AccomNews, Spring 2020

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Registered by Aust. Post Print Post No. 100024635

The essential industry guide

Issue 73 | Spring 2020 | AUD $16.50 incl GST |

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AccomNews is distributed quarterly to hotel, motel, resort and apartment properties throughout Australia by Multimedia Pty Limited. The views and images expressed in AccomNews do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The information contained in AccomNews is intended to act as a guide only, the publisher, authors and editors expressly disclaim all liability for the results of action taken or not taken on the basis of information contained herein. We recommend professional advice is sought before making important business decisions.

Inside our Spring issue

Front Desk__________________________________

Editor's Note: What’s on the 2021 horizon?..................................... 05

Industry____________________________________ TAA Voice: In six months, we have suffered more than almost any other sector............................................................... 06

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EDITOR Mandy Clarke,

AA Voice: Finding brightness in a downturn.................................. 06 ATEC Voice: Big spending in COVID budget.................................. 08 CIAA Voice: Caravanning and camping: most popular holiday type for Australians................................................................... 08 AHA Voice: Why the government needs to freeze Fringe Benefit Tax....................................................................................... 10



Management_______________________________ Exclusive: The man steering iconic Brisbane hotel through pandemic waters....................................................................... 12 Op-Ed: Building confidence in a recession...................................... 14

Profiles_____________________________________ The Crowne Plaza Adelaide: Crowne Plaza on a high in Adelaide.................................................................................................... 15 Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour: Connecting tech, community, and futuristic design........................................................ 18

Marketing__________________________________ Is the industry reducing reliance on OTAs by increasing direct bookings?.............................................................22

Refurbishment______________________________ COVID furnishes an opportunity for change...................................28 Lake Mac Holiday Parks chose accessibility and inclusivity....32


STAFF WRITERS Rosie Clarke, Grantlee Kieza PRODUCTION Richard McGill,

ATHOC Voice: Millions pre-booked & waiting to be spent on domestic tourism.....................................................................11

A cruise ship on land................................................................................36 The magic of hard work.......................................................................... 40

What’s Hot............................................. 42 Guest Facilities_____________________________ Waterparks whet appetite for summer holidays............................44 Smells like ‘Straya: Why BBQ facilities make all the difference.............................................................................48

Safety & Security____________________________ Putting hotel security in focus..............................................................52


Amanda Rose, Doug Kennedy, Paul Shih,

No slip ups the goal for hotel safety...................................................54

Housekeeping______________________________ COVID clean: Learning to suck it up................................................. 56 Is clean bedding the new green bedding?.......................................58 Executive Housekeeper Maureen Jolowicz: Leadership and passion are keys to success................................. 60

Michael Johnson, Laura Younger, Peter Shelley,

Executive Housekeeper Nadia Moriconi: From Brazil to Sofitel Sydney Wentworth ........................................62

Stephen Ferguson, Dean Long and Madeleine Sawyer

Food & Beverage____________________________


Quarantine sparks rise in pre-packaged hotel meal options.................................................................................... 68

Commercially funded supplier profile or supplier case study Supplier information or content Suppliers share their views in one-off, topical pieces General editorial. Case studies and features may cite or quote suppliers, please be aware that we have a strict ‘no commercial content’ guideline for all magazine editorial, so this is not part of any commercially funded advertorial but may be included as relevant opinion. Happy reading!


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Technology_________________________________ Less contact,but stronger relationships...........................................70 Reinvent the welcome experience with self-check-in................72

Preferred Supplier Directory.................... 74

Our collective hope for a vibrant and busy school summer holiday season may finally come to fruition! Across most states, at least. The industry is gunning for open state borders, relaxed restrictions, and the rekindled promise of a New Zealand bubble! However, there is still an underlying COVID-19 threat, and we must all remain cautious to prevent a new wave as that would flush away weeks of longed for bookings at any point in time. Realistically, the survival of our accommodation industry depends on a buoyant domestic market for the foreseeable future. Campaigns both state and national are focused on boosting

Many have been successfully tempting locals with great deals and “out of the box” marketing strategies. Now with great air travel deals available, travellers can be targeted from further afield and from other states (non-hot spot regions).

Mandy Clarke, Editor domestic tourism and are a first step to re-building what we once had. Australians made about 11 million trips overseas last year spending $65 billion, to have this amount spent on tourism at home would be incredible. The first step for many managers has been to attract a ‘drive market’ and it is a tactic that has been effective in many regions.

In this issue, once again COVID-19 touches almost every feature as it indeed touches every aspect of accommodation management. We learn how COVID has impacted everything about the industry from purchasing furniture to technology and vacuuming. You will love that we have packed so many great interviews into this issue! We talk to the man who steered Hilton Brisbane through the pandemic, Chris Partridge. Also, the characterful Dr Jerry Schwartz talks to us


about his new Gold Coast accommodation refurbishment at Paradise Resort. Plus, we have two superstar executive housekeeper interviews from the inspiring Maureen and Nadia. You will find our usual Accommodation profiles plus something different. We feature a fantastic refurbishment of Lake Mac Holiday Park that chose to maximise inclusivity and accessibility. Meanwhile, as we try to encourage travel once again, you may find a few quirky ideas and pearls of wisdom within our pages that aim to make your day a little bit brighter! Enjoy your Spring copy of the magazine and best wishes for hurdles ahead. Cheers, Mandy

AccomNews - Spring 2020



What’s on the 2021 horizon?


In six months, we have suffered more than almost any other sector We have weathered the financial brunt of state and international border closures and constantly shifting trade and visitor restrictions. We are scraping through the back half of the year, operating 50 to 60 percent down on this time last year, with many hotels reliant on JobKeeper to keep people employed. It is too early to say that we are on the way back. And it is too early to say that the suffering is over. Many believe that it will be mid-2024 before our industry returns to anything like preCOVID-19 occupancies, revenues, and profitability. But I can at least say that some of the momentum is shifting – particularly during this school holiday period. Cases are reducing in Victoria and restrictions are easing; we have just had several days with zero new cases in NSW. We are seeing good visitor numbers in the parts of regional Australia within driving distance of major centres. In NSW, for example, we have seen some positive signs in recent weeks in places like the Hunter Valley, Orange, the Blue Mountains and both the NSW North and South Coasts.


In recent weeks, we have also

their hustle and bustle which continues to be detrimental to their visitor economies. And, with no sign of international travel resuming anytime soon, they need all the help they can get.

Michael Johnson CEO, Tourism Accommodation Australia

seen several Federal Government announcements that funding will go towards some of the hardest hit areas in more remote regions. The Federal Government plans to inject $250 million into regional Australia. The package includes a $50 million Regional Tourism Recovery initiative to assist businesses in regions heavily reliant on international tourism and $200 million for an additional round of the Building Better Regions fund. This funding is great news for our long-distance destinations, and iconic places like Uluru in the Northern Territory and Cairns in far north Queensland. These places rely almost completely on international tourists and continue to suffer badly. These centres are operating well below capacity, they have lost

The $50 million grant will help get Australians into these harder to access regions. It will allow an increase in spending on tours and accommodation where revenue and support of industry jobs is needed. The $200 million for tourismrelated infrastructure will also be critical in creating jobs and driving visitor economies, not just in the recovery period but well into the future. The other key piece of the puzzle in all this is aviation. Once state borders re-open, we need domestic travellers to fill empty rooms. And, in a country like ours, we need flights to get them there. But there is encouraging news on that front too. This week, the Federal Government announced that the Domestic Aviation Network Support Program will be extended until January 2021 and the Regional Airline Network Support Program extended until March 2021. This is a crucial step. We need airlines to make flights available, even if the loadings are not profitable to begin with.

Finding brightness in a downturn You would think it would be difficult to find brightness during a downturn unseen since the Great Depression. But eight months after the international travel ban was imposed, there are a number of positives. Here at the Accommodation Association, our brief is a very


AccomNews - Spring 2020

simple one that we live each and every day. How is everything we do delivering for you, our members? This guides all of our decisions and, even in challenging times such as these, we are proud of the impact we are having on your behalf. I am proud to report that our advocacy continues to deliver. By joining with our industry colleagues, we have directly benefitted your businesses

Consumers may be cautious to fly at first. Pandemic habits are hard to break and it will take time. But this support from the Federal Government will assist airlines as they transition back to profitability. Once the travellers get mobile into destinations, we can get accommodation, tourist attractions and hospitality venues moving on the road to recovery. Things are moving inside Tourism Accommodation Australia as well. As this goes to print, staff are beginning the move into the new NSW headquarters of TAA, in the heart of the Sydney CBD. Our staff have been working remotely during the pandemic and we used the time to get the COVID-delayed refurbishment work underway. It is a rare piece of good news in what has been a devastating year for the industry. TAA worked with architects and construction company MPA to totally re-design and re-furbish the top floor of the heritage listed Culwulla Chambers in Castlereagh street. We previously shared offices with the Australian Hotels Association, in Macquarie Street. The offices will give TAA a new identity in the heart of Sydney and will be a place where we can advocate on behalf of our members at a time when they need the most support.

We continue to work closely at a leadership, policy, and communications level to maximise our impact through and across our membership into government, via media. I am extremely proud to lead your team here at the Association and I am proud of the team’s stellar response in rising to these incredible challenges. Dean Long CEO, Accommodation Association

including through the establishment and extension of key support measures including JobKeeper, the Mandatory Code of Leasing and Cashflow Boost 1 and 2.


These times have also underscored value in having a single and united voice for our sector. I can assure you that the process currently underway is dedicated to finding an outcome that will strengthen the benefits to you and allow us to continue to amplify the member value we deliver for you.

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AccomNews - Spring 2020



Big spending in COVID budget This year’s Federal Government ‘COVID’ budget is the largest budget spend by any Australian government, ever.

It is a budget that necessarily contains a broad range of measures designed to support and stimulate the economy, including small business operators, many of which operate in the tourism sector. Despite a lack of tourism specific elements, the measures are largely supportive of the tourism industry and while ATEC has been calling for tourism specific measures, we are pleased to see broad scale tax and stimulus measures which will inevitably provide support to our sector businesses. But border closures, both domestic and international, have had a significant and unique impact across our sector - an impact that will require a unique, tourism specific, solution. JobKeeper has been a lifeline for our industry and our research shows that prior to the budget 70 percent of our member tourism operator businesses were running at less than 40 percent of their full operational level.


This number is much greater for

minimise the health risks associated with entry;

wholesaler, one which is managed on the ground here by our ITOs.

Peter Shelley, Managing Director, Australian Tourism Export Council

As we navigate our way out of the global COVID lock up, we will need these trusted travel providers to help deliver a safe and secure travel experience for both the visitor and the Australian community and therefore we can't afford to lose the expertise of the ITOs who will be the primary providers of COVIDSafe travel when the international borders reopen.

inbound tourism operators (ITO), the inbound travel intermediaries which have helped to bring more than 50 percent of our international visitors to Australia over the past 50 years. Right now, these businesses are in virtual hibernation waiting for international borders to open when they can begin the work of marketing Australia to the world and converting intending travellers to actual international visitors spending money in our country.

Going forward, ATEC will continue to work with the government to highlight the areas where our industry continues to suffer and where, given the right support, our tourism businesses can help to build the safe travel environment of the future. This means advocating for innovations in the tourism industry which will help establish Australia as a leading exporter of tourism products once international travel resumes including:

While many people travel independently, making their own air, hotel, car hire booking using online booking systems, Australia remains a challenging destination to the uninitiated visitor. Our vast distances and remote attractions mean many visitors still choose to make their bookings through a trusted travel

Establishing a COVID Safe travel destination and facilitating the gradual re-engagement of international visitors employing high-performance biometric technologies to provide Australian authorities with tight and configurable controls that

Urging investment in the industry to refresh the capability of businesses to ensure export supply chains are maintained and tourism businesses are ready and capable of taking on a new global tourism marketplace;s

Improving international competitiveness through policy settings that remove impediments to efficient passenger movement and re-position Australia as a highly desirable ‘COVIDSafe’ destination.

Our industry took the first hit at the start of 2020 with the massive cancellations that followed January's bushfires. With COVID then closing our international borders in February and with no end in sight, the $45 billion tourism export sector will be the last to emerge from this crisis. Delivering our industry out of this crisis will be a balancing act, one which will rely on continued government support including JobKeeper. There remains a huge section of our industry which are either fully or largely reliant on international visitors and helping them back to success will be a delicate uphill, accelerator/ clutch moment for us all.

Caravanning and camping: most popular holiday type for Australians It is incredible to see Australians continue to fall in love with caravan and camping holidays. While, this year, we have been overshadowed by a world pumping the brakes on what was an incredible period of growth for Australia’s caravan and camping industry, our industry is incredibly well placed to drive recovery. The newly released State of Industry 2020 Report from Caravan Industry Association of Australia lays out the past


AccomNews - Spring 2020

and, despite the upheaval of tourism this year, it shows that the caravan and camping sector is a powerhouse in regional Australia, well set to support regional business recovery. In 2019, the total caravan and camping visitor nights in Australia exceeded 60 million and 14 million trips for the first time. Madeleine Sawyer Tourism Executive, Caravan Industry Association of Australia

performance of Australia’s caravan and camping industry

When you consider that there are 24.8 million Australians and 8.4 million households, caravan and camping holidays have become an integral part of our


national travelling behaviour. According to Tourism Research Australia, 2019 was also the year that caravan and camping became the most popular holiday-type for Australians. Looking forward, the caravan and camping industry will be here to support the revival of regional communities, especially as Australians look to support local business, reconnect with loved ones and spend time in nature after what has been an extraordinary, challenging year.

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Why the government needs to freeze Fringe Benefit Tax During the worst year in living memory for our industry, the Australian Hotels Association and partners at Tourism Accommodation Australia have been working to keep member issues at the forefront of policy makers minds in Canberra. Each state has its own unique set of circumstances and the differences between them sometimes seem to widen each day. TAA and AHA’s state CEOs and Presidents have worked tirelessly on localised responses in each state and territory and the whole organisation has been working toward nationwide solutions. Our efforts to open hospitality

negotiate agreed flexibilities with the United Workers Union in relation to the Hospitality Industry Award. This commonsense approach was recognised by the Attorney-General in the Federal Parliament.

Stephen Ferguson CEO, Australian Hotels Association

venues and accommodation hotels as soon as possible and gain extra support for those still caught up in the pandemic have been critical. We all know it has been a tough year, but we have chalked up some successes against all the odds. When it comes to the important area of industrial relations, we moved rapidly to

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AccomNews - Spring 2020

Regarding JobKeeper, we were successful in securing a sixmonth extension of the scheme. Success has many fathers, but Treasury acknowledges the AHA submission and other weekly sector specific data we provided at the time helped win that argument. We offered solutions not just complaints. And backed it with the financial resources of our associations. The modelling done by Ernst & Young laid out the actual case for continued support in crystal clear terms along with stats and forecasting reiterating how far behind we are trading in all states.

attract FBT), leaving hotels and restaurants to suffer. The benefits of a removal of the FBT are obvious. Economic modelling by EY shows: •

Impact on GDP, ranging from $408m to $850m.

Impact on employment FTE, ranging from 2,911 to 4,230.

GDP per dollar of cost to government, ranging from $1.89 to $3.81

There’s no doubt changes to FBT on meals and accommodation would benefit members, see an increase in the number of business meals in Australian hotels (create jobs in the struggling hotel industry) and, by extension, provide a boost to the Australian economy when it needs it most. •

With hotels experiencing substantial downturn in sales, venues closing, unemployment modelled above six percent for years to come and consumers’ ability and/or willingness to spend curtailed, removing the FBT makes common sense. It would:

Stimulate the hospitality, accommodation and tourism sector and assist in its recovery.

Protect existing jobs and create new jobs.

Increase profits and taxable incomes thereby increasing tax revenue.

This will give a much-needed boost to hospitality and stimulate recovery as the FBT unfairly penalises members and increases compliance costs.

It would benefit other small businesses – for example tradies, builders, and hairdressers, allowing them to shout good staff members a meal or weekend away.

Since 1986, meals at hotels have attracted an FBT of 46.5 percent and, in the meantime, those at the big end of town have long since shifted towards their own boardrooms to continue corporate lunches (which don’t

We will keep you posted on the efforts to remove the FBT and be assured, we will continue to chase further relief while this pandemic continues – particularly for our hard-hit members in Victoria.

After the initial JobKeeper extension was announced, the AHA went back and helped secure further easing of the Business Turnover Test and extension of the Employee Eligibility start date to July 1. We then turned our attention to commercial areas such as the Commercial Leasing Principles, bank deferrals and insolvency COVIDSafe harbour provisions. At the time of writing, with murmurings of a federal election at the end of next year, we are focused on our request to suspend the Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) for three years on meals and accommodation expenses (we are not seeking to remove it on alcohol).



Millions pre-booked & waiting to be spent on domestic tourism Hundreds of thousands of Australians are desperate to travel to their favourite domestic hot spots. Occupancy forecasts for Australian timeshare properties point to strong pent up demand in all states with Queensland leading the way with timeshare bookings now at 73.5 percent for September and 75 percent for October. Some timeshare resorts in Queensland are pre-booked at over 93 percent for October alone. In NSW timeshare bookings are 67 percent in September and 70 percent in October. The combination of a summer disrupted by bushfires followed by the pandemic lockdowns have created very high demand for domestic holiday travel. Requests for bookings at timeshare properties spiked when lockdown restrictions eased, and demand has been particularly high in regional centres. This is important for regional towns that rely on tourism to survive but have been starved of revenue following the summer bushfires and the COVID-19 restrictions. Places like Port Douglas and Mount Hotham rely on tourism for their very survival. Dinner Plain at Mount Hotham, which was evacuated during the recent bushfires, became a year-round destination after the introduction of timeshare. Prior to COVID-19, tourist visits outside of ski season led to new businesses opening at Mount Hotham, and the local economy grew as a result. The Economic Impact Report conducted by AEC Group, found the timeshare industry contributed total direct revenues of over $958 million to the Australian economy in 2019, a 34.6 percent increase in direct contribution to national GDP since 2016. Expenditure by timeshare guests/owners grew to $493.3 million in 2019, a 67 percent increase from 2016. This equates to an average expenditure of $3,538 per party per trip.

Our industry is desperate to help the Australian economy by helping facilitate tourism to some of the hardest hit areas. properties during the pandemic we have seen a high degree of compliance with the social distancing and hygiene restrictions which have been put in place.

Laura Younger General Manager, Australian Timeshare Holiday Ownership Council

We have known for years that timeshare tourists spend more money when on holidays than traditional hotel guests. Through the membership model they have already paid for their accommodation well in advance. Timeshare memberships offer flexibility allowing members to have the familiarity of returning to their favourite properties or travelling to new destinations.

The timeshare industry has assisted members where possible who have been experiencing financial or health-related hardships during the pandemic. Timeshare owners buy into a community when they join our members. As such the industry has been rallying around owners offering various forms of support

from financial, to free physical and mental health information, meditation, and yoga classes as well as other benefits. We are doing what we can to help timeshare owners manage through the pandemic. ATHOC has recently published the industry-wide commitment ‘Timeshare cares’, confirming the measures all timeshare members are taking to ensure safe and hygienic premises for owners on a state by state basis.

