Supreme NZIBA winner shares candid insights

Magic Memories' director Geoff Burns says winning the supreme award in the New Zealand International Business Award gave the company a big confidence boost.
Magic Memories' director Geoff Burns says winning the supreme award in the New Zealand International Business Award gave the company a big confidence boost.

High growth tourism technology company Magic Memories has continued its winning streak since being inducted into the New Zealand International Business Awards hall of fame last year.

Magic Memories in 2016 will capture on camera the smiles of over 80 million visitors to the world's greatest tourist attractions, and offer them a personalised storybook and digital memories of their visit as they depart.

In the last two years, the New Zealand company has more than doubled its revenue, attracted a major cornerstone shareholder, and expanded into further new major markets - global theme parks and the Middle East.

Magic Memories' director, Geoff Burns, said winning the supreme award in the New Zealand International Business Award (NZIBA) gave the company a big confidence boost.

"The awards have reinforced the goals of the company. We've always had ambition and now we have a very high growth runway ahead of us achievable with the successful way we deliver, knowing that our model works globally," he said.

Burns says the awards also gave the company an important opportunity to tell its story to the New Zealand business community.

"We wanted people to understand what the business model is, and the opportunity we have globally. That was a really good spinoff from the award process," he said.

"In the future it will help to have the New Zealand and the global business community being more aware of our company and its successes."

Growth story

Shortly after the awards, New Zealand investment firm Pioneer Capital took a 21 percent stake in Magic Memories - it was an important vote of confidence in the company's international growth plans.

When the company began just over 20 years ago, offering photography services to visitors to the Queenstown Gondola, co-founder and now group chief executive John Wilkinson remembers they didn't plan to go offshore, it was just a natural outcome of its local success.

Now Magic Memories provides tailored photography experiences and products through over 1000 staff in more than 100 premium tourism attractions throughout Asia, Europe, Australasia and North America, with about 95 percent of the company's business is offshore.

And the company continues to win significant new business - it recently started capturing the smiles of visitors to Hershey's Chocolate World in Pennsylvania and Legoland in California, which each attract more visitors than the whole of New Zealand sees each year!

"We've got a lot of appetite for growth, we are winning significant new business, and we have a significant amount on our pipeline" says Burns.

Meanwhile, the company is also significantly expanding the digital side of its business, proving how to capture data about guests visiting attractions, and making its digital memorabilia products stand out.

Award insights

Entering the NZIBA and going through the judging process gives companies an opportunity to objectively analyse their business.

Last year was the first time Magic Memories had entered any award, and Burns says the process can feel quite daunting, but is rewarding.

"It's always good to reflect on what's working and what's not. We had completed our first external audit so entering the awards and doing the additional analysis and getting objective feedback from peers was a good test for us," said Burns.

He is one of the judges of this year's awards and says companies are well supported in the process, and get advice from independent awards assessors on how to refine their entry.

"It's a good learning experience, it encourages you to make sure you can tell your story clearly and that you have good validation of the success points along the journey to date, and what that may look like going forward."

The process also gives companies an opportunity to dream big.

"You'll get support from the assessment process on where you stand and what some potential directions could be for the business," said Burns.

As for the kudos, he said companies that are celebrated in New Zealand can leverage that status with international customers.

"The fact that we're well regarded in New Zealand is a positive for many customers. Once our partner attractions get to meet some key people and understand the history of the business, being from New Zealand is a positive.

Top Tips for Entrants
• Use the opportunity to assess your business journey and strategy
• Use feedback from entry assessors to fine tune your story
• Be clear about key milestones
• Be open to benchmarking against peers

- NZ Herald

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