Five questions: Bruny Island Cruises

From catching fish to catching tourists, Robert Pennicott has had a great love of the sea for many years and now manages Bruny Island Cruises in Tasmania. He discusses the importance of his hardworking employees, the construction of the business website, and his custom-designed boats.

What is the main aim of your business website?

Its main aim is to give information on our tours and our business to customers. We’ve tried to create something that looks great, is easy to use, and answers almost all of the common questions our customers ask.

We’ve made the website more interactive, adding a ‘photo of the month’ competition where people can upload photos from the cruise.

A lot of our website is devoted to promoting the local businesses who support us. We’ve listed around 120 businesses, including accommodation, activities, cafés, and local producers on Bruny Island, the Tasman Peninsula, Huon/Channel region, and Hobart.

What advice would you give for launching a website?

Look professional. Your website needs to reflect your branding and product. First impressions are huge and the website needs to give people a feel for what you do. Hire a professional who knows your business and has experience in making high-quality websites in your industry. Arm them with well-written content, some high-quality images, and see what they come up with. Fine-tune the end product until you’re happy and then launch it.

What are some of the highlights of your work?

A major highlight for me each day is taking people out on the boat and showing them my home, Bruny Island. Before starting Bruny Island Cruises, I spent many years fishing the waters surrounding the island – I’ve gone from catching fish to catching people.

I have a great team of staff behind me who are just as passionate about the business as I am. Most of them are locals who have grown up on Bruny Island or in some of the nearby communities. My business is the largest employer on Bruny and so it’s very rewarding to be able to support the local economy in this way.

In 2005, I launched three new custom-designed boats which were the product of many hours of research. They were designed with Naiad and built by Kirby Marine, and it was very satisfying to be able to launch these into the Bruny Island waters. With the launch of Tasman Island Cruises in 2007, I added an additional two boats to the fleet and a further boat on Bruny Island in 2008.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned along the way?

You need to be passionate about what you’re doing and have a passionate team who want to follow the same journey as you. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it makes it easier to get through those harder times when things aren’t all going as smoothly as you’d like them to be.

Never stop learning. Keep fine-tuning each and every aspect of your business to ensure you are delivering the best possible product.

Listen to feedback from your staff and customers and act on any suggestions in order to iron out any weak points in your operation.

It is important to identify and focus on your points of difference. There’s always something that can be improved or new initiatives that can be introduced to help set you apart.

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