Our research also tells us that timeshare owners frequently use their timeshare properties as a stopping off point for holidays in other locations in the region. The timeshare industry remains hopeful restrictions will continue to be eased allowing as many Australians as possible to travel domestically. Our industry is desperate to help the Australian economy by helping facilitate tourism to some of the hardest hit areas. Our members love the towns and regions they visit through timeshare. Once State border restrictions are fully lifted, we are hopeful the Commonwealth Government will support this by allowing travel, tourism, and hospitality operators, including timeshare, to trade as freely as possible. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic timeshare operators have been diligently enforcing safe hygiene practices and social distancing throughout their properties. For owners who have been able to visit their timeshare INDUSTRY

AccomNews - Spring 2020



The man steering iconic Brisbane hotel through pandemic waters By Mandy Clarke, Editor

Adapting to meet obstacles head-on is how the team at Hilton Brisbane has powered through what must have been the most chaotic few months ever experienced by the Australian accommodation industry. Chris Partridge, Hilton Area General Manager of South East Queensland talks to Accom News about the effects of COVID-19 and how his team negotiated its way through

restrictions to create a postpandemic norm. “What has taken place this year is something we could not have predicted, that’s for sure,” Chris said. “But there are positives we can take from all this! We’ve learnt to be more agile, more nimble, and to be much quicker thinkers. The fundamental business vision of Hilton is to be proactive and seek out opportunity through innovation, the pandemic has seen us step up the pace of change.” With 36 years of experience in the accommodation industry, Chris has seen over four decades of change while working in

the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. He began his career in food and beverage in London at Gatwick Hilton, followed by the prestigious London Hilton on Park Lane and a move to Australia in 1988 led to him the general manager role at Hilton Melbourne Airport, followed by a move to New Zealand as General Manager for Hilton Auckland and opening of Hilton Lake Taupo. Subsequently, Chris returned to Australia's Gold Coast where he spent two years managing Hilton Surfers Paradise and in 2015, he joined Hilton Brisbane. In the last few years, Brisbane’s hotel, restaurant, and bar scene really

began to shine. Now, it is a truly international city that offers a tremendous cultural experience and thriving social scene. The popular Hilton Brisbane evolved alongside the vibe of this young city and provides enhanced dining and leisure experiences, making it one of the CBD’s most iconic destinations. Indeed, before COVID lockdown, business at Hilton Brisbane was booming, according to Chris. In February and early March, the hotel was almost full and experiencing great conference and events business but within three weeks the hotel was looking at single digit occupancy.

Chris Partridge, Hilton Area General Manager of South East Queensland, Images supplied by Hilton


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Hilton Brisbane

He revealed: “We went from having a full hotel with a busy food and beverage operation, to virtually nothing and our first challenge was how we keep everyone employed. Fortunately, the Government provided a great solution with the JobKeeper subsidy and we were able to keep the hotel open for our remaining guests, operating with a small team and the majority of team members at home receiving Job Keeper payments waiting for restrictions to ease and business start improving. . “From that point on, every time a COVID-19 restriction was imposed or eased, our team focused on finding a solution that gave guests a quality hospitality experience but also meet restrictions and we continuously worked towards a new normality.” The team found a variety of different solutions to solve the challenge of providing a ‘contact free’ environment through social distancing, high-touch area disinfection and hand sanitation. Chris revealed that when the restaurant closed, room service was provided to guests but it was a more sanitised takeaway experience, also the famous Hilton buffet breakfast became an a la carte dining experience but as restrictions eased, guests demanded the return of the

legendary Hilton buffet breakfast! He said: “Early last month, due to overwhelming guest demand we reintroduced the breakfast buffet but first we gathered the team and came up with solutions to provide a typical buffet experience but one that also complied with COVID-19 safety. The great initiative we provide is a wonderful buffet that is as casual and generous as it was before but now guests make their choice from the buffet and our F&B team members serve it. “By adapting and tweaking Hilton experiences we have been able to meet restrictions and satisfy our guests.” Hilton’s new CleanStay program is another great example of how reactive and agile the hospitality company is. Chris points out that for a global chain to deliver such an industrydefining standard of cleanliness and disinfection for over 6000 Hilton properties around the world in such a short time (two months) is a remarkable feat. He says: “In a first for the hospitality business, Hilton collaborated with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, and consulted with Mayo Clinic to develop elevated processes and team member training to help Hilton guests enjoy an

even cleaner and safer stay from check-in to check-out. “The goal of Hilton CleanStay is to provide guests with assurance and peace of mind when they stay at any of Hilton’s more than 6,100 properties representing 18 brands. The initiative will create a focus on cleanliness that will be visible to guests throughout their entire stay – in their guest rooms, restaurants, fitness rooms and in other public spaces. Research shows that post-COVID, consumers have heightened concerns regarding hygiene and trust in cleanliness standards will be critical to restarting travel. Chris agrees that showcasing cleanliness will be vital when attracting guests. He explained that he began his career “back of house” cleaning kitchens and he understands fully the value of a well-trained and dedicated housekeeping team to a hotel. He says: “The culture at Hilton has always been to provide meaningful opportunities for our team members and valuing the skills of our housekeeping team is more important now than ever before.” There is good news from Chris: since Queensland eased restrictions Hilton Brisbane has seen a “pent up” demand


from Queenslanders looking to eat out and travel. The hotel is usually very popular with corporate travellers but has instead experienced a sharp rise in weekend staycationers. Chris said: “Throughout my career I have seen many downturns in the industry due to economic challenges, environmental disasters or various crisis in air travel or tourism but what I’ve learned is that everything bounces back and business can come back stronger. The industry is a cycle of ups and downs but you must draw on your strengths, and although this has been an unprecedented event every cloud has a silver lining and in my opinion by 2024 we will be back to pre-COVID levels of international tourism with Hilton bouncing back stronger than ever. “In the meantime, attracting the domestic tourism market is essential to our business but when the time is right, we will welcome inbound visitors with open arms and I hope that a Trans-Tasman bubble may happen soon. We are expecting good occupancy levels in September and at Christmas, but we are also reassured by the extension to the JobKeeper subsidy until March, this helps ease the pain for all of us working in hospitality.” AccomNews - Spring 2020



Business leadership is not for the fainthearted. Even in the best economic climate, making business decisions is difficult. Where do you find the self-confidence to lead a business wisely and decisively? News of a recession doubles this difficulty. The future seems uncertain and there are complex decisions to be made. Leadership during a recession takes a special kind of courage. But that courage is accessible to you. You can build your confidence.

Where does confidence come from? Real confidence is not arrogance or foolhardiness. Confidence is always embedded in knowing exactly who you are. It grows when you understand what you stand for and where you are headed. In other words, confidence requires clear knowledge of your identity and direction. The moment you hesitate in these areas, your confidence will begin to be impacted. That will have a ripple effect on those who you lead. The entire business will feel the weight of your insecurity. Good leaders are confident—not because they know what they are doing 100 percent of the time, but because they know who they are and where they are trying to go. Here are six tips for building confidence during a recession: 1. Review your situation Do not just blindly walk forward


AccomNews - Spring 2020

Amanda Rose Founder, Small Business Women Australia, Western Sydney Women and Western Sydney Advisory

and hope for the best. A recession is a real challenge, and one which demands to be faced front on. If you hope to act with confidence, you need to understand the reality of your situation. Do you need to make changes? If so, why, and how? Thinking through these questions before you act is essential. The more decisive you are, the more people are likely to trust your decisions. It is impossible to be decisive if you’ve got secret doubts or worries. On the flip side, impulsive decisions are rarely wise. The happy medium involves careful thinking and planning. Ask yourself the hard questions. During difficult times, you need to act decisively but wisely. So, before you make a move, review your situation. 2. Go back to basics If you are feeling worried about the future, cut the fat. What is essential? You might need to cut back on extra expenses or

© ilyaf -

Building confidence in a recession resources. Perhaps that luxury office space or big budget event needs to wait. Anything that could be seen as extravagant should be cut. Remember, start with yourself. Do not keep living it up and expect everyone else to cut back. Going back to basics means that when the tough times hit, you can lead confidently knowing that you have acted as prudently as possible. Leave no room for doubt from yourself or others. 3. Invest in your team During a recession, you need a solid team around you. You will never regret investing in your people. A recession often leaves staff members feeling insecure and worried. That never leads to good work. Your priority should be making your team feel as secure as possible. Keep their skills and hopes high. Invest relationally and professionally. This might look like offering extra training or educational options. 4. Pounce A recession is no time to be shy. As others retreat, do not be afraid to take calculated risks. Now is the time to look outside your comfort zone. Look at the market and see where you can gain an advantage. Push yourself and your team to think creatively and act courageously. This is a sure confidence booster because it gets you out of negative gear. By putting your foot on the pedal and trying something new, you will remind yourself of your drive and capacity.


5. Build yourself up as experts Confidence comes from deep seated knowledge of your vision and ability. Sharing those skills only increases confidence. A recession is an ideal opportunity to build your profile as an industry expert. Produce high quality practical content, such as articles or videos. How can you help your market and audience? How can you show what you have got to offer? Building credibility and expertise will keep your confidence levels high even if the sales drop during a recession. 6. Envision the future Remember, direction is key for confidence. Use the challenges of this recession to envision the future and move in the right direction. Even if this is a week by week discussion, some forward thinking is better than none. You need to be directing the ship and clearly communicating with your crew. Even if you cannot see the destination through the clouds, believe that you will get there—and paddle hard. Do not let a recession set you adrift. There is never a dull day in business leadership. A recession is not a death sentence, simply another opportunity to improve your skills and direct your team. Confidence is an important ingredient. You can and should build your confidence. Plan and act in a way that reinforces your self-understanding and vision for the future.

The Crowne Plaza Adelaide

Crowne Plaza on a high in Adelaide

By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

The Crowne Plaza Adelaide will take guests to new heights in the city’s tallest building. Opening November 2 in a 138m skyscraper overlooking the City of Churches, the new 329-room luxury hotel is taking inspiration from the neighbouring innovation hub, Lot Fourteen, which is Adelaide’s space-age science centre. Lot Fourteen is home to some the world’s leading names in emerging technology, including the new Australian Space Agency and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, and Crowne Plaza Adelaide General Manager, Sarah Goldfinch, says her property is featuring the latest in luxury hotel design concepts and initiatives. The hotel is based inside the new “Adelaidean’’ building on Frome Street, at the end of Rundle Mall in the city’s lively East End, and was especially designed to tower over the South Australian capital.

“The building was created as both a hotel and apartment living,” Ms Goldfinch said. “The hotel will occupy the first 20 floors and the private residences are on the 21st floor to the 36th. “The Crowne Plaza is a businessfocused hotel and our aim is to make busines travel as easy and comfortable as possible and to give the business traveller the best possible stay from the time they arrive with our express check-in service. “Our WorkLife guest rooms are designed for the modern traveller with the latest innovations for comfort and sustainability. They come with streaming apps and Chromecast – with high speed internet so guests can stream their favourite programs. Setting up a mobile office in the room is effortless. “There are wireless phones in the room, digital compendiums and online room service so guests can order room service from their own device.” Ms Goldfinch said guests would also have Bluetooth-streamed

music in their rooms as well as a 55-inch LCD TV and wireless mobile charging. As well as a seemingly infinite number of entertainment options, guest rooms also come with the Crown Plaza Sleep Advantage program that aims to ensure a better night’s sleep by providing premium bedding and aromatherapy kits. Floor-to-ceiling windows with unparalleled views of Adelaide and an espresso capsule machine are the perfect invigorating tonics to start the next day. The newest hotel in Adelaide is certainly a far cry in comfort from the oldest. The first licensed pub is South Australia was the Edinburgh Castle in Currie Street, Adelaide. Its proprietor, John Guthrie, was granted the first license to sell alcohol in South Australia on May 31, 1837. The pub was originally known as Guthrie's and parts of the original building are still in use. Other pubs opened in Adelaide later the same year include The Princes


Berkley in Hindley Street (then known as The Buffalo's Head and for some time as the Black Bull), Fordham's (known later as the Sturt Arcade Hotel), now Grenfell 110, Grenfell Street and The British in Finniss Street, North Adelaide. In 1838, F. W. Allen took out a newspaper advertisement giving thanks for “the liberal support” he had received at his Southern Cross Family Hotel on Currie Street and to assure guests “that the utmost of his exertions shall he used to merit all continuance of their support”. He “begged to add that he has lately materially extended his accommodation, and trusts, that those who may honour him with their support, will find at his hotel every comfort and convenience which a new Colony can afford”. Certainly the “comfort and convenience’’ in Mr Allen’s building didn’t extend to a fully equipped gym with views of the Adelaide Oval, alongside the heated outdoor infinity pool which is just one of the Crowne Plaza’s many attractions. AccomNews - Spring 2020


Its gym will allow guests to work out with state-of-the-art exercise equipment in a fully equipped facility complete with personal electronic trainers via TechnoGym. The gym includes Elliptical Machines, free weights, a stationary bike and treadmill. “Modern business travellers expect to have the same conveniences and equipment as they would have in their own gym and as far as technology is concerned we aim to exceed guest expectations in the way of exercise equipment,” Ms Goldfinch said.

Asian fusion restaurant with a strong Japanese Influence and the highest restaurant in the city. The Plaza Workspace re-imagines hotel lobby design and is created to help guests transition from work to down time. The space has an abundance of power points and there are wireless phone chargers that are integrated in tables along with access to free high-speed wifi.

For meetings and events, the Crowne Plaza Adelaide will also offer guests the latest in business technology, including the “The Think Tank” meeting room equipped with mobile Polycom equipment and the “Plaza Workspace” on Level 10, which offers a coworking space for guests.

Ms Goldfinch also said the Crowne Plaza Adelaide was showing its strong commitment to sustainability with such initiatives as paperless checkin/check-out, bamboo key cards, the Vintech internal room controller which allows staff to better manage guest room energy consumption and respond to guest requests quicker, digital compendiums, electronic newspapers, and a ban on plastic straws and bottles.

Level 10 is where guests also check in and where the gym and pool are located along with Luna10, Adelaide's newest alfresco bar, and Koomo Restaurant and Bar; a modern

“Our hotel offers the latest in technology,” Ms Goldfinch said, “right across the road is Lot Fourteen, a world leader in innovation, and we are the perfect complement to that.”

Delivering global technology from SONIFI Solutions HoneyBadger Technologies was selected to deliver its industry leading in-room entertainment solution to Crowne Plaza Adelaide. We installed our SONIFI® interactive solution and STAYCAST™ powered by Google Chromecast, to provide the ultimate guest room experience.

HoneyBadger Technologies worked to streamline the physical installation and commissioning of the system, despite the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By integrating seamlessly over the hotel wireless network, guests will enjoy Over the Top (OTT) streaming at their convenience along with a touchless fullfeatured digital compendium.

We are proud to be partnered with the Crowne Plaza Adelaide development, assisting them to deliver enhanced guest in-room experiences. During these disruptive times we are working hard in the background to enhance the IHG brand with innovation locally and in the Asia Pacific region.

Continuing our strong cooperation with network vendors,

Fearless, Innovative and Adaptive, that is HoneyBadger.

With our touchless technology your guests can • Stream their favourite show • Order their snacks • Pay their bill

All via their mobile device* With HoneyBadger Technologies they’ll feel right at home *Some features described may require additional software, hardware, licensing and costs. HoneyBadger Technologies is an authorised reseller of SONIFI. SONIFI & STAYCAST are registered trademarks of SONIFI Solutions, Inc. Google Chromecast is a trademark of Google Inc. All other trademarks used are the property of their respective owner.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Technology that provides a fully automated hospitality journey As hotels adjust to the “new normal� in a COVID world, much thought is going into the implementation of technology for everything from front of house uses like contactless guest checkin, digital keys, and in room tablets for guest access, to back of house tasks like mobile ordering and payment services, and staff operations. Providing these new digital guest self-service options will provide your guests and staff with the assurance that you have thought about their health and safety whilst also providing new ways to communicate, place orders, make reservations and provide service in a more socially distant environment.

back of house technology solutions into iPadÂŽ and other Apple devices into all of your guest communication and operational functions like housekeeping management, employee timecard control, or managing service requests connecting hotel employees with real-time information.

Hotels can drive revenue and keep guests coming back by providing them with exceptional app-based experiences from the moment they walk in the door. By digitizing guest checkin, digital key and payment, in room digital compendium, in room dining and service ordering, room controls,

clock radio and messaging, McLaren Technologies, Apple, and IPORT provide solutions that allow a simple and robust way to give your guests easy access to information. McLaren Technologies also seamlessly integrates INTELITY guest-facing technology and


IPORT and Apple devices enable team mobility, driving productivity and efficiency while enhancing guest service levels and pushing real-time updates to management, all while ensuring devices are charged, protected, and presented to guests in a variety of visually stunning ways. Contact us today to find the right technology for all of your hospitality needs, visit or email

AccomNews - Spring 2020


Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour

Connecting tech, community, and futuristic design By Mandy Clarke, Editor

This month, a buoyant industry celebrated the long-awaited return of the Crowne Plaza brand to Sydney’s CBD. This occasion was not just another introduction of an accommodation offering to the market, when NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian officially opened the Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour, it became a show of unity for an industry struggling


AccomNews - Spring 2020

through some of the worst challenges in recent history. Indeed, the hotel’s ribbon cutting ceremony signified confidence and support for the future of the whole Australian accommodation industry and was attended by some of the state’s biggest names. To develop and open a brand-new hotel amid a global pandemic is a huge achievement and the celebration was a fine recognition of not only the hotel staff but the sector’s determination to overcome

adversity. Talking about the event, Leanne Harwood managing director of IHG Australasia & Japan said the show of support from industry leaders was unifying and an indication of everyone’s willingness to get the industry moving again.

and Sydney Darling Harbour.

Globally, IHG and Crowne Plaza want to create futuristic hotels with flexible designs. 2020 promises to be the year of Crowne Plaza. The brand is refurbishing existing properties and opening new hotels in Hobart, Adelaide,

“The inspiration for the hotel design was connecting with a conscience and finding those moments with guests that truly make them feel welcomed and part of something special is just one of the things that sets us apart”.


The elegant Sydney offering stands 13 storeys tall with commanding views across the CBD. The hotel offers an “inviting sanctuary away from home”, as General Manager, Eugéne Human told us.

At this point in time, Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour is possibly one of the most connected accommodation providers in the city, offering USB and wireless charging ports throughout, plus digital ordering capabilities in its restaurants and bars. The hotel’s most outstanding design feature is an ability to connect. Proudly, Eugéne took over the reins after more than three years as General Manager at Holiday Inn Sydney Airport. Prior, he managed Holiday Inn Potts Point and ibis Styles Geraldton. Now, he said: “We have 152 guestrooms that showcase the very best in contemporary design and there is a luxury of space that not only flows throughout the suites but across all levels of the hotel which in the current climate is a welcomed feature. “Whether it’s informal, lastminute work meetings in our Studio Workspace, to Chromecast and Bluetooth technology in our guestrooms, to our Dare-to-connect service culture which sees our staff

adapting to whatever the guest needs may be. The design of our hotel has been inspired by a desire to meet the needs of the modern traveller who is more digital and mobile than ever before.” Floor-to-ceiling windows are another stunning feature of the

guest rooms, cleverly divided into four distinct zones with a desk space for work, sofa space to unwind, king size beds, and well-lit bathrooms. IHG’s Sleep Advantage program, treats guests to plush bedding, pillow menus, aromatherapy spray, sustainably sourced amenities, and a bedtime ritual guide so

the guestrooms are there to restore, inspire, and rejuvenate. Other hotel facilities that complete the luxurious and relaxing experience include a rooftop heated infinity pool, a 24-hour fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment and three food and beverage venues.

ASSA ABLOY provides Crowne Plaza Darling Harbour with future proof solutions When selecting the systems to be installed in the Crowne Plaza Darling Harbour the owners sought out a security access solution that could provide the highest level of security to boost guest confidence while still ensuring a hasslefree stay experience which minimized energy consumption. By selecting ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions and with the adoption of VingCard Signature RFID and its advanced data encryption abilities, hotel guests can be assured that only authorized individuals are able to gain room access. This includes Signature RFID’s anti-keycard cloning functionality that prevents unauthorized keycard duplicates from being created.

Once activated, Mobile Access can provide guests with the ability to digitally check-in using their own personal devices. Engineered as a future proof solution that equips hoteliers with the ability to affordably and effortlessly adapt to evolving industry trends, the presence of VingCard Signature RFID at the property allows for the instant activation of Mobile Access whenever desired.

by coming into close contact with other guests or staff.

Once activated, Mobile Access can provide guests with the ability to digitally check-in using their own personal devices.

Also due to the fact energy is the second highest cost for hotels today, after salaries the owners of Crowne Plaza Darling Harbour were looking for ways to reduce energy waste.

This can serve as an alternative to having to wait in line at the front desk and risking exposure to viruses or bacteria

As a fully digital solution, Mobile Access also allows guests to use their own devices as a digital key to gain access to guestrooms and other hotel areas, further limiting exposure to germs by reducing interaction with shared surfaces.

