Australis Kirra Surf Apartments

AN31-4-PRO-Kirra Beach 1With just seven years experience in the accommodation industry under their belts, Lloyd and Jackie Collingwood have made incredible headway.

They became managers in 2008, taking charge of a brand new resort in Coolangatta, called Kirra Surf Apartments and, after trading for just over two years, they had fashioned it into a success.

"Since opening we have experienced very good growth in occupancy," Lloyd explained, "although the last couple of months have been pretty quiet as has been the case for everyone in our area."

The Collingwoods have developed an astonishing work ethic, trying to ensure the rapid success of their resort, as described by Lloyd, "The job of taking a brand new complex from zero to a high occupancy resort of this size has been an incredibly large task. The work in liaising with the developers and the builders on behalf of both the body corp and the individual apartment owners, for whom we have taken responsibility, has been huge."

According to Lloyd, "The only main issue this created was that we just did not have the time to look after our off site sales and marketing."

AN31-4-PRO-Kirra Beach 2Jackie & Lloyd CollingwoodThis is where the Collingwoods thought to move in a different direction, "after having a number of marketing companies present their programs to us we decided to join the Constellation group".

"This has given us an opportunity to have some very experienced mentors and a very professional marketing group to wave the flag for us throughout, both the leisure and corporate markets."

Interestingly, Lloyd went on to admit that he and Jackie "found that operating as an individual resort trader with the major booking companies and wholesalers was very difficult". They felt they "were not considered individually as relevant, whereas being part of a major portfolio of properties, seems to be an entirely different proposition".

The reasons for this are as yet unknown, the arrangement has only been in place for several months but the Collingwoods have already noticed that having Constellation handling their direct sales has given them a much broader range of opportunities contributing to their steady success in this time of economic downturn.

Lloyd and Jackie have upheld their bookings and taken simple yet effective measures to boost rates. "We have a comprehensive email response and follow up system that is reaping rewards and we have been very successful in generating a high degree of repeat business by sending out thank you emails and offering a return guest incentive."

It seems the moral of this story is never to forget the value of good manners! "We also demonstratively request that our guests put any feedback they wish, good or bad, on the TripAdvisor website. This has resulted in a very good number of comments that are very pleasing to us."

Of course, it bodes well for the Collingwoods that Kirra Surf is known to have an AAA rating of 4½ stars. To achieve this remarkable level of luxury, the Collingwoods describe how they strive to "give guests a five-star experience while staying at the resort".

And they don't just mean top notch service! All Kirra Surf apartments are north facing, directly over the beach, and the majority have 180° views from Surfers to Snapper Rocks (the internationally famous surfing location). The apartments are luxurious in that they are fully self contained with Mièle appliances, stone bench tops, a spa bath, fully air-conditioned, have two bathrooms and a large balcony overlooking the ocean, as well as some super luxurious penthouses and super sub penthouses that have exceptionally large balconies. A few also have their own roof decks, each with a pool and barbecue."

AN31-4-PRO-Kirra Beach 4Another interesting facet of the Colllingwoods' mode of management involves wedding functions. "We teamed up with our onsite restaurant and also the local surf club that have a high frequency of wedding reception bookings. We then put together packages to accommodate the bridal party and guests that are from some distance away," Jackie noted.

They have also managed to put themselves ahead of the game, by developing a presence on social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter. "This is a very steep learning curve for us," Lloyd admitted, "It's a godsend that we have some younger staff to help us. We gained some advice from our website guru, Steve Ledger from Smart Escapes and the IT guys at Constellation that set us on right path."

In a time where economics are tough and one of the most effective means of advertising, the Internet, is free, getting to grips with social networking sites would appear the perfect solution to the issue of furthering success within the industry. But Lloyd was careful not to hedge his bets, "It's is still very early days and as of yet we have not seen any measurable results but we definitely will persevere as we have had some specific success with blogging and see it as our best driver for some specific aspects and events that are significant to our area and ourselves."

At this point, Kirra Surf Apartments is so much more than just another luxury resort, with all the work and effort Lloyd and Jackie have put in to ensure continued success despite any circumstance, their pride and joy has become representative of the industry.

In their own words, "Even though business is currently pretty tough, what with the volatile political and financial state of the economy, we love the industry and feel very positive about the medium to long term future."