karatzias 4:56
And I mean, you really see there’s a lot of investment in the region. There’s a lot of operators that have come from into state, buying businesses and starting a fresh start in the pie, which is very new managers as well. How have you What have been some of the initiatives over this period that you’ve either seen new innovations from businesses, but also for yourself? I mean, you’ve recognized early on, we’ve talked about that isolation and healthier operators through that, I think,

Chrissy Evangelous 5:31
early on as soon as COVID here. Well, you know, it was devastation across the board. And I think MCI tourism really did a good thing. We just basically said, let’s just drop everything, let’s ring every single operator that we did, we actually did that three times. So that was a lot of phone calls, my average phone call I worked out was about 35 minutes long. So you know, that was, that was a lot of phone calls that we made. And we just recognized early that they needed help early. And for some of them, they needed help, because they had to close their business. So we sort of had a business recovery series. And everything I do, I always follow with mentoring or coaching and events, we didn’t want to lose our events. So started events recovery series, and just sort of got them all, some help early on. I remember I was putting on to two webinars a week for four weeks for events. And everyone said that nobody’s going to watch that. Because it’s, you know, that too many in a row and I went, I ran events, I need that help. I need that information now. So we got in really early, gave people information, gave people coaching to help them, you know, some of our businesses closed, and we actually gave them help to, you know, like with lawyers and things like that Yay,

Despina Karatzias 7:07
Assistant, yeah, contractual obligations,

Chrissy Evangelous 7:10
all that sort of thing that they just needed help with?

Despina Karatzias 7:13
Yeah. Oh, it was wonderful. One, I had a great, I’ve had a greater good within your community, and just valuing human connection with we’ve been able to use digital. But the power of getting in through the eye-level of ideas, and that have come out of today has been has been very, very special. In the spirit of collaboration, how important has that been in your career? Even I mean, your experience with businesses and also I mean, speaking of events, you’ve put on some real signature events. And that’s what’s really highlighted two of how, how a community can really piggyback and leverage their marketing on an offline through now that events are coming back and being fingers on the pulse of what is happening on your regional calendar.

Chrissy Evangelous 8:17
How important is that been? The word collaboration, I’ve just found collaboration just is everything, you know that building relationships, collaborating. If you don’t do it, you sort of don’t get anyway. You know, it’s everything from having an event and needing sponsorship, or just help with that, whether it be your community, getting volunteers, all that all that sort of thing. And what we saw here today was, we had indoor go karting, we had platter business, we had the sarina, sugar shed, we had all these different businesses and just sort of putting a few ideas out there. And then they’re going, Ah, oh, and just working together was beautiful. But I think the good thing is so this is sort of like a good mixture of face to face. Yeah. So we give them that session. However, following on from this, we need to be able to still connect with you with and make sure this follows through. So thank God for digital. Yes,

Despina Karatzias 9:27
yeah, absolutely. I will do that online with our small groups. Yes. and extend these because we talked a lot about the action item afterwards. And it was it was such a good eclectic group. We had accommodation, we had experiences, adventure operators, ground and see. We did also have an event like some we had an operator that is holding an event coming up. And that’s something that for anyone that’s that that’s listening is to is to really use it doesn’t always have to be you. That’s hold In the event that we’re having a regional event in your area, use that to promote it on your own Facebook pages on your website, and piggyback and really leverage from that, which you would, which was wonderful as well. And

Chrissy Evangelous 10:17
I think we found some people today that they sort of hadn’t considered event as a form of get someone that they could collaborate with. And I run an event called MCI Marina run in case you’re coming up here on this lovely, beautiful time of year racing in Melbourne. Beautiful. Yeah, and they set up, you know, like, I’m not getting bookings on a Monday, Tuesday. And well, people are coming to my event from Friday, possibly through to a Sunday, you know, why not give me some sort of offer. And like we were talking about discounting, I don’t believe in discounting something that can benefit them, they might like, they might be one of those people that would normally go to Hawaii or Bali, or wherever and do that five, seven day trip, they might like to do that in my client, give me an offer a puppet on my website,

Despina Karatzias 11:13
let’s see how it goes. You don’t lose anything, you don’t lose anything in all translate, even looking for content ideas. elta. pushy, she popped up the it was a center page spread of all of the 12 month calendars. And she said this is going to go on my website. So even something like just sparked the idea that you Okay, you can look at the calendars in the in the destination brochure. But suddenly, here’s a whole heap of content that we can put up on to our website translated onto your Facebook event pages use that as part of your content. It’s also part of the spirit of collaboration, isn’t it limited all those.

