As our ‘Rooms with a View’ series continues, we speak to Jan Davis of the Waverley House Cottages in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia. From this quintessential Aussie retreat, Jan talks about the changes to her hotel market and the challenges of adapting to a technology-driven hotel industry.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Jan. What do you think makes Waverley House Cottages special?
Thanks for letting me be part of this! At Waverley House Cottages we have six, one-bedroom and three-bedroom self catering cottages, set amongst remnant bushland on the fringe of Lakes Entrance here in Victoria. We designed and built them ourselves. My husband is a master builder and I was an art/textiles teacher, so we developed them with the very clear aim of providing a peaceful location, high quality furnishing and fixtures, spacious living areas, and the ambience we ourselves seek when we take a holiday. There are a range of features to cater for our demographic – king beds, wood fires and spas in the one bedroom cottages, well-equipped kitchens in all cottages and generous outdoor verandas, covered BBQ areas and carports, pool and heated spa.
I guess the wood fires and spas come in handy on chilly nights there, but the weather at Lakes Entrance is fabulous all year!
Yes, we have mild weather all year round, but it’s always good to be cosy!
So who comes to stay at Waverley House Cottages?
Our guests are couples, families and international travellers, but we have noticed in recent years our guest profile has expanded to include many more touring friends and couples, both domestic and international.
Interesting that touring friends is a growing trend. Do you think technology is contributing to that?
We believe, and guest feedback supports it, that expanding our online presence has contributed largely to this trend. We are easier to find online, we can be instantly booked and people can plan their holiday by researching available accommodation options. As a small niche accommodation provider, we don’t have the resources for expensive advertising campaigns, but are able to use the online exposure of third party sites through SiteMinder, and we can be bookable with TheBookingButton and maintain a live calendar. Less than 10% of our bookings and enquiries come from offline sources now. That’s a major shift.
And was that technology adoption a difficult change for the hotel?
It has to be said, that although we saw the need and thoroughly embraced online bookings, we did start cautiously by just having TheBookingButton by SiteMinder. Those fears of double booking were there initially, but SiteMinder was there to help and we had no hesitation later adding The Channel Manager system.
Do you think you’re continuing to evolve your digital strategy?
We are selective with which third party channels we list on – with time we have found some do not suit us, or they don’t reach the guests best suited to our accommodation. Another thing we are noticing is what we call the “want it now” factor. With smartphones and mobile-friendly listings, we see more bookings from guests at the last minute – they are often almost to Lakes Entrance and organising somewhere to stay. And while we welcome these bookings, it does play havoc with staff rosters and, as we largely manage the property ourselves, it means some rethinking if we are not actually on site when the booking comes through!
Yes, it’s a resource allocation issue and we guess that can impact on revenue forecasting too?
Exactly. And I suppose the other must have – and we do have – is WiFi. Hopefully the antiquated copper wire connections to our area will one day be replaced by fibre so our internet and WiFi crash less often, and approach the speed enjoyed in capital cities, but that is the price paid for living in a naturally beautiful regional location!
Well perhaps it should be seen as a chance to be offline, but guests do like to be able to share their beautiful experiences. Jan, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us. We think your cottages are beautiful and a testament to you and your husband’s great artistry.
Thanks, do come and visit!
A big thank you to Jan and the team at Waverley House Cottages for being part of ‘Rooms with a View’. If you’d like to share your experiences and ideas about the hotel sector, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to hear from you!
For more information on how TheBookingButton by SiteMinder can work for your hotel business click here.