O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat hasn’t rested on its laurels as one of the most respected institutions in Queensland tourism.
The third-generation family business has invested heavily back into its own product and is taking an innovative approach to surviving tough times for the tourism industry.
“We have gone into corporate business – we host lots of conferences now. Two or three years ago, we hosted none,” says managing director Shane O’Reilly.
“Now, 20 per cent of our business comes from the corporate market and that business will continue to grow. We have also changed our marketing with an increased focus on digital.”
The retreat is able to host conferences thanks to a $28 million redevelopment completed in 2008 that also doubled the retreat’s accommodation capacity.
The retreat is a family destination and O’Reilly believes the educational potential of the forest is yet to be unlocked. He would also like to see the State Government relax its rules on holding events in the forest.
The O’Reilly name is an institution on Mount Tamborine, so much so an entire plateau is named after the family, which first settled in the area about 100 years ago.
Shane O’Reilly worked for various hotels and resorts before returning to the family business in his late 20s.
He says it is important to gain the respect of everyone he works with.
“I think it would be extremely challenging to come into a family business as a manager without having done it outside,” says O’Reilly.
“I found it essential to get experience elsewhere, not only to work with other people, but to learn how to be a manager and also a leader without relying on my family name
“There is also an issue where higher management often look at what family members do and say ‘you should be doing more’, just because you are part of the family.”
The O’Reillys says the secret of their successful family business has been to also appoint independent directors to its board and hold regular family councils.
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