Chrissy Evangelous 11:55
And these are small operators. So creating content is sometimes you know, time consuming. Grab it from there, grab it from there, you know, like, use it use what other people are doing. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, tuck yourself in there somewhere.

Despina Karatzias 12:09
Absolutely, absolutely be the other source of information. And then you make friends.

Despina Karatzias 12:18
Oh absolutely. Yes. Yes, that’s right. And speaking of that, now, have you’ve seen what success looks like for a tourism business? Yeah. In your experience? Tell me about what are some of the traits of operators that work really well and how they work well with their regional Tourism Organization? Because I think there’s a lot of assumption that I’m giving over with whatever the model is, Can you talk to us about what are some of the traits in business successful businesses in how they approach working in within a destination? environment? And for those of you that might be joining us, that don’t work in tourism, but you also think there’s everybody has an industry association? Yes, exactly. Example, a perfect example, what would be in just your career today, what have been some standout attributes in really leveraging those relationships?

Chrissy Evangelous 13:24
I’m going to use your example that you use today, because I use it all the time. If you’ve got a gym membership, yeah, I used to be sales and marketing at a gym for like, nearly 10 years. If you’ve got a gym membership, and use it regularly, you get to know the people at the gym, they start to look after you, you go regularly, you get healthy. And it’s good for you. So so this is exactly the same with your tourism membership, your chamber of commerce, membership, whatever it was, make sure they know who you are, because honestly, they can. They’re usually just a small team. So if you can make yourself known, whether it be turning up at the networking events, or their industry and development events popping in and just saying hi inviting them for a coffee. Yeah. So that you actually get to know those members. And they do that not with just the tourism industry. I see them pop up at Chamber of Commerce events, I see them pop up at a launch of something. So they make they make the time to, I suppose connect with their community to collaborate with other people. So the ones that I say that a really dumb will do all those, do all those things well, and they also, they also seem to use their time well, so they’re able to actually make those things whereas other people say to me, I’m too busy. I can’t come but they must be Very good at time management because they’re able to be at those things that get that in a way that helping create this success.

Despina Karatzias 15:11
It’s funny, I mean, you even managed to get to media. That’s That’s never happened before just to give you guys a heads up. So Chrissy and the team organized CHANNEL SEVEN to come here today they organize a local paper to come here today. It’s also just thinking of the next level and I got asked a question, what do you do you see opportunity here in MCI and I said, I’ve had, there have been business owners here that have come to a workshop and not you know, this is a testament to what, what is the difference that makes a difference, that they’ve come here still with the hunger and the thirst to learn on how they can improve, and also sharing with each other, you know, what they’ve learned and contributing to the group, which was really, really great to see. So yeah, I see a lot of green,

Chrissy Evangelous 16:01
that’s for sure. Yeah. But I think this is the hope what we did today that like packaging and bundling of products to sort of diversify, I suppose, you know, their business. It’s, it’s not new, it’s not a new thing. You know, we’ve all heard it. However, I think it’s something that people have often thought, Oh, it’s for somebody else. Yeah. And we broke it right down so that people realized it was so all these businesses realize whether they’re a bigger business or a smaller business, that it’s actually for everybody. And then if they can all be part of it. So I think that was really good. Because sometimes you it’s, you have to be very convincing sometimes to get people to things like this, because I heard more than once. Packaging I’ve been to one of those people is really boring.

Unknown Speaker 16:55
I don’t think it’s going to be boring.

Chrissy Evangelous 16:58
Video. Yes, whenever I have an event, I always ask the presenter to do a video for me. And I think only once I haven’t used it, because it just sounded so boring. And I thought, Oh, that’s not going to go so well. Yeah, they’re much better in person. So I had to make that call. Yeah. But you know, like, that was the power of using like digital to have your hearing person. Yeah. So. And I always come back to using both those things. Because I think it’s really, really important,

Despina Karatzias 17:29
really important. And look, even the extensions. So what we, what we did today, we’ve had, we did the training in the morning, but in the afternoon, and we do this in our business, we do a lot of group live coaching sessions. So it’s kind of like businesses come to a group session with their challenges or what they’d like to focus on. And we never doubt and that’s what that felt that this was like a real life in person group coaching session, where we literally sat around the table, we took turns in focusing, and I really enjoyed that. And magic happens. I mean, we’ve got some packages that are going to be launched in November as a result of that. So that was, it was really great to give that space. I think you nailed that one Mr. just said, it’s good I thinking business as well as like trialing something new where you said, I just want to see where it goes, leave the space in the afternoon, let’s make ourselves available and say, and it was just it gave creative freedom. That’s what that did. Yeah, it just gave some creative freedom, which is required.

