Jan Hutton is the Chief Marketing Officer of Gold Coast Tourism. She is overseeing the evolution of the organisation’s marketing strategy and brand at the most important time in the build-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Jan is a dynamic and trusted business leader with global experience, taking a strategic vision and converting it into practical implementation with extraordinary results. She believes strongly in the responsibility and opportunity to grow destinations by gaining meaningful competitive advantage. Passionate, people-centric and ambitious for success, Jan’s approach is unassuming but she has a bold end game in mind.
Tell us a little about your career in marketing?
When I started out, creative expression was what I loved most. What captivated me more as I grew was understanding how groups of people think. There’s no better space to be in. What other industry combines exceptional design, human insight and technological innovation? Like music and banking, marketing has been irreversibly disrupted through data and digital - thankfully this is what I thrive on. My career has been unconventional, not deliberately, but I’m grateful for the diverse experience I’ve acquired along the way. After doing whatever was needed to earn my stripes, I was a young and energetic Managing Director at 31years old, of a digital marketing consultancy in South Africa, Immedia. From there I was appraoched to be Managing Director of Ogilvy One in South Africa. Agency environments can be super tough, although very formative, for me ultimately unsustainable. My next move was to attain a better grasp on the importance of data insights and strategic framework methodologies, and how they related to high performance marketing. So I joined The Nielsen Company as a Director and board member, and subsequently Deloitte Consulting as Chief Marketing Officer. Then I received an opportunity that changed my life, I was offered the role of Chief Marketing Officer of South African Tourism, and from here my passion for ‘Destination Development & Marketing’ was nurtured. For the first-time marketing was meaningful, it was no longer about winning awards but generating jobs as we grew the visitor economy.
We understand that you were born in South Africa. How does this compare to your new life here on the Gold Coast?
I’m a proud South African; I had an upbringing that I’m deeply grateful for. I believe I have a balanced view on my roots and my future. South Africa’s work ethic is fast, gritty and sharp. It taught me to own my path, to back myself and to always give back. I was lucky to rub shoulders with some really smart global business people who were gracious in teaching me. Australia has been the most significant chapter of my career, for both personal and professional reasons. I’m lucky to work with fabulous colleagues who I learn from; our business is a team effort at every level. In general, I’ve been humbled by the on-going kindness of so many Australians. A signifcant difference here is how genuinely collaborative government and the private sector are, very refreshing and so important in accelerating competitive advantage. This country and especially the Gold Coast has become my home and it feels like life was always moving me in this direction.
Do you have a life highlight?
I never want one highlight because what mattered hugely in the past often doesn’t matter as much in the present. I’m big on life goals, and I believe they should be progressive. Senior leadership teams plan off-site strategy sessions to plot the future of their organisation, but too many people don’t prioritise time for their own life strategy. I’ve achieved a few things that I count as highlights mostly because I have a vision for my life and even the small wins are significant for me. I’ve done some things that were highlights at the time like scuba diving with sharks, skydiving, parachuting, riding the Camino across the Southern Pyrenees mountains in Spain, but as I get a bit older I realise the real adventure is going within.
What do you see for the future of the Gold Coast as a tourist destination?
Although information remains essential, we’re leaving the information economy behind; our generation has trailblazed the Experience economy. Travellers are seeking differentiated, brag-able experiences. If you’re part of the visitor economy you’re in the business of creating unforgettable memories. The Gold Coast is perfectly postioned to capitalise with its unique combination of spectacular ingredients. It’s no surprise that tourism is a foundational pillar of this destination. I can only forecast accelerated growth of our visitor economy. We’re pacing our evolution wisely, building a sustainable future for the Gold Coast. Our world-class boutique city is magnificently surrounded by an equally world-class natural environment. I’m a passionate conservationist at heart, but it also just makes long term sense economically. We need to capitalise on the demand, whilst preserving the environment that attracts people to our shores.
What do you see as the Gold Coast's greatest tourist asset?
Easy answer - we have the best combination of urban life and wild life in a condensed proximity. We have a progressive plan for the Gold Coast that will see it rise in popularity. There is so much in our favour. Despite all that we have to offer the world, our number one asset remains our people. The locals are sincerely warm, young at heart, entrepreneurial and reliably friendly. The people who call the Gold Coast home are the most valuable draw card in attracting more visitors, in delivering service excellence and in welcoming visitors to be part of our fabulous, eclectic community.