Randall Deer is a bit of an enigma: he runs a leading luxury travel company, yet his favourite holiday is camping. It’s easy to pick up from him that he loves being outdoors, whether it’s hiking in the Gold Coast Hinterland, mountain biking or spending the weekend at the beach with his family.
He is charismatic, easy to relate to and funny, yet there is a contagious flame within him to keep moving forward, making headway and living up to the motto of My Holiday Centre, the parent brand offering these unbeatable holidays, which is all about innovation.
Randall is clear that his goal is to be an industry maker and to make a difference to the customers planning their holidays. He is passionate about avoiding “drip pricing”, or the practice of luring the public to call with an unreasonably low price they see in the paper, then selling everything from flights to transfers to day trips at additional costs. He believes in transparency with the packages offered, priding himself in the fact that the price advertised will be attainable 95% of the time. Holidays are delivered in a finished format which leaves nothing to chance, and because of the established relationships with airline, resort, and tour operator partners, travellers can be guaranteed the best value holidays even far into the future.
Everywhere! I know that sounds cliché, but I take 3 to 4 international holidays per year, usually with my family, and where we go largely depends on how everyone is feeling.
When I’m looking for somewhere chill where I can snorkel and hang out, I usually go to Fiji. I think with our new packages we will probably go to New Caledonia next, just for somewhere different.
If we want to have a really family-based holiday that’s more energetic, or a more sophisticated couples’ holiday, we’ll go to Hawaii and do some shopping, island-hopping and soaking up the sun.
High-end and high energy, we’ll probably go to Thailand. And if I’m looking for an oasis where we can just stay put and have the resort experience, we’ll go to Bali.
I will do multiple trips to multiple destinations every year. No matter where I want to go, we have a product for it. If we don’t, I figure out how to launch it as a new destination.
Honestly, sometimes I’m happiest just taking the family camping for the weekend. No fuss, just quality time in the outdoors. We live in such a beautiful part of the country that it’s important to appreciate what’s in our own backyard.
It really is a matter of being interested in the location for myself and my family. And this is what My Holiday Centre is about: to create a business around the holidays we take. I want us to show the customer the holidays they want before they even know they want it. I want us to be the ones introducing new destinations to our customers; I want us to be the ones who show our customers why they should visit these places.
The best example is New Caledonia – it’s the only cosmopolitan destination in the Pacific, and it’s only a 2.5 hour flight! I’d love to take [my wife] and leave on a Friday to come back on a Sunday if I didn’t have the luxury of staying longer.
I book my holidays on a whim based on what my family and I need, so if you show me something that’s already bundled and a one-stop shop for me, if I like it I’ll book it. That’s what I want us to offer to our clients: a one-stop visit where everything is thought about and researched, and because it’s been bundled we have the best value. Our value-adds aren’t there as a selling tool, they’re genuine inclusions based on what I want as a traveller. We offer resort credit at the Sheraton, for example, because no one likes to pay full resort prices for everything! So instead of passing those prices to our client, we give them credit to spend, exclusive to My Fiji guests. No one else can offer that; it’s one of the points of difference we offer.
We respect that this holiday is the dream of our clients. This is their dream holiday. We don’t book every resort in Fiji, and why not? Because they’re not all good. There are a few that we used to book and got negative feedback, so we don’t work with them anymore. It’s not because they don’t want to work with us, but I don’t want our customers going on holiday with the expectation of a 4 ½ star experience and receiving 3 star quality. That’s not how we work. We’ve tested all of our resorts; we send our families there.
I sent my mum on a holiday to Paradise Koh Yao (Phuket) for 9-nights, and she loved it. We get it at a great rate because we negotiate hard, but some people think that inexpensive equals cheap and won’t go there. I don’t understand why – it’s a beautiful place! Read the reviews on TripAdvisor or hop on expedia to see the average nightly rate compared to our package deal, and the savings and bonus value is obvious. We are genuine in saying that if we wouldn’t stay there ourselves, we don’t book the property.
No, not really. Not until someone brings it up like that or asks me about it. We’ve done it all together, we’ve achieved success as a team. Yes, I get satisfaction knowing there are hundreds of families that are earning an income because of what we do here. I love our products and am proud that we are sending thousands of families each year on incredible holidays that they wouldn’t otherwise take. But in all truth I couldn’t do this by myself; everything is where it is because we work together.
I used to feel like I somehow wasn’t smart enough to be the one in charge, so I hired managers who are the best in their fields to look after the individual departments. Over time, however, I’ll sit in meetings and think it’s not that I’m not knowledgeable enough, I just have a different skill set. We all have different skill sets, so if something is glaringly obvious to me I sometimes don’t understand why the manager – the specialist – isn’t seeing it. But then they’ll suggest a solution to a problem we’re having that would never have occurred to me, so it’s a collaborative effort.
On the other hand, sometimes I think I’m better at things than I actually am. Which is, again, why I have my great team around me. I’m the first one down a black diamond ski slope even though I’ve only gone skiing a few times. I’ll follow a professional biker down a hill thinking “If they can do it, I’m sure I can too!” and then I break my collarbone. So sometimes I can be overly confident because I forget we all have different abilities and are at varying levels of experience.
Sometimes it can be frustrating and disappointing when I feel like my vision isn’t coming across in what we present to the public or to each other. Whether it’s something on the website or in an ad, something that a competitor is doing better, I wonder why I’m not being understood. Where is this communication falling down? And because I can’t fix everything myself and depend on everyone doing their own jobs, we can get slowed down by having to repeat things. Part of me expects everyone to see the end product the same way I do.
As a company we have lots of ideas and suggestions floating around the office. Everyone wants to see us grow and expand and works hard to achieve success. In reality, the only reason we aren’t the biggest travel company in Australia is because we don’t yet have the ability to execute all the ideas we currently have.
Randall concludes with these messages: “We aren’t trying to be all things to all people, but we are great at working with the customers we have. We don’t leave anything to chance and we are concerned with the customer journey. Booking a holiday should be a fun, easy experience and we want to share that journey with our clients.
We are set out to prove to the Australian consumer that great service isn’t just about offering the lowest price. It’s about innovation and creativity, taking risks and being on the forefront of change. If it doesn’t make a difference, we are not doing it at My Holiday Centre.”