Photography company all smiles about international growth

Photography company all smiles about international growth

25 November 2015

QUEENSTOWN-based international tourism photography company Magic Memories is smiling as much as its guests these days.

In the past three years the 20-year-old company has been making big in-roads into international markets exceeding 50 percent revenue growth a year for the past four years with a focus on winning world-class attraction partners in the heavyweight UK/ Europe and US markets.

Founded in 1995 by John Wikstrom and Stuart Norris, Magic Memories aims to “make every guest smile”. The company is well known to the tourism industry in New Zealand, enjoying long-term, established partnerships with most of the premier attraction operators. In 2011, it implemented a strategy to seriously compete in new well-defined high value international markets. It aimed to be the recognised company that quality attractions and theme parks around the world aspire to partner with.

Magic Memories provides the photographic memories for guests in more than 100 attractions. Its strategy has been to partner with large world-class attractions, designing and delivering quality products and experiences that drive guest engagement, extend partners brands as a marketing channel and drive sector-leading revenues.

Mr Wikstrom says considering the guest first has always set them apart from their competitors.

“Our recent partnership with Merlin Entertainments plc at Shrek’s Adventure! London is a great example. We painstakingly designed every element around the guest from the application of technology, physical photography areas, co-designing scripted actor-led experiences, and really pushing quality and design around the end products.”

The company uses actors to train staff to engage with guests, has created “themedscreen” areas for the Magic Memory photographs and specially designed interactive photo books that are mysteriously “locked away” where that wrist-band technology immediately opens the correct drawer, all delivered in a fun and relevant script to each smiling guest.

The relationship with Merlin Entertainments Group has been a successful part of the company’s international growth strategy to build long-term contractual relationships with significant operators. Merlin Entertainments Group is the second-largest attraction operator in the world with more than 65 million guests a year.

It also partners with Village Road show Australia’s largest theme park operator and a company with an ambitious international growth strategy of its own.

Magic Memories now enjoys partnerships with many of Australia’s leading operators.

Mr Wikstrom says the New Zealand market is still important, with more than 40 partnerships in Queenstown, Christchurch, Hokitika, Auckland, the Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Taupo, Te Anau, Waitomo and Wellington.

“What we have learnt from working with our New Zealand partners has stood us in good stead for expanding internationally and New Zealand and our base in Sydney are where we work with partners on new innovations.”

An example of that is the latest innovation developed and adopted at Shotover Jet with Ngai Tahu Tourism, where it had to overcome the challenge of taking videos on a boat travelling at high speeds and getting the edited video in the hands of each guest quickly.

Magic Memories designed and built a wireless transfer system that moves the high-definition footage to the on site production facility where it is edited and transferred to USB, or made available online for each guest all within a fourminute turnaround time.

This proven system and approach is transferable to any high-speed ride attraction and is also used at NZONE, Shotover Jet and Hukafalls Jet.

Technology has been a key way to help the company’s strategy focus on the guest experience. Magic Memories recently acquired a new technology platform MeTag, enabling a more personalised and relevant guest experience through the capture, collation, transmission and distribution of relevant and useful content delivered directly to guests to engage when and how it suits them.

Mr Wikstrom has recently moved his family to the US to lead the business through what he considers the most exciting few years of the past 20.

“We continue to focus on developing our high-value proposition to international markets while continuing to deliver increasing returns to our current partners.” Watch this space.