Women of Influence: Renee Welsh

A view from the top…
Renee Welsh is currently the CEO for Solutions Group. That company, a part of Helix Leisure, is the umbrella for Embed and Booking Boss, the latter a company founded by Welsh and her husband, Andy Welsh. Helix purchased Booking Boss and one year later offered Welsh that position. 


She always had an entrepreneurial spirit and, with her husband, there was no doubt that they would create a success.

Accomplishments and affiliations…
•Named “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2016 by Travel Weekly
•2014 Australian Businees Award winner for “Best Software Product of the Year” (Booking Boss)
•2016 Silver Award winner at New South Wales Tourism Awards (Booking Boss)

Welsh helps industry shine
SINGAPORE — Renee Welsh’s career seems to have taken a natural progression. But by no means does “natural” mean she just sat and waited for success to come her way. It just means her studies in travel, tourism and commerce marketing was a solid base for her current position as CEO of a technology company that serves amusements and attractions. 

Her success came from a passion to create and a drive to push the envelope. 

Welsh was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

“I was born to hardworking, blue collar parents and family,” she said. “I got my work ethic from my parents, as well as my discipline and drive.”

 She studied travel and tourism at Williams Business College in Sydney and then went on to Sydney’s Macquarie University. There she received a bachelor’s degree in Commerce Marketing in 2000. 

“I’ve always been ambitious and self-driven, always considered myself an entrepreneur and will push boundaries whenever I can,” Welsh said. 

So, the year after her graduation she ended up on the founding team of a company called RedBallon, an online provider of personal and corporate experience gifts.

In 2005, she created another startup called GoDo, an instant online booking software for activities and tours in Australia and New Zealand. Then, in 2010, she became a general manager at Wotif Group, a website that provides a reservation service for hotels in Australia and international destinations across the globe that had become overseeing the operations of GoDo.

During these early experiences, Welsh began to notice a growing problem, however. There just seemed to be too many tourism businesses still working from diaries and spreadsheets. She became aware that with the trending shift to offer online business, many of these companies would struggle. 

She and her husband, Andy Welsh, a software engineer, started looking into how they could help these businesses help themselves. They also both shared that drive to create. 

“We share an entrepreneurial spirit, so it wasn’t a matter of starting a company, but rather which company idea,” Welsh said. “Like breathing, we had no choice but to do it.”

What they ended up with was a company called Booking Boss, a cloud-based reservation software designed specifically for attractions, tour operators and activity providers. It was capable of managing ticketing and bookings centrally and could reduce queues and streamline processes.

The company quickly showed signs of success, winning Best Software Product of the Year in the Australian Business Awards in 2014 and winning Silver at the New South Wales Tourism Awards in 2016. The company’s recognitions were definitely getting noticed.

In 2017, Helix Leisure approached the wife-and-husband team about purchasing their company. They had a decision to make and ended up agreeing to sell. 

“It was not an easy decision,” Welsh said. “But I knew it was the right decision for the company and the brand. Helix Leisure is a well-respected, family-owned business. It shares very similar values and had a legacy of innovation.”

She knew that Booking Boss would benefit from the existing operations and strength of Helix as well as an established client base and global base. Helix has five offices globally.

“It was clear what Helix Leisure would be for the brand,” Welsh said.

But, as is common, life takes many twists and turns. One year after Welsh sold the business to Helix, Helix came back to her and offered her the position of CEO for one of its companies, Solutions Group. And, it just so happened that Solutions Group was the umbrella for Booking Boss and Embed, a leader in cashless business management systems and solutions for the amusement, entertainment and leisure industries.

It seemed to be a perfect fit. The position didn’t require her to move from Australia to Singapore, but was part of the options. To Welsh, it was all part of the adventure for which she was ready. 

Welsh is very proud to be the CEO of a technology company. She also is proud to be part of an executive team that boasts a 50% gender parity. 

“Only 17% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women and only one in four start-ups has a woman on the founding team,” she said. 

The gender disparity is something that she would like to help turn around. 

Welsh is enjoying getting to know the amusement industry better with Embed. Her first impression of the industry was an industry on the cusp of an exciting transformation. 

“Anyone looking at this industry and assuming it is a sunset industry or an old economy category, ‘the arcade,’ is missing the obvious opportunity,” she said.

She also is committed to the industry.  When the pandemic hit earlier this year, Welsh made sure that Embed reached out to offer support to keep the industry going. She said they kept the lights on. 

Her favorite part of her position is working with the company’s partners in the industry.

 And, she said, that includes “our high-tech partners at Apple, Google and Amazon, who take us on their dreams of the future, our customers, the Fun Crusaders, and Embed employees. It’s the people who make the industry of fun so extraordinary.”

—Pam Sherborne

This article appears in the 
NOVEMBER 2020 Pre-IAAPA issue
of Amusement Today.
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