One way of achieving this goal is controlling the energy


usage in the guest rooms so an energy management system from ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions was installed. This is especially important as a guest room is typically unoccupied 60-65% of the time, by adding energy management logic to the system, the savings can be increased up to 35%. The key principle of the system is to determine when a guest room is physically occupied and when it is not occupied by monitoring the door opening and closing as well as the motion in the room. At times when the room is not occupied, the system controls the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems and the lights, based on a set of parameters that allows the property to achieve energy savings while maintaining guest comfort. AccomNews - Spring 2020


Sustainability was an important priority when developing this hotel. Eugéne said: “In order to consciously connect with our guests and community, it was imperative that sustainability would be a focus and has been considered every step of the way. “Initiatives we have integrated into the design and operation of the hotel include paperless check-in and check-out, paperless back-of-house administration processes, bamboo key cards, bespoke ecominded and bulk-sized bathroom amenities by certified organic brand Antipodes and digital in-room compendiums and news subscriptions – to name a few! “Our IHG Greener Stay program where guests are incentivised to opt out of housekeeping in return for IHG Reward Club points is another great initiative and one that is proving very popular with guests.” Opening a brand-new world class hotel amid a global pandemic presented many unexpected challenges and Eugène describes the impact of COVID-19 on the whole tourism and hospitality industry as “devastating”. However, he suggests that now is the prime time to adapt and think to the future. He admits: “We have not evaded change ourselves, we had to shift our open-date by six months and re-design our business model to adapt to an ever-changing ‘new norm’. At times, it has been a tough and difficult process. “I recognise how difficult this period has been for our entire


AccomNews - Spring 2020

industry and many others. We are still in the middle of the pandemic and it is difficult to forecast the true impact. I feel for all our colleagues and communities affected.” Everything about opening a new hotel in the middle of a pandemic is impressive but there has been so much to be proud of; Eugéne glowed when I asked about his staff: “Our team! Without the right support, be it from the hotel team, the owner’s or our corporate team, the hotel would be just another building in the city. To be able to bring a vision to life you need to rely on everyone's experience, input and support to ensure the hotel succeeds.” The reaction of guests and visitors to the Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour has been very positive. The GM confirmed: “Corporate clients are impressed with the built-in technology integrated into our event spaces, and guests are excited to relax by the rooftop infinity pool all while being just moments from some of Sydney’s best attractions. “We are excited to share a new era in premium upscale design and truly connect our guests to our iconic city. Another exciting part of the journey for us was filling the rooftop infinity pool, this felt like a second topping off ceremony, but the coming together of our team and the hard-work and dedication of everyone involved in the project has been the standout moment.”


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Is the industry reducing reliance on OTAs by increasing direct bookings? By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

As he takes in the crisp fresh mountain air of the Snowy Mountains, Anton Schatzle is confident his revamped website and the magic of internet searches will breathe renewed life into his resort bookings. Bushfires stalled his business last summer and then the COVID border closures froze his winter bookings. But he says guests booking directly with his Pender Lea chalets on the Alpine Way near Mt Kosciusko recently have him optimistic about a post-COVID recovery. Mr Schatzle’s parents started the resort more than 40 years ago and after an avalanche of problems in the last 12 months, he says investment in his website has proved to be a good business move. “Despite all the adversities ¬-with the fires and COVID - we’ve had a reasonably satisfactory winter because the traffic through our website has managed to steady the ship,” Mr Schatzle said. “We started redesigning our website just before winter with the help of Simon Oldham from “It has definitely helped with our bookings.” Mr Schatzle said it was vital for all accommodation providers to inform customers on the front page of their website that they could “save a great deal of money’’ by booking directly with the property rather than through online travel agencies. “The site has to be simple to use and we’ve found the use of video on our pages to be very popular,’’ he said. “My other main piece of advice to property owners is that you need someone professional


AccomNews - Spring 2020

monitoring the site to update and modify it regularly. If you fall into the trap of trying to do it yourself you can go for months without having your finger on the pulse. With search engines such as Google you have to be relevant or you’ll fall behind.” Michelle Smith, who with partner Gary Strickland runs the two properties Tides Apartments and Riverstone Retreat in Port Fairy, Victoria, says their websites ensure more than half of their bookings are made direct rather than through OTAs. Port Fairy is a charming fishing village at the end of the Great Ocean Road, three-and-a-bit hours south-west of Melbourne. But alongside all the tempting

With frustration building among Australian accommodation providers for commission-hungry online travel agencies, various companies now offer ways to drive direct bookings. RMS Cloud says its “fullyresponsive internet booking engine (IBE)” can accept direct bookings from any device in real-time, reducing OTA dependency.

local attractions, Ms Smith says her properties’ websites are the keys to enticing guests.

“Lately we’ve been jazzing up the website so that it is now more and more mobile friendly,’’ she said.

She said with OTAs taking large commissions – and with that money going offshore rather than to local communities – Australian property owners needed to invest in a “simple, effective website and a direct booking engine that is easy to operate”.

“The website and all the tools of the internet have made a significant change to our business.

“It’s one thing to get traffic to the website but if you don’t have a simple booking tool that people can work out in a couple of clicks they will move on and find somebody else,” she said. Ms Smith says with Simon Oldham’s advice she began “ramping up’’ the website for the Tide Apartments five years ago.

your guests through the process, providing them with everything they need to make an informed booking decision. This enhanced experience is much more likely to lead them directly to your website when they make future reservations. “With our online booking system, you can drive reservations straight from your home page. The process is easy to set up, simple to use and fits seamlessly into your website. “IBE automatically uploads and maintains rates and availability. “Selected rooms are blocked out within seconds of booking confirmation.

It markets the system as a way of leveraging a property’s website and increasing visibility. “The IBE integrates into all other RMS distribution and property management features, keeping everything in sync,” the company declares. “An online booking and reservation system is a key customer journey touchpoint that allows you to guide

“The booking engine supplied to your developer can easily link it to your site.’’ RMS says its booking engine allows for flexible rates and promotions by encouraging guests to book directly from a site by adding best available rate packages, seasonal tariffs and special discounts.


“Accommodation providers must have a really good website that presents well because these days your reputation is online. If you haven’t got a good website, you might as well not bother.” As the founder of onlinetourism., Simon Oldham has spent the last eight years developing websites and online marketing campaigns for the tourism industry, covering the whole range of properties from major hotels to single room bed and breakfast establishments. He laments that many property owners are still relying on websites that are antiquated, slow and not user friendly for mobile devices such as smart phones. “Websites have to display quickly and be clear and concise,’’ he said. “They also need to utilise all the optimisation techniques for Google searches. “My company can give properties primary exposure in web searches and outstrip the top OTAs. That will be more crucial than ever in the competitive post-COVID environment.” Trevor Rawnsley, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Resident Accommodation Managers Association, has urged all accommodation providers to take control of their pricing by driving traffic through their own websites rather than the OTAs run in other countries. “We are urging people to book directly with the accommodation providers. By booking directly the consumer will get a better deal and better value,” he said, “and the accommodation providers will avoid the huge commissions that the OTAs charge.”

Virtual tours the perfect answer to COVID-19 You’ve probably heard of virtual tours (VT), or maybe you’ve even considered creating one for your hotel. Now is a better time than ever to get on board with this exciting technology.

website. Virtual Tours have been around for some time, but this pandemic has brought them once again to the forefront of the hotel industry’s mind. When guests cannot physically visit hotels, the next best thing is 360 degree virtual technology.

360 degree VTs give your guests and commercial customers the power to visually experience all your hotel has to offer from the comfort of their own couch.

The tours provide a way for sales teams to sell remotely, drive higher direct website bookings and give check-in staff an opportunity to up-sell rooms.

This makes them the perfect answer to COVID-19 restrictions. Not only this, but VTs also drive direct traffic to your website, bypassing those margin-thinning OTAs.

The benefits are vast and worthwhile, so if you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with www.

Virtual tours as part of hotel listings can increase the duration of time spent on your website by 5-10 times. More time spent on a website

is beneficial in many ways. For example, it adds to your domain ranking and therefore increases your website’s SEO score, meaning that other visitors are more likely to end up on your site.

Hotels that utilise VTs gain around 50% more clicks than those with standard photos. This means that website visitors are engaging and taking actions, and therefore are more likely to book through your

Hotels will bounce back from COVID-19 and virtual tours are an exciting part of that strategy. See you in the next virtual lobby!

Take your hotel to the next level with a 360° Virtual Tour • Increase direct bookings • Reach guests online during COVID-19 • Showcase your property • Increase website traffic • Drive higher engagement p: 1800 859 192


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Accommodation Website Checklist 7 ESSENTIAL STEPS The evolution of the internet has seen a huge increase in online bookings for accommodation, particularly from a growing list of OTA’s such as, Wotif, Stayz, Trivago and Airbnb. Whilst it’s important to be listed on the main OTA’s, it’s your property website that should be driving the majority of direct online bookings for you. Sadly, too many accommodation providers have outdated, poorly optimised, inadequate and underperforming websites that are ultimately losing money in lost booking opportunities. WE’VE OUTLINED BELOW A QUICK 7-STEP CHECKLIST FOR YOU TO MEASURE YOUR OWN WEBSITE AGAINST. If you answer ‘NO’ to any of the questions below then it’s time to invest in an upgrade and bring more paying visitors back to your business. STEP 1: IS YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN RESPONSIVE?


With more than 50% of website visitors now using mobile phone for bookings, it’s imperative to have a responsive website. Responsive website design ensures your website displays correctly on all devices and screen sizes, by automatically adjusting to the screen whether it’s desktop, tablet or mobile.

Just picture for a moment what it would be like to be driving a car blind folded! It’s a pretty scary thought to be ‘driving blind’ but this is exactly what many accommodation providers are doing with their website! More than half the websites we see don’t have Google Analytics tracking installed, making it basically impossible to measure the ongoing performance of their website.

STEP 2: IS YOUR WEBSITE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISED? How does your website rank in the major search engines such as Google for your primary accommodation keywords in your location? Many websites we see are either poorly search engine optimised or not optimised at all, and this severely effects your rankings. Each page of your website must be optimised.

STEP 3: IS YOUR WEBSITE EASY TO READ AND NAVIGATE? This may seem simple enough, but a lot of properties still get this all wrong! The idea is to structure your website navigation and content so it flows naturally, and leads web visitors to where they need to go quickly and easily. The font size and colour should be clear, and content concise and easy to digest. Use a combination of headlines, images, videos and text to tell your story.

STEP 5: WAS YOUR WEBSITE BUILT IN THE LAST 3 YEARS? Website technology has evolved and now advances more rapidly every year. Older html websites are no longer viable and are being replaced with Content Management System (CMS) websites. In addition, Google has imposed strict guidelines on websites now with respect to page load speed, SSL, mobile-first indexing, and other criteria which directly affects a websites visibility in Google.

STEP 6: DOES YOUR WEBSITE HAVE AN SSL CERTIFICATE? Every website must now display a valid SSL certificate or face penalty from Google, which will negatively affect your rankings and drive potential visitors away from your site. SSL (Secure Socket Layer) establishes a ‘secure’ link between your

website and the visitors web browser. This is seen as the padlock symbol sitting to the left of the website URL in your browser. Without SSL your web visitors will see ‘Not Secure’ and may even see an unsafe warning page.

STEP 7: IS YOUR SITE OPTIMISED FOR DIRECT BOOKINGS? The most crucial component of your website is to ensure it’s geared towards receiving ‘direct bookings’. With OTA’s taking big chunks in commission you want to be encouraging your potential guests to book direct. What steps are you taking to entice visitors to book, and are you making the process easy? From button size and font style, to colours and positioning - getting the booking references on your website correct can have a huge impact. We also offer a range of visitor engagement tools specifically designed and proven to help you increase direct bookings (and revenue)!

If you answered ‘NO’ to any of these questions, why not speak with us today and see what we can do to help you. Are you ready to maximise your website performance? CALL 1300 996 171 or EMAIL

“Whilst it’s important to be listed on the main OTA’s, it’s your property website that should be driving the majority of direct online bookings for you.”


AccomNews - Spring 2020


It’s time to claw back that lost commission… BOOKING.COM AD

We hear from many properties on a daily basis that they’re frustrated at the sheer amount of commission they pay out to OTA’s such as each and every month. Despite their offers and incentives to entice guests to book direct through a variety of different means, they still end up with bookings through the OTA instead. WHY IS THIS? OTA’s spend millions of dollars every month in online advertising and even have the gall to run ads directly against you using your property name keywords! This often results in them displaying above your own organic website listing in the search results, and most times with an ad written closely to resemble your property title and description. This creates a problem as potential guests searching for your property inadvertently end up on the OTA website instead, with the end result in many cases being a direct booking lost.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADVERTISE DIRECTLY AGAINST THE MAIN OTA’S Most accommodation providers we speak with say they feel it’s worthless trying to advertise against the OTA’s because they’re just too big or they don’t have the budget to compete with them. Maybe you’ve tried Google Ads in the past and haven’t achieved great results, or your conversions weren’t high enough, or your bid costs were through the roof? Sound familiar?


Well this is something we do very well and have been helping properties all over Australia achieve more direct bookings, make higher profits, and reduce their reliance on the OTA’s through an effective Google Ads campaign we’ve quietly mastered over many years! Our Google Ads Bundle campaign has been specifically developed to help saturate the market giving you maximum online exposure, far and above what the OTA’s can achieve in comparison for your property. Best of all the campaign is suitable for all accommodation types, and is results proven for hotels, motels, holiday apartments, caravan parks, bed & breakfasts and farm stays.

“More than 60% of our direct bookings monthly can now be attributed to our Google Ads Bundle campaign” MICHELLE SMITH TIDES APARTMENTS

“The result of the Google Ads Bundle campaign was immediate with direct bookings flooding in from the very next day” KATHERINE JANE LAVENDALE FARM

It costs less than you think to run an effective campaign, so if you’d like to claw back that lost commission why not give us a call today to discuss? CALL 1300 996 171 effective online advertising to maximise direct bookings hotels | motels | apartments | holiday parks | b&b’s | farmstays


AccomNews - Spring 2020


7 key benefits of an internet booking engine Your internet booking engine (IBE) or ‘book now button’ is a crucial tool that drives direct bookings from your website. There’s no need to rely on OTAs, plus you save on commissions and receive bookings in real-time.

6. Customise to suit your brand One of the biggest benefits for property managers is the ability to customise the IBE to reflect your branding, for single or multiple properties. “In RMS, properties that are part of an enterprise can tailor the booking engine to each particular sibling property,” says Rachael. This allows differentiation and gives each property its own unique look and feel.

Here are seven benefits to using one (and how RMS Cloud helps you achieve them):

1. Say goodbye to third-party fees With an IBE, there’s no need to worry about costly commission fees that come with thirdparty OTA integrations. RMS client and owner of two New Zealand properties, Aaron McFarlane, has seen a big increase in direct bookings compared to this time last year. In times such as these, the importance of saving money and creating a seamless customer experience is crucial to success. “Between May and September when COVID was still a major factor, our direct channels (RMS’ IBE and TOP 10’s Netroomz) contributed 78.73% of our bookings, compared to 58.4% the previous year,” says Aaron. All RMS customers using the online module can integrate the IBE into their website and Facebook page for free - you can even upsell with extras such as breakfast to boost revenue even more.

3. Seamlessly connect to your PMS IBEs should reduce the chance of overselling and prevent booking conflicts, while giving you a high-level overview of reservations in real-time. There shouldn’t be a need to manually toggle or rely on customer support to find stray bookings. RMS’ IBE feeds directly from the rate chart, with everything updated and shown in real-time. This means that confirmed bookings made via your IBE are then filtered through to RMS. You’ll also be able to sell at the category or room level to ensure that you never miss a booking.

4. Boost conversions RMS’ new and improved IBE has been designed to deliver a better booking experience and increase conversions. It gives guests a

clearer view of discounts and rate options to encourage longer stays. The inclusion of a booking cart makes it easier to make group bookings and add extras to one or all reserved rooms.

5. Deliver a guestdriven journey Unlike OTA connections, an IBE can be tailored to your guests, enhancing their overall experience. Debuting a modern look and feel, RMS’ IBE is fully guest-driven; a snapshot display shows relevant content, while users are prompted to click on tailored upsell links that are selected based on their reservation requirements. Once the booking is complete, guests are given the option to add to their calendar, view the cancellation policy and click the map link for easy travel directions.

An internet booking engine is a guest-facing tech that works seamlessly to maximise occupancy and encourage re-booking through the website in the future. “The setup (for RMS customers) is user-friendly enough for clients to do it themselves,” says Rachael Todd, project manager for RMS’ IBE. “We also have plenty of resources for those that need it and our team is always on-hand for assistance.” AccomNews - Spring 2020

With your IBE connected directly to your PMS, you can see which guests have booked via your website and encourage others to follow in their footsteps. “Add a promotional or discount code that guests can use on your IBE so you can track where people are coming from for your EDM marketing,” recommends Aaron. “Also make sure you’re targeting the right customer – for us in New Zealand right now, there is no point mailing promotions to anyone outside of the country while the borders are closed.” Taking on-board user feedback and suggestions, RMS’ IBE has been enhanced to help property managers leverage their direct bookings. It also has a new layout that creates a better user experience and is designed to increase conversions. With over 35 years of innovation and trusted by 6,000 properties in 43 countries, RMS Cloud provides scalable, cloud-based technology for single and multi-properties within the accommodation industry. Fully equipped with a comprehensive suite of operational and guestcentric modules, RMS helps properties to increase revenue, streamline operations and deliver strong customer engagement.

2. Save time with easy setup


7. Make data-driven decisions

For more information, visit MARKETING

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COVID furnishes an opportunity for change

By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

It might be a quiet time for Australian hotels during the COVID-19 crisis, but many are busier than ever with refurbishments. Low occupancy rates mean it is a perfect time for new fitouts as there is very little disturbance to guests. But Michael Johnson, the CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, warns hotel operators considering buying new furniture from overseas to visit the factories in person to see it being produced. He says while every hotel is different when it comes to furnishings, boutique luxury


AccomNews - Spring 2020

Low occupancy rates mean it is a perfect time for new fitouts

hotels often employ a more “eclectic style” and source their products from within Australia. “In many luxury hotels selected furniture pieces will be sourced and often chosen because they are as pleasing to the eye as they are comfortable,” he said. “Often property managers at luxury hotels will be working along with furniture designers in Australia and the pieces will

be of very high quality with a time-frame of many years. Luxury furniture is not usually updated as often as cheaper items because it lasts longer and looks good for longer.” He said “in the mid-range properties” furniture was usually more minimalistic, more userfriendly and chosen for durability. “A lot of budget furniture can look good initially, but


its longevity is often shortlived and will often have to be replaced in two or three years.” He said that in the four to fourand-a-half-star market most hotel furniture was being produced in China and he recommended those tasked with procuring fittings for hotels to visit the factories where it was made. “People buying furniture for hotels have to be mindful that it comes from different factories and that the quality will be different in each of those places,” Mr Johnson said. “It’s quite critical when buying furniture that you actually go and see how that furniture is being produced and how it is coming off the line. You have to do the due diligence and speak to other hoteliers who have used the product.

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“If you don’t do the due diligence and buy from someone in Australia who is selling it as an agent it could be falling apart within a couple of years.” Luxury hotel guests expect the latest in furnishings and technology including eye-catching style whether the hotel is decorated like a Parisienne salon from the Belle Epoque, a jazz age cocktail bar or has the quirky, futuristic concept of a sci-fi movie.

it takes is to re-see what is already there with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s amazing how a space can be transformed simply by re-arranging the furniture. It is also the small bits and pieces that give a space personality, and those things are easy and cost effective to update. “For hotels on a refurbishment budget, I suggest a spring

clean and replace the little things. Focus on the common spaces first, then make small updates to guest rooms, even if that is just updating sheets, towels and styling.

There will be more localised travel and perhaps more focus on local supply and design. The world got very large and Covid has made it small again.

When asked about the impact of COVID on interiors she said: “Spaces will be configured to allow for smaller groups to gather - together but apart.

“In terms of practical things, I think everyone will be much more conscious of surfaces, and things that can’t be sanitized or washed easily.”

Guests require a relaxing environment from the moment they enter the lobby to the moment their head hits the pillow. Furniture trends are constantly evolving. Zahava Elenberg, founding director of MOVE-IN advised: “The design of hotel interiors has come a long way in its evolution, with many hotels developing a more domestic, boutique and intimate aesthetic, a more grounded in a sense of place.

