The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2017-11-29T23:11:02Z RedBalloon leads small business approach to NSW gift card law 2017-11-29T23:11:02Z redballoon-leads-small-business-approach-to-nsw-gift-card-law-1 SYDNEY: The NSW Government yesterday announced from March 31 2018 all retailers in the state must honour gift cards for three years. RedBalloon has opted to lead the market by implementing the change on all vouchers across Australia and New Zealand, effective immediately and backdated to 18 October this year. The legislation limits the expiry extension to NSW customers only, however RedBalloon has taken the step of rolling out the change to customers nationally, as well as to their New Zealand operations, from today. The business has also backdated the change to the date the bill was passed through NSW Parliament, meaning any voucher purchased on or after 18 October 2017 will carry the full three year expiry; a tripling of the current 12 month industry standard. RedBalloon founder and small business advocate Naomi Simson is delighted about the change as it means incredible value for both customers and their 2000-plus small business partners. “We had believed we were unable to do this previously due to taxation requirements from the Tax Office, who do not collect their portion until after a voucher is either used or expires,” Ms Simson explained. “But the NSW State Government has paved the way with this change, and we are delighted to offer the additional two years. "We understand that the large national retailers have indicated they will make this change by 31 March 2018 when the law is enacted. However most use the same retail gift card platform, so there is no material cost for compliance. For smaller businesses who do not have access to these systems, the compliance is material. “We’re making this change because we think it offers great value to our customers. We’re doing it now because we didn’t want to serve hundreds of thousands of customers between now and the enactment, given we understand the inevitability of the law change. “We want people to go on their experiences. The toughest conversations we have with customers are about voucher expiry - this now goes away. “We are delighted to be able to do it for every voucher we deliver, but equally concerned about the impact on small suppliers, which is why we’re not asking our suppliers to hold their prices or types of experiences for three years. “We are protecting our suppliers by managing the financial burden of carrying customer credit for an additional 24 months, so that our customers have a longer time frame in which to use their vouchers. “It’s something we’re proud and happy to do on behalf of our business partners, as well as delivering great value to our customers.” Ms Simson spoke earlier this week about the sheer volume of compliance and detail small business operators are required to stay on top of, while also trying to run a business. “Running a business is hard. Running a small business is really hard,” Ms Simson said. “Let me be frank, this sort of legislative change has enormous impact on how we do business - from the very website we operate, to the thousands of small businesses we work with. Every retailer is currently reviewing the NSW legislation. “And to roll this out at our busiest time of year, with Christmas on the horizon, was a huge risk for the business - our tech team and analysts have produced miracles in this short time frame. “We wanted to show leadership and authority to our retail peers and make the change early and across all markets; not limited to NSW residents.” RedBalloon estimate the cost to the business for implementing pre-Christmas at close to half a million dollars. This accounts for development work, additional headcount, and the opportunity costs associated with prioritising this change over other projects in the wider business plan. This is why Ms Simson has real and valid concern that the new legislation will pose many problems, not just financial, for countless small business retailers across the country. “RedBalloon is in the fortunate position of being able to make these changes and wear the financial and resource costs required to do so - but that is the not the case for all. “As a small business advocate I am incredibly nervous for the impact this will have on family and small businesses across the country, and I really hope the regulating authorities responsible have thought through the ramifications of the change and how they can support business owners through the transition.” The extended expiry will also apply to RedBalloon retail gift cards (found in major retailers like Woolworths, Coles, Myer and Target), where any customer who can show proof of purchase on after October 18 2017 able to access the full three years to redeem that value. ENDS Available for interview: RedBalloon Founder Naomi Simson More information: Big Red Group Corporate Affairs Manager - Lauren Gleeson | lauren@thebigredgroup.com.au | 0404 136 765 About RedBalloon We’ve been a trusted leader in the online retail space since 2001, after pioneering experiential gifting in Australia. We connect customers with almost 4000 unique and amazing experiences, sourced from more than 2000 business partners across Australia and New Zealand. RedBalloon was an experiment to test whether a company could be successful simply by listening to its people and customers and delivering a great experience to both, and we remain committed to this 16 years on. RedBalloon is the marketing partner of thousands of small businesses - we not only deliver customers but also provide business tools, education and digital marketing expertise to those listed with RedBalloon. When business partners are successful then so is RedBalloon. We're an Australian small business, supporting other small businesses and together we are all stronger. Big Red Group Secures Exclusive Rights as Reseller of Artificial Intelligence Marketing Platform Albert in Australia and New Zealand 2017-07-27T21:46:28Z big-red-group-secures-exclusive-rights-as-reseller-of-artificial-intelligence-marketing-platform-albert-in-australia-and-new-zealand-1 SYDNEY: The newly formed Big Red Group (BRG) has secured the exclusive rights to bring the world's first Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital marketing platform, Albert, to Australia and New Zealand. Group co-founder Naomi Simson announced the exclusive agreement, alongside a major shake up of online experience retailer RedBalloon and associated businesses*. Albert is a fully autonomous, enterprise-level artificial intelligence marketing platform that drives digital marketing campaigns from start to finish for some of the world’s leading brands. Created by Albert Technologies Ltd. (AIM: ALB.L) (formerly Adgorithms) in 