David Solnet
David Solnet
28 August 2009

Savvy tourism operators are using the economic downturn to rise above their competitors.

The University of Queensland School of Tourism academic and Director of Industry Partnerships Dr David Solnet said successful companies had found creative solutions to the decline in travel and leisure activities.

"Clever companies always seem to know what to do when the economic storms hit," Dr Solnet said.

"They don’t see them as a crisis, they see them as an opportunity to think outside the square."

"Those are the companies still hiring graduates, maintaining a presence on campus. When the upswing comes, they won’t be caught short."

Economic Storm Riders – Turning Downturn into Opportunity is the subject of an Industry Leaders Forum to be hosted by UQ’s School of Tourism on Wednesday.

The panel for the forum includes four of Queensland’s sharpest tourism and hospitality minds.

Among them is Tourism Queensland chief executive officer Anthony Hayes, whose organisation was in the international spotlight this year when it launched the Best Job In the World campaign.

Dr Solnet said such campaigns showed it was possible to snare world-wide attention in an increasingly tight marketplace.

Also on the discussion panel for the forum will be Flight Centre director and non-executive chairman Peter Morahan (who founded Moreton Hire); Intercontinental Hotels Group regional general manager for Queensland and Papua New Guinea Greg Cox; and Accor Hotels regional general manager Neil Scanlan.

Dr Solnet said the four had in common a knack for driving innovative campaigns that set their companies apart from the rest.

"They ride the storm. They don’t panic. They just find ways to make it work for them, so they are well-prepared when the upswing comes.

"The forum gives these industry leaders a rare chance to get together and share their knowledge to find new solutions to existing challenges. It’s a brilliant think-tank opportunity and we expect some robust discussion."

What: Economic Storm Riders – Turning Downturn into Opportunity
When: 4-5.30pm, Wednesday, September 2
Where: Sebel & Citygate King George Square, Brisbane (in the Sebel Tower).

Media: Jodie Powell (3346 9258 on Wednesday and Friday or 0409 946 796).