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“The big ubiquitous brands with standardised furnishings and design have started to fade away. People like to know where they are, so if you’re in Melbourne it feels like Melbourne and if you’re in Paris you know you’re in Paris, or Hong Kong, or Istanbul... And with that comes an engagement and pride in a local design culture.” About refurbishments she said: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sometimes all


AccomNews - Spring 2020


FF&E from A-Z How furniture, fixture, and equipment specialists Move-in are changing the game of FF&E. Founded in 2002 by Zahava Elenberg, Move-in this year celebrates its 18th year of delivering FF&E for hotels, apartments, co-working and co-living environments. The founding of Move-in was a natural evolution for entrepreneurial Zahava Elenberg, who was co-directing prestigious architectural firm, Elenberg Fraser, at the time of its conception. With FF&E specifications traditionally falling with the architect, Zahava recognised an opportunity to offer a one-stop-shop to developers, owners and operators. What sets Move-in apart is the focused specialisation in turn-key design and delivery of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) for the hotel, serviced apartment, student accommodation, co-living, public & commercial property sectors. From concepts to cost analysis, logistics and signature styling, the skilled team handles the process from A-Z, achieving quality results at any budget, and any scale. Move-in guides their clients through the FF&E journey covering everything from procurement, to value management, developing and refining furniture specifications, drawings, samples and materials finishes right through to freight, shipping, delivery, assembly, installation and aftersales care. It is a one-stop-shop.

And while projects may range from 1 room to 1000, the philosophy remains the same: creatively inspired and commercially guided FF&E. Move-in transform spaces into places, that help people live better. Fast forward 18 years and Move-in’s impressive portfolio is a tribute to the company’s dedicated team of interior designers, creative problem solvers and logistical experts. There is no doubt Move-in know their craft and have honed their process. The team’s architectural and design discipline paired with a deep understanding of the commercial nature of development, has resulted in a symbiotic combination. Balancing the various stakeholders involved in the process with circus-like precision, Move-in ensures the FF&E is well considered, in-line with the design intent of the project and most importantly, commercially viable.

Move-in at a glance: Who are they? Move-in are FF&E specialists, creative problem solvers and logistics experts. They have been delivering FF&E Australia wide for over 18 years. What do they do? Move-in create complete FF&E solutions for all co-living spaces for the hospitality, residential and commercial sectors. If a space requires furniture and fit-out, Movein can fill it. How do they do it? They guide their clients through the A-Z of FF&E – covering everything from procurement, to cost analysis, final delivery and styling. Who do they do it for? Move-in work collaboratively with a broad range of clients‚ including architects, interior designers, developers, project managers, builders, brands and end-users.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


FF&E from A≼Z Founded in 2002, Move-in specialises in turn-key, design-led, and commercially minded furniture solutions for projects of any scale. From concepts to cost analysis, procurement, logistics, and styling, our team handles the journey from A-Z.

Lake Mac Holiday Parks chose accessibility and inclusivity By Mandy Clarke, Editor

Lake Mac Holiday Parks recently installed inclusive new tourism cabins at three of its holiday parks. The thoughtful project was undertaken and recently completed at Belmont Lakeside Holiday Park, Blacksmiths Beachside Holiday Park, and Swansea Lakeside Holiday Park, all in the Lake Macquarie region. The team behind the groundbreaking refurbishment took part in a ‘day in a wheelchair’ experience, inclusive tourism training, and worked with the council’s ageing and disability committee to better understand needs and challenges so they could work towards delivering a seamless experience for more guests. The end-result is that the parks now have a stunning range of cleverly designed accessible cabins to create a more enjoyable stay for guests with a disability. The parks have also installed more inclusive facilities, such as a pool hoist and wheelchair-friendly picnic tables. Talking about the new cabins, Lake Mac Holiday Parks coordinator Garry Ellem, said: “The cabins are designed to align with the inclusive tourism market, and we aim to truly


AccomNews - Spring 2020

We have created a new standard in accommodation for inclusive tourism

cater for customers that utilise a wheelchair. However, we also expanded the options and flexibility to meet the needs of other customers including those who use wheely walkers,

fully cater for those customers with additional requirements and not just the main bedroom, which has been the traditional point of view.”

walking sticks or crutches, and even families with prams that need additional features.

Indeed, careful thought and consideration has gone into every aspect of these cabins. From the bottom up, inside, and out, these cabins have been designed to consider functionality, efficiency, and accessibility to a wonderful Aussie park holiday.

“Moreover, we designed our cabins so that both bedrooms

The guest experience begins outside, Garry explains, so


the entire ramp and large deck is covered to protect guests from the elements with BBQs and breakfast bars overlooking the prime views in the parks/surrounds. He said: “We’ve done away with keys and our front glass sliding doors are simple to operate, at the push of a button. Internally, the blinds and curtains are remote controlled to allow a person using a wheelchair or a wheely walker to operate them without trying to reach around or over furniture. “The cabins are also designed to be fully self-contained to reduce the need for a guest to go to the amenities block. We have even installed a washer/dryer combo and dual height clothesline. “Furthermore, to maximise the flexibility of the cabin space for couples and/or carers, the bedrooms feature king splits so they can be utilised as a king bed or as two king singles.” However, it is with the kitchen facilities that Lake Mac Holiday Park cabins really shine! The dishwasher, ovens, and storage are all readily accessible,

maintaining the required open space under benches as well as circulation space. Some of the most spectacular features are in the stylish and functional kitchen fitouts, with stone benchtops and upper cabinets that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button to provide simple, easy access for a customer in a wheelchair. Garry said: “These features all work together to make the cabins more functional for a range of customers. The feedback from our guests, accessibility specialists and respite organisations has been consistent: they all say they are ‘blown away’ with the features, quality, and locations of the cabins. Many also mention that they have not seen features of this standard and flexibility offered to guests with additional requirements before. Sydney magazine editor and blogger Julie Jones, whose Have Wheelchair Will Travel blog catalogues her family’s travels, said that while one-in-five Australians live with a disability, there is “a distinct lack” of truly accessible accommodation.

Specialising in holiday parks and cabin installations Terry Keelan Plumbing Pty Ltd was proud to be involved with Lake Macquarie City Council with their recent installation of new cabins for disabled use and also for general use. The cabins and new sites at Belmont Lakeside, Swansea Lakeside and Blacksmiths Tourist Parks are of the highest standard and quality. We worked closely with the Park Managers and Council

Supervisors to create more open space sites for tents and caravans etc. The services and infrastructure were upgraded, the new cabins have solar hot water and water tanks and meet all BASIC requirements. The sites take in magnificent lake views in peaceful surroundings. For more information visit:

(02) 4954 6210 Terry Keelan Plumbing is a family owned and operated business established in 1990 and has been in operation for 30 years, providing plumbing solutions to domestic and commercial projects in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie regions of New South Wales. Our Mission is to provide our customers with the most professional, efficient and reliable plumbing services available. No job is too big or small and we have staff available for emergencies 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Services Include: • Plumbing, Drainage, Gas and LP Gas - installations, repairs, maintenance • Specialising in caravans/tourism parks, connection of cabins and installation of plumbing to sites • Thermostatic Mixing Valve - testing, installation, certification • Backflow Prevention – testing, certification • Pipe and cable location services • Truck mounted water jet blasting equipment • Truck mounted gutter vacuum - for roof cleaning and stormwater pits • Hydro Excavation Equipment for small projects • CCTV inspection equipment


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Julie Jones with son Braeden, husband Mark and daughter Amelia

Garry revealed: “Julie and her family were the first to roadtest our new Belmont Lakeside inclusive tourism cabins and had this to say about their experience: ‘The attention to detail and consideration of the needs of people with a disability shown in the design and features of the Belmont property are the best we’ve seen in a mainstream accommodation provider’s offerings. The fact the accessible accommodation


AccomNews - Spring 2020

has a view is even more rare'!” Garry agreed: “It is true that we have taken a big picture approach and not simply installed new cabins in isolation. At Belmont Lakeside, the new pool includes access with a hoist, and a new community pathway has been built to improve access around the park, while Christie’s accessible barbecue has been installed in a new shelter along with wheelchair-friendly picnic tables.

“At Blacksmiths, we have installed new ramped access to the recreation room and the pool precinct as well as installing wheelchair friendly picnic tables and creating flat pedestrian access to sections of the park. Swansea has received a new playground featuring a wheelchair friendly accessible spinner as well as an aqua wheelchair available for guest use at the pool. “I am extremely proud that we


have created a new standard in accommodation for inclusive tourism and have taken a positive step towards providing that facility, not just in a cabin but across the park. Some of the feedback from our customers is so beautiful and heart-warming it will bring tears to your eyes. “However, I am most proud of our small team, which took to this project with passion and gusto to challenge the status quo.”

Inclusive choices in multiple locations for Lake Mac The newly refurbished holiday parks all sit on the shores of Lake Macquarie, the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere. Positioned along 300km of pristine coastline, the parks are surrounded by some of the most beautiful forests in New South Wales and the lake is just 90 minutes north of Sydney, or a short drive to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley Wine Region. Lake Mac Holiday Parks provide a range of waterfront accommodation, from caravan and camping sites to comfortable villas. There are plenty of facilities to keep the

kids busy, too, including heated swimming pools, mini golf, playgrounds, tennis courts, and basketball facilities. Boat launching facilities are also close by and there is a plethora of great local attractions, including fishing and swimming hubs, walking tracks, bicycle tracks, and plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shopping. There’s a reason Lake Macquarie is so popular! Guests can choose the park that is right for them from the group’s four unique properties: Belmont Lakeside has stunning lake views, Blacksmiths Beachside has a relaxing beachside family vibe, and Swansea Lakeside boasts family fun, or Wangi Point gets guests outside to explore nature.

Accommodation Commercial

Furniture Specialists Nextrend Furniture has long been recognised as Outdoor Commercial Furniture specialists for the Accommodation and Hospitality Industry. Those in the know however, have also discovered, they have a huge range of Indoor Furniture available. It is their ability to serve both indoor and outdoor seating requirements of their clients that allows Nextrend to form great working relationships with the likes of Lake Mac Holiday Parks.

In the fitout of their new Inclusive Villas, Lake Mac Holiday Parks sought lounge seating as well as dining chairs and tables for both in the Villa and on the deck. Commercial grade Neptune & Samba Lounges were selected as their foundational pieces for the lounge area, and Avila indoor/outdoor table base with white Gentas Tops create a link between the indoor and outdoor dining space. Resin rattan Ibiza Outdoor Armchairs were used on the deck with Avoca Chairs used for the internal dining area.

Supplying Quality Commercial Accommodation & Hospitality Furniture Australia Wide for over 10 Years

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1300 559 965


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Paradise Resort:

A cruise ship on land

“We are marketing it as a cruise ship on land and because cruise ships aren’t operating, we also plan to get the cruise ship business as well.”

By Mandy Clarke, Editor

Dr Jerry Schwartz, the flamboyant Sydney doctor who is Australia's biggest private owner of hotels, is convinced the Gold Coast will remain the playground of Australia and that his newest acquisition there is primed for a post-COVID bonanza. Last year, Dr Schwartz paid $43 million to rescue the 360-room Paradise Resort from potential liquidation under the insolvent Ralan Group and announced he would invest more than $12 million in the first two years alone to ensure the Surfers Paradise property remained what he calls “Australia’s favourite family resort”. Despite a lack of cashflow during the pandemic, as occupancy rates fell to 10 percent across his portfolio, he celebrated the grand relaunch of the Paradise Resort on 29 February, 2020 by cutting a ceremonial ribbon alongside the Queensland Minister for Tourism, Kate Jones and promptly jumping into the swimming pool.


AccomNews - Spring 2020

He said the Paradise Resort was “always the number one kids’ hotel but it had been getting really tired, not just the kid’s facilities but the rooms”. “People would think twice [about staying there] because the rooms were shabby, and it was almost like camping.”

Kate Jones and Dr Jerry Schwartz

The addition of the Paradise Resort to Dr Schwartz’s portfolio brings his holdings to 15 hotels across Australia, ranging in size from the 88room Novotel in Newcastle to the 590-room Sofitel in Sydney’s Darling Harbour. His family company controls more than 4000 hotel rooms, and he says despite the damage done by COVID to the accommodation industry, the Paradise Resort is

ready to reap the benefits in a post-pandemic holiday boom. “I think that because of COVID [the Paradise Resort] is actually going to do fantastically well,’’ Dr Schwartz told Accom News. “The Gold Coast has always been Australia’s playground and this resort is a place purely for leisure – it hasn’t got any corporate business which is affected by COVID.


Stage 1 of the resort’s renovation was “the most important to get the hotel open again and to do the things that you would have had great difficulty doing if the hotel was operating. “What we have done is totally strip the reception area, totally stripped all the food and beverage areas and stripped the kitchen. “That will make a terrific difference. We are getting really good feedback from all the guests now. They come in and they go `WOW’. “We have also spruced up all of the rooms as well as totally stripping 66 of them.

For the next couple of years, the resort will be reduced to 300 rooms as we refurbish all the rooms 60 at a time.

Dr Schwartz said his family hotel business was started in the late 1970s by his father Bela, a Hungarian-born Sydney dentist, when he purchased the Forrest Motor Lodge in Canberra, a favourite spot for politicians to stay.

“We are putting in new beds, new bathrooms, new carpet, new carpentry, new TVs. The first 60 refurbished rooms will be ready for the Christmas holidays when we will roll onto the next 60.

“I now buy hotels that are slightly distressed,” Dr Schwartz said, “but which have huge potential. There is a pleasure in doing them up and realising the potential.

“Stage 1b of the renovations will see a – merry-go-round put in and a trackless train that’s just arrived from Canada. “Stage 2 will see a whole new facility. There will be an adult lounge where the reception area used to be and an adults pool – we’ve also done the excavation for that. “Now that the hotel is operating again hopefully, we’ll get enough cash flow to commence Stage 2 in the next two months. “Stage 3, for which we’ve already got council permission, is to build a cinema and a kids play area and also a large cool room so that we can distribute my brewery beers and ciders which we produce in the Hunter Valley. We will commence that after we finish the pool and adult area

so there is still a lot of exciting things to look forward to. “Even before COVID, the Gold Coast was the most sought after holiday spot in Australia and particularly after COVID, with the Queensland weather and all the facilities on the Gold Coast, it’s a no brainer that it will go really well for Australian leisure [tourism].’’ The purchase of the Paradise Resort came after the Schwartz family paid China's Ja Feng group $70 million for the Hilton Surfers

Paradise in January last year. “We’ve just finished doing up the foyer there and that’s been quite a major refurbishment,” Dr Schwartz said. “I’ve put an anatomy exhibition into the Hilton’s foyer – an exhibition of human body parts. It is very Gold Coast ¬– providing a great facility and a unique attraction, the only permanent anatomy display in Australia “It’s typical of the things I like to do – providing great facilities with an added attraction.”

“I enjoy every facet of the business – dealing with good people in the hospitality business, the technology involved, the refurbishing, staffing, giving people some pleasure – not just giving people a room but providing other facilities for them to enjoy.” Dr Schwartz graduated from the University of Sydney in January 1979 and trained in Australia and Britain in emergency medicine and surgery, including cardiothoracic, neurosurgery, plastic surgery and burns. He has postgraduate degrees in ophthalmology and holds certification in various cosmetic and laser surgery societies.

Chua Chair

Working with our import partner Multi Group Plus for the Spirit dining chairs to both the restaurant area of 250 units and also in the refurbished hotel units. The newly designed Chua leisure chair featured also in the hotel units. Working alongside Seating Plus suppliers of the restaurant tables were Pacific Furniture Design, manufacturers of the restaurant banquet seating.


Showroom: 13 Harvest Court, Southport Qld 4215 Contact: Wayne Russell 0412 767 346

1800 033 406 |


AccomNews - Spring 2020


He still practises in the Sydney suburb of Matraville but admits he has to manage his time carefully with so many hotels to oversee.

period reassigning to tasks such as gardening, cleaning demolition and painting. He added: “It is hard to find quality staff once you lose them, so we were extremely mindful to ensure we went that extra mile to retain them all.”

Epic kid wonderland refurb at Paradise Resort Mandy Clarke spoke with the management team at Dr Jerry Schwartz’ famous family adventure destination on the Gold Coast to find out how its recent upgrade played out. The investment to refurbish Paradise Resort Gold Coast has been great news for Aussie families who are keen to visit the country’s playground. Set on five acres and close to beaches and attractions, the resort offers an assortment of 360 comfortable, quirky guest rooms including the popular themed Junior and King Bunkhouse rooms. The first stage of the renovation has created a fresh new look and feel for the property’s public areas, restaurants and recreation facilities, explained David Brook, who has been the resort’s general manager for ten years.

“This refurbishment has been a huge undertaking; this was not just a lick of paint! We ripped everything out of the kitchen, food outlets, bar, and lobby - we took it back to bare concrete and then refurbished everything from the fire system to the electrical system, the wifi and the PMS. “Once everything back of house was completed, we moved to the fun part - the fitout and furnishings! It took us five months to complete but it was well worth the effort! Our aim was to keep the design kidfocused but now the spaces are equally as appealing to adults, with the overall look now stylish and subtle but still great fun.” Some of the guest rooms have

also been refreshed with 22 newly refurbished rooms due to open in November and a further 44 more ready for guests by mid-December, with all the remaining rooms scheduled over the next few years. David Brook, general manager is very proud of what has been achieved: “We are fortunate because there are not many owners like Dr Jerry Schwartz who have such insight into the resort market and are willing to commit significant dollars during a decline. “He used phenomenal foresight when he put forward the cash for this refurbishment because it meant that we were able to keep all of our staff employed throughout the COVID

The open resort has been busier than expected and according to David, during the September school holiday period they had occupancy levels of 50 – 55 percent which is remarkable considering the closure of the borders and having 66 guest rooms closed for refurbishment. David who started his long career as a kitchen hand in a hotel in the UK, says he is particularly impressed with the new-look F&B outlets and he suggests the completed bar area has taken the resort to a new level of style and quality. However, he admits to having a particular soft spot for the refreshed, cute and quirky Penguins restaurant and is also excited about the new train and track that is about to arrive at the resort along with a new merry go round. However, he added: “Adults also need a break when the kids are in the kid’s club, so I am also looking forward to the completion of the new adultsonly pool, bar and lounge.” The new lobby and reception have a fun coastal flavour with the addition of a large and colourful aquarium (another signature feature of the hotel’s colourful owner). A new games room, guest laundry and retail boutique have been added, along with the Penguins family restaurant, Jerrys Burgers, Debs Pizza Shack and the Poolside Café and Bar.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Hard times call for innovative responses

The entire central resort area features a giant lagoon pool, large, heated spa and two enormous Zones for Kids (Z4K). The resort has always been renowned for its fantastic kids’ facilities, and it is delighting little guests with the recent total refurbishment of the waterpark, adventure playground and PLANET CHILL (the only permanent iceskating rink onsite a resort in the Southern Hemisphere). David Brook added: “For parents and children who’ve experienced so much disruption this year, Paradise Resort offers the perfect environment to re-capture the holiday spirit. Children will be totally entertained, allowing the adults to chill out and recharge their batteries.” How would penguins prefer to sit? In style, of course Seating Plus is a respected manufacturer and distributor of hospitality and office furniture that was selected by the Paradise Resort design team to help furnish its newly renovated Penguins Cove Family Restaurant. Wayne Russell from Seating Plus told us: “We furnished the New Penguin Cove Restaurant area with our locally made booths in conjunction with Pacific Furniture Design using the Warwick Charisma Commercial Vinyl range. “Our import partner Multi Group Plus supplied the Spirit dining chairs to both the Restaurant area 250 units and also to the refurbished hotel units. “The newly designed Chua chair featured also in the hotel units. As a leading supplier to both hospitality and business sectors we can offer a full range of standard and custom-made products to suit individual projects. Our ranges include cafe

chairs, stools, booth seating, table tops and bases along with office chairs, reception and break out seating, workstation systems, desking and filing systems.” Playground surfacing fit for little kings, queens, and everything in-betweens Industry supplier Pro One Softfall creates safe, dynamic, creative, softfall spaces. The Pro One team of experts was selected by the Paradise Resort designers to refurbish the surfaces in the resort’s recreational areas.