Chrissy Evangelous 18:37
I thought, so I thought, you know, everybody’s not going to be able to have the ability to be able to stay all day, you know, if they can come for half a day out of their business. That is unreal. However, you know, I heard some of them talking. And even though other people that live they they’re actually bringing up that other business. So yeah, we need to also contact blah, blah, because, yeah, important that they’re in that. And I think that’s where those online group sessions that we’re going to have as well. I just don’t think anybody out there who organizes events. I just don’t think that anymore, you can just hold a workshop. Yes. Everything I do now is a whole group workshop. I organized some coaching after that, you know, that might be one on one or small group, and then make sure that there’s a follow up after that to make sure there’s an outcome. Yes, yeah. So I really don’t like putting anything on anymore. Unless I can go 123

Despina Karatzias 19:39
love it. It’s more it’s almost like hybrid events someday. Yeah, you’ve got a little bit of of everything and look something that we extended what partnership and collaboration looks like. And even looked at the framework of social media to say well, pinging another business is a form of collaboration, mentioning another business using each other as influencers in our destination. an influencer is not just the, you know, the Instagram business that has worked hard to build a community, we have to also look at each other as influences and support each other. So it was some looking at all different like, yeah, it’s not one size fits all. So an example today,

Chrissy Evangelous 20:30
the lovely herot Park Country Club, they wrote, they donated a venue. Yeah. And so it’s just a Class E Class E. ag. And then this, they are to yet be the accommodation sponsor. So first thing I did this morning was took a photo, make sure I tagged them both in it so that, you know, they realize that we appreciate, you know, appreciate their help. Yeah, well, yeah. It’s, it was

Despina Karatzias 21:01
an even in that it’s practicing what you’re teaching and what like even putting on an event in the spirit of collaboration. It’s, it was really well put together and the produce he had a local

Chrissy Evangelous 21:14
produce very good. have worked for the greater with Sunday Food Network. And at a farmers market. I was operations, I used to just go there from 5:30am to 8:15am. Before I started my real, my real job. I just love being out with my farmers. But yeah, so I’m always push push pushing that local produce. And because I had the venue and the accommodation sponsors, and I had that little bit of extra money, and I went, you know what, I’ll ask the chef, if we can have some local produce in the menu, just because it’s a little bit more expensive, at least, especially at this time of year. It’s, um, the way that’s hot and weird. So, you know, there’s only certain things available. And they just nailed it. How good was the

Despina Karatzias 22:02
food was next level? And I said, Oh, yeah, so I can just imagine a wedding this place it would

Chrissy Evangelous 22:10
be we had motels and clubs in that here who have who have kitchens, you know, like you have restaurants and that sort of thing. So it was really important that they saw that and they go, Oh, okay, they’ve taken this next level. Yeah. And have to look at our place.

Despina Karatzias 22:27
Amazing. Look, you’ve also been handpicked as a mentor from Qt. Yeah. Tell me about that experience and how you’re imparting knowledge on to young up and comers and tourism leaders.

Chrissy Evangelous 22:40
Yeah, I was actually really quite chuffed about that. So I’ll be looking after a 30 something year old who’s got quite a quite a big job. And we haven’t actually started the full on mentoring yet. But we did go to an induction and I got to meet her and just asked her a couple of questions just, you know, just a general questions to find out about it then said, you know, what would you like to get out of this? And as soon as she said to me, Well, it’s sort of having a bit of trouble with working with the council and working with this and that and I went, Okay, we’ve got this I sort of know why they put us together Ah,

Despina Karatzias 23:22
all about relationships, about relationship I’ll be able to help her. Love it. Well, thank you for doing this. Thank you for your time. Thank you for engaging Tourism Tribe and myself, personally. Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure and a delight and congratulation doing such an incredible job, Chris,

Chrissy Evangelous 23:38
thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting you I think we know each other for the rest of our lives. Absolutely.

Despina Karatzias 23:44
This is there’s no turning back. Thank you, everyone for watching and all the best, All the best to you and your collaborative endeavors and see you next week for another great episode of the digital discovery show. Bye for now.


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