2010, Albert’s success transforming major brands’ cross-channel digital marketing efforts with its self-driven technology has been well documented in the U.S. The AI platform has been publicly credited with driving 40 per cent of Harley-Davidson’s New York City sales, influencing lingerie brand Cosabella’s decision to replace its digital agencies with AI, and creating so much demand for Dole Asia’s canned goods that its suppliers initially ran out of stock before ultimately reaching an 87 per cent increase in sales across the board. According to Albert CRO Geoff Farris, “Albert wades through massive amounts of data, converting it into insights, and autonomously acting on these insights, across channels, devices and formats, in real time. This eliminates the manual and time-consuming tasks that currently limit the effectiveness and results of modern digital advertising and marketing. But more importantly, it lets businesses execute and scale their efforts at a pace that simply isn’t possible by human teams.” The agreement entitles the Big Red Group to distribute Albert to third-party media companies, across entire supplier chains, as well as to direct-to-consumer retailers, under the registered business Big Albert AI Pty Ltd. Albert will drive down customer acquisition costs and increase positive commercial outcomes for thousands of Australian businesses. RedBalloon launched the technology on 1 June this year, and within 24 hours of deploying Albert, the technology was able to identify and execute over 6,400 keywords to improve performance across the RedBalloon business. By way of comparison, this would take a human SEM expert up to a year to achieve. Albert was also able to reduce the cost of acquiring a customer to RedBalloon by more than 25 per cent in less than 30 days, demonstrating its capacity to reduce overall costs by north of 40 per cent. “We have trialled this amazing technology across RedBalloon and Wrapped and it has proven its effectiveness beyond doubt,” Simson said. “Now we want our business community to share in the upside that comes with more efficient marketing spend. We’re not reducing our marketing budgets in any way, we’re simply ensuring that our dollars - and the dollars our partners pay us to do what we do - are working harder and harder day after day.   Simson is aware of the tensions that surround artificial intelligence technology, recently bought to the fore by Tesla’s Elon Musk, who claimed AI poses an “existential threat" to human civilisation. However Albert’s track record alone refutes this sentiment. In the U.S., Albert is at the core of a number of new hybrid man-machine digital marketing departments at companies like Harley-Davidson, Cosabella and Dole Asia, where artificial intelligence handles everything data and tech-related, while Albert’s human counterparts handle all things strategy, creative, intuition and emotion. These use cases reveal that such hybrid teams produce exponentially better outcomes than either man or machine would produce on their own, and that the nature of their work together is collaborative rather than combative. “When I started RedBalloon in 2001 it cost roughly five cents to find a new customer - now across the board in the businesses I deal with I see it costing upwards of $20 to find that same customer. This is completely unsustainable for any business,” Simson said. “We have seen Albert drive down the cost of customer acquisition by a quarter in a matter of weeks. Imagine the difference this sort of technology could make to businesses across the country. “Ten years ago business was all about offshoring to the cheapest operator those tasks that were not core to your business. But those roles associated with manual and process-driven tasks have largely been replaced by technology now. The next generation of that is a rising tide of technology that is beginning to replace higher functioning process driven roles. “But we should not be fearful of this, as it frees our people up to focus on the higher value tasks like collaboration, strategy and creativity - human and higher functioning skills that at this point cannot be replicated, and certainly not replaced, by AI,” Simson said. * BRG provides management and services to its subsidiaries RedBalloon, Big Albert AI, Redii, Wrapped and The Huddle, and was co-founded by Simson and Group CEO David Anderson, who acquired 50 per cent of the RedBalloon business in June. See backgrounder for more information. ENDS For more information, please contact: Big Red Group Corporate Affairs Manager, Lauren Gleeson | lauren@redballoon.com.au, 0404 136 765 Images and Video of announcement available 9am Friday July 28: http://bit.ly/2eK3CXZ Logos: http://bit.ly/2uV6bfJ Albert graphics: http://bit.ly/2v20LR7 About The Big Red Group The Big Red Group (BRG) is all about business success. In essence we know how difficult it can be to grow and scale a business consistently; co-founders Naomi Simson and David Anderson have built many businesses during their careers and they know the challenges business owners face. BRG provides management and services to its subsidiaries RedBalloon, Redii.com, Wrapped.com and The Huddle. Each of these businesses deliver services to business owners, whether it is marketing and online retail, helping employees thrive or education and information programs - BRG companies are focussed on the success of other businesses.  What we do inspires leadership, great workplaces and commercial outcomes for business owners.   About Albert™ Albert, created by Albert Technologies, LTD. (AIM: ALB.L), is a fully autonomous, enterprise-level artificial intelligence marketing platform that drives digital marketing campaigns from start to finish for some of the world’s leading brands. Albert liberates businesses from the data and technology complexities of digital marketing—not just by replicating their existing efforts, but by executing them at a pace and scale not possible by human teams. “He” accomplishes this by wading through mass amounts of data, converting this data into insights, and autonomously acting on these insights, across channels, devices and formats, in real time. Brands such as Harley Davidson, EVISU, Cosabella, Dole Asia, and Made.com credit Albert with significantly increased sales, an accelerated path to revenue, the ability to make more informed investment decisions, and reduced operational costs. Visit albert.ai. Key to Happiness Revealed in Time for the International Day of Happiness 2014-03-18T04:55:48Z key-to-happiness-revealed-in-time-for-the-international-day-of-happiness 18 March 2014: A new survey* from online experience retailer redballoon.com.au has found that the happiest people are those who stop to smell the roses. An impressive 95% of respondents who stated that they live in the moment are happy with life overall. This is a stark difference to those who don’t live in the moment, with just under half (47%) of those respondents stating that they’re happy. According to RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan, “These results show that you can double your chance of happiness by simply slowing down and appreciating what’s around you”. “It’s a great reminder in time for the UN International Day of Happiness,” Ms Buchanan said. “You only have to look around to see this in action – many people today are viewing life through the lens of a camera phone.  “Take in the aromas during a cooking class, lie down in the grass when you’re outside and let yourself laugh until it hurts – when we soak in the beauty of the everyday, we experience more happiness and that’s reinforced through these survey results.” The RedBalloon survey also found that 91% of respondents who live life on the edge are happy. “The key to happiness could be doing one thing every day that scares you or challenging yourself," Ms Buchanan said. “Here at RedBalloon we see this every day – there’s an undeniable amount of joy that comes from doing the things we think we cannot do, like swimming with sharks, skydiving or abseiling off a cliff." To celebrate International Happiness Day, RedBalloon, a brand synonymous with fun, embarked on finding out what makes us happy. The other key findings are: - The things that are most likely to put a smile on Australia's dial include: spending time with family and friends (54%), receiving an amazing gift (15%) and baby animals (12%). - The happiest time of day is 6-8pm. - The happiest people wake up between 6-8am, the unhappiest wake up between 10am-12pm. - The happiest age group is 60-64. - People who have a bucket list are more likely to be happy. - Happy people are more likely to choose chocolate ice cream first from a Neapolitan tub, followed by vanilla and then strawberry. * The survey was conducted with 1987 respondents via an online survey between 28 February and 14 March 2014. - Ends - RedBalloon Launches RED Corporate Recognition Program 2014-02-28T02:30:11Z redballoon-launches-red-corporate-recognition-program Online experience retailer RedBalloon today launched its new corporate offering, Recognise Every Day (RED) – a unique business stream housed within the existing RedBalloon business to create and deliver employee recognition programs to organisations across the country. RED will leverage everything RedBalloon has learnt about building a great employer brand, to offer Australian businesses access to world-class recognition for their people and the commercial and cultural benefits that it brings. The RED journey started in 2013 when the corporate side of the business decided to focus solely on employee engagement, the power of recognition and what it takes to create a great workplace. The team now offer world class recognition programs designed with the client’s business in mind, with products and services including The RED Points Program, The RED Toolkit as well as detailed surveys, workshops and training days. RED is currently working with high profile clients including BTFG, Westpac, St George, CBA, Origin Energy, Toll Energy and Fantastic Holdings to create something unique in the engagement space; a business committed to higher engagement and productivity through employee recognition. RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan said the launch of RED was the latest in a range of product diversification strategies to keep growth and innovation at the heart of the RedBalloon brand. “As a business we’re continuing to innovate and diversify, and this latest offering aims to transform workplaces and help them reach their goals through the power of recognition,” Ms Buchanan said. “As a BRW Great Place to Work five years running, we understand the hallmarks of a great employee experience, and we’re passionate about sharing this knowledge with other businesses to build more happy workplaces.” RED General Manager Jemma Fastnedge added, “Recognition is a powerful tool for two reasons; firstly, it drives productivity through reinforcing positive behaviours, and secondly it plays a key role in making someone feel valued. “We’re big believers in ‘what gets recognised gets repeated’. If you recognise behaviours in line with the culture of the business, it will reinforce those behaviours and drive more of the same. “Some may think it takes a lot of time to recognise employees, but we want to bust that myth. It really takes just a moment – from a verbal thank you to a written message – it takes next to no time at all, but the benefits can be felt for much longer. “When we feel valued, we give more of ourselves, and recognition plays a key role in making someone feel valued. The very act of recognising someone can drive greater individual productivity.” Hi res images and an accompanying infographic for your use can be found at the following link - http://bit.ly/1lmltzm Reliable IT Vital for Online Retailers at Christmas 2013-12-04T06:21:45Z reliable-it-vital-for-online-retailers-at-christmas Dec 4, 2013: Australia’s leading online experience retailer RedBalloon.com.au warns Christmas is make or break for the bottom line, and IT has a vital role to play in ensuring online retailers make the most of this peak spending period. With online shopping more popular than ever, and most retailers experiencing their most profitable period in December, online retailers simply cannot afford for their sites to go down, or to deliver a poor customer experience. Christmas Eve 2012 saw RedBalloon experience their first $1 million day, with a transaction being made on the site every 3.3 seconds. And according to a 2011 survey, 36 per cent of people are now conducting the majority of their Christmas shopping online – up from only two per cent five years earlier.* RedBalloon Chief Technology Officer Simon Farrell, who joined the business in August, says with so many customers going online, delivering an uninterrupted service is paramount – both to secure maximum sales at Christmas and to deliver a great brand experience that will pay dividends into the New Year. “12 years in, RedBalloon is still growing rapidly. We saw transactional growth of 40 per cent last financial year and more than one million customers visiting the RedBalloon desktop and mobile sites in December 2012 alone – almost double the same time in 2010. Our technology must grow with us,” Mr Farrell said. “Thanks to solid groundwork over the last 18 months, including transitioning to the Amazon Web Services Cloud in 2012, we have greater redundancy and scalability than ever, and our level of Christmas readiness has never been better.” Christmas has always been the biggest time of year for RedBalloon, but they have not always been as prepared as they are now. In 2008 their IT team had to restart the website servers every hour – meaning a developer had to be on call and monitoring the site 24/7. The team worked in shifts babysitting the site, day and night. Then in 2009, RedBalloon’s hosting provider upgraded their database memory, but neglected to allocate memory to the SQL server. This meant even though the memory was sufficient, the database was only accessing a third of it and was failing every hour. “Because we see almost 20 per cent of our traffic during December alone, we simply cannot afford – financially or from a customer happiness perspective – to have technology issues at this time of year, and nor can any other retailer.”   