Entrepreneur of the Year
John Wikstrom, Winner - Services Category - Entrepreneur of the Year, 2015
Entrepreneur of the Year
Through Magic Memories John Wikstrom has built a global business that’s all about making people smile.
Unless you’re offering the holiday from hell, a key by-product of tourism is creating attractions, and moments, that give people joy.
Capturing those moments—as a service to venue operators and especially their customers—is the reason Magic Memories exists.
The business started in 1995 in one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent tourist locations, Queenstown. It was at the famed Gondola attraction that John Wikstrom first discovered the potential to create a business out of selling evidence of people’s happiness right after an amazing experience.
Getting the support of other venues such as Shotover Jet and AJ Hackett Bungy made one thing very clear. High intensity, often once-in-a-lifetime experiences for tourists earn a very high sell through rate of photo, and video, memories at a great rate of return.
Having the ‘service’ foresight to have the finished photographic product ready for purchase once people had come back from their experience made the ‘ca-ching’ of the sales till keep on ringing. And it’s never stopped. By 2014 more than 50 million photographs were taken, and uploaded, and income soared accordingly.
Magic Memories’ goal is to redefine the tourism photography industry. The business offers tailored photography experiences and products to the guests of 100-plus tourism attractions throughout Asia, Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The business is serviced by 90 staff in New Zealand and currently 900 worldwide.
Rather than just photographs the product becomes a personal souvenir of a smile-inducing experience. John works closely with each venue partner to make sure the Magic Memories association also brings smiles to their brand and balance sheets.
A real innovation has been the development of customer-centric content from each venue that could then be digitally enhanced to create visual stories customers couldn’t achieve themselves.
Capturing magical moments at world-famous venues around the world such as Football Club Barcelona and Madame Tussauds has been one measure of success. Identifying the right people to deliver the magical memory has been another.
The business has invested significant time and financial resources to create leaders, and leadership practices, across the organisation. Developing a standardised program—MOJO—to ensure mentorship and training programmes are working, and that the culture is consistent and repeatable, also keeps the magic alive.