World Resorts of Distinction

World Resorts of Distinction (WRD) is the only resort marketing agency in Australia, representing a curated selection of the world’s most sustainable, socially responsible and luxurious resorts. The resorts and facilities they care for hail from some of the earth’s most beautiful locales including Vietnam, Fiji, Samoa, the Maldives and Indonesia. Their raison d’être? To transform the travel industry by neutralising any negative impact it has on the environment. 

This is no easy feat, when you consider that the tourism industry alone contributes to the depletion of natural resources and nasty greenhouse gas emissions every single day. Plus, the number of international travellers continues to rise each year. Wouldn’t it be nice if each and every traveller heading overseas in 2020 landed at a conscious and sustainable facility? 

Tess Willcox certainly thinks so. As the CEO and owner of WRD, Tess is a dedicated advocate for sustainability and conscious living. She was born and raised in the idyllic coastal town of Margaret River in Western Australia, bordered by both forest and sea. Her upbringing was infused with a deep respect and affinity for the land and community, becoming her lifelong modus operandi that she shares with her tribe of eco-warrior women.   

Her love affair with the planet has seen her travel to some of its most rogue and unspoiled corners. She even called the Spanish city of Barcelona home and enjoyed a brief stint living in Bali before touching down on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast to head WRD. Travel, adventure and luxury are woven into the very fabric of what Tess and her team does, which in turn informs the kind of collaborations of which they commit their clients. From bloggers to photographers and fashion brands, WRD pulls a vast collection of conscious creatives into their orbit each year. 

Every resort that WRD represent is a true leader of sustainable luxury travel. Some provide revolutionary hospitality and proudly support their rich local cultures. Others make consistent efforts to refine their social responsibility initiatives and educate guests about travelling consciously. Whatever their strength, each is effecting positive change in their country and the world more broadly, supported wholeheartedly by brilliant women of WRD. 

Please give us your elevator pitch: 

WRD is Australia’s pre-eminent resort marketing and representation agency. We provide a suite of personalised services including marketing, sales, brand development, PR, social media and digital distribution to our carefully-curated portfolio of world-leading resort clients.

What problem is your business solving? 

WRD is disrupting the travel industry by championing sustainable, socially responsible luxury travel experiences. With a carefully curated portfolio of world-leading resorts, our vision is to reduce the impact of travel on the environment and create an unrivalled collection of eco-friendly destinations for today’s conscious globetrotters. Our resorts share a common passion for providing revolutionary hospitality, rooted in environmental awareness and local culture.

Tell us three unique things about your business: 

We are the only resort representation agency in Australia dedicated to conscious travel. We’re an all-female team and we’re young (all under the age 37)! Girl power! 

What can attendees expect to see from you at TCS? 

This is to be confirmed, but we can disclose that we’re working on a sneaky giveaway to the world’s most sustainable resort. Shhh! 

Can you tell us a little about your background and where the inspiration came from for your business? 

Born in the wilderness of Western Australia’s Margaret River region, our owner and CEO, Tess Willcox has identified as somewhat of an eco-warrior from early childhood. Her family lived in a forest – a short walk, horse ride or four-wheeler adventure away from the beach via national park and waterfalls and together they spent their weekends surfing, horse riding, and exploring. 

Margaret River was an extremely small town when Tess was growing up, where locals were raised with an affinity and respect for the land and community. Growing up with that kind of connection to the planet has definitely shaped Tess’s ongoing love for it. Her obsession with travel, adventure and exploring rogue, untouched places began with family trips to the Mentawai Islands, sailing through remote islands before the region became the popular destination it is today. 

Combining both of these passions, Tess studied broadcast journalism and PR, with the goal of being a host on Getaway. What she fell into instead, as her first job out of university, was a sales executive role for World Resorts of Distinction, which she now owns and is the CEO of. Through WRD, Tess was given the opportunity to travel the world and experience the luxury resorts the company represents in the Australian and New Zealand markets. 

After five years of hard work and climbing the company’s ladder, Tess decided to leave WRD and moved to Bali for a PR and marketing role – a stint that only lasted six months. Why, you might ask? Because Tess had a burning desire to return to the job she was truly passionate about. She committed to another five years at WRD before moving once again, this time to Europe. 

In the interim she had started a lifestyle brand called Ames Collective as an outlet for her creativity. Ames Collective took off and Tess spent the next nine months in Spain and London running her first business. Reflecting on this time in her life, Tess acknowledges it as a highlight but also one of the hardest things she has ever done – especially with her limited Spanish. 

Having said that, she managed to work on some incredible collaborations with brands like Lorna Jane and First Base, and it allowed her the freedom to design her days, her life, and work out what her career goals were. While Tess was in Spain, she was offered a partnership with her beloved World Resorts of Distinction. She accepted, moved home to Australia and spent the next two years transitioning her business partner into retirement, and taking 100% ownership of the business. One of the first things Tess did as CEO of WRD was a holistic rebrand and change of direction towards sustainable luxury. Today it emulates everything she stands for and gives her a platform to market the true leaders in sustainable luxury.

To find out more, please visit wrd.com.au

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