While I was there I got to meet some of the more adventurous demographics in the camping industry which was a lot of fun as the conversation inevitably turned towards the best places to take your 4x4 and most spectacular places to visit in Australia.
It also didn’t take me long to identify a clear trend of camper business start-ups being inspired by a family holiday and resulting in a custom built top-of-the-line camper trailer intended solely to make their holidays more adventurous and more luxurious. The camper trailers I saw at the awards all had easy set ups, amazing battery power, drive well on and off road, and have pretty modern and luxurious fittings, so I can imagine judging will be tough.
It also got me pretty pumped for my own camper travel Adventures trip planned for 2018, as I sussed out all the new technologies and off-road drive tips from the leaders in this space.
It was a busy couple of days so I was lucky to pull Rob aside for 5 minutes, and managed to get an insight into his world. We discuss his transition from working for Bauer media to creating the Adventures Group, his experience entering the Future Leaders award this year, and he finishes off with some valuable advice for new comers to the industry.
See the full interview here:
Q: Hey Rob, I first met you at a National conference down in Hobart where you were rocking the Bauer Media brand, how did you find working for one of the biggest publishing roles in Australia?
Rob: Working for Bauer was pretty interesting. I learnt lots. Having not come from a media background it created a good opportunity for me to understand the publishing market and the broader media landscape more holistically.
Q: While at Bauer, did you ever pop your head into the Woman's Day department for your gossip fix?
Rob: I managed to sneak in a couple of time, but my wife tried to do that a bit.
Q: What inspired you to branch out by yourself and create your own content business?
Rob: The real catalyst was trying to create something of significant value. We could see the opportunity in the caravan space, and probably the reality was it wasn’t a priority from an investment perspective from Bauer, so we saw the opportunity to go for it ourselves.
Q: Was it hard to make those steps to back yourself, or did you see it as a natural progression from what you were doing?
Rob: It was a natural progression I think. The grounding we’d had within Bauer was good. I could see the opportunity and it literally took us three months to go from investment all the way through.
Q: Some people say print media is dead, yet you keep adding to your portfolio, are you seeing better financial returns than the naysayers think?
Rob: Oh I think “print is dead” is a narrative we’ve got to try to get out of the market. Content still sells things so I don’t necessarily think print or digital is the way to go, I think it is the ability to create really good content.
Q: What the biggest disruption you've had to deal with in publishing, and how have you dealt with that?
Rob: I think publishing itself. I think the model is very much a push model. I think with the transformation of media and have the ability to understand and listen to your customers is the key.
Q: In light of the Bauer Media v Rebel Wilson lawsuit, it seems you got out just in time. Did you have some inside knowledge or just a lucky coincidence?
Rob: Ah lucky coincidence, but I think… yep.
Q: How do you protect yourself from renegade writers?
Rob: I think you employ good people. A key one is ‘be upfront’, ‘set an expectation’, and the rest takes care of itself.
Q: Have you ever had to fire a writer for producing false content?
Rob: Ah, no.
Q: What publications come under the Adventures Group brand?
Q: Do you have a favourite?
Rob: Ah, no, no particular favourite.
Q: What's been your most memorable moment in your Adventures Group journey so far?
Rob: Ah, I think trip to the NT with my family. We had an amazing week where we had a motorhome and another family in a caravan and we had an amazing time.
Q: Recently your Camper publication took out the Best Launch/Re-Launch at the Publish Awards. What do you put your win down to?
Rob: Ah good content I think. We backed the team to really lift the standard of the content and the consumers loved it.
Q: What advice would you give Future Leaders looking at taking up a publishing career in the Caravan Industry?
Rob: I think ‘back yourself’. I think the key thing with this market is it is going through a massive transformation, the next few years are going to be really interesting, and I think that creates a lot of opportunity. So find what you want to do and what you’re passionate about and have a crack.
Q: This year you entered the Future Leaders award for the Caravan Industry Association of Australia, you got through to the finals, Congratulations!! Did you feel you benefited from the process?
Rob: Yeah it was fascinating. I think being able to articulate what it is we do to some of the leaders in the industry, and for them to understand what we’re trying to do, and me to understand the way they’re trying to operate the association, it gave me some really good insights.
Q: What's next for the Adventures Group?
Rob: Producing really good content and helping the businesses.
Q: Thanks for the chat Rob, it's always a pleasure intelligence gathering with you! Do you have any parting advice for newcomers to the industry?
Rob: I think from my perspective is ‘make sure you get out and get to know people’. It’s a trust business, and relationships are key, so get out and meet everyone in the market and enjoy it!