It’s not too late! Here are five simple things online retailers can still do to maximise Christmas sales:1. Load Test. Get prepared for the spike in traffic by testing and ensuring your site can handle the load.2. Calculate your maximum expected traffic. Then double it.3. Run your team through your Disaster Recovery Program. This needs to be fresh in everyone’s mind.4. Expect the worst and prepare for it. Thinking “That will never happen to us” is not a strategy.5. Prepare your third parties. Communicate with them and make sure they too can take the load of Christmas.   Sydney-based RedBalloon was founded in 2001 and has grown into a $50 million business in 12 years. The business employs 70 people, has been ranked in BRW Magazine’s Best Places to Work five years consecutively and was named a Deloitte Technology Fast 50 company six times since 2006.  * Survey completed online by 2350 respondents from October 25 – November 23, 2011– Ends –For more information: Lauren Ashton, RedBalloon PR Manager – lauren@redballoon.com.au / 0404 136 675 RedBalloon Launches Online Subscription Model 2013-11-06T06:12:49Z redballoon-launches-online-subscription-model November 6, 2013: Australian online experience retailer RedBalloon.com.au has today taken another step in their growth story, rolling out a retail subscription model for leading local and international brands. RedBalloon MarketPlace is part of the brand’s product diversification strategy that taps into the highly coveted recurring revenue subscription commerce model. CEO Kristie Buchanan is confident there is an appetite for subscription commerce in Australia, labelling the launch as a new chapter in RedBalloon’s innovation story. The 12-year-old business is aiming for upwards of 20 per cent growth this financial year, and recently hit the milestone of two million experiences sold since launching in 2001. It took a decade to sell the first million, and only two years to sell the second million – and this Australian ecommerce success story has.an appetite for even more growth. “Key to our ongoing growth and success is never standing still or resting on our laurels,” Ms Buchanan said. “Subscription commerce has risen as a major retail trend, gaining particular strength and traction across the US and UK markets. But Australia remains fragmented and dominated by many small players, so we saw this as a great opportunity to become a leader in the local market. “This new offering is all about creating and fostering an ongoing relationship with our customers – surprising and delighting them with a new product each month. “We have reset our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and are now aiming to deliver five million ‘good times’ by 2020. That’s five million customers rating us a nine or 10 out of 10 – we don’t want just customers, we want happy customers and raving fans.” RedBalloon MarketPlace will provide customers with access to new and gourmet brands and products that are not readily available elsewhere, across two major categories: Gourmet Food/Wine and Lifestyle (health, beauty, apparel and accessories). Products are available as a one off gift, or as three, six or twelve month subscription, and unlike many other subscription offers in market, will contain full sized products – this is not a sampling opportunity but a beautifully packaged experience in a box each month. All with the convenience of online shopping. The company’s “Happiness Guarantee” enables customers to switch between subscriptions or exchange for RedBalloon credit if they are not happy – no other subscription model in market provides such assurance or flexibility to customers. The 60-strong product range represents a number of high profile and desirable brands, including Maggie Beer, Simon Johnson, Ghermez Cupcakes, Max Brenner, Hank’s Jams, Bitton, Pukara, Toby’s Estate, Republica Coffee, Spotted Cow Cookies, as well as a huge range of wine and beer products hand selected by the team at Shortys Liquor. Prices will start at $29 a month, including delivery and transaction fees – so there are no hidden costs to customers. See more at http://www.redballoon.com.au/subscriptions- Ends -For more information, images or to arrange a sample, please contact: Lauren Ashton, PR Manager, RedBalloon – lauren@redballoon.com.au / 02 8755 0034 / 0404 136 765About RedBalloonRedBalloonhas started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon Experience Vouchers, Gift Certificates and Gift Boxes can be purchased online or in selected retail outlets.   Table for two? RedBalloon hungry for new dining partners 2013-09-10T00:22:45Z table-for-two-redballoon-hungry-for-new-dining-partners RedBalloon.com.au is Australia’s largest online experience retailer and is on the hunt for new restaurant partners to join the 200 dining partners they already represent.RedBalloon operates as a booking agent, representing thousands of experience providers across the country and leverages a multimillion dollar marketing budget and six million online visitors per year to drive interest and foot traffic to the establishments it represents. After 12 years in business, RedBalloon is focusing on expanding their already extensive quality dining range, in line with customer demand and a heightened interest in good food within the community. The website already lists a range of dining experiences including three course dinners and degustation menus; wine matching experiences and gourmet tasting plates. The focus is on quality experiences that also represent great value for customers.RedBalloon has seen significant uplift in the gourmet gifting space with the number of dining experiences increasing by 50 per cent (from 200-300) in the last six months, and the category growing by 34 per cent last financial year alone.Gourmet (including dining, cooking classes and food tours) was the highest growth category for the business, representing 17 per cent of all experience sales – which is particularly impressive when pitted against consistently high performing categories like driving, flying and pampering.RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan said opportunities for product expansion are significant within the gourmet range.