Gordon River Cruises is among the latest major tourism experiences acquired by National Roads Motorist’s Association (NRMA). The deal with Royal Automotive Club of Tasmania (RACT) also included Freycinet Lodge, Cradle Mountain Hotel and Strahan Village.
The automotive group’s newly-formed NRMA Expeditions division will oversee the recently-purchased luxury properties. With RACT choosing to reinvest the funds into automotive insurance and roadside assist.
“NRMA Expeditions will focus on delivering 5-star experiences in natural environments and this is exactly what the RACT acquisition will deliver,” says NRMA Chief Investment Officer and newly-minted CEO of NRMA Expeditions, Rachel Wiseman.
“Our members have told us, overwhelmingly, that they want new experiences and we want to deliver that for them,” Rachel explains.
REINVESTING IN THE PROPERTIES
According to RACT Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Mugnaioni, NRMA will significantly invest in the properties. In fact, already, the NRMA Board has approved funds for restorations at Strahan Village.
As part of the deal, NRMA also pledged to retain the existing operational structure.
“Throughout this process our people impacted by this decision have been our priority and we are pleased that NRMA has committed to support our people,” says Mark.
Indeed, Chief Operating Officer for RACT Andrew Paynter will join Rachel Wiseman at NRMA Expedition as Managing Director, Tasmania.
“The sale was fully transparent. There was no better purchaser. [NRMA’s commitment] to further invest, it’s exciting for me and the regions and very exciting for tourism, per say,” Andrew says.
The pair toured the newly-purchased properties, following the announcement earlier this week.
“We’ve a lot of the people who have been involved in the assets for a long time. It is fantastic to get in on the ground with Rachel Wiseman … it was a great opportunity to share IP with other aspects of the business.”
MEMBER BENEFITS: STILL NUTTING OUT THE DETAILS
Andrew acknowledged that NRMA is a member-driven organisation that aims to return benefits to its members. But the hand-over isn’t happening until May 1 so what that means for caravanners holding NRMA Blue memberships is yet to be seen.
“The next five weeks is an interesting landscape from here as we transition to NRMA. But we are very confident we’ll have a clear position on the NRMA Blue member benefits once the transfer’s complete.
“NRMA is very focussed on the experience first,” says Andrew. “It’s not just about the accommodation.”
“And it’s not just the Gordon River Cruises,” says Andrew, with the automotive group also offering fully catered cruises aboard smaller vessels.
However the product offering will look, Andrew is “super excited”.
“I love the tourism business, it’s full of hardworking, passionate people. And it’s great to see investment coming forward.”