Thursday, June 18, 2009

Evangelising at the ATE

Mary and I have spent the last few days in Melbourne, evangelising at the Australian Tourism Exchange ATE) The feedback for Wicked has been good – it’s quite amazing that a lot of the overseas agencies know the product; everyone we talk to is very interested to hear how the company began, who the boss is, who paints the vans and who dreams up the slogans! Over the next few blog entries I’ll answer a few of these questions, but first up – how did Wicked start?

Mr Wicked began the company back in 2001. He’s a mechanic and ran a small car-hire company in Brisbane. However there was one car, an old VW that no one would rent out – simply because the car had a few dents and scratches. One night over a bottle of champagne, Mr Wicked suggested to Mrs Wicked (an artist) to paint over the dents and scratches. Mrs Wicked painted beautiful daisies and flowers over the car and it became the most popular in the fleet! From these humble beginnings Wicked has grown to a fleet of over 800 vans Australia-wide.

But back to our evangelising at the ATE. We’re in a share booth with the great team from the Professional Helicopter Services. We’ve met a lot of folks located from all over the world, predominantly in Europe. Happy hours have been the highlight of the day for us with each State Tourism body sparing no expense when they throw on the drinks and nibbles.

I haven’t blogged for a couple of days because the wi-fi here has been cutting out – too much demand! It’s not the only thing cutting out…on Tuesday I wore some new heels and they gave me dreadful blisters. I spoke to the events co-ordinators who recommended I see the ‘swine flu’ nurse, but unfortunately she had no first aid kit either! In a last-ditch attempt, I visited the wonderful folks at ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, a learn to surf school located in Byron Bay. They had no spare flip flop giveaways, so one of the blokes gave me the thongs off his own feet. A couple hours later I moseyed over to their booth to return my thongs to discover that the bloke was wearing my high heels! Apparently for “security reasons” he wasn’t allowed on the convention centre floor without shoes on…funny times.

After talking to a few sellers here, it seems like most companies are going down the ‘word of mouth’ route, trying to claim a bigger and better online presence. We’ve received plenty of great advice from international agencies about sites that are popular in each of their regions, so when I get back to Broome I’ll work on developing Wicked through these avenues. I started writing this blog an hour ago and since starting I’ve had about 5 people drop in and commend us on the concept of Wicked. Fantastic feedback!

In the meantime though, I better get back to being social and more importantly, be wicked!

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