“Gourmet is our third most popular category and the one with the highest levels of growth, so our focus in this area is part of our wider commitment to responding to customer demand,” Ms Buchanan said.“Our experience providers receive many benefits through working with RedBalloon. We bring them new customers; offer cost effective and targeted marketing channels; sell products at the same rate; we pay our partners before the customer arrives; and can help fill the slow times of the week to ensure these establishments are maximising their income potential.“RedBalloon is in the business of happiness and giving people more good times, and we are seeking to partner with restaurants and experience providers who also value great customer service.”For more information visit www.redballoon.com.au - Ends -For more information, images or to arrange an interview, please contact: Lauren Ashton, RedBalloon PR Specialist – lauren@redballoon.com.au / 02 8755 0034 / 0404 136 765 About RedBalloonRedBalloon has started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon Experience Vouchers, Gift Certificates and Gift Boxes can be purchased online or in selected retail outlets.   Liberal voters more generous on Father’s Day 2013-08-13T06:25:12Z liberal-voters-more-generous-on-father-s-day Tuesday August 13, 2013: Heading into next month’s federal election, Tony Abbott is more likely to receive a Father’s Day gift than his opponent Kevin Rudd. According to online experience retailer RedBalloon.com.au, 53 per cent of Liberal voters will purchase a gift for their dad, compared to only 49 per cent of Labor voters. It’s a slim advantage, but if your kids vote Liberal, you’re ahead in at least one poll this year. But Kevin Rudd is not alone, with one in two Aussie dads (48 per cent) unlikely to open a gift on Father’s Day, according to the 1059 people surveyed[1]. RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan says we shouldn’t be taking our Dads for granted on Father’s Day. “It’s not hard to make Dad happy – and it doesn’t have to cost the earth,” Ms Buchanan said. “At RedBalloon, we know Dads can be really hard to buy for[2] but what most of them really want is to spend time with their friends and family – and some just want a hug.  “A nice meal, a round of golf or a day out fishing, with a simple hand written card will show how much you appreciate him.”  Want to open a gift this September? Dads most likely to receive: ·         - Are still married – only 24% of children with divorced parents will buy a Father’s Day gift ·         - Live in the country – 79% of people living in rural Australia will buy Dad a gift this father’s day, compared to only 49% of city dwellers ·         - Celebrate the day with the ladies – women are more generous than men with 61% of women purchasing Dad a gift, compared to only 42% of men ·          - Have children aged 18-29 – 78% in this age group will purchase their Dad a gift. [1]Ipsos Omnibus –O13Y0392 June 2013, QRB5. Completed by 1059 people. [2]In a survey conducted by RedBalloon.com.au with more than 2500 respondents in July 2012, 89% of people think dads are hard to buy for   New Findings: Happy People Equal Happy Profits 2013-04-17T22:43:14Z new-findings-happy-people-equal-happy-profits 17 April, 2013: Now in its third year, the RedBalloon and AltusQ Employee Engagement Capability Report adds weight to the argument that a highly engaged workforce is a highly productive workforce.Estimates show that disengagement costs the nation $32 billion in lost productivity every year, and only 18 per cent of Australians love their work[i]. The Engagement Capability Report aims to address this issue by building on the wealth of knowledge surrounding employee engagement and providing insights into why organisations should invest to improve their engagement reality. The 2013 report found that organisations with the highest levels of engagement outperformed others in every single commercial metric - sales and turnover, percentage profit, productivity, staff retention, attracting talent, customer loyalty and satisfaction.When compared to 2012 figures, the percentage of organisations with 80 per cent or greater employee engagement reporting increases across key commercial metrics was telling:•Productivity – 68.4% of organisations with 80 per cent or greater engagement reported an increase in this area•Customer satisfaction – 64.1%•Attracting talent – 63.2%•Customer loyalty – 63.2%•Percentage profit – 60.7%•Staff retention – 50.5%•Sales and turnover – 50.4%On the other hand, the percentage of organisations with lower employee engagement (80 per cent or below) reporting no change or a decrease in these commercial metrics was just as noteworthy - staff retention (25.6 per cent decrease), percentage profit (21.5 per cent decrease) and sales and turnover (19.9 per cent decrease).The ‘sick days taken’ finding is particularly telling, with 64 per cent of the lower performing organisations reporting an increase or no change in this metric, highlighting the tendency for disengaged employees to be absent more often than their engaged counterparts. According to RedBalloon Engagement Consultant James Wright, “It’s no coincidence that organisations with highly engaged employees have also seen an uplift in commercial metrics”.“Employees deliver when their environment gives them the tools and space to flourish; and also recognises them for their efforts. “Importantly, in this economic climate, investing in employee engagement has a proven bottom line benefit, and most engagement strategies are extremely cost effective to implement. This is especially the case when considered alongside other costly options such as technology overhauls, identifying new revenue streams or product innovation.”Other Key Findings:1.Buddies. The difference between the top performers and the rest is that they know how to transfer strategy, processes and desired behaviours throughout their organisations. Think mentoring, buddying, coaching, recognition and internal networks that build a clear sense of purpose, well understood targets, strong recruitment, training and development programs. 2.Spend. It is not a simple matter of “spend X to get Y”. The report shows organisations are far more likely to achieve a strong engagement outcome if their spend is at least $1000 per person per year. 50.3 per cent of those spending $1000 or more achieve engagement uplift, compared to only 29.4% of those spending less. Those with an engagement score of less than 80 per cent were also twice as likely to have cut their spend on engagement activities in the last 12 months. 