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Safety was the priority and Andrew Forward from Pro One told us: “We provided the rubber softfall under the relocated playground which looks great and complies with stringent Australian playground safety standards. Pro One also replaced the surfacing for both the water park and main pool. Andrew explained: “The old rubber was removed and the concrete prepared and primed to ensure excellent adhesion of the new surfacing. This was followed by installing chloring resistant TPV rubber surfacing. Our team created freehand themed shapes keyed into rubber.” Finally, Pro One installed synthetic turf in three areas of the resort. Andrew said: “This involved the removal and disposal of exiting turf in front of the cafe area, the area surrounding stage and around the pools. Existing concrete was ‘V cut’ to create an optimal neat edge recess for the grass to lay into, leaving no trip points. An Australian made premium synthetic grass product was installed which uses exclusive HeatBlock Technology, this makes it very suitable for little feet in high sun areas.”

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REFURBISHMENT AccomNews - Spring 2020


The magic of hard work By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

grounds manager Carey Gardner and our wedding and events manager Kelly McKillop.

Paradise regained is a classic English poem written more than 300 years ago but its title could have been based on the dramatic transformation that has taken place this year at the Tiona Holiday Park, just outside Forster on the NSW mid-north coast.

“We’ve had the park for nine months and so far we’ve spent $1.8 million in capital works and refurbishment. “When COVID hit, instead of slowing, we moved forward with a mass of improvements across Tiona including installing air-conditioning to 15 of our cabins and adding eight new cabins from a park in Newcastle that was changing hands - four on the lakeside and four on the beachside”.

Since taking over on December 18 last year, General Manager Margaret Shannon and business partner Rob Jeffress have overseen $1.8 million in refurbishments and they have had a startling effect. The park stretches for 1.6km along Wallis Lake on one side and the Seven Mile Beach on the other. “The park was ranked only two stars out of five on Tripadvisor but we are now sitting in the top five in this area,” Ms Shannon said, “not bad considering there are 14 holiday parks within a 20 km radius of Forster.” The accommodation park comprises about eight hectares on a property of more than 30 hectares of heavenly rainforest and bushland owned by the Community of Christ and originally designed as a religious retreat for families. “The Community of Christ owns the land but we are the custodians, the leaseholders who operate the park. We own the assets and the business,” Ms Shannon said.


AccomNews - Spring 2020

“We’re also excited about four glamping safari tents that are on their way to us from Eco Structures and those luxury tents will be up among the treetops.’’ “The church bought the land way back in 1923 and members of the church from all over Australia would come to holiday here with their families. “The Church also built the Green Cathedral, a unique open-air chapel style venue down by the lakeside with a special charm enriched by the warmth of Green Cathedral pastor Wendy Ballard. It’s very popular for weddings and a lot of the couples who are married there take advantage of our lakeside conference centre, the Palms Pavilion for their reception and stay on site”. Tiona Park, which comprises 30 cabins, two houses, 14 lodge rooms and 78 sites, is situated on The Lakes Way at Pacific Palms, just a 10-minute drive

south of Forster and about 30 kilometres north of Seal Rocks. Ms Shannon has been involved with holiday parks for about 20 years and came to Tiona after managing the Big 4 Great Lakes park at ForsterTuncurry and a couple of years at a park in South Ballina’’. “I’ve come back to take over this park as general manager and I also have an ownership in the business,” she said “My business partner Rob Jeffress is well known in the tourism industry as the chairman of ASTRA (Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation Association) and we have some great staff led by our front office manager Katie Grayson,


Ms Shannon said while “previously the park had run down over many years and the guest perception wasn’t great” she and her team had worked hard to address and fix all of them. Before Ms Shannon took over there had also been “complaints around maintenance road noise, a lack of wifi and the mosquitoes, for which we now have a treatment plan that is working really effectively”. The park is in a mobile phone black spot so Ms Shannon has overseen the installation of wifi throughout the park. “We’ve also upgraded our beach villas so they all have beautiful big balconies that are almost twice the size they were before with beautiful sunny aspects,” she said.

“The park was built about 20 years before a road to the area when the only access was by Wallis Lake. “We have sites that are facing the road, but we are installing road screening on both sides to add to the sense of privacy and cut noise too”. “We’ve also remediated the roads, and we’re in the process of rolling out painting and other works throughout the whole park. We’ve also opened up our office so there is a communal office TV room space and we’ve redone our pool area too.’’ In keeping with the wider group commitment, management used local suppliers whenever possible including Foreshore Plumbers, Cam The Solar Man, “who does all our electrical work”, Allan’s Fencing, local transport company Pemtrans under Greg Lynch and his crew of builders “who have been nothing short of amazing”. She said the park allowed campfires over the winter and was “truly pet friendly, not just pet tolerant. A key source of frustration for guests is when a property says they are pet friendly and they find they can’t have pets in certain cabins, certain sites or at certain times of the year. We are truly pet friendly, every site, every cabin, every day of the year.” Ms Shannon said the park had also been completely rebranded to reflect not only the park itself, but our passion for it. The first few months, were extraordinarily tough. “We took over on the 18th of December last year,” Ms Shannon said. “We had bushfires in January and though we weren’t directly impacted a lot of travel was effected. “We then had floods in February with 600ml in four days but at least

we now know where to put people in the park if it is going to rain. “In March we had the start of COVID and we were closed to the public in April and May. So, the first five months were basically a write-off but it was also an opportunity to start the refurbishments while we didn’t have many people in the park “We already had a capital works program in place for $2.2 million committed over the next three years but we decided to accelerate that program. “With COVID threatening all of our senior management across the group took pay cuts so we could keep our full-time and part-time staff.” Ms Shannon said focussing on customers through the "Five Ms’’ was the key to the park’s future success. They are: 1. Maintenance 2. Management – making sure processes are in place with very much a customer focus 3. Marketing – making sure that people are aware of us and that everything we do is in line with our brand – that we are complementing the natural environment not competing with it, and that everything we do is around our brand tagline of `find your space’– understanding that people come here to holiday for different reasons – some come to relax others to explore, some to connect with other people, others to get away and be by themselves

Experts in accommodation Wi-Fi installations The team at the Beach Geek has already installed top of the line Wi-Fi infrastructure in some of the region’s most prestigious holiday accommodation spots and the work done at Tiona Holiday Park was no exception.

excellent and reliable.

The expertise of the Beach Geek managed to secure dual NBN lines of the best quality to a tricky location away from the town’s NBN infrastructure.

A real time monitoring system sends alerts to technicians in case of failure and a robust reporting system completes the set of features of all our installations.

The Wi-Fi solution for the park was carefully designed to make sure the coverage across the entire park was

Our cabling specialists managed to make aerial and under road cabling installation seem easy. The system is completely autonomous and secure with maintenance and troubleshooting available remotely.

For more information, or to engage the Beach Geek visit:

“You guys fully understood the problem and went about solving the problem in an efficient and thorough manner. The additional requests were attended to immediately. Advice for future direction was very helpful.” – Greg Manly, Retired Business Owner

4. Money – everything we make we invest back into the park and … 5. Magic – which is the staff. We have an absolutely fantastic team who are really passionate about their roles and they show great initiative as well.

We are a local firm servicing our local communities and those around us always with a smile. With over 20 years experience in the field, the Beach Geek is that Guru you have been looking for to help you cope with technology. Congratulations to Margaret and the team at Tiona Holiday Park on their recent refurbishments. Mid Coast Cranes are proud to have provided their services. REFURBISHMENT

AccomNews - Spring 2020


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AccomNews - Spring 2020


Image courtesy of Water Features by Design

Waterparks whet appetite for summer holidays By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

As Australian accommodation providers gear up for the coming post-COVID holiday bonanza, many are splashing out on water features and aqua playgrounds, whetting the appetite of kids and adults alike for a summer of sun and fun. According to Tony Jones, who runs Water Features by Design, a company based appropriately in Waterford, WA, even properties with a tight budget and limited space can install a water feature to provide “the resort-style ambience that comes with the sound of gently trickling water at a fraction of the cost to install a waterplay facility”. Of course, there are hotels that have the money and the space


AccomNews - Spring 2020

to turn their waterplay ideas into a flood of excitement. The Big4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park at Tweed Heads, for instance, has three waterplay areas including a series of waterslides that emerge from a model volcano. At the Novotel Twin Waters Resort on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, there are giant inflatable slides and jumping pillows plus jetpack

adventures on a private lagoon. Some of Australia’s other top waterplay facilities include Sammy’s Adventure Lagoon at the Big4 North Star Holiday Resort at Hastings Point in northern NSW, Shipwreck Island that is constructed around a genuine reclaimed ship at the Big4 South West Rocks, NSW, Discovery Park Barossa Valley, in South Australia, that has five splash zones, two slides and


hundreds of jets and sprays, and the Oaks Oasis Resort, on the Sunshine Coast, that has slides, fountains, splash zones and interactive activities for under-12s as well as an outdoor space with a cafe and shaded relaxation area for parents. Mr Jones, whose company installs waterplay features around Australia, recently oversaw the installation of a 40-metre waterslide at the Mudgee Pool in NSW.

He said a good waterplay facility would offer a range of different features to appeal to patrons of all ages from toddlers to teens. Slides were popular to promote family fun while splash pads meant there was no standing water and no need for parents to get nervous about child safety. “Ground sprays, adjustable mushrooms and spouting animals are popular with the younger patrons while dumper buckets, water cannons and slides appeal to older kids and even adults,” he said. “Aquatic attractions can include small waterslides off various height platforms, a variety of water sprayers including patterns of ground sprayers, water cannons, water features such as spilling cones, tipping cones, giant overhead showers, tipping buckets and spinning water wheels. “You can keep it simple with a splash pad comprising a

series of randomly sequenced ground sprays or choose a more elaborate design with a combination of slides, overhead showering features in the shape of flowers, birds or insects, dumper buckets, waterfalls, tunnels, weirs and cannons.” Mr Jones tried to use existing infrastructure when installing waterplay facilities to save money but said accommodation providers wanting to make a big splash were only limited by the area available and budget constraints. “A waterpark and waterplay features create increased bookings and attract families as guests,” he said. “Water walls with a series of graduated ponds connected by spillways are a popular choice for lobbies and poolside features along with fountains and fishponds. Mosaic water walls and stone-clad features are a timeless addition to any hotel

facility and add an immediate air of class and sophistication. Maintenance is relatively simple and depending on the design, a water feature can multi-task as another seating option around pools and restaurant tables with bull-nosed capping and walls built to standard seating height.” Fountains, he said, were often relatively inexpensive but highly decorative features to promote hotels. His company installed four with great success at the Cable Beach Club Resort in Broome along with other waterplay facilities there. Mr Jones said safety was a priority when designing a waterplay area especially if it was being used by small children. Splash pads meant there was no standing water that could be hazardous while the splashing still created enormous enjoyment. “Shade structures over the pool are essential to protect

the children from the sun and should be extended over a hob wall that retains the splash-out and doubles as a seat around the area. It provides seating for parents or carers of the smaller children facing their child at play. “Interaction with water is the best play tool on a hot day … water sprayers and splashing ponds add to the fun.” He said features such as waterslides could be added to existing pools as an extra attraction for properties. The maintenance of water features and small slide structures was “largely dependent upon the quality of the product purchased”. “There are poor quality imported products on the market,” he said, “that do not stand up to the harsh environment of a waterpark with chlorinated water and UV exposure. Buyer beware.”

Image courtesy of Water Features by Design


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Water playgrounds add appeal For families travelling with children, the appeal of accommodation that offers a safe water play facility is hard to beat.

Each water park is individually designed to suit client needs with a number of standard features included such as: •

no standing water

Water playgrounds and splash pads provide hours of entertainment with the lure of tipping dumper buckets, duelling water cannons, showering arches, spouting animals, ground sprays, cascading mushrooms, waterfalls and more. Parents and carers can relax comfortably on the sidelines while their kids play happily in the water, secure in the knowledge that there’s no chance of drowning.

completely random sequencing for all water features via pumps and solenoids

fully recycled and automatically treated water

unlimited choice of colour schemes, themes and layout design

touch pad activation

the flexibility of custom design

close liaison with relevant Health Department authorities to ensure project compliance

The addition of a water slide adds to the excitement with many different heights, lengths and colours to choose from and no pool necessary. If you’re keen to offer a more interactive experience for patrons, the inclusion of a bilge pump and weirs that allow children to direct the flow and volume of water down a series of terraced streams is a popular choice. The structure can be formed from rocks or hand carved concrete to help form a series of gullies down which kids can channel or dam the water. When used on previous water park projects, clients have reported the pump and weirs as the most popular attraction among children of all the features installed. Depending on the space and budget available, we can design and construct a fully fitted


AccomNews - Spring 2020

splash pad or playground with a combination of ground sprays, pole features, dumpers and cannons or simply install any of our standard or custom-made componentry in an existing pool or aquatic facility as a standalone feature. Whether it’s a cascading mushroom added to a hotel toddler pool, a giant overhead dumper bucket or an entire splashpad with randomly sequenced ground sprays, we can tailor an option to suit. If installed beside a pool, a splash pad or water playground can be designed to tie in with the existing pumping and filtration system which helps cut costs and maintenance requirements. Water Features by Design (WFBD) is a recognised leader in the design and construction of interactive water parks and the only Australian-owned and operated company that designs, manufactures and constructs its water park projects from start to finish. Over the past 15 years WFBD

has installed 33 major parks throughout the country. We manufacture our water park features locally which helps keep costs down and provides far greater flexibility in terms of design and layout for each project. WFBD is renowned for providing exceptional value for money and designing unique and aesthetically pleasing water playgrounds absolutely packed with custom-made interactive features which are all Australian-made. Unlike other offerings on the market, WFBD water playground components are locally manufactured here in Australia to the highest standards, which helps make us highly competitive in price and extremely flexible in our ability to individually design and create each playground to specific client needs and health department regulations.

We’ve worked extensively throughout WA and the Eastern States under some of the harshest climatic and geographic conditions possible with all major water park projects completed on time and on budget. This experience has helped forge a water park design and installation process built to withstand extremes in temperature, climate and geographic locations. The design possibilities are endless and we pride ourselves on being able to offer a truly unique and purpose-built application for each client.

Contact Water Features by Design for more information on 0403 805 229 or visit for design inspiration.


Add appeal with a

Water Park!

Attract families with a splash pad or water playground. Built new or added to existing aquatic facilities. Safe, fun and custom-made to suit any size or budget with stand alone play features available or a complete water park design. Australian owned and operated. Visit for inspiration. Water Features By Design 0403 805 229

Smells like ‘Straya:

Why BBQ facilities make all the difference By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

Succulent steaks, sizzling sausages, and fried onions. That sweet smell of smoke wafting above food and flames. It is the same sort of aroma that has been making mouths water since man first added heat to his dinner at the dawn of time - and thousands of years later the barbecue remains a staple of outdoor life. Hotels and resorts offer all sorts of luxury enticements, such as heated pools, day spas, and state of the art high-tech gymnasiums, but the humble hotplate might just be their hottest ticket of all. Loni Hammond, from Kellys Beach Resort at Bargara in Queensland, said the barbecue had always been a major attraction at her property. “Cooking outdoors is an activity to bring people together,” she said, “and we have always found our barbecue facilities to be very popular. “Families love to cook and talk alongside each other out in the open air, and we often have groups of families using the barbecue area to maximise their time with each other.

Image courtesy of Greenplate

“Having barbecue facilities and the space to allow people to cook and eat outdoors together also helps to differentiate us from other accommodation choices which don’t offer barbecues.’’ Whether it’s by the rolling surf, in the crisp, cool chill of the high country or under the everlasting stars of the outback, the barbecue brings families and friends together like few other activities. As pale meat darkens to brown and sometimes even black,

men and women with the tongs poke and prod, turning their delicacies into their meal-time masterpieces, as oil, onions and garlic fry. The smells bind people together like glue. Australia’s First Nations Peoples cooked on open fires for thousands of years. Captain James Cook and Joseph Banks recorded meeting Māori cooking on fires during the voyage of the Endeavour in 1769. The fondness among

AccomNews - Spring 2020

The campfire was long the meeting place for Indigenous Peoples and later for stockmen and shepherds travelling, camping and working their way through the great outdoors where there was a ready supply of tasty meats. Modern hotels and resorts take the barbecue many steps further with advanced yet still relatively

Image courtesy of Christie BBQs

Image courtesy of Christie BBQs


Australians and Kiwis for meals cooked outdoors recalls a deep connection between nature and our past.



are our passion

Image courtesy of Greenplate

inexpensive cooking equipment, comfortable outdoor seating and umbrellas and sunshades. The term ‘barbecue’ comes from ‘barbacoa’, a word from the tribes of central America for the wooden frames they used for drying and smoking fish and meat. The term was taken back to Europe by the Spanish and Dr Samuel Johnson defined ‘barbecue’ in his famous English dictionary as “a term used in the West-Indies for dressing a hog whole; which, being split to the backbone, is laid flat upon a large gridiron, raised about two foot above a charcoal fire, with which it is surrounded”. By the 1770s, Joseph Banks was

barbecuing bullocks for villagers at his Lincolnshire estate and the idea of cooking on a `barbecue’ was first thought to have been used in Australia in 1843 with Melbourne’s early newspaper the Port Phillip Gazette mentioning the barbecuing of whole hogs. By 1859, the South Australian Register newspaper was reporting on “an old-fashioned Kentucky Barbecue’’, though the term remained largely used for festivals in America, chiefly in the south. While giant public feasts involving whole roasted bullocks were common throughout Australia, the term didn’t become popular until well after the Waverley Bowls Club in Sydney held its `Leg o’ Mutton Barbecue’ in 1903.

Barbeques Galore has been helping Australians to BBQ better since 1977. Barbeques are our passion. Through more than 90 stores across Australia we proudly stock the widest range of barbeques & accessories – featuring quality brands such as Turbo, Beefmaster and the award-winning Ziegler & Brown. Today, Barbeques Galore is not just big in BBQs - we also specialise in outdoor furniture and heating. Our range been chosen to enhance your open-air entertaining experience, with everything from classic lounge settings, dining settings,


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AccomNews - Spring 2020


and all components should be of good quality and readily available as replacement parts.” After sales support is also important according to Mr Conradie: “Purchase barbecues that are manufactured locally for Australian conditions as they will be best placed to provide you with fast, responsive support in the event of malfunction. Guests will be disappointed by facilities that remain out of commission for long periods while parts and technical advice is sought for repairs.” He also recommends a hood, as “cooking food with a hood down traps radiant heat, reducing power consumption and allows you to cook faster and enhance the flavour of the cooked food”.

Image courtesy of Nextrend

By 1920, Sydney papers advertised the public barbecue of a whole bullock in Martin Place to promote Peace Bonds and by 1939 The Sydney Morning Herald could report: “Especially in recent years, the barbecue custom has been growing in favour in Australia perhaps because we're an openair-loving people who enjoy eating a meal in the bush, a garden, or on a beach, even more than sitting at a table with table napkins on our knees and six different kinds of cutlery before us.’” Built-in brick barbecues became luxury features in up-scale homes and by 1953 the idea of home barbecues began to blaze so brightly that The Australian Women’s Weekly published a guide to building them in the backyard. By the mid-60s, the portable gas barbecue arrived and public `barbecues’ became features of parks around the country as cooking snags, chops and steaks had long replaced the idea of roasting a whole beast. And then Paul Hogan, the larrikin who conquered Hollywood, advised the world to put another shrimp on the barbie.

What should managers look for when creating a BBQ space for guests? According to Nextrend’s James Lindqvist, “The most important thing to consider is the guest experience. Ensure the space not only looks great but is functional and comfortable. A flashy BBQ area with lots of metal surfaces in a hot environment, exposed to the sun, may look great but could be uncomfortable to use.” “It should be as close as possible and practical to the main recreation area of the accom, near gathering areas like the swimming pool and games area,” suggests Chris Onslow from Greenplate. “It should be protected from wind and should also provide adequate shade. Seating and preparation tables should also be provided and the space should be well lit if used at night. It may be wise to close the BBQ area after a certain time in the evening to avoid late disturbances.” What to look for when purchasing commercial BBQ equipment?

