To Be A Leader, Lead The Change

The business history is packed with companies that were leaders in their field, but who are no longer significant players. On examination it is usually the case that changes with
13 Aug 2016 08:10
To Be A Leader, Lead The Change
Rosie Group managing director, Tony Whitton (left) and Rosie Group general manager, Eroni Puamau, with Fiji Airways chief executive/managing director, Andre Vilijoen (right) receiving the 2015 ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Award in one of the categories earlier this year.

The business history is packed with companies that were leaders in their field, but who are no longer significant players.

On examination it is usually the case that changes with the potential to make their business obsolete happened and they did not respond until it was too late while others had understood what was happening and took command of the business segment.

These companies became the new leaders. The grand passenger liners of old didn’t take the airliner seriously. Photos on negative ignored the digital camera. Beta tape ignored VHS and died, and then CD did the same to VHS.


Fijian firm adapting to change constantly

One company that leads change, and always has, is a Fijian company, The Rosie Travel Group.

A week ago Rosie launched an application for digital devices such as phones and tablets, that provides information on tours and experiences, has a booking and payment capability and is available for Apple and Android units.

The world is starting to move to digital data in tourism and this is the first for Fiji, exposing Rosie to every tourist with a smart phone (basically every tourist in the world).

By driving this change, Rosie sets the rules. But right from the start Rosie has led change, not waited for it to happen.

Roy Whitton, an Australian, came to Fiji as Qantas manager in Nadi and met Rosie Gock Hoi. There was not really a tourism business in Fiji but they saw the opportunity.

Tourists needed to do things while they were here and Roy, a keen night clubber, saw that there was no club in Nadi so they started the first night club called “The Fijiana”.

They went on to bring many firsts and continue to do so.

Roy and Rosie’s son, Tony Whitton, eventually took over but understood the need to lead change and has been consistent in doing so…

Roy served in the Australian Navy as a radio operator and saw active duty in Europe.

He was also exposed to then very early computers and when he returned he joined Qantas and was involved in the development of their computer systems, a passion he bought to Fiji.

In 1981, seeing a very early PC and floppy discs he developed a booking confirmation system that enabled travel agents worldwide to book hotels and tours and get instant confirmation for Fiji product for the first time.

He understood the benefits of controlling the distribution system and established for the first time a “one-stop” reservations service in Sydney selling Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Rosie now had a world market and became the first Fijian company to link to American Airlines revolutionary booking system, SABRE, putting Fiji in over 110,000 terminals worldwide.


The many firsts

The firsts continued, as you can see from the milestones panel.

Rosie was the first Fiji travel company to register on the internet, the first to link to many of the international wholesalers, they moved into resort ownership with Malolo and Likuliku Resort (the first in Fiji with over water bures).

Rosie were the first Fijian company to move into the China market and have since delivered a number of other firsts.

This includes the first direct charter flights from Shanghai (and a year later from Beijing), direct charters from Taipei, and expansion of offices into other cities.

Rosie has followed the lead set by Roy  and RosieWhitton and in the process became the largest Travel Group in Fiji providing jobs to over 600 people.

They have expanded into a number of related businesses such as Thrifty Car Rental, a partnership in a barge operation servicing a number of Mamanuca Island resorts, a travel academy that trains tourist industry personnel, a company that handles weddings, conventions, meetings and incentive travel to Fiji.

Rosie is the most awarded company in the tourism industry, a recognition of the dominant part they have played in the development of tourism.

But always at the forefront of their strategy is to be the leader in managing change.

In this way, it is possible for a company to set the agenda and the way change impacts the industry and to be best positioned to most effectively use the changing market environment.

Rosie’s launch the past week of the first digital app for tourists to Fiji is just another example of leading change. And it will provide huge benefit for both Fiji and Rosie.

John Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him:


Five Square diwali dhamaka 2021

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Tower Insurance
Covid 19 - SPC
Fiji Sun Instagram