3.CEO. The research shows that CEOs in the top performing companies are more enthusiastic about employee engagement than the Leadership Team or even HR. Mixing enthusiasm with responsibility will create an employee engagement program that is led from the front, achieving better results. But for the best results, everyone needs to have ownership and enthusiasm for the employee engagement reality.These findings were gathered by RedBalloon and AltusQ from 1550 respondents, representing organisations ranging in size from one employee to thousands. HR, CEO, leadership and management team members made up 72 per cent of respondents.The Engagement Capabilities Report identifies a framework of 20 Core Organisational Capabilities[ii] that organisations measure themselves against according to the level of depth, understanding and mastery within their organisation. Unpack all the findings from the 2013 RedBalloon and AltusQ Engagement Capabilities Report [1]Gallup Global Survey 2011 quoted in SMH 18.03.1121) purpose, intent, cause 2) culture 3) commercial vision 4) innovation 5) brand energy 6) managing capacity and workload 7) functional structure/resource allocation 8) KPI 9) reward and recognition program 10) communication 11) coaching 12) managing expectations 13) work/life balance 14) compensation and benefits 15) recruitment 16) on boarding 17) performance management 18) developing people 19) decision making 20) effective meetings- Ends -For more information please contact:Lauren Ashton, PR & Communications Specialist - 02 8755 0034 / 0404 136 765 / lauren@redballoon.com.auAbout RedBalloon For CorporateRedBalloon is Australia’s biggest experiential gifting retailer and 2010 Hewitt Best Employer with an engagement score of 90%= for the last four years. RedBalloon’s corporate team supports organisations large and small to develop reward and recognition strategies and non-cash incentive programs that drive engagement.About AltusQAltusQ is a coaching firm like no other. With an energetic, practical and passionate team, AltusQ’s leadership and mentoring programs and business coaching creates greater choice for businesses and their people, stimulating stronger commercial returns and building robust cultural environments that attract and retain the best talent.  RedBalloon is choc-a-block with Easter gift ideas 2013-03-25T00:14:25Z redballoon-is-choc-a-block-with-easter-gift-ideas Dare to be different this year and think outside the Easter box with a unique range of experiences and gift ideas from RedBalloon. EXPERIENCES Chocolate Sweet Sunday Walking Tour, $85 (Sydney). Take a walk down Sweet Street and stroll the city centre, indulging in hot chocolate or coffee, chocolate confections, delectable treats, and a gorgeous gelato! You'll visit and sample at an Australian chocolate shop owned by a family who have been making fine chocolate from raw cocoa beans since 1915. Chocolate Making Workshop,$140 (Sydney) / Chocolate Making Workshop,$130 (Melbourne). Indulge yourself in a hands-on chocolate making workshop designed for the inquisitive and create chocoholic. Find out how real chocolate is made and experience the pleasure of making your own. You’ll leave the chocolate workshop with your own handmade chocolates and the skills to make even more.Delicious Dessert Cooking Class, $125 (Sydney). They’ll be no more shop-bought ice cream desserts or burnt tarts in the oven after this cooking class. In fact, you’ll be regularly ditching the main course and skipping straight to dessert. Cooking decadent desserts is easy, when you know what to do. Royal High Tea For 2, $90 (Brisbane). Indulge in a royal high tea with beautiful surrounds . Enjoy sweet and savoury delicacies, an extensive tea menu and espresso coffees. Relax and dine alfresco style out on the verandah, tranquil courtyards or in a stylish dining room.  GIFT BOXES Max Brenner Easter Emergency Chocolate Kit, $69 (Australia-wide). This is the perfect Easter present for any chocoholic. Presented in a quirky ‘Brown Cross First Aid’ chocolate box for anonymous chocoholics.  Message In Chocolate, $47 (Australia-wide). Spell out a message in delicious Belgian chocolate and show someone you care. Comes beautifully presented in a wooden box. Chocolate Covered Sparkling Wine, $49 (Australia-wide). Send a piccolo of Sparkling Wine dipped in 70% Couverture Chocolate to a special someone. Drink the wine, peel the chocolate off the bottle and enjoy. Plus there’s 110gms of fresh cream chocolate truffles to be enjoyed afterwards. - ENDS- For more information please contact: Claire Young, Communications Assistant - 02 8755 0040/ Claire@redballoon.com.au Notes to the editor: View the full range of RedBalloon Easter experiences at www.redballoon.com.au/holidays/easter   About RedBalloon RedBalloon has started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon Experience Vouchers, Gift Certificates and Gift Boxes can be purchased online or in selected retail outlets. International Happiness Day: Revealing the Key to Happiness 2013-03-19T22:23:46Z international-happiness-day-revealing-the-key-to-happiness 20 March 2013: On International Happiness Day, a new survey from online experience retailer RedBalloon has found 87 per cent of respondents are happy with life overall, and when it comes to what makes us smile we need to get back to basics.Regardless of age, gender, where we live, how much we earn or how happy we are with life overall, the one thing that united all 2489 respondents*, and was guaranteed to put a smile on their faces, was spending time with family and friends.It was the number one activity leading to happiness in every category of the survey, including:•    Age – from under 18 to over 60 years of age, this activity received 44 per cent of the vote. It spiked for the under 18 group with 69 per cent of the vote, and the over 60s at 53 per cent.•    Gender – 41 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women say time with their loved ones is the key to putting a smile on their dial.•    Income – no matter their combined household income, from $50,000 to $150,000 a year plus, 44 per cent of respondents enjoy time with those dearest to them.•    Location – Western Australia is the happiest state, followed by NSW, Victoria, South Australia then Queensland. But overall it doesn’t matter where respondents live, spending time with family and friends gathered 44 per cent of the vote.•    Happiness with life overall – regardless of their level of happiness (ranking from “extremely unhappy” to “very happy”), 46 per cent just want quality time with their loved ones.According to RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan, the findings indicate a desire for the simple things in life, like more time to create memories with our loved ones.“RedBalloon is in the business of creating happiness, so we wanted to find out what gives people joy,” Ms Buchanan said.