Paul Conradie from Christie BBQs says managers should “establish how frequently the barbecue is likely to be used and consult a reputable manufacturer for the best solution. Domestic and even some commercial alternatives are not designed for the demands of high-volume, communal cooking in busy tourist areas.” He explains: “The most energy efficient barbecues are gas powered as they provide instant heat and are capable of cooking large quantities of food quickly and evenly. However, they require more maintenance in the form of regular scheduled maintenance and gas bottle changeover where necessary. Ideally, electric barbecues would be as powerful and responsive as traditional gas versions, which is difficult. Underpowered barbecues will consume more electricity as they struggle to quickly heat up large volumes of cold food. Food will stew, rather than grill, and users will avoid the facility. All stainless-steel construction offers the best corrosion resistance,

At last the humble Australian barbecue became a muchloved global star.

Industry insights We reckon nobody knows more about BBQs than the people supplying them! Accom News editor Mandy Clarke caught up with some key BBQ suppliers to the accommodation industry to find out how our readers can maximise benefits from their outdoor areas…


AccomNews - Spring 2020

Image courtesy of Nextrend


“For safety, ensure the outer surface of the hood will remain cool to safely touch while the BBQ is in use,” he says. Mr Lindqvist also suggests sourcing local materials: “If you are in a coastal environment, ensure aluminium products are marine grade. Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for and Australian weather is harsh so if you do not want to constantly replace equipment, then look at the material it is made from and avoid cheap knock offs. If your polypropylene chairs will be exposed to constant sun, check the warranty on fade. Many cheaper chairs say they are UV stabilised, but they are not warranted for fading. Consider alternatives to wicker that will not rust or unravel; quality polypropylene products are made to last outdoors for years. And remember that timber or wood generally require more maintenance; they can decay faster if not well produced or maintained. While they can look great in an alfresco area and as structural elements, they may not be not ideal for BBQ area furniture.” Mr Onslow believes “the BBQ hotplate should be all stainless steel and mono-pressed – meaning no welded or squared corners for dirt and grime to collect in, so easier cleaning. The system should have adjustable temperature and should be able to heat up to at least 300°C to ensure adequate heat and crispy cooking. Electric BBQ systems are ideal for accom purposes as they are safe, have no naked flame, and do not require any change of gas cylinders, etc. Be

sure to select an energy efficient system to keep running costs down and check for the best possible warranty on the product.” What about providing shade? According to Mr Onslow, “shade sails and shade cloth work well as do more permanent structures but, if possible, do not rely on trees for shading because leaves and bird dropping are not BBQ-friendly.” “Hard shade structures (as opposed to shade sails) offer the best long-term solution,” according to Mr Conradie. He says: “Sails and canvas may be permeable and let in rain, will accumulate airborne fat and oil particles that are difficult to clean, and have a much shorter life expectancy.” Mr Lindqvist says he has seen “a remarkable increase in requests for umbrellas of late. Whether this is for individual table settings or multi-head systems to use throughout an alfresco space. I guess with the current situation they provide versatility.” What ideas can you share about furnishing in an outdoor BBQ space? “Seating should be provided close to the BBQ system but not so close as to allow children to climb onto it,” advises Mr Onslow. “Seating should be fixed down for this reason. Providing prep areas and eating facilities helps to prevent people from congregating around and ‘hogging’ the BBQ space. Seating elements could be hardwood, plastic, aluminium or steel and tables can be marble, concrete or stainless steel – materials should be resistant to staining and corrosion and must be easy to keep clean and hygienic.”

Image courtesy of BBQs Galore

Alternately, Mr Lindqvist says: “Versatility is key. Due to COVID restrictions the number of people allowed to be accommodated within a space can vary so if your space has fixed furniture, it will be harder to modify for different levels of patronage. Utilising café-style furniture allows you to increase and decrease seating as needed. More storage is required but I believe the benefits outweigh. It is also important to ensure furniture is made for your environment. For instance, lighter colours can better withstand fading from sun exposure. Avoid using metal chairs and table bases outdoors too, unless they are ceramic coated or galvanised. Mr Conradie also suggests that “shared BBQ facilities are trending towards outdoor kitchens rather than simple picnic settings. Be aware of Disability Discrimination Act compliance and ageing guests who may want to sit down while cooking.” According to Mr Conradie, “They are frequently used by

intergenerational families and should provide the necessary amenities to prepare food, eat, and wash up. Personal safety and environmental concerns are leaning away from openflame barbecues that are a potential fire hazard. Multiculturalism also means that traditional meat-oriented facilities are less popular and facilities that allow for versatile cooking of vegetables, fish, and even stir-fry dishes should be provided. Will the pandemic influence future trends for BBQ areas? Although it is early days, there is some indication that individual barbecues should be installed further apart, to allow for adequate social distancing. There is increased focus on hygiene, which includes food safety.” Mr Onslow believes: “It is likely that electric BBQs will continue to be the preferred option for the accom industry for ease of install and safety reasons.


Advances in electrical efficiency and heating technologies coupled with constant improvements in stainless steel hot plate materials will facilitate this trend for the foreseeable future. The use of stainless steel in outdoor cooking will almost certainly accelerate post-COVID as it is non-porous and much easier to maintain to strict hygiene standards.” Mr Lindqvist adds: “Increased levels of hygiene will be around with us for some time and high touch points will need to be easyto-clean and maintain. Furniture with smooth surfaces and minimal crevices will be used more and alfresco café style furniture may make things easier to clean and adjust the level of seating available within a space while Grantlee Kieza is an awardwinning journalist and history writer. He has three Queensland Media Awards and received the 2019 Medal of the Order of Australia for contribution to journalism.

AccomNews - Spring 2020


By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

When thieves broke into the grounds of a plush Noosaville resort in Queensland earlier this year, manager Sue Barden took steps immediately to ensure it never happened again. “Right away, we installed more CCTV security cameras and signage warning that public areas were under surveillance,” she said. “It was only a minor robbery, but we don’t want any more. Some young people climbed over a gate and took some bikes from a public area. But we made sure straight away that it wouldn’t happen again. “As it was the whole incident was captured on the cameras we did have, and it was like watching an episode of Funniest Home Videos. The young intruders started throwing thongs over the gate to test its height and the thongs were falling back onto their heads.

Sue has managed the Verano Resort at Noosaville for two years with husband Geoff, after seven years running the Seaforth At Trinity Holiday Accommodation property outside Cairns. She said the nature of hotel security equipment had changed dramatically over recent years. “When we first started at Trinity Beach guests didn’t even like the idea of the pool area having cameras around, but hotels need to make their properties as secure as possible and we are living in different times. “Hotel security has come a long way in recent years. Cameras are much more sophisticated than ever.” Security at hotels and resorts involves such things as securing perimeters, controlling access to restricted areas, and allowing guests to safely check-in after hours. Managers are using increasingly sophisticated

access controls including CCTV cameras, boom gates, intercoms and wi-fi locks. The sophistication of the latest cameras makes them much more user friendly and they can be set up remotely to record with a quality that was unheard of only a few years ago. Michael Johnson, the CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, said CCTV footage was also useful in dealing with disturbances arising during the COVID-19 crisis, with Victoria's Hotel Quarantine Inquiry hearing that in June security guards at Melbourne’s Crown Metropol were pelted with fruit and a chair and that another guest ran from her room and attacked a nurse before police intervened. “In the current COVID-19 environment security cameras have even helped to screen guests for illness,” Johnson said. “I was in a hotel recently and

©Brian Jackson -

Putting hotel security in focus when you walked through the front doors what looked like a CCTV camera was effectively a piece of technology that took your temperature as you entered the hotel, yet another way to keep guests secure.” Johnson said licensing requirements in much of Australia now required hotels and resorts to have CCTV cameras operating where alcohol was served. “We’ve seen hotels throughout Australia upgrade their CCTV cameras and they are required to keep footage for at least 28 days,” Johnson said. “That is a major boost to hotel safety. “The price of the CCTV systems has come down dramatically, so it is pretty affordable for most hotels and resorts to have good camera systems right around their property.” He said the boom in security technology extended to hotel locks, which were often now high-tech pieces of equipment.

“The bikes were recovered very quickly after we gave the footage to the police.

“Only a few years ago, a hotel key was a metal thing that you put into a metal lock and turned,” he said.

“Every part of the grounds here is now covered by cameras and we think that together with the warning signage we have the best possible defence against unwelcome visitors coming onto the property.”

“Now in most hotels when you tap on a door lock with your access key the front desk immediately knows that you have entered the room because the keys are interfaced back to property management systems.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


©chalermphon -

“Security people know when people are in rooms - or not in rooms - and it’s great for cleaners who are servicing guestrooms as well so that guests are not disturbed. The room access technology has meant great improvements in both security and service.” He added that the presence of CCTV at most hotels was a major deterrent to crime but also proved invaluable for police if guests were involved in “unlawful activities”. “Occasionally it will happen that there could be someone dealing drugs in a hotel and that footage is vital to proving it and ensuring arrests,’’ he said.

Industry expertise from suppliers in the know Scott Fraser, Managing Director of SALTO Systems Australia gave our Accom News editor, Mandy Clarke the rundown regarding the latest access control tech available for hotels, motels, resorts, and holiday parks. He explained: Mobile key is not new, but its adoption is on the rise and implementing this technology improves management around

the movement of guests. For instance, many accommodation providers do not have a 24-hour reception desk, so it is important for them to enable guests to check-in themselves and access their rooms directly. We are also seeing more interest in this postCOVID as its contactless and hygienic, unlike cards and physical keys being passed back and forth. In the higher-end properties, a lot of operators incorporate mobile keys in their own apps to facilitate a better guest experience through other services and rewards. Integrations with Guest Room Management Systems (GRMS) are also increasing, whether through card or mobile key. The locking system can trigger events as a guest enters a room, such as turning on the TV, ambient lighting, or music to welcome them. It can also remember the

settings the guest used when they left for when they return – all while conserving energy. We are also seeing a desire to move to fully online access control cloud-based solutions, especially for serviced apartments or shared living accommodation. This allows accommodation providers to easily integrate their access control with other cloud-based management platforms for bookings of shared amenities, services, and communications. Even bigger chains using PMS are now considering cloud infrastructure. Mixed-use buildings are increasing. These buildings may have areas devoted to commercial space, retail, apartments, and a hotel and a single card solution access control can integrate with the enterprise building or

security systems that manage CCTV, alarms and intercoms. However, we do not see many intercoms in hotel environments, rather short-stay accommodation such as serviced apartments. You can have systems that integrate with intercoms, so if someone calls your intercom, you can see a video feed of the visitor on the app and grant them access. When purchasing safe and secure out of hours check in systems, managers should ask whether it can integrate with your access control and locking system, generate cards at a kiosk, or send out a mobile key for self-check-in and room access. In the future, we expect more features and functionality to be delivered through the cloud, as well as a real focus on establishing trust by assuring guests of clean and hygienic environments. Through the lens of access control, this might mean reducing face-to-face interactions and congestion of certain areas such as reception where we see great applications of the mobile key, as well as contactless and antimicrobial access control.

ACCESS CONTROL DESIGNED FOR HOTELS SALTO’s access control technology platforms for hotels deliver a seamless guest experience and enhance staff accessibility with unprecedented flexibility and security. Our premium electronic lock solutions – which include sleek designs to match any hotel décor – cover every access point from back-of-house organization to guest room management, with one easy-to-use system for hotels of all types and sizes. With over 10,000 hotel projects worldwide, you can be confident that SALTO has a proven solution to suit your hospitality environment.

Guest experience: convenient & contactless smartphone keys Hotel management: control who goes when and where Security: 24/7 access control covering your entire property

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Integration: compatible with PMS, GRMS and Guest Apps


AccomNews - Spring 2020


By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

A spokeswoman for the Paradise Resort told Accom News:

Each year in this country, slips, trips, and falls result in thousands of preventable injuries.

“To ensure areas within the resort are non-slip the correct materials are taken into account throughout the design process as well as within our daily maintenance and housekeeping processes. We feature:

Sydney-based lawyers Gerard Malouf and Partners reported the case of a woman who was awarded nearly $540,000 after slipping on a quartz step outside a neighbour’s home. The woman pursued a slip and fall claim, arguing that her injuries were the result of her elderly neighbour’s negligence. The man, aged in his early 90s when the incident occurred in 2010, had recently installed three Caesarstone steps leading from his front door to the street. The law firm also cited the case of another woman who was awarded more than $94,000 after slipping on a wet floor in a hotel. She claimed the accident caused her serious injuries in her left foot.


AccomNews - Spring 2020

©Andrey Popov -

The injuries can be debilitating and painful and for accommodation providers they can also be extremely expensive, financially and in damage to reputation.

The plaintiff was attending a neurolinguistics course at the hotel when the incident occurred. It had been raining heavily during the day and witnesses claimed there were no signs to warn guests that the floor was slippery.

machines near the entrance, installing rubber-backed matting in walking areas and regularly inspecting the floor.

There were also allegedly no containers for people to store their wet umbrellas, which would have prevented individuals from carrying them across the foyer and leaving puddles.

Management say there will be no slip ups at Dr Jerry Schwartz’s Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast, one of 15 properties he owns around Australia. Housekeeping and maintenance managers there have made safety a priority for guests and staff.

Expert testimony claimed that accidents could have been prevented in a number of ways, including placing umbrella wrap

They offer this advice to other property owners and managers on how to make their accommodation slip resistant.


Anti-slip paint on the concrete within our pool area

Behind our bar and food outlets we use rubber matting

In our staff laundry we also use rubber matting

The tiles in our main lobby and public areas including the front entrance are all high grade non-slip tiles and don’t require any chemicals

We have wooden floors in the café and carpet in the main restaurant which are all non-slip

We have a full-time housekeeping and maintenance team who follow a regular program to keep our public and back of house areas clean and safe from slip hazards.”

©Marty Haas -

No slip ups the goal for hotel safety

According to Safe Work Australia, the most common among the “thousands of preventable injuries’’ caused by slips and falls in Australia each year are “musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, bruises, fractures and dislocations”. But more serious injuries can occur because of slippery surfaces. In the 12 years between 2003–15, slips, trips, or falls caused the death of 386 Australian workers. In 56 percent of injury cases, environmental factors were involved including “slippery surfaces following rain or spills, poorly designed or maintained walkways, poor lighting on stairs and walkways and trip hazards, for example, from poorly stored materials’’. Safe Work Australia says that common slip hazards include: •

spills of liquid or solid material

wet cleaning methods

wind-driven rain or snow through doorways

a sudden change in floor surface, for example

joins between carpet and polished timber •

change from wet to dry surface

dusty and sandy surfaces

the incline of a ramp

loose or bumpy flooring

low light levels

use of unsuitable footwear.

The organisation also warns that common trip hazards include: •

ridges in floors or carpets

worn floor coverings or broken tiles

potholes and cracks in floors

changes in floor level

thresholds and doorstops

floor sockets and phone jacks

cables from power extension units

loads that obstruct vision

obstacles in traffic areas.

YOUR INSURANCE AGAINST SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS Durable, transparent non-slip coating. Meeting and exceeding safety standards.

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AccomNews - Spring 2020


COVID clean: Learning to suck it up By Mandy Clarke, Editor

However, we do know a few things that do help prevent the spread of the virus: like wearing a face mask, keeping socially distant, and frequent handwashing. While we all have an individual responsibility to abide by these actions, all businesses must ensure they provide a pristine, clean environment for their staff, and customers. In addition to an advanced cleaning routine, we also know that accommodations should be on top of frequently disinfecting high touch areas such as door handles, tables, and chairs, but what about frequent vacuuming? Accom News readers asked whether they should vacuum as normal or whether vacuuming could spread the virus throughout an area rather than eliminate it. The last thing managers and housekeepers want is to put their staff and guests at risk! While it is too early to find any published, peer reviewed research papers that attempt to quantify risk regarding COVID-19 and vacuuming or dusting, there is no evidence that suggests there is any risk of transmission via vacuum cleaning machinery; however, we do know that poor quality vacuums without HEPA filters can potentially pick up particles in the environment and disperse them into the air. This is a concern that may have housekeepers feeling a tad nervous about their cleaning routines, especially if they are not sure whether their vacuums have HEPA filters or not.

©Brian Jackson -

We do not know everything about the novel coronavirus, and in general we are learning as we go.

you should only use a vacuum with a quality HEPA filter because although coronavirus particles are small enough to get through the filter, experts also suggest that coronavirus is more likely to pass through by clinging to a larger particle that a filter could potentially block. The risk of spreading SARSCoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, during vacuuming is unknown. At this time, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming. However, as a precaution here are some vacuuming suggestions for housekeepers... •

have gone, the area has closed or do it overnight. •

Wear a facemask when you are vacuuming.

Special issue supplier spotlight Our featured hospitality vacuum supplier this issue is Makita Australia! We asked them what makes their specialist vacuum so perfect for accom, and you can ask them more via email at enquiries@ or via phone on 1300 361 690.

Consider removing any rugs to reduce the need for cleaning, disinfection, and vacuuming.

Ventilate! Open windows and increase air circulation in the area.

Use a vacuum equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it – wait until guests

Similarly, there are no specific studies that show whether a vacuum filter can prevent or eliminate COVID-19 transmission. We do know that a HEPA-filter vacuum can pick up other harmful particles and trap them inside, preventing the spread. For this reason it is recommended that


AccomNews - Spring 2020

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Is clean bedding the new green bedding? By Mandy Clarke, Editor

Don’t get me wrong I am keen on the ‘green’ housekeeping trends. Sheets and towels should be washed on demand rather than every day, under normal circumstances, but I wonder how bedding trends will change due to COVID. It seems that ‘clean’ became the new ‘green’ across the board! The bed is the central focus of any guest room and from the moment I glimpse a flawlessly made bed with freshly washed linen, it


AccomNews - Spring 2020

©New Africa -

There has always been something completely irresistible to me about a plush, multi-layered, perfectly made, crisp and comfy hotel bed.

triggers pleasure signals in my brain. I instantly relax. I know that I cannot be alone in having these feelings, perhaps it is universal? I have never been a fan of fussy hotel bed adornments and in the

wake of the global pandemic I think the clean and simple look will be massively on trend. Leading on from the pandemic what industry insiders claim travellers will look for (and sniff)


in hotel bedding are layers that can be instantly verified as clean. From a bed, many guests will seek cleanliness to the point of sterility, but they will still want it to ooze comfort and luxury.

However, opulence does not extend to mountains of scatter cushions!

oversized linen on big beds to create a clean, luxe vibe that looks big, opulent, and comfortable.

I have a word of advice for accommodation operators, this might be the time to store those extra cushions and bed skirts for a while, because even if you reassure guests that these items are laundered regularly, your guests may not be so confident. Now is the perfect time to minimise the complexity of your bedding, you can do this by using good quality, easy wash white cotton sheets and your guest beds can still look and feel incredible.

For me, oversize gets a huge tick because no-one gets cold in the night! Many agree, and in 2018 when 2000 people were surveyed as part of the UK’s 2018 International Hotel Show, respondents expressed a penchant for big beds and supersized luxe bedding. The Perfect Hotel Bedroom Report showed most respondents prioritised big beds over big rooms, with king and super-king beds being sought by a massive 89 percent of respondents.

COVID has forced much change across the industry and this is another reason to simplify your guest bed. Consider that your traditional turn-down services may no longer be standard practice and an increased demand from guests for hotel isolation requires contactless service, so beds must be easier for guests to maintain. White has never been out of fashion because it looks great and guests have confidence that it is clean. So go for gold and provide them with supersized, soft, white bedding. Industry insiders suggest there is an incoming trend towards

Adding “pops” of colour and texture is still on trend but adding them with cushions, runners and throws is out. However, an insider told us that colour elements can still be added by using the triple sheet method and waffle-weave blankets can add texture and warmth. Some accommodations have been very creative with their unique “pop” by adding an embroidery logo or stylish design to their white linen. Nature will remain an enduring design inspiration and for guests experiencing indoor isolation this trend is now more important

than ever. More guests will seek a simple neutral palette paired with nature, for instance white linen paired with warm wood elements can create both a sense of cleanliness and peace. Insiders also suggest the popular Nordic-Coastal style will remain on trend, because it is a look that embraces natural, clean, and simple elements and offers a light and airy Scandinavian feel. The design and flexibility of this style also works well in a COVID climate where the possibility of living, working, and playing in one room for 14 days is very real! To conclude, the industry consensus is that white linen rules. Accom providers will continue to use triple sheeting because it allows them to create a luxuriouslooking bed with three flat sheets and a doona, quilt, or blanket. This system not only provides a sanitary environment for guests, but also saves on the time and money involved in purchasing and laundering expensive bedspreads. The focus on hygiene means that guests not only expect their white sheets to be sparkling fresh, but doonas, and waffle-weave blankets must be washable as

well as beautiful. The hotel pillow menu trend is likely to continue but pillows and covers must also be capable of a machine wash. Housekeeping favours the ease of bed changes involving only one colour, and commercial laundries are increasingly resistant to stocking and washing linen which is anything but white. PostCOVID, housekeepers are the gatekeepers for infection control in your hotel and guests look to them for confidence in your brand. Likewise, the guest bed is the heart of their guest room experience.

