Today, the four sleek boutique properties that make up the LOCAY group stand out as unique accommodation concepts located in different neighborhoods surrounding Sydney, Australia. But only a year ago they were functioning as separate businesses, each surviving in their own right, but “missing out on their slice of the competitive accommodation market,” as LOCAY’s Creative Director, Larissa Fuller puts it.
It all started when Larissa came across an opportunity to reinvent an old, run-down lodge accommodation in Bondi. She decided to use her 10 years of experience in the travel industry and a diverse background in sales, leadership, design and marketing, and join forces with Business Development Director Peter Magiros to rebrand and redesign what today is known as The Baxley Bondi.
After the success of The Baxley Bondi took off, Larissa and Peter sought out other partnerships and eventually aligned business values, operations, and product offering with The Jensen Potts Point, St. Marks Randwick and The Alison Randwick to form LOCAY.
“With the likes of Airbnb and new modern accommodation concepts arriving into cities and suburbs, these properties were not only resting on prime real estate but had so much more they could offer to a niche international and domestic market,” says Larissa. She shares how she and Peter have been able to take the 25-32 bed properties from lackluster to shining accommodations over the last year.
Once each property’s revamp was completed to add fresh concepts, a focus on sustainability, and community initiatives to drive a local experience, it was time to reconsider PMS options. Larissa and Peter noticed that despite new demand and increasing occupancy, their revenue wasn’t growing fast enough. Without a 24-hour resource to manage their pricing and revenue, Larissa realized that “the need for an integrated dynamic pricing tool alongside our PMS package became critical.”
Since their former provider only offered very complex integrations, the team set out to find a new software solution. While evaluating different systems, Cloudbeds stood out for two main reasons, explains Larissa, “Firstly, its look and feel was far cleaner, easier to understand and very much focused on user experience. Secondly, was its ability to seamlessly integrate a live online booking widget, a property management system and a dynamic pricing tool all within the one place.”
The Pricing Intelligence Engine (PIE) has given LOCAY properties the ability to be proactive in growing revenue, rather than reactive.
PIE automates adjustments to rates when there’s a dip in bookings to ensure that LOCAY remains relevant in the local market at all times.
Cloudbeds’ intuitive and fully-integrated software was already enough to convince the LOCAY Group to switch systems, and then they discovered one more big added benefit. Since Cloudbeds made it possible to combine the properties under one enterprise, the teams were able to begin cross-selling each property between locations. Where in the past one property may have had to turn a booking away, staff can now check and lock-in a reservation at one of the partner properties.
“This has seen a huge benefit in making the most of every booking enquiry and availability,” says Larissa. For the months of April-June, 2020, amidst the COVID pandemic, all four properties received 61% average direct bookings, credited in combination to the Cloudbeds booking engine, in-house extensions, and bookings made directly through staff. Larissa also shared that for June-July one of the properties averaged 70% occupancy and 76% direct bookings!
When it comes to the average workday, LOCAY not only relies on Cloudbeds’ drag-and-drop calendar and user-friendly dashboard for their day-to-day operations, they also depend on the robust reporting system.
Some of the key reports that are essential to LOCAY’s operations include:
Using these reports in unison has aided the teams to maintain smooth day-to-day operations while also helping them plan for the upcoming weeks ahead, ensuring all business decisions are made wisely and with foresight.
Introducing new software to your business and teams can be a challenge. Thankfully, Larissa shared that the implementation process with Cloudbeds was “practical, easy to understand, and facilitated by the team the entire way.”
When it comes to customer support, the team has been very happy with the 24-hour help received from Cloudbeds’ local, and in-house team. Any questions they had were met with “consistent responses received promptly that were thorough, supportive and customised for our enquiry and/or concern,” Larissa stated. “We have seen screenshots, video tutorials and even live video calls sent through to help us in perfect English and with incredible detail.”
Continuing, Larissa shared that the Cloudbeds sales team was also supportive and only a phone call away, adding that they’ve continued to keep LOCAY up to date with system advancements and development direction. “The Cloudbeds support team is an absolute credit to the brand and I continue to enjoy working with them on all aspects,” she concludes.
Like so many properties around the world, LOCAY has had to make changes during the pandemic. In order to keep the businesses running, LOCAY released variations on rate plans, rewarding longer stays and marketing them domestically. With each change and amendment, Cloudbeds has allowed the team to modify, turn on, turn off, pause or create new rate plans, pricing and availability allocations instantly.
“It has been a dream to not only make these changes on our direct booking widgets and in house calendars quickly, but also in ensuring the same allocations are made available through to other booking channels we are connected with,” says Larissa. She recognizes that in a time where being dynamic is key, having a system that facilitates making instant, real-time updates across all platforms is critical to keeping competitive.
Through it all, Larissa and the LOCAY team recognize that the best benefit to using modern, top-performing software like Cloudbeds is delivering a memorable guest experience. Larissa stated, “It is fast to train, learn and practice so that focus and energy can be better spent where it counts – on the guests!”
Even as a boutique business with a small workforce, LOCAY employs a measured Guest Services team with a 7-day concierge to assist with transport, luggage, reservations, tours and activity bookings. Additionally, the team runs local guest discounts, provides a welcome gift upon arrival, and even has their own travel-inspired playlist that guests can tune into.
Using technology to facilitate training, automate rate updates, and build a user-friendly daily operation has led Larissa and her hard-working team to achieve a successful business that guests want to visit again and again.
Larissa and the team at LOCAY are actively seeking more partners at LOCAY.com.