Pam and Graeme, you purchased Ki-ea Apartments business and made the sea change from Sydney to Port Macquarie in 2012.
Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and what led you to buy this business and move to Port Macquarie?
Graeme and I met at university, where we both studied Food Science; we then spent 30 plus years working in various corporate roles including operations management, logistics and safety. Four years ago we felt that it was time to apply some of our experience and skills to a business of our own and decided that a management rights business could offer the business challenge we were looking for. To find the right business, we searched the entire NSW Coast. The choice became easy when we found Port Macquarie, a vibrant growing regional centre offering business potential and a lifestyle second to none.
The summer holiday season is when Port Macquarie tourism is at its peak and as we know, it’s a very busy time for people who run businesses to cater for this influx of tourists that our town receives at this time of year. What is it that you love most about working in hospitality at this time of year?
What we love about working in hospitality all year round is that the majority of our guests come to Port Macquarie for a holiday, and people on holidays are always happy and relaxed. During the summer holidays the guest demographics change to consist mainly of families with children. These families generally choose Ki-ea Apartments for our super big self-contained apartments and our great location close to Town Beach and the CBD. It’s heart-warming to see them come home from their adventures each day; it brings back memories of our family summer holidays.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced since taking over the management of Ki-ea Apartments?
Our main challenge was to transfer our corporate management skills and knowledge to the accommodation industry, in which we had no experience prior to purchasing the Ki-ea business. The accommodation industry has a multitude of challenges, with the main one consisting of dealing with the general public and their many and varied requirements.
The accommodation industry is very competitive here. How do you make your business stand out from the other accommodation options on offer?
As the accommodation industry in Port Macquarie is very competitive, it became obvious very quickly that we needed to clearly define and articulate who our target customer was (families) and speak directly to them. We believe we offer families wishing to holiday in Port Macquarie some major points of difference from our competitors, including some of the most spacious 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments in Port Macquarie, most with a King bed option and the only 4 bedroom penthouse. We are also close to all amenities and the beach; we have a heated pool, spa and sauna complex and free WiFi and complimentary undercover security car parking.
We are now in the process of building a strong online presence across the various marketing segments, which includes refreshing our website and becoming more active across our social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram.
There are several marketing messages and tactics that we are activating to connect on an emotional level with our guests, as we believe this will build the loyalty and positive word-of-mouth necessary to differentiate us from our competitors.
Online review sites such as Trip Advisor are being used by tourists quite prolifically these days to help guide them with their decision making about where to eat, stay, drink and visit. This makes providing your guests with a truly positive experience more important than ever. How do you go about ensuring your guests walk away as raving fans?
One of our KPIs is to achieve 100% positive guest feedback through all our feedback channels, which include: our departure feedback form, verbal feedback at check-out and through online reviews on agent sites such as Booking.Com, Expedia and TripAdvisor.
To achieve this, we have many initiatives in place including an ongoing commitment from all of our team to constantly exceed our customers’ expectations and to continually work towards improvements to our customer service.
And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?
Janine Allis – she describes herself as “a girl from the burbs who had no idea about business”. In 2000, Janine opened her first Boost Juice bar in Adelaide; she now has 250 stores in 14 countries. Her business tips: work hard, take accountability for everything you do, and surround yourself with great people.
Richard Branson – states his interests in life are “setting myself huge, apparently unachievable challenges and trying to rise above them … from the perspective of wanting to live life to the full”. Richard is the only person in the world to have built eight billion dollar companies from scratch in eight different sectors, operating in over 15 countries.
Stephen Hawkins – it’s the scientist coming out in us! Stephen characterises the human race as: “We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special”.
So many questions we would have of him.
Thanks so much for your time, Pam and Graeme. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!