Clean is in, but does this mean that Green will be out? No, in my opinion guests will want both clean and green. For now, the industry is back in the world of single use amenities and disposable drink and food containers to prevent the spread of infection but there is no reason why bed linen or towels should be washed every day. In fact, contactless service may lead to less bed changes because the only time housekeepers will enter your room is when your stay is over.

Because first impressions always count... For all your bedding and bed linen needs. With over 50 years of experience supplying the Accommodation industry, we know our bedding! Find the solution to all your needs in one place.




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AccomNews - Spring 2020


Executive Housekeeper Maureen Jolowicz

Radisson Blu Hotel Plaza Sydney standard interconnecting guest room

Leadership and passion are keys to success By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

Q: How did you start in the hotel industry?

Maureen Jolowicz, Executive Housekeeper at the Radisson Blu Hotel Plaza in Sydney, has travelled the world in a bid to ensure guests have a relaxing stay.

A: I was born in the UK at Redditch, which is just south of Birmingham, near Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare was born. My aunt had a small, probably 20-bedroom, hotel and I was fascinated by that. During school holidays, I used to go and help there. When I left school, I went to catering college in Birmingham. I did three years full-time, the equivalent of a degree course today, and I joined Holiday Inn as a management

Accom News reporter, Grantlee Kieza, caught up with Maureen this month. Q: How long have you been at the Radisson Blu?

Maureen Jolowicz

trainee at Bristol. Housekeeping was my least favourite subject at college but the first department they let me in as a trainee manager was housekeeping. Q: How did you feel about that? A: I quickly grew to love it because I realised the job is more about people than anything else. It is about teamwork, camaraderie, it’s looking after people. Housekeeping is really all about motivating people to do the job well.

A: I opened the hotel in July 2000, so 20 years. We are very proud of the hotel. It is a beautiful building and although it has 365 rooms, it has more of a boutique hotel feel and a very nice atmosphere. Since I have been here from day one, I have selected every single member in our housekeeping team and have been able to build a strong culture over that time. If people cannot relate to that culture of excellence, then they leave. The people who stay are likeminded and we have become like a family working together. My number two had been with me 19 years and all my supervisors at least 10 years. So, they feel comfortable here and we are all on the same wavelength.


AccomNews - Spring 2020

The traditional International Xmas lunch, in the staff canteen, where the team bring a dish from their own country, great fun and very tasty! Maureen is in cream


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Executive Housekeeper Nadia Moriconi

From Brazil to Sofitel Sydney Wentworth:

Executive Housekeeper, Nadia Moriconi By Mandy Clarke, Editor

felt I needed to explore the world to gain international experience.

On most days, Nadia Moriconi can be found in one of her favourite places - amid the vibrant bustle of the Sydney CBD - in Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

“Australia was on my radar because of the similarities with Brazil and its reputation of being a friendly and amicable country. I left Brazil for Sydney in 2003, planning to stay for four months, but I fell in love with the country and had to extend my stay.

Here, she proudly works behind the scenes to help create the iconic 5-star hotel experience guests expect when they arrive for a luxury escape at this hotel. Nadia is a self-confessed people person and has always thrived and felt happiest when surrounded by her large and “loud” Brazilian-Italian family. She just loves being around people: “I feel good when I make someone happy and welcome, so what would be the

Nadia Moriconi

best career for someone like me? Hospitality of course! “I discovered my passion for hospitality in my home country of Brazil where I also graduated from hotel management in 2002. After completing my studies, I

Luckily, I found a job in a restaurant and in a little motel in Artarmon where I did everything from cleaning guestrooms to breakfast, laundry, reception, reservations, and closing. My earnings were enough to subsidise living expenses and studies, which allowed me to stay in Australia for a year. What an experience!” Nadia explains that after she returned to Brazil, she gained as much hospitality expertise

AccomNews - Spring 2020

“I began to apply for jobs in Australia and, in 2009, I received an offer from a housekeeping company to work at Hilton Melbourne South Wharf. After one year, the position of assistant Executive Housekeeper

A: What we do relates to the success of the hotel. If we do it badly, it is the reputation of the hotel at stake. That is what I get everyone to understand. Our job in housekeeping is vital to the success and reputation of the hotel. People stay in hotels to sleep in a bed and room that is clean. That is the most important thing to the guest.

Q: The job has taken you around the world?


“I worked in several departments including sales, banquets and front office but the area that sparked my attention most was housekeeping. In my hometown of Sao Paulo, I worked at Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi as a housekeeping supervisor. After a few years I took the opportunity to move to Chicago for an 18-month internship at the Embassy Suite by Hilton as the Assistant Executive Housekeeper.

Q: You are at the front line of guest satisfaction?

Management came to me a year after I started as a trainee and said ‘okay it’s time to go to front office’ but I said ‘No, I don’t want to move. I’ve found my niche. I really enjoy being in housekeeping.’ I worked with Holiday Inn in Bristol, Plymouth and Slough-Windsor and I was actually the youngest ever Executive Housekeeper at 22.

A: I have specialised in housekeeping since I trained in the UK and my husband and I moved to Australia in 1982. I opened the Southern Cross in Sydney, which is now the Vibe, then the Park Hyatt, then Park Lane which is now the Sheraton Grand Sydney. The Pre-opening is when you really get that bonding, people working together at the same time and everyone working together. After the Park Hyatt opening in 1990, I went to Buenos Aires in Argentina to help open the Park Hyatt there. I also went to Shanghai and helped open the Radisson Blu there. Then I went to Fiji to open the Radisson there. It was very exciting the visits were at least a

as she could and prepared to achieve of her dream of returning to Australia.

month, though I was in Buenos Aires for two and a half months. Q: How would you define the role of an Executive Housekeeper, what does your day involve? A: It’s about leadership, leading the team to achieve the common goals which are set by head office, but it filters down to the hotel and departmental level. Down to the individual. We have had as many as 60 staff in housekeeping and we all have the goal to have excellence in what we do. If you have a happy team, if they understand what they are supposed to be doing it runs smoothly. Everyone

must be comfortable with what they are doing and are doing it well. We always try to exceed guest expectations. You must make people proud of what they are doing. Q: What is the most important factor for your role? A: To succeed in this job you have to have passion. I still love housekeeping all these years on. In the hospitality industry if you are successful it is because you love it. We work long hours, but we do it because we love it and want to maintain that culture of excellence.


Q: How do you relax away from work? A: My husband and I have golden retriever dogs and we love taking them on long walks through the bush near where we live at Wahroonga in Sydney’s north. It is a very leafy part of the world. I love gardening, too, and I go to the gym three days a week. Q: It must give you a great sense of satisfaction to know you are giving guests a great stay. A: Yes, and it’s great to see people progressing in the housekeeping role, as well. Because when you have a happy staff, you have happy guests.

became available at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, I applied, got the job, and was promoted to Executive Housekeeper in 2012. I worked here until 2016 when I had my first baby. “After maternity leave, I invested in my own cleaning business, Sparklean Cleaning Solutions, which still runs successfully in the Northern Beaches. Following this, I had a break from hospitality for about two years, then I worked as NSW/ACT housekeeping operations manager for Silk Hospitality, which was a great experience and expanded my network within the industry. “After having my second baby, in 2018 I was ready to return to work and was offered my ‘old job’ back at the Sofitel. I was very happy to take it! It has been a year now since I returned, and I am forever thankful for all the opportunity I was given by Accor, it is a great company to work for!” Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is an impressive hotel that combines French elegance and traditions with sophisticated comfort, creating a world class destination for the most

The team during the Housekeeping week

discerning travellers. The hotel is the perfect blend of classic European style and Sofitel luxury, from 436 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, restaurants, bars, and event spaces.

“Besides the onsite operational team,” she explained, “we also have our dry cleaners, linen supplier, florists and landscaping team that work very close with us”.

Nadia manages a large team that includes room attendants, housemen, supervisors, coordinators, and public areas’ attendants.

“The rooms are managed by Empire Hospitality and our public areas managed by Challenger Services. Our housekeeping team is a superstar! We have a clear and open communication

with our team, we work very close to our guests ensuring the highest cleaning standards are always maintained. Nadia’s role is to ensure the housekeeping department runs as smoothly as possible, she explains: “I am responsible for managing multiple contractors in the hotel and ensuring that all of them comply with their agreed contracts and services.

At Empire Hospitality we pride ourselves in providing Quality Housekeeping Solutions.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


expectations and background, so you have to be very flexible. This is what makes it challenging and exciting at the same time. Her biggest challenge to date has been COVID-19, without a doubt. “COVID turned the business around and everything changed overnight. We had to create and implement new cleaning procedures to comply with NSW Health Department, we had to be vigilant and make sure everyone followed the rules. Ongoing training is now part of the daily routine for our business to succeed. COVID has been tough on all of us but, at the same time, we have been working more closely as a team than ever.” Who has been your biggest cheerleader? Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

My daily tasks include assigning jobs for room attendants, housemen, supervisors and public areas; monitor guest requests to ensure they are completed in a timely manner; monitor our guest satisfaction platform, Trust You, ensure hotel and housekeeping standards and procedures are followed, design department policies and procedures, order linen and guest supplies, manage suppliers, purchase orders, as well as deal with invoices and department budgets.

and housekeeping is definitely ‘on it’.” The Planet 21 program at Accor asks customers to re-use their towels and sheets. Savings made on water and energy are used to fund tree planting. One tree is planted every minute.

“I love that every day is different, and everything can happen!”

“Some of Accor hotels also offer eco-designed beds made from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests (FCS certified) as well as bedspreads and pillowcases made from recycled bottles. Not to mention eco-certified soap, shower gel, shampoo, and environmentally friendly, ecocertified cleaning products.”

Nadia told us she was excited by new trends and waves in the industry: “Going green,” she says, “is the latest trend in all industries

Nadia likes efficiency above all: “I am the type of person who likes to have things done as soon as possible. One of my

strengths is that I make things happen; I am an activator. I like consistency and that motivates me to keep my department running smoothly.” Talking about her management style, she told me: “I cannot say I have a specific management style. Throughout the years, I learnt different management styles and once you know them, you choose the right one to use at different times and occasions. “Having worked in other departments helped me understand that no job is more important than another, they all have a purpose, and they all make a difference. Dealing with people in general is never easy, it’s always a learning curve because everyone has their own

Nadia has been fortunate to work with many great professionals across hospitality who have supported and influenced her. Even so, she says her biggest supporters have been her husband and family. “Even though they are far away, my mum and dad have always supported me in whatever I chose to do personally and professionally’ she says. What is your best advice for housekeepers? “I always say common sense is not that common,” she laughed. “Everyone has a way of seeing or doing things differently. So, if you expect something to be done your way, make sure you are clear on your instructions and your expectations. Communication is also key! For instance, upon check-in, if a guest makes a simple request for their bed to be made with blankets instead of a doona and this message does not

Empire Hospitality partners with Sofitel Empire Hospitality provides outsourced housekeeping services to Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, including manpower and equipment. Operations manager NSW, Rodel Dayag told us: “We also have a full-time housekeeping manager onsite who takes care


AccomNews - Spring 2020

of our staff and oversees our housekeeping operations. “Nadia is the Executive Housekeeper of the hotel; she is responsible for the overall running of the housekeeping department. While Nadia works directly for Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, she has always made sure that our staff are part of ‘one team’ by integrating them with the hotel-employed team members

from other departments. “Nadia is responsible for the execution of quality and brand standards and dealing with guest complaints. She ensures all Sofitel policies and procedures are adhered to by all members of her department including quality and workplace health and safety. “Our relationship with Nadia is one of partnership; we


ensure the cleanliness, safety and comfort of the guest rooms, as well as the well-being of our team. “Our weekly meetings involve discussing issues like guest complaints, operational issues, staff issues and future planning. We rely on her experience and leadership to instruct and guide us towards achieving the hotel’s cleaning expectations.”

get to the correct department or is forgotten, then the basic task is not completed and the guest’s whole experience may be ruined.” What qualities make a good housekeeper? “You must be a team player because housekeeping is one of the largest departments in a hotel and you have many colleagues. You also must be very organised and attentive to details. The rest goes with the flow because everyone can clean, it just requires practice. Everyone wants to know whether you have any housekeeping tips! “I sure do! Cut the clutter! The more you have, the harder it is to clean. Use a lightweight vacuum cleaner and always dust before vacuuming, so that you can suck up any dirt and debris that you dislodge and always vacuum or sweep before you mop, so you do not drag dirt around.” How do you choose and purchase cleaning equipment and products for your department? “Well, cleaning equipment and

products must be efficient, practical and easy to handle or use. I usually look online and do some research before making any decisions. I ask my suppliers for new trends, but I never buy anything before I try it first. “Some products might work well in other properties but might not be as good in yours.” Are there any aspects to your day-to-day that you find particularly satisfying? “There are many of them! A bathroom and a kitchen clean is a must. However, I have to say that I vacuum my home every day as I cannot stand anything on the floor and having a full house with two young kids, sometimes it drives me nuts! “In my job I get to know everyone in the hotel. Since cleaning is everywhere in the building, we end up meeting with many team members and building relationships not only with staff but also guests. Getting to know everyone’s story can be amazing and if you work with the right people it can be loads of fun!”

Sleepmaker Commercial

& Sofitel = MyBeds Sleepmaker Commercial has had a long association with the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, and have proudly supplied the Sofitel MyBed’s to this prestigious hotel, delivering over 400+ of the exclusive Sofitel MyBed, only available to Sofitel & MGallery by Sofitel Hotels.

“We have supplied in excess of 6000 Sofitel MyBeds to Sofitel & MGallery by Sofitel Hotels & Resorts across Australia and New Zealand & Pacific in the past 9 years.

Sleepmaker’s National Account Manager Michael Anderson told us: “We worked with Accor Hotels to develop the MyBed with specifications for Australasia and it was launched in 2011, and with the success of the Sofitel MyBed.

“Having been so successful and well received, Sleepmaker has recently launched an updated model the Sofitel MyBed II, utilising the latest temperature control technology called “Kulkote” which is exclusive to us in Australasia.”

“The Sofitel MyBed is the perfect example of exceeding guest expectations, with a great night’s sleep using our famous Miracoil 5 Zone Sleep System with a specially developed Fire Retardant MyBed fabric exclusive to the Sofitel MyBed.

Image courtesy of Hotel Chadst

Sleepmaker congratulates Nadia and the team at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. We are proud to have provided the beds for their guestrooms. Sleepmaker is proud to be a preferred supplier of bedding to AccorHotels.

1800 425 903 |


AccomNews - Spring 2020


A look at Paypont A payment systems provider based in Australia The Paypont story begins in 2015 in Australia – back when laundromats there were still mostly coin-operated. At the time, only a few vended laundries had addressed the situation, but these businesses were restricted to closed-loop payment options. “From a laundry customer’s perspective, these solutions involved payment friction, as the customer had to open an account, load credit and procure a physical card before he or she could even start a machine,” explained Paypont founder Kishore Aggarwal. “Customers were accustomed to smartphones, and online and card payments, but when they visited a laundromat, they were entering a time warp where coins-only was the norm.” Aggarwal, a veteran of the banking industry with more than 25 years of experience in building payment platforms, developed Paypont soon after entering the vended laundry industry with the opening of his first familyowned laundromat in 2014. “My customers were forced to pay with coins in the laundry, and yet in every other aspect of their lives, they were accustomed to the convenience of paying with plastic cards and mobile,” Aggarwal said. “It just didn’t seem right, and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t exist in the way I imagined.

convenience for customers and affordability for laundry owners.

Paypont founder, Kishore Aggarwal

direct insight into the minds of store owners and customers. It enabled us to evolve the platform very quickly.” Aggarwal and his team reimagined the modern laundry payments platform from the ground up. They built it using wireless, plug-and-play technology, which offered simple DIY installation for store owners. It was optimized to run in secure cloud data centers, to drive costs down and scale internationally. It was backed by bank-grade security and infrastructure typically found only in large enterprises. And always at the forefront of Paypont’s work and design was Aggarwal’s dual mantras of

Today, customers walking into a Paypont-equipped laundry can make payments to laundry machines the minute they walk in, using a credit card or even PayPal account. They can pay with their smartphone wallets, Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. They can make a mobile payment or pay on a card reader. There is no need to open accounts or load credit, with the new technology their payment is completed instantly and they can use the laundry machine immediately. “We’ve also rethought the loyalty solution, so it’s tied to the card that’s already sitting in the customer’s pocket,” Aggarwal noted. “They don’t have to carry around another unwanted plastic card. Now, customers can get their 10th wash free, or at a discount, just by tapping their usual Visa card.” Paypont systems can be found in vended laundries, student housing, national parks, remote campsites, boarding houses and motels, among other locations. The company’s open technology platform also features API integration modules that quickly allow extension

“Along the way, we were also able to solve some other pain points that laundry owners faced, such as remote management and customer loyalty schemes. Having a small chain of my own laundromats gave us a AccomNews - Spring 2020

“The future is so exciting,” Aggarwal said. “We are living in a time where payment technology is rapidly evolving and becoming ever pervasive in daily life. “Millennials are very clearly a mobile-first generation that prefers mobile payments over all other forms of payment,” he continued. “They find mobile payments secure and convenient. However, the previous generation has not fully transitioned to mobile and are generally more trusting toward card payments. The Paypont stack is designed with both demographics in mind, and it supports both forms of payment with a single plug-and play Pip module that is installed inside each laundry machine. “Install Pip and you have enabled mobile payments in your laundry, with everyday payment methods that customers trust – such as Visa, American Express, Mastercard, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal. For customers of the future, we expect paying for laundry will one day be as simple and powerful as saying, ‘Siri, start Washer 3.’”

“So, I pulled together the brightest minds from the payments industry – people a whole lot smarter than me – and we set ourselves the challenge of building a modern, scalable, multicurrency platform to help lower the cost barrier for all hardworking laundry owners globally who were just like me, searching and only finding disappointment.


of the technology at locations such as hotels, automatically adding laundry use to guest bills at checkout, or residents at a student housing complex paying for their laundry directly from their student account.

For those who prefer card payment, the company adds a wireless kiosk, which brings full card payment capability without the need to install a card reader on every machine. HOUSEKEEPING

Aggarwal recently shared his thoughts on the future of the vended laundry business with AccomNews: What is the most pronounced trend you’re currently seeing in the industry? Laundromats around the world have started the transition to cashless payments. For some store owners, they want to offer an improved experience or reduce the risk of vandalism. Whatever their drive, the result is the same – a world of new opportunities and features are unlocked when a store starts offering cashless payments. Reduced coin collection, reduction in vandalism, customer convenience, increased customer spend, advanced loyalty programs, ability to restart machines remotely, statistics and analytics, and the list keeps going. It’s very exciting, and the trend seems to be gaining momentum. Where do you see the vended laundry industry headed? Thanks to the Millennial Generation and big-tech companies like Apple and Google, customers are increasingly showing a preference for cashless payments. When looking at the demographics, we can see that people really do get attached to their ways of paying for goods and services. Some customers remember dealing only with cash and feel comfortable with it, while others have gotten used to credit cards and love them. However, today, many customers are transitioning to electronic payment solutions from every direction – banks, Google, Apple, eBay, Amazon and so on. As a result, offering convenient payment solutions that cater to all of their customers – coins, cards and cashless options – is going to help laundry owners

Paypont Cashless Solutions Comparison Table Feature


Payment Options: Debit/Credit Card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal

No account setup required, wallet option also available.

Mostly closed loop cards (requiring a special machine to load credit and associated steps to manage).

Loyalty Programmes

Free! Does not cost extra. No need for a plastic loyalty card, customers are identified intelligently when they make a payment. Reward them with 10th wash free, a percent or dollar discount.

Some loyalty programs require a plastic card, and a special machine to apply the loyalty discounts to the card. This can be expensive for a service that the store owner will be giving away at a discount or even free.

Installation Effort

Completely wireless and plug’n’play, easy install within minutes.

Extensive cabling and long installs.

Vandalism Prevention

Reduce/eliminate vandalism by reducing the volume of cash in your store.

Some solutions simply shift the coin collection from the individual washer/dryers to a single kiosk machine. These machines are simply targeted instead.

Customer Interaction

Customers can make a payment the minute they walk in. No loading of credit, no app downloads, or complicated wallet systems – just walk in, make a payment and start your wash.

Watch out for friction – customers hate it. Setting up accounts, crediting a special wallets, plastic cards – these are all pain-points customers dislike.

Mixed Environment

Yes. Add any combination of machine brands and have them all function seamlessly together.

Some solutions will only allow the same brands of machine to be connected to the platform

Payment Combinations

Pay by mobile, coin or token…. or any combination of these.

Closed loop solutions can lock store owners into distributing plastic cards, or tokens only, with no other way for customers to start machines – and instead of adding more payment options, customers options have been reduced.

Pay As You Go Solution

Low upfront costs, and simple Pay as you go subscription. No contracts and no cancellation fees.

Watch out for high upfront costs.

Mobile Payments

Yes. Pay conveniently using your mobile. No account setups, and no apps to download. The mobile solutions looks and feels like an app, but there is no 70mb download. Customers love it!

Some may – but do they do it right? Are customers left downloading a 70mb app, having to setup an account, or load credit into a wallet, just to make a payment to a laundry they may visit only once.

Cost Effective

“The cost is as little as one wash cycle per month, per machine. Low upfront costs.”

Some solutions may appear cost effective, but when it comes time to install and cables need to be run, costs can start to mount. Keep a close eye on hidden costs.

build larger, happier customer bases at the end of the day. If store operators make it easy for their customers to pay, those consumers will spend more. The general trend is toward cashless payments, with one generation seekingout card payments and the next generation going mobile first. The smart business operator needs to cater to both payment options.

going to be blown away to find out how a simple touch ID on their phones has the power to credit a machine instantly and get their laundry load going.

Also, Google your store and see what social media has to say about your laundry operation. Are customers leaving positive comments?

What are the keys to successful laundry ownership today?

For my laundry business, it has always been about listening to the customer and trying to keep them happy.

What’s the biggest reason for vended laundry owners to be optimistic?

Obviously, store location will always be a key. However, another key is knowing and clearly recognizing that your business serves a demographic and finding out exactly who these customers are and how they like to pay for their goods and services.

With the emergence of affordable wireless, non-invasive, plugand-play technology that is easy to install, it’s never been easier for laundry owners to offer more payment options to their customers. In addition, some laundromat customers are

The next key is listening to these consumers. Spend a morning in your vended laundry and see what your customers are up to – find out what they struggle with at your business and then think about ways to make their lives better.


In return, they will come back to your store, and not go over to the competition. Of course, a small part of listening to your customers involves making it as easy as possible for them to pay at your laundry, using payment methods they like to use and to which they are accustomed. Would you like to find out more about Paypont? Call us on (07) 3186 1030 or visit AccomNews - Spring 2020


Quarantine sparks rise

in pre-packaged hotel meal options By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

Specialised dietary requirements have become an increasing characteristic among guests in hotel quarantine during the COVID-19 crisis. While the breakfast buffet and mini-bar have been temporarily retired from hotels and restaurants because of health regulations, more and more guests are taking the opportunity of enforced isolation to experiment with vegan and gluten free meals. Michael Johnson, the CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, said an increase in ``specialised dietary requirements’’ among guests in quarantine was a noticeable feature for hotel operators. Johnson, who has had more than 35 years of experience managing four-and-five-star business hotels, resorts and tourist attractions in Australia and New Zealand, said quarantine was making many guests experiment more with their meals. “A lot of guests in quarantine are using it as an opportunity to implement new foods into their diet,” Mr Johnson said. “I guess it’s a bit like when you’re at a function and someone has a spectacular vegetarian meal and everyone around them says they’d like to try vegetarian food too. So, we are getting a lot more special dietary requests.” COVID-19 has required enormous changes to the way hotels serve guests and, temporarily at least, it has seen the retirement of buffets and mini-bars because of hygiene safeguards.

Image courtesy of LePack

hotels in two ways – they do not have the attractive display off food that entices guests but instead they actually have to employ many more staff to cook and serve a la carte meals. “But hotels are very resilient, and they would much rather have additional costs and still be serving guests. Mr Johnson said Australian hotels had “gone above and beyond” in looking after guests under the Federal Government’s quarantine program. “By necessity, hotels that are being used as quarantine accommodation have to offer limited service – quarantine at a five-star hotel is not the usual five-star experience,” he said, “but the hotels have worked hard to help guests make the best of the situation even if it is just in offering dietary changes. “Meals are served by a knock on the door and they come in takeaway containers that are then thrown away. “Contact with staff is extremely limited and guests can’t come down to the restaurants

Mr Johnson said COVID had decimated hotel revenues which were down to “below 10 per cent midweek” at many properties.

“The food might still be great quality – but the service is nothing like you would have from five-star room service under normal circumstances.

“And while revenues are down expenses have increased,” he said. “Hotels are required to have hygiene marshals among their additional staff. The loss of buffet style meals also hits

“The mini-bar is gone from rooms, too, and there are restrictions over how much alcohol can be delivered to guests because of the problems that intoxicated people can present for security.”


AccomNews - Spring 2020

Supplier insights in light of shifting COVID trends Accom News editor Mandy Clarke spoke with Lepack Director Mark McFadyen, a supplier to the accommodation industry, about how they provide managers with socially distanced, nutritious, and yummy meal and snack options for post-COVID guests. He said that accom managers and operators have had to re-think the kinds of meals they supply to guests during and even post-crisis as they must be flexible to meet strict and evolving social distancing measures. This is particularly the case for hotels catering to returned travellers as part of the hotel quarantine program or similar. “While there has been a decrease in supplying to some accommodation places because of the lockdowns and boarder closures, there has also been an increase in other areas like pre-packaged meal packs.” Mr McFadyen took us through some easy solutions: “Pre-packed long-life breakfast packs can provide a cost-effective, tasty, and safe meal, while adhering to the COVIDSafe measures. They provide absolute simplicity and peace of mind as they can be handed to guests upon check-in or organised when setting up the room through housekeeping. As long-life products, they have an extended


shelf-life, so stock turnover will not be an urgent priority. “Pre-packaged breakfast and meal packs provide a cost-effective, innovative, and convenient grab-and-go meal. There are a large selection of products for the customer to choose from, with different packaging designs and for providers purchasing larger volume, custom printing is also an excellent option to personalise a brand.” In terms of snack choices available to holiday and business guests, “pre-designed snack ranges or custom-made packs work well as they have gluten free options available”. “Grab ‘n’ go meals are always popular! Especially, when they contain well-known, wellloved products. They provide a little bit of home comfort but with the added excitement of being away from home.” What are the options for prepacked fresh meals for guests? “Breakfast packs can include a large selection of cereal ranges and brands, combined with a choice of carton/bottled juices, flavoured milks, tub of fruit, muffins, muesli bars, and a selection of packaging. “Lunch and dinner packs can also be customised to the client’s needs and can include a selection of tuna, crackers, biscuits, cheese, chocolate, drinks and snacks.”

Stocking up with a focus on national pride LePack supply convenient and tasty Breakfast, Lunch & Snack Packs to the Accommodation Industry Australia wide. With a strong focus on Australian sourced products, all packed in our HACCP approved premises.

LePack have just expanded their range and now offer wholesale tableware and kitchenware items such as glassware, crockery, barware, knives, cookware, kitchen accessories and more for accommodation, foodservice and tourism businesses, for guest use or professional use.

They supply electrical appliances such as hairdryers, irons, kettles, toasters, fridges, clocks, radios, microwaves, lamps, fans and vacuums. LePack also now supplies wholesale guest amenities such as soaps, shampoos, conditioners, vanity kits, amenity trays, bed linen, towels and more. The range includes cleaning chemicals, sanitisers, cleaning equipment, Henry & Hett y vacuums, housekeeping trolleys, laundry items, laundry and kitchen guest sachets, Livi paper products and more. Choose from various price ranges, sizes and styles and have your purchase shipped anywhere in Australia. Call LePack today and they will help you with all things Accommodation Supplies

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AccomNews - Spring 2020


Less contact

By Grantlee Kieza, Industry Reporter

Pressure creates diamonds and warfare has given us such technological innovations as jet aircraft and GPS navigation. So, it is with the scourge of COVID that there are bright lights at the end of the tunnel. Among them will be the rise of contactless check-ins at hotels. Not only do self-service kiosks and mobile check-ins limit the physical contact between guests and staff, minimising any health concerns, but they are becoming key features for property managers to increase efficiency and revenue. While Airbnb has been using a contactless check-in system for a decade, COVID has forced the hotel industry to get on board the latest technological advances in the accommodation sector. Dean Long, the CEO of the Accommodation Association of Australia, was recently at the brand-new Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour and was impressed with the “completely contactless check-in”. “Technology and the way we engage with our guests is going to change forever,” Mr Long said.


AccomNews - Spring 2020

“As an industry there has been a significant cost barrier to investing in contactless technology, however what the pandemic has meant is we had to bring those costs into hotels to operate. “What the airline industry did 10 years ago with mobile checkin has allowed customers to select their seats and select their meals before they fly. “It created an increase in efficiency and for corporate travellers after COVID contactless check-ins will make hotels much more attractive because, for one thing, guests no longer have to line up to check in and check out, but can do it remotely. “There will no longer be the glut of 10:00 check-out or 15:00 check-ins at reception and people who travel frequently will be able to order the same room online that they always stay in. “It's a really exciting time for hotel ownership. Hotels have to invest in those type of products not just to be competitive but to be able to operate in the postCOVID world. It’s going to help future-proof the industry.” Contactless check-ins allow hotels to adhere to all the health and safety guidelines that COVID has forced, but mobile checkin also allows guests to stay in

touch with hotel staff even if they do not see them in person. Guests feel special and connected to the hotel even before they come through the front door, partly because they feel in control of their accommodation, setting out their room requirements and preferences well before arrival. The contactless check-in process will also allow guests to make dining reservations or book extra services such as massages. Identification such as passports can then be entered by a self-service kiosk at the hotel, which airports have been using for many years. The information will help hotels gain greater insights into their guests and their requirements, which makes for a more satisfied customer, more positive reviews, and more repeat business. The hotel is able to build an extensive database to improve guest services and to promote special deals by email, creating brand loyalty by making guests part of a hotel’s community. Michael Johnson, the CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, said contactless check-ins were coming into the hotel industry before COVID, but that the pandemic had “expedited” their uptake.


©Nadezhda -

but stronger relationships “Consumers are quickly getting accustomed to them,” Mr Johnson said. “It’s not that long ago that noone had heard of a QR code and yet now we are all very comfortable getting out our phones and putting down our names and details and hitting `submit’. “It will be the same for accommodation hotels. We are all getting used to contactless entry into buildings. “It’s a good thing for both health and for efficiencies for the guest and the hotel. It doesn’t mean you won’t have contact with the staff because they will still be there and you can have an interaction and speak to them but there will be much less physical contact. “Yesterday, I entered a hotel with all guests going through one entry door. As guests arrived, we were scanned in front of a piece of equipment a metre and a half away that did a visual of your face and said `temperature normal’. We were then offered a mask to be within the property. “It makes for a much safer environment that we need now. “The COVID protocols are really stepping up, and the technology is with us now as people are getting the urge to travel again.”

Contactless check-in reigns supreme in 2020 NewBook’s Self-Service Kiosks present a safer, speedier alternative to traditional check-in for tourists eager to explore once again. Self-service check-in systems have skyrocketed in popularity over the past five years. With tech-savvy millennial travellers now taking over the tourism industry, the reason for the ever-growing demand is clear to see. But as millennials shift their preferences towards convenience and overall efficiency, the wider tourist population also becomes increasingly enthusiastic about contactless check-in for a very different reason; safety.

When innovation becomes a necessity

unique to NewBook and take control of their own stays.

The interest in contactless service became glaringly apparent this year, as did an urgent call for self-service technologies. This prompted NewBook to fast-track their product launch to meet consumer needs, affording accommodation businesses with a tool to perform daily administrative duties without the requirement for face-to-face contact.

For owners, the kiosks help to reduce overheads by automating the check-in process, and minimising front desk duties and the need for 24/7 staffing. The technology lets guests check in and out, view maps and property information, make walk-in bookings, search for directions, and even place secure, card-present payments, all minus the human element, crowded reception areas, and long waiting times. The vibrant 32-inch touch screens and steel frames can also be customised to suit the branding of each business and offer an additional point of promotional real-estate.

Unlike other check-in systems, NewBook Self-Service Kiosks combine the power of their coveted Booking Engine, Property Management System, and newly introduced integrated payment solution, NewBook Payments, to deliver a safe and seamless check-in experience that allows guests to benefit from features

The kiosks aren’t NewBook’s first foray into contactless check-ins, however. The company already


enlists a host of technology aimed at making the customer experience contact-free, including a dedicated mobile app and an SMS check-in system allowing guests to advise of their arrival and complete their check-in documents through an online portal.

What does the future look like? With the tourism industry more under pressure than ever before, hospitality providers who fail to adjust to the new landscape will surely see a decline in foot traffic. In fact, up to 70% of consumers are now more likely to stay at a hospitality business that implements self-service systems, meaning things are looking up for those who have implemented tools like NewBook’s Self-Service Kiosks.

AccomNews - Spring 2020


Reinvent the welcome experience

Š Robert Kneschke -

with self-check-in

It is time to reinvent the self-check-in process, and that does not mean only cutting back frontdesk employees.

hospitality training, I recall many times observing long queues for traditional guest registration while the machines stood idle.

For decades, hotel brands have been attempting to launch various versions of self-check-in. In the 1990s, I remember much talk but little adoption beyond beta tests. In the early 2000s, brands like Embassy Suites and other Hilton brands rolled out kiosk-style check-in machines with great fanfare but little utilisation, other than a few guests who used the machine to print airline boarding passes. In the 2010s, more brands jumped in,


AccomNews - Spring 2020

Doug Kennedy President, Kennedy Training Network

including Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and large Las Vegas properties such as the MGM Grand. Yet as I travelled to these and other hotels to conduct

More recently, brands like Hilton finally got a bit of traction when they launched self-check-in via smartphone, and soon thereafter digital room keys. PMS companies introduced self-check-in via iPad or tablet stations, where guests activate their own traditional key. Still, the overall adoption by hotels, along with utilisation by guests, remained low relative to traditional registration procedures. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic which, as it has done in so many other aspects


of our business and personal lives, accelerated the pace of changes already underway. As it has quickly advanced the pace of migration from retail to online shopping, the move to distance learning and the transition to work-from-home models, so has it advanced the adoption of self-check-in. Now, as we move forward as an industry, I hope visionary leaders will recognise what a major crossroads this seemingly inconsequential change brings our industry to. My fear is that too many lodging leaders will see this only as an opportunity to reduce payroll and cut costs. In doing so, they will be eliminating the last major ‘touchpoint’ in the guest

service cycle as more guests book online, arrive by rideshare (eliminating greeting by a door or valet parking attendant), and use wheeled luggage, eliminating the conversation with a bell-person.

©Yakobchuk Olena -

I fear leaders will buy into the millennial myth that younger people prefer tech over touch, hate conversing with strangers, and want to run their whole lives via smartphone apps. Meanwhile, these same leaders still believe that brand loyalty programs will be the key to guest retention in the era where there is no longer a physical key. Yet I still have hope that the wisest lodging leaders will recognise that the adoption of self-check-in, whether by smartphone, kiosk, or tablet version, presents a monumental opportunity to reinvent and rehumanise the guest welcome experience. Obviously, everyone knows we will always need a human near the lobby to assist when self-check-in systems do not work, such as when cards decline, smartphones die or when guests have a disability.

as we imprinted their credit card or put their cash into our drawer. Then from the mid-1980s, all the way until today, guests spend more time staring at the top of peoples’ heads while front-desk staffers stare at a computer which seems to run ever slower. Now, if properly deployed, self-check-in allows front-desk colleagues to once again be free to hold conversations and focus on the people in front of them, not the process. It is time to reimagine the staging area of the front-desk theatre and get staff from behind the barriers ©anon -

But leaders who see their companies as being in the hospitality business and not the room rental business will recognise this moment as a chance to move away from scripted, transactional welcomes and back towards what the front desk used to be all about: authentically greeting guests with warmth and generosity.

A look back in hotel history points the way forward. When I started at the front desk working for Marriott in 1984, it was at the tail-end of the era of the front-desk ‘rack’, as Marriott like other brands were just becoming computerised. During registration, we spent the majority of time holding eye contact, determining the purpose of each guest’s visit, welcoming them ‘home’ and providing local insider’s tips. We had to look away only briefly to grab a color-coded room card showing ‘ready’ off that rack and a room key from the cubby, then again only briefly

and into the lobby with movable podiums or adjustable stand/sit desks. Deployed at the entrance, front-desk colleagues will have countless opportunities to chat with guests as they wait for their rideshare or for their companions to park vehicles. Likewise, they can engage guests as they depart and solicit feedback with sincerity, encouraging those who had positive experiences to share them on social media. So yes, I have hope for the future of our industry and that visionary leaders will recognise this as an opportunity to return to our core mission of hospitality. Realistically though, I expect that too many leaders will take what is likely to be the more crowded road out of this pandemic, leading to commoditisation and a complete takeover of distribution by the online travel agencies. Too many hoteliers will falsely believe that a guest can be welcomed with a text message stating their name or by a so-called ‘personalised’ app message, all of which makes me feel about as ‘warm and fuzzy’ as a birthday email from my dentist. In the end, one hotel brand will never be able to ‘out-tech’ another. It has always been and always will be the people parts that make the difference. Doug's articles are originally published in by HotelNewsNow and Accom News shares them with permission.


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Preferred Supplier Programme



assisting the industry For over twenty one years in Australia the preferred supplier programme and directory has been an extremely valuable and eective tool for accommodation managers.

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It allows managers to access industry specialists who are committed to the highest levels of service and dedicated to the accommodation and hospitality industries. This is extremely helpful for all accommodation providers but especially new managers as it allows them to benefit from the positive experiences other managers have had with their suppliers.

the then go on to the Preferred Supplier Database. Only Preferred Suppliers in this database have the opportunity to utilise the Preferred Supplier logo and make their contact details available to managers via the Preferred Supplier Directory, located in every issue of the A and online at

Listed below are the stages of the process that ensure only the best industry suppliers can participate in the Preferred Supplier Programme: 1.



All nominations received are then qualified through a secondary questionnaire process to ensure nominated suppliers are able to provide the highest levels of service required and expected by managers. Suppliers that still qualify are then asked to commit to the required levels of service for the next 12 months guaranteeing their commitment to the industry. Subject to the satisfaction of these processes and commitments suppliers


AccomNews - Spring 2020


Preferred suppliers have their status reviewed every 12 months to ensure they still qualify and that their commitment to the industry is being met.

With these criteria in place it means that you as a manager have access to a complete range of specialist suppliers who are actively seeking to improve their services to the accommodation industry. For your own peace of mind when dealing with any supplier ask if they are a Preferred Supplier. This can be verified by viewing a Preferred Supplier logo – made available for use in any of their stationery or marketing material or more simply by locating them in the Preferred Supplier Directory. So when looking for products or services give yourself the peace of mind that you are dealing with a recognised industry specialist and support these suppliers who are committed to servicing your needs.


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All suppliers must receive a nomination from a property currently using their services that is completely satisfied with their levels of service and are prepared to recommend them to another complex in the industry (ie. if asked by another manager they could comfortably recommend the required supplier).

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Reward your best suppliers by nominating them for the Preferred Supplier Programme. They’ll thank you for it! Simply send their details with a short testimonial to: or call 07 5440 5322


AccomNews - Spring 2020