Tanya Watts, Opal Cove Resort

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Tanya, how did you come to call the Coffs Coast home?

My parents are from the Northern Rivers region near Lismore, and they relocated to Coffs Harbour in the late ‘60s after they were married. They decided that Coffs Harbour was the perfect coastal town to raise a family, build their dream home, and it was still close enough to visit my grandparents, who were a short two-hour drive away.

I was born at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, attended School at Tyalla and Orara High School, finishing off my tertiary education at the University of New England/Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour Campus.

Like many Coffs Harbour locals, I moved away after completing my studies. Lifestyle and location has been a major factor in choosing where I have lived over the years. I pursued my career in both finance and hospitality on the Tweed Coast, in London, Pittwater and Byron Bay.

Fate saw me return to the Coffs Coast eight and a half years ago; not long afterwards, I met my partner at my new workplace! When deciding to relocate back to the Coffs Coast, I realised just how amazing the region is, with picturesque beaches, rainforests, hinterland, plus an affordable housing market and a city on the rise!

What excites you about your role?

My role at Opal Cove Resort is diverse and creative, with no two days being the same. Having a passion for people, the role of Sales and Marketing Manager involves working on our website, social media, advertising, networking, Leisure Club Memberships, sponsorships and so much more.

I am heavily involved in the local tourism industry and love working with Tourism Operators to promote and activate the Coffs Coast to locals and visitors alike. Working alongside local industry, I have attended various forums with Council, Regional and State Government bodies to maximise the Coffs Coast’s potential. We are all working towards creating a sustainable and flourishing tourism industry, and that’s pretty exciting in itself!

What are some of the challenges you face in your role?

My biggest challenge has been learning to balance my workload with the creative process and the plethora of new ideas, which take time to execute. I have learnt to remind myself to slow down and breathe sometimes. Although, if you want something done, just ask a busy person – they will more than likely complete the task effectively and efficiently!

How has social media impacted your business?

Social media has had a positive impact on our business and the tourism industry.

We predominantly market our business through Facebook and Instagram and have found both mediums to be great assets to our marketing mix.

People want information fast; social media has allowed for the sharing of information, imagery and content worldwide in an instant fashion. Our networks are diverse, just like our clientele; we target the local and domestic market, along with international travellers.

As we all know with social media, content is king; this allows me to follow one of my passions – taking photos! Working at Opal Cove, I am blessed with a beautiful backdrop for taking breathtaking images, including the Solitary Islands, beach, lagoon and rainforest walks throughout the property. Lucky me!

What trends are you seeing in the tourism and events industry?

The tourism and events industry is constantly evolving, which is why I love working within it, at Opal Cove. There are a number of pillars to the industry to consider when looking at trends.

We are finding that the domestic traveller is looking for experiences, including food, nature – beach and hinterland, iconic and boutique attractions, along with cultural and artistic experiences. Events and festivals are also a major player in bringing people to the region.

Business events are looking for a balance between professional outcomes with strong destination appeal. This is great news for the Coffs Coast, featuring fabulous scenery and sight-seeing; we are a destination worth travelling to. We also offer an attractive destination for conference participants both pre and post event, so we are in a good position to grow and develop more.

Tourism statistics have revealed that the area covered by the Destination North Coast Network (Great Lakes to Tweed Heads), has the third highest visitor numbers in Australia. The Coffs Coast is geographically placed midway in the Destination North Coast region, so we have a major opportunity on our doorstep.

What would you say are the top three things you look for when employing staff? 

The top three things I look for when employing staff are:

  • Enthusiasm and energy
  • Positivity, a love of people, and the ability to adapt to change.
  • A passion for hospitality, along with the outlook that the tourism industry can offer a career and lifestyle.

I have found that these three characteristics tend to result in a happy and dynamic team.

Service and experience must play a large role in the success of your events. What steps have you put in place to ensure the best service experience is achieved? 

The events team at Opal Cove Resort is led by a strong team of dedicated hospitality professionals. Combined, there is a mixture of experience, youth, enthusiasm and passion.

Our staff have worked hard to secure their roles; many have progressed through the ranks to higher responsibilities and their current positions. We promote internally where we can, valuing the opportunity to provide career pathways and mentoring for recruits new to the industry.

Food and beverage is critical for a successful event. Fortunately we have a strong team, who are able to cater for small groups up to large events for over 550 delegates. We try to utilise local produce where possible and are always looking at fresh and innovative options for our clients.

The key steps for a successful event include attention to detail, listening to customer needs, building rapport with our clients, anticipating additional requirements, delivering a quality experience and following up on client feedback.

Finally, we have interdepartmental meetings on a weekly basis, ensuring that all areas of the resort operations are briefed on our client needs for each event.

What is your favourite inspirational quote? 

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”- Maya Angelou.

Thanks Tanya.

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