“We asked what would put a smile on their face, and most people – regardless of age, gender, financial situation or any of that other cosmetic stuff – just want to spend time with those dear to them.“What a great message to see on International Happiness Day.”To celebrate International Happiness Day on March 20, RedBalloon, a brand synonymous with fun, embarked on finding out what makes us happy. The other key findings were:•    Happiness levels in the different areas of life are:        o    Home life – 89 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy        o    Where we live – 77 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy        o    Social life – 75 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy        o    Health – 70 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy        o    Work life – 67 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy        o    Finances – 48 per cent are “mostly” or “very” happy. This was the most unhappy category overall.•    Only 8 per cent of respondents ranked themselves as “very happy” when it came to their personal appearance, with 62 per cent saying      they would be happier if they were slimmer. 20 per cent are satisfied just as they are.•    88 per cent of women and 85 per cent of men are “mostly” or “very” happy with life overall•    To be happier at work, 34 per cent of respondents want more money and 18 per cent want more recognition.•    When ranking which aspect of life they put the greatest importance on in terms of happiness, the average ranking was:               1.    Home life               2.    Health               3.    Financial situation               4.    Work               5.    Social life               6.    Personal appearance* The survey was conducted with 2489 respondents via an online survey between 28 February and 14 March 2013.                                                               - Ends -For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Lauren Ashton, RedBalloon PR & Communications Specialist – 02 8755 0034/0404 136 765/lauren@redballoon.com.au About RedBalloonRedBalloon has started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon Experience Vouchers, Gift Certificates and Gift Boxes can be purchased online or in selected retail outlets. New Characters in the Next Chapter of Growth for Retailer RedBalloon 2013-02-22T06:50:15Z new-characters-in-the-next-chapter-of-growth-for-retailer-redballoon 21 February 2013 (Sydney): RedBalloon Pty Ltd has welcomed Richard England (Chairman) and Atlassian Founder Scott Farquhar (Non-Executive Director) to the board ranks, signalling a new chapter for the Australian owned and operated experience retailer.Now in its twelfth year, redballoon.com.au has delivered more than 1.7 million experiences to customers and is still seeing extremely high levels of growth for a business of its vintage. The business hit 40 per cent growth in total transaction value in the 2012 financial year, demonstrating there is still very strong growth in Australian online retail. Christmas 2012 saw this online retailer experience a transaction every 3.3 seconds. The establishment of an experienced board with external perspective is set to drive the business further on this growth trajectory, as RedBalloon aims to cement itself as the top online destination for gifts. RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan said both appointments were part of the latest evolution for the maturing business, which has seen continued strong growth despite the pressures and changes facing the retail industry.“We are thrilled to welcome Richard and Scott, and we are confident they will bring an added level of constructive and external rigor to our operation,” Ms Buchanan said.“Richard is a seasoned Chairman with a strong accounting background, and we expect him to lead robust discussions around how we maintain and drive our retail leader status.“And as the co-founder of one of Australia’s most innovative and successful export technology companies, we believe Scott will help challenge us as we navigate the ever-changing world of online retail.”Joining Founding Director Naomi Simson and Director Peter Simson, this will be the first time RedBalloon welcomes external, non-shareholder parties to the board, as they take the business to the next level. On his appointment, Mr England said: “I am delighted to join the team at RedBalloon. The organisation is at such an exciting juncture in its journey; sitting on the threshold between SME and becoming a seriously big player in the Australian retail industry. Mr Farquhar echoed these sentiments adding, "As a long-time customer I was drawn to RedBalloon because of its incredible attention to customer experience, and employee engagement. I'm looking forward to bringing my experience growing Atlassian to another fast-growth Australian success story".Richard England is currently Chairman of Chandler Macleod Group Limited and Ruralco Holdings Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Allianz Australia Limited, Nanosonics Limited and Macquarie Atlas Roads Limited. Scott Farquhar is Founder of software development firm Atlassian. - Ends -For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Lauren Ashton, RedBalloon PR & Communications Specialist – 02 8755 0034/0404 136 765/lauren@redballoon.com.au About RedBalloonRedBalloon has started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. RedBalloon Experience Vouchers, Gift Certificates and Gift Boxes can be purchased online or in selected retail outlets. Take a leap for love on Valentine’s Day 2013-02-05T01:17:52Z take-a-leap-for-love-on-valentine-s-day Tuesday February 5, 2013: Spending a day on the water, leaping from a plane or learning to cook a killer soufflé are some of the top ways we choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, according to online experience retailer redballoon.com.au. After selling more than 1.7 million experiences in just over a decade, RedBalloon is a popular choice for the loved-up wanting to celebrate February 14 in a romantic or adventure-fuelled fashion.Top Valentine’s Day experiences in 2012:1.Sailing2.Eating out and cooking classes3.Massages, beauty and spa treatments4.V8 and rally car experiences5.SkydivingRedBalloon customer Sheri Gould was one who opted for the skydiving option, proposing to her boyfriend Max after leaping from 14,000 feet on Valentine’s Day last year.As part of a daredevil skydive proposal arranged by RedBalloon, Sheri surprised Max with a skydiving experience – little did he know Sheri was taking the biggest leap of her life.“I was very nervous as we boarded the plane – I had to jump first so that I could be on the ground and on one knee ready to pop the question when Max landed,” Sheri said.“There was a huge banner reading ‘Will you marry me?’ laid out on the ground as Max came into land, and a film crew capturing the moment for TV.“It was a real logistical and emotional exercise. But when he said yes it was the happiest moment of my life.”Sheri and Max plan to wed in Sydney this year.- ENDS -For more information, video/images or to speak to Sheri or a RedBalloon spokesperson, please contact:Lauren Ashton, PR & Communications Specialist - 0287550034/0404136765/lauren@redballoon.com.au About RedBalloonRedBalloon has started a happiness revolution - one amazing experience at a time! We believe everyone deserves to have fun, feel good and be happy. We believe happiness starts with a drop, becomes a ripple and creates a wave. And we believe happiness is amplified when shared. Put simply, we are in the business of fun and are passionate about giving people more good times. Share your Employee Engagement Reality 2013-02-01T01:53:12Z share-you-employee-engagement-reality 1 February 2013: Now in its third year, the RedBalloon and AltusQ Employee Engagement Capability Survey is open for submissions. The survey and resulting report seek to better understand and support organisations committed to expanding and transforming employee engagement.This unique research study looks at 20 core competencies that contribute to delivering high levels of employee engagement, and identifies the specific barriers, knowledge and skills gaps in a business to direct the required actions to improve a workplace’s engagement reality.In 2012 the report uncovered that company culture was king when it came to creating and maintaining an engaged workforce. What will 2013 unveil?Recent Gallup findings* show that only 18 per cent of Australians say that they love their work, and estimates indicate Australia suffers a massive $32bn annual loss in productivity through disengaged employees .According to RedBalloon Engagement Consultant James Wright, “We have developed a predictive tool that provides clarity for investment decisions around particular skills or organisational capabilities that will provide the biggest uplift in an organisation’s engagement score”.“And this also has a bottom line benefit, with the 2012 report showing those organisations achieving 80 per cent or more in their employee engagement score are at least six times more likely to see increases in sales and profit than those with a score below 60 per cent.”Have your say before 28 February 2013 and go into the draw to win a $300 RedBalloon Gift Voucher and receive a free electronic copy of the report when it is released in April. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/prmed - Ends -For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:Lauren Ashton, PR & Communications Specialist - 02 8755 0034 / 0404 136 765 / lauren@redballoon.com.auAbout RedBalloon For CorporateRedBalloon is Australia's largest experiential gifting retailer and a 2010 Hewitt Best Employer with an engagement score of 90%+ for the last three years. RedBalloon’s corporate team supports organisations large and small to develop reward and recognition strategies and non-cash incentive programs that drive engagement.About AltusQAltusQ is a coaching firm like no other. With an energetic, practical and passionate team, AltusQ’s leadership, mentoring and business coaching creates greater choice for businesses and their people, stimulating stronger commercial returns and building robust cultural environments that attract and retain the best talent.*Gallup Global Survey 2011 quoted in SMH “Worked up about Work”, James Adonis - 18.03.11, http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/blogs/work-in-progress/worked-up-about-work-20110318-1bz8x.html  We’re doing our Christmas shop on the clock 2012-12-18T01:04:35Z we-re-doing-our-christmas-shop-on-the-clock Figures released from online experience retailer redballoon.com.au show more than half of their sales (58%) and website traffic (54%) in December come within the traditional working hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.Comparatively, the traditional post-work hours of 5pm to midnight represent just over a third - 37 per cent of purchases and 39 per cent of traffic.Interestingly, both visits to RedBalloon and purchases drop off over the weekend – a time when you might expect people to take care of personal matters. Saturday and Sunday combined represent just 18 per cent of purchases, whereas Monday through Friday make up 82 per cent of their weekly sales. According to RedBalloon Acting CEO Kristie Buchanan, this weekend drop isn’t really a surprise as “The weekend is a chance to switch off from technology.”“With the majority of Australian workers in white collar jobs1 and spending much of the week perched in front of a computer, the opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done at the same time is tempting.”“We have also seen a rapid increase in the number of people browsing the redballoon.com.au mobile site, with 21 per cent of our December traffic coming from mobile devices.“This is a further indication that people are using every spare moment to get things done – be it banking, shopping or paying bills, while commuting or waiting in line at the doctor’s office.”RedBalloon are confident this isn’t an isolated observation - with the continuing growth and popularity of online shopping they suspect other online retailers would be seeing similar trends.“We’re spending more and more time in the office, in front of computers, and on our mobile devices - the convenience and instant gratification of online shopping is at our fingertips 24/7,” Ms Buchanan said.“We’re not necessarily being unproductive; it’s a matter of people having to become more and more efficient, particularly at Christmas when there are so many competing pressures on our time.”1 The most common Australian occupations in 1966 were tradesmen, production process workers and labourers (44%). In 2011 professionals, clerical and administrative workers (37%) made up the majority. ABS: ‘Australian Labour Market Statistics, Oct 2011', Fifty Years of Labour Force: now and then, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/6105.0Feature+Article1Oct%202011#Endnote12 - Ends -For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:Lauren Ashton, RedBalloon PR – 02 8755 0034 / 0404 136 765 / lauren@redballoon.com.au About RedBalloonRedBalloon has been giving people the chance to fulfil their dreams for 11 years in Australia and New Zealand, and has supplied more than 1.5 million memorable experiences in this time. With over 3000 unique gift ideas and experience gift vouchers like race car driving, hot air ballooning, horse riding on the beach, tiger moth flights to massages, romantic dinners and getaways, RedBalloon has the perfect meaningful gift for any occasion.