'They laughed at me': Why Captain Mike's flying high
WHEN Captain Mike Jarvis first talked about the idea of starting a chopper joy flight business in Ipswich, his financial adviser laughed.
The year was 2008, the GFC was just starting to hit, and the very idea of starting a business seemed risky, let alone starting a tourism venture in our neck of the woods.
But over the course of the last decade, Captain Mike has carefully honed in on the very best destinations that Ipswich and the region has to offer, working with local tourism bodies to tie it all together into what he likes to refer to as "an experience you'll remember for the rest of your life”.
Captain Mike must be doing something right. He now employs five part-time pilots and one part-time ground crew member, in addition to himself and his wife Johey, who have made Pterodactyl Helicopters into a successful tourism business.
More recently, Pterodactyl Helicopters, based at Lake Manchester, has been officially recognised as one of Queensland's best tourism experiences, scoring the maximum 100 points on the State Government's new ranking system.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones has launched the world-first marketing initiative to shine the spotlight on quality tourism operators like Captain Mike.
"The thing I discovered about Ipswich was that there are so many places to take people,” Capt Mike said.
"I am an Ipswich boy and I didn't even realise until I started working in the tourism industry.
"Ipswich is picking up its game in terms of offering quality experiences.”
While Ipswich is surrounded by natural beauty in terms of the Great Dividing Range, Brisbane River and the major dams, country wineries have also proven popular destinations for Pterodactyl customers.
A big winner recently has been Pterodactyl's well-publicised helicopter pub tours.
"From 1000 feet up, you can see the Brisbane CBD, and that really just brings everything within reach,” Capt Mike said.
"The reason Ipswich is ideal for my business is because it is at the centre of everything.
"You fly south and you're in the Scenic Rim, fly north and you're in the Somerset region, fly west and it's the Lockyer Valley, fly east and you're in Moreton Bay.
"Ipswich is the centre of the universe for us.”
Mr Jarvis was at a special Tourism Queensland breakfast and told the gathering that customer focus was the key to his business approach and success.
"My team listens to the customers at every stage of the experience, right from the initial inquiry.
"And importantly, we return calls.
"Social media is also a driving force in connecting with visitors - past, present and future - to